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"The Lancet": False Information about Coronavirus Is Public Health Threat; Summer Camp Outbreak a Warning to Schools; Trump Campaigns in Florida as COVID-19 Deaths Surge; Hurricane Hits the Bahamas as COVID-19 Cases Rise; New Postal Policies Raising Concerns about Mail-in Ballots; Massive Global Effort to Find Effective COVID- 19 Treatments; U.K. Ending "Shielding" Guidance for Medically Vulnerable; Hong Kong Issues Warrants for Six Activists; Sports Leagues Innovate to Deal with COVID-19 Crisis. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired August 1, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A coronavirus outbreak at a summer camp for kids, raising new concerns about what may happen when schools reopen in a few weeks.
Major League Baseball teams get a coronavirus warning from their commissioner. Why it could lead to the end of the season that began just last week.
And President Trump says, we're doing really well with coronavirus in Florida, a state that set new records for COVID-19 deaths each of the last four days.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Thank you for joining us.
Nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed worldwide in the past 24 hours. The World Health Organization says it is the highest one-day total to date.
The crisis remains especially acute here in the United States. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has surpassed 4.5 million cases and has more than 153,000 deaths. That's far more than any other country here on the planet.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now forecast another 20,000 Americans will die in the next three weeks. Georgia is the latest of at least 30 states to pause or roll back reopening.
The spiraling numbers are already threatening to end the young baseball season. The Major League commissioner reportedly warns he could shut it down if cases keep rising among players and coaches. More of the latest from across the country now, here's CNN's Nick Watt in Los Angeles.
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.
ALLEN: As the new school year gets underway across the U.S., a summer camp in north Georgia is a prime example of just how easily the virus spreads among young children.
ALLEN: The CDC now reports a shocking number of campers became infected there, some as young as 6. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta discussed it with our Chris Cuomo.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A couple things that really struck me about this, first of all, there were 600 kids that went to the camp. They were there for basically five days, including orientation. Camp counselor gets sick. Camp counselors are wearing the masks, not necessarily all the attendees, the campers.
Camp counselor gets sick, they send him home and then they decide to basically close the camp down, over the next several days and what do they find?
Let me show you here. First of all, we talk a lot about testing. Not everyone could get tested.
But out of the people that could get tested, they find that the young people and I have the ages here: between 6 and 10, 51 percent of them became infected, between the ages of 6 and 10, so these are some of the youngest campers; between 11 and 17, I'm sorry, 51 percent; between 11 and 17, 44 percent; and between 18 and 21, 33 percent of the people that were there got COVID.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Now, why?
GUPTA: They tested positive. And again -- CUOMO: Was it the camp wasn't following the right rules?
GUPTA: Yes. I think there's two things. First of all, there were some specific CDC guidelines in terms of everyone wearing masks.
CUOMO: Yes, you can put them up, Vaughn.
GUPTA: Making sure there's proper ventilation within the various cabins. Windows were closed. And there was a lot of people who were doing these types of activities --
CUOMO: Same as schools.
GUPTA: -- where you were putting a lot of droplets into the air. Same as schools.
GUPTA: Same as schools. And I can tell you, Chris, a lot of these kids are the same kids that go to the schools in this area where I live. So, this was a huge concern and a bit of a trial balloon in terms of what would happen in schools.
I think the fact that young kids were actually the most significant percentage that got infected, I think, was worth noting and we also realized a lot of these kids were spreading it to each other.
ALLEN: Let's talk about it with Steven Riley, who teaches about infectious diseases at Imperial College in London.
Good morning, thanks for coming on.
STEVEN RILEY, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
ALLEN: That was a sobering report about the camp here in Georgia.
What might this indicate for what schools could face when they reopen in just a few weeks?
RILEY: Yes. The question about whether and how to reopen schools is very difficult. This report from the summer camp shows you that when you get large groups of people together, whatever age, indoors, there's a risk of large amounts of transmission.
The frequency with which this happens is difficult to figure out. But this is a great report that gives us some detailed information. But we have to remember that schools provide an awful lot of benefits over and above education. They provide physical safety and improve the well-being of the students.
So it's not as simple as just being able to choose to close schools because they're a transmission risk. So it is a difficult question.
ALLEN: It is such a challenge for all of the school districts, all over this country.
Were you surprised, Professor, at the percentage of the camp, the youngest between 6 and 10, the highest number to get infected, at 51 percent?
RILEY: As I say, it's only one (INAUDIBLE) but that's really, really useful data. It shows that, when transmission conditions are good enough, even those young children can become infected in high numbers. So it is very useful data and a little bit surprising but not totally unexpected.
ALLEN: Nearly 300,000 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed worldwide in the past 24 hours. The WHO says it is the highest one-day total to date.
When this pandemic was declared, did you think this disease would be this hard to tackle globally?
RILEY: I think by the time it was officially declared a pandemic and we had seen it take off in lots of different populations around the world, we knew it would be very difficult to stop. And we knew pretty much that it would be our attitude to social distancing that would determine how many cases individual countries and individual populations had.
So by that stage, unfortunately, yes. We did know it was going to develop into this situation.
RILEY: Now we see where the U.S. is. The CDC says it expects the virus will kill another 20,000 Americans over the next few weeks. Yet the U.S. president traveled to Florida, the epicenter of the disease. No masks. People around him not wearing a mask. There's still mixed messages from the very top.
From what you're seeing, regarding the U.S. response, what is preventing this country, which is number one in the world for cases, for getting our numbers down?
RILEY: The primary thing -- we talked a lot in March about lockdowns. Many countries, including the U.S., attempted lockdown. But we have to accept they were achieved with different degrees of success.
I think a recent person on your show said the U.S. got down to about 50 percent of regular activity for a while and started going back up.
In other countries, where they got much more effective lockdowns, they got down to much lower numbers of cases. So as they start to reopen, they're reopening from a lower baseline. That's the first point.
And the second point is the degree of buy-in. So populations around the world, they are all different. And they're all responding to these requests for social distancing and to have safe contacts. They are responding in their own way. And countries seeing high levels of transmission, that tells us the
population is not responding in reducing contacts and making them safe in the same way other populations are doing.
ALLEN: As a result, some 30 states are pulling back on reopening. You have to feel for workers, for small businesses that are trying to keep going. It's so very complex.
Let's talk about hope with a vaccine. What seemed like wishful thinking weeks ago, about a vaccine, perhaps coming by the end of the year, looks more promising on many fronts.
What are your expectations on when that can happen, the studies and research that are under way?
RILEY: I think it's very difficult to say for sure when. There's a number of very promising candidates. And they're going to have varying levels of efficacy. But they're going to do something. They're going to help and they're going to be very useful tools.
But it's going to depend on the safety data. Thinking about using these quickly in very large numbers of people, only a relatively short time after they've been tested.
So the most important data is the safety data we have to communicate as transparently and effectively as possible, to make sure when we roll these out, we're doing our best to make sure people receive them understand what is being done in their development.
ALLEN: We appreciate your insights, Professor Steven Riley of London's Imperial College. Thank you for your time.
RILEY: You're welcome.
ALLEN: Now we want to turn to the weather, a storm brewing. The Bahamas and Florida are facing a storm on two fronts. Both destinations are battling a sharp rise in coronavirus cases even as a hurricane bears down on them.
The category 1 storm is packing sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. It's expected to dump close to a foot of rain on the Bahamas and Florida. Journalist Matthew Moxey is riding out the storm for us in the Bahamian capital.
Good morning, Matthew.
What reports are you hearing about the impact of this storm so far?
MATTHEW MOXEY, JOURNALIST: Hi, Natalie. Although we are four hours away from this storm at the capital, there's already reports in the coastal communities of increased winds. Forecasters predict Hurricane Isaias will be here by 8 am, moving into the northwest Bahamas with showers and thunderstorm, along with hurricane to tropical storm force winds continuing across the central Bahamas.
The hurricane has brought heavy rain and strong tropical storm force winds over Long Island and other central islands of the Bahamas. Some of the northwestern islands are experiencing adverse weather.
Reports from the southern islands indicate there was no damage up north. And about 20 communities along the coast and other vulnerable areas are being advised to evacuate by the government. Obviously, this comes as the island is recovering from a devastating blow from category 5 Dorian last year.
ALLEN: Thank you. Matthew, thank you for joining us.
ALLEN: Much more to come here on CNN, including the United States president, without a mask, paying a visit to Florida, despite that state's soaring coronavirus infections and deaths.
Also, we dig deeper into the U.S. president's inaccurate statements about mail-in voting and take a look at the real problems faced by the country's postal service. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I hate it anywhere. But if you look at other countries, other countries are doing terribly.
So I think we're doing really well in Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: U.S. president Donald Trump, downplaying COVID reports in Florida, as the state reported a high number of COVID-related deaths on Friday for the fourth day in a row. Mr. Trump also is once again making inaccurate claims about voting by mail. Pamela Brown has much more about it.
TRUMP: This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (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 could move it up, OK, move it up. But you're not prepared for what they're doing.
BROWN: 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 3. They're not going to announce it on the 4th or the 5th or the 6th. It'll go on forever.
BROWN: His advisers even ramping up the assault with false information.
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed. Nobody checks to see if they're even a U.S. citizen.
BROWN: Fact-check, non-citizens aren't allowed to register to vote in federal elections and mail-in ballots are authenticated.
And 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: Well, 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: Instead, U.S. officials are concerned foreign adversaries will exploit the president's vocal distrust of mail-in voting as part of their online campaign to sow discord surrounding the election.
President Trump also visiting 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 has 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 infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, directly refuted that claim yet again.
FAUCI: 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 increasing in hospitalization and increasing in deaths.
BROWN: 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 sight, 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 the votes for it in the Senate. But let's get real about what -- who says what. We passed a bill 10 weeks ago.
BROWN: On Saturday morning, House Speaker Pelosi will be hosting a meeting with the chief of staff and secretary Mnuchin, to try to hammer out a deal. As of right now, both sides are very far apart -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: The U.S. Postal Service has recently implemented new policies that workers say are causing mail delivery delays.
ALLEN: And that's raising concerns about mail-in ballots and the November election. Adding to the concern, the person who put the new rules in place is a long-time Trump supporter, donor and fundraiser. Here's more from CNN's Jessica Dean.
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.
ALLEN: Mr. Trump also said Friday he would ban the popular video app TikTok from operating in the U.S. TikTok is currently under scrutiny, as some policymakers voice concerns that the Chinese-owned company is a national security risk.
But cyber security experts say there's no evidence suggesting that TikTok's user data has been compromised by Chinese intelligence. Trump's promised action comes as Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy TikTok.
A possible vaccine for COVID-19 is still many months away. But medical researchers are developing a number of promising treatments. We'll have the latest on the therapies just ahead here.
Also, parts of the United Kingdom are slowing down reopening. We'll have a live report from London about that situation.
(MUSIC PLAYING) ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the
world. I'm Natalie Allen. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two tests that can measure the levels of antibodies after someone is exposed to coronavirus. That could prove important as scientists search for effective treatments. We get the latest on those efforts from CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.
BILL GATES, ENTREPRENEUR: The medical profession is getting smarter every week. And eventually, they will be armed with amazing therapeutics.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's philanthropist Bill Gates on CNN's global town hall, "Coronavirus: Facts and Fears."
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its partners are funding up to $125 million in research for coronavirus treatments. For now, doctors are mostly using treatments that already exist for other diseases.
Studies show blood thinners help fight clots common among COVID patients and steroids reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19. Preliminary, unpublished data shows that receiving convalescent plasma or blood from someone who has recovered from coronavirus also reduces the risk of dying.
As far as new weapons against COVID-19, there's just one approved treatment, remdesivir. A study published in May shows this antiviral drug shaves four days off a hospital stay. While that's helpful, it's not nearly enough. There's still a need for more new coronavirus treatments.
GATES: I think therapeutics are actually the most promising thing and not talked as much about as the vaccines because if you have multiple therapeutics, that between them, are reducing the death rate and the amount of serious sickness by over 80 percent, probably over 90 percent, that does start to reduce the horrific burden.
COHEN (voice-over): And there are many in the pipeline. Dr. Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: Most exciting for therapeutics, in my view, the use of monoclonal antibodies, derived from people who have survived COVID-19, who have made these antibodies to help them recover and those can now be turned into products.
COHEN (voice-over): Dozens of companies are developing these drugs. They call the strongest antibodies that fight off COVID-19. Some look so promising that they're already in phase three testing on coronavirus patients, like Jennifer Bernt, an Arizona nurse who got infected.
JENNIFER BERNT, NURSE: I've seen people sick from this virus.
BERNT: I had a friend struggle for his life with this virus. I've had patients in the hospital who are scared because their family can't be there in an awful time in their life.
COHEN (voice-over): Earlier this month, the federal government ordered Regeneron $450 million to fast-track its development and manufacturing.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: They say they could have up to 70 (sic) to 300,000 dose -- vials of this by the end of the summer or early fall.
COHEN (voice-over): A different approach?
Antiviral drugs that directly attack the virus. And researchers are also studying drugs that affect the virus' RNA, its actual genetic material. These approaches are leading to new insights about how we combat the virus so that while we wait for a vaccine and, perhaps even after, doctors can help patients with COVID-19 -- Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.
ALLEN: Once optimistic officials in the United Kingdom now say they are squeezing the brakes on plans to reopen the economy. Infection rates are rising and some plans to ease restrictions are being reversed. Joining me now to talk about it is CNN's Milena Veselinovic, live from London.
Good morning, Milena. It doesn't seem that long ago that the U.K. opened up. And now, this.
MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: That's right. Good morning, Natalie. As you said there, Boris Johnson said, the U.K. had to squeeze the brakes on further reopening because the virus is rising in the country. A community transmission is up for the first time since May.
Boris Johnson said planned reopenings of things like bowling allies, ice rinks, wedding receptions with up to 30 guests are off. You now have to wear a face mask in all public places, with the prime minister warning the police will have the power to enforce that.
It was a far cry from his more optimistic tone. It was two weeks ago that Boris Johnson said that Britain may be back to a form of normality as soon as Christmas.
In contrast to that, on Friday, the chief medical officer, Chris Witty, said that Britain has probably gone as far as it can when it comes to further reopening of society.
He says that the virus is circulating more now, because people are mixing more, going out and about. He acknowledged for the first time, that there are going to have to be difficult trade-offs going forward. Chris Witty hinting that in order to reopen schools safely, for
example, in September, there may have to be further restrictions in other areas.
The government's top scientific advisory body says it is no longer confident that crucial R number is below 1 in England. That means, potentially, the outbreak may be growing again nationally -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Something to watch. Milena, thank you so much.
This weekend the U.K. is ending its shielding guidance for the medically vulnerable. That means, among other things, that government aid will end. And many are being told they can return to work.
But some are worried it's all happening too fast and could be putting them in danger. Let's talk about this with Shelly Asquith in London. She's a health and safety policy officer at Trades Union Congress.
Thank you for coming on and good morning to you.
SHELLY ASQUITH, TRADES UNION CONGRESS: Good morning, Natalie.
ALLEN: Let's talk about the timing of this. With infection cases rising and the U.K. government putting the brakes on, why now August 1st is the government advising people who were shielded go back to work?
ASQUITH: To explain what the shielding period means, it's more than 2 million people in England who have been categorized as being extremely vulnerable. So these are people who, if they were to be infected with COVID-19, would more likely experience complications and more likely be hospitalized and more likely, frankly, to die.
And they're no longer being advised to follow certain extra precautions and no longer being advised not to go into work. And no longer receiving things like food parcels and medicine delivery to support them in that shielding process.
And this exposes a lot of at-risk people to a lot more risk. As the rate of infection is increasing again, as we just heard, a lot of places going into local lockdowns. We need to make sure that those people are not being ordered back into work when it's not safe and that support continues.
They can be placed on the jobs retention (INAUDIBLE) still got employment once the shielding process is safe to finish.
ALLEN: Understand that. But if not now, Shelly, then when?
At some point, it will be untenable to continue financially supporting those who can't go to work indefinitely.
ASQUITH: I appreciate there are financial implications with this but they're not (INAUDIBLE). There's a lot of very at-risk sick people end up in hospital.
ASQUITH: And I think it's not good to put a price tag on the lives. For these people, it's a matter of life or death. The reason job retention has been so available, we need bosses to make sure that they are using it.
But we also need to make sure that employees are working with trade unions to make sure they're carrying out risk assessment for these people on an individual basis, to determine what is the safest way for people to go back to the workplace when they're ready, that the very genuine, legitimate concerns and anxieties these people have about going back into the workplace, are being addressed.
Ultimately we want people to go back to work and make sure it's safe to do so. That's not just telling them not to go in but carrying out processes and redeployment to different roles, making sure they're coming into as much customer facing contact if that's the case, steps that can be taken.
At the moment, people are just being told to go back to work without those processes being carried out beforehand.
ALLEN: What are you hearing from these most vulnerable people about that?
They must be causing a great deal of anxiety.
ASQUITH: Yes, we're hearing from people that stock supermarket shelves, that drive buses and clean offices. As of Monday, they're being asked to go back after shielding for the last four months, without any processes in place to keep them safe, without acknowledging they have the extra vulnerabilities.
And they're scared about that. It does feels like the government is very suddenly pulling support that was there, that, you know, was very much welcomed at a time when infection rates are rising.
More than 5 million people in the north of England in particular are being told to go back into lockdown. These people are being told, if you work in a place that is not on lockdown, you can get on busy public transport, increasing your risk of infection, and go to work in that place.
It just doesn't make sense. And it puts a lot of people, as we say, at very serious increased risk.
ALLEN: Right, they will also not get food and medicine delivered. This comes when workers in the U.S. are seeing their federal assistance end as well August 1. This is a tough time for millions of people, who are economically strapped.
What is your biggest concern?
ASQUITH: Yes. Crucially these people are financially suffering. And a big factor that's undermining our abilities to control the virus and to keep people safe, is that statutory sick pay is 95 pounds a week. It's one of the lowest rates in Europe. It means that a lot of people, if they do fall ill or need to self isolate because they've come in contact with somebody with coronavirus, they can't afford to take time off of work.
And we've seen surveys amongst union members showing up to 70 percent of people say that if they did become ill, they could go to work because they can't afford to pay their rent, if they choose not to.
We really need to see the rate of statutory sick pay going up to support people to take the time off work and prevent themselves becoming ill and their colleagues becoming ill. We also desperately need that support for the shielded, the people that are the most clinically vulnerable, to be reinstated, particularly at a time when we see the rate of infection growing.
ALLEN: We appreciate you coming on and talking with us about it. Shelly Asquith in London, thank you.
Next here, wanted in Hong Kong but living abroad. How the city is using its controversial new security law to crack down on pro democracy activists that don't live there anymore.
And baseball is in danger of being called out. Its season is possibly canceled as they and other sports struggle with the COVID crisis. Next here, some innovative approaches.
ALLEN: Hong Kong police have issued arrest warrants for six pro- democracy activists that have left the city. The six are wanted for allegedly violating Hong Kong's controversial national security law. Among them are prominent campaigners Samuel Chu and Nathan Law, who are living abroad and speaking out on Twitter.
For more on this, let's turn to Kristie Lu Stout.
This is an indicator that Hong Kong is still serious about knocking down dissent, even for those that have left.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And it caps off very eventful and dramatic months for people here in Hong Kong. Hong Kong police are reportedly seeking the arrests of six pro-democracy activists that have fled the city state-run CCTV reports that they're wanted for breaching for the controversial national security law for inciting secession or colluding with foreign forces.
These are very serious offenses under the new law. If found guilty, they could face life in prison.
CNN has reached out to Hong Kong police for comment and they have refused to comment. One out of the six is Nathan Law, the high-profile democracy activist and leader of the former lawmaker. Around the time the national security law came into effect, he fled to the U.K. So from the U.K., he spoke out on Twitter. Let's bring up his tweet.
He wrote, "My advocacy work overseas is conducted in my own personal capacity, without any collaboration with others. Since leaving Hong Kong, I've also stopped contacting members of my family. From now on, I will sever my relationship with them."
Also wanted, Samuel Chu, a Hong Kong activist based in the United States, on Twitter wrote, "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'm an American citizen and have been for 25 years."
It has been one month since this new law came into effect, it criminalizes secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism, including with foreign forces. It applies to anyone, even though outside of Hong Kong, even those who are not Hong Kong permanent residents.
Critics say it undermines Hong Kong's freedoms and autonomy. Others say it brings stability to Hong Kong and fills a legal security loophole. But in response, a number of countries have suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including the U.K., Germany and Australia, providing potentially safe haven for these exiled activists now wanted by police.
ALLEN: All right, Kristie Lu Stout reporting from Hong Kong, thank you.
A dire warning from baseball's commissioner ahead here. Teams are told to start handling the COVID crisis better or they could all be sent to the showers.
ALLEN: They began to play ball just a week ago. Now there are fears baseball's shortened season could be called on account of COVID. Some games already have been postponed as the league and players' association confirm that 29 players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus.
Now ESPN is giving this warning from baseball commissioner Rob Manfred: it could be game over for the season unless the league manages the crisis better. Our Martin Savidge looks at how various sports are coping.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sports leagues are using shortened seasons, bubbles, team sequestering and rapid testing to let the games begin.
Could the winners and losers teach us something?
Take baseball. Already a number of games are on hold as more than 20 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus. Players aren't sequestered and teams travel to outbreak hotspots. The Washington Nationals were so concerned about going to Florida, they put it to a vote.
DAVE MARTINEZ, WASHINGTON NATIONALS MANAGER: We all decided that it was probably unsafe to go there.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Friday, the Cardinals-Brewers game postponed after two members of the St. Louis team tested positive.
Meanwhile, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have opted for a different approach.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Keeping participants in a closed environment, where they live, practice and play their games, the bubble.
So far, so good. During training camp, the NHL tested more than 800 players. There were two positive the first week and none the second. The teams now face off in two secure zones, in Toronto and Edmonton, Canada.
GARY BETTMAN, NHL COMMISSIONER: We feel good about the fact we have a contained environment. In fact, one player was quoted saying from the bubble, that this is the safest he's felt since the middle of March.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): At the NBA bubble in Orlando, where the season resumed Thursday, they're also declaring success. The league said only two players inside the bubble have tested positive and that was over two weeks ago.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: In essence, everyone is tested on a nightly basis. As a practical matter, they don't leave their room until they have the results the next morning.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Still to come, football. The NFL says it takes safety seriously, reconfiguring locker rooms, reducing travel schedules, doing away with preseason games. But like baseball, the NFL is allowing players and staff to go home, increasing their risk of getting infected.
In an open letter, commissioner Roger Goodell wrote, "In a year that's been extraordinarily difficult for our country and the world, we hope that the energy of this moment, will provide some much-needed optimism."
But growing numbers of NFL players opting out of the 2020 season would seem to indicate they don't share that optimism.
SAVIDGE: So what have sports taught us?
Pretty much what we already knew, that quarantine and ample axis statistic (ph) is a winning strategy -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.
ALLEN: Thank you for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen. I invite you to follow me on Instagram or Twitter. We have got much more news ahead with Kim Brunhuber. Please stay with us.