Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Campaigns in Florida as COVID-19 Deaths Surge; "The Lancet": False Information about Coronavirus Is Public Health Threat; U.S. Still Sees Debate on Wearing Masks, Social Distancing; Belgium Sees New Cases Jump 91 Percent; Mexico Now Has Third Highest Death Toll; Hong Kong Issues Warrants for Six Activists; No New U.S. Stimulus Package, Extra Jobless Benefit Expires; U.S. Economy Sees Worst Drop on Record; New Postal Policies Raising Concerns about Mail- in Ballots. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 1, 2020 - 02:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Global coronavirus records shattered as cases surge in the United States. Hear Dr. Fauci tell Congress where things went wrong.

Hurricane Isaias is lashing the Bahamas this hour, see where it is headed next.

Then, this.


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

HOLMES (voice-over): U.S. president Donald Trump, doubling down on claims that voting by mail is a threat to democracy. But some of his own intelligence officials disagree with those claims.



HOLMES (voice-over): Hello, everyone, welcome to our viewers all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Michael Holmes. Let's get straight to our top story.

August begins with broken records and a crisis that shows no sign of slowing down. The World Health Organization reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases around the world, in a 24 hour period, nearly 300,000. Johns Hopkins University reporting more than 17.5 million worldwide infections since the pandemic began. That is roughly equivalent to the population of the Netherlands.

The U.S., topping 4.5 million cases with more than 153,000 deaths. The CDC projects about 20,000 more deaths in the next three weeks.

All of this, as a leading medical journal says that all of the misinformation online, and there is a lot of, it is a threat to public health. "The Lancet," calling it an infodemic, where people have trouble telling fact from fiction.

A scientific team forecasting the pandemic says not nearly enough Americans are wearing masks.

They probably weren't in Florida, as President Trump paid a campaign visit on Friday. Few masks in sight, no social distancing, either.

Ironically, this happened the same day that the CDC director was testifying before Congress about the importance of masks, distancing and staying out of crowds, none of which you see there.

Florida did set a record, by the way, for COVID-19 deaths on Friday, for the fourth straight day.

Some states that were spared in the early days are now seeing their cases soar. And some of that infodemic misinformation we mentioned is being repeated by people at the very top of government. CNN's Nick Watt explains.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): The United States' response stands out as among the worst of any country in the world.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here, in part, is why:

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We really functionally shut down only about 50 percent, in the sense of the totality of the country.

WATT: And when we reopened?

FAUCI: There was some states that did it very well and there are some states that did not.

WATT: So, what now? Well, we're still working on testing.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Turnaround times are definitely improving, but we cannot test our way out of this or any other pandemic. Testing does not replace personal responsibility.

WATT: Masks, distancing, handwashing, avoiding crowds and indoor bars and the like.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: If we did those five things, we have done modeling data, we get the same bang for the buck as if we just shut the entire economy down.

WATT: Vaccine optimism growing.

FAUCI: Ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, if we have and I think we will have, a safe and effective vaccine, that Americans will be able to get it.

WATT: Meanwhile, remember that new CDC projection that another 20,000 Americans might die in just the next three weeks. And look at what's happening now in Oklahoma, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, all largely spared in the spring, now seeing more cases than ever and Illinois, hit hard in the spring, surging once more.

BILL GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Sadly, I just can't see the cost/benefit ratio of letting people sit in bars.

WATT: Meantime, the country is still getting muddled messaging from the very top.

TRUMP: No one is immune. No one is immune.

WATT: Twenty-five minutes later, while pushing for schools to reopen:

TRUMP: Young people are almost immune to this disease. The younger, the better.

WATT: Not true.

Meanwhile, New York City just rolled out a blended plan to start back in the fall, most kids in class two or three days a week, along with online.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: We're going to have an extremely rigorous standard for opening schools or, if necessary, closing schools, because we are putting health and safety first.

WATT: Today was the first day back in the Greenfield Central District in Indiana. And one child in junior high already testing positive. Here in California, the state has announced the first death of a teenager with COVID-19.

And a statement from the hospital reads in part, "this reaffirms that children are not immune" -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.



HOLMES: Dr. William Haseltine is founder of Harvard University's HIV/AIDS research department and the author of a few books, including "The Family Guide to COVID" and "A COVID Back to School Guide: Questions and Answers for Parents and Students," a great resource.

You are in Rosemary, Connecticut, thanks for joining us. We'll start with this. The upshot of the congressional hearings today with Dr. Fauci and others, is that there seems to be no coordinated unified national plan even six months in.

How does that hamper and has it hampered fighting the virus? WILLIAM HASELTINE, PHD, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It is a tremendous disadvantage not too have a nationally coordinated program. The United States is founded from a confederation into a federation. That means there is a lot of local authority given to states and our governors.

That means the central government as a special responsibility to be convincing, reliable, informed and persuasive; and I might add, compassionate. Those are the things you need in a federal system to get it to work.

We have had crises before. We have had the Great Depression. We have gone through wars. In those situations, we have had leaders who have managed to unite our disparate parts into a single whole. That has not happened this time. It has resulted in great disaster.

I think this is the greatest disaster and even it's an unimaginable disaster, from my point of view.

HOLMES: It is interesting, another aspect of this, the president said that children are, he used the words, "almost immune" to the virus. But there was the CDC report Friday where kids at a summer camp here in Georgia, at least 40 percent of the campers and counselors became infected with the virus.

There were a number of precautions that were not taken as well. But it raises the question, if it was unsafe in March to go back to school, when there were 500 cases of the virus, how can it be OK now?

How should those camp statistics play into the decision to reopen schools?

HASELTINE: Reopening schools is a fraught issue. It is one that is argued around dinner tables every night in families all over the country.

The first thing to say is, how is this virus transmitted?

In fact, it is like a cold virus. And we know about them. This is a cold virus, even though it can kill you. It behaves just like a cold virus.

I want parents to ask themselves, how do they catch a cold?

They know the answer. They send their kid to school; the kid comes back and gives them a cold.

Well, this is a cold virus. It is not any different. For people to imagine it's a brand-new thing, it isn't. It just has a new brand-new habit of killing some people and making others very sick.

But it's transmitted just like a cold virus. We now know, for measurements, that children under 5 have 10-100 times more virus in their nose to transmit. They may not get sick as much, some of them get sick and die. And I have a friend who has a grandson who didn't die but almost did. So when they get sick, they get very sick but they are very easily

infected. Maybe not as easily as a young adult but they are infected. And it spreads like crazy. They bring it into the household. It is not a mystery.

HOLMES: As the camp numbers show, they are truly stunning. I wanted to show people video of the president in Florida on Friday. Florida, of course, the U.S. epicenter of the virus. They had a record number of deaths on Friday.

In the video of him there, meeting with supporters and law enforcement, he is not wearing a mask. They are not wearing a mask. No social distancing going on. In the epicenter of this virus, as a medical professional, your reaction to that.


HASELTINE: It's horrifying. It is absolutely horrifying. Same as the rally in Tulsa, that may have killed Herman Cain. It is horrifying to see people so blatantly ignoring very simple measures.

For a president to do that is even worse. But we need people to understand how serious this is. I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of deaths it will take before people realize.


HASELTINE: This is a disaster. There are so many things we can do. We are relying on vaccines, which may or may not come. We are relying on drugs, which I think will come at some time. But none of that without everybody pulling together, isolating, wearing masks, staying home when they have to.

There's a simple rule of thumb I would say for people thinking about sending their kids to school are behaving. Think of the COVID-19 like the weather. If you're in Florida today, you're in a hurricane. A real hurricane and a hurricane that is figurative, like the COVID-19 epidemic.

You are there, you go to the basement and you hunker down with your kids. If there is a thunderstorm, you stay at home; you don't go out with your kids. You might get hit by lightning.

That's what can happen when there is a lot of COVID around. There may be a heavy rain, that's some place like Tennessee, you're careful. You garb up, you take your galoshes, your umbrellas, raincoats. Same kinds of thing with COVID.

HOLMES: Great advice. I really appreciate your time. And your books, which I just learned something today, is that they are living books and they're updated often. So if you get the e-book, it's getting updated all the time.

Dr. William Haseltine, thank you so much.

HASELTINE: Thank you very much, Michael, I appreciate the time. HOLMES: Officials in the Bahamas are dealing with a surge in COVID-19

cases as well as a hurricane. The storm, already battered the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. Now it is bearing down on the Bahamas. CNN's Patrick Oppmann filed this report.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The prime minister of the Bahamas is using some coronavirus lockdown restrictions to keep give people on those islands time to better prepare for the arrival this weekend of Hurricane Isaias. Bahamians will have more freedom of movement, despite the lockdown.

Hardware stores and supermarkets will be open later. These lockdown restrictions had just gone into effect in July because the Bahamas were seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus after reopening.

The prime minister says the priority right now is to focus on keeping Bahamians safe during the storm although, he recommended, Bahamians should still stay home, should still wear face masks. But they are facing an unprecedented double threat of a hurricane and a coronavirus pandemic.

The storm is expected to impact areas of the Bahamas that were destroyed by Hurricane Dorian last year, a storm that did an incredible amount of damage. It was the most powerful storm to hit the Bahamas on record. Of course, the hurricane is heading to the Bahamas, just as the island is reeling with the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, an outbreak that has had an incredibly deep impact on the economy of the Bahamas which is dependent on tourism.

At this point these islands are dealing with multiple crises at the same time. The prime minister has called on Bahamians to do the best they can to prepare for the storm's imminent arrival -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.




HOLMES: Mexico has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. The government blaming other health problems. Critics say it is because officials are failing to deal with the crisis. We will talk about it when we come back.




HOLMES: Now see these packed beaches in Belgium, looking like a normal summer day, not a day in the middle of a deadly pandemic. But a government spokesperson says the coronavirus cases in the country have increased by 91 percent in the last few days. Hospitalizations rising, too. You look at that and you go, well.

Belgium's prime minister is now mandating face masks in outdoor markets and busy shopping areas.

There are similar patterns happening in the United Kingdom. New coronavirus infections there have jumped to 4,900 a day, compared to 2,000 at the end of June. But that has not stopped thousands of people from filling parks and public spaces, during what has been a mini heat wave.

Their joy may be short lived. Britain's prime minister says he is going to stop easing lockdown restrictions for the next two weeks.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Our plan to reopen the society and the economy is conditional, that it relies on continued progress against the virus and we would not hesitate to put the brakes on if required.

With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal, squeeze that brake pedal, in order to keep the virus under control.


HOLMES: According to Johns Hopkins University, the United Kingdom is facing the highest case fatality ratio among the 20 countries most currently affected by the coronavirus.


HOLMES: In other words, the percentage of people who die among the confirmed cases, it stands at just over 15 percent, followed by Mexico, Ecuador and Iran. By this measure, the United States ranks 13th globally at 3.4 percent.

Speaking of Mexico, they just passed the U.K.'s coronavirus death toll, with more than 46,000 deaths. Mexico now has the third highest death toll in the world. There are a number of reasons why the virus is killing more people there. Matt Rivers explains.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maria Isabel Cruz Hernandez was struggling to breathe back in May when her son first called the ambulance. We watched the 72 year old diabetic get wheeled out and brought to the hospital.

And a week later, she would become one of the more than 46,000 Mexicans that have died from COVID-19. It is a staggering death toll, that is now third highest in the world behind only the U.S. and Brazil. And compared to the rest of the world, Mexico's mortality rate, the

percentage of people who contracted COVID and died, is nearly triple the global average. Asked to explain that, Mexican health officials consistently point to one thing: chronic diseases are the fundamental reason why COVID-19 is more intense in Mexico, says the deputy health minister.

The government says nearly three-quarters of those of who have died of the virus in Mexico have had a pre-existing condition.

DR. VANESSA FUCHS TARLOVSKY, NUTRITION AND DIETETICS SPECIALIST: The reality that we are seeing in Mexico, it's because Mexican population has a lot of problems with obesity, with diabetes, with hypertension.

RIVERS (voice-over): But COVID-19's lethality here can't be explained only by chronic illness. This chart shows countries with similar rates of diabetes. Mexico's mortality rate is the highest by far.

And among countries with similarly sized populations, Mexico's death toll soars above the rest. By focusing on the impact of chronic disease, critics say the government is conveniently shifting blame away from another key factor: its own inaction.


RIVERS (voice-over): Dr. Francisco Moreno Sanchez runs the COVID response unit at a private Mexico City hospital and says the government simply was not ready for the pandemic. He argues that a lack of quality care across Mexico's sprawling government run public health system has resulted in many lives lost, be it from a lack of supplies or a lack of properly trained staff.

SANCHEZ: This is a very complicated machine. We need very good care intensive care doctors to take care of the patients.

RIVERS (voice-over): And that blame, he says, lies squarely at the feet of the government that, in some cases, still isn't taking the right steps to mitigate this crisis, a government led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who recently said this when asked why he doesn't wear a mask.

He says, "If it would help others, I would do it. But it is not scientifically proven."

RIVERS: So that is the leader of more than 120 million Mexicans, saying masks do not work, which is just fundamentally false. The government constantly defends its response to the coronavirus, saying there is adequate care in public hospitals like this one. But whether you believe that or not, the numbers don't lie.

Mexico's death toll is among the highest in the world and it just keeps getting worse -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.


HOLMES: We will take a quick break, when we come back, Americans have just lost their extra federal jobless benefits.

Those who were out of work, what now?

We will have a look at the state of the stimulus negotiations and the economy. Stay with us, we will be right back.





HOLMES: U.S. President Donald Trump says he will ban TikTok, the social media platform, which is owned by a Chinese company. Critics fear the data it collects on U.S. users could end up in the hands of the Chinese government. The company denies that.

TikTok says it stores its data outside of China. Cyber security experts downplay the risks, Mr. Trump says he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to ban the platform as soon as Saturday and annoy millions of tweens.

Hong Kong police have issued arrest warrants for six pro-democracy activists, under the new controversial national security law. One is an American citizen who is living overseas. Another saying he will have to sever his relationship with his family in Hong Kong. Here for more details, Kristie Lu Stout joining me from Hong Kong.

Who are police after and why?

This is clearly meant to send a message.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: A very big message, Michael. Hong Kong police reportedly seek the arrest of 6 pro-democracy activists who have fled the city, state run CCTV says they are wanted for breaching national security law, mainly for, inciting secession or colluding with foreign forces.

Under the new law, these are serious crimes. If found guilty, they could face up to life in prison. CNN has reached out to Hong Kong police for comment and they refused to comment.

One of them is Nathan Law, the high profile, pro-democracy activist, former lawmaker Around the time the national security law came to effect, he fled to the U.K. He responded to this via Twitter.

He writes this, quote, "My advocacy work overseas is conducted in my own personal capacity, without collaboration with others. Since leaving Hong Kong, I have stopped contacting members of my family. From now on, I will sever my relationship with them."

Also wanted, Samuel Chu, a Hong Kong activist who is now residing in the U.S. On Twitter, he says this. "Today, I woke up to media reports that I am a wanted fugitive. My

alleged crimes, inciting secession and colluding with foreign powers under Hong Kong's national security law.

"Except I am an American citizen and have been for 25 years."

Michael, it is around one month since this new controversial law has been in effect. The national security law, criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, including with foreign forces. It applies to anyone, including if they are outside of Hong Kong, even if they are not a Hong Kong permanent resident.

Critics say it undermines Hong Kong's autonomy and its freedoms and supporters say it brings stability to Hong Kong and fills a legal loophole.

In response, several countries have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including the U.K., Australia and, most recently, Germany, potentially providing a safeguard for these exiled activists, now wanted by Hong Kong police -- Michael.

HOLMES: Amazing how things have changed recently. Of course, this comes after Hong Kong's legislative elections. They were scheduled for September. They have been delayed by a year.

How does this tie in?

How significant is that?

STOUT: In this development, we learned last night, from Hong Kong's top leader, Carrie Lam, who announced that the legislative council elections due to take place in September have been postponed for a month.

She cited the pandemic and said she needed to make the move to protect public health, people's lives and also to protect the fairness of the election. She added that Beijing supports the move.

But critics say this is a move to stifle the opposition and is a symbol of Beijing's tightening grip on the city. I should also add that the government had already disqualified a dozen opposition candidates.

Their hopes of being able to have a showing, to have some sort of political presence, as a result of the election, those hopes have been dashed -- Michael.

HOLMES: Good to have you on the spot for us. Kristie Lu Stout, from Hong Kong, thank you.

We will take a quick break, when we come back, more on CNN NEWSROOM, including U.S. president Trump's latest unfounded commentary on mail- in ballots. How a longtime supporter of his may be helping delay mail deliveries right now. A big story. We will have it when we come back.




HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers around the world, I am Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

No good news from Washington this week for Americans hit by the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The extra $600 weekly jobless benefit people had been relying on expired just a few hours ago.

Not only did Congress fail to agree on a new stimulus package to replace that before this happened, the Senate actually adjourned and went out of town for the weekend. As you might imagine, there is some finger-pointing from every quarter of the U.S. capital.


MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They've not even been countered with a proposal. So the Democrats are certainly willing, today, to allow some of the American citizens, who are struggling the most, under this pandemic, to go unprotected. What we are seeing is politics as usual from Democrats on Capitol Hill.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's a public relations stunt on their part. What they did do yesterday was put on the floor $200 a week. That's what they put forth yesterday, $200 a week. That's not what -- that's so beneath the value of America's workforce.


HOLMES: Megan Greene is a global economist, also a senior fellow at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard University. She joins me now from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Good to see you again, Megan.

This drop in GDP for the second quarter, worst in history, yet the president repeatedly says the economy is on the mend. Next year will be the best in history, he says. His senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said we will be rocking and rolling come July.

How bad is the economic landscape?

MEGAN GREENE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: The drop in GDP was huge. We knew that before we even got the GDP figure. And the rebound should be huge as well if everything goes right.

Of course, this is from an incredibly low level. It is also dependent on more fiscal stimulus. A lot fiscal stimulus measures that were passed previously are now phasing out. If we don't re-up some of them, in the next couple of weeks, we will go back into a recession, in which case, we will not be rocking and rolling by July.

We will not rebound quickly in Q3. A lot of this is dependent on Congress right now.

HOLMES: Looking forward then, the administration keeps saying the economy will have a stunning, rapid recovery, despite new infections and deaths.

How realistic is that in the world in which we live?

Do you see a strategy from the White House?

GREENE: I think the White House's main strategy is we will get a vaccine and we can go back to normal. Beyond that, it appears to be a bit of a hope over experience. Maybe if we just reopen, people will go back to normal.

The micro data, the kind of high frequency alternative data, has shown that is not the case at all.


GREENE: So it does not really matter what policy is, if people feel like going out to a bar will end them up in a hospital, they won't do it. Whether governors say they can go out or not. So I think the strategy is based on a vaccine and that is a ways away. I think we should be doing better in the interim.

HOLMES: Speaking of people, millions of unemployed workers have seen their last checks from this unemployment compensation program. Eviction protections are not renewed yet.

Two questions for you, the real-world impact of those things on ordinary citizens and also, that loss of money, that translates to a lot of consumer spending for the economy, doesn't it?

GREENE: Yes. Right now, this is the number one issue. Millions of people are losing unemployment benefits. Many people are losing their eviction protection. At the same time, actually, many firms are running out of PPE money. They were given more time to use it but they were not given more money to use.

Based on their budgeting, actually, they've already used it up, to put people back on payroll. So they will have to lay people off. On top of that, some have reopened, hoping the demand would recover and it has not done so. So they are laying people off as well.

We also have all these people who are facing massive cash crunch right now and if we do not re-up, some of the support for them, in the next few weeks, we will go back into a recession, no question.

In terms of the implications for the overall economy, consumption is about 70 percent of GDP. So if we have all of these people facing a cash crunch, that is a huge headwind for growth.

HOLMES: We cannot forget the human element in all of this. That is a lot of people who will just have no money and perhaps nowhere to live. I want to ask, you in the broader picture, in Europe, in Asia, the lockdowns were much tougher, they were longer, more universal, they waited until the curve truly dropped, before they reopened.

That was not the case in the U.S. Nearly half the country shut down at all. Then the president pushed for rapid reopening. We know what damage it did in terms of virus spread.

What damage did it do economically?

If you shut down and start too early, you're winding back and so on. That is worse for the economy.

GREENE: That's right. So a lot of people have suggested that we either have economic growth or we have people's health. And that is the wrong way to look at it. We will have no economic recovery, no real economic recovery until we can contain the virus.

The data has shown that. So if people do not feel confident about going out, they will not do it. It does not matter, again, whether governors reopen the state or they have not. I think it since it all comes down to confidence, if you have a state opening up and then shutting back down because of spikes in cases, then opening up again, then shutting back down, that will just make people feel less confident about going out.

So that will push back the return of confidence and a return to normal consumption behavior. So I think that reopening too early has much more pernicious effects on the economy, just because of the confidence effect.

And the data is playing that out. Europe has rebounded, broadly, much better than the U.S. largely because their virus management is superior to ours. It is pretty clear.

HOLMES: Exactly. Always a pleasure, good to see you, Megan Greene.

GREENE: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: Sources say U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is so worried about Republicans losing control of the chamber in November, he is signaling vulnerable candidates that they can distance themselves from President Trump if necessary.

That could mean things like breaking with the administration on its response to the coronavirus pandemic. It could be a risky strategy, though, since the president is still very popular with the Republican base.

And Mr. Trump is pressing ahead with his false claim that mail-in voting will cause massive fraud. The president insisted that it is something other countries could exploit.


TRUMP: This will be the greatest election disaster in history. By the way, you 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.


HOLMES: That's not true. That statement also contradicted by some of his own intelligence officials the very same day. A source tells CNN the possibility was dismissed at a closed-door briefing for lawmakers.

Meanwhile, new procedures implemented at the U.S. Postal Service are causing great concern but it has nothing to do with fraud. CNN's Jessica Dean explains.



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

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

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

DEAN (voice-over): A USPS internal memo obtained by CNN details some of the changes DeJoy has made, which include ending overtime and extra trips for postal workers.

Quote, "One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees," the memo reads, "is that, temporarily, we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks, which is not typical."

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

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

DEAN (voice-over): Washington State, which is entirely vote by mail, is currently holding a primary. Secretary of state Kim Wyman says her office talks with the postal service every day. KIM WYMAN, SECRETARY OF STATE OF WASHINGTON: We definitely noticed that it is a little slower. We are getting reports from voters, you know, that typically, they would get a daily pickup of their mail and in some complexes, like an apartment complex, they are seeing a day or two pass before their mailbox is full again.

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

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

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

DEAN: Of course, there is heightened concern about all of this due to President Trump's continued unfounded attacks on vote by mail and its security -- in Washington, Jessica Dean, CNN.


HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes, I will be back at the top of the hour though with more news. Meanwhile, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" comes your way next.