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Thirty-three People Confirmed Dead In Wildfires, Dozens Missing; Trump Gains In Latest Polling, But Biden Still In Control; Pfizer CEO: Good Chance We'll Know If Vaccine Works By October; Trump To Hold Nevada Rally Despite COVID Restrictions; Venezuelans Fear COVID-19 Diagnosis More Than Death; Trump Team Pushes Doctored Videos To Smear Biden. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 13, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And we are following several big stories this hour, including an apocalyptic scene in parts of the northwest today, a nightmare of fire, ash and unbreathable air covering much of California, Oregon and Washington State. Nearly 100 massive wildfires are raging at the same time. Fire crews are stretched to their limits.
The president heads to California tomorrow for a briefing. Also we've learned Joe Biden will address the fires in a speech Monday as well.
Meantime, another major storm named Sally spinning towards the Gulf Coast of the United States right now. It's not a hurricane yet, but forecasters say it will be. All of Louisiana under a state of emergency, people in parts of New Orleans are being told to evacuate.
And we have breaking news in the fight against COVID-19 this weekend. The CEO of Pfizer says there's quite a good chance his company will know by the end of next month if the vaccine they are working on is effective against the coronavirus. No promises, but Pfizer's boss is optimistic.
For now, thousands are still getting sick and hundreds are still dying every day in the U.S. And tonight, fears of a possible super-spreader event about to happen in Nevada. President Trump will host a large, crowded campaign rally there in a few hours, nothing new.
But the important difference today is that this campaign rally will be held fully indoors. This will be the first fully indoor Trump rally since June's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The surge in deadly COVID cases followed shortly after that event.
It was also the last rally attended by the president's friend and ally Herman Cain. He was diagnosed with the virus several days later. He died in late July. We begin with the firefight out west now. At least 33 people are dead. And that's just what official can confirm from the massive wildfires roaring up and down the west coast right now. Dozens of people are missing and can't be accounted for.
Let's go straight to CNN's Paul Vercammen in a residential neighborhood outside Los Angeles. Paul, we've been watching you and the people around you deal with all the ash in the air and the thick, thick smoke. Is the place where you are right now in danger from these wildfires?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, Ana. And this is on so- called Bobcat fire's. I pivot right out of here, you can hear the choppers above and you can see behind me. This is a checkpoint. There is a solid mandatory evacuation zone just to the east of me, those houses, some 305 houses in all, the National Forest Service telling me. And this is a scene that's being replicated throughout the west in this hellacious late summer fire season.
We understand now, according to the National Information Fire Center that some 6 million acres have burned during this treacherous fire year, breaking out, of course, in Washington, Oregon, California. You noted the air quality is unhealthy, just absolutely wretched.
So, on this particular firefight, they have 31,000 acres burned here in the Bobcat fire, and they're sealing off these neighborhoods. They're preparing to do a number of different things. And we spoke with Andrew Mitchell of the U.S. Forest Service about what the strategy is going forward here in the foothills of Los Angeles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MITCHELL, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: The goal today is to really protect Sierra Madre and Arcadia. They're going to use air, ground, any kind of resources they have. And so if there's opportunities to back burn or subsequently (ph) fire, places put some flak (ph) in, where they can put it in an anchor to really defend this area, they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And to sort of add injury to injury, because they are already hurting throughout Los Angeles County, we now understand more high temperatures are on the way. Ana?
CABRERA: No reprieve. Paul, we just learned some new details about President Trump's visit to California tomorrow, right? Fill us in.
VERCAMMEN: Yes, he is coming out to California. We understand he's going to McClellan Park. He will not be going to any active fire lines or the fire zones. That we've heard of yet, but it will be outside Sacramento, indoors, as you pointed out earlier, inside a hangar.
We're going to have a rally as well. That's on Las Vegas at -- let me correct you on that. It is in California that he's going to meet up with officials here and discuss the fires. CABRERA: OK. Paul Vercammen, thank you very much.
Followers of the conspiracy theory group, QAnon, are spreading misinformation about the deadly wildfires, specifically in Oregon. They are doing this as 13 major wildfires are scorching parts of that state right now. Oregon's governor, Kate Brown, says, wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres of her state in just the past week.
I want to bring in CNN Business Reporter Donie O'Sullivan, who has been looking into how politics and technology intertwine. And, Donie, what types of misinformation about Oregon's wildfires are you seeing online and how is that impacting the firefight?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Ana, yes, I mean, this all started earlier this week when there were claims online circulating, false claims, that the left wing group Antifa was responsible for starting some of fires in Oregon. Then on Wednesday night, the conspiracy theory grew, which the FBI has labeled a potential domestic terrorist group, QAnon started also sharing these and really sort of, I guess, bolstered this conspiracy.
By Thursday, law enforcement in Oregon were pleading with people not to share these false claims. And I want to show you a post here from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Oregon where they write, rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 911 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with request for information and inquiries on an untrue rumor that six Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in Douglas County, Oregon.
Also, Ana, the FBI has said, Friday, that they had investigated this, so it made its way to the FBI and they also said it was false.
CABRERA: And, Donie, I understand Facebook is taking action on this?
O'SULLIVAN: Yes. A bit -- possibly a bit little too late. These claims were going viral from at least Wednesday. On Thursday, we heard from law enforcement pleading with people not to share them. We covered it here on CNN Friday but it took until Saturday night for Facebook to come out with a statement saying that they were removing these posts.
This is what their spokesperson, Andy Stone, said. He said, we're removing false claims that the wildfires in Oregon were started by certain groups. This is based on confirmation from law enforcement that these rumors are forcing local fire and police agencies to divert resources from fighting the fires and protecting the public.
Now, earlier in the week, Facebook had labeled some of these posts as false. And as for Twitter, where these claims are also going viral, Twitter is not removing them at all. They told us that they're taking some steps to ensure that these claims are being seen by less people. But, again, Ana, it's another example of these companies always being behind the curve, and really contributing to overwhelming emergency services at a time where they really shouldn't have to deal with this. CABRERA: This is just another reminder for all of us to vet the information that we are seeing online, and not believe what you see at your fingertips. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you for your ongoing reporting and your great work in this realm of misinformation. I really appreciate it.
Now, while the west coast is dealing with fires, breaking news in the Gulf Coast dealing with yet another potential hurricane, and CNN's Tom Sater has been tracking Tropical Storm Sally. Tom, this is going to become a hurricane, you say?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think by morning, Ana, I really do. It looks poorly organized right now. Sally is the 19th named storm of the season. We're in the peak of the hurricane season now. But with the environment here with extremely warm waters, we don't have any shear (INAUDIBLE) any dry air. So it does have the potential not only be a hurricane by morning, but this could be a possible Category 2 when it makes landfall.
Most of the activity is to the east of the center, which is just off here in some of that cloud cover. But we are seeing lightning strikes, which means near that core. It's trying to develop and it will.
This model, this is what starts to get a little interesting now. Notice how it is well-formed there as it makes its way towards Southeast Louisiana. This is at 5:00 P.M. The models are now hinting that at about this time, it's going to put on the brakes. And it may move only four or five miles per hour for an entire day.
Remember Harvey. That's when it just unleashed its catastrophic flooding. I mean, it may take all day to go through in areas of Louisiana on Tuesday. And some of these models, they're colored in purple, I mean, that's 10 to 20 inches of rainfall.
Some of these areas are over 20 inches. So we may be measuring rain by feet. And when that comes along with the storm surge and the winds, you've got a triple threat.
Here are the warnings now. Plaquemines Parrish, parts of St. Bernard all the way to St. Charles Parrish, evacuations under way and for good reason. The system that's moving in, the core winds really in this region are eastward from where Laura made landfall our here near the border of Texas. Of course, 50,000 are still without power and a lot of debris there.
But the surge they had with Laura, a good 12, even 15 feet, was mostly in a sparsely populated area of the coastline. That's not the same with this. This is going to move very close to New Orleans and maybe right over the city, 7 to 11-foot storm surge, four to six for Lake Pontchartrain. So, everybody needs to watch this one closely.
Tomorrow night after midnight is landfall. But even into Tuesday morning, it's only about 40 miles inland.
So it's going to be with us for a while. It's going to pack a punch.
CABRERA: And with that storm surge and 20 inches of rainfall-plus, as you put it, I mean, we know water kills more than wind when it comes to these hurricanes, typically. Tom Sater, lots to keep track of there. Thank you.
CABRERA: And we've been covering lots of news already. We haven't even touched on the pandemic or the presidential election yet. It's just 51 days away. It's possible this race could come down to just one electoral vote. That's next, live in the CNN Newsroom. Stay right there.
CABRERA: Just over 50 days now until the election. So who has the upper hand as we head into the final stretch? Let me bring in our polling guru, Harry Enten.
And, Harry, you wrote this weekend about how this isn't looking like 2016. Explain.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. I mean, look, Ana, here is the quick sort of lay of the land, and that is if you look at the national polls right now, what do you see? You see that Joe Biden is out in front.
He is leading the president of the United States, Donald Trump, 50 to 43 percent.
Compare that to where we were four years ago at this point, and what did you see then? You saw Hillary Clinton with only a two-point lead. And not only that, not anywhere close to 50 percent.
And it goes even deeper than that. Not just horse race numbers but the favorable ratings for the two Democrats at this particular point time in mid-September. Look at where Joe Biden is right now. His favorable rating is actually above his unfavorable rating, 49 percents to 46 percent. Hillary Clinton at this point, her favorable far below her unfavorable rating, a majority of voters didn't like her. Right now, it's actually the plurality of voters who do, in fact, like Joe Biden.
CABRERA: I'm sure you've heard the argument, like I have, that Trump supporters are maybe too afraid their support to pollsters. The president often refers to a silent majority. What do you say to that?
ENTEN: I mean, I don't see it. I mean, it's obviously, potentially true, but I don't see it. And one reason I don't see it is, look, there are multiple ways we can conduct polls, right? They are the live interview telephone polls that CNN does and then some people ask the questions online where you don't actually have to talk to an interviewer and you might expect if, say, there was a shy Trump effect that Trump would be doing better in these online polls. But, in fact, that's not the case at all. In fact, the two look very close to each other at this, seven-point lead for Biden in the live interview polls, an eight-point lead in the online polls in an average of this month. So right now, Ana, I'm just not seeing this whole idea that there's this shy Trump event going on.
CABRERA: And, of course, it's the Electoral College, really, when it counts. What's going on there right now?
ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, it's a little bit of a tighter race in the Electoral College right now. If you look at the six closest swing states that Donald Trump won last time around, when you look at the average and those, and you compare it to the national vote right now, you do, in fact, see that Biden is up in all of those states but the lead isn't nearly as large.
But here is the key point. If you zoom out and you look at the Electoral College, look at the electoral map and give Joe Biden just the states right now where he holds at least a five-point lead, not just this month but last month, you do, in fact, get Joe Biden over 270 electoral votes. It's close, but does get 279.
And remember, Ana, we're only giving the states to Biden at this point that he's well up in. So right now, it's advantage Biden but, of course, we'll have to wait and see over the next 51 days to see if, in fact, the race does tighten.
CABRERA: Yes. And then beyond that, we may not even have the answer on election night. So we'll wait and see.
And, by the way, Harry, I've been noticing, it seems you're adding more and more books to that book shelf behind you over the course of the weeks. How are your room ratings doing these days?
ENTEN: The truth is I don't look on Room Rater, but I will say I'm trying to make the audience think I'm smarter by adding more books. But I can always use more. So if you want to send me some, I'm more than welcome them.
CABRERA: I love it. Thanks so much, Harry. Good to see you.
ENTEN: Nice to see you too.
CABRERA: Joining us now is CNN Political Commentator and Host of PBS Firing Line Margaret Hoover, and CNN Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon.
So, guys, tonight in Nevada, the president is going to host his first indoor rally since that Tulsa event in June. This event was linked to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the area. Eight Trump campaign advance staffers ended up testing positive along with Secret Service members. It was also the last rally attended by the president's friend and ally, Herman Cain. And he was diagnosed with the virus shortly after the event. He died in late July.
Margaret, ladies first. It's not good for the president, obviously, if his supporters get sick or die and cannot vote. So, for him to go ahead with an indoor rally tonight, why do this?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ana, like so many of the actions that the president has taken in the wake of the pandemic, this one sort of defies explanation, honestly. What we know, is that the president feels that perhaps his trailing poll numbers are related to the fact that he can't get out in the country and really connect to voters and particularly his supporters to gin up enthusiasm that he needs.
Because right now, if he is trailing in the polls, what he is going to rely on is the sheer numbers and the enthusiasm of his voters to turn out, never mind the fact that this is in direct violation of the COVID-19 guidance of the governor of the state of Nevada, never mind that this could do real harm to the people who attend.
CABRERA: Is it risky politically, John?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's risky politically if your supporters start dying. Look, I mean, you know, it's no secret the Trump administration and the Trump campaign doesn't think rules or laws apply to them.
HOOVER: How is that for law and order?
AVLON: Yes, exactly. But, look, pandemics don't care about partisan politics. But when partisan putting pandemic through that political prism, then you've got a golden escalator to the Darwin awards. And that's what I think you might start seeing. We saw a massive spike in COVID cases in Tulsa.
And you know, RIP Herman Cain, but to double down on that, I think, shows how deeply needy the president is to get the energy from rallies and how many of his supporters would love to be there with him and share that space even at the expense of their health.
Our Jim Acosta interviewed a couple of folks in the Trump rally.
One of them said, if I die, I die. That's a tough one (ph).
CABRERA: They're not even wearing masks to try to protect themselves when they go to these rallies. Joe Biden called this event reckless.
Meantime, Trump is attacking Biden for not hitting the trail more. Here is what he said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's in his basement right now. And he's saying what do I do? He calls his handlers. What do I do about this? He hasn't left in two and a half days. Meantime, I'm all over the place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: John, do you think lines like that make voters wonder if they should get more FaceTime with Biden?
AVLON: Look, I mean, Biden is campaigning out. What the campaign has announced, he will be campaigning more.
But, look, Trump's entire play is to try to say that absent of direct evidence that Biden is being directed by his handlers and won't leave his basement. But politics perception and Biden does need to get out more. He did in the last week. He needs to make a clear contrast, but he can't be reactive to the president's insult game.
HOOVER: But what's also different is that Joe Biden -- and it was a very uncomfortable position for me to be defending a Democrat in this race, but what Joe Biden is doing is he is on the trail, he was just in Michigan last week. He's going to Florida tomorrow. And he's making a point that his travel is consistent with health guidelines and in a way that is the most safe and responsible way to campaign again in front of the American people in the context of a pandemic.
So it is a real contrast with how the president is doing. It was in direct defiance of the state's and local --
HOOVER: -- and the state and the local officials and the municipalities that he is visiting.
CABRERA: Well, and you look at Nevada, for example. And there is a rule, a regulation now in place where there's no gathering over 50 people allowed. Yet the president's campaign is saying -- oh well, okay, fine.
AVLON: Well, those are apparently for the little people, Ana, not the president.
CABRERA: Okay. Well, let's talk about Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former presidential candidate. He is planning to spend at least $100 million to support Joe Biden in the crucial state of Florida.
Margaret, how big of a deal is that? Your reaction?
HOOVER: Well, here is -- it's a big deal for a couple reasons. One, a slightly underreported or maybe underobserved fact is that the Trump campaign is running out of money. And the Trump campaign had $1.1 billion and spent a huge thrust of it early in the year. They spent $11 billion on a Super Bowl ad. They spent a lot of money, their cash advantage has crunched.
And what that means is money matters late in the game, the last three weeks of the campaign. If they don't have money going into the last three weeks, that puts them in a real disadvantage. The less money that they have, they're going to have to spend in other states.
So what Bloomberg's money does is say, Democrats spare your money in Florida, go fight in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin.
AVLON: But not only that. I mean, look, voting starts in Florida on September 24th and the Bloomberg campaign focusing $100 million is a huge buy, even for a state as expensive to run ads in as Florida. But they're doing it because Biden is having some trouble in Florida.
He is really underperforming even Hillary Clinton with Hispanic voters. And there are four pivot counties. And you will hear me talk a lot about this through the election. These were counties that voted twice for Obama/Biden, once for Donald Trump. And they include Pinellas, in Monroe, in St. Lucy.
And Biden is doing very well with older voters but he's seen some erosion with Hispanic voters. So Bloomberg's money could make a big difference, because Trump has got to win Florida. If he doesn't, he is toast. If he does, then we're in for not only a long night, but as you point out, a long week and maybe longer.
CABRERA: But you all recall, in the primaries, money couldn't buy votes for Bloomberg. And I guess if that's the route that he's hoping to do it for Biden, you say Trump can't afford to lose Florida but can Biden afford to lose Florida?
HOOVER: No. I think this is, to Tim Russert's point, may he rest in peace, Florida, Florida, Florida. I think this election, really, Florida is a critical state for both of them. Trump probably -- it's possible Trump has a few other outs without Florida.
AVLON: And Biden as well.
HOOVER: But it's a game-changer and it's key we'll know early in Florida. The way Florida tabulates its votes is that they are allowed to tabulate before Election Day, they just don't release them. And so we don't know early that evening which way Florida is going.
AVLON: Maybe, again, I think an unprecedented situation but Margaret is exactly right to point out that you're going to have 50 different state rules governing, but Florida is one where you can tabulate that early.
HOOVER: And as many as 75 percent of voters in Florida will likely not be voting on Election Day.
AVLON: So, I don't think you can overestimate the importance of Bloomberg spending that kind of money in Florida right now but it's because Biden is seeing some erosion and he's got to make up that lost ground.
CABRERA: We'll see how he spends that money. That's what I'll be watching. John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, good to have you, as always. Thank you.
HOOVER: Thanks, Ana.
AVLON: Take care, Ana.
CABRERA: Next, to Venezuela, where the same people are beginning to fear most about COVID-19 isn't dying from it but actually the government finding out that you tested positive.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: A couple of things we are monitoring on the coronavirus front right now. The CEO of Pfizer today saying there is a good chance his company will know by the end of October whether or not their vaccine will work. While we await for a vaccine, a key research group is now warning if the U.S. abandons COVID restrictions this fall, like face masks and social distancing, more than 10,000 Americans could die each day starting on Christmas eve.
And while you process that, there's this in Henderson, Nevada. People are already lining up for a Trump rally with very little social distancing, barely a face mask in sight.
So think about that as we discuss now with Dr. F. Perry Wilson. He's an associate professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Wilson, good to have you here. We've now surpassed 194,000 deaths in this pandemic. What would you say to the people who are in line for this rally?
DR. F. PERRY WILSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes. It's hard to watch, to see people going into this indoor space. Many of them not wearing masks. I would say that they need to understand they are taking on a significant risk. And the bitter irony, of course, is that the person they're waiting in line to see has admitted now that he is deliberately downplaying the risk of coronavirus. He knows how deadly it is but has deliberately lied about it.
And the reason that's so important, the reason why downplaying something like this is a terrible idea is because if people aren't informed of the true risk they make bad decisions, like walking into an indoor rally with thousands of other people where they'll be screaming and chanting.
The other thing I'd remind them is that it's not just you taking the risk even if you think you understand the risk. People at this rally are going to bring the virus back into their communities, to their loved ones, to the cashier at the grocery store, and none of these people have the freedom to decide whether they were going to go to the rally or not. So I'd encourage all the rallygoers tonight if they care about limiting the spread to strongly consider quarantining themselves for 14 days after the rally so that that risk is limited at least just to themselves.
CABRERA: It'd hard to know how many people are going to be packed into this indoor rally space. The Trump campaign will not give an estimate at this point. Last night we did see few people wearing masks, people were really crowded together. I checked the coronavirus data for the state of Nevada. And the number of new cases has been dropping in the last week as well as the number of deaths.
With that in mind, even if the caseloads are low right now, how big of a risk is doing a rally indoors versus outdoors?
WILSON: This is bad. One of the sort of quirks of the coronavirus is that it tends to spread through these, what we deemed superspreader events. It's a very sort of clustered virus. And the epidemic is really propagated when large groups of people get together and all of a sudden you have, you know, 50 to 100 cases.
Now this is a double-edged sword because on one hand you can have kind of no cases in the area and then you have an event like this, and all of a sudden, like we saw in Tulsa, you have hundreds of cases a week or two later. But the flip side of that coin is that it gives us a really clear path to ending the pandemic. And one of the keys there is you don't pack a bunch of people together in indoor spaces, you don't give it the opportunity to have a superspreader event.
This is about 180 degrees off from what you would choose to do if all you cared about was ending the coronavirus pandemic.
CABRERA: Let's turn to the news on the vaccine front, speaking of an end to the pandemic. We're all praying, hoping that happens sooner than later. The CEO of Pfizer said today there is quite a good chance they'll know if their vaccine works by the end of October. I mean, that is just weeks away. When he says the vaccine works, what does that mean exactly? Does that mean ready to distribute?
WILSON: No. It doesn't. That trial was set to recruit 30,000 people and recently said they hit that target. They're actually expanding recruitment another 10,000 or 12,000 to increase the diversity in the trial, which we applaud them for. What he's talking about when he says works is that of those 30,000 people, 15,000 got the real vaccine and 15,000 got placebo. They'll look and see what percentage of the people who got placebo went on to develop coronavirus and what percent of people who got the vaccine went on to develop coronavirus.
If, let's say, for example, half of the people in the vaccine group got coronavirus compared to the placebo group, that would show that the vaccine is 50 percent effective, which is sort of the minimal level we want for a vaccine you're going to distribute. Of course we're all hoping to see 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent efficacy.
But that's only half of the equation. The FDA has to evaluate every drug including every vaccine, not just on efficacy, but on safety. And this is where things gets tricky because safety events don't happen as frequently as coronavirus infections. Rare events can happen weeks even months after the last dose of the vaccine as we saw in the AstraZeneca vaccine where there's a case of transverse myelitis.
Those rare events you need to watch out for. And so we may really be in a situation in October where the data comes out and we have a vaccine that appears to work, it prevents coronavirus infections, but we don't know yet if it's safe. And that's going to be a really uncomfortable situation I think for all of us. But hopefully the FDA will do what the FDA has been charged to do and consider both safety and efficacy before they make any approvals.
CABRERA: Exactly. Dr. F. Perry Wilson, as always, thank you so much for sharing with us what you know and thank you for the time, thank you for all you do in your work. Thank you.
WILSON: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Now a CNN exclusive. Venezuela has reported some of the lowest COVID-19 numbers in Latin America.
But while officials in the government say everything is under control, it's a much different story on the ground. And CNN got a rare look at how coronavirus patients in one city have been treated including being held in motels against their will. And as Isa Soares reports, many fear these facilities more than the virus itself.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the once oil rich city of Maracaibo in Venezuela, COVID-19 comes hand in hand with fear and repression. This mother of three knows this all too well. So much so she's still shaken by her experience.
She tells me sometimes I'm sleeping at night and I'll wake up thinking I'm in the motel. Like others in the story, she spoke to me on the condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. She tells me she was quarantined against her will in this motel after she lost her father to suspected COVID-19 and a rapid antibody test came back inconclusive.
"I was immediately isolated," she says. "From that moment on I heard nothing from my family." She says inside there was little food or water, and personal hygiene a luxury. She tells me they were going to give me personal hygiene supplies and they only gave them to me 15 days later. Away from family and unable to leave her room, she says she was held for 23 days despite never testing positive for the virus.
Doctors tell us this motel is one of many being used by the Venezuelan government to house suspected COVID-19 patients in a bid to keep them off Venezuela's crumbling hospitals where the situation is similarly desperate. The main hospital here, one doctor tells me, has only nine ICU beds. Six hours of available water a day. Intermittent power and one X-ray machine that hasn't worked for months. Details that even health care workers aren't comfortable sharing because of the climate of fear.
In this video from a hospital in Maracaibo shared on social media, patients protest the shortage in medical staff. There's no medicine or nurse, shouts this man. They plea for help. Please, help us. Help us, they scream. Patients say this man was left dead, abandoned in his bed for days. To date Venezuela has reported some of the lowest COVID-19 numbers in
the region but with testing limited to a small number of government- controlled labs patients may wait up to 70 days to learn their results. Doctors and NGOs tell us many cases go unreported and some die without even knowing if they had COVID.
There's at least twice as many cases than what is reported as deceased in the official list, tells me this doctor. Doctors have been calling for increased testing since the pandemic reached the country. The Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences is currently predicting a peak of up to 14,000 daily cases. An earlier report in May was met with the threat of physical violence by a government official on TV who says this is a call for the state security services to pay them a visit.
They're not just empty threats. Doctors on the ground tell me authorities here have arrested health care workers who speak out publicly. They say it's the government's way of maintaining control over the political narrative.
(On camera): Is that pressure also on doctors not to note down who has contracted COVID or who has died from COVID?
(Voice-over): Yes, exactly, tells me this doctor. There's also that kind of pressure. So while doctors work under the government radar and patients stay away from the streets, embattled president Nicolas Maduro tightens his grip on power under the guise of COVID-19.
Isa Soares, CNN.
CABRERA: Coming up, how the Trump campaign is using doctored and misleading videos to sway voters less than two months before election day.
CABRERA: Welcome back. We are seeing more examples of the Trump team using misleading videos to smear Joe Biden.
CNN's Tom Foreman reports.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A woman shoved into a subway train under the heading "Black Lives Matter Antifa." This video was retweeted by President Trump twice this year. Once with, "Where are the protests for this?" But hold on, authorities say. That video almost a year old was simply a random attack involving a man known to police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wake up, wake up. FOREMAN: Another video pushed by the White House seemingly showing
Democratic challenger Joe Biden asleep, but that interview was doctored to hide the fact the subject was actually singer and actor Harry Belafonte.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your wake up call, Harry.
FOREMAN: Team Trump, in the final two months of the election, is pushing a storm of misleading and deceitful material. Never mind that the president so often complains about --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fake news. Fake news. Fake news. Fake news. Fake news. Fake news.
FOREMAN: In the wake of social unrest, top Republican Congressman Steve Scalise shared a video of a disabled activist talking with Joe Biden. Deceptively edited to suggest Biden wants to defund the police. A position Biden has not taken. Scalise admits re-editing was wrong but stands by the claim.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): So, you know, look, we sent out the video again. The full video, in fact, if anybody wants to see it.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Who do you think is pulling Biden's strings? Is it former Obama officials?
TRUMP: People that you've never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows.
FOREMAN: The president with no proof has said Biden is beholden to mysterious forces and when Biden quoted and questioned a Trump campaign claim --
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America. And what's their proof? The violence we're seeing in Donald Trump's America.
FOREMAN: Team Trump deceptively cut out and tweeted just one part.
BIDEN: You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America.
FOREMAN: Twitter called that misleading. The Trump campaign called it a joke.
CABRERA: That was Tom Foreman reporting.
It's all eyes on Apple this week and what technology the company could unveil. CNN's Richard Quest has your "Before the Bell" report.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, Ana. It promises to be a busy week. And one in which we could see a new iPhone. Apple hosts a virtual event on Tuesday. Now with this growing speculation it could reveal the iPhone 12. Expected to be a 5g capable phone. Other analysts think the event will focus on products like the watch and the iPad. And the phone will be revealed in a few weeks. This week will reveal it all.
Apple shares slipped last week as high-flying tech shares came under pressure. Of course they're still up more than 50 percent for the year. And the decline in tech stocks did weigh on the overall market. The Nasdaq fell into correction on Tuesday.
Photo this week, keep an eye on the Fed. The Federal Reserve holding its policy meeting in mid-week. Investors are listening for Jay Powell's take on the economy. They're also looking for more details on the Fed's recently announced framework. The new strategy allows inflation turn a little hotter as the economy recovers or keep interest rates lower for longer.
In London, looking at the week ahead, I'm Richard Quest.
CABRERA: All this week in a special series we have called "Champions for Change," CNN will bring you inspiring stories of everyday people making big positive changes in the world. These changemakers come up with ideas that shook up the status quo.
Tonight we meet a plumber building the next generation of skilled trade workers. She runs a program that puts tools in the hands of girls as young as 6 years old with hopes that they will one day follow in her bootsteps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDALINE CASSIDY, FOUNDER, TOOLS AND TIARAS: When I arrive at a plumbing job, most people do not believe I am the plumber. Being a woman in a male-dominated space, especially being a black immigrant woman with an accent, sometimes people doubt what you're capable of. That's what I'm trying to change, that stereotype.
So when I first started Tools and Tiaras in 2017, my goal was to give little girls the exposure to different careers in the trade. We have a free monthly workshop for women and girls, and then a free summer camp where girls can come and be exposed to all of the awesome careers in the building trades.
TANZIRA RASHID, YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD, TOOLS AND TIARAS: I just graduated high school. I'll be going off to college and I'll be majoring in civil engineering. Coming from a first generation of Mongolian immigrant parents, I was really pressured to either go, you know, into the medical field or become a lawyer because my parents sacrificed everything to come to the U.S. But then soon with Tools and Tiaras I got exposed to construction trades. PENELOPE AMAYA, PARTICIPANT, TOOLS AND TIARAS: Thank you for Tools and
Tiaras. The high school that I am going to is focused on engineering mostly. If it was not for you and tools and tiaras, I would have not considered this school. Tools and Tiaras showed me that women can do everything.
CASSIDY: With all my love, Penelope, future architect/engineer.
And I still cry because sometimes I don't think I'm doing enough, and I struggle. And Penelope reminds me of what I'm doing is important.
Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, because I didn't have a mother or father, I grew up not having any self-confidence in myself. I didn't want any little girl to grow up feeling that way.
My great grandmother who was my caregiver, she passed away and that leave me without any financial means to attend university. The trades was a free option in Trinidad. So I decided to apply for the trades school.
Good morning, everyone --
Pre-COVID, I traveled a lot as a speaker to really highlight the amazing work that the trade careers could bring to students. This year's virtual camp projects include plumbing, carpentry, electrical, stage hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the bottom of your bird feeder.
CASSIDY: Our instructors are women. We had to order different kits and ship it out in boxes to the girls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's measuring --
CASSIDY: Today's workshop is called Leaky Linda. The goal was to actually just give them a little glimpse into what plumbers do with fittings and pipe.
So at the end of the week, for every Tools and Tiaras summer camp, we actually take the girls to a construction site like this. And we couldn't change it up. We had to bring them to a virtual construction site visit.
I'll show you the jobsite for right now.
My mission is to really just put tools in girls' hands and let them build a world that they so desire.
And whatever you decide to do in life, just remember, you can do it because jobs don't have gender.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: What a cool lady. Be sure to watch the "Champions for Change" one-hour special this Saturday night at 10:00 Eastern here on CNN.
That does it for me on this Sunday. Wolf Blitzer takes it from here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. I'll see you next weekend live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay safe until then.