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Lawmakers Working on Stimulus Package; Germans Protests Amid a Pandemic; No Warning for Muslims; Trump Bans Chinese Companies; SpaceX's Mission Accomplished; Dr. Deborah Birx with Stark Warning; Leadership Matters in a Pandemic; Tropical Storm Isaias on Its Way to the East Coast; Florida Facing Two Huge Challenges; Australia Under Strict Lockdown. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 3, 2020 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. in a new phase of the coronavirus fight, that is according to a key member of the White House Task Force who says the virus is extraordinarily widespread in both urban and rural areas.

Millions of Americans are also at risk from a tropical storm as it moves up the east coast it could regain hurricane-strength with high winds and flooding the biggest dangers.

And a spike in coronavirus cases sends one of Australia's biggest cities into a strict lockdown. What the government is trying to do to stop the spread before the outbreak grows.

Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Good to have you with us.

And we begin this hour with a stark warning to Americans from a top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Deborah Birx says the country is entering an ominous new phase of the outbreak.


DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: But I want to be very clear, what we're seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread, it's into the rural as equal urban areas, and everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. And that's why we keep saying, no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.


CHURCH: COVID-19 has killed about a thousand Americans every day for most of the last week. And a new projection from the CDC suggests another 18,000 people or more could die in just the next three weeks.

The test positivity rate, which shows how fast the virus is spreading is also up. It's been rising two-thirds of the country over the last week. New infection numbers have plateaued in about half the U.S., but experts say they are still too high, Florida and California in red here, remain the most dangerous hotspots.

But numbers could get even worse in Florida, as testing sites that were closed due to tropical storm Isaias reopen.

On Sunday the coronavirus task force member in charge of testing set the record straight on the drug hydroxychloroquine.


BRETT GIROIR, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: From a public health standpoint, at first, hydroxychloroquine looked very promising there were no definitive studies, at this point in time there's been five randomized control placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine.

So, at this point in time, we don't recommend that as a treatment. There is no evidence to show that it is.


CHURCH: That statement of course at odds with some made by U.S. President Donald Trump. And he made his 284th visit to one of his own clubs Sunday for a few rounds of golf without wearing a mask. Mr. Trump has a habit of contradicting his own top health experts.

Jeremy Diamond has more on that.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In recent days, we have watched as President Trump has continued to downplay the severity of the coronavirus, falsely claiming time and again that the rising cases that we are seeing in the U.S. is due to an increase in testing. And the president also continuing to hawk hydroxychloroquine, the drug has been proved in multiple studies to be an ineffective treatment for coronavirus.

But the message that we are hearing from the public health experts within this very same administration, is very, very different, including the message that we heard on Sunday from Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's Coronavirus Task Force coordinator. She made clear that this epidemic in the United States currently is extremely widespread. Making clear that it's happening not just in the urban areas where we saw in the early days of this pandemic, but also in rural communities.

And she gave a message specifically to those rural communities, encouraging them to practice those mitigation efforts. Listen to her warning about the seriousness of the situation in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIRX: We are in a new phase, that's why I really wanted to make it clear to the American people. It's why we started putting out governor reports directly to the health officials and the governors in every single state. Because we could see that each thing had to be tailored.


This epidemic right now is different and it is wide, it's more widespread and it's both rural and urban.


DIAMOND: Now Dr. Birx did say that she is seeing something that is quote, "a bit reassuring." And that is the notion that it appears that cases in the west and the south may be beginning to plateau or even decline, saying that it seems that those mitigation efforts that have been put in place in some of those states are working.

But she is also making clear that the states that are beginning to see even slight increases in their test positivity rate for example, need to immediately begin to slow down their reopening plans and implement those mitigation efforts.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Ali Khan, Dr. Khan is the dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health. Thank you so much for being with us, doctor.


CHURCH: So, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, warned Americans over the weekend that the coronavirus is now more widespread than ever, in both rural and urban areas. Not only did she insist that everyone wear a mask in public, but she also said that anyone living in a multigenerational home should consider wearing a mask inside the house if they are in a high-risk group.

So, Dr. Birx blamed the increase in cases on people refusing to wear masks and social distance. But is it enough to blame people without following that up with a national mask mandate? Wouldn't that make sense?

KHAN: Absolutely. So, there are actually probably three questions in that statement of yours.

So, because of the greatest public health failure in the United States ever, we have gone from approximately 100 cases per million per day to 200 cases per million per day. So, there is no doubt the disease is more widespread because of our failed response than it had been previously.

And there is also no doubt that if everybody wears masks, we could -- we would get those cases down. However, that's only part of the picture. And we should be very careful about shifting blame for the failed public health response to individuals.

So yes, individuals need to wear masks, but the government needs to do its job about in leadership and use of data and then dropping community transmission with tests and trace and isolation.

CHURCH: And Dr. Birx also defended herself against accusations from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the Trump administration is spreading disinformation on COVID-19. Now there is no evidence that Dr. Birx is doing that, but she did say there are reassuring signs being seen regarding COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the west and south of this country. Do you see any reassuring signs?

KHAN: Nationally, I see no reassuring signs. And with due respect to Dr. Deborah Birx in her scientific expertise, we don't have a national strategy. And our current national strategy to me seems to be a thousand deaths per day national strategy, so this is a herd immunity national strategy while we wait for a vaccine and potentially and protect vulnerable individuals. We'll see a thousand deaths per day.

CHURCH: And White House testing czar, Admiral Giroir, says that wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings would have the same effect as a total shutdown. Do you agree with the admiral on that? Again, why doesn't he follow-through with a national mask mandate with them?

KHAN: So, getting this under control is going to require a lot of different things. Right? So, mask wearing is appropriate, avoiding gatherings is appropriate, but where is the test and trace? Where is the leadership so that we don't have the disinformation that we're seeing right now? Where is the isolation of people who have disease? Where is timely testing? Where is robust testing?

It is very easy to go pointed individuals and say it's your fault, but this outbreak is the biggest public health failure ever in the United States. And the government needs to step up with leadership.

CHURCH: And the problem is, doctor, that in the midst of all of that, when you explain that to us, President Trump is still pushing for all schools to open their doors to face to face classes, even threatening to take funds away from those schools that don't.

But now that more studies are showing kids get and spread COVID-19, is it smart to go virtual right until we know a little bit more so that at least those students and teachers are safe? Until we do understand what happens with all of this.

KHAN: So, I believe the president's position is a little bit more nuanced than just open, but there is no doubt, we know kids transmit disease, that's not a secret, we know kids get infected, that's not a secret. We know there's outbreaks within campus and school settings, none of this is a secret. We do need to get kids back to school, there's no doubt, but we have to get them back safely. And the only way to get them back safely is to drop community transmission.

[03:10:01] So, our University of Nebraska criteria are that do not consider sending kids back to school until there is about 25 to 50 cases per million per day within your school district.

Remember, the U.S. now is at 200, so that's four times that. And even the White House today said that unless your testing rate is less -- positivity -- the number of people were positive in your community is less than 5 percent, they're also saying don't go back to school.

So now, there is lots of different triggers, parents, school districts, teachers can use before they consider sending kids back to school. But there's probably only a handful of school districts in America that are ready to send kids back to school and even then, probably on a staggered part time basis.

CHURCH: All right. Led by science. Dr. Ali Khan, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

KHAN: Thank you very much, and remember, mask on.

CHURCH: Great message at the end there.

Well storm warnings have been extended further along the U.S. East Coast as tropical storm Isaias is projected to grow to near hurricane- strength when it reaches the Carolinas later today. The tropical storm is bringing heavy wind, rain and rough tides to Florida now after slamming into the Bahamas.

Alerts have been issued up and down the eastern seaboard in advance of the storm's projected move northward.

So, let's go to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, he's been keeping a very close eye on this. Good to see you, Pedram. So, what are you seeing ahead for the next few hours?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Rosemary. Potential strengthening as you noted here, this sits just shy of a category one hurricane. It is sustained at 70 miles per hour, about 70 miles also off the coast of Florida at this point, and we think landfall about 24 hours from now. So, as we transition from Monday night into Tuesday morning along the coast of the Carolinas there, that's where the landfall possibility is at its highest.

But again, when you're talking about a storm as a strong tropical storm equivalent that's just shy of hurricane category one, the impact is really not going to be much different whether it strengthens to that category one or not. You'll notice, the eastern side of this, where all the activity is essentially keeping Florida out of the vast majority of the action, but here we go as we forecast the track northward, we do believe this will potentially strengthen again just to get to that category one.

Water temperatures going to be a little warmer along the gulf stream with this system as it migrates farther towards the north. The steering environment such here that we have the jet stream wanting to push it away from the United States while a ridge of high pressure wants to nudge it back towards the United States, so it will parallel the coast here as it makes landfall and we think potentially it may even stay as such as it pushes up through parts of North Carolina into the Delmarva.

And notice, could still be looking at a tropical storm on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning around Long Island, New York. So, the impacts could be widespread into areas around New York City at that point and that's really the biggest concern. You bring a storm tropical that, you know, tropical storm magnitude with such winds, of course power outages become a concern in a major metro area.

But storm surge, two to four feet, that is above the typical high tide. Now Monday is full moon, which means the astronomical high tide for the entire month of August takes place on Monday afternoon and Monday evening.

And here's what it looks like. Charleston, right around 9 p.m. we expect a high tide to be around six and a quarter foot again, you factor an additional two to four feet on top of that, that will usher some water into historic downtown Charleston as the storm system nears.

So, you think about of all the 30 days in the month of August, you could get a system to come ashore, this is not the day you want to see it on the full moon as it pushes in towards the region. And of course, needless to say, heavy rainfall and the flood concern remains extreme. Some of these areas, Rosemary, could see as much as four to six inches of rainfall in the next two days. We'll follow this story certainly moving forward.

CHURCH: We appreciate that. And all this in the midst of the pandemic, it's just too much, isn't it? Pedram, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

CHURCH: Well, the storm is compounding another emergency already devastating Florida, coronavirus cases continue to spike there and health experts fear super spreader events could come from people riding out the storms in shelters.

CNN's Natasha Chen shows us how officials are dealing with both dangers.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far, Isaias has not caused a whole lot of problems for Florida. It's been moving very slowly and here in Daytona Beach people aren't expecting the worst of the storm to hit until overnight local time. But emergency management officials have been prepared. They opened a few shelters on Sunday in case people needed them, but close to them back down after seeing not a lot of people show up.

They did prepare for this situation of having a tropical storm, a possible hurricane during a pandemic. Typically, families would be given a certain amount of space in each shelter. They are giving families more space this time, that reduces the capacity in each of the shelters, which also means they've prepared for the possibility of needing more shelters available in case the storm becomes very severe.


We talked to the emergency management director yesterday in a war room, which is typically filled with people, filled with first responders. But they are all taking care of this virtually, this time. Here is what he said about the bizarre nature of two threats at the same time.


JIM JUDGE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: It's weird. Because we -- they are our friends, you know. And we do enjoy getting together and, you know, in problem solving. So, once we get into the event, you know, tomorrow, once we have a few people in here, and we're looking at the evacuations and the transportation and then solving the problems that are going to come up, because now we got to get into a computer, get on a phone, to be able to get a hold of people to do those things. When I can walk across the room and solve that problem immediately it may take a little bit longer. And, you know, so we are going to go through it.


CHEN: Other ways in which COVID-19 in the storm are overlapping for these emergency officials. Some of the testing sites by these counties in the eastern coast of Florida had to temporarily close as the storm passes and those are expected to reopen early next week.

Now while the storm is grounded to a tropical storm for Florida, hurricane watches were issued Sunday evening for the Carolinas north of us. So that will be the focus in the days ahead.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Daytona Beach, Florida.

CHURCH: And after the break, Australia declares a disaster in one of its most populous states after hundreds of new COVID infections are reported. We'll have that in just a moment.



CHURCH: New, stricter lockdown measures taking effect in parts of Australia's state of Victoria in an attempt to fight surging coronavirus cases. The premier of Victoria declared a state of disaster after almost 700 new infections and seven deaths were recorded Saturday. Tight restrictions which include a nightly curfew from Melbourne will be in effect for six weeks.

So, let's go now to CNN's Anna Coren. She joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So, Australia isn't leaving anything to chance here, taking this virus very seriously with a strict lockdown and curfew in Melbourne. What more are you learning?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the strictest restrictions, if you like, Rosemary, in the history of peacetime Australia. The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews is saying that there is no other option. There is no stage five. Either this works or nothing will.

And basically, he is telling all Victorians, Melburnians in particular, that they must stay home. Nonessential businesses will be closed for the next six weeks, you mentioned that curfew that will be in place from 8 p.m. through until 5 a.m., every single evening.

Schools shut, childcare centers will be shut, and only one family member from each household will be allowed out each day to do the grocery shopping. And they can only travel within five kilometers from their home. They are leaving nothing to chance.

And the reason being is that, Melbourne, a city of five million people has been on lockdown, stage three lock down for the past month. And they haven't seen numbers decrease. In fact, they've just been rising, week after week. And that has been extremely alarming.

And they have found that people are ignoring the rules. They are ignoring the instructions to stay home when they are feeling a little bit sick. Stay home between testing and getting results, when statistics showed that more than 50 percent of Victorians were going about their normal day from the point of test, to the point of getting results.

And even some people who tested positive, Rosemary, were still going to work. So, it is quite extraordinary that Victorians have been so lax, so laid back about it, even under stage three restrictions. But they are hoping now, under stage four, that they will have no other choice.

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said that tomorrow he will be announcing much harsher penalties for those who break those laws. They're saying that everybody must work together to bring the numbers down, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Human behavior plays a big role in all of this, doesn't it? Anna Coren, joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.

So, let's discuss this further. Joining me from Melbourne is Catherine Bennett, she is a professor and chair in epidemiology at Deakin University. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, you know, it is a tale of two nations, isn't it? The U.S. recording surging new cases across the country but has no national plan to deal with it. While Australia response to its surge in cases with a severe lockdown, a curfew in Melbourne, and it's ordered mask wearing across the city.

So, granted Australia's population is considerably smaller than the U.S., but this is about how a nation response to surge in cases, isn't it? And talk to us about the swift and severe action. Will it work given that Melbourne had already been in a lockdown? BENNETT: Well, we did so well with the first wave. We had lots of

cases imported to Australia with return travelers. And we did go very quickly to make a strict lockdown at the time, which we called stage three, and that had a great impact, in fact, we eliminated local transmission pretty much across the country, and we were managing return travelers really as our main concern for most of, you know, May and June.

When we saw the cases rise, which was due to, essentially, a reintroduction of the virus through return travelers and a breakdown in quarantine, in our hotel quarantine system, we ended up with quite a record rise in cases quickly.


But because we had such an early investment from the first days, and we only had just over 100 deaths, Australia wide to that point, the decision was really made to really go hard again, to say whether we could contain this early.

Unfortunately, like with other countries, it is a different dynamic with a second wave. There is a lot of fatigue, people, perhaps, in Australia, it didn't take it a seriously because we had done the right things, and got off lightly in the first phase. But it proves really challenging, even with stage three introduced in the city of Melbourne to fully contain this.

We did flatten the curve, so while we saw the numbers rise quite quickly, for the last week it's been relatively stable. And I think we're beyond the peak. But it just wasn't enough push, you know, in terms of people's compliance to actually start to really bring the numbers down.

And that's what led to this next level of restriction, to really try and shorten this now, get the numbers down and get us back to a point where we're hopeful, and we can really suppress the virus and perhaps eliminate local transmission again if we get it right.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And of course, Australians, like Americans, and British citizens, they're not comfortable wearing masks. And there has been considerable pushback. But on the whole, people are starting to get used to the idea.

As an epidemiologist, do you think life can return to some level of normal, as long as people wear masks in all public places? And could this be a way to avoid severe shutdowns once Australia, Victoria has gotten through this stage, of course. But, you know, avoid those severe shutdowns could inevitably lead to economic stress which creates a whole new set of problems of its own?

BENNETT: Absolutely. Look, it's interesting how people have adopted masks. There was initially a lot more talk and push back. But in fact, in Melbourne, before we even went to mandatory masks, you know, I went to my local supermarket and at least half of the people there were wearing masks. So, it's going to become much more the norm. And I think when that

happens it's easier to understand how good it can be. So, what compliance looks like, and if enough people are wearing it then it does allow you to perhaps ease some other restrictions as we go ahead. That makes life more bearable and more sustainable from an economic point of view, but also, you know, it factors in what is the new norm, which is, keeping up the social distancing is still important.

The hand hygiene remains, you know, critical, but if that all becomes more habitual along with mask wearing, then we probably are in a position where we can look to ease restrictions again. But we have to stay on alert.

The Victorian story tells us was, you know, it was probably one traveler, some security guards, becoming infected at work, took it back to different parts of the community whether they're really well connected, just as we were relaxing restrictions.

And like other countries in the world, you just see how quickly this can fly. So even with masks and other precautions, we'll always have to stay on the lookout for signals that a new level of community transmission might be taking off. And then do what is happening in New South Wales, going in very aggressively with contact tracing and testing very early. It's the only way you can pull this out breaks back and stop these ways.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, just very quickly, your neighbor, New Zealand, not only crushed the curve, it eliminated the virus. Again, it is a much smaller population, but is that the approach all nations should be taking now that we have seen second wave and third waves in some parts of the world, or is elimination for most nations not possible until we have a vaccine?

BENNETT: Look, I think there is a good argument that we achieved elimination in Australia as well. The virus circulating now in southeast Australia is the virus that's linked to that breach of our hotel quarantine, not the virus that was around in March and April, and May.

So, in fact, I think even a larger nation and a complex, you know, set of borders like Australia achieved at, the challenge is how you maintain it. If you keep up freight in any level of return travelers or essential travel across international borders.

And clearly, with countries that don't have the advantage of being island nations like New Zealand and Australia, that challenge is even greater. So I think elimination of local transmission is too possible but as soon as you have common borders, then I think you have to have all the other things in place to be ready should there be any very early signs of the next wave that allows you to, you know, take it on and really quash that transmission before it takes off in your local community again.

CHURCH: Right. As you say, we have to be vigilant. Catherine Bennett, joining us live from Melbourne. Thank you so much for your expertise. I appreciate it. BENNETT: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, as U.S. lawmakers squabble over a new coronavirus stimulus package, some Americans wonder how they will put food on the table and pay the rent if the unemployment checks stopped coming.


We'll have more in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church.

U.S. Lawmakers and White House officials will meet again in the coming hours to try to reach agreement on another stimulus plan. A key sticking point is the extension of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit that expired last week.

Republicans view it as a disincentive for some Americans to go back to work, and wanted to cut to $200. They also want states to move toward benefits based on a percentage of workers' wages.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The fact is, they put on the floor the end of this week in the Senate, $200. So, when you say, well, you ended doing the 600, they have no support for that in their party. We are unified in our support for the $600. They are in disarray.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Mark Meadows and I will be back there every day until we reach an agreement. We understand there is a need to compromise, but on the other hand, there is also a big need to get kids into school, get people back to jobs and keep the economy open and keep people safe.


CHURCH: Also, at issue is the Democrats push for additional funding for state and local governments.

Now for many Americans, that extra $600 helped pay the rent and if it's discontinued, they worry they could end up out on the street.


CNN's Paul Vercammen has one family story.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tension on the streets of Los Angeles this weekend, economic worry, people wondering how they're going to make ends meet. The $600 supplemental paycheck from the federal government gone, and looming on the horizon, how to pay rent or make up for rent that has not been paid.

There is a moratorium on evictions in the city of Los Angeles, but in the state, some other eviction moratoriums may go away soon. We talked to the Alvarez family, they haven't been able to pay rent in three months and they are greatly concerned about what's going to happen down the road when someone comes to collect that rent check.


MARCOS ALVAREZ, LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: We need real help like to cancel the rent because it's --


ALVAREZ: Because we live with the pressure that we can't pay the rent and as soon as this is over, another one is to let repay the months that we didn't pay and how are we supposed to do that when we could barely make for the month we're living in?


VERCAMMEN: Also, at play here, landlords, many of them in Southern California, rely on rental income to make their living. And one community activist said this is all such a double-edged sword.


CARLOS MARROQUIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: What we need to do is we need to not only explore but we need to act boldly to be able to put in programs in place that will not only protect the renters but also the landlords. We understand that. Most of the renters that I speak with, if not all of them, you know, they want to pay the rent. But if that is not happening, you know, again, the landlords will also suffer, especially the mom and pop landlords. And that worries me a lot.


VERCAMMEN: And there are a number of bills working their way through the legislature that could give relief to both landlords as well as renters, stay tuned on that. California reckoning with both the COVID- 19 pandemic and it's very serious consequences on health as well as all of these economic woes.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

CHURCH: Thanks for that report.

Well, the coronavirus death toll is soaring across Latin America and the Caribbean. Health officials there have now confirmed more than 200,000 fatalities since the pandemic began. Brazil accounts for almost half that total, its outbreak is by far the worst in the region, more than 2.7 million cases have been reported in Brazil so far.

Well, Germany is seeing a rise in new coronavirus cases after initially getting the pandemic under control. Public health officials say lax reinforcement of social distancing and hygiene rules are contributing to the steep rise in cases, that was on display this weekend as thousands gathered in Berlin to protest restrictions. Almost no one in that crowd was wearing a mask.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live in Berlin with the latest. He joins me now. I mean, it does make you shudder when you see images like that, doesn't it, Fred? I mean, we see that a lot in the United States.


CHURCH: Not used to seeing it in Germany. Talk to us about this rise in cases and how Germany is responding to the challenge of containing this again.

PLEITGEN: Well, first of all, Rosemary, I think it made the Berlin police shutter as well when they saw that the demonstration unfolds. They stop that demonstration actually, as they noticed that people weren't wearing masks and weren't physically distancing there.

A few hours into the event and then basically told the people to go home, which actually also took several hours as well. So that is certainly something that's going to have a long-term effect. There are a lot of politicians who are extremely angry about what happened there.

The German health minister came out and said yes you have the right to protest, even in times of the coronavirus, but you do have to do it under the conditions of the pandemic, even if you don't like the measures that have been put in place because of the pandemic.

But you're absolutely right, Rosemary, Germany is indeed still dealing with a rise in cases. And that's something that we have been witnessing really throughout the entire of last week on Friday, they had 955 new infections, which is the most that they've seen since the middle of May. So certainly, things are going up.

And they're dealing with another challenge now, in some states, school is actually starting, in fact in one state school starting today. Because Germany has a federal system that's actually very similar to the United States every state has their own system of how to bring schools back.

There are some states like for instance, the state of Berlin that I'm in right now, that is going to force students to wear masks. But certainly, all of them want the kids to come back into class and they all have separate hygiene concepts.

The other thing that also kicked in on the weekend which is very important as they try to bring those cases down, is that testing has become free for anybody who enters here into the country. Now I've been looking at the numbers sort of over the weekend and apparently, a lot of people actually did that, especially down in Bavaria where people are coming from Austria and other places as well. A lot of folks chose to have that free test where you usually get the results just a couple of hours later.


So the Germans are doing everything they can to try and keep the number of infections down as there is a rise in the number of infections, but they do say, and this is the bottom line, that people have to become more vigilant and that people have to be more stringently follow the measures that they have been put in place to try to combat the pandemic which of course, are the same ones that have been in place the entire time. Which has been physical distancing, first and foremost, but also of course wearing masks whenever you are indoors or you can't physically distance and of course, sanitizing as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, it's so difficult, isn't it? We talk about the human behavior being one of the challenges in the midst of this pandemic and there it is, on display.

Frederik Peitgen joining us live Berlin, many thanks.

Well the U.K. has issued strict lockdown measures for Northern England and the order came right before the start of Eid. Friends and families hoping to spend the holiday together were forced to cancel plans and what some Muslim leaders call shockingly short notice.

Milena Veselinovic has more.

MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: A last minute lockdown on the eve of Eid, just hours before the start of the holiday the government announced on Twitter new restrictions in Northern England, because of a coronavirus spike in the area separate households can no longer meet in their homes or gardens, disrupting the plans for hundreds of thousands of Muslim families who are preparing to celebrate the biggest holiday of the faith together.


ZULFIGAR KARIM, PRESIDENT, BRADFORD COUNCIL FOR MOSQUES: Picture the scenario, it was 9.30 in the evening last night, which is Christmas Eve, you've basically put the turkey in the oven, you're wrap the presents, you've got family coming around early in the morning from all over the country. And 9.30, you read the news, you see the Twitter feed saying, I'm sorry, but tomorrow is cancelled.


VESELINOVIC: The tweet was posted at 9.16 p.m., announcing new measures coming into force at midnight. Muslim leaders said it was shockingly short notice. And they feel singled out because pubs, bars and restaurants remain open in affected areas, though people are not allowed to mingle with other households.

Many community leaders say authorities should have allowed families to celebrate Eid and then move in with restrictions but the government says that household gatherings were a key factor in the virus surge and they had to move quickly.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: We take this action with a heavy heart, but unfortunately, it's necessary, because we've seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus. And we'll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.


VESELINOVIC: One conservative lawmaker representing one of the affected areas accused members of the community for the rising infections, saying they were not taking the pandemic seriously enough. A blame game some Muslim leaders say isn't helpful, especially after missing out on a holiday that is meant to bring people together.


KAWSAR AHMED, IMAM, OLDHAM MUSLIM CENTER: There's no point of grieving and doing anything, all we can do is follow the guidelines and help the people and help the government saving lives important.


VESELINOVIC: A scaled down celebration amid a frustrating new reality. Milena Veselinovic, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Microsoft says it is still interested in buying Tik Tok but it will also continue talks with the Trump administration to address concerns over security. The details, ahead.



CHURCH: Microsoft says it's still discussing a possible purchase of Tik Tok. That follows President Trump's threat Friday to ban the popular video app from operating in the United States. Tik Tok is owned by a Chinese start-up.

CNN's Eleni Giokos joins me now live from Johannesburg in South Africa. Good to see you, Eleni. So, Microsoft is still exploring this idea of purchasing Tik Tok in the U.S., but how will the security concerns be overcome?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is such a good question. I mean, firstly, they are announcing that they are currently in talks with ByteDance, which is the parent company of Tik Tok. It's very significant. And it comes over the same period where you had President Trump saying, with conviction, his intention to ban the social media platform, even willing to issue an executive order to do so.

Microsoft CEO then was on a phone calls with President Trump over the weekend discussing the potential deal, and then Microsoft saying, look, they want to conclude this as quickly as possible and hopefully buy the 15th of September.

Now you got to remember that with any acquisition there has to be due diligence. You have to look at national security issues. And the national security issues regarding Tik Tok really potentially the fact that its parent company is Chinese owned, and Chinese owned companies should be able to hand over any information requested by the Chinese government.

That is the big concern here. That if U.S. data is then handed over to the Chinese government that could mean a national security breach. Now ByteDance, the owner of Tik Tok, basically is trying to shake off the perceptions of it being a Chinese owned company and saying that it's a global entity.

Take a listen to what they said over the weekend. And looking at their statement they're saying that they've always been committed to becoming a global company, and in this process we are faced with all kinds of conflicts and unimaginable difficulties, including intense international political environments. And they're adhering to the vision of globalization and continue to increase investment in markets around the world.

So, it's interesting they mention the political landscape. We know the tensions between the U.S. and China have definitely escalated over the past few weeks, but Tik Tok has also received a lot of criticism in other markets.

India has banned the social media platform. We're also seeing the Australian government saying their concerns about security breaches. And also, we've seen very similar rhetoric coming through from South Korea as well. So, it definitely has heightened concerns about the safety of the platform.

But in the meantime, the millions of users in the United States have voiced their concerns about the banning of the platform. And they're saying it's heartbreaking, and of course, they also show that they are angry about the potential decisions.

So, the fate of Tik Tok in the U.S. really does depend on where this acquisition with Microsoft will go through, and of course whether ByteDance wants to sell off one of its prized assets.

CHURCH: It's going to upset a lot of those young folk, and some older folks who really get into it. Eleni Giokos, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

And after two months, NASA's mission on a SpaceX capsule returns to Earth. We will tell you how it made history, and how it could change the face of spaceflight. Back in a moment.



CHURCH: Magnificent. And this was the scene on Sunday as the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. Two NASA astronauts emerged from the craft, proving the first ever manned commercial flight to the International Space Station a success.

SpaceX is planning more such missions and what is being hailed as a new era in Space flight.

Well after the landing, SpaceX Elon CEO Musk said while he isn't religious, he was praying for a safe return.

CNN's Rachel Crane takes us through the final moments before the capsule landed.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley making history with Crew Dragons successful splash down in the Gulf of Mexico off the Coast of Pensacola after a two-month stay at the International Space Station and a 19-hour journey home. Recovery boats were waiting nearby to attend to the astronauts and the spacecraft after the capsule parachuted into the ocean at around 15 miles per hour.

A far cry from the 17,500 miles per hour it was traveling at just before reentering earth's atmosphere. The astronauts then making their way to Johnson Space Center, where they were reunited with their families, and underwent some medical assessments.


The successful return in SpaceX has indeed made history. Becoming the first private company through NASA (Inaudible) into orbit and safely bring them home, and finally returning U.S. human spaceflight to American soil after the retirement of the shuttle program nine long years ago.

Now, this technically was a test mission intended to certify SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for future operational missions, which could start flying as soon as two months from now.

This is all part of a multi-billion-dollar contract SpaceX had with NASA to regularly run such missions, ushering in a new era of space flight. One more private company are the ones tasked for (Inaudible) people into low Earth orbit, and NASA is just the customer.

Back to you.

CHURCH: Thanks so much for that. And thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of CNN Newsroom in just a moment. Do stay with us.


CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, a warning from a top White House Coronavirus Task Force member. The virus is extraordinarily widespread and now hitting rural America really hard.

Australia's second biggest city is now living with a state of disaster and a curfew as it struggles to cope with the ongoing outbreak.


And as if the virus wasn't bad enough for Florida. It's now dealing with a powerful storm. We will have an update.