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COVID Cases Spiral, GDP Numbers Sink; Single Gathering Transmission Behind West China Flare Up; Trump Casts Doubt on November Election; U.S. Experiences Worst Economic Plunge on Record; Tower of London Beefeaters Face Layoffs for the First Time; Hottest Temperatures of Year Expected in Western Europe; Kicking Out the Coronavirus; Smaller Crowds Participate in Hajj's First Ritual; Final Farewell to Civil Rights Icon Rep. John Lewis. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 01:00   ET

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


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

And ahead this hour. The cost of coronavirus, rising deaths and new concerns the pandemic is taking a huge bite out of two of the world's largest economies.

Donald Trump muses out loud that the virus could delay the U.S. election. A question his critics argue is only a distraction from the real issues facing the U.S.

And social distancing getting a lot harder in Western Europe, with perhaps the most severe heat wave of the year set to strike.

A warm welcome, everyone.

We begin with new details on how the coronavirus pandemic is spiraling out of control here in the U.S. Taking the economy and possibly the election with it.

Because people aren't wearing masks or social distancing, researchers at the University of Washington project another 80,000 Americans will die from the virus by November.

New figures from the U.S. government show the economy meanwhile suffered its worst decline on record between April and June, down near 33 percent annualized.

First time unemployment claims also up for the second straight week.

And then the U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting this on Thursday. That the U.S. might have to delay November's election.

He can't do, that by the way.

But he says people will be afraid to vote in person because of the pandemic and he doesn't trust mail-in ballots. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just feel -- I don't want a delay, I want to have the election.

But I also don't want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn't mean anything.

That's what's going to happen, Steve. That's common sense. And everyone knows it. Smart people know it, stupid people may not know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, the man leading the U.S. vaccine effort says he's optimistic every American can get inoculated by the end of next year, if not sooner.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is still too soon to make predictions about any vaccine's effectiveness.

CNN's Erica Hill has more headlines from across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Months into this public health crisis and the United States is moving backwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: This should not be acceptable for the wealthiest nation in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: COVID-19 related deaths in California topping 200 for the second day in a row, as Florida reports a record number for the third straight day.

But it's not just the south and west causing concern.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: So now we see the virus probably because of vacations and other reasons of travel moving up into Kentucky, Tennessee, Southern Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Maryland's governor urging residents to avoid travel to several hotspot states to help stop the spread.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. JODIE DIONNE-ODOM, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, BIRMINGHAM: In Alabama, we're at 19 percent test positivity. In Texas, 12 percent test positivity.

And that number means that there's a lot of infection that we are still not picking up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Michigan limiting indoor gatherings to just 10 people and closing indoor service at bars statewide.

As more states link a rise in cases to social gatherings and to young people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: I think there is somewhat of a misperception. Some people feel it is binary; either you get nothing or you get so sick you're in the hospital and/or you die.

It's absolutely not the case.

And that's one of the things that's confusing, particularly to young people who think -- and the statistics kind of favor that -- that they're somewhat invulnerable, which they're not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Dr. Birx doubling down on masks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIRX: We believe if the governors and mayors of every locality right now would mandate masks for their communities and every American would wear a mask and socially distance, that we could really get control of this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:05:00]

HILL: As Americans wait, the losses are mounting.

Unemployment claims up for the second week in a row. The U.S. economy just posted its worst drop on record, rent and mortgage payments are due. And the $600 weekly supplement expires tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JEFF SMITH, COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SANTA CLARA COUNTY: The recovery from the economic damage, if we get the virus under control, will be a long-term recovery.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: Meantime, the FDA says it could issue an emergency use authorization for a vaccine in a matter of weeks, once it's deemed safe and effective.

Though experts note this is not an immediate solution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. LEANA WEN, FMR. BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: It still will be only rolled out to, let's say, healthcare workers and those most at risk. And then it's going to take time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Here in New York State, a little bit of good news.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing on Thursday the positivity rate is just over one percent and that hospitalizations and intubations are at new lows.

He also announced $30 million being sent to counties around the state for contact tracing, also to help ramp up and be prepared for flu vaccinations that will be coming in the coming weeks and months.

And also noted that a team of health staff is being sent to help out now in Utah.

In New York, I'm Erica Hill, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Joining me now is the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden.

Great to have you with us, sir.

You are now the President and CEO of "Resolve to Save Lives." And I want to raise that in a minute.

But let's start with you used to be the CDC director.

When we see the CDC in this crisis not giving daily briefings, the CDC getting bypassed when it comes to data when we see them changing or tailoring their guidelines and advice after pressure from the White House, what goes through your mind?

Do you worry that some of the messaging is being affected by politics and political pressure?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FMR. DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: All over the world, Michael, what we see is the places that do better are places that are guided by and fully support public health.

And by better, I mean they have fewer cases, fewer deaths, and less economic disruption. Being guided by science means hearing from the experts, the top specialists in this area, daily or near daily. That would help us get on the same page.

Absent that, what we're hoping will happen is that every state and county will begin presenting data in the same way, so we can track this pandemic much better and get a much better control over it.

Do you worry that the organization that you once headed has been politicized and that that's impacting the messaging from it?

FRIEDEN: The same great scientists are there today who I was privileged to work with for eight years under President Obama.

They need to be able to speak directly to the American people.

What you can still find on the CDC website is a lot of great information. Rigorous, scientific, recommendations, information, communication. Publications coming out, even today, showing, for example, on the delicate topic of elections, how elections can be held more safely with more mail-in and absentee ballots, more drop-off ballots.

And, if needed, in person how you can do that as safely as possible.

HOLMES: And pretty timely too, it must be said. But we won't go down that road.

I wanted to ask you about vaccines. A lot of faith being put on a vaccine. A WHO official today said a vaccine available to everyone is still a year or two away -- if you're listening to Russia, it's next week.

But even when it comes along, it won't solve this overnight, will it? Is there a risk at looking at a vaccine as being the end of it?

FRIEDEN: We need to get past the "one thing." Whether it's a travel ban or masks or tests or contact tracing, or staying home, or even a vaccine, no one thing is going to make this pandemic go away.

There are three things we need to be careful about with a vaccine. Does it work? Is it safe? Can we get it to people?

And for each of those three things, there are a series of steps we have to go through.

In the U.S., it's very important this goes through independent advisory bodies; one at the Food & Drug Administration and one at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Those two bodies will give public information so we can know exactly what is happening with this vaccine.

You don't rush a vaccine into people, you don't cut any corners on safety. Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions ever. They have saved

hundreds of millions of lives, and it's the single most important thing we could do to get some semblance of normalcy back.

But that's going to require doing it carefully and not messing it up.

HOLMES: There is global competition out there but also nations also want to look after their own, and there, of course, money to be made and influence to be wielded, whoever gets it first.

The president made the point Thursday that the U.S. holds 90 percent of the world supply of remdesivir.

To that point, speak to the risk of I think what's being called "vaccine nationalism."

[01:10:00]

FRIEDEN: We're all connected. And we're not going to get our lives and our economy back unless the pandemic is controlled globally.

To think that we can control it here alone, after everything we've been through, is just delusional.

And that's why it's so important that we recognize that vaccines are a global public good. And it's in all of our best interest to get vaccine out as quickly as possible, to as many people as possible.

And that may mean compulsory licensing, that may mean supporting a manufacture of vaccine. Basically, open source for how this is done, as long as it's done safely and carefully.

But ultimately, we're getting ahead of ourselves because we don't know that we have a vaccine that's safe and effective yet.

HOLMES: Yes. And you can only hope it's not used as a tool of influence.

I did want to get to what's over your left shoulder.

You're involved these days with the "Resolve to Save Lives" initiative, which in part is focused on epidemics in particular in low and middle-income countries.

And that's so important at the moment.

What do you think when you look at the COVID risk for those countries?

FRIEDEN: COVID is a teachable moment. Many of us have been saying for many years that something like the pandemic will come, and we need to be much better prepared as a world.

And, sadly, this is not necessarily the worst-case scenario. There will be a next one.

And what we need to do globally is have a sense of solidarity, fully support the World Health Organization. They are essential to combatting this.

They are necessary but not a sufficient condition to make the world a much safer place.

So as we move forward, we need to think of what more we need to do to strengthen the ability of countries all over the world to find, stop, and prevent health threats when and where they emerge.

And we're privileged to work in dozens of countries in Africa and elsewhere. It's been impressive to see how investments that have been made in recent years have allowed these countries to respond rapidly.

And in some cases, quite frankly, in a much more organized and consistent fashion than the United States has to find, stop and prevent the spread of COVID.

HOLMES: That's actually a very good point. I just finally wanted to ask you.

We've just completed six months since the declaration of a pandemic. Where do you see things six months from now?

FRIEDEN: Well, first off, in the U.S., we've passed 150,000 deaths and COVID will be the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. If the U.S. had the death rate of Germany, COVID wouldn't be in the top 10.

So what happens in the next 6 months very much depends on what countries do.

Right now, Latin America is getting hit very hard by COVID. The U.S. still doesn't have it anywhere near under control. And in parts of Europe and Asia, you're seeing risks of a resurgence.

So the future is very uncertain. And the more we unite but stay physically separate, the better we can control this.

HOLMES: Dr. Tom Frieden, a pleasure to have you on and get your expertise on this. Thanks so much.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

HOLMES: A number of countries in Europe and Asia that thought they had the virus under control are seeing signs of resurgence.

Japan reporting 1,300 new infections on Thursday, its third day in a row with a record increase.

The government says it is not considering a state of emergency, but Tokyo's governor is asking bars and restaurants to cut back on their hours.

China also reporting an increase in new infections, more than 100 for the third straight day.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following developments for us from Hong Kong.

Bring us up to date on the latest numbers and also the spike in Xinjiang.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Cases continue to climb upwards in Xinjiang as China is battling this new flare-up of infection.

China today reported 127 new COVID-19 infections, of which 123 are locally transmitted. This is the third day in a row that China has recorded over 100 new cases of the virus.

Let's bring up the fresh data for you from China's National Health Commission.

China is reporting, again, 127 new cases, including 123 domestic ones.

Of those domestic cases, 112 were reported in Xinjiang and 11 in Liaoning, that's the province where the port city of Dalian is located.

China also reported another 11 asymptomatic infections, which it doesn't include in the original tally.

Now let's zero in on Xinjiang now; 111 of those 112 new cases in that far western region are in the capital of Urumqi. Xinjiang has a total of 523 confirmed cases day of 520 are there in the capital.

Now this is we know about the cases in Xinjiang.

It is stemming from what's been described as aa gathering activity. Those infected, according to officials, have not been abroad this year.

[01:15:00]

It's concentrated in the Tianshan District of Urumqi, that's the core downtown area of the Xinjiang capital.

We're also learning new details of a new government policy on people wanting to move in and out or to leave Urumqi.

Now according to the government, it says non-residents, non-locals, who have been in Urumqi for more than two weeks, if they wish to leave Urumqi, they have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test, proof of a negative COVID-19 antibody test, as well as the green health code, QR code, on their smartphones.

It was about just about two weeks ago when the government in Urumqi declared that the city was in a wartime state.

In this city which has a significant population of 3.5 million, entire residential compounds have been under lockdown. Subway systems, bus systems, have been suspended.

Citywide testing is still underway. Michael. HOLMES: Wow. What a situation. Kristie, good to see you. Thanks for that.

Kristie Lu Stout there in Hong Kong.

Now Argentina has reported its deadliest day so far from COVID-19.

The country's health ministry reporting 153 deaths on Thursday, the biggest increase since the outbreak began. Overall, the virus killing more than 3,400 people there.

Argentina has the sixth highest case count in Latin America, with more than 185,000 infections.

And Brazil's health ministry recording nearly 58,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. And that's just the cases we know of.

The virus is spreading through the top tiers of the government, meanwhile. And it's now infected the president, Bolsonaro's wife.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: At times it can be hard here in Brazil to try and match the tone of the government's behavior with the severity of the crisis they are facing.

Let's just deal with ordinary Brazilians first.

58,000, almost, new cases in the last 24 hours across Brazil.

That's not the full picture, because it doesn't capture the number of people who possibly have the disease, some studies suggesting the official numbers represent about a sixth of that.

You have to be pretty badly off to get a test here on public care here in Brazil.

The day before that, 24 hours earlier, was a record of 70,000, almost, new cases. So the numbers here are terrifying.

But the president himself continues to get bad news.

Sadly, the First Lady Michelle bolsonaro yesterday tested positive for coronavirus.

That's after her husband, Jair Bolsonaro, the president, recovered after a two-week long infection with the disease.

He persistently touted hydroxychloroquine, the unproven, ineffective medication, during, before and after his infection.

Now the first lady, she was around some senior cabinet ministers in the days before her diagnosis. And there have been some concerns about how prevalent the disease is in the highest levels of government.

Add to that too, the somewhat the bizarre scene of Jair Bolsonaro earlier today on horseback among supporters in the north of the country, some of whom were unmasked.

And then at the end of the day, on a Facebook live, talking again to those again to those who bothered to tune about how his earlier health minister who was anti-hydroxychloroquine was bad, and how his current health minister was good because he was good at organizing the Olympics.

And strangely, throughout, an accordion player was behind him apparently advocating tourism in the country.

Very odd scenes from the government. To some degree, odd messaging.

Two days ago, when they got a record number of cases, they simultaneously seemed to also open air travel to foreigners after a months-long ban.

It's hard to reconcile their behavior with the severity of the crisis and that seems to be possibly the reason why the crisis is so severe.

Deeply troubling times here. Every day the numbers seem to be greater cause for concern.

Nick Paton Walsh. CNN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The U.S. president attacking an election he's at risk of losing.

After the break, we'll dive into the unproven claims Donald Trump is making about mail-in voting and why it matters.

[01:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Donald Trump casting doubt on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election before even a single vote has been cast.

He spent much of his day promoting the baseless claim that mail-in voting would lead to massively fraudulent results. And he's suggesting that the election might need to be delayed.

Let's be honest about that. He can't do that, by the way.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump honoring the life of his friend and one time presidential candidate, Herman Cain.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday, President Trump came out at this briefing.

He noted the death of his friend, Herman Cain, one of most prominent people to die so far from coronavirus.

And of course, as it was widely reported at the time, Cain contracted coronavirus after a series of travel, his family said.

But notably, the president's indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late June which Cain attended. And then several days later he tested positive for coronavirus.

And only days after that, he was put into the hospital and, of course, that's where he spent the last month before his family tragically announced that he had passed away yesterday at the age of 74.

Now when the president was addressing Cain's death at his briefing yesterday, he did not note that Cain had been at his rally, seen in pictures not wearing a mask. Of course, that was that rally where masks were not required and several staffers at the time ended up testing positive.

But instead of focusing on coronavirus completely as his aides have encouraged him to do, the president yesterday suggested delaying the election.

Something that was met with a pretty rare rebuke from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

But when the president was asked about that tweet at the briefing, he defended it by saying that he was concerned that it would take too long to count the number of ballots if the election did turn into that, a mail-in ballot primarily kind of election.

Like some officials have talked about because they're so concerned about people going to vote.

Instead, the president made repeated false claims about mail-in ballots and mail-in voting saying that they're subject to fraud and inaccuracy.

Though he said he claimed to point to several articles, CNN has found that there is no evidence that they contribute to inaccuracy when it comes to elections.

Yet the president pushed it anyway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the net effect of what you tweeted this morning and what you're talking about now to cast doubt on the results of the November 3rd election?

TRUMP: Well, it's had an interesting impact. I didn't know it was going to be the impact it had. What people are looking at is am I right? But not me. Are all these stories right about the fact that these elections will

be fraudulent, they'll be fixed, they'll be rigged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: But what's important to keep in mind as you're listening to these comments from the president and reading these tweets, critics say it's basically a distress signal.

That the president realizes his polls are in trouble and he's going ahead and trying to undermine the election so in case he loses to Joe Biden, he can sow doubt over the results.

Kaitlan Collins. CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Former President Barack Obama took note of Mr. Trump's election comments, making a not-so-thinly-veiled swipe at President Trump and others for attacking voter rights.

While speaking at the funeral of one of the champions of voting rights, the late congressman John Lewis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.

(Applause)

By closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws. And attacking our voting rights --

[01:25:00]

-- with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Ron Brownstein is CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic." Joins me now from Los Angeles.

Always a pleasure, sir. Good to see you.

Let's get out of the way that tweet raising the possibility of delaying the election first.

The fact is that he can't do it --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

HOLMES: -- and to many it's pure distraction, as he is wont to do. And particularly on a day of brutal economic and unemployment numbers. But what does it say about his strategy to raise such a thing?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, obviously you got the first point right. Which is that it came out, the biggest quarterly decline in the GDP since the Depression.

And he wanted to change the subject. Which he succeeded in doing, as he often does, by raising an issue of his behavior that alienates a majority of the country.

We saw that in polling around the impeachment that a majority of Americans say that he believes he considers himself above the law.

And this was as powerful a demonstration of that as you could see.

Now to put something out that he knows he has no -- he has no capacity to do, I think he was really testing the waters to see how far Republicans will go with him in his efforts to delegitimize this election.

And it was striking to me today, Michael, that while Republicans said he was incorrect, not many of them, if any, said he was wrong. This was dangerous, a president shouldn't be talking that way.

So this is TBD about what the party reaction will be as he continues to try to argue that this election cannot be trusted.

HOLMES: Yes. Very good point. They did indeed not reject it outright.

We heard from Barack Obama there, the former president, speaking at John Lewis' funeral on Thursday.

And you tweeted about that. And I want to read just part of that tweet.

You said you --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- "did not expect such a consequential, sharply defined Barack Obama speech on this occasion."

And you go on to say:

"He drew a straight line from Selma to Lafayette Park and Wallace to Trump. A signal of how sharply Obama may define the stakes in the weeks ahead."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

So well put, as always, Ron Brownstein. I mean, how do you expect Obama's role to play out in the run up to the election? Because he's been fairly quiet to date. BROWNSTEIN: Yes, he has been. And he's been extraordinary deferential, that kind of President's Club, you don't criticize your successor.

I think today was a real marker. That was an extraordinary speech, in many ways.

You know, usually at these events, if there's criticism of the current administration, like, for example, at the John McCain funeral, it's always oblique. It's less direct than Barack Obama was.

And Bill Clinton and George W. Bush kind of fit in that tradition earlier.

But then Obama came up, and he not only equated, I think very clearly, Wallace and Trump and Selma and the actions of the administration against non-violent protesters in the past few months, but he also tied it to a very specific agenda.

On the same day that Donald Trump was talking about delaying the election, Barack Obama talked about expanding voting rights, expanding access to voting. Reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act that was eviscerated by the Republican majority in the Supreme Court in 2013.

And he went so far as to say this was important enough that, if necessary, Democrats should end the filibuster in the U.S. Senate to achieve this agenda -- which is, of course, the rule that allows the minority to block voting.

I said today that I thought that Barack Obama saying end the filibuster before Joe Biden could be the equivalent of Joe Biden embracing gay marriage before Barack Obama.

It could be kind of that stake in the ground that signals where things are going.

HOLMES: Fascinating. And it's going to play a role, that's for sure.

I wonder, actually, on the Democrats' side because it was something that stuck out to me this week. Th Democrat's platform committee voting down Medicare for All.

This is something the overwhelming majority of their voters want, and it comes as millions have lost their health insurance during a pandemic.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

HOLMES: There are those on the progressive left who see the Democrat establishment already as part of the problem, and the health industry lobby having too much sway.

What did you make of that? Because Democrats, the voters, they want that.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's entirely consistent with Biden's approach, right?

He had a very ambitious climate plan, but it doesn't ban nuclear power, it doesn't ban the internal combustion engine in 2030 as Bernie Sanders wants to do. It doesn't ban all fracking in the U.S.

And you can go up and down the line. By any historic standard, his agenda is on the progressive side of things.

His vision of the public option, for example, as the alternative in health care to single payer is so much more inclusive and ambitious than what Obama tried to pass in 2009.

You can go up and down the agenda. Ending the use of carbon- generating power by 2035.

[01:29:56]

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But it doesn't go all the way, and that's a reflection of his belief that his strength as a candidate is the capacity to appeal to ordinarily Republican-leaning voters in the center of the electorate who may have given Donald Trump a chance in 2016 but have been horrified by the tone and especially by the incompetence that has been displayed over the last few months in the pandemic. So it's very consistent with Biden's vision of how he wins.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: That was senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein speaking to me there.

Well, parts of western Europe, really feeling the heat at the moment. Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, find out what is fueling the rising temperatures, and how long they are expected to last.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

The headlines for you now.

U.S. President Donald Trump drawing rebukes from both parties after he suggested the November election might need to be delayed, repainting a baseless claim that mail-in ballots would mean inaccurate or fraudulent results. This is not true. The American president has no authority either to delay an election.

The pandemic has triggered America's deepest economic contraction on record. The U.S. economy shrinking at an annualized rate of nearly 33 percent between April and June. It comes as first time unemployment claims went up for the second week in a row.

CNN's Eleni Giokos joins me now from Johannesburg to talk about all of this. I mean when you listen to the President today, last week, whenever -- he talks up the economy. He says the third quarter is going to be great, fourth even better, next year boom. And then look at this. What do you make of it?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean exactly. And it's been sustained. We had Larry Kudlow also saying that he's expecting second half GDP growth to spike to 20 percent.

I mean look we are hopeful that we'll see a really good economic recovery in the next few months. And you also got to remember that the economic data that is playing out on a weekly basis is going to be really important. It is a barometer of what's to come.

So yes, second quarter GDP numbers really disappointed in the sense that it's the worst number that we've ever seen historically. It is not comparable to anything we've seen before in previous crises.

And this is what makes it really scary. That it was anticipated because it was the depth of the pandemic, the depth of the lockdown. It really shows the catastrophe that we saw in terms of consumer demand destruction.

And remember, when you are asking the lifeblood of your economy to stay home and not spend, 70 percent of what accounts for U.S. GDP is the consumer. This is the result.

[01:34:56]

GIOKOS: Now, you mentioned unemployment insurance claims that are coming through and those initial claims numbers are really important. They spiked up for two weeks in a row. Now, we see an incremental increase there but we had a really good steady decline for on 15 weeks. And that created hope. Now that hope seems to have dissipated and now the question is what is to come.

It is also directly correlated, Michael, to the fact that we've seen coronavirus cases increasing across the United States. That is a concern and that, of course, could threaten the state of the U.S. economy.

HOLMES: It's been interesting having a look at the markets. I mean, Japan gets an increase in coronavirus cases and markets go down.

GIOKOS: Yes.

HOLMES: The Dow in the U.S. seems to be doing its own thing. I mean, the Dow can be boosted by just a few stocks doing well. Tech stocks have done doing well.

What are you seeing in terms of earnings because to the average, you know, onlooker, it is a parallel universe?

GIOKOS: It absolutely is. And I just want to remind you of the global financial crisis of 2008. We saw huge stimulus and all the money basically flowed through financial markets. And that is why we saw a big boost in equity prices.

Right now, we're seeing money flowing to the consumer. But any kind of stimulus really is good news for markets. They always look forward and price in future earnings and future recovery,. And basically what the market is telling us is that they are hopeful of a really strong economic recovery.

You mentioned Japan. Any country where you're starting to see an increase in coronavirus cases is directly correlated to the fact that whether they can reopen and start getting back to economic activity.

But tech stocks we know have been the favorites. And earnings always bring everyone back down to earth because it's a really good barometer of what the real numbers are. Its valuations are really just too high.

Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, Apple -- all beating expectations. Apple (INAUDIBLE) quarter. We saw sales expanding by 11 percent. Amazon has been a favorite. Everyone has been buying online and collectively these companies have really been boosting. But the question is does the average U.S. consumer have access and exposure to the markets to benefit from the stock increases? That is the big question.

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely. Eleni Giokos, thanks you so much. Good to see you there in Joburg for us.

Beefeaters or yeoman warders are ceremonial guards at the Tower of London. Perhaps you've seen them on a visit there. And for the first time in their more than 500-year history, they're facing layoffs, thanks to the coronavirus. Visitors, of course, are staying away from the tower, which is one of Britain's biggest tourist destinations.

CNN's Scott McLean tells us what is on the line.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Standing tall for almost a thousand years, the Tower of London is one of the most secure places in Britain. It houses the crown jewels and the Yeoman Warders who guard them, one of the country's more secure jobs, until now.

This time, last summer, how many people would be here?

ANDREW JACKSON, GOVERNOR, TOWER OF LONDON: So on a busy summer's day, we would have upwards of 10,000 people here. And it is not unusual to see 13,000 -- 14,000 and on Sundays 15,000 people.

MCLEAN: While the legend has it that the British crown and kingdom depends on six ravens remaining inside the Tower grounds, the Tower's finances rely almost entirely on donations and ticket sales.

A steep, sudden drop-off in tourists have left a COVID-sized 98- million-pound hole in the budget. Staff, including the ceremonial Beefeaters, have been asked to take voluntary severance package.

Hours have already been cut 20 percent. And this fall, the axe will come down on more than one-third of the payroll.

JACKSON: It's really bad news. But we've got no other thing that we can do. MCLEAN: The plight of the Beefeaters and their civilian colleagues is

the latest and most British example of just how far-reaching the damage of COVID-19 has been to the economy. Almost 10 million people have been furloughed. Many others are simply out of work.

Not a single Beefeater has been laid off in 500 years. If their jobs aren't safe, it seems no one's is.

You saved for a rainy day. This is a lot more than that.

JACKSON: Nobody anticipated the scale of the crisis. Either in our industry or anywhere else.

MCLEAN: The Tower of London brings in more than 100 million pounds each year. This year, it expects only 12. The British government has guaranteed a 26-million-pound bank loan, but the Tower may not make enough money to repay it in the two years when it is due.

One Tower employee told CNN, there is a feeling of fear amongst the staff that hasn't been felt before. That is understandable, considering that behind each of these doors is a family home. All of the Beefeaters live here on site, and for them losing their job would also mean losing their house.

The government says it is already subsidizing wages for furloughed employees but that money dries up this fall. With global tourism not expected to fully recover until 2024, the only thing that might save jobs at the most fortified building on the Thames is a sudden invasion of tourists.

Scott McLean, CNN -- London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:40:00]

HOLMES: Parts of western Europe are looking at the hottest temperatures of the year so far -- mostly Spain, France and southern regions of the U.K. The highs will be anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees above normal. The region has endured longer than usual heat waves in recent years.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with more on this. Good to see you, my friend.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Michael, good to see you as well. This is what happens when you combine extremely high temperatures for several weeks on end and then the extremely dry conditions. You get forest fires and wildfires and that's what they are battling here across northwestern sections of Spain.

Look at this dramatic photo of that firefighter just trying to contain some of the blazes there. This is on the stretch of some of the hottest weather of the year, so far. For Madrid, you can see temperatures there in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees for the afternoon. This is temperatures yesterday. We're talking about Thursday and there's the 10 to 15 degrees Celsius above average. It's not just Madrid or the Iberian Peninsula but it stretches into Belgium, as well as parts of the Netherlands, into France and even portions of the U.K.

This is going to continue at least for the next 36 to 48 hours, depending on where you are located. But there is some relief in sight. I'll show you that in just one second.

Here's the forecast daytime highs. The highest ones we could see today, at least. Paris, France 39 degrees. Your average temperature for this time of year, 24. That is incredible amounts of heat. So lots of red on this map.

But as I mentioned, it is going to cool down. And we want to see those reds replaced with the greens and the yellows because that indicates the milder temperatures. It will be slightly cooler weather. And that is what we get to enjoy, as we head into the end of the weekend and the early parts of next week.

So just be patient, one more day of extreme heat for Paris. But you can see how the seven-day forecast dramatically cools things off. We see the mercury in the thermometer start to go downhill, right where we need it because it has just been oppressive for the fast few days.

And London is more of the same as well. You can see a dramatic cooldown from Friday, Saturday, into Sunday. And of course, when you get these warm temperatures, it doesn't take much to spark off a few stronger thunderstorms. Heads' up across the Ukraine and into a western Russia, chance of isolated, large hail and damaging winds tonight.

Michael, back to you.

HOLMES: All right. Good to see you, Derek. Appreciate that. Derek Van Dam there.

VAN DAM: Thank you.

HOLMES: And we shall take a short break here on the program.

When we come back, Thailand claims it's virtually kicked out the coronavirus. But some experts say, they are not so sure.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: With nearly 3,300 reported coronavirus cases and not even 60 deaths, Thailand considers itself a coronavirus success story. And now the country claims it has eliminated community transmission of the virus.

CNN's Anna Coren has our report. [01:44:52]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thailand and its scenic capital of Bangkok welcomed more Chinese tourists than anywhere else in the world. It was back in January when one of those travelers, a man from Wuhan, became the first COVID-19 case diagnosed outside of China.

But fast forward to now and Thailand says it has crushed COVID-19. Officially, just over 3,000 of the 66 million-strong population have caught the virus with only 58 deaths. After two months, all new cases in the country have been brought from overseas.

So how did Thailand do it?

DR. SURAPHONG SUEBWONGLEE, GOVERNMENT PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISER: The network of the epidemiologists and the village health volunteers is the most important factors in controlling the COVID-19 in Thailand.

COREN: A bitter fight against the mosquito-borne dengue fever last year left Thailand in a strong position to jump straight on to a new infectious outbreak, experts say.

When COVID-19 struck, one million public health volunteers were already assembled and prepared to fan out across the country. When a case was discovered, this team of friends, family and neighbors traced and isolated it straight away.

"Our strength is that we know our community. We know who is most at risk," says one volunteer. "People are scared of this invisible disease. They know how quickly it can spread. That's why people are so cooperative."

In a country that calls itself the Land of Smiles, public health officials believe that tradition has kept people safe. And acceptance of face masks and a long-standing culture of showing respect by keeping social distance helped to protect Thais.

"We are just the soldier ants," says this registered nurse. She says her role is to communicate and provide people with safety gear and food when they need to isolate.

When cases began to climb in March, borders were closed and businesses locked down. Bustling Bangkok went quiet. Thai martial artists fought their final rounds. Shadow boxing in empty stadiums after the sport was linked to massive outbreaks. Schools that closed swiftly look very different now that classes have resumed months later.

But what about the dreaded second wave? Like the ones that have hit other previously successful nearby countries like Australia and Japan?

DR. SUEBWONGLEE: If the second wave occurs again, I think that we can manage better than in the past because we have the experience. I'm not afraid to deal with the coronavirus. COREN: But could all of this be too good to be true? Despite the low

numbers, a state of emergency continues to be enforced in Thailand by a government that came to power during a military coup in 2014.

As Thailand recovers from its first bout of coronavirus, its economy remains stagnant. This sleepless city now in a deep freeze.

And small groups of protesters are beginning to demand more transparency from their government and a way out of the coronavirus economic slump.

Anna Coren, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The World Health Organization is warning African nations not to ease coronavirus restrictions. The WHO's regional director expressed concern with how other countries saw a resurgence of infections once they loosened up safety measures.

Cases across Africa have doubled over the past month. Five countries make up 75 percent of the total cases with South Africa leading the way. The continent is expected to surpass one million cases in the coming days.

And thanks to coronavirus, only a fraction of the usual crowds are allowed to participate in this year's Hajj, one of Islam's holy rituals. But worshippers who did attend say this year's pilgrimage has a special purpose, a chance to pray for the whole world.

Jomana Karadsheh reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a Hajj like no other in modern history. The global pandemic turned Islam's most important annual pilgrimage into a symbolic one -- strict social distancing transformed the movement of the faithful around their holiest shrine, the Kaaba, into this perfectly choreographed event. A stark contrast to years past, when more than two million Muslims would converge on Mecca for this religious obligation.

DR. ABDULLAH ASSIRI, SAUDI ASSISTANT DEPUTY MINISTER FOR PREVENTATIVE HEALTH: This year has, of course, been exceptional for the whole world. And so it was imperative that we have to make a balance between allowing people to perform their religious duties and also in the same time keeping them healthy and safe.

KARADSHEH: An army of cleaners have been working around the clock, mopping and disinfecting the holy sites, with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia is not taking any chances.

[01:49:57]

KARADSHEH: For the first time in decades, no pilgrims were allowed to travel into the country. It's only Saudi and foreign residents of the kingdom, about a thousand, who have undergone a rigorous selection process, COVID-19 tests and mandatory quarantine before and after Hajj. But pilgrims say it's worth it. They have been allowed to perform the pilgrimage of a lifetime.

SARAH LAGDAA, MOROCCAN FRENCH PILGRIM: You know, when you are feeling like cherished by God. I mean like cherished because I've been feeling so lonely. I was really alone. And doing the Ramadan alone. Fasting, you know, without my family and everything. I took like -- it took a great toll on me.

KARADSHEH: Australian Kenny Yusuf says performing this Hajj is a privilege.

KEHINDE "KENNY" YUSUF, AUSTRALIAN PILGRIM: Having the chance to be able to like pray for the entire world to heal from this pandemic, it is one of my -- I see that as a co-responsibility for this year's Hajj.

KARADSHEH: With the world coming to grips with the new normal, one of its largest mass gatherings may never be the same again.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- Istanbul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And we'll be right back after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: 20 weeks after a pause caused by coronavirus, one of the world's most popular sporting leagues, the NBA, resumed on Thursday evening in the so-called bubble in Orlando, Florida. The league has never not completed a season in its 74-year history. And it took months of planning bringing 22 teams into isolation with no fans.

Well, a lot has happened since the March shut down. And NBA players paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. And then moments after tip off in the opening game between the Utah Jazz and New Orleans, the Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the very player who mocked the coronavirus and then caught it, was the reason the NBA shut down in the first place, well, he scored the first basket.

Play will continue through October when a champion will be crowned, again with no spectators. That's just going to be weird.

Months into the pandemic, coronavirus cases still rising at staggering rates in the U.S. as we have been reporting, leading many to wonder if there is any end in sight.

Earlier, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci told our Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta the U.S. missed its chance to control this outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Six months from now, where do you think we are in the arc of this crisis? We talk about vaccines. In the past, you have said first or second inning. I know you like baseball metaphors. But where are we, really, you know, in the arc?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, it is impossible to predict, Sanjay, because, you know, when we were looking at the increase and then going down -- if it had gone all the way down to baseline the way some of the European countries and the Asian countries have done, then you could say, you know, if we hold tight we may be in the seventh or eighth inning, if you want to stick with the baseball analogy.

But that didn't happen. We came down to about 20,000 cases per day -- 20,000 for weeks and weeks and weeks. And then we had the unfortunate surge in the southern states where it went up to 40,000 -- 50,000 -- 60,000 -- 70,000 per day. And now, it is down between 50,000 and 60,000.

[01:55:01]

DR. FAUCI: So when you are at that level, the thing we need to do is really to put out all the stops, to get it down to baseline, and to keep it there by doing the things we have been talking about, and that I have been talking about consistently.

If we do that, Sanjay, I think we are well towards seeing this under control. If we don't, then we really can't make a prediction about how long this is going to last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And coming up at the top of the hour, you can watch Dr. Fauci's full interview. A replay of CNN's "GLOBAL TOWN HALL: CORONAVIRUS FACTS AND FEARS", that is up next.

I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for spending part of your day with us. And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Before we go, a final farewell to civil rights legend and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. He was laid to rest on Thursday after a moving and sometimes fiery service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church here in Atlanta, Georgia. It concluded a week of tributes honoring a truly remarkable life.

I'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: He loved America until America learned how to love him back.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the America John Lewis fought for and the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got our last

letter today on the pages of "The New York Times". Keep moving. It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us our marching orders. Keep moving.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is a double rainbow over the casket. And for us, it was we wave goodbye when he started to leave us. He was telling us. He was telling us. "I'm home in heaven".

REV. JAMES LAWSON JR. ACTIVIST AND TEACHER IN NONVIOLENT ACTION: At an early age, we recognize the wrong under which we were forced to live. And we swore to God that by God's grace, we would do whatever God called us to do in order to put on the table of the nation's agenda. This must end. Black lives matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:57:46]

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END