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CNN TONIGHT

Coronavirus Cases Surging In The U.S. As Hurricane Isaias Heads Toward The State Of Florida; How Representative James Clyburn Outlines The Trump Administration In Handling Of Coronavirus; President Trump Downplays Coronavirus Deaths As CDC Predicts Around 20,000 More Deaths; More Than 40 Percent Of Kids In One Summer Camp Caught COVID- 19; President Trump Continues to Float Voter Fraud Risks Amid Virus; Union Leader Sounds Alarm About New Postal Policies That May Affect 2020 Mail-In Voting; Commissioner Warns He Might End Season if Coronavirus Isn't Managed Better. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight, I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. We are following multiple breaking stories at this hour. The coronavirus cases surging in the U.S. More than 4.5 million people have now been infected and the death toll in this country is now topping 153,000 people.

The CDC is predicting the U.S. could add more than 20,000 deaths in the next three weeks. That as hurricane warnings are now in effect for Florida. The state reporting a record number of coronavirus deaths for the fourth day in a row. The Governor there now declaring a state of emergency as testing sites are shutdown.

And it could be game over for Major League Baseball this year. ESPN is reporting that the commissioner is warning he may shut down the season if teams don't follow coronavirus protocols. 29 players and staff have already tested positive. Plus, President Trump trying to preemptively undermine the 2020 election results claiming with no evidence by the way that voting by mail leads to fraud.

Tonight, the Department of Homeland Security is pushing back on the president. We are going to break it down all this stories for you in the hour ahead.

But first, I want to get to the breaking news, now hurricane Isaias, the AMS meteorologist Tyler Mauldin is joining us from the CNN Weather Center. Tyler, thank you so much, I appreciate you joining us. Listen, talk to me about this -- give us an update from the National Hurricane Center, what can you tell us?

TYLER MAULDIN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right, Don, the latest from the National Hurricane Center is in our second hurricane of the season, Isaias. And the hurricane has nice sustained winds of 80 miles per hour at the moment, and 100 miles per hour gusts moving to the northwest at 15. You can see it lashing the Bahamas right now. The only change to the National Hurricane Center's previous update is

the fact that they pushed the hurricane warning, just a little farther to the north. So now we have hurricane warnings in red from Boca Raton all the way up to the Volusia Flagler County line and also the Bahamas too. Here's the track on Isaias, category wind now, it will continue to be a category one as it pushes to the north and west. It eventually does strengthen a little more, becomes an 85 miles per hour hurricane right off the south Florida doorstep.

And you look at that, look how close the center is going to come to south Florida and east central Florida. Now, hurricane force winds extend out 35 miles from the center. So with a track like that, even though the eye may not come on shore in Florida, you are definitely going to feel hurricane force conditions.

By the time we get to -- I would say, Monday evening, we are looking at a tropical storm making land fall near Charleston, South Carolina, and then it continues to push to north. New York, Boston, you are going to be dealing with a tropical storm come midweek next week. Here is a look at the spaghetti models, they are in pretty good agreement. However, two of the top models that we watch, the GFS and the European, they differ a little bit.

The GFS has a slightly stronger hurricane coming ashore, I would just say around the Sebastian inlet, along the intercostal. And then the European actually has a slightly weaker storm coming ashore near Fort Lauderdale and Miami Gardens. Now that is 8:00 Sunday morning and that actually coincides with high tide. So we have to watch the possibility of some higher than normal storm surge.

This -- we'll look at the radar across the Bahamas, they are really taking it on the chin right now. A lot of rain fall, strong winds. I expect the strong winds to start to impact south Florida by the time we get to probably 5:00 in the morning tomorrow. The rain is going to continue to push up too. Look at that pink spot right there. We could see upwards of 10 inches of rainfall in some areas of South Florida, and that's going to continue right up the East Coast, Don.

LEMON: All right, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. We are going to continue to check back with you to see exactly what is going on with this hurricane.

I want to get to Andy Slavitt now, he is a former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare -- Medicaid and Medicare Services. Thank you, Andy.

[23:05:06]

So we're about to get pummeled by hurricane possibly and then we have what is going on with the hurricane that is, you know, COVID. But listen, let's talk about this. Florida, right, they are right in the path of this hurricane. The virus is out of control there, prepping for a hurricane, hard enough. But how do you provide shelter in large groups when you have a pandemic going on.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR AT THE CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: You know, this is the thing that Governor DeSantis didn't do at all, which is plan. When he was peacocking around bragging about how Florida was safe, he should had been -- that would have been the time to start working to plan if you want to open up school. If you want to prepare for the hurricane. And all I could say is that the Governors in northern states and mid-western states need to take this lesson. Because it's when the virus is not visible, that is actually doing its work and when you have to be taking all the precautions, getting up the testing, closing the bars, being prepared. We can't allow -- DeSantis didn't follow the advice of watching Cuomo. The new Governors in these new states are going to have to do it differently.

LEMON: Andy, this is the fourth day in a row that Florida is recording record cases now, record coronavirus deaths. Testing sites in Florida now closed until Tuesday if not longer because of this impending storm. This is going to complicate an already dire situation in that state. How so?

SLAVITT: Well look, I think folks who have any kind of symptoms, any kind of fever, any kind of issues, you know, they need to be staying indoors. We need to be very, very cautious. Because our visibility as low as it was, it's going to be even lower now. We don't know who has this. Who is spreading it and I think we have got danger piled on top of danger and you know, I think you are absolutely right, Don. We need to be very focused on what is our best FEMA response to housing setups when people are out in the cold. And I think this is something FEMA can do. It's done it before. It needs to be all over this.

LEMON: Yes. So, Congressman James Clyburn was on with Chris earlier tonight. This is how he summed up the Trump administration's handling of this virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): These people are playing with death and they ought to stop it. They ought to focus in on what is best for the American people. Let's have a national plan, have a leader, who will lead by example, not just precept but example. And this president refuses to set an example for the country and we have always been able to set examples around the world. He just won't do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The U.S. is setting the example of what? What not to do?

SLAVITT: Well, Representative Clyburn is sadly right. I think, we were having this conversation in February or March and you either said that the rest of the world, Europe and Asia, would have recovered and be closer to normal and we wouldn't. It would had been incredibly puzzling.

You know, I worry somewhat -- I don't know how you feel about this, that because this now increasingly a problem in more marginalize communities, Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Imperial County, California, Miami, essentially people of color, that this is less of a priority for the administration and quite frankly, a Senate that left town without extending unemployment insurance for low income people that are really hurting. And I just can't believe the response that we have shown to this tragedy.

LEMON: Well, I think most people feel that way. Andy Slavitt, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us. I want to bring in now CNN's Fareed Zakaria. The host of Fareed Zakaria GPS, right here on CNN. Of course, Fareed, thank you so much. Let's talk about your new op-ed in the Washington Post where you talked about President Trump's botched pandemic response. You say that his turned the presidency into a reality TV show and this pandemic reveals the limits of that.

FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS SHOW HOST: Yes, you know, it's one thing that, Don, we don't recognize because we see the White House -- you know, the White House has become a kind of symbol of power all of the world. You know, you have the West Wing, you have movies made about it, constitutionally, the presidency is a weak position.

It was designed that way. It's not the first branch of government, it's the second branch of government. And the founders always wanted there would be checks and balances on it. So when you have a national emergency. When you need something that requires purposeful national action, the president really has to work at it. Because you have power dissipated in Washington, dozens of agencies, Congress, courts and then you've got to deal with not just state governments but local governments to bring that all together.

[23:10:07]

You know, I was talking to one of the people who worked at both the Obama White House and the George W. Bush White House and they are saying the only time that happens is when the president takes real command, has a couple of people around him, who are sitting there and they are running the government. They are pulling it all together, makings it happen. Reminding people at every agency, the president of the United States, your boss, wants this to happen.

The president calls up Governors, you issue national guidelines, you tie aid to those guideline so people adhere to them. You know, in other words, it's hard work, and for Donald Trump, the presidency has been a TV show. There's this moment in, you know, (Inaudible) talks about the Governor of Michigan, when she was handling both the pandemic and the dam that burst and the floods. She called up Trump for help and started explaining the importance of invoking an emergency and FEMA.

And Trump says to here, you know I think you are doing great. You look great on T.V. That is his definition of doing a good job. You get out there on TV, and say something that there are going to be tests at Walmart, every, you know, within five days. There's going to be 15 minute tests with this machine, I have it. The fact that none of it actually happens doesn't seem to matter to him. But on the ground, that is what matters and what we are seeing is this gap between a reality television presidency and a disease that is, you know, that requires actual management. Executive function presidency.

LEMON: Yes, I was talking to a lawmaker earlier, the phone call that was overheard, and then they put it out. And Chris played it on the show earlier. And he was more concern about -- he said about monuments, I have 95,000 retweets or something. And it's like, who cares? Who cares? You know, you point to Germany as a useful comparison. A country that has a weak central government like the U.S. the chart of that per 100,000 people, the U.S. has more than four times as many deaths as Germany. What did Germany do right and what did we do wrong?

ZAKARIA: So the first thing is that, it's a great comparison, Don. First, they started moving early. The minute they started to see it happen, they didn't delay. And that turns out to be very important. Because when you're talking about exponential growth, even starting a week earlier, you'd be surprise, but if you do the math, you are saving 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 lives.

So they got started early. The second thing they did, was they all -- you know, yes, it's a very weak decentralized system. But they got together and it was done by the chancellor and it was done by the national leadership. And they came up with common standards. They came up with a common approach. There was some variation, you know in a democracy, that's always going to happen.

In Germany, you have some places that have slightly different lockdowns in other places, because as in America, it was local. But then the Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to really play the role of a national leader. She adhere to the guidelines. She said that very clearly, wearing a mask, social distancing. She explained them on television then in great detail and being a scientist, and she had real credibility in explaining it and she said to people, look, these are the metrics we're looking at. We're in a lockdown. If these metrics go down, we come out of the lockdown, if they go up, the lockdown stays.

You know, it was really like telling people, hear the standards, hear the guidelines, getting the rest of the government at all levels together. And you know in our case, every one of those metrics is different. We started late. We doddle. The president never issued any kind of national guidelines. He decided to let the states have a kind of free for all, competing for resources. Competing for supplies. And then he started to undermine his own guidelines.

So, when the government of Georgia says he is going to come out of the lockdown sooner than the federal government was telling him to come out of it, Trump cheered him on. You know, Trump was undermining the guidelines of his own government. I mean, that is sort of crazy stuff you would see in a movie. But not in real life.

LEMON: Well, this is real life right now sadly. And if you look at places, Fareed, where U.S. citizens can travel right now, the list is embarrassingly small. Have we become a global pariah?

ZAKARIA: Well, you know, there is a metric that is used which is the power of the passport. And it's seen as in a way of proxy for the power of a country, right? And even some small countries have incredibly powerful passports. So like Singapore, as I think the most powerful passport in the world, meaning you don't need a visa, with a Singapore passport anywhere in the world. America used to have one like of the top five, but now, you're right. There are like 10 countries we can go to.

[23:15:08]

And understandably. All these countries are doing it not on the basis of emotion, not on the basis of any kind of anti-Americanism, they are doing it on the data, and on the data on a per capita basis the United States is doing pretty much at the bottom of the industrialized world. And so, when you look at it that way and you say, you know, would you take -- would you take the risk of importing -- you just managed to crush this disease. Are you going let Americans in?

It's a sad symbol of what has happened to America. You know what, when I was growing up in India, Don. People disagree with American foreign policy a lot. And they were criticized a lot of the American foreign policy decisions, but they always admired America as a highly successful country. You know, the idea was whatever they may be doing in Vietnam, we still think this the most advanced, amazing country and economy and you know, system. I don't think people are thinking that about America today.

LEMON: Yes. Fareed, I've been wanting to ask you about this, James Murdoch, the youngest son of Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, he has resigned from the board of news core which includes the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. He is citing disagreements over editorial content. He had already left the company that houses Fox News which is playing right into the president's narrative. What is your reaction?

ZAKARIA: Well, James Murdoch is a very smart guy. He is very intelligence. I have met him several times and I think he -- it's not so much that he is very liberal and that, you know, that he has a problem with Fox, just purely politically. It's that he believes that sudden core issues like global warming, which he cares a great deal about.

That what Fox is doing is actually denying reality, denying the facts, denying the truth. And I think that's -- actually a very important point to make, it's not about you know, what one's analysis of attacks (inaudible) or the other. But when you are in a position where you are denying something that 99 percent of scientists say, when you are denying it in a way that really imperils, you know, the future prospects of the planet, that's -- that goes beyond the political disagreement.

I think what he is saying is that these places are not functioning in a way that the media, you know, particularly large media organizations are meant to which is to adhere to facts --

LEMON: To tell the truth.

ZAKARIA: -- to care about facts. To care about reality. To tell the truth, exactly.

LEMON: Yes, and you know, denying that, you know, the pandemic and wearing masks and promoting white supremacy and on and on and on, and so, and this is -- those things are not about politics, really. That is about caring about human rights and decency and dignity and also facts and reality. You're right on with it. Fareed Zakaria, thank you and I love your fancy ear pods. I have to get a pair.

ZAKARIA: I just got them, actually. Here is the box, just for you, I got them for you, Don.

LEMON: Oh, thank you, Fareed. They work well, I guess. You know, we got through the segment no problem. Thank you, Fareed, have a great weekend, we will be watching. Make sure you watch Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday, 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. right here on CNN. Again, our thanks to Fareed Zakaria.

A new study finds more than 40 percent of kids at one summer camp caught coronavirus. What does it say about schools? And new post office procedures which have delayed mail across the country could affect mail-in voting in November. But guess who is behind those new procedures.

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[23:20:00]

LEMON: I want to tell you about a new CDC study about a coronavirus outbreak in Georgia, at a Georgia summer camp. Raising major questions about the push to reopen schools. Within days a camp had to shut down because more than 200 children tested positive for the virus. I want to bring in now Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Program at George Washington University Hospital. I can't get my mouth to work properly tonight.

Thank you doctor for joining us. I appreciate it. Listen, this is scary. Because the outbreak happened in the very first week of this camp. Even though each child had to test negative before arriving. Really alarming. And what's the big -- what stands out to you in this case?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What stands out to me that anybody is surprised? You know, Georgia is one of the hot spots in the United States and you bring hundreds of kids, mostly from instate but a smaller amount from out of state together, along with some older teenager counselors and you can't expect that to be a sterile environment.

The other thing you can expect to happen, something that the president said which is the children are immune to the disease. They're not. So, if you look at the data, a large number of the children, at least half the kids who were there are infected after a single counselor got sick. And when you look at the kids who did turn positive, over half of that number age six to 10, really young age groups that some people have thought maybe were sort of more resistant to infection.

But anyone who's lived with a little kid, who gone to school, knows that kids come home sick all the time. And that is what will happen in a school environment. Kids will give the infection to other kids. Oh yes, one other thing, the big point is that about a quarter of the kids who were infected with the virus were asymptomatic. So, the virus spreads asymptomatically, from kid to kid, the kids will bring it home and the parents are going to get it.

[23:25:04]

LEMON: Yes. Well, that -- listen, earlier in the summer or early summer, late spring, I heard people saying, I wonder if my kid's camp is going to be open and wanting to send them. I don't get it. I don't have kids, but that would be the last place I would be thinking about sending my kid to a camp. I would be wanting to be with my kid. But that's me, I don't get it. I want to you check out these numbers. The numbers of ages of the kids. Right? Because you just mentioned, some are 51 percent of the ages, six to 10. 44, ages 11 to 17. But you know, again, the president is saying that they are immune. And your medical opinion -- everything the president says about these virus is wrong, is that correct?

REINER: Everything he says about it is wrong. It's either -- it's basically this toxic mix of magical thinking and deliberate sort of misinterpretation and outright lies. Everything the president says about the virus is wrong. You can bank on that, and people need to listen to the scientists. If you want to know what is it going on? You know, listen to people like Andy Slavitt. Listen to people like Peter Hotez. Listen to Tony Fauci. Those are the people that are telling you the truth.

Mr. Rogers used to say, you know, tell the kids to look for the helpers. I'm telling the American public, you know, to look towards the scientists. The scientists will tell you the truth. And the truth is here, yes, kids will get sick and kids will transmit the virus to adults.

LEMON: That's the truth. Ain't it the truth? Thank you very much, Dr. Reiner. Have a good weekend.

REINER: My pleasure. You too.

LEMON: Budget cuts leading to a backlog at the postal service and it has some worried about mail-in voting come Election Day. The details you need to know. Plus, I'm going to talk to the Governor of Colorado, where all voters -- all voters have received ballots in the mail since 2013.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump is continuing to push his unfounded claims about mail-in voting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history. By the way, you guys like to talk about Russia, China, and other places. They will be able to forge ballots. They will forge them. They will do whatever they have to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But at a closed-door House briefing today, his own intelligence officials contradicted the president. A source is telling CNN that senior intelligence officials dismissed the possibility of foreign powers being able to interfere on a mass scale to reproduce and send fake ballots to voters and election authorities.

But despite the president's claims, the biggest threat to our election this November may be what he said -- he and his team -- excuse me -- are doing to the U.S. Postal Service. CNN's Jessica Dean has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cost cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service are raising new concerns about delays in mail delivery and the potential impact on vote by mail in November's election.

Employees of the United States Postal Service say new rules enacted by the new postmaster general, Trump loyalist Louis DeJoy, are delaying mail delivery across the country.

MARK DIMONDSTEIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION: We are getting a lot of reports from both workers and customers, and over the last two weeks, the mail service has really been degraded.

DEAN (voice-over): A USPS internal memo obtained by CNN details some of the changes DeJoy has made, which include ending overtime and extra trips for postal workers. Quote -- "One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees," the memo reads, "is that temporarily, we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks, which is not typical."

The U.S. Postal Service says it is not slowing down the delivery of election mail or any type of mail. But with a record number of ballots expected to be cast by mail because of the pandemic, delays could throw the November election into disarray and undermine the confidence the vote was fair.

LORI CASH, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION LOCAL 183: I am afraid that the election mail will somewhere get lost in the shuffle. I'm terrified of that. We will do everything we can to pull mail out, to make sure it goes forward.

DEAN (voice-over): Washington State, which is entirely vote by mail, is currently holding a primary. Secretary of State Kim Wyman says her office talks with the postal service every day.

KIM WYMAN, SECRETARY OF STATE OF WASHINGTON: We definitely noticed that it is a little slower. We are getting reports from voters, you know, that typically, they would get a daily pickup of their mail, and in some complexes, like an apartment complex, they are seeing a day or two pass before their mailbox is full again.

DEAN (voice-over): The USPS maintains this is a cost cutting measure to help the financially-strapped postal service, which has requested billions of dollars from Congress in COVID-relief funds. That request for congressional funding became a point of contention during COVID relief talks when the Trump administration rejected the request.

The service insists it is not intending to slow down any delivery or risk any election mail, and the service is independent of any political influence, saying in a statement -- quote -- "The notion that the postmaster general makes decisions concerning the postal service at the direction of the president is wholly misplaced and off- base."

But the stakes are high for the USPS to follow through on its promise of on time delivery. Thirty-two states currently will not count ballots that arrive after Election Day, even if postmarked earlier.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[23:35:00]

DEAN: And of course, there is heightened concerned over all for this due to President Trump's continued, unfounded attacks on vote by mail and its security. Don?

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate that, Jessica.

I want to bring in now Colorado Governor Jared Polis. His state mails ballots to all registered voters. It is good to see you, governor. Thank you so much for joining us.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Always a pleasure, Don.

LEMON: So the president is continuing to push the theory that mail-in voting will lead to fraud. But Colorado has been doing this since 2013. Has it led to a voter fraud in your state?

POLIS: You know, this is such a strange -- I mean, everybody watching us in Colorado, Don, and you have a lot of fans here, as you know, knows we've been voting this way forever.

I mean, we -- 74 percent of Colorado voters in 2012 said we want to do mail-in as the default. Before that, in 2010, 2008, a majority of voters already voted that way. So, it is a safer way to vote. We have signature verification. People can research all the different ballot initiatives.

Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, nobody is against this. It's just -- it's a good way to vote. It's extremely popular. So we are just looking sort of shocked that the rest of the country would be having this discussion.

LEMON: Since you said that, have other governors been contacting you or your voting officials to find out how Colorado is doing it, why you're so successful, how you're so successful? POLIS: Well, you know, this is a little played out nationally because actually, most states have some form of mail-in ballot. Now, some states make it easier to get than others. And by the way, in Colorado, you can vote on Election Day.

If you lose your ballot, if you throw it out, if you didn't get it, if you just want to go into a voting booth, you can actually do that. Something like 0.4 percent of voters does that, Don, because it is so much easier to vote from home and then just put it in a drop box or a mailbox.

LEMON: So, the president is claiming that delays in processing mail-in votes would undermine the legitimacy of the November election. What should other states be doing to prevent that?

POLIS: So different states with mail-in voting have different laws about that. In some states, you have to post market by Election Day and it can still arrive later and be counted. In Colorado, it needs to arrive by Election Day.

So, what we always advise, the secretary of state and county clerk say, either mail it a week before Election Day or what most Coloradans do, Don, is they put it in a drop box. There are drop boxes all over. They're red, white, and blue. They're patriotic. You can simply put it in the drop box right through Election Day instead of having to worry about putting it in the mail.

LEMON: Well, that is what -- the Harvard study university survey from 2016 found that 73 percent of voters in Colorado actually dropped their ballots off at a physical location like a drop box or local election office.

POLIS: We have those in grocery stores, libraries. They are really all over. There is actually far more of them than there are those old- fashioned blue mailboxes. So it's very easy, saves you the price of a stamp and you know your vote counts.

LEMON: Governor, Colorado along with Utah, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, one of only five states that conduct elections entirely by mail, right? So far, people out there who aren't familiar with the process, can you explain please how it works? Every registered voter gives the ballot sent directly to their home and then --

POLIS: Yeah. So, you know, if your listeners or viewers know anybody in Colorado watching on the other stations, call them and they will tell you how they've been voting.

You get it in the mail. It's a ballot. You know it has all the questions on it. You fill it out, you sign it. There is a signature verification process. When you register at the DMV the first time or if you changed your address, you might need to include a photo ID that very first time and a signature sample.

But then it is automatic. They make sure the signature validates. If there is any problem, there is a cure period after the election. You can check right online to make sure your ballot is received. We always do that.

The ballots go in, couple days later, check the website, oh, it counted. If there is any problem, there is a cure where you can make sure you sign our ballot. So it is very easy, it's very secure, it reduces voter fraud, and it reduces a barrier to participation.

LEMON: Governor, thank you. I see that you are doing well. I hope your family is doing well. And also, stay safe. Thank you.

POLIS: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Could baseball shut down? That is apparently what Major League Baseball's commissioner is warning players could happen. Bob Costas is here with me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Major League Baseball announcing Friday that two members of the St. Louis Cardinals have now tested positive for COVID-19, and a CNN source within the Miami Marlins says the team has a total of 21 members who have tested positive.

The new cases are bringing the total of players and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week up to 29.

The Cardinals game originally scheduled for today has been delayed but the league could have bigger problems on its hands than just one game.

ESPN is reporting that the commissioner, Rob Manfred, warned the head of the players' union that he could be forced to shut down the season if the virus continues to spread. There is a lot to discus with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas.

[23:45:00]

LEMON: Bob, that is a lot.

BOB COSTAS, HOST AND ANNOUNCER, MLB NETWORK: Hey, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. We just talked about this a couple days ago. So, 21 members from the Marlins are now positive. The commissioner is reportedly talking about cancelling the season. What do you think?

COSTAS: Eighteen of those 21 are Marlins players and eight teams, including the Marlins, have had their schedules affected in some way. So leaving the most significant concern aside for the moment, that of course is the medical concern, you've got a scrambled schedule, you've got the possibility of further outbreaks, of teams being unable to feel competitive rosters.

So, I think Manfred, A, is correct, when he says he may be forced to take that regrettable step. But B, it is also a warning to the players. MLB conducted an investigation of the activities of some of the Marlins players both within the ballpark and outside the ballpark.

Team officials dispute some of what has been said and written about that, but in general, the MLB investigation found that they were lax and MLB was very displeased. And they fear that other teams are also not as aware as they should be of the protocols. No spitting, no hugging, no high fives.

Just with the games we have recently seen, the Dodgers and the Astros, the bench is cleared because the Astros, as you know, face a lot of resentment. And Joe Kelly of the Dodgers threw at a couple of Astros players. The bench is cleared. No punches were thrown but they are right up in each other's faces, not wearing masks.

Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays, a wonderful player, I don't know him, I'm sure he is a nice guy, he got a game winning hit a couple of days ago, started hugging everybody, and then said afterwards, I'm not going to let it completely control my demeanor and the way I act.

The game is supposed to be fun and he didn't appreciate the irony of the next sentence. He says I hope my spirit is contagious and that other players catch that kind of enthusiasm.

So now, Manfred wants everybody to understand, we are not fooling around here. Surgical masks, not cloth masks. On the road, you stay in your room except when you're going to the ballpark. Every team has to have a protocol control officer. And this is how extreme it's become.

That protocol control officer will arrange the seating on the bus, not just socially distancing on the bus, but making sure that the players who are more likely to fool around or whatever, aren't seated too close to each other. Much like in grace school, Mr. Lemon, Mr. Costas, if you don't behave yourselves, we are going to have to separate the two of you.

That is what it has come to. And if there are that many needles to thread, as I have been saying from the beginning, with fingers crossed that somehow they can pull this off, if there are that many needles to thread, logistically, operationally, medically, you realize that they've got a very tough road to go if they're going to get from here to the end of October.

LEMON: You just took me back to grade school because that happened a lot with me.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTAS: Me, too.

LEMON: Yeah.

COSTAS: Wise guy in the back of the room.

LEMON: Yeah, naughty (ph) catholic cool. Nuns spanked me and all kinds of stuff. OK, so Bob, let's talk about basketball now. The NBA season is back underway now. Every player, coach, referee from the first two games last night kneeling during the anthem. Commissioner Silver was even issuing a statement in support. This is Lebron James after his game last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, CURRENT PLAYER, LA LAKERS: The game of basketball has always been bigger than just the ball and the rim, and 10 guys on the floor with referees. There's been progress. But in the past, when we have seen progress, we let our foot off the gas a little bit. We can't do that. We want to continue to keep your our foot on the gas, continue to push forward, continue to spread love throughout America.

We're dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality, not only in my neighborhoods, not only with black people but people of color. It's something that we want to continue to have people's ears open to. We have ears now. We cannot stop putting our foot on the gas, as we've been doing over the last few months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Bob, what are the differences we are seeing in this season compared to just few years ago in the way the professional sports franchises are handling this?

COSTAS: Yeah, it seems that they are all on board in one way or another, and I think that Adam Silver was correct when he said on CNN yesterday that even though the league has had a longstanding rule about standing for the anthem, or if you don't wish to do that, staying in the locker room, that he is suspending that rule in this moment.

This moment is unique, and I think that's the right thing to do. I think you can also say this, that you want, as Lebron said, and I applaud for him for much of what he had said and done, you want this to continue beyond this seminal moment.

But if every sports event becomes a political demonstration, I think that will be in the long run off putting even to those who are in substantial agreement with the cause itself. So there has to be a way. In this moment, have at it.

[23:50:00]

COSTAS: And this moment extends for several months. It extends through this year. But after that, players have a platform beyond the field or beyond the court, and they can use that effectively. But it is after all a business. And even those who agree, if they turn on a game for escape, they don't want to be constantly confronted with issues that they deal with in other places.

They deal with it when they watch CNN or whatever. I think that is a legitimate concern. I think that Lebron and other thoughtful people will appreciate that. But that is down the road. For now, I think it is the right thing.

LEMON: Bob Costas, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much. Be well.

COSTAS: Thank you, Don. LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The latest episode of my new podcast, "Silence is Not an Option," is out right now. This week, we are talking police reform. You can find it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app. Here is a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENJERAI KUMANYIKA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY (voice- over): I think when people think about police, they think, oh, the police are here for public safety. And that's why the police were invented. The big thing that I think needs to be corrected about that is to say: the police were created to produce social order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)