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Wildfires Raging for Weeks; Pandemic Worsen by Fires; Tropical Storm Sally Developing into Hurricane; Bibi Netanyahu Visits Washington; Greek President's Visit Annoys Turkey; TikTok and Oracle Business Partnership on Works; Countries Tightening Their Rules; Europe Going Along with COVID-19; Pfizer Waiting for Vaccine Efficacy; U.S. President Violates Rules; Japan's LDP Picked New Leader; Massive Fires Killed 35 People. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired September 14, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: 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, England and Israel are tightening coronavirus rules as the world sees a spike in cases.
Japan's ruling party fixes a new leader who is now poised to become the country's next prime minister. As wildfires rage on the west coast, we will ask a doctor about how the smoke would make the pandemic even worse.
Good to have you with.
Well, coronavirus cases are spiking again. The World Health Organization is reporting a record single day increase in COVID-19 infections worldwide with more than 300,000 cases in the last 24 hours. Some countries are reintroducing strict restrictions. In England, only six people will be allowed to gather socially starting today. That's down from 30.
And on Friday, Israel will begin its second lockdown. Schools and non- essential services will close but emergency services pharmacies and grocery stores will stay open.
And CNN is covering the story from all angles. Scott McLean is live from London and Oren Liebermann joins us from Jerusalem. Good to see you both. So, Scott, let's start with you. How are these new restrictions being received across England?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary, we are about to find out. The British health secretary had previously blamed Brits not following the rules for the sudden surge in infections. So, we'll see how they do with this new set. Britain is trying to do everything that he can to avoid the kind of
lockdown that Israel is now imposing. The prime minister has really been focusing on getting schools back open, getting the academy restarted, getting workers back into the offices.
But the numbers tell a pretty sobering story right now. The U.K. seems to be on the same trajectory as France and Spain. And that is not a pretty picture. Their rise in case counts have now started to translate into rising deaths and hospitalizations as well. It would rather be on the path of Belgium, which was seeing a second resurgence of the virus before they brought new restrictions and manage to reverse the trend.
So, beginning today, the maximum number of people allowed at a single social gathering will go from 30 down to just six. Pubs can have more but there can only be six people in one particular group. The prime minister confessed last week that the old rules were pretty confusing and difficult to follow, and they were.
There were different rules limiting the numbers of households inside, there were different rules limiting households inside, the number of people who can gather outside. And there were, really, a dizzying array of exceptions to all these rules as well. So, he's hoping that simplicity will make it all easier for the police to enforce, and he is promising stricter enforcement as well, because up until this point they had been pretty lax.
If there is any good news in this it's that, as of right now, the coronavirus cases have really been fueled by younger people which haven't -- which is why they haven't translated to hospitalizations and deaths, but last week health officials here in England warned that they were starting to creep into older, more vulnerable parts of the population, hence, this really dire need to do something about it. Rosemary.
CHURCH: Scott, many thanks. Let's go to Oren now. And Oren, talk to us about how Israel is responding to news of this second lockdown. How it will work exactly, and why they have chosen lockdown over mask mandates.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, there was a debate even within the government cabinet before making this decision to oppose a second general lockdown about whether it was necessary. In fact, the Ultra-Orthodox housing minister who was the health minister during the first lockdown resigned his cabinet position over this, saying that it had come too late and saying that he opposed the general lockdown over the holidays which begin at the end of this week.
There are plenty here in the population who are unhappy about this, especially because of the impact that will have on the economy, with unemployment before the second general lockdown standing at 18.2 percent today according to the employment service.
But when you look at Israel's numbers in terms of coronavirus, it's not hard to see how they arrived at the conclusion that the second general lockdown was one of the only options, if not the only option.
Record number of cases last week that kept on creeping up a high of 4,217 on Thursday. And that marked three straight days over 4,000 cases. We just got the numbers from yesterday here. There were still 3,167 cases according to the ministry of health. That is we will certainly keep an eye on that to see if those numbers creep up.
Along with new cases a day, the number of those in serious conditions here is also continuing to creep up as is the number of patients on ventilators. And the fear here was that it would overwhelm Israel's health system.
What will the second general lockdown look like? Well, it will look a lot like the first lockdown with some easing. Citizens will be allowed to leave their homes, but only within about a quarter of a mile. So that's a little less tight than the first general lockdown. Restaurants will be closed except for takeout and delivery.
Meanwhile, entertainment venues, gyms, pools, leisure venues, all of those will be closed for a period of three weeks, starting from this Friday and going through almost mid-October because of the surge in cases.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this last night, he was asked at the press conference, whose fault is it that Israel is going into a second general lockdown? He said nobody's fault, there are only achievements here. They are saying that despite Israel being perhaps the first country in the world to impose a second general lockdown. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. We'll see how all of that goes. Oren Liebermann and Scott McLean, many thanks to both of you bringing us up to date on the situation there.
In France, the prime minister says there are currently no plans to impose another lockdown. That is despite setting a record of more than 10,000 new infections on Saturday. The government is promising to tighten containment efforts and speed up testing in high infection zones.
And in Italy, some schools are reopening. There is concern, though, that it could potentially put older teachers at risk. A report shows more than half of primary and secondary teachers are over the age of 50.
And for more on both the stories, let's turn now to CNN's Melissa Bell in Paris and Delia Gallagher in Rome. Good to see you.
So, Melissa. Melissa, we'll go to you first. And despite setting a new record in cases, France has no plans to lockdown again. How will the country contain this? And are people there wearing masks?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Rosemary. We were listening to Oren talking about that second general lockdown in Israel. That is clearly not in the cards here in France. Jean Castex is speaking to the nation on television on Friday saying that it was not in the government's mindset and going one step further by taking the powers that until now had been held at a national level and handing them down to the regions.
Because the thinking goes so far, France dealt with this by separating out green and red regions. Some places are more impacted than others. Some parts of the country have seen the virus more actively circulating here in France in the mainland at least. It is the Paris region that we are talking about, Marseille and Bordeaux today.
Then the French prime minister is going to be hearing from local authorities in Marseille and Bordeaux about the next steps that they plan to take. To try and bring their figures down, But you're right. In the national level, worrying figures not only that fresh record that was set on Saturday for the number of new cases in a 24-hour period, Rosemary, but more worryingly, and the prime minister spoke to this on Friday, the number of hospitalizations are also up.
We've been seeing more people being infected, more young people, and of course in the end, that can then be carried on to older people places like Marseille. The ICUs there are nearing capacity, and that is extremely worrying to French authorities.
But I think no sense of a new general lockdown, but certainly we are likely to see a tightening of restrictions in places like Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux, beyond the obligatory masks that we now have in streets of both Marseille and Paris.
CHURCH: All right. Thanks for that. And Delia, let's go to you now. And kids are returning to in-person classes but with half the country's teachers over the age of 50, what is being done to protect them?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Rosemary. A lot of the standard safety precautions are being put in place in schools around the country. We're here at a high school in Rome where their temperatures are being taken, distances are being maintained.
What they are really trying to do is keep the students in one place. They are calling it a static and keep them without moving around too much. So, when they are having their recess time, they're having their lunchtime, they are in the classroom.
Another thing they are doing here at this high school is rotation. So, one week in school for some students, and one week at home online learning. We see in schools across the country trying to figure out the best ways to keep both teachers and students safe.
The other thing we've heard, Rosemary, is that some of the equipment promised by the government has not yet arrived. At this high school, for example, they are still waiting for new desks. Italy has generally desks were two students sit at one desk. They are promised individual desks but those have not yet arrived. They have received their allocation of masks and hand sanitizers, so that is at least something.
But the government clearly is still trying to get all of the schools, all of their equipment, another thing the government is doing is hiring more teachers, but all of those teachers are not yet in place.
So, the administrators we are talking to are saying they've done their best with the safety precautions. They are really hoping that the numbers will stay down, but of course, this is the first day of a new normal here, so everybody is just waiting to see how this works out.
Of course, the excitement of the students is palpable. They've been really happy to come back after six months, Rosemary, you can imagine and seeing their classrooms. Even though they've got to wear masks, they can't move around as much, they are quite happy, all the students that were gathered out here. They are inside now. They were telling us they are really happy to be back. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes, certainly understand that. And of course, every nation across the globe is trying to figure this out.
Melissa Bell, Delia Gallagher, many thanks to both of you for bringing us up to date on the situation.
Well, Pfizer says it could know whether its COVID-19 vaccine is effective by the end of next month. The American company is working with the German partner BioNTech, they are asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be allowed to increase the number of participants for more diversity in the clinical trials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERT BOURLA, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PFIZER: In our base case, we have quite a good chance, more than 60 percent, but we were -- we don't know if the product works or not by the end of October. But of course, it doesn't mean that it works. It means that we will know if it works.
I don't know if they have to wait until 2021, because as I said, our studies we have a good chance that we will know if the product works by the end of October. And then of course, it is regulator's job to release license or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And we have much more to come this hour. Up next, Trump breaks state regulations and his own administration's guidelines on gatherings during a pandemic to hold a campaign rally and attack Joe Biden. Health experts say the president is putting lives at risk.
Plus, Japan's ruling party has chosen a new leader. We will have the details ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump held an entirely indoor campaign rally in Nevada on Sunday, defying not only the states coronavirus restrictions but also the safety guidelines put out by his own administration.
Thousands of his supporters turned out, few wore masks. Nevada's Democratic governor says the president's actions are reckless and selfish, and will put countless lives in danger.
Mr. Trump's downplaying of the virus on the campaign trail comes amid new revelations from journalist Bob Woodward on what the president knew about the dangers and when.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) said his contacts in China told him this is going to be like the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in this country. It was a stunning moment in the Trump presidency, and I think in American history because he then went on to publicly dismissed the virus, and he knew that this was a pandemic coming.
SCOTT PELLEY, CORRESPONDENT, 60 MINUTES: And this was January 28th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, experience tells us that in about two weeks we are likely to see a surge of coronavirus cases in Henderson, Nevada following Mr. Trump's indoor rally.
Health experts fear this because that scenario is exactly what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June after the president's previous indoor campaign event.
At that time, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner called that rally criminal endangerment. As for holding an indoor rally now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Negligent, homicide. What else would you call an act that because of its negligence results in the deaths of others. People will die as a consequence of this if enough people contract the virus and at a gathering like this people will. Some people will die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well for more on this, let's bring in Natasha Lindstaedt. She is a professor of government at the University of Essex. Good to have you with us.
NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me. CHURCH: So here we are again, the president holding an indoor rally
requiring no masks, or social distancing, but this time we know he admitted and author and journalist Bb Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the risk of the coronavirus and was aware back in late January and February that it is very contagious and more deadly than the flu.
So how much more culpable does this make the president, and what's the likely political fallout of all of this?
LINDSTAEDT: I think that's one of the things I found most astounding. Was that, he understood the science and he seemed to believe the science if you heard the phone call that he had with Bob Woodward. But, instead, he decided to outright lie to the American public. In the phone call, he said this is much worse than the flu and it's airborne. This thing is going to be really deadly.
And yet, publicly, and now he claims he is trying to exercise calm, publicly, he stated that this is just going to disappear, that this is just like the flu and it's going to magically go away by the spring. He knew it was airborne, he could've advised people to wear mask, could have procured a protective equipment. He could have created some sort of coherent national plan to try to fight off this virus, which he knew was going to be a pandemic like the 1918 flu.
But instead, he decided to tell his voters, his supporters, that this is nothing, don't worry about it. And in fact, seem to be flaunting the fact that he wasn't wearing a mask. Almost encouraging his supporters to not wear a mask. And so, we are seeing that the fallout it should be, that more of the public starts to feel that he has misled them.
But the question on what's going on with independent voters, with people who are undecided in the middle. We have the Democrats that are more resolved than ever that his presidency is catastrophic. We have his own supporters that aren't budging. The polls aren't really moving much. But we have this group in the middle that we haven't been able to capture much. And it's going to be interesting to see --
CHURCH: All right. Well, you mentioned the polls, because let's look at those. Because a New York Times/Sienna College poll shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in key states, in Minnesota, particularly, he is ahead 50 to 41 percent. And a CBS News poll shows exactly the same lead.
What is your reaction to these and other polls and how reliable are they at this juncture?
LINDSTAEDT: Well what we are seeing is that Biden is ahead in most of the swing states that he needs to win. There are two swing states that are very close though. North Carolina is very close and Florida is very close. And the problem for Biden is in this recent poll that has been taken in Florida, it's really, really tightening, and it's basically a toss-up.
Trump cannot win unless he wins Florida. It is an absolute must win for him. And we're seeing big shifts in the demographics. Now we see that Biden is doing better among voters that are over 65, but he is doing a lot worse than Clinton did in 2016 among younger voters, and among Hispanic voters.
Clinton won Hispanic voters 62 to 35 percent, and won by double digits with younger voters. We're seeing that these races are virtually tied with all of these demographics.
CHURCH: Right. As you mentioned, President Trump needs to win the state of Florida to get a second term. But now we learned that former New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will spend at least $100 million of his own money to help Joe Biden win Florida. How big an impact could that potentially have, do you think?
LINDSTAEDT: Well, it's really hard to say. Because the one thing that they need to be able to do is try to get in particular Hispanic voters to vote for Biden. That's been a demographic that Biden hasn't done that well, and in fact Bernie Sanders had mentioned that that's something that Biden needs to work on.
So, they are going to have to tailor their ads to understand the needs of the Hispanic voter. Why have they shifted so much from 62 to 35 percent for a Democrat to now almost neck and neck for Biden and Trump? That's something they are going to have to understand and they are going to have to tailor these ads to understand what the Hispanic voter wants.
They are also going to have to really target older voters who have been shifting towards Biden. So that's a good thing, but they are going to need more older voters to want to support Biden as well.
CHURCH: Yes, of course they are going to have to do that quickly because people are starting to vote early very soon. So, Natasha Lindstaedt, many thanks to you bringing us some analysis there. I appreciate it.
LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Well, just moments ago, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party picked its next leader who is now poised to become prime minister. And it's no surprise that Yoshihide Suga has won. He was the favorite candidate as well as outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man for eight years.
Mr. Abe, Japan's longest serving leader since the end of World War II is stepping down due to poor health.
And CNN's will Ripley joins us now from Hong Kong. So, Will, what does Yoshihide Suga bring to the table? What sort of leader will he be for Japan going forward? Because so many other world leaders don't know who he is.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right. Yoshihide Suga, while he is very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of domestic politics in Japan having served as Shinzo Abe's chief cabinet secretary for nearly eight years, the longest run in history post-war for a Japanese prime minister, he does not have much of a name on a global stage. He does not have much experience on a global stage.
So, Abe, who has been known for forging close relationships with, for example, U.S. President Donald Trump, and even making a lot of progress and headway in furthering and strengthening ties with its close neighbor China with Chinese President Xi Jinping. All of that work, all of those meetings with world leaders, Suga essentially now have to start from scratch in terms of rebuilding those relationships.
But for people in Japan, what is most important to many of them is the economy, it's the pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic. And of course, what's going to happen with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which Japan has spent billions on. It was a cornerstone of Shinzo Abe's economic recovery plan for Japan by bringing in, you know, vast numbers of tourists and therefore tourism dollars.
Obviously, there are a lot of things now, a lot of big challenges that Abe leaves as he steps down that Suga will pick up. And the reason why the LDP was expected to choose Suga is because he is -- he is basically continuing Abe's policies like Abenomics.
Like, you know, all of the other things that Shinzo Abe has been focusing on. He is -- you know, Suga is very well aware of what Abe's -- Abe strategies were. And the LDP is hoping that by continuing, at least in terms of policy Shinzo Abe's approach that voters will then continue to choose the Liberal Democratic Party as the leading political party in Japan.
There also isn't really much of an opposition at this stage, Rosemary. What we don't know though is how Suga is going to be received in terms of the charismatic person that you need as a prime minister. Abe, third generation prime minister came from a political dynasty.
Suga, the son of a farmer and a teacher who worked his way through college and odd jobs to for an unlikely rise to the top of Japanese politics, maybe that every man approach will serve him. We'll just have to see how he is received in Japan.
CHURCH: All right. We'll be watching very closely. Will Ripley, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that.
Well coming up, new warnings from health professionals about the dangerous air quality caused by wildfires and how it could lead to a rise in COVID-19 infections. What you need to know. And we are keeping an eye on tropical storm Sally which could make landfall on Tuesday morning as a category two hurricane.
Just ahead, we will have a live report on where the storms are headed.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Well, blistering flames and choking smoke and little relief in sight as massive wildfires ripped up and down the U.S. West Coast. The blazes have killed at least 35 people across California, Oregon and Washington.
Firefighters are racing to save lives and property, but it is a major task.
President Trump is set to visit California today. In the past, he has called climate change a hoax, but it's widely cited as a factor in what could be the worst wildfire season the west has ever seen.
Well, these are among the region's worst wildfires on record, and peak fire season is far from over.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Southern California where tensions are high and resources are stretched thin.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The foothills northeast of Los Angeles, Arcadia, this is the Bobcat Fire. It's burned 33,000 acres. And if you look behind me, they're trying to douse these flames right now with water drops from helicopters.
The air is so bad, not only is it unhealthy beyond belief, polluted up and down the West Coast, but they can't fly the retardant dropping planes or the super scoopers from Canada that can drop huge volumes of water, and then go ahead and reload with water, and let's say a reservoir, the ocean or a river.
So, they are going to make a stand right here because this is the most important plank of the Bobcat Fire. And they are also asking for some mandatory evacuations from these neighborhoods. And here's why, they want to be able to move fire equipment, especially engines up and down the streets. And neighbors seem to understand this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are obviously not the mandatory evacuation order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, and I understand why they do that. They just don't want people in the way when the power goes off or when they have to shut off the gas. You know, you don't want to really want to be at your house anyways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And on these western wildfires, 30,000 firefighters spread out to battle these blazes. And normally, they have quite a few more firefighters on each of these lines, but there's so many of these fires burning out once, some hundred major fires right now that they say the system is just taxed. And they just have to spread things out, marshal their resources carefully, and do the best they can. So right now, here in the foothills of Los Angeles, this fire has been
burning for more than one week. Residents say in some ways they feel helpless, but they are grateful for the job that the firefighters are doing to keep this out of their neighborhoods.
Reporting from Arcadia, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.
CHURCH: Thanks for that. Well, thick smoke from the wildfires is creating hazardous air conditions which could in turn make people more susceptible to COVID-19. Several medical professionals have told CNN they fear the bad air quality increases the chance of respiratory infections, and also drives people to stay inside which could potentially lead to a rise in the spread of the virus.
Joining me now is Dr. Rekha Murthy, an infectious disease specialist, vice president of medical affairs and associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Thank you, doctor, for being with us.
REKHA MURTHY, VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDICAL AFFAIRS, CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you. My pleasure.
CHURCH: So, I want to ask you how dangerous all this thick smoke is being produced by fires across California and other western parts of the U.S, particularly coming in the midst of a pandemic involving a virus that attacks the respiratory system.
MURTHY: Yes. And it's very unfortunate. It's very dangerous. I would just characterize it as saying is it's such an unfortunate, you know, occurrence of this collision of these two major calamities. Both the COVID-19 pandemic where certainly respiratory illness is the major manifestation, and the contagiousness of the virus, which has led to the, you know, the policies and public health strategies to try to contain disease transmission.
At the same time, the wild fires, which can carry the very fine particles miles and miles away from where the fires are even located, can result in significant risk to not only those who are the most vulnerable to respiratory illnesses including COVID-19 but even healthy individuals.
CHURCH: So, doctor, how likely is it that this smoky environment will make people more susceptible to catching COVID-19?
MURTHY: Well as we all know, the respiratory viruses such as the coronavirus that causes the illness for COVID-19 illness and influenza and other respiratory viruses are the cause infection when somebody inhales a virus latent droplet that maybe coughed or sneezed by somebody who is ill who is close by or by touching a surface that that they coughed or sneezed on and touching the eyes nose or mouth.
While these respiratory droplets can deposit and be inhaled and then set up an infection by the virus attaching and entering the body.
[03:35:04] In the setting of the wildfires smoke inhalation, this, as I mentioned, these very fine particles that can be micron in diameter, meaning 100th of a small as a diameter of a hair, for example, can bypass the lungs and the upper respiratory airways natural reaction to try to keep particles out, they are so tiny that they can actually bypass all that and unattached themselves in the airways and the lungs and set up a inflammatory response in the lungs and airways.
And by doing so, the damage that can be caused from the inflammation can actually predisposed somebody to getting an illness from influenza or other viruses like COVID-19 if you are exposed in that setting. So, in thereby cause infection.
CHURCH: So, doctor, how best can people protect themselves from the thick smoke and of course the increased likelihood of getting COVID- 19?
MURTHY: Well, unfortunately, as I said, these are somewhat colliding and conflicting. We worked hard through the COVID pandemic to really encourage and we need to continue to encourage the basic public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks and practicing good hand hygiene.
And however, in the setting of wildfires, really staying indoors is a must to try to protect from these unhealthy and dangerous flying particles. And that makes it particularly challenging, of course, when there might be an increased likelihood of more congregating on the indoors and the challenges of maintaining this physical distancing and masking.
So, I think those are the key messages. We can't let our guard down. First of all, we have to make sure everybody stays safe by avoiding the dangerous smoke particles and staying indoors. Windows closed. Air conditioners and clean air wherever possible, if not at home, then a clean air environment.
But at the same time, really making sure even more importantly to keep the surfaces -- keep the hands and surfaces clean, maintain distancing wherever possible. And it might even necessitate wearing masks indoors if you are among people who are not your household contacts or if you're company. So, I think those are really important.
CHURCH: Some good sound advice there. Dr. Rekha Murthy, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
MURTHY: Thank you.
CHURCH: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is watching the fire conditions for us. And he is also keeping an eye on tropical storm Sally in the Gulf of Mexico. A lot going on there, Pedram. So, let's start with the wildfires. And thankfully, there is some rain in the forecast but will it be enough to help the situation?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I'm not sure it's going to be enough to help in its entirety, but certainly going to at least alleviate some of the smoke and small concerns across portions of the western U.S., Rosemary. It is this massive area of high pressure that has been so firmly in place for so many weeks now. That's really deflected any sort of activity for storms to come in across this region. That has led to some of the poorest air quality on our planet at this hour.
In fact, much of the western U.S., almost the entirety of parts of Oregon and Washington State in the very unhealthy to hazardous category. But you'll notice, moisture is certainly part offshore and that is really a welcome sight here come Monday night into Tuesday, where we think at least the marine influence kicks up some of the winds and potentially at least moves the small aisle of the major metro areas.
But of course, there is a downside to winds when it comes to the winds picking up an intensity, it of course fans the flames. But if any rainfall does come out of this, this would be beneficial and that is at least what's forecast. In parts of Oregon, maybe a 10th, maybe a quarter of an inch, but certainly not a blockbuster storm system.
But you'll notice this will be the first run of rain in about two and a half to three weeks across this region. On the left, that is what a typical September afternoon should look like from space when you look down towards parts of Oregon and California, and on the right is what it looked like on September 12th.
Then of course, you can kind of compare the air quality index between places such as Beijing and Seattle which are well known for typically having pretty good air quality considering how often we get precipitation. Well, you notice Seattle pushing be very unhappy to hazardous category and exceeding what's happening in Beijing.
All right. How about the Gulf Coast? We've got tropical storm Sally. The storm system within the next 24 hours has what it takes to become hurricane Sally.
And the most concerning aspect of the storm system is not how rapidly it may intensify, it could potentially get up to a category two, but it's the forecast that slows the system down almost to a halt here come Monday night into Tuesday morning. That pushes the flooding risk to a very high risk across portions of New Orleans on into Biloxi (Ph).
And Rosemary, the storm system could produce as much as 15 to 20 inches of rainfall across the coast of Louisiana, Alabama and into the Florida Panhandle which could easily be, regardless of how strong the storm we get later on in the season, and of course hurricane Laura was a rather significant one as well, the amount of rain with the storm system could exceed all of that because of how slow it will move as it approaches land. Rosie?
CHURCH: All right. Many thanks, Pedram Javaheri bringing us all the details we need there. I appreciate it.
And still to come, escalating tensions between Greece and Turkey over gas and oil reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will bring new CNN's exclusive interview with the Greek president. That's next.
CHURCH: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way to Washington ahead of Tuesday's White House signing ceremony that will solidify the recent normalization agreements between Israel and both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
They are set to establish full diplomatic relations. The last such agreement between an Arab nation and Israel was with Jordan 26 years ago. U.S. President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner helped to broker the new deals which are making many optimistic about the future. The Emirati Minister of State for International Corporations says it is a step in the right direction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REEM AL HASHIMY, UAE MINISTER OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: It's an indication that we are keen on a new narrative, a narrative of hope and a narrative of prosperity where you have dialogue, where you have debate, and certainly, doing all of that by still keeping the Palestinian cause front and center, their right to statehood and their right for a dignified life.
And in the United Arab Emirates, we believe very strongly in our ability and in our opportunity to try to shape something positive for our region. And here is a step in doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Turkey's defense minister is criticizing the Greek president's visit to a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean, telling state-run media it, quote, "bothers us." Kastellorizo is a Greek island that lies just off the southern coast of Turkey. The Greek president's trip comes amidst escalating tensions between the two nations over gas and oil reserves.
And our Nic Robertson is on the island of Kastellorizo where he has just spoken with the Greek president. So Nic, what all did the president have to say about these escalating tensions with Turkey?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think the real mood music and the message at the moment is that Greece wants a dialogue with Turkey but it's not going to be pushed around and pushed into that conversation. The Greek officials here say that their prime minister is ready to sit down and talk with President Erdogan of Turkey if the Turk -- if Turkish authorities remove their military vessels from escorting gas exploration vessels in the Mediterranean.
And literally, while the president has been here the atmosphere around that has changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTSON: At a time of tension with Turkey, Greece's president is on
a mission. To Kastellorizo, a tiny island, population about 500 less than two miles from Turkey. To celebrate an anniversary of nationhood. A message to residents and to Turkey just across the water.
KATERINA SAKELLAROPOULOU, PRESIDENT OF GREECE: We are living in delicate times but we are all for dialogue. Greece has proved that it's supporting dialogue, but of course dialogue not under threats.
ROBERTSON: Coming here in the face of Turkey at a time of tension is that not also a provocative message?
SAKELLAROPOULOU: I don't think a peaceful visit from the president of Greece can be provocative in any way.
ROBERTSON: Even so, Turkey's defensive minister chose the same moment to visit the Turkish town in plain sight just across the sea, he criticized the president's visit.
The crux of the dispute is this. That Turkey over here is claiming over Greece, over here, is using some of its tiny islands to claim an outsized portion of the Mediterranean to stake for its claim on the hidden underseas gas reserves.
This summer, Turkey began exploration backed by its navy in disputed waters. A war of words has grown since.
And this weekend, after a 10-year hiatus, Greece's prime minister announced beefing up his armed forces, buying 18 fighter jets from France, adding 15,000 troops to his army and ships for his navy. I asked the president, why now?
SAKELLAROPOULOU: The government has decided that we must make these moves.
ROBERTSON: To send a message to Turkey?
SAKELLAROPOULOU: Not only to send a message but if you are -- you want to have peace, you must always be better prepared for war.
ROBERTSON: Even so, no one here is panicking. They've seen it all before.
Captain Karianas (Ph) who runs the local ferry to Turkey plays down his concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem. Everything is fine. All is good.
ROBERTSON: For now, he might be right. Over the weekend, Turkey pulled back its gas exploration ships.
Do you think this tension over the gas reserves is finished? It's going down? Is it over?
SAKELLAROPOULOU: I'm not so positive that it is. Because it's Greece and Cyprus and the whole Mediterranean, it's going to move by small steps. Everybody needs stability in the Mediterranean not only Greece, not Turkey, the European Union, NATO, everybody.
ROBERTSON: Not the first crisis between the two nations. And not done yet either.
ROBERTSON: Well here is the ferry just come in, the lifeline between this remote island, the nearest large Greek island is about 80 miles away. Where do things go from here? Well, there's European Union talks in about 10 days' time. Greece fears that Turkey will go quiet now and then start up their aggression as they see it, they are drilling for gas reserves again after that E.U. summit.
CHURCH: All right. Many thanks, Nic Robertson bringing us that. I appreciate it.
Well, the deadline from U.S. President Donald Trump looming. There are developments in the push to find a new owner for TikTok's U.S. operations. We'll have the details just ahead.
CHURCH: Well, a source tells CNN that TikTok and Oracle will become U.S. business partners, though the exact nature of the agreement is unclear. That word came Sunday just after Microsoft said it would not buy TikTok's U.S. operations from its Chinese owner ByteDance.
And Selina Wang joins me now live from Hong Kong with more on this developing story. Good to see you, Selina.
So, Microsoft is out and Oracle, apparently, in as a new business partner with TikTok in the U.S. How is this going to work? And will this new partnership satisfy the Trump administration's national security concerns?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, this is ByteDance's best attempt to not only please the Trump administration, but also the Chinese side. This Oracle/ByteDance tie up does come up as a surprise who had seen Microsoft as a more logical partner given that it has deeper pockets, it has more expertise when it comes to consumer technology.
But Rosemary, it's worth pointing out here that Oracle is one of the few Silicon Valley companies to publicly support Trump. Founder, Larry Ellison has hosted a fund-raiser for Trump. Its CEO has served on Trump's transition team.
Now, Trump has claimed that this app poses a threat to national security, acclaimed that both ByteDance and TikTok have denied. As you mentioned, it is unclear exactly how this is going to be structured. But a source told me that it's going to be structured as Oracle and ByteDance being business partners with Oracle being provider of technology, of cloud solutions to TikTok, rather than Oracle being a parent with full control of the company. It is unclear if that is enough for the TikTok to avert an impending
ban on its operations in the United States since Trump has demanded that the app be sold or shut down. This agreement would also have to pass through the committee on foreign investments in the United States. That's a national security review panel.
It may ask for certain conditions to be met, for instance, approved Americans to sit on the board of the company, or for there to be a firewall between ByteDance, and some of TikTok's more sensitive operations.
So, this is just the latest company to be caught up in rising U.S.- China tensions. And Rosemary, let's expect a lot more twists and turns before we could say whether or not this deal was successful.
CHURCH: Yes. There will be a lot of young people out there watching to see what happens here. Selina Wang joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.
We have some breaking news this hour. The U.S. ambassador to China is stepping down from the role after serving for more than three years. A source tells CNN Terry Branstad is expected to leave Beijing before the U.S. presidential election.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised him in a tweet saying that the ambassador had helped U.S.-China relations become reciprocal and fair. Branstad was embroiled in a spat between the U.S. State Department and a Chinese state-run media late last week when they refused to publish an op-ed by him.
And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stick around.