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Press Conference With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL); Georgia Camp COVID Outbreak; Florida Reports Thousands Of COVID Cases; L.A. Food Banks See Surge In Demand As Unemployment Benefits Expire; New Polls Suggest Uphill Climb For Trump Reelection, Even In Georgia; Trump's Economic Approval Rating Drops Since January; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Speaks To NFL Chief Medical Officer On Keeping People Safe. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 1, 2020 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: This one from severe weather. President Trump issuing a federal disaster declaration. As what has become Tropical Storm Isaias turns very close to the coast, as a state there has reported more than 9,000 new infections daily for the last five days. Now, this hour, we are going to go to this presser with the Florida governor with the very latest. Let's listen in.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: -- county line and the National Hurricane Center is predicting storm surge of two to four feet, potentially. From Jupiter Inlet all the way up to Ponte Vedra in northeast Florida.

Palm Beach County has issued a voluntary evacuation order for Zone A for mobile homes, substandard homes, or homes in flood-prone areas. Those in this zone should listen to their local officials and seek shelter as appropriate.

In addition to sending shelter kits with enough PPE for 10,000 Floridians, the Division of Emergency Management has pre-staged 1.8 million meals and deployed staff to county emergency operation centers in the storm's path to help orchestrate response efforts. To respond to power outages, the Department of Management Services activated its emergency telecommunications team.

Utilities, including Florida power and light, have prepositioned workers. FPL has nearly 10,000 workers deployed and ready to respond, including more than 6,500 line and vegetation personnel. They're deployed across 16 staging areas up and down the east coast of Florida. There have been some challenges getting out of state workers, but they're continuing to try to get even more resources and are going to work around the clock until every customer has the power back on.

Even if it's tropical storm force winds, you can pretty much be assured, you are going to see power outages. You know, that's certainly a 70-mile-an-hour wind will be enough to take down trees and limbs. That obviously interacts with power lines. And so, that will happen and people should be prepared for that.

Now, FPL and other utilities have invested in a lot of infrastructure, such as smart-grid technology. You know, that allows them to restore power faster. And you have concrete and steel poles and also undergrounding of lines. That means you repair the infrastructure without having to fully rebuild it, which means you can get the power back on quicker. And it does make a difference, if you can get the power on. Hours is better than days, and days, of course, is better than weeks.

Yesterday, I waived weight restrictions for fuel trucks to ensure fuel could move quickly into and throughout the state And we're working with private-sector partners to monitor fuel availability. And, at this time, there's no reports of shortages.

The Agency for Healthcare Administrations made calls to critical healthcare facilities along the east coast, that are in a surge zone, to make sure that they have everything they need. And, as I mentioned previously, all nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a working generator on site, including the COVID-specific nursing homes that the state's been involved with setting up over the last few months.

And the agency will continue to be in contact with these facilities to monitor the storm's impact. We don't have any indication there's going to be major movement of patients up and down the east coast at this time.

The Department of Health is also in close contact with special needs' shelters should that become an issue. The Department of Environmental Protection closed 22 parks and eight campgrounds, completed pre-storm beach surveys and has issued emergency orders to authorize repairs, replacement, restoration and other measures necessary to respond to Isaias.

Of course, the Florida National Guard is monitoring and they're ready to mobilize at a moment's notice. And, as I mentioned this way, early this morning, Florida Highway Patrol and Fish and Wildlife are also both standing by in case of an emergency.

So, Floridians should be executing their plans, particularly if you're on the east coast of Florida into Palm Beach and north of there. You should have seven days of food, water, and medicine. You very well may experience power outages so just be prepared for that.

Now, there are limited evacuation orders, as I mentioned. Palm Beach County has done a voluntary evacuation order. I think you probably won't see a huge number of those up and down the east coast.

And we, in the era of COVID, I think, our guidance from the state has been, look, if it's a close call, err on the side of people just hunkering down rather than sending people on the road. But, obviously, there does come a point, if you're in an area and the storm is threatening, and that decision is made, we ask you to follow it.

For more information on Isaias, visit We'll continue to monitor this. But don't be fooled by the downgrade. We do think it will be upgraded back to a hurricane later on this evening.


With that, I'll take a couple questions. All right, well, we will see you guys tomorrow with another update. Hopefully all goes well tonight.

CABRERA: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis there with the latest out of Florida on what has become tropical storm Isaias that is still moving closer to the Florida coastline. And we do know now of some evacuations that are in place, especially there in Palm Beach County, which could get the brunt of this. But, of course, the big issue here is also this happening at the same time that that state is still trying to wrap its arms around this global pandemic, the Coronavirus.

And so, he's telling people, hunker down in your own homes, if you can, to stay safe instead of going to shelters. Let me get to Meteorologist Chad Myers, tracking the storm from the CNN Weather Center. And we also have Rosa Flores standing by in Miami.

But let's start with Chad as we're learning this storm has been downgraded. But we heard the governor there, Chad, say it could still ramp back up.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, and it's forecast to. It is forecast to become a hurricane again. Isaias had a very bad day. It had a very hard day with wind and also very dry air. And so, that sheer, that we call it, and the dry air wrapped into the storm and tried to kill it. And it's probably down -- it's probably, at one point, down to 60-mile-per-hour storm but now it's coming back again.

And these storms always, kind of, breathe a little bit at night. The wind slackens off a little bit. There's not as much disturbance out there. And most hurricanes get bigger at night anyway and that's where we're getting to now. We're getting closer to sunset. 66 miles per hour in the hurricane hunter just in the past 15 minutes. So, it's still very close to that 70, 75. That's the threshold. The threshold hardly even matters, though, if it's over your house.

The dry air has been with this storm all day. It's beginning to lose that dry air, and I believe it's beginning to get more convection on the north side of the storm. And so, that means it's already trying to re-intensify after having that very long, hard day with the dry air. Moving on up somewhere very close to West Palm and then not that far from Jacksonville, likely making another landfall, if it makes the first one in Florida, somewhere around Myrtle Beach and then farther on up toward the north.

Now, by this point, the cone is so big, it's hard to tell you where this thing is going to be by the time it tries to get up toward New York or Boston. But we will see some type of a very glancing blow or a clear landfall tomorrow morning.

Now, if it's farther to the south, that means it's a shorter distance to go. And so, we're going to see an earlier landfall, like at 6:00 a.m. But if it is West Palm or somewhere in that area by Palm Beach, you're probably going to see 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. And then, the longer or the farther it goes up here, that makes landfall, it would be later in the day. Obviously, it just takes longer to get there. Hurricane watches and warnings are still in effect right where they were. Even now, we have tropical storm watches all the way as far north as Tybee and almost to Merle's Inland.

So, here's the problem, 74 miles per hour all along the coast. Big waves as well and a surge of two to four feet that could do a lot of coastal erosion. And you need to be out of the way of this if you can be. This is not going to be a cat two or three. But this is still going to pack a punch and get stronger overnight. Don't let that tropical storm name fool you -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Chad, we know you're going to stay on top of it and will bring us new updates as you get them.

Rosa is standing by. Miami-Dade County, Rosa, we know has been hit hard by the Coronavirus. Can it handle a big hit from this storm and is there any indication it will be spared from the worst?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Jimenez tweeted his county will most likely not be hit worst by Isaias. But he did say that there could be strong winds and also rain. And you and I know that you don't need a big hurricane for power lines to go down or even for areas in Miami to flood. It will flood with a sprinkle here just because of the sea level.

But, given all of that, the county still prepared for the worst. They had 20 shelters on standby with COVID-19 type of protocols just in case. And that includes temperature checks and screenings and also 40 feet -- 40 square feet, excuse me, for -- per person so that there is enough space to social distance. And, also, because these shelters are at schools, they were going to use individual classrooms to isolate individuals that have COVID-19.

But, right now, and based on what Governor Ron DeSantis just said during his press conference that wrapped up moments ago, it appears that the area that is most impacted right now is Palm Beach County where a voluntary evacuation order was issued for Zone A. That is an area where there are manufactured homes or mobile homes. And, again, this is only voluntary. It is not a mandatory evacuation.


FLORES: But I can tell you, from talking to county officials here in Miami-Dade and also state officials, before the 2020 hurricane season, Ana, that one of their biggest concerns of the 2020 hurricane season is because we are in a pandemic, their concern was, officials have been telling people to stay home because it's safer for COVID.

But these officials say that if local officials issue an evacuation order, a mandatory evacuation order, that people should heed the warning. Because your home will save you from COVID, but it will not save you from a hurricane -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Rosa Flores and Chad Myers, thank you both. Rosa, and I know you're with my friend -- my good friend, Sara (?). Please stay safe out there.

Let's bring in Dr. Celine Gounder. She's the CNN Medical Analyst, and former assistant commissioner of health for New York City. Dr. Gounder, there's this growing concern that if people do have to go to shelters, they could become super-spreader events. Do you see that as a valid concern?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Ana, I am concerned about many people clustered together, tightly together, families, people of all ages in shelters. I do think that could very well be a super spreader kind of event.

We've seen, recently at a Georgia camp, that bringing together kids of all ages and adults together at an overnight camp resulted in a big outbreak. And so, shelters sound somewhat similar, except that you might have people even older in age in a setting like that.

CABRERA: What impact do you foresee this hurricane having on testing centers?

GOUNDER: Well, I think it's going to be very difficult for people to get out and get tested in the middle of a hurricane. I think, you know, if people are going to be sheltering in place, in all likelihood, they're not going to be seeking any kind of medical care, unless it's emergency medical care and dialing 911 to go to a hospital. So, I think that puts the testing, essentially, on hold except for the sickest few.

CABRERA: It was just yesterday the president was there in Florida, holding an event. Many people weren't wearing masks, no social distancing, and now today we find out Congressman Raul Grijalva has tested positive for COVID-19. He's blaming his Republican colleagues for not taking this pandemic seriously. And that includes Congressman Louis Gohmert, who is actually blaming his contraction of the virus on wearing a mask.

And you have Herman Cain, who passed away from the virus this past week. He tested positive just days after he attended a Trump rally in Oklahoma with many people not wearing masks there. What is your message to leaders in this country who aren't doing what we know will help stop the spread of this virus?

GOUNDER: It really saddens me that wearing masks has become such a political symbol. This idea that you're not free if you wear a mask. I mean, you know, every law-abiding citizen follows certain laws. We drive on the right side of the road, not the left side of the road. And to say, you know, you don't want to wear a mask is, kind of, akin to saying, I want to drive on the left side of the road because that's my freedom. That's anarchy.

And this is a situation where we really do need to have some rules and regulations that we follow in order to contain the spread of the virus. I can tell you, being on a ventilator, that is not freedom. Watching your family, your friends, your co-workers die, as I have in here in New York City, that is not freedom. So, I really hope people start to take this seriously and wear a mask. President Trump said in a new interview, he believes there is such a

thing as too much testing for Coronavirus. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, there are those that say you can test too much. You do know that.









UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read what books?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait a minute now, let me -- let me explain.



CABRERA: First, your reaction to that. And, second, explain to our viewers the importance of testing and why we should be doing more, not less.

GOUNDER: We're not doing anywhere near as much testing as we need to be doing right now. Even now, after months of the pandemic propagating across the country. And so, to say that we need to be testing less is just a falsehood. The point of testing is that you want to separate people who are infectious from people who are not.

And so, it's really important that we be able to scale up testing and for people to get their results within 24 hours, ideally even faster than that, so that if somebody in a family is infected, they can isolate away from the rest of the family and not spread the infection to others.

CABRERA: I remember many, many months ago when you and I were talking, when we were still in the same studio, and you were saying, you know, we should have testing soon at people's, you know, doorstep where they could take the test themselves from home. And we're so far still from that. It's unbelievable. All these months later.

Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you, as always, for being with us.

The debate over whether to reopen schools is still growing and concerns are on the rise after that outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia.


CABRERA: We'll talk with one high school teacher about what we can learn from that. Stay with us.


CABRERA: Hundreds of kids and staff who attended a summer sleepaway camp in Georgia ended up testing positive for the Coronavirus. The CDC now warning the Georgia camp outbreak shows just how easily an outbreak can erupt when large groups of kids get together and strict guidelines aren't followed. And it serves as a warning of what could happen as many schools are set to start reopening.

I want to bring in a Christy Karwatt, a high school social studies teacher in St. Petersburg, Florida. And, Christy, I know you're, you know, at Sarasota school district there. Thank you so much for coming back and talking with us. How does the Georgia camp outbreak impact your feelings about the upcoming school year?

CHRISTY KARWATT, SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: It is just further evidence that it is not safe to go back, face-to-face education, at this point. And that is just -- I have decided that I will not be going back into the classroom, at this point in time, because the risk is too high.

CABRERA: And I want our viewers to know, Christy, one of your colleagues recently lost his life to Coronavirus. Robert Shackelford was a social studies teacher also at Sarasota high school for 27 years. He loved teaching.

You shared with me he often spent his lunch hour entertaining special needs children by dressing up as Elvis Presley or Arnold Schwarzenegger and doing impressions. Christy, sounds like a wonderful man. How are you coping with his loss as the beginning of your school year looms?

KARWATT: It's going to be very, very difficult, I think. My whole staff has been impacted by this, especially our social studies department, because, basically, we stayed in touch with him the whole time he was in the hospital through text messages.

And we had a department text group going. And the last personal text I got from -- we called him shack. The last personal text I got from him was, Christy, this monster is trying to kill me.

And the monster killed him. And it was devastating. He was strong. He was six foot four inches. Perfect shape. Very careful. And where he went and what he did because he was helping care for his elderly parents and his handicapped brother. So, he knew they needed him, and he still got it. So, I just don't know how, under the CDC guidelines or any scientific evidence, how it's possible for us to go back to bricks and mortar, because there's no social distancing going to occur. Teenagers are going to be teenagers. It's putting us all at risk, students and staff.

CABRERA: Is your district supporting you and your decision not to return?

KARWATT: Well, I just texted my assistant principal today. I'm not alone. I'm able to take a medical leave of absence, so if we were to go remote or if the numbers go down, I would be able to return to the classroom. I know several people that took early retirement.

I also know one of my good friends from my school is taking a year- long leave of absence. That means that she won't be able to return until next year. But she has four small children, and she's just -- it's just not the risk for her. You know, she just doesn't want to get sick. She has too much responsibility at home to take care of.

CABRERA: Your school, Sarasota High School, as we mentioned, set to reopen August 31st. Teachers who are returning this school year have to be in the classroom, but students do have an option to come to class or to do online learning.

So, what does that mean for other teachers at the school? I mean, if classes aren't as full, does that, perhaps, ease the worry about the potential spread of the virus?

KARWATT: It does. I think that it's still not that many in our school from my understanding has chosen the remote option. So, basically, what's going to happen is the teacher is going to be teaching -- because we're going to have cameras in every room.

So, they're going to be teaching kids that are at home watching, and then also responsible to teach the students that are in their classroom. So, in some cases, because of the size of the classroom, it's still not going to be possible to social distance. And, of course, during passing time, there are going to be 2,000 or 1,500 kids passing through narrow hallways.

Now, we're doing everything we can to make it safe, by making one-way hallways and so forth. But it's just -- it's interesting because, you know, bars are closed, and certain restaurants can only have 50 percent, and all these other things they're monitoring and regulating. But our governor wants us to get back into the classroom.

In fact, I read about a white paper from the Florida Pediatric Association, or Academy, sent him a letter this week, a white paper, saying that they understand that it's better for kids to be back in school. But they said, at this point, the risk outweigh the benefits.

And I think our governor needs to be listening to the medical professionals and the scientists rather than forcing us back into the classroom, at this time. And our board is stuck because they're afraid that if we do go remote, the governor has said he will take away our school's funding. And you can't operate without funding.

CABRERA: You don't think the governor is listening to medical experts and scientists?

KARWATT: Obviously not, because he is wanting us back in the classroom. And every day I read different reports from scientists.


KARWATT: And I listen to Dr. Fauci. I think he said this was going to be some kind of an experiment to see if it really works. I don't want to quote him because that's not exactly what he said. And then, if you have the Pediatric Academy saying we shouldn't be going back into the classroom at this time period, I'd listen to the experts.

CABRERA: We do know that the numbers also tell the story, right? And the case count is still incredibly high with more than 9,000 cases just today reported and there have been several days in a row of that. And we also know that there were four days this past week in which Florida reported its highest daily death count.

I know the largest teachers union in the state is suing the governor over his emergency order, requiring schools to physically reopen five days a week. And a judge denied mediation this week, so now the hearing is scheduled for likely next Friday. But the governor has since back pedaled a little bit from his mandate, saying it was not his idea. He blamed Florida's education commissioner.

So, Christy, what do you think is going on here?

KARWATT: The blame -- the blame game. I don't know who is to blame, but I would think that the governor has more power over the education commissioner. And I have read through the Florida Constitution, and I saw nowhere in the Florida Constitution. And it's also in the lawsuit.

It's referenced there, that there's nothing in the constitution that gives commissioner the power to force us back during a pandemic into the classroom. In fact, more power is given to local school boards. But our local school boards feel like their hands are tied, because of what the commissioner has done.

CABRERA: Well, Christy Karwatt, thank you for checking back in with us and sharing the latest information from Florida from your decision- making process as well as the school district there. certainly sending our best wishes for good health and safety to all of you in your community and especially, you know, families and teachers and all the people involved in the back-to-school process. Thanks for being here.

KARWATT: You're welcome, Ana. Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: This week on "United Shades of America," W. Kamau Bell is taking a look at the public school system. And that airs tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Right now, there's a growing line of people at a Los Angeles Food Bank, and CNN's Paul Vercammen is there live for us -- Paul. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, a massive food giveaway

because of a multitude of factors, including the economy and the pandemic. We're going to show you the people who lined up here, in some ways America's new poor. That's coming up in just a few moments.




CABRERA: Right now, the place in the U.S. with the most people confirmed to have coronavirus is California. More than half a million people there are infected.

And now more heartbreaking news. In the past 24 hours, another 219 people died from COVID-19 in California. That is the most single-day fatalities blamed on the virus there.

Here is the update at where new cases are spiking the highest in California. A couple of hot spots up north but really all around Los Angeles. Many people sick and dying.

Paul Vercammen is in L.A. right now.

And, Paul, you're at a place where people in need have been able to get donated food today. Those people and volunteers, you say, were there long before the sun came up?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Ana. In fact, some people lined up at midnight to try to get some of these boxes that are filled with different types of food, including, you know, pre-prepared chicken that they could cook later, fruit, milk, cheese.

And in a way, we're talking about this, there's sort of a lot of people are America's new poor. They had never really had to go to a food bank before. But now, suddenly, they've found themselves with no unemployment benefits anymore, perhaps there's a rent issue, and so they came here.

And so far, this First Unitarian Church here in Korea Town, 1,500 people walked up to grab this.

And then the other big factor is they also -- you can see them continually cleaning up and working here -- they also sent out boxes to a grocery workers union and other churches. So they serviced a lot of people.

And what we're hearing from the organizers here is, this is the most they've ever given out. It used to be that 300 or 400 boxes of food would go out every week. But now it has risen to this 2,000 level. And that is all because of people, the COVID crisis, the pandemic.

And I want to bring in one of the volunteers.

Javier, step in here, please. He's been working so hard all day.


They gave him a reward, if you will, $100 and a thermos, because you work so hard.

But when you look in that line, you had said something to me off camera, you're concerned and emotional because you know that some of these people are really struggling.

JAVIER ALCANTAR PASTOR, FOOD BANK VOLUNTEER: Well, it's a concern to see people struggling. It's a concern because we don't know how many of these people don't have anything to eat every week.

And this lifeline support that we give to them, it helps them. It helps them a lot. And that's why we do it, to help.

VERCAMMEN: How do you feel when you see someone with a massive smile on their face or even that look of relief and they've got that box in their hands?

PASTOR: It feels good. It feels good to help somebody. It feels good to be able to provide weekly groceries for a family, for over 1,500 people a week. So it's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing.

VERCAMMEN: And another 500 with the churches and unions and other people in desperate need.


PASTOR: Yes, come. We're here every Saturday at the First Unitarian Church.

VERCAMMEN: We super appreciate you taking your time out.

A church that's been here for a hundred years or so in the heart of Korea Town, so many of these people, Ana, as you can tell from some video, literally walked up. Most of them walked up to grab that box of food.

And as Javier was articulating, you could just see this look on people's faces of appreciation, knowing that they had a box of food that could hopefully get them through a few more days -- Ana?

CABRERA: Thank goodness all that food is available there.

Paul Vercammen, thank you for bringing us their stories.

The polls suggest President Trump has an upward climb for re-election. A look at the signs and how presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is stacking up. Next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: We are just three months from Election Day, and we are getting some more indications about how voters are feeling and which candidate is heading into the final stretch with the competitive edge.


CNN's Harry Enten joins us now.

New polls this week, more signs the president's in trouble, this time in Georgia. What's going on there?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Take a look at this. New Monmouth University from Georgia, tied, tied. Georgia, a state that normally isn't competitive, is quite competitive.

In fact, if you look at the presidential history in the state of Georgia, you have to go all the way back to 1992 for the last time a Democrat won the state of Georgia. Normally, Republicans easily win it. Last time, Trump won it by five.

So the fact that Biden is so competitive in Georgia is just the latest sign that President Trump is in trouble.

CABRERA: Again, it's just one state. So what does it say about the larger state of play?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, obviously, if Georgia was just happening in its own cocoon, it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

But take a look at this. This is the electoral map where essentially I assign the winner of who is leading in the polling average at this point. And right now, Joe Biden with 353 electoral votes in the states that he is leading in to just 185 for Trump.

We've still got three months until Election Day. But at this particular time, if a state like Georgia is competitive, Texas is competitive, and Biden doesn't even need those states. The president is in a lot of trouble.

CABRERA: We're always interested in what is driving these numbers. We had those record poor GDP numbers come out on Thursday. So what are we seeing on the economy, specifically?

ENTEN: Yes, I think that that is so interesting, right? The economy had been the core strength of the president of the United States.

You know, back in January, his economic approval rating was 56 percent in the FOX News poll. And you look now, at July, and what do you see? It's dropped all the way back to 47 percent, equal to his disapproval rating. And this is supposed to be the president's core strength.

So it seems to me that this poor economic news has certainly been hurting the president in the numbers.

CABRERA: Let's add more context because voters are deciding, you know, their vote based on a number of different issues. Is there any top issue where Trump is leading right now?

ENTEN: Yes, I think that this perhaps is the most troubling sign, right? That same FOX News poll asked, what's the most important issue facing the country right now. The top three were coronavirus, the economy, and race relations.

Those were the only three issues in which at least 10 percent of voters said it was the most important issue facing the country right now.

And if you look at who voters trust on those three major issues, what do you see? You see that Biden versus Trump, Biden is considerably more trusted on the coronavirus, considerably more trusted on race relations, and even on the economy, which is supposed to be President Trump's core strength.

Biden, in fact, only leads by a point. That's within the margin of error.

But the president, at this point, Ana, leads on none of the most important issues against his chief rival, Joe Biden.

CABRERA: Always good to get your weekly updates because a lot can change. So many things happen between now and then. And 94 days and counting until Election Day.

Harry Enten, thank you, my friend.

ENTEN: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: Some breaking news now into CNN. Matthew Stafford, quarterback for the NFL's Detroit Lions, has been placed on the league's reserve COVID-19 list by his team. And this move does not necessarily indicate that Stafford himself has tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has some exclusive details on the NFL's safety plan. We'll bring that to you when we come back.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Our breaking news, the quarterback for the Detroit Lions has been placed on the league's reserve COVID-19 list by his team. Now, that status means Matthew Stafford either tested positive himself or had to be put in quarantine after having been in close contact with an infected person.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently spoke to the NFL's chief medical officer to learn more about how the league is keeping people safe.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're getting an exclusive look at an NFL training facility.

It's been essentially a ghost town here since March.

A training camp is now about to begin for the Atlanta Falcons.

(on camera): There's a real schism. Some people say, here's what you do, here's the plan. And there's other people who say, it's absolutely ludicrous to even try this. The country is in the middle of a pandemic. Football's great. But we've got to sit this season out.

DR. ALLEN SILLS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: I think people are trying to be really thoughtful about this, and I think people do look at risk and risk mitigation in different ways, but I feel like it's the right thing to do, to try to learn to live with this virus.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Allen Sills is chief medical officer for the NFL. We're both neurosurgeons and we've known each other for several years.

SILLS: Can we find ways to do that safely in is? That's our challenge.

GUPTA (on camera): The last NFL game was February 2nd of this year. The Chiefs beat the 49ers.

(voice-over): Two days earlier, the U.S. declared a public health emergency because of coronavirus.

(on camera): Since then, millions of people have become infected. More than 140,000 have died.

And now the NFL wants to do the seemingly impossible, bring back some sense of normalcy to one of the largest sports leagues in the country.

(voice-over): Some of the changes indoors are going to look very familiar. Lots of masks, near constant sanitizing, and physical distancing everywhere. Treatment rooms, weight rooms, even mealtime. And on the field.


SILLS: There are three regulation-size football fields here side by side. The first thing that jumps to your mind is how we can do physical distancing here.

As players start strength and conditioning activities, for example, you're talking about each individual or each individual group having a lot of space to work with.

GUPTA: There will even be this new space-age looking technology, a bubble of sorts for players who want it.

SILLS: A number of our players have worn eye shields for protection so it's basically an extension of that device and you have ventilation holes and some filters in it.

GUPTA: There are these proximity tracking devices that will beep or flash when players or staff get too close to one another.

And that data is collected, making contact tracing easier if someone does become infected.

Now, unlike the NBA bubble that's isolated the entire league in Orlando, the NFL has more of what they call an ecosystem. People will still live in their own homes, be with their families. And they will travel with their teams for games.

SILLS: Players, coaches, staff, if they're around each other every day, they're going to share risk. They also share responsibility for each other. That means they're each making good choices away from the facility.

GUPTA: But that also means the entire ecosystem is only as strong as its weakest link.

(on camera): How are the prayer doing? Are they worried? Is there a way to describe the mood?

RICH MCKAY, CEO, ATLANTA FALCONS: I would say, yes, sure. They have the same anxiousness that you would have.

GUPTA (voice-over): Rich McKay, the CEO of the Atlanta Falcons.

MCKAY: They're relying on us and they're relying on the union to make sure all the protocols that we do, everything we can is done at the highest level that we can.

DEMAURICE SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NFL PLAYERS' ASSOCIATION: Everything that we do is going to have an impact on families at home and it's going to have an impact on first responders, community service, and other people in the community. And to believe otherwise is sheer fantasy.

GUPTA: DeMaurice Smith is executive director of the NFLPA, the union representing players on the field this year.

There have been some pretty tense negotiations between the union and the league about how to play in the age of COVID-19.

And Smith pointed out something that I haven't heard before. About 70 percent of NFL players could be considered vulnerable themselves or at increased risk.

SMITH: What we've done is tracked the CDC risk guidelines, made decisions on which ones put our players in high risk and players can rely on those risk factors to make decisions about whether they're going to play or not.

GUPTA (on camera): I was actually surprised by that. You think of athletes being these superhuman perfectly healthy people, but there are these various conditions. How does that play into your thinking?

SMITH: We still do not know a lot of the basics about this disease and where it's going to be headed. And I think it harkens back again to those conversations that each individual has to have and they have to in their mind make what's the best decision for themselves.

SILLS: This is where they come in for testing.

GUPTA (voice-over): The league and the union have agreed to test every player daily for at least the first two weeks of training camp, eventually moving to an every-other-day schedule once a team reaches a 5 percent positivity rate and then maintains that.

(on camera): Does that make sense to you? Because there's an incredible shortage of testing right now. We did some rough math and if you look at the testing plan here, it's about just for the players, about 18,000 tests per week.

How could that not have an impact on the availability of more widespread general testing?

SILLS: Clearly, there are procedural issues with that around the country. So we went with a company that was outside of market that would have a national platform.

They actually opened up some laboratory capabilities that weren't being used just for this project. And also set up again supply and distribution and testing reporting that's completely separate from any health care work that they do.

And that company has given us their assurance that any work that they do for health care applications, meaning for hospitals, for emergency rooms, things of that nature, that's a whole separate business for them that will remain their number one priority.

GUPTA: Did you ever think, look, maybe this season is going to be a wash. We'll get back to it this year, but this isn't essential. As much as I love football, this isn't essential compared to the essential things that are needed in the country.

SILLS: Yes, I would say that probably those thoughts went through your minding three months ago.

I think as we moved forward and we saw that basketball is going to do this, baseball is going to do this, soccer is going to do this, we get to go last. We can learn from them. We can do this in a really safe way, we think.

And so I think for us we got the message that people wanted football. That's not the reason to play, that people want it. But if we can do it in a way that is as safe as it can possibly be, then we should and we will.


GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Flowery Branch, Georgia.


CABRERA: Just ahead, we will return to our breaking news. A major storm threatening to make landfall in Florida. A look at its impact on COVID-19 concerns in that state as cases are still rising. Our reporters will bring us the latest at the top of the hour. Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.