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Florida Braces for Possible Hurricane amid Pandemic; Florida Hospitals Prepare for Big Storm amid Pandemic; Negotiators Still Far Apart on New U.S. Stimulus Package; 99th Hurricane on Record to Track through Bahamas; GOP Convention in Charlotte Closed to Press; Trump Claims Mail-in Voting Will Lead to "Rigged" Election; Few Countries Allowing Unrestricted Travel from U.S.; COVID-19 Outbreak a Blow to Paris Tourism Industry. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 2, 2020 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I am Michael Holmes.
We want to take you right now to breaking news that we are following. One U.S. state, facing 2 threats this hour. It is midnight right now in Florida, where millions of people are digging in for a long night ahead.
Tropical storm Isaias are expecting to strengthen back into a hurricane in the coming hours and could make landfall in South Florida. It would likely be a category one storm at that point, the least powerful but still brings the risk of flooding and power outages.
Of course, the real danger could be its potential to exacerbate the coronavirus crisis at the center of one of America's largest outbreaks.
This is what it looked like off Palm Beach. A handful of shelters are opening up for people who need them. Social distancing precautions will be taken. Hospitals, many filled to the brink, preparing for the worst. One hospital in Cape Canaveral has already evacuated its COVID positive patients, as a precaution.
HOLMES: Meanwhile, we have Verdenia Baker on the line. She is the administrator of Palm Beach County.
Appreciate your time, Ms. Baker.
Could you fill us in on what you are seeing at the moment?
VERDENIA BAKER, PALM BEACH ADMINISTRATOR: Right now, we are looking at tropical force winds we are having bands roll in. We are also working, looking and monitoring, to ensure we have everything battened down. The wind is getting higher. We are expecting tropical force winds to hit us very shortly.
HOLMES: What sort of preparations are in place?
I know Florida is no stranger to hurricanes, so what sort of things are in place now?
BAKER: Right now, we've opened roughly about 4 shelters and our special needs shelter. This is to accommodate residents who live in mobile homes. We have quite a few mobile home parks in Palm Beach County. The tropical force winds could definitely have dangerous repercussions for individuals living there.
Also, we opened them to address the needs of our residents that have comparable (ph) housing, so if their roofs are not anchored properly or windows and they do not feel safe, then we have accomplished setting up shelter for them as well.
As you know, we are in the midst of a pandemic here and so we had to open more shelters in order to accommodate a smaller number of people than normal. We have to do the safe distancing, we will also require people to wear face masks in the shelter.
HOLMES: I was just about to ask that.
With Florida facing a hurricane but also the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, has it been difficult to accommodate that?
There is all sorts of predictions of what could happen in terms of spread with people put together in places.
What have you done to accomplish that?
BAKER: We are checking temperatures, if you have a temperature, we isolate those individuals in separate areas. We require the face mask at all times, unless you are under 2 years of age. Other than that, we pass out gloves, gowns, shields and definitely distance people. They need to be at least 6 feet apart. We ensure that they are not moving a lot.
HOLMES: What about people in hospitals and the like?
I know they are hunkering down and I know they have generators to operate ventilators, sadly, having to say that.
Are hospitals secure in that regard, in terms of backup, power and the like?
BAKER: Absolutely. They are required to have generators that run the entire operation for the hospital. So we are very comfortable with our hospitals being able to address this particular crisis.
HOLMES: Verdenia Baker, Palm Beach County administrator, thank you, I know it's a busy night, we are grateful.
BAKER: Thank you.
HOLMES: The storm is already bringing, as we heard from Ms. Baker, very strong winds to Florida. Miami is the center of the state's coronavirus outbreak. Miami's mayor tells CNN the storm could have a big impact on cases also, crucially, testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-FL), MIAMI: We shut down our testing states. They will be shut down probably until Monday at the earliest. That could also create a surge in testing and a surge in cases.
We've been very fortunate over the last 2 days, our new cases have diminished a little bit. Our percent positive, we had a day under 15, which we haven't had in a long time and today at 16. Our 14-day average is that 18 percent, which is still a positive for us.
It's possible that once we resume testing, we may have another surge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Dr. David De La Zerda is in the epicenter of the virus' as lead intensive care physician at a hospital in Miami.
HOLMES: Really appreciate you taking the time.
With this potential hurricane on approach, what does it mean when it comes to capacity and capability, where you are, considering the numbers in ICUs?
DR. DAVID DE LA ZERDA, JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Hi, how are you, thank you for having me.
We prepare our ICUs in different ways for hurricanes. We emptied one of the ICUs. We are using that if we have any issues during the hurricane. We have prepared for the hurricane, of course. We've had plenty of COVID cases and this is some extra stress for us but we are ready if needed.
HOLMES: I'm curious about the storm shelters being open, which is, of course, necessary for many people. There will be an issue with social distancing in a state that is still a center of the pandemic.
There is a tool from Georgia Tech that estimates spread in crowds, there is a 95 percent chance if you have 100 people in the crowd that someone will be infected with COVID.
Are you frightened by that possibility for something else on the side of the storm?
DE LA ZERDA: Yes, we are concerned that we have another hurricane season coming and we are having to deal with COVID. We are worried that we will see an increase of COVID cases as we see people shelter together, not just in shelters but at home. People stay home and families will shelter together, so, yes it is a big concern.
HOLMES: You are the lead ICU physician there.
I'm just wondering, what is your day like?
You are at work, by the look of it.
What has it been like for you there at the epicenter?
DE LA ZERDA: We have been dealing with this for almost six months. It's nonstop. It's been a little bit worse lately, very long hours. We work weekends, as you can see right now. So yes, very long days. We don't see our families as much. There is at least three times more work for both physicians and nurses.
HOLMES: Have you seen any improvement over the last few days or weeks?
DE LA ZERDA: I think, yes. In the last 2 or 3 days, we have seen less patients being admitted. The ICU is pretty busy and at least for the next 2 weeks, it will probably be busy. But yes, we do see less cases coming in.
HOLMES: You are in Florida, the president was in your state yesterday with supporters, virtually no masks, no social distancing and the president later said, I think we are doing really well in Florida. That was a direct quote from him. This was on the same day of a record number of deaths in the state.
What do you make of the messaging, given what you are seeing on the front line?
DE LA ZERDA: What we see is an increasing amount of positive cases. We have plenty of clients in the hospital. We still have a long way to go. It is very easy for us to look at the reality but there is still plenty of work to do.
HOLMES: Do you worry about that messaging, that if the nation's leadership doesn't wear masks and doesn't have social distancing and saying, things are looking good?
Is that the wrong message to be putting out?
DE LA ZERDA: I think people need to understand we are in this together. We need our leaders to understand we need to work as a group. Our local mayor, our local governor, are making progress. We live in Miami and they are enforcing the use of masks. So at least here, locally, we are doing a better job.
HOLMES: The WHO says that governments and individuals need to put sustained pressure on COVID to reduce transmission and exposure. They used an analogy that it is like a spring. Put the pressure on, it's suppressed; you release the spring and it bounces back.
Do you feel the spring is being suppressed enough?
DE LA ZERDA: I do not think so. I do agree with that, however. I do think people need to learn that when we start opening the economy again, it is our responsibility, as citizens, to wear masks, to socially distance ourselves.
We cannot go back to having parties and live our regular lives or it's going to stay for months to come and we need to be together in this, even if cases decrease. COVID is very much alive. In New York, they still see positive cases. New Jersey, you still see positive cases. So COVID is still alive in our communities.
HOLMES: It must be difficult.
How are you?
How are you doing in the midst of all of this?
Do you have hope?
It must be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.
DE LA ZERDA: Yes, it's hard. I think the burnout in our physicians and nurses is very high. We do our job every single day, that is why we are here. But it is still challenging. We don't see our families, we don't see our kids. So our personal life is on pause so we can help everyone else.
DE LA ZERDA: So we would like to see others doing their part. Yes, the light in the tunnel is far away from us, not even at the end of the year. I think we will be living with COVID for an entire year to come.
HOLMES: We are grateful for the work that you and everyone there at the hospital are doing and we appreciate you taking the time, Dr. David De La Zerda, thank you so much.
DE LA ZERDA: Thank you very much for having me, thank you.
HOLMES: A terrible sign of the times, people waiting hours for a box of groceries. Not everything in Los Angeles is red carpet glamorous, especially not these days. We will be right back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Still no sign of a deal on a new stimulus package to help Americans struggling with the pandemic and economic downturn. Top congressional Democrats met Saturday with Trump administration officials but did not reach any agreement.
One major sticking point is what to do about the enhanced $600 jobless benefit that just expired. Now the group is to meet again Monday, no one making any promises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This was the longest meeting we had.
SCHUMER: And it was more productive than the other meetings. There are many issues that are still very much outstanding where we're apart. But we had a serious discussion and we went down piece by piece and so where each side is at.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We have to get rid of this virus, so that we can open our economy, safely open our schools and to do so in a way that does not give a cut in benefits to America's workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, a combination of COVID-19 and economic hardship pushing many people to the margins. California just reporting 219 deaths on Saturday. That's the most in a single day there.
And with the number of cases rising, so, too, food insecurity and housing fears as well. Paul Vercammen visited a food charity operation in Los Angeles.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They work late in the afternoon, cleaning up after a huge food giveaway in the First Unitarian Church. This is Koreatown in downtown Los Angeles.
They served boxes of meals or sent them out to more than 2,000 people, 1,500 of them walked up here, some have been in line since midnight. And then they shipped out another 500 boxes to nearby churches as well as a grocery workers' union.
The workers here reflecting on just how trying it is for them to see the biggest numbers of people ever come into these food lines in the middle of a pandemic because a lot of renters' protection is running out, because unemployment benefits are running out. Some of these people without a job, something close to half a year right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's surreal to see, you know, that many people
standing in those lines for food and it's really a larger indictment of a failed system and of the federal government to take care of the people because at the end of the day, it's unconscionable to live in a world where people have to wait for 7 hours for a box of groceries.
VERCAMMEN: Just boxes and boxes of food went out here, as we said, 1,500 people walked up to grab their box and another 500 boxes went out to nearby churches and a grocery store workers' union.
And for people handing out the boxes, they said this was rather heartening because they could see the look of relief in people's eyes as they knew that many of them might not have any income right now during the pandemic -- reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.
HOLMES: Thousands of people taking to the streets in Jerusalem on Saturday to protest prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has faced growing criticism for his handling on the pandemic. But this anti Netanyahu protest was also about the corruption charges against him.
And it was the biggest demonstration yet. Most of the protesters wearing masks but there wasn't much if any social distancing. Some counter protests have turned violent in recent days. But Saturday's demonstration was mostly peaceful; just a handful of arrests.
A massive crowd, including neo-Nazi groups, gathered Saturday at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate to protest the government's coronavirus restrictions there. It comes after Germany reported its highest number of new cases since May.
HOLMES (voice-over): Thousands took to the streets of Germany's capital, Berlin, to protest the country's coronavirus restrictions. Demonstrators say the measures, which include maintaining a distance of 5 feet and, when that's not possible, wearing face masks, violate their rights and freedoms.
"Away with these laws that have been imposed on us," this protester says. "Away with the masks that make us slaves."
In a tweet on Saturday, German health minister Jens Spahn blasted protesters for ignoring the government measures meant to contain the pandemic.
"Yes, demonstrations must also be possible in times of corona but not like this. We will defeat the corona pandemic by being reasonable, having stamina and with team spirit. The more responsible we treat each other in everyday life, the more normality is possible despite corona."
The crowd, which included members of anti-vax, far-right and neo-Nazi groups, then gathered for a sit-in at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate to protest the German government's coronavirus restrictions. The crowds later dispersed peacefully.
HOLMES: Still ahead on the program, tracking that storm after lashing the Bahamas. Isaias is heading to the Florida coast and one place that needs it the least. We will have a look at that state and what it can expect in the hours ahead.
HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
We've got some more now on our breaking story. Tropical storm Isaias is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane as it moves towards Florida. It lashed the Bahamas as a category one hurricane before weakening into a tropical storm.
It could complicate Florida's efforts to fight the coronavirus as well. The state, of course, has one of the nation's largest outbreaks. There are concerns about it spreading in shelters and affecting hard- hit hospitals. Florida state-run testing sites are closed until the worst is over, so nobody is getting tested at the moment, either.
HOLMES: The storm inundated the Bahamas with wind and rain, it damaged roofs, knocked down trees as it made landfall on Saturday morning. Many people there are still recovering, of course, after Hurricane Dorian slammed into Abaco and Grand Bahama in September, killing dozens of people.
For more on all of this, let's turn to Royston Jones, who's joining us from Nassau.
Good to see you. Show us what the impact has been and the latest.
ROYSTON JONES, JOURNALIST: As the storm came up the southern chain of the Bahamas, it was threatening to become a category one, as you said, with 85 mile per hour winds. That was concerning for the southern islands that it came up and the country was watching with bated breath to see what would happen, as the storm is expected to intensify and strengthen.
We saw a lot of the southern islands experience strong winds and in some cases, hurricane force winds, which is a tenuous position for those islands. And the residents there were braced, all preparations made leading up to the storm. But you see 3 to 5 feet going up the south and the central islands. We
saw a lot of flooding, a lot of rain, a lot of strong, strong winds, toppling trees, damaging roofs, as it came up to the northwest. Andros was expected in the northwest to take a heavy hit but the storm shifted and downgraded weakening slightly.
But is still a tenuous position for those islands, especially Freeport, which 11 months ago, was experiencing Hurricane Dorian, one of the worst storms on record, killing at least 74 people. That's a very anxious time for those residents who are experiencing as we speak up to 50-60 mile per hour winds from this tropical storm that still has the possibility of intensifying in the warm waters of the Bahamas.
So still a very tense position, the island is still watching it very closely. We expect to get updates on how those islands are faring, the south and central which has received the all clear, has fared well, notwithstanding some moderate damage. But it's the northwest that we are watching currently to see how the impact it will take its toll on those islands.
HOLMES: All right, OK. And, also, this hurricane during a pandemic. What's the coronavirus situation there and did the hurricane complicate efforts there on that front?
JONES: Absolutely. It compounds the issue, of course, we are dealing with a health crisis as well as a natural disaster at the same time. So, of course, any situation like that compounds the issue. It makes health authorities and government authorities strain to act on both fronts.
So all preparations were made ahead of the storm, to prepare for Hurricane Isaias and as far as the COVID-19 is concerned, we've seen cases since July 1st really expand. I mean, there's been a second wave of cases, as has been seen around the world and it has doubled and tripled and quadrupled. We've gone from 104 cases up until July 1st, to almost 600 cases as of today.
So as the country reopened its borders and Bahamians began to travel, we saw a second wave of cases. That makes it very difficult to manage when you already have strained resources on some of these islands that are stretched very thin by some of these health crises that are currently a challenge.
HOLMES: Exactly. If you will, Royston, as you mentioned Dorian, had the areas like Abaco and Grand Bahama, have they even recovered fully before this one plowed in?
JONES: There are still tons of debris from that storm. People are trying to rebuild their homes but they remain in a state of recovery. Dorian laid waste to many portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama. The residents there still remain in emergency tents and domes that can withstand some strong winds.
But again, it's not the ideal situation to put those islands in. Any storm surge or flooding really makes that situation very dangerous. And our eyes, our hopes, our prayers are with the residents there at this time. But we are watching very carefully and hoping for the best and hoping that Isaias will continue to weaken further.
HOLMES: Hopefully you would get good news from those areas. There are parts of the Bahamas, of course, you won't hear until tomorrow about. Royston Jones, great report for us, thanks so much.
JONES: Anytime, thank you.
HOLMES: Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters in southern California are battling an out of control wildfire in scorching heat. This video is about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. This is in Riverside County. Officials say the Apple Fire, as it's called, started Friday and exploded in size on Saturday. The fire has now burned some 12,000 acres, thousands of people have been evacuated.
We'll take a quick break here on the program. When we come back, calling out the U.S. president on his false claims about mail-in voting. The latest Trump ally to publicly say he has no concerns with his state voting by mail. That's when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
President Trump has, to say the least, a testy relationship with some news organizations. But now Republicans are doing something that is unprecedented in U.S. politics: banning the news media from their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
HOLMES: The closed press event will be smaller and less boisterous with fewer participants than in Ohio in 2016 for obvious reasons. The party says this ban is due to social distancing rules the state's Democratic governor has imposed. That's a pretty thin argument.
A Republican official says the vote to nominate Mr. Trump as presidential candidate will be livestreamed on August 24. That's a story that won't go away for the next few days. It's an extraordinary decision to make, keeping the news media out of a nomination.
The Republican Florida senator, Marco Rubio, is the latest political to publicly dispute Donald Trump on mail-in voting. During a conference call on Saturday, hosted by the Trump campaign, Rubio said he is not concerned about it at all in Florida.
Mr. Trump has actively tried to cast doubt on the security of voting by mail, even suggesting that the November election should be delayed. CNN's Pamela Brown with more.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump floating the idea of delaying November's presidential election, something only Congress has the authority to do, as laid out in the Constitution.
The president claiming, without evidence, mail-in voting would cast doubt on the election results tweeting, "With universal mail-in voting, 2020 will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history. Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?"
To date, there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are responding by saying the election will not be moved.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): It's never been done, Jim and it never should be done.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time.
BROWN: This isn't the first time the president has railed against mail-in voting.
TRUMP: It's very bad, what's going on with mail-in ballots. I'm very worried about mail-in voting, because I think it's subject to tremendous fraud and being rigged.
If people mail in ballots, there's a lot of illegality.
BROWN: In an attempt to clarify today's tweet, Trump's campaign released a statement, saying, "The president is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting."
Trump even leaving the door open he may not accept the results of the election in a recent FOX News interview.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Can you give a direct answer you will accept the election?
TRUMP: I have to see. Look, I have to see. No, I'm not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no.
BROWN: Some Democrats are worried Trump is laying the groundwork to cast doubt on the results of the election.
Cedric Richmond asked the attorney general about it this week.
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Do you believe that this 2020 presidential election will be rigged?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have no reason to think it will be. BROWN: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned about the possibility back in April, saying, "Mark my words, I think he's going to try and kick back the election, somehow come up with some rationale why it can't be held, trying to let the word out.
"But he's going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote. That's the only way he thinks he can possibly win."
The Trump campaign immediately released a rebuttal to Biden back then, saying, "Those are the incoherent conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality. President Trump has been clear that the election will happen on November 3rd."
BROWN: In former president Barack Obama's eulogy for civil rights icon John Lewis, he appeared to take direct aim at President Trump, suggesting he wants to suppress voters' rights. President Trump, on Thursday, did not react to that at his press briefing -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst, a former member of the U.S. National Security Council in the Obama administration and also a senior adviser at the Biden Institute.
Sam, great to get you on. There's a lot going on with this election. But let's start with foreign interference. And it was sort of in your ballpark when you were in the White House.
President Trump continuing to praise Putin, he's opaque about his calls with him, by all accounts, hasn't even raised Russian bounties and paying the Taliban to kill U.S. forces.
How emboldened right now would Vladimir Putin be to interfere again?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this isn't even a hypothetical question, Michael. We know that Vladimir Putin is interfering in the U.S. election.
U.S. intelligence officials just last week gave a briefing to lawmakers, in which they reportedly said that nation states, including Russia, continue to try and interfere in our elections.
Concurrently, there is a public announcement that was issued, saying that countries like Russia, China and Iran are trying to attack our election. So it is a certainty that Russia feels emboldened enough, four years into the Trump presidency, to continue attacking American democracy.
HOLMES: You've got the president, of course, saying the election is going to be rigged, that mail-in voting will be corrupt and so on, which is untrue. You know, the whole aim of Vladimir Putin throughout all of this was to shake the faith of Americans in their own institutions, sow doubt and mistrust. He'd be pretty happy right now, wouldn't he?
VINOGRAD: Well, Putin bet on the right horse, didn't he?
He has a U.S. president who -- let's just take a step back. The U.S. president should be doing everything possible to secure our elections, to defend our critical infrastructure, to educate the American public, for example, on how to appropriately participate in mail-in voting and to stop the spread of divisive information and disinformation.
Instead, what we have is a U.S. president acting, frankly, like a Russian bot or a Russian troll and spreading information that, again, you would expect to see as part of a Russian disinformation campaign while, concurrently, Michael, the president is not only failing to protect our critical infrastructure, he is reportedly, he and his -- members of his administration, are taking actual operational steps that will degrade the ability of the U.S. Postal Service, for example, to deliver mail-in ballots on time.
So he's not just engaging in influence operations that you'd expect from a Russian Twitter account, he's actively undermining the ability of this country's critical infrastructure to support the election in November.
HOLMES: Yes, the sort of slowdown at the postal office really does smell at the moment, particularly with all of the debate over mail-in ballots. I did want to ask, you know, about the significance of the Intel Oversight Committee. Still not agreeing on details for what is known as the annual threat briefing.
And you know all about that. We are 7 months into the year. It hasn't happened.
Why and what does that suggest?
VINOGRAD: Well originally, it was reportedly postponed because intelligence officials did not want to upset the president. Last year, when they delivered the public briefing, President Trump went on a Twitter tirade, saying that they should go back to school and disagreeing with their assessments.
So they reportedly postponed this briefing to avoid upsetting the president and stoking his insecurities. Now what we have is 7 months into the year, even the classified briefing to the Senate Intel Committee and House Intel Committee hasn't happened because members can't agree on the guidelines for that briefing.
What that means, is the threats that the intelligence chiefs think are the most critically important to brief lawmakers on aren't being briefed to lawmakers who have oversight in the intelligence community.
Those lawmakers can't ask questions of the intelligence chiefs about North Korea, about China, about Russia and more. And it really sends a worrisome message that we are so divided, that even when it comes to the most critical threats to Americans, we can't get over our differences and lawmakers aren't able to just agree on the guidelines for this briefing.
HOLMES: It really is -- that is a head-shaker. That is real national security stuff. We've only got a minute left but I wanted to dip back into mail-in voting. I mean, this has been done since the Civil War and common throughout the country, yet the president pushing this narrative.
And this issue that really does trouble me, that the post office is having all sorts of troubles after a postmaster general was put in, a prominent Trump supporter.
VINOGRAD: Yes, a prominent Trump supporter with no postal experience is the postmaster general. And what we are seeing is there are already delays in mail in the U.S. Postal Service because the postmaster general, for example, has said that overtime won't be paid.
What should be happening right now is the U.S. Postal service should be doing everything possible to get ready for November and even weeks beforehand as people can request ballots well before Election Day and they should and educating Americans on how to use mail-in voting appropriately.
Instead, what we are seeing is a built up backlog in the U.S. Postal Service that is undermining confidence in the U.S. Postal Service and likely for voting really perhaps a train wreck when it comes to mail- in voting in November. It doesn't look like an accident, Michael.
HOLMES: Yes, I think that is a story that is going to have legs. I'm betting, anyway. CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, always a pleasure, good to see you.
VINOGRAD: Good to see you.
HOLMES: A looming storm and raging pandemic can't keep Mr. Trump away from his golf game. He spent much of the weekend at his Virginia golf course, marking the 283rd day he spent at one of his golf clubs while in office. The president has defended his frequent golfing in the past as being part of his exercise routine.
And we will be right back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Some countries have been easing travel restrictions in a bid to get their tourism industries rolling again. But there is one country that is repeatedly being left off safe travel lists and that is the United States. By our count, just nine countries are allowing unrestricted entry to
Americans. You can see them on the map there, highlighted in blue. Among them, Mexico, Turkey and Tunisia. Others are requiring self- measures, such as self quarantining or just not letting Americans in.
Paris depends a great deal on tourism business. While it may be getting back to some semblance of normalcy as it recovers from the pandemic, a big piece of its economy is not. CNN's Melissa Bell explains.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The only difference are the masks. Otherwise, Paris, the city of art and light and love, as much as it ever was. The shops are open, the artists are out, the bars, the bistros, the museums, there is only one crucial ingredient missing: The tourists.
And what is Paris without?
Last year, 50 million of them came for the monuments, the cathedrals, the museums, the history, spending 22 billion euros and once again making Paris the most visited city in the world.
BELL (voice-over): This year, the French and the odd European tourist have it pretty much to themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We won't get back to our historic levels before 2022. I have been in charge of this for 7 years now and we have known crises, floods and terror attacks and we've always picked ourselves up.
BELL (voice-over): But for now hotel occupancy rates here in Paris are down 86 percent on what they were a year ago and the worst is at the very top end of the market, the so-called palace hotels that depend almost entirely for their business on American, Asian and Middle Eastern terrorism, places like The Ritz here in the Place Vendome. They have simply remained closed.
BELL (voice-over): And that will come at a dizzying cost to France's public finances.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are very fortunate in France to have this government support. It's quite unique in the world. I mean, 70 percent of the gross salary, which is 84 percent of your net, is very unique and it's very important for us to have that.
BELL: French authorities have said that they will continue covering most of the salaries for people who can't work until at least September. But that money is going to have to come from somewhere, even as the French economy is predicted to contract by 10 percent this year.
Perhaps most worrying for people looking at France's tourism industry, this should be its high season on an ordinary July day. The Louvre would get 30,000 to 40,000 visitors. That figure is under 10,000 a day right now.
Much now depends on when those global travel restrictions will be lifted but also and perhaps more importantly, whether long term, people are ever going to want to come back to Paris in the same numbers that they did before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps, the contrary, if you have a vaccine or a treatment, then people will have to go back to normal life. We have to enjoy the life.
BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM.