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U.S. Cases Surpass 4.5 Million as Record Number of Infections Reported to W.H.O. in Last 24 Hours; Trump in Florida as State Sees Deadliest Day of Pandemic, Greets Crowds without Mask; Trump Ramps Up Effort to Sow Doubt in 2020 Vote, Warns of "Greatest Election Disaster in History"; Hurricane Warnings Issued For Parts Of Florida; California Sees First Coronavirus Teen Death; Massive Increase In Mail-In Ballots Leaves N.Y. Race Still Undecided; Tower Of London's Beefeaters Face Layoffs For First Time In 500 Years As Virus Cuts Tourism. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:15]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news.

The United States has just surpassed 4.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases as the World Health Organization now says it's had a record number of cases reported in the last 24 hours alone. Almost 153,000 Americans have now lost their lives in this pandemic over the past five months. And now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is projecting about 20,000 more coronavirus deaths in the United States in the next three weeks.

Also breaking right now, President Trump is in Florida, which is reporting a fourth straight day of record coronavirus deaths. But he chose to greet a crowd -- look at this, without wearing a mask.

Let's get some more on all the breaking news we are following.

CNN's Erica Hill is in New York for us. Erica, we now have 4.5 million known cases in the United States, probably more than that. But the number of infections, it keeps going up and up and up on a very daily basis.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, that's right. Even where we're starting to see a plateau, part of the issue there is that the plateau is very high. And as you point out, 4.5 million known cases.

But just over a month ago, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that based on antibody test, it's likely that the number of people who have been infected could be 10 times that. All of that as officials give us the tools that everyone needs, to help control the virus, wear mask, physical and social distancing, avoid bars, avoid crowds, wash your hands. And, yet, this virus is still not under control. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think that with such a diversity of response in this country from different states that we really did not have a unified bringing everything down.

HILL (voice-over): There was not one national plan to get the virus under control. And despite guidelines from the White House, there wasn't a unified plan to reopen either.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We should've been able to anticipate that these surges of infections would occur. And I think so much of our response has been reacting to what's happened rather than anticipating what's ahead.

HILL (voice-over): Those decisions now playing out in real time. While things are looking better over the past week, even in the recent hotspot of Arizona, California and Florida, Texas seeing a slight decline in new cases. Infections are growing in the Midwest. And deaths which lag by at least two to four weeks are rising. The CDC now predicting fatalities could top 173,000 in the next three weeks.

GOV. PHIL SCOTT (R-VT): Taking personal responsibility is the best way to keep this in check and win the war against this invisible enemy.

HILL (voice-over): Hospitalizations are hitting record highs in several states. Earlier this month the administration moved to bypass the CDC, telling hospitals to send their data directly to HHS.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Dr. Redfield, when did you first learn? When were you first told? When were you first notified?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CDC: Again, as I mentioned, I wasn't involved in the decision --

WATERS: So you weren't -- am I to understand --

REDFIELD: I don't remember the exact date --

WATERS: Am I to understand that you were not told at all?

REDFIELD: Well, I was told actually once the secretary's office made the decision that that was the decision. And we worked together.

HILL (voice-over): In the early epicenter, just 1 percent of tests are now coming back positive. New York City, the nation's largest school district, releasing new details about the plan for hybrid learning and how it will deal with an outbreak.

TED LONG, EXEC. DIR. TEST & TRACE CORPS: If there's a case in a classroom, the kids, students, and the teacher are going to quarantine for 14 days no matter what.

HILL (voice-over): Schools in Indiana and Georgia already welcoming kids back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to start. We need to get our kids in school.

HILL (voice-over): As a new study finds infections could be controlled at colleges this fall if students are tested every two days. Many universities have already decided to move learning online instead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Wolf, as you know, so many local school districts are grappling now with this question of what do they do for the school year? Some have pushed the start date out. Others have already gone back to school. And an interesting note out of Texas this afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott and others releasing a statement saying that quote, "local health authorities do not have the power to issue preemptive blanket closures of schools weeks or months in advance of when a school may open its doors to students." Wolf?

BLITZER: Erica Hill reporting from New York. Thank you.

[17:05:00]

Let's go to the White House right now where our senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown is with us. Pamela, the president is casting new doubt amidst all of this on mail-in voting. And you're getting new information from your sources. What are you learning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump giving this ominous warning that foreign adversaries could tamper with a ballot to tamper with the election. But we're learning tonight, Wolf, our sources are telling us that U.S. Intelligence officials are dismissing that concern in closed-door briefings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history.

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, just 95 days before the U.S. election, President Trump is stoking fears of election interference, pushing an unfounded conspiracy on the use of mail-in voting.

TRUMP: Nobody wants that date more than me. I wish we would move it up. OK? Move it up, but you're not prepared for what they're doing.

BROWN (voice-over): And laying the groundwork for a contested election.

TRUMP: They're not prepared for an onslaught of millions of ballots pouring in. You watch. They're not going to announce anything on November 3rd. They're not going to announce it on the 4th or the 5th or the 6th. It'll go on forever.

BROWN (voice-over): His advisers even ramping up the assault with false information. STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: Nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed. Nobody checks to see if they're even a U.S. citizen.

BROWN (voice-over): Fact check noncitizens aren't allowed to register to vote in federal elections. And mail-in ballots are authenticated. CNN has learned during a closed-door House hearing today top intelligence officials dismissed the possibility foreign powers would interfere on a mass scale by producing and sending fake ballots to voters and election authorities. Despite this claim by the president.

TRUMP: By the way you guys like to talk about Russia and China and other places. They will be able to forge ballots. They will forge them. They will do whatever they have to do.

BROWN (voice-over): Instead, U.S. officials are concerned foreign adversaries will exploit the president's vocal depress of mail-in voting as part of their online campaign to sow discord surrounding the election.

President Trump also visited the ground zero for coronavirus, Florida, which is shattering its own daily records for new cases. As Trump continues to make false claims about testing for the virus, which is already claimed the lives of over 152,000 Americans.

Tweeting today, "we do much more testing than any other country in the world. If we had no testing or bad testing, we would show very few cases."

Soon after the nation's leading infection disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci directly refuted that claim yet again.

FAUCI: You see, if you do more testing, you're going to see more cases. But the increases that we're seeing are real increasing in cases as also reflected by increase in hospitalization and increasing in deaths.

BROWN (voice-over): Fauci and other key members of the Coronavirus Task Force were on Capitol Hill today trying to determine a national strategy going forward.

All this as enhanced unemployment benefits for millions of Americans are set to expire at midnight tonight with lawmakers and the White House in perpetual gridlock. There seems to be no agreement in site as each side blames the other.

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They're going in the wrong direction because of partisan politics. It is very disappointing.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They don't even have a vote for it in the Senate. But let's get real about who says what. We passed a bill 10 weeks ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And President Trump arrived in the coronavirus hotspot of Florida just in the last hour. And as you pointed out, Wolf, he is seeing greeting law enforcement officers there at a distance not wearing a mask. This is a consistent theme with the president. He did the same in Texas not wearing a mask. So, this is what we consistently see from him. Meantime we should note, Wolf, that Pelosi is expected to hold a meeting with Senator Schumer as well as Mark Meadows, the chief of staff and Secretary Mnuchin tomorrow morning to try to hammer out a deal. Wolf?

BLITZER: As far as wearing a mask, the president could easily set an example for all his supporters. Wear a mask. It will save lives. But unfortunately, he doesn't want to do that. All right, Pamela Brown, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us. Also, with us, Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Sanjay, the country as you know just surpassed 4.5 million confirmed cases. The CDC is now projecting that the death toll here in the U.S. will pass 173,000 in the next three weeks or so by august 22nd. What would you tell every person in this country to do over these next few weeks to try to keep that number as low as possible? These are real human beings, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They are dying.

[17:10:00]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, I absolutely agree with you. And it's tough to think about these numbers and we recite these numbers on the side of the screen. It's just tough to think about all of the people that have been affected by this.

But the answer in terms of what can start to bring down the numbers really has not fundamentally changed for the last several months that we're talking about this. Yes, we talk about the vaccine and therapeutics and everyone's hopeful for those. But we've seen example after example around the world where you know basic things can start to bring down the number. So, we can show you know Dr. Fauci talked about this last night in our Town Hall.

If for the next few weeks people were honest and diligent and did this widespread across the country, I'm confident we'd start to see the numbers come down and probably stay down. Wear a mask consistently, maintain the physical distance, bars really just have to be avoided. You're inside, it's going to be closely clustered. You're not wearing a mask. That's the highest risk sort of scenario. Keep away from large crowds. Wash your hands. Sounds too simple almost, Wolf. But if everyone did it honestly and diligently and widespread around the country in a national way, we would make a huge dent in this.

BLITZER: It would save thousands -- tens of thousands of lives over the next few months. Dr. Jha, the latest IHN of University of Washington Medical School model has revised its projected death toll upwards once again to now more than 230,000 deaths in the U.S. by November 1st. Partly due to people being a lot less cautious. Is this because people are fatigued with all these safety measures, the one Sanjay just mentioned? Or are they choosing simply to defy them or some combination?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, Wolf. Thank you for having me on. You know my feeling is that there is a couple of different things going on. One is certainly pandemic fatigue. But I always try to remind people we still have a long way to go. And so, we've got to figure out a way to get through this.

But the second is the sheer amount of misinformation and lack of clarity from our political leaders. And I think that really does sow a lot of confusion. People believe if the president or if other people are saying masks are not important or if our political leaders are sort of downplaying these basic safety measures, that somehow it must not be that important. And I think that's really harming our nation. And so, what we need right now is our president, our entire federal leadership, governors, mayors, civic leaders to be on the same page. And that page is a public health page, it's a science page. If everybody can be on that page, we can get through this much, much more easily.

BLITZER: We certainly could. Sanjay, there's a new study, very alarming study of an overnight camp in Georgia - near in Georgia that could provide a lot of lessons for schools potentially this fall that are hoping to reopen. Tell us about this study. Who put it up?

GUPTA: Yes. I know this camp well, Wolf. This was an analysis that was done looking at what happened at this sleepaway camp for young people. And I can tell you, some 600 campers showed up there five days after orientation started, one of the staffers got sick. And as a result, they sent that person home, tested positive for COVID and started to slow down and eventually stopped the camp.

But take a look at what happened. Some 44 percent -- 260 of the 600 children became infected and that's just of the ones who were tested. There may have been more. But take a look at the age breakdown here, Wolf. 51 percent were between the ages of 6 and 10. Had 44 percent ages 11-17 and ages 18 to 21. These are the infection rate. So out of people of those age groups, that's what percentage got infected. So, 51 percent of 6 to 10-year-olds became infected.

It's important, Wolf. You know there are certain CDC guidelines that are out there in terms of coordinating a camp, making sure just like Ashish was talking about. Making sure everyone is wearing masks, make sure most of the things are done outside, ensure ventilation system.

What we found - what the study revealed was that these guidelines weren't necessarily met, certainly not uniformly. And as a result, you had a significant outbreak. This is the sort of thing that schools are thinking about, Wolf. What happens if a single teacher, faculty member, somebody gets sick, what are you going to do and how many people could potentially be affected.

BLITZER: This was a study that was put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's alarming when you look at it and you're thinking about sending kids back to school if they don't have the proper requirements in those schools. Sanjay, thank you very much. Dr. Jha, as usual thanks to you as well. Up next, Florida facing possibly right now a hurricane - yes, a hurricane as the state sets a one-day record for coronavirus deaths.

Plus, we'll have more on the national security fears over President Trump's continued efforts to sow doubt about mail-in voting during a time of the coronavirus pandemic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:08]

BLITZER: Among the multiple break stories we're following this hour, President Trump continues to make unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting fraud even though his own intelligence officials are contradicting what the president is saying.

Let's bring back our senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown along with Ron Brownstein, he is the senior editor over at "The Atlantic." He's also a senior political analyst here for CNN.

Pamela, you've been doing excellent reporting on this. The president today made that totally unfounded claim that voting by mail would lead to what he calls the greatest election disaster in history. But your new reporting makes it abundantly clear the president's own top intelligence officials simply don't share that concern. Well, what impact could all of this have in the run-up to the election on November 3rd?

BROWN: Well, it could certainly sow distrust in the system and the election results. And that is what intelligence officials are very concerned about.

[17:20:05]

A source I spoke with today, Wolf, says there's a lot of concern in the intelligence and law enforcement community that foreign adversaries like China and Russia could exploit what the president is doing in terms of casting doubt on the election results and saying that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. Even this ominous warning from the president without any evidence that foreign adversaries could create fraudulent ballots to tamper with the election.

Intelligence officials I'm speaking to are saying essentially that's not the concern. In fact, they dismissed that concern in the closed- door briefing to the house just today. They didn't raise it. A lawmaker did ask about it. But we're told that essentially it was dismissed as the concern. Of course, there is a concern that foreign adversaries could hack into election and campaign infrastructures, but that's very different from this idea that the president is raising, Wolf, of creating fraudulent ballots widescale and tampering with the election. And, again, the concern is that what the president is doing could play right into the hands of our foreign adversaries in sourcing discourse online.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Ron, because I know you've been looking very closely at this. First of all, do Americans in general trust voting by mail? There has been a whole bunch of states either have only mail-in voting like states Utah and Colorado, for example. A bunch of others have a lot of voting by mail opportunities. Do the American people want to vote that way, especially during a time of a coronavirus pandemic where it might be potentially dangerous to go wait in a long line someplace at a polling station and vote?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, the polling this year is very consistent. I mean poll after poll, two-thirds of Americans say that people should have the option to vote by mail, especially during the pandemic. But the partisan divide over whether that option should be available and whether more mail voting increases the risk of fraud, despite the studies that you know kind of refute that. That partisan divide is, not surprisingly is widening. As the president you know continues to bang the drum against mail voting.

The irony here is that you know any political professional will tell you that in many states, Florida and Arizona to pick two, Republicans have relied more on mail voting than Democrats over the years. In 2016 nationally the best estimates are that the same share of Republicans and Democrats voted by mail about one quarter in each case.

And now you are starting to hear alarms from some Republican political professionals that President Trump is delegitimizing this tool and that Republicans are less likely to use -- I think there was a report that some Republicans burned their absentee ballot application that they received in the mail in Michigan.

The flip side is that Republicans in Congress are not so far being willing to provide states the money to deal with what will likely be many more people voting by mail in the past. As I said, about one- quarter in 2016 voted by mail. The best estimates are it could be one in two in 2020. And states are going to need some help in order to handle that magnitude.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, they're not getting the help yet they need in order to deal with counting all these ballots. Of course, you know, Pamela, there still is also no agreement on the next coronavirus stimulus package. The president on Twitter has been blaming Democrats. He says they're responsible for holding back federal checks. But it's Republicans who couldn't get necessarily on the same page themselves. There are significant differences among the Republicans.

BROWN: That's right. And we've seen this show before, right, where both sides blame the other. This is serious. This is impacting Americans across the country with this unemployment benefit of the $600 expiring at midnight. Still no deal. There is very much a log jam. And both sides seem very far apart.

You've heard Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, put the blame on the Republicans saying that they waited months to start and then, as we know, there was a lot of disagreement within the Republican party over what this deal should look like. And now you're seeing Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff, pointing his finger at the Democrats saying they won't accept what they're putting forward in terms of the short-term deal to extend the unemployment benefit for another week. Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have made it clear they don't want to piecemeal deal. They want something more fulsome. So, there is this meeting tomorrow morning with the key players in this. And we'll have to see what happens. But, again, those benefits expire at midnight tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, the clock is clearly ticking. Ron, the economic lifelines Pamela had been reporting for millions, millions of Americans the enhanced unemployment benefit will expire $600 a week for about 20 or 25 million Americans. They need this money. If they don't get it, a lot of them are going to go hungry. They might not be able to pay their rent. They will face evictions. This is really serious.

BROWNSTEIN: All signs, Wolf, have been as the virus has resurged, particularly across the sunbelt, the economic recovery has slowed. And what that means is as you say there are millions of Americans who are on the ledge.

[17:25:03]

And just think about this. The Republican Senate would be saying we are not going to extend help to millions and millions of people 90 days before an election where they are already looking uphill and facing real risk of losing control of the Senate. In the end it is hard for me to imagine that ideology can outweigh political interests to that extent. And I think they are in a weaker position than they are letting on.

BLITZER: Yes, this is really serious, and it will affect so many people out there. Ron, thank you. Pamela, thanks to you as well.

There is more breaking news we are following. Hurricane warnings just issued for parts of Florida as the state sees a record number of coronavirus deaths. We'll update you on where this hurricane is now heading.

Plus, more on the CDC's dire new forecast, 20,000 more Americans. 20,000 more Americans will die from coronavirus in the next three weeks alone. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:53]

BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following right now. Hurricane warnings have just been issued for parts of Florida with some areas now forecast to begin feeling the storms impact as soon as tomorrow. CNN's Randi Kaye is in West Palm Beach for us. Randi, between the pandemic and the hurricane this could be catastrophic for a big chunk of Florida right now. We just got an update on where this hurricane is heading.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we're certainly dealing with a lot here in the state, another 257 deaths again today. That's a record number again, 6,800 Floridians. Now, more than 6,800 Floridians are dead, more than 9,000 new cases and still about 8,400 people hospitalized in the state but now we're watching this hurricane that is barrelling towards the state of Florida. It could get here sometime tomorrow likely as a Category 1, but we'll have to see.

The governor talking earlier here saying that the state is ready. He went on to list a whole bunch of PPE supplies that he says we have on hand here, I'll share some of it with you. 1.6 million face shields, 20 million masks, 22 million gloves, 20,000 thermometers, 9.4 million bottles of water, 2.6 million meals ready to deploy. He also says that we have 50 generators and that all of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities also have generators, 100 percent of them

And that's good news, Wolf, because you remember back in 2017 with Hurricane Irma, 14 residents said a nursing home in South Florida passed away, 12 of them because of heat exposure, according to the medical examiner after the air conditioning went out. The division of emergency management also giving me some information tonight about the shelter plan here. If they do need shelters to open, there aren't any open yet. They hope to have no more than 50 people, they will be checking temperatures when people come in and they also hope to have 60 square feet per person in the shelters, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope that they get through this. The last thing Florida needs right now is a hurricane. We'll watch it together with you. Randi, be careful, I know it's supposed to hit just around Boca Raton and then head north where you are in Palm Beach County. Let's open moves off the coast a bit as it heads up the east coast of Florida over there. Thanks very much for that report.

Meanwhile from Florida, let's go to California, where there's other breaking news we're following. Officials there reporting the first death of a teenager in that state from coronavirus. A hospital statement says the team's death underscores that no age group is immune from the devastating impact of COVID-19.

The mayor of San Francisco London Breed is joining us right now. Mayor Breed, I know you got a lot going on. Thanks so much for joining us. As you well know the death toll in your state of California has just passed 9,000, very sadly. One of those people who passed away was a teenager. What more do you need to do in your state, in your city right now specifically to bring these numbers down?

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D-CA), SAN FRANCISCO: Well, it has a lot to do with behavior, Wolf. We got to get people wearing masks, socially distancing and not getting comfortable. I mean, there was a woman a case here in San Francisco where she held a baby shower. They wore masks, they socially distance and the woman who was pregnant still contracted the virus.

And I think it's really, you know, trying to get people to understand that we are not out of the woods and the virus may be -- we may be tired of the virus but the virus is not tired of us. We're going to be living like this for at least another year. So it's important that we start to change our behavior to reflect that.

BLITZER: The IHME model from the University of Washington medical school says California may, repeat, maybe starting to come down a bit from the peak. Thanks to increase mask use in your state, the impact of bars and restaurants closing in your state. Do you fear though that small progress will be lost if the state tries to reopen once again too quickly?

BREED: Well, I think that happened with the second wave in San Francisco. As you know, we were doing really well. And now we're at 6,500 cases, we have 105 people in the hospital and unfortunately, 59 people have lost their lives. Now that may seem like a small number, but from the very beginning, our numbers were really, really low and we were actually opening.

[17:35:05]

We had to not only pause but dial back our reopening efforts because of that fact. And again, people have got to get used to changing their behavior. This is what we're living in. And so we have to get more comfortable with changing how we interact with one another. This has been the biggest challenge when we find out through our contact tracing teams, the fact that people are still coming together in large groups and family groups. This is where people are spreading the virus.

BLITZER: Yes, we all have to get used to the fact we're going to be wearing face masks for a long time down the road. The White House testing, Mayor, today said they still can't reach that benchmark of getting test results back in two or three days even. What's the turnaround time for a test in San Francisco where you are, because it's so disturbing some parts of the country it's a week, 10 days, two weeks, which make a lot of these tests useless?

BREED: Well, it varies and this is why we need a national coordinated effort, because for our city test team, we're able to get those results back in some cases the next day. But with some of our state- run agencies and the challenges there with the labs that they're going to, it takes anywhere between five and seven days. Our private partners have really not stepped up to the plate in some ways because, you know, their task can take even longer.

And the fact is, there's no coordinated effort. We are doing the best we can to provide options to people of San Francisco, but we really need a national coordinated system around not only testing, but contact tracing so that we can begin to dial back the number of cases that we see are happening. All of these things go hand in hand.

BLITZER: Yes. Six months into this, so we still don't have a national program.

BREED: We still don't have it together.

BLITZER: I know. It's hard to believe. Where do schools reopening in San Francisco stand right now, Mayor?

BREED: Well, right now the schools are opening this fall with distance learning and so we know that even with the data, we've been able to increase internet speed, hand out, computers to kids who didn't have them in certain low income communities. But we are still seeing that our kids are not doing well, even in those instances. So we are setting up learning hubs all over San Francisco providing the appropriate number of young people social distancing, and people to help facilitate this process.

Because you know, the kids, you're talking about a gap in terms of learning and the challenges that these kids are going to face already, there is an achievement gap there and this is going to make it worse. So we're trying to open up these hubs and we're going to be able to serve at least 6,000 students. But I am very concerned about the fact that the schools aren't opening, and kids aren't getting the support that they need. This is very challenging for them.

BLITZER: It's challenging for the whole country right now. Mayor --

BREED: Yes.

BLITZER: -- thank you so much for joining us. Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, good luck to you.

BREED: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, a congressional district overwhelm by mail-in ballots. We're going to take a closer look at the lessons for the November election. Also, despite as coronavirus infection, a new complaints about a problem with his lungs, Brazil's President -- get ready for this -- he is traveling again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:50]

BLITZER: We'll have much more coming up on all the breaking coronavirus news, but there's other important news we're following as well. While President Trump claims with no evidence that mail-in voting will result in massive fraud. There's another issue, our states really prepared right now to handle millions of mailed-in ballots.

Our national correspondent Jason Carroll is joining us right now. Jason, you're in New York right now and we're seeing this play out in New York City. What's going on?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We certainly are, Wolf. The governor's office described what happened with mail-in ballots during New York's primary this way, she said was much like trying to build the plane while also trying to fly it. Critics say it was simply a mess.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Looking for what happens when a system fails at handling an influx of mail-in ballots, look no further than New York's 12th Congressional District. The Democratic primary between incumbent Carolyn Maloney and challenger Suraj Patel was held more than five weeks ago. As of today, there's still no winner.

SURAJ PATEL, RAN IN NECESSARY 12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT PRIMARY: The voters in New York 12 got screwed.

CARROLL (voice-over): The problem, Patel says, is the city Board of Elections and the U.S. Postal Service were grossly under prepared for the massive number of people voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the city Board of Elections, roughly 400,000 mail-in ballots were counted compared to fewer than 30,000 during the 2016 primary. Problems with the race drawing the attention of President Trump.

TRUMP: Everyone knows mail-in ballots are a disaster. Take a look at New York City, look at New York.

CARROLL (voice-over): Adding to the county concerns in New York, Patel says, are thousands of absentee ballots rejected for late or missing postmarks or signatures.

PATEL: Most of them have signatures and dates by the voter that say voted June 18, sign June 16. They're not going to get counted. Thousands of voters that are being disenfranchised.

CARROLL (voice-over): So what does this city or state Board of Elections have to say about these problems? Our repeated requests for an interview or statement were denied. The state Board of Elections provided a statement saying local jurisdictions had to deal with a more than twelve-fold increase in absentee ballots and had to follow appropriate social distancing and staffing protocol, so a longer canvassing process was one outcome.

[17:45:06]

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who decided in April to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters acknowledged this system needs to be improved. And the clock is ticking.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We did have -- not we -- the boards of elections had operational issues, some better, some worse. And they have to learn from them and we want to get the lessons and make the system better and make it better for November.

ZELLNOR MYRIE (D-NY), STATE SENATE: I think there is blame signal all around.

CARROLL (voice-over): New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie says the infrastructure needs an upgrade before November. One recent poll found 38 percent of Americans would prefer to vote by mail this fall.

MYRIE: Our post offices were not prepared for this. They weren't prepared for the volume. Boards of elections operating it, minimize capacity and dealing with a condensed timeline and increased volume. We're not totally prepared for this.

CARROLL (voice-over): The Board of Elections is finally expected to name Maloney the winner in the 12th. District on Tuesday, when the votes are officially certified. Patel says he just wants to make sure every vote is counted.

PATEL: We want to make sure that we do this right and count every vote. So we don't supply Donald Trump and Republicans with any sort of argument to discredit vote by mail. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And it should be noted that the city Board of Elections had approved to have extra mail processing equipment at some of these local sites. The problem is, Wolf, that those extra processing equipment didn't make it into the local sites in time for the primary. They say it should be in place in time for November. We'll see. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Coming up, our look at global coronavirus headlines right now including an easing of lockdown restrictions in the Bahamas to let people prepare for an approaching hurricane.

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[17:51:57]

BLITZER: In global coronavirus headlines, restrictions in place because of the pandemic are being eased in the Bahamas right now, not because things are getting any better, but because there's a hurricane approaching. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is monitoring the situation from Havana. Patrick, what's happening?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the prime minister of the Bahamas is easing some coronavirus lockdown restrictions to give people on those islands an opportunity to prepare better for the arrival of Hurricane Isaias. Bahamians will have more freedom of movement despite the lockdown. Supermarkets and hardware stores will remain open later.

These new lockdown measures had just gone into place. But with the arrival of Hurricane Isaias expected on Saturday, Bahamians now will have a little bit more leeway to get themselves ready. Of course, it is a unprecedented situation for Bahamian staff to prepare for a hurricane as they are in the midst of a pandemic.

Usually in hurricane, food and water becomes more scarce. Electricity gets interrupted, people have to seek shelters often in crowded conditions. And this is coming at the same time that coronavirus has already had a major impact on the Bahamian economy. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right Patrick, thank you. Patrick Oppmann reporting.

Brazil, meanwhile, its President is traveling again, despite complaining of a lung infection after testing positive for the coronavirus. Let's go to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He's joining us with the very latest, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Wolf, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gave a lengthy Facebook live last night in which he admitted he had something called mold on the lung, in his terms. He said he had a blood examination, had an infection which he blamed on his long period of confinements during two weeks in which he was recovering from catching coronavirus. He, in fact, said that the unproven ineffective drug hydroxychloroquine had got him through the disease. Now it's entirely possible actually what he's experiencing is the long-term side effects of the disease. We have to have direct communication with this doctor frankly to know more.

But earlier in that day, he was seen on horseback at times not wearing a mask as well, in front of his supporters. Sad scenes, possibly if downplaying the disease. Whilst at the same time First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro has just tested positive after being around senior cabinet ministers in the previous days. The numbers are still awful, 58,000 reported in the last 24 hours. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh in Brazil for us, thank you.

The European Union, meanwhile, is reporting its sharpest economic drop on record due to the coronavirus pandemic and continent wide shutdowns have caused. CNN's Scott McLean is in London for us and has found one sign of just how dire things have become. What are you learning, Scott?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if you're looking for a sign of just how widespread the impact of the coronavirus has been to Britain's economy, look here, the Tower of London which has withstood the plague, the great fire and the blitz, but the coronavirus is a different kind of crisis.

[17:55:02]

The tower is open but with hardly any tourists. It's limping along with its savings and some government wage subsidies both of which will dry up in the coming months. That means that even Britain's iconic beefeaters, the guardians of the Crown Jewels inside are facing layoffs for the first time in 500 years. If their jobs aren't safe, it seems no one's is.

Across the U.K., almost 10 million people have been furloughed. Many others have simply been laid off. If there is a silver-lining here, it's that this is one of the best times to be a tourist in England. That is, of course, if you still have a job and if you can get here. Wolf?

BLITZER: Scott McLean reporting from London, thank you.

There's more breaking news here in "The Situation Room". The U.S. now passes the 4.5 million mark as cases of coronavirus rise in 20 states. And tonight, there are some new and very disturbing projections of how many more Americans are about to die.

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