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Experts Urge Reset as U.S. Tops 150K Deaths; Florida Sees Record Deaths as Case Count Stabilizes; CDC: Virus Can Be Defeated if People Wear Masks; Google, Apple Leaders Push Back on Antitrust Claims; Analyst: Trump Taking Steps to Further Putin's Goals. Aired 2- 3a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, with the death toll surging in the United States, health experts are urging for a reset before hundreds of thousands more die from the coronavirus.

The U.S. president made little mention of the pandemic, flying to Texas for a fundraiser, notable for no social distancing and very few face masks.

And four of the most powerful tech leaders in the world were told they have too much power and don't do enough to stop the spread of misinformation during a contentious congressional hearing.


VAUSE: We start with this, just in to CNN, the global case total for the coronavirus now totaling 17 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Here, in the United States with more than 150,000 dead, the outbreak yet to peak, health experts say a total reset is needed to control the pandemic.

A report, again, from Johns Hopkins University is calling for a mask mandate, new stay-at-home orders and for the federal government to take a leadership role to improve the speed and accuracy of testing.

Meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House task force says states in the Midwest will be the next to see surging numbers of new cases. That will happen within three weeks. Local leaders must review their plans, they say, for reopening the economy.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When the southern states that have already been hit, the Florida, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, and California, when you look back, you saw an increase in the percent positives of the tests that were done.

That's a sure-fire indication that you are in a process where you are heading towards a resurgence. We are starting to see that in some of the states now -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and other big -- Indiana, and other of those states.


VAUSE: California, Florida and Texas also setting new records for the most deaths in a single day, that was Wednesday; 29 states are worse off this week when compared to last.

Health experts say the U.S. is at a critical point right now, with many states reopening. Students going back to school relatively soon. The virus just won't go away on its own. CNN's Nick Watt has more now from across the U.S.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. just suffered the deadliest day of the summer so far, 1,244 lives reported lost to COVID-19 Tuesday.

DR. DAVID SKORTON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES: And if we don't do something to change our course, we will have multiple hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country.

WATT: The Association of American Medical Colleges wants decisive, coordinated action, releasing a detailed road map calling for increased testing, enforcement of reopening criteria, as well as informing and educating the public.

Meanwhile, the president and his acolytes are still pushing a widely and scientifically discredited drug, hydroxychloroquine.

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: I'm pleading with you and the American people to look this drug again, because I literally have tens of millions of tablets sitting in the Strategic National Stockpile.

WATT: Maybe you do, but:

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.

WATT: In all these states, concern is climbing, as cases climb. They are dubbed red zone and yellow zone states by the CDC. Only Vermont is green, no deaths in nearly six weeks.

But even Vermont just pushed reopening schools back a couple of weeks. A new study suggests that states that closed schools early in the spring saw significant declines in COVID cases and deaths. The Trump administration wants schools open again ASAP.

FAUCI: We don't know the answer to all of those questions.

WATT (voice-over): Such as, do kids transmit the virus like adults?

Dr. Fauci recommends teachers wear goggles and masks or face shields in the classroom.

FAUCI: This may sound a little scary and harsh, I don't mean it to be that way, is that you're going to be actually part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.

WATT: Defying the governor, Miami-Dade County just announced schools will start later than usual and online only.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And I would absolutely have my kids in school, because I do think that it is safe to do so. I believe that this is something that is very low risk for kids, fortunately.

WATT: Governor DeSantis noted he does not have school-aged children.

Meanwhile, Texas is about to overtake that early epicenter, New York, for total case count. California and Florida already did, case counts right now high, but stabilizing in Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're encouraged in New York. And they have kept it down. Flattening the curve is certainly important, but when you flatten it at a very high level, we are still going to see significant hospitalizations and deaths several weeks down the road.

WATT: The state of California just reported 197 deaths from COVID-19 in a single day. The governor called it a somber milestone. Now it is probably inflated by a reporting backlog from here in Los Angeles. But that's kind of irrelevant.

Right now, we are averaging over 100 people dying every day in the state and that is higher than it has ever been -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.



VAUSE: And to Los Angeles now, Dr. Anne Rimoin is professor of epidemiology at the University of California and director of the Center for Global and Immigrant Health.

Doctor, thank you for being with us. We saw the 6 month loan (ph), we are past that and there's a lot more we need to know about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Whether masks protect both wearer and others, the coronavirus can linger in the air inside for possibly hours.

Children are not immune, compared to what it was first thought. Surface transmission not insignificant compared to the early studies. Post COVID-19 prognosis can be troubling for those who survive. Hydroxychloroquine, injecting bleach, using an internal bright light

all not recommended for treatment. But it seems what we now know about face masks seems to be the biggest shift of all, very quickly, here is the head of the CDC. Listen to this.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We have the most powerful weapon in our hands right now. I mean, it's an enormously powerful weapon. It's just a simple, flimsy mask. This virus can be defeated if people just wear a mask.


VAUSE: A wise man never says "what if" but what if there hadn't been this early confusion over wearing a mask, how effective it was, what it could do.

If there hadn't been this controversy over it, how much of a difference would that have made?

ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, that's impossible to quantify. But there have been some modeling that would be able to give us some estimates.

And the truth is, masks make a difference and we probably would have averted a lot of heartache and suffering if we got on the same page early on and everyone would wear a mask.

And we now have lots of data that show us masks work but we don't see the whole United States adopting this. And we know that if, this point, if everyone wore a mask and we had really good buy-in from the very top, you know, we would probably see a major reduction in cases here in the United States.

VAUSE: And there was the original sin from the beginning, which was the PPE stockpile was not built up ahead of the pandemic outbreak, which should have been. There is a shortage of masks. That's why there's this recommendation for people not to go out and get masks, because they were needed for health care workers, so that didn't help.

RIMOIN: Absolutely. You are right. The early information on masks and whether or not we should wear them was based on 2 things.

First of all, we did know that we had a shortage of masks that were desperately needed for health care workers, who are right there on the front lines. So if anyone should be wearing a mask, health care workers really needed to be wearing them.

But I think one of the shortcomings in science that we dealt with here is that we are all, you know, we hadn't done that research on how well masks work. It turns out they work out so well that we are seeing reductions in places like New Zealand and Australia and in the Southern Hemisphere in general in cases of influenza.

So you know, we are learning a lot about how useful masks are, not just for COVID but for everything else. Listen, we are going to go very, very far with this new information that we have now.

VAUSE: Well, when it comes to masks, there's one problem. Mask denier Republican congressman Louie Gohmert, who has tested positive for COVID-19, he's from Texas. A report from "Politico," says that he was contacted by staffers from Gohmert's office with this.

"You might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks, for wearing masks in his office."

That just seems beyond stupidity, even for Gohmert.

RIMOIN: Well --


RIMOIN: -- you know, here's the deal. You should wear a mask. You know, big secret, wear a mask.

It really, honestly, everybody at this point needs to know, the data tell us where we need to go. We need to follow the data, follow the science, stop listening to politics.. The politics are not helping. Its ideology trumping science and we need to do the opposite now.

If we want to get ahead of this and if we want to reopen the economy, if we want to get our kids back to school, people need to do what is right. Politicizing wearing a mask is just ridiculous.

Are we going to politicize handwashing next?


RIMOIN: We need to really just follow the science and do what we need to do: wear a mask.

VAUSE: If we follow the science we now know that there are no second chances when it comes to containing the outbreak. Here is the WHO.


DR. MICHAEL RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This virus requires sustained pressure to reduce transmission and requires sustained commitment to reduce exposure. I think they are the two things we need to do.

The government and the authorities need to do work to suppress transmission, stop cases, detect cases, test cases, quarantine contacts, do all of that work, right, and communities and individuals need to do everything they can to reduce their exposure to the virus.


VAUSE: And that has become evident time and time again all around the world.

RIMOIN: The advice is the same for everybody: follow the science. The science will lead us out of this. No one is out of the woods. If you have been able to get in front of the virus and reduce transmission, you still have to be vigilant.

So the bottom line is that the whole world has a long road ahead of us and the only way to get ahead of it is to follow the science and to use these basic public health measures, which are all we have right now.

VAUSE: We can keep pushing and hoping for a vaccine but that is a long way off by anyone's estimate.

Doctor, good to see you.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.


VAUSE: Around the world, new daily records are being set for the number of confirmed cases and the number of dead. For the first time, the number of new cases in Japan in one day passed the 1,000 mark on Wednesday, recording 1,200 cases.

Brazil has ended a four month long travel ban, reopening the country to foreign visitors arriving by plane, despite another record spike in new coronavirus cases, almost 70,000 on Wednesday, which also saw 1,500 deaths.

With more than 2.5 million, Brazil has an highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mexico has the second worst outbreak in the region and this crisis is showing little signs of improving. The death toll there rose past 45,000 on Wednesday, hundreds of people died there on Wednesday, despite this, the government refuses to make masks mandatory but the deputy health minister is recommending they do so.


HUGO LOPEZ-GATELL (PH), DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER (through translator): The Mexican government, as I announced this morning, recommends the use of face masks. But we've also been very clear and when the explanation comes, some people get upset that we are not going to make it an obligatory measure.

That doesn't mean we don't recommend it. In some, use your face masks, particularly in enclosed spaces.


VAUSE: Mexico has the fourth highest death toll in the world.

Russia says it's already growing demand for the coronavirus vaccine that it plans to approve early next month, which, if it works, will be the world's first. On Wednesday, Russia said the vaccine will be mass produced in September, despite serious concerns over its safety and effectiveness. Matthew Chance picks up the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There may be widespread criticism around this Russian vaccine but Russian officials now say at least 20 countries are expressing their interest in getting their hands on it, a sign, they say, of how much demand there is in the world for a solution to this global pandemic.

Officials of the Russian (INAUDIBLE) tell CNN the nations including India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia are among those talking to Russia about getting the vaccine once it's approved. Russian officials earlier telling CNN they intend to approve their vaccine by August 10th and will mass produce it, according to the health ministry by September.

Critics say conventions on human trials in Russia have been ignored amid pressure from the Kremlin to get the vaccine approved. Russian officials telling CNN that crucial phase 3 trials will take place while the vaccine is being administered to high-risk groups, like frontline medical staff.

It's risky, of course, fueling concerns about the effectiveness and the safety of this vaccine. But given the acute coronavirus problem in Russia, it has the fourth highest number of infections in the world, it's a risk the authorities here and apparently some other nations around the globe also are willing to take -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Well, ahead, serious concerns about President Trump's attitude towards Moscow and President Putin, whether anything can motivate him to actually stand up to Russia's president.





VAUSE: The chief executives of four of the world's most powerful tech companies do what they rarely do, they sat quietly while being grilled, berated and accused of wrongdoing by U.S. lawmakers.

Democrats asked the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple how they used their data to acquire competitors or drive them out of business.

Republicans accused them of having an anti conservative bias with only anecdotal evidence to prove it.

CNN's Hadas Gold is in London with more on this.

The interesting thing about this hearing is that it was an antitrust hearing. The last time they had one was 20 years ago. This is leading up at least in theory to some kind of major overhaul of big tech.

Is that where this will lead to?

Or will it be a situation that neither side can agree on where they should go from here?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this hearing is the result of more than a year of investigation by this committee. They unearthed millions of documents and have done many behind closed door interviews. It's a 6 hour long hearing, of course, conducted over video chat because of the ongoing pandemic.

During this hearing, these tech CEOs, some of the most powerful people in the world, were compared to the monopoly barons like the railroad barons of yesteryear. They were compared to places like Big Tobacco, the last time we saw some of these big hearings on the Hill.

Apart from the Democrats, much of the questioning was about antitrust, how these companies treat their competitors and the data they have on their competitors. And I want to pull up one piece that we heard from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who proved to be one of the most effective questioners yesterday during this hearing, where she brought up an email that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, had sent to his CFO, when they were looking at buying Instagram, saying they could neutralize one of their competitors. Take a listen.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Istalclone (ph), a popular product, approached the company you identified as a competitive threat and told them that if they didn't let you buy them up there would be consequences.

Were there any other companies that you used the same tactic with while attempting to buy them?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, COFOUNDER AND CEO, FACEBOOK: Congresswoman, I want to respectfully disagree with the characterization. I think it was clear that this was a space that we were going to compete in one way or another. I don't view those conversations as a threat in any way.


JAYAPAL: I'm just using the documents and the testimony that the committee has collected from others.


GOLD: Meanwhile, from some of the Republicans, some questions was not really about antitrust but more about perceived conservative -- bias against conservatives on some of these online platforms.

And honestly, some of the questioning was embarrassing. For example, when one Republican member asked Mark Zuckerberg why Donald Trump Jr. was barred from Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg had to remind the congressman that he is the CEO of Facebook and not of Twitter.

But it just goes to show you this is a really heated political environment, where just a few months away from an election for a lot of Republicans.


GOLD: They do believe or they want to push this belief that there is a bias against conservatives online, despite the fact that actually many of the top performing, for example, pages on Facebook, are actually from conservative outlets or from conservative peoples.

But keep in mind, despite the fact that this was a hearing on Capitol Hill by Congress, we got a lot of documents out of this, any action that we are going to see against Big Tech and antitrust is actually likely going to come from places like the Department of Justice, which have a lot of ongoing investigations going on right now against all of these different companies.

Action is being taking place but you should see this hearing as a sort of the proverbial wrapping paper on top of what a lot of these other investigations are doing.

VAUSE: We're out of time, but just for our viewers an antitrust case started back with the railroads, I think, here in the U.S. They broke them up because they had a monopoly and the rail barons were seen to be a threat to the politicians. So that's the basis of all of these.

But thank you for being with us, Hadas Gold in London.

The legacy of Ronald Reagan might be another victim of the Trump presidency. When it came to dealing with Moscow, Reagan famously said, "Trust but verify."

Donald Trump in the past has just taken Vladimir Putin at his word, all trust, no verifying but now it seems he doesn't even ask.

During a recent interview with Axios, Donald Trump said he never discussed U.S. intelligence with Vladimir Putin, which accused Russia of offering bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. President Trump and Putin spoke just last week.


JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: John Nicholson, former head of forces in Afghanistan, said -- and this is when he was working for you -- that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban.

Isn't that enough to challenge Putin over the killings of U.S. soldiers?

TRUMP: Well, we supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too.

SWAN: You surely heard that, right? I mean, it's well known in the intelligence community that they are arming the Taliban, Russia.

TRUMP: I don't know.

When you say arming, is the Taliban paying or are they are giving them? (CROSSTALK)

SWAN: Russia is supplying weapons and money to the Taliban.

TRUMP: I have heard that but it's never reached -- again, it's never reached my desk.


VAUSE: Also, raising some serious concerns, President Trump's decision to withdraw almost 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany. A Republican senator calls the move, quote, "a gift to Putin."

Donald Trump insists he's removing the troops because Germany is not paying all of its NATO fees or its dues. But the move is sparking widespread disapproval from experts who say it won't just benefit Russia, it will also cost American taxpayers billions and degrade U.S. national security.

Asha Rangappa is a CNN legal and national security analyst, a former FBI special agent and lecturer at Yale University.

Good to see you, Asha, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: Just looking back at the past 3.5 years, the actions President Trump has taken which just coincidentally benefit Russia, from weakening NATO on down, we're now 96 days out from the election which, according to every, poll Donald Trump is set to lose.

The White House confirms almost 12,000 U.S. troops in Germany will be coming home or redeployed.

Could you be excused for thinking that Donald Trump is just finishing up Putin's honey-do list at this point?

RANGAPPA: I think you could be excused for thinking that. This has been a consistent pattern with Donald Trump, of not pushing back on Vladimir Putin and, in fact, taking steps to further many of Putin's geopolitical goals.

In terms of removing troops from Germany, it gives a strategic advantage to Putin and serves his goal of weakening NATO.

So we see this happening again and again, that he is unwilling to stand up to Putin, to take aggressive measures against him, when that's not really in his character. He doesn't seem to have a problem doing it anywhere else.

And I think that Trump is a transactional person, so one question we do have to ask is, what is the benefit that Trump perceives from taking these courses of action?

Or what is he afraid of if he were to do that? VAUSE: The editorial board for the conservative "Wall Street Journal"

said, pulling U.S. troops out of Germany would weaken America's military posture and the U.S. will get nothing in return.

So explain why this is like Christmas in July right now for Putin?

RANGAPPA: Putin wants to elevate Russia's influence and, given that he can't compete in many other areas -- economically, technologically, militarily -- his only option is the poor man's diplomacy, which is to weaken the West.

And one of the biggest obstacles he has are these Western alliances. So when he can pursue a divide and conquer strategy, he, in fact, elevates Russia's geopolitical influence. So this furthers his ultimate goal. And we have seen Trump, you know, doing basically these things that further his goals.


RANGAPPA: Trump has actually characterized this as some kind of financially based issue. And as I mentioned before, it could be because he's very transactional based and may not understand how things operate in terms of balance and power.

I find that surprising because he has many military advisers, his National Security Council, who would be telling him that this is not a good move and, in fact, this has actually received bipartisan opposition from United States.

VAUSE: It appears that Donald Trump has been speaking with Vladimir Putin every two weeks this year, on average, at least eight times since there was intelligence in his daily brief about Russia, allegedly paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Not once did Trump raise the issue with Putin and here he is, confirming that in an interview with Axios.


TRUMP: And frankly, that's an issue that many people said was fake news --

SWAN: Who said it was fake news?

TRUMP: -- we discussed numerous things. We did not discuss that, no.

SWAN: You have discussed it with him?

TRUMP: I have never discussed it with him, no. I would, I'd have no problem with it --


TRUMP: but you know it never --

SWAN: Because you don't believe the intelligence, that's why. TRUMP: Everything -- you know, it's interesting, nobody ever brings

up China. They always bring Russia, Russia, Russia.


VAUSE: It's important to know the National Security Agency differed with the CIA over the Russian bounties, so the intelligence, to be fair, may not have been entirely clear-cut but it rarely is. That's the nature of intelligence.

RANGAPPA: That's right, you don't have, you know, absolute certainty when it comes to intelligence. And what's troubling here, John, is there's no indication that Trump is even trying to get to the bottom of it.

He's not saying I'm, you know, asking my intelligence community to, you know, verify this. He's basically discounted it offhand. And I think what's important to understand here in the big picture is that president Vladimir Putin is what I would call a boundary creeper.

He tests boundaries. He is going to take risks and escalate until he meets some kind of resistance. And the bounties on U.S. troops, which is a direct threat to our national security, if that, in fact, is what is occurring, is only one of many ways that he is, you know, pursuing aggressive steps against United States.

There's also election interference. There is the hacking of the research and development on a COVID vaccine. So when Trump doesn't push back or even address this issue directly with Vladimir Putin on the Russian bounty issue, he's effectively giving a green light on everything else and basically telling Putin that it's just the Wild West and he can do what he likes.

And I think as we approach the 2020 election, that's incredibly troubling. Again, we know that his election interference efforts are actively underway here.

VAUSE: Yes, it goes to a much, much bigger picture. Nancy Pelosi said all roads lead to Putin or Moscow when it comes to Trump. And we will see how this all plays out as with everything else. Asha Rangappa, good to see you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.

VAUSE: Coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM --


PRISCILLA MARIE GARCIA, DAUGHTER: You never want to die alone. You want to die with your family around you. There is no one there to support you in your last moments.


VAUSE: The heartbreak some families are having to endure in the midst of a coronavirus surge. [02:30:00]


VAUSE: President Trump traveled to Texas on Wednesday as the state is struggling to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. He arrived on the same day Texas passed New York State in total confirmed cases.

He arrived without Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, a well-known mask denier and Trump ally who tested positive for COVID-19. So, given all that, it seems odd the President would barely mention the pandemic when he got there.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our hearts are with the people of Texas. We love our people; we love our country.

Together, we will end the plague from China. We will defeat the virus. I want to thank everyone at Double Eagle Energy.


VAUSE: The reason for firing up Air Force One and heading south wasn't the virus killing a record number of Americans many in Texas, but rather a tour of an energy plant and then a campaign fundraiser. Social distancing and masks optional, it seems.

As for congressman and anti-mask Louie Gohmert, he plans to take the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as he self-isolates. He also thinks the mask may have given him the virus during the times he wore it.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I can't help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place that if I might have put some germ, some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in.


VAUSE: Gohmert was seen on Tuesday in Washington not wearing the mask, talking to multiple people. The House Speaker has now mandated facial coverings in House buildings as well as on the House floor. Many people at the President's event on Wednesday in Texas not wearing masks, not social distancing despite the state's surge in cases. At least one Texas doctor says he's frustrated and appalled that people are not taking simple steps which could keep themselves and others safe during a pandemic.


JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: My model has been, you know, at the present time, I'm pretty much fighting a war, a war against COVID and a war against stupidity. And the problem is that the first one, I have some hope about winning. But the second one is becoming more and more difficult to treat. And why do I say that? Because people are not listening. Whether it is

you know, we're backed by science or just plain old common sense, people are not listening throughout the country.


VAUSE: Well, the South Texas has been hit especially hard by the Coronavirus. In the Rio Grande Valley area, nearly 600 people have died from the Coronavirus, the vast majority this month alone. CNN's Ed Lavandera spoke with two women who are mourning the sudden loss of loved ones.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rolando and Yolanda Garcia met his kids in South Texas, became high school sweethearts, and the rest is history. They reveled in life's sweet moments.

Rolando's birthday, Yolanda cutting her granddaughter's hair. But in late June the coronavirus caught the couple by surprise. Their daughter Pricilla believes they got infected at the grocery store. As they got sicker, the 70-year-old grandparents were taken to different hospitals on the same day. It would be the last time they saw each other.

PRICILLA MARIE GARCIA, DAUGHTER OF ROLANDO AND YOLANDA GARCIA: It's heartbreaking because you never want to die alone. You want to die with the family around you. There is no one there to support you in your last moment.

LAVANDERA: Rolando died on July 4th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad passed away and we didn't tell her. She ended up having a heart attack on her own and the last time that I spoke with her, I just told her that dad was waiting for her.

LAVANDERA: The Garcias died four days apart. Priscilla also has COVID- 19. She's quarantined in her parents' home. A small shrine fills the living room. It's a place to reflect on her family's ordeal.

GARCIA: They didn't have to die. They still had another good 10 or 15 years. They were very vibrant.

LAVANDERA: What's it like in South Texas right now?

GARCIA: It's hell on earth. Everyone is scared, everyone is anxious.


LAVANDERA: About 600 people have died of COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley. The vast majority of those have died this month.

MARTIN SCHWARCZ, PULMONARY INTENSIVIST, RIO GRAND VALLEY: It's like living in a constant hurricane of patients coming into the hospital.

LAVANDERA: Endless? SCHWARCZ: It's overwhelming. It's endless and overwhelming.

LAVANDERA: Dr. Martin Schwarcz lives on the pandemic frontlines working intensive care units filled with COVID patients. He says medical teams are struggling to stay ahead of the fast-spreading virus.

SCHWARCZ: We're always on the edge. Am I going to have enough ventilators today, am I going to have enough centralized, enough test tubes?

LAVANDERA: It seems like this is really taking its toll on a lot of you guys that are on the front lines.

SCHWARCZ: We're seeing entire families in our community being ravaged by the virus.

LAVANDERA: Salvador and Imelda Munoz celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in June. The family says they're in-home nurse unknowingly infected the elderly couple. But Marie Silva felt her mother was going to pull through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She suffered a heart attack. While waiting, there was not enough staff to attend to her and so she didn't make it.

LAVANDERA: After that, Marie says her father felt his job was done. There was time though for one last video call.

What will you remember most about that final conversation with your dad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All my brothers and sisters telling him how good of a father he was and how he could go rest if he needed to. Letting him know that he did a good job and we love him. And we'll never forget him.

LAVANDERA: And what did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just nodded. He didn't cry. He never cried. But I could see the pain in his eyes. I could.

LAVANDERA: On July 10th, Maria Silva says her father's eyes finally closed during his wife's funeral service. Three days later, Salvador and Imelda Munoz were buried together.

President Trump visited Midland, Texas on Wednesday for a fundraiser in a speech to supporters where he touted that the Coronavirus numbers were beginning to stabilize. However, the number of deaths being reported every day in hospitalizations still remains very high in many parts of this state.

And it also comes on the same day that Johns Hopkins University is reporting that Texas has now surpassed New York in the number of overall coronavirus cases. Ed Lavandera CNN, Midland, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Please tune in to CNN for a CNN Global Townhall, Coronavirus Facts and Fears hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta Thursday, 8:00 p.m. in New York, 8:00 a.m. Friday in Hong Kong.

Four student activists in Hong Kong have been arrested for allegedly inciting secession. They're among the first known arrests under the new national security law. The students are aged between 16 and 21 and have all been denied bail according to supporters. CNN's Anna Coren live this hour in Hong Kong.

The interesting thing about this is that there have been arrests before but it's kind of small bare stuff, if you like, you know, the banners and slogans at protests. This is a much bigger step. And it's incredible thing that these kids were arrested before posted on social media.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they posted on social media exactly which was the establishment of a new party advocating for Hong Kong independence. As far as Hong Kong Police are concerned, that could be considered as inciting secession, which is now a criminal offense under the National Security Law. Secession, subversion, colluding with foreign forces and terrorism are all in breach of this national security law.

And these students, as you say, age from 16 to 21 could be facing years behind bars if not life imprisonment. That is the maximum sentence for this national security law. But police arrested them last night. The previous arrest which took place on the first of July, those nine protesters who were, as I say, arrested under national security law, only one of them charged, that was for demonstrating. Well, these students, they were arrested at home.

And I think that's what is quite chilling is that police obviously investigating these crimes, cyber-crimes, as they call it, and then going to these people's homes. So, there is a great deal of fear here. But we did hear from Nathan Law who's a high-profile Hong Kong activist, he fled Hong Kong for the U.K., before this national security law was brought in on the first of July. And he tweeted and I'll read, "So students are arrested because of a social media post. How vulnerable a country is to be afraid of a post by a group of teenagers."

And John, we also heard from Human Rights Watch which said that these arrests were a gross misuse of this draconian law, which makes clear that the aim is to silence dissent, not protect national security. But the police maintain, when they address the media last night, John, that they will enforce these laws even if the crimes are committed on the internet, that you cannot evade responsibility in cyberspace.


But as I say, there is now a great deal of fear in this city here in Hong Kong, particularly for pro-democracy activists, and for pro- democracy lawmakers. They are facing elections here, legislative council elections here in September, and we're now hearing from the government that they could very well be postponed. Carrie Lam as the chief executive can use emergency powers to postpone

these elections, move them forward to 2021. Well, pro-democracy activists here saying that that is just front, that the government knows that the pro-democracy lawmakers will win in a landslide, and that COVID is merely a front for that, John.

VAUSE: One of these students who've been arrested is 16 years old. How long can I keep these students without bail?

COREN: Yes, it's a good question, John. It doesn't matter whether they are considered to be teenagers or adults. They are treated as adults. So, these students can be held for 48 hours, almost 24 hours in to that 48-hour period, but police can extend it for another 24 hours. So, they can keep them for up to 72 hours before they appear before a magistrate, John.

VAUSE: It must be terrifying at the moment. Anna, thank you. Anna Coren live in Hong Kong. We'll take a short break. When we come back, Zimbabwe reaches a deal to compensate white farmers forced from their land decades ago.


VAUSE: A final tribute in Atlanta to long time Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis. Right now, his body is lying in state at the Georgia Capitol. Thousands paid their respects during a public viewing. Earlier Lewis' motorcade made its way through Atlanta taking the parkway named in his honor, passed the John Lewis hero mural. The city's mayor record a special message she received about the man known for making good trouble.



KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, MAYOR, ATLANTA GEORGIA: I was deeply moved a couple of days ago when his chief of staff Michael Collins shared with me that the congressman was intently watching the news of Atlanta and proud of the leadership that's been shown. And so governor, when the good trouble continues, know that it is with the blessings of Congressman Lewis.


VAUSE: Former President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy at today's funeral. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will attend the service as well at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The Trump administration has reached an agreement with Oregon's democratic governor to withdraw federal agents from downtown Portland, the scene of peaceful protests and violent clashes. Governor Kate Brown says the team will start to withdraw in the next few hours. The Department of Homeland Security says it will maintain a presence in the city until it is certain that federal locations are secure.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY DEPUTY SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: FPS will be a visible force outside of the courthouse, so will Oregon State Police. That will be a collaborative effort there on the courthouse property, outside of the courthouse property. The State Police will maintain responsibility, so we'll be relying on the governor and her team to maintain those lines of communication. And the goal, of course is to see not only violence move off the courthouse, but the goal we all have is that the violence dissipates entirely.


VAUSE: The decision to send federal agents into Portland earlier this month by Donald Trump escalated tensions in the city. Portland has been on edge for two months now over demands of racial justice and police accountability.

Zimbabwe's government has reached an agreement with white farmers who had their land seized decades ago. It's a compensation totaling $3.5 billion which we paid out over five years. But because right now, the country doesn't have $3.5 billion, it will issue long term bonds and asked for financial assistance from donors. CNN's Eleni Giokos joins us now from Johannesburg.

You know, I guess this compensation deal, it's a deal on paper, I guess. Will they get the money? I mean, that's the issue here. They have this on paper. Can it be delivered, I guess, that's the question.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's such a good question, right? So, is it going to be in cash? Is it going to be in bond notes? You know, what form? And it's such a pivotal detail that is definitely going to shape how the compensation will be rolled out. So yes, international funding is going to be an important portion and then raising local bonds as well, money on the local markets is going to be twofold.

So, the plan is to get half of the money in the next 12 months, and then focusing on the rest in the next five years. So yes, you're absolutely right. Zimbabwe doesn't have the money right now, and many are questioning why go to the international markets to raise $3.5 billion at a time where you are healthcare sector is crippling, and of course, we're seeing major economic pressure worldwide specifically for many weak African countries.

Now, to put the $3.5 billion into perspective, in 2019, the national budget was worth $8 billion. But because the currency is depreciating at such a rapid rates. We're talking about a national budget closer to $2 billion. So it far exceeds the amount of money that Zimbabwe is spending on a yearly basis. And then the question comes to the fore, how much is Zimbabwe able to spend on its crippling healthcare sector.

A few hours ago, I caught up with the finance minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube to find out what the plan is to spend money during the pandemic.


MTHULI NCUBE, FINANCE MINISTER, ZIMBABWE: This year, what we're going to spend is $8 billion Zimbabwe dollars on health. That's the target.

GIOKOS: $8 billion Zimbabwe dollars on health. I mean, if -- I mean I don't know which exchange rate to look at. But if you look at the official rates, that is definitely many would say not enough.

NCUBE: No. The way -- the way to look at it is not the way we have expanded in terms of exchange rate, but in terms of percentage of the -- of the government budget because we spend from what we have. So, in terms of timing, there's no issue about timing here. What we've done with the farmers compensation, this is a constitutional requirement. We have to fulfill that.


GIOKOS: Yes, and spending from what we have, that's what the finance ministers said. They do not have $3.5 billion. We're hearing stories about continued strike action by doctors and nurses, stillborn babies because of staffing shortages at hospitals. So the impact of the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the weakness within the Zimbabwean economy, and there are many flags that have been raised, John, here about what to do next and what the next few months hold for the vulnerable in Zimbabwe.

VAUSE: Yes. That's a good point because this is, you know, the entire budget for the government going in one payout is incredibly steep. Thank you, Eleni. We appreciate that.

English Premier League star Wilfried Zaha says he fears logging onto social media because of online abuse. Zaha spoke with CNN World Sport about the horrific messages he's received, and the backlash which followed after making them public.



WILFRIED ZAHA, FORWARD, CRYSTAL PALACE FC: When I started playing for Crystal Palace, I remember my first message. I remember like it was yesterday is when we -- I went to play against Manchester United and someone spoke about. He said, black -- some black this, and I hope he break your legs and go back to the slums of trading and stuff like that.

Because I feel like enough is enough, and I'm among a lot of people who have had racial abuse and I've had a showpiece all my life, but it's a thing where for now I've got a platform where I feel like if I can make a change, I'll try.

DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Now the most recent abuse was just two weeks ago from a 12-year-old boy, banana emojis, blacked-out images, and Ku Klux Klan imagery. What was your reaction, Will, when you saw that it was just a 12-year-old child? ZAHA: It's sad. It's sad really because it's like how as a 12-year-old even thinking like that? Where was this hate come from? And it's like, I understand it's a 12-year-old, that it's sad that it's a 12-year- old, but you got to be held accountable for the things that you say. The stuff that he said to me isn't just, yes, you black, it's Ku Klux Klan. I didn't even know about that stuff at the age of 12.

So it's like -- it was before my game, but it infuriate me so much, because later on, I found out, that same 12-year-old boy contacted like three other players, basically abused three other players as well, in my -- in my team as well. So it's like, it's not OK.

LEWIS: Well, we've spoken to Instagram and they've sent us a statement and they've said this. "Racism is not tolerated on Facebook and Instagram. When we find content that breaks our guidelines, we will remove it, and we will ban those who repeatedly break the rules. We take this issue seriously and invest billions of dollars in people and technology to help remove harmful content at scale." What's your reaction to that?

ZAHA: Even after I reported the abuse from the 12-year-old, I got 50 -- I think we -- I reported 50 accounts. And that -- I got racially abused from after the stuff that I got before. And it's like, what happens after that account gets blocked, then they just make a new account straight after.

I've tried to block people so many times and I've looked on Instagram for the option to block -- to block them for racial abuse, but there isn't that option there. That doesn't come up. There's harassment, there's different stuff, but there's no racial abuse option that comes up.

I feel like with everything that we do in life, with everything that we've registered to, we have to give some sort of I.D. So why is it not the same of Instagram? Why is it not the same with Twitter? For the black footballers for instance, being on Instagram, it's not even fun for us anymore. You're not enjoying your profile because your -- every time -- I'm scared to even look at my direct messages anymore because it could be filled with anything.

I didn't have to get on my phone anymore because it's almost certain that you're going to get some sort of abuse like especially after games and stuff, because it happens so freely.


VAUSE: Is there life beyond Earth? That's the question NASA trying to answer on their mission to Mars. We'll look at the launch just hours away.



VAUSE: With the Coronavirus spreading to every corner of the planet, maybe it's time we went somewhere else like Mars. Everyone is going. Early this month, the United Arab Emirates launch a Mars probe, China followed, a few hours from now, it will be the U.S. Here's CNN's Lynda Kinkade.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: After nearly a decade of planning with thousands of engineers, scientists, and specialists, NASA's latest mission to Mars chants new realms of exploration.

JIM BRIDENSTINE, ADMINISTRATOR, NASA: This is the first time in history where we're going to go to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world.

KINKADE: The launch of NASA's perseverance rover starts a seven-month journey through space before its expected landing on the red planet's Jezero Crater, the side of a lake-formed more than 3.5 billion years ago. Their perseverance will look for evidence that Mars was once inhabited, collecting samples that eventually returned to Earth to be studied for signs of ancient microbial life. Meanwhile, the mission will also pave the way for new life to arrive.

We're going to take the carbon dioxide atmosphere of Mars, and we're going to turn it into oxygen, so that when humans get there, we know that we know that we know that we're going to be able to create the oxygen necessary for life support.

KINKADE: Expected to land in mid-February of 2021, the two-year mission also promises new perspectives on Mars. The Perseverance is equipped with microphones to share sounds of the red planet for the first time. It also has 23 cameras with new features like zoom, color, and video capturing capabilities.

Also along for the ride, the first helicopter to attempt flight on another planet. If it's successful, the new technology could be used as scouts on future missions as the push to explore Mars forges on. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church after a short break. And please remember, wear a mask.