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Wildfires Ravaged U.S. West Coast; Hurricane Sally Now a Category One; Coronavirus Cases Increases Worldwide; U.S.-China Trade Tensions Deepen; Israel, UAE, and Bahrain Signs Peace Agreement; Kremlin Approves Loan to Belarus; U.S. Wildfires, Dozens of Blazes Burn Millions of Acres in Western States; Filmmaker Records California Berry Creek Fire; World May Not Have Enough Coronavirus Vaccine Doses Until 2024; Close to 30 Million COVID-19 Infections Worldwide; CDC Reports Altered to Avoid Undermining Trump; Trump Holds Second Indoor Rally in Two Days; Growing Number of Hong Kong Residents Fleeing; Manhunt for Person who Shot L.A. Sheriff's Deputies; Sport and Social Justice In U.S. Open. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead. U.S. President Donald Trump once again rejects the reality of climate change during a fire briefing with experts, while Trump's opponent Joe Biden launches an attack against him.

It may take several years for everyone to get inoculated for COVID-19 when we have a vaccine, the warning from the world's largest vaccine maker.

And the U.S. is set to take action against China over human rights abuses. The Trump administration says more could be coming.

Good to have you with us.

Well as wildfires rage, a hurricane looms, a pandemic spread, the U.S. President is again scorning science. Dozens of wildfires are ravaging millions of acres in the western states. And hurricane Sally is now a strong category one storm as it begins to impact the Gulf Coast. More on that in just a moment.

But first the wildfires have killed at least 35 people. Nearly two dozen others are reported missing just in the state of Oregon alone. The flames have caused apocalyptic scenes, destroying thousands of buildings, sending ash raining from orange hazy skies.

In California Monday, President Donald Trump baselessly asserted that climate change is not playing a role in the record-breaking wildfires, despite all evidence to the contrary. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WADE CROWFOOT, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY FOR NATURAL RESOURCES: If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together at protecting Californians.


CROWFOOT: I wish --

TRUMP: You just watch.

CROWFOOT: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows, actually.


CHURCH: And as Mr. Trump doubted the science, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a speech warning of the devastating effects of climate change. The Democratic presidential nominee singled out Mr. Trump.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hurricanes don't swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don't skip towns that voted a certain way. The impacts of climate change don't pick and choose. That's because it's not a partisan phenomenon. It's science.

How many suburbs will have been blown away in super storms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House.


CHURCH: CNN's Martin Savidge is in Oregon with more on the wildfires devastating the West Coast.




MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's being called a once in a generation event. More than a dozen large fires burning in the State of Oregon. About an hour and a half south of Portland the beachy Creep Fire is devastating the area. Signs melted. Structures bent to the will of the flames.

This week alone, the governor says over a million acres have burned in Oregon. That's double the amount that burns in a typical year.



SAVIDGE: Seventy-year-old Kathie Tapia and her two cats have been in this Portland Redland shelter since Thursday when they were forced to evacuate their home.


TAPIA: The police came knocking at the door within two hours and said we needed to go now. This is the worse experience. It's scary.


SAVIDGE: Have a million Oregonians living in what are now evacuation zones. Tens of thousands of them have already been forced to flee. And there are growing concerns that the death toll can rise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the truck that would've been down there.


SAVIDGE: Parts of Oregon's rural areas remain too dangerous to search for the nearly two dozen missing like George Ataya (Ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His home is completely lost. And his shop.


SAVIDGE: Scott Foucarthy (Ph), his friend of more than 20 years says Ataya (Ph) would've fought until the end.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody could do it, he could.

SAVIDGE: Do you think he is still alive?



SAVIDGE: Across the western part of the U.S., more than 80 major fires are burning. Smoldering structures lit by this wildfire in Washington State. At least 35 people have now died in the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington this season.


Twenty-four in California alone where resources are stretched.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really are a beast there on identity. They live at their own whim. They are terrifying. They are moving extremely quickly.


SAVIDGE: Three of the largest fires in California's history are still burning. President Trump visiting today to get a fire briefing on the ground against a backdrop of thick smoke. He emphasized the need to strengthen forest management.


TRUMP: This is one of the biggest burns we've ever seen. And we have to do a lot about forest management.


SAVIDGE: An astonishing 3.3 million acres have charred in the state since the start of the year. California Governor Gavin Newsom says climate change played a key role.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It is self-evident that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this.


SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Lyons, Oregon.

CHURCH: And meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now. So, let's -- we've got a number of things to talk about of course. We've got hurricane Sally, and then we've got the wildfires. Just bring us up to date on what the situation is with these wildfires. And if there's any signs of a weather pattern, because you were talking about rain about 24 hours ago.


CHURCH: Any sign of more of that?

JAVAHERI: There is, absolutely, some rain. Not a significant amount, Rosemary, but enough to give people relief, a little bit of sense of hope here as far as improving the air quality, giving the firefighters the upper hand as well.

But I want to show you the broad picture across the Atlantic because you mentioned Sally and that is one of now five storms from Sally to Paulette, Rene, Teddy, Vicky.

And since we last spoke, Rosemary, the National Hurricane Center increasing the area off the coast of Africa to a 70 percent chance to become our final name system of the season. That would be the W letter, Wilfred. And then also a 20 percent chance as far north as you'll ever see in this storm that could be if it forms it could be the northernmost storm ever formed in the Atlantic.

But again, you notice the number of names. Out of 21, we have now number -- named 20 of those names. With these 20 names, 7 is the typical average for the 30-year average. You'll notice we have 57 days, or 30 days of storm names are typically what we look at.

Seven hurricanes so far where three for this time of year is what is average. But again, here is hurricane Sally sitting off the coast of the United States along the Gulf Coast region. And the concern with this is the models have as poor of a handle on the storm system as any you'll see. because some of them take it well to the west.

Of course, it's very close to land. You should have a pretty good idea of where the storm system is going. But the steering environment in the atmosphere is almost nonexistent. And that's the biggest concern. Because by this time tomorrow the system could still be rotating, churning, potentially strengthening right in the same general area pumping in a tremendous amount of moisture on to the immediate coast.

And as I always say, it is not the wind element that is the most destructive with tropical features. It is all about the water element, the rain element, and just a snail space here as it potentially strengthens back up to a category two. Landfall possibly as late Wednesday, and as early as about say, 24 to 30 hours from now.

So, when you consider how close it is to land, it is remarkable to think that it is just not moving very much over the next day or so. So, rainfall amount could exceed half a meter across this region. That is forecast again through much of the next two days.

Now across the western U.S., Rosie, one thing we mentioned is getting a change. We're getting a more of a marine influence. A couple of weeks storm systems, which really in the month of August and September, you can't expect much out of a weather patterns across this region, but at least getting some showers here. So, certainly some cooler temperatures. More humidity, and hopefully calmer winds here over the next several days.

CHURCH: Yes. Let's keep our fingers crossed on that. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks as always.


CHURCH: Well, the world is closing in on 30 million coronavirus cases. That is according to Johns Hopkins University. It was just last month, August 10th, that the world hit 20 million cases. And the first 10 million came at the end of June.

In the U.S., the virus has killed close to 195,000 people. The world's largest vaccine maker is warning that if the COVID-19 vaccine needs two doses, there won't be enough until 2024. They estimate around 15 billion doses will be required to vaccinate everyone.

Well, as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed six and a half million people, U.S. President Donald Trump held two large indoor gatherings on the West Coast, including this one in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday. There was very little mask wearing. And some of the chairs were zip tied together. So even if attendees wanted to socially distance, well they couldn't.

And newly released recordings of conversations between Mr. Trump and Bob Woodward, author of the new book "Rage," revealed the president was more worried about the economy as COVID-19 cases surged in the U.S.



BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Listen, I mean, you, you and I --

TRUMP: But nothing more could've been done. Nothing more could've been done.


TRUMP: I acted early.


TRUMP: I acted early.

WOODWARD: This will be the history that we start the first draft of. And it will continue and --


TRUMP: So, you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?

WOODWARD: Sure. But they are related, as you know.


CHURCH: CNN senior political analyst Ryan Lizza joins me now. He's also Politico's chief Washington correspondent. Great to have you with us.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, President Trump hosted a rally Sunday night and then another packed event Monday with supporters not wearing masks or social distancing. Yet we know Donald Trump admitted to journalist Bob Woodward in February that he knew the deadly risks involved with COVID-19 but was downplaying them to avoid panic.

And now we learn that he also told Woodward in April that this virus is a killer if it gets you. So, what is the political fallout of a president showing such disregard for the lives of his own supporters when he knows exactly how deadly this is?

LIZZA: I don't know what the political fallout is. This is such an unprecedented and strange situation. And remember, April is about the time where the White House decided that they were going to move to a strategy where the states would handle the COVID response, and that they would focus on reopening. And they've never turned back from that -- from that decision.

These events started out relatively small, these travel events. And they've been getting bigger, and bigger. And just as a contrast, Rosemary, the Biden event today, if you're a reporter going into that event where he gave a speech today in Delaware, you were told that you had to wear a mask the entire time. You had to wear gloves.

All the reporters were distanced, you know, six feet or more from each other. And only a very small group of reporters could go there. And of course, no crowd.

CHURCH: And Ryan, new audio now reveals Mr. Trump also telling Woodward that nothing more could've been done to stop the pandemic. But we know that's not true. Data shows that other countries have lower deaths than the U.S. per 100,000 residents like Germany, France, Canada, Australia, South Korea, the list goes on because they tested extensively. And isolated infected individuals and people wore masks.

So how does the president get away with lying to the American public particularly when most polls show the pandemic is the biggest concern that Americans have right now.

LIZZA: You know, I don't know how he gets away with it, Rosemary. I mean, we live in a time where political communication is so narrow cast that a lot of the people who support the president are not hearing this information frankly because they are listening to Facebook and Fox News and communications channels that are not, frankly, telling them how serious this is.

And it's a unique problem to the United States. I mean, the fact that Trump could tell Bob Woodward that there is nothing more he could do is just astonishing when for months he refused to talk about how important it was to wear a mask, when we never in this country got the contact tracing or the testing rights to the point where Americans are not allowed to go to Europe right now.

You know, you can't get on a plane and go to Europe as an American. It's something I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

CHURCH: yes.

LIZZA: Which is a way of the rest of the world is saying like, you guys got this wrong. You can't come here. I mean, what more do we need to know than that?

CHURCH: Indeed, and of course nearly 200,000 Americans dead as a result of this and that -- that numbers rising. So also, a top Trump health appointee, Michael Caputo has accused top government scientists of sedition in their response to COVID-19. And he's also claiming the CDC has a resistance unit aimed at undermining President Trump.

And this comes as we also find out that Trump appointees tried to alter CDC virus reports for political reasons to try to spin any negative COVID news. What is going on here?

LIZZA: I mean, what's going on is the administration focus more on the politics of this and the messaging than on just attacking it and going to war against the virus.


And look, I know whom -- I know Michael Caputo. I know who he is. He is a political operative. And you know, a good person, you know, in a campaign.

But for someone like that to be telling scientists anything, frankly, is just absurd. So, it's another example of the Trump administration not taking the science seriously and thinking that they cold their way out of this crisis. And you know, time and time again, that's, you know, that's sort of been a failure because the virus doesn't care about political communications.

CHURCH: Ryan Lizza, always great to get your analysis. Many thanks.

LIZZA: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come, relations continue to sour between Washington and Beijing. The latest U.S. move to block Chinese goods, just ahead.

Plus, the UAE and Bahrain will officially normalize relations with Israel in the coming hours. So, what exactly has been achieved and who is being left out? We'll take a look on the other side of the break. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Well, trade tensions between the U.S. and China have taken a new turn. The Trump administration has issued new restrictions on Chinese imports from companies suspected of using slave labor.

So, let's head to Beijing, and CNN's Steven Jiang who joins us now live. So, Steven, how exactly will these new restrictions work, and which companies are affected?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, this is the U.S. Customs and Border Agency -- Border Protection Agency issuing five new orders targeting companies making clothing, computer parts, hair products and cotton products in this one industrial park in Xinjiang where U.S. officials say an internment camp is located.

Now the Chinese government of course has long insisted these camps or so-called vocational training centers offering re-education and job training as part of their counter-terrorism and the counter extremes and efforts, but the U.S. government as long -- as well as many former detainees and activists have said these are places where ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been subject to torture and abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions.

So that's why the U.S. customs is now trying to block products made in these camps. But this latest initiative actually fairly narrowly defined, much weaker than many had been expecting. There is a wider effort being under review. That is going to potentially banned all tomato and cotton products from Xinjiang.

But that -- that process is still going -- ongoing under legal review because the agency says this is a uniquely targeting an entire region, not just one company or facility, but officials say they are moving in the right direction and they are getting serious and aggressive in addressing forced labor in Xinjiang involving minorities. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Steven, what is the story behind the departure of U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad?


JIANG: Well, you know the departure itself is not entirely shocking, because multiple sources have told us the ambassador had always intended to serve only one term, but the suddenness of the announcement and the fact that he's living before the November election and the fact that he is -- as the U.S. government's top representative leaving his post at a time when bilateral ties are hitting an all-time low has caught the attention of a lot of people.

But now of course we have learned that he's been asked by President Trump to go back to Iowa to campaign for his reelection, because he is a well-recognized, not only in his own home state but also in the surrounding Midwestern region, and very important battleground states.

Now he presumably would also become a very ideal candidate to talk about how Mr. Trump is getting tough on China policy had been benefiting the American people. But the ambassador has an interesting story, because as a long term -- longtime former governor of Iowa he has had personal ties to the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

He gave me a copy of his book, one of his favorites called "Old Friends: The Xi Jinping Iowa Story." And it has photos of the two men dating back to the 1980s. But it seems despite this personal relationship he has been unable to really leverage this to improve the overall relationships. Many argue -- many would argue not his own fault, because he is a participant but not a central figure or decision-maker in the Trump administration's China policy. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Steven Jiang bringing us that live report from Beijing. Many thanks.

Well Putin critic and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is now off a ventilator. He is being treated in a German hospital after being poisoned last month before boarding a flight from Siberia to Moscow. Doctors say Navalny is able to leave his bed for short periods of time.

French President Emmanuel Macron pressed his Russian counterpart for answers during a phone call on Monday. Vladimir Putin says it's unfounded and inappropriate to accuse Russia of the poisoning.

And still on Russia, the Kremlin is throwing a financial lifeline to the embattled president of Belarus. Vladimir Putin met with Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi on Monday, confirming a $1.5 million loan. The allies will also hold joint military drills.

Belarus has been gripped by protests since last month's presidential election, which opposition groups say was rigged. Mr. Putin also says Belarus will be the first country to receive Russia's coronavirus vaccine.

Well, a big signing ceremony at the White House today as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are set to sign separate normalization agreements with Israel. The deals are being described in pragmatic terms as bolstering economies of all three countries and fortifying regional security. That essentially means presenting a stronger front against Iran.

CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Abu Dhabi. He joins us live now. Good to see you, Sam. So, just how significant is this big signing ceremony coming at this time as it does, and how is it being viewed in the region?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's significant in different ways to different people obviously. So as you rightly point out in the introduction there, Rosemary, the motivation, the principal motivation perhaps for the gulf nations is to secure a bond with Israel that in the future they hope will allow them to offset the what they say is the malign influence of Iran across the region.

For gulf countries they look at what's happening in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, all countries in high degree of instability and civil war, and a great deal of that they blame on Iran.

From the United States perspective, there are obvious advantages in the last few weeks before an election to have a statesmanlike ceremony, often being described inaccurately as a peace deal between Bahrain and the UAE and Israel. Of course, none of those countries have ever been at war, either declared or undeclared.

But nonetheless, a trumpeting moment of diplomatic success for the Trump administration, there is no doubt about that. And then of course for Israel, they had had proper peace deals with Egypt and Jordan, following conflicts with those two countries or in those two countries in the past.

Now, this normalization in the absence of a genuine peace deal with the Palestinians from the Israeli perspective again, it looks like for Netanyahu, Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister who will be at these events today, a massive gain in success.

But there is a but here, of course, the Palestinians have described this as an outright betrayal because this normalization, Rosemary, merely suspense Israeli plans to annex large chunks of the West Bank that would leave them in an independent state even if they got it.


Something that they would describe as an apartheid band to stand. That is the Palestinian view of it.

The alternative view though, and one now being explored more intelligently, perhaps, is that Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates possibly down the line, Oman, even perhaps Saudi Arabia in normalizing relations with Israel will mean that the Israelis have something to lose in the future.

Therefore, if there is any serious backtracking and a really destructive move such as annexation that would kill off a two-state solution, these important Arab nations that have not quite allies but certainly becoming friends of Israel will not only have a voice with the Israelis, but they'll also have real financial pressure points.

And now, for example, if it wants to fly directly back and forth to Abu Dhabi where I am here right now as it did the other day, has to fly through Saudi Arabian airspace. That is something -- that is a gift, if you like, that can be withdrawn. And that does give some of these Arab nations some serious pressure points with the Israelis in the future, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Sam Kiley, many thanks.

We also want to look at the business impact of these deals. And for more CNN's John Defterios joins us also from Abu Dhabi. Good to see you, John.

So, we know about the formal signing of course in Washington. But the two sides, the UAE and Israel have already moved ahead on the business front, so what does this tell us about their intentions?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Look, a couple of things. The intent is clearly there as you are suggesting, Rosemary, but also that this has been in the works for a long while. Right. This didn't happen overnight.

At the same time, this is not the wider peace for prosperity agreement that Jared Kushner was looking for, but it seems to work for the Arab states and Israel, as Sam was talking about here because they have a common enemy in Iran. Oman has even sending positive signals. And we have to remember that Prime Minister Netanyahu went there two years ago.

So, what's been signed so far? Three categories that we take a look here. Medical, technology, and banking. These are strategic areas where you can see the UAA with its sovereign wealth invested into Israel and in turn getting kind of the security health that the UAE is looking for Bahrain and then the other Arab states had sign on, this is what can be developed.

And also, health, Rosemary, that there is no overlap. There are no competing forces when it comes to the economy right now. It can be a win-win that extends to tourism. Think about the expo in 2021 at the same time. And also, that business, and this is something I've followed here for 20 years, business can cement the political and security ties. I think that's why they're moving so swiftly. And also, an insurance policy, if you will, Rosemary, if Donald Trump

doesn't get reelected. They have this alliance in place and they want to solidify it before the election.

CHURCH: All right. John Defterios, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that situation. I appreciate it.

Well coming up next on CNN Newsroom, up close to the wildfires devastating the western U.S. We will hear from the filmmaker who shot this video driving through the flames. We're back in a moment.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The western United States is suffering a historic fire disaster. Dozens of blazes are burning in 10 states right now. At least 35 people have died. The fires are so wide spread, many areas are smothered under thick clouds of smoke and ash. Thousands of people have fled their homes in recent days. Some are beginning to return only to find the fires have destroyed everything.

The filmmaker Nancy Hamilton joins me now. She is also a resident of Butte County in California, which has been ravaged by the wildfires. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: And Nancy, you drove through the deadly wildfires and at Barry Creek in northern California and videoed the experience as you went through. What did you see and feel when you did that? These pictures are unbelievable!

HAMILTON: It's pretty horrendous. I had motivations for going through it, it wasn't just for the film. I had friends that have houses up there and I needed to know what the condition of their houses were, and the sooner the better because there is so much stress on people that have to evacuate.

CHURCH: And you know, when you look at these pictures, you were very close to that fire. Have you ever come as close as this before?

HAMILTON: No, I was in the midst of it. It was a monster. It was horrific. I had never seen anything like it. It was 100 feet above the treetops.

CHURCH: I am sure you could actually feel the heat as well. So how difficult was it to shoot that video and take pictures of the fires as they were blazing around you, essentially?

HAMILTON: It took a lot of self-control. I've got a lot of years of experience, so it was just a matter of staying still and hoping for the best. Yes.

CHURCH: And just so heartbreaking for you to watch this, of course. So what impact is this having on people's lives coping as they are already of course with the pandemic?

HAMILTON: It's very difficult. One of the reasons I did go into Barry Creek was because my best friends grandmother who is 84 years old, she just had a stroke, and then she got COVID. And then a couple months later she just lost her house. So, you know, she needed to know what was going on up there.

CHURCH: That is just tragic. And of course you are also housing some people who lost their homes. What are they planning to do now that they lost everything, essentially?

HAMILTON: Yes, well, will we (inaudible) originally housed 15 people. They are trying their best to find locations and residents. And people's places at this day -- this all happened to us 2 years ago with a campfire. So, it's almost like we already know what we are doing. Unfortunately.

CHURCH: Right. And what are you planning to do with this footage, ultimately?

HAMILTON: I really just did it for the sake of making it. And I have no plans for it. I wish I had it a couple of months ago when we made a movie fire on the bridge, but we've already produced that and it's out. So I have no plans for this. I did not take it with a purpose other than to record what was happening.

CHURCH: And when you look at this, I mean, President Trump visited California. He denies climate change. What is your sense when you look at these fires and hear what the leaders of this country are saying?

HAMILTON: I am no expert on climate control at all. All I can do is speak for my own personal perspective. And that would be that we just need a lot more preparation and a lot more work done prior to it. It would be a lot less expensive on individuals and on the government if we had more preparation before fires happened.

CHURCH: Right. Looking at these pictures too and hearing your words. Just devastating, these fires. Just the whole area all ablaze. Nancy Hamilton, thank you so much for taking this footage and sharing it with us, and good luck in the future. We appreciate it.

HAMILTON: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: Coronavirus cases are still rising across the globe, and the total case count is expected to surpass 30 million very soon. That is according to Johns Hopkins University. And the world's largest vaccine manufacturer is warning it could take years for everyone to get vaccinated.

CNN's Athena Jones has the details.



ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A major warning on the vaccine front. The world's largest vaccine maker telling the Financial Times there won't be enough vaccines available to inoculate everyone in the world until the end of 2024 at the earliest, if two doses are needed to provide immunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the studies are showing that to get an adequate immune response is going to require two doses probably spaced a month, you know, apart.

JONES: But --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we need to keep in mind is that it may not require first and foremost, everyone in the world to get vaccinated, to slow down or even stop the spread.

JONES: Meanwhile a bold prediction from vaccine maker Pfizer which is already manufacturing hundreds of thousands of doses in the hopes its COVID vaccine is deemed safe and effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will know the product works by the end of October.

JONES: Six months after the president declared a state of emergency, the combat COVID-19, still a mixed picture across the United States. With 24 states showing a downward trend with new infections, 16 states holding steady, and 10 states in Puerto Rico on the rise. New infections up 55 percent in Wyoming, 36 percent in Wisconsin, and 10 percent in Connecticut.

Texas now behind just New York and New Jersey in the total number of COVID-19 deaths. In California where cases are falling, San Francisco to date reopening hair and nail salons and gyms. With limited capacity and face coverings required. COVID spread and higher education remains a concern with more than 45,000 cases reported at colleges and universities in all 50 states.

One reason seems like this one near NYU over the weekend are raising eyebrow. And there are new concerns about politics impacting U.S. agency scientific guidance. A federal official telling CNN assistant health and human services secretary Michael Caputo and his team, have been altering the CDC's weekly science reports so they don't undermine President Trump's optimistic political messaging on the virus.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: They are trying to crack the message from our scientific organization. This is not about the message. This is about science.

JONES: In fact, The New York Times reports Caputo accused CDC scientist of sedition on Facebook, stating, without evidence, the agency was harboring a resistance unit determine to undermine the president.


CHURCH: Athena Jones with that report.

Scott Miscovich, joins us now from Kaneohe in Hawaii. He is a family physician and national consultant for coronavirus testing. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, the world's largest vaccine maker is warning it will take until 2024 for everyone across the globe to get vaccinated if a particular vaccine requires two doses. What is your reaction to that?

MISCOVICH: Well, most of us in the field that are following this and our experts believe that it is not if, we believe that there is no question that any vaccine is being developed will require two doses. So, I completely concur in my last two times I was with your show. I basically have been passing on the recommendations from the inspector general, Jerome Kim of the International Vaccine Institute, and this is broadly accepted as the standard.

It is going to be a challenge to find a vaccine that we can give across the world that will require less than two, and then to distributed, I concur, it is at least 2024 before the world will be able to get it. And that is not even take into account who will be willing to get the vaccine, which is a whole other question.

CHURCH: Absolutely. I mean, that is truly sobering, of course, but China has said that not everyone needs to be vaccinated, and that they will only focus on frontline workers, the elderly and the vulnerable groups. Does that make sense to you? Does everyone need to be vaccinated in the end?

MISCOVICH: In the end, I mean, most of us believe that vaccination is going to become part of just like your annual flu vaccination where you are going to get a flu shot and a COVID vaccine. That will be because we are going to have general mutations of this, although much slower than the flu, that we will be requiring ongoing vaccinations into perpetuity. That is what most of us believe.

Now, what China is referring to is that whole concept of herd immunity, that if you get above maybe 65 or 70 percent of your population with some form of immunity, whether that is with contracting the disease, or getting a vaccine, then the spread is greatly reduced, but that is not what we are looking for, because that still means people will die. That still means our families are vulnerable and will die. So that's -- doing this hallway and in countries like the United States, we want to all be protected. And we want school aged children up to our elderly to be protected.


CHURCH: Of course. And we have learned that the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo, has been altering the CDC's weekly coronavirus reports to give a positive spin on the virus, and Caputo at the same time, has accused government scientists of sedition and claims the CDC has a resistance unit aimed at undermining President Trump. As a doctor, what is your reaction when you hear this injection of politics into the fight against this pandemic?

MISCOVICH: You know, let's put the reality in. Most of us who have been following this from the beginning have been critical for how slow the CDC has responded and actually, it's exactly the opposite. Where we are seeing the CDC were being more forward with bringing together the information we already know, but they will wait and they'll sit on it, longer periods of time as they study it. Which is OK.

So, it is so far opposite of what he is stating. We want more from the CDC. They are not altering anything. We just need the truth. The people of America are ready for the truth. And they need it now, not waiting for two months until it's altered.

CHURCH: And why do you think they are sitting on it?

MISCOVICH: You know, I think there is a big political influence. I mean, most of us who follow it know where the data stands right now. Most of the things that we know now, we will not hear from the CDC until six weeks, maybe eight weeks from now. And most of us do believe there is a political influence to that versus if you listen to people who studies this, we will be talking about things like the vaccines or those things. We talked about this two months ago, but the government is slow to react to it. Probably because of influence.

CHURCH: And Doctor, when you see images of President Trump's rally Sunday and his event Monday, all of which have few people wearing masks and no social distancing, how concerned are you about events like that, and of course the impact they will have in a couple of weeks from now?

MISCOVICH: Well, I can take this a step further. I have dealt with two high-level world class expert epidemiologists, and we have done analysis where we have taken a closed environment and it could be a sporting environment or in this case a political environment of 25,000 people.

Now, we took data based off of 25,000 people and having a potential super spreader embedded or just people that are positive. And the calculations which I could make available to viewers is that 179 people at the end of that event will ultimately lose their lives.

So, one 25,000 on an event with the data we have with how the disease is spread currently in the environments that those are being kept will lose up to 180. Now, you can multiply that downward and say half of that if it's only 12.5. We are still probably talking almost a 100 people will die because they attended that event.

And you look at it -- masks, that is number one. You cannot have a closed environment where -- human density is how coronavirus is spread. Respiratory droplets. What is in common with those political environments? People are yelling. People are screaming. People are doing things so that it even multiplies the way -- same thing with the sporting events. That would multiply the number of people who could spread it and who eventually could contract it and die.

CHURCH: Those numbers are shocking. And what is heartbreaking is it is so avoidable, as you mentioned. Wear a mask. Scott Miscovich, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

MISCOVICH: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Well, some Hong Kong residents say the freedom they came in search of his no longer there. More on the dangerous journey by sea for those who think escape is their only choice.



CHURCH: E.U. leaders are warning China must step back from a crackdown in Hong Kong. They met with President Xi Jinping in a video summit on Monday. Incidents like police tackling a 12-year-old girl have raised grave concerns in Europe about Hong Kong's controversial national security law. The U.S. State Department released a travel advisory on Monday. It urges travelers to reconsider going to China due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws. China currently does not allow entry to U.S. nationals.

Well, Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong with the latest. He joins us now live. Good to see you, Ivan. So, E.U. leaders are warning China must step back from this crackdown in Hong Kong, but how likely is that and how desperate has this made some people living there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the line from Beijing is that this criticism from foreign governments amounts to meddling in China's internal affairs. It absolutely objects to that. The fact is that for generations, people who are trying to flee communist China, one of their safe harbors was Hong Kong. This port city, and in fact in decade's past, people actually swam from mainland China to seek refuge here.

But amid the instability and the increasingly violent protests of last year, and Beijing bursting the bubble of autonomy that this former British colony had enjoyed, this summer, we are starting to see a new trend, and that is Hongkongers fleeing a city that once provided refuge.


WATSON: Hong Kong has always been defined by the sea that surrounds it but for Haan Sean (ph), the ocean is much more than just a pretty backdrop. This was how he escaped to freedom. One night in 1975, he tells me, he and a friend fled communist China in a homemade rubber dinghy and started paddling towards the lights of Hong Kong.

Haan made it to Hong Kong, then a British colony and built a life here. But these days, he no longer equates the city with freedom.

They promised us 50 years with no changes, he says, referring to the agreement China made before the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997. But now they are taking away more of my freedom every day.

A growing number of people are fleeing the port city that once served as a sanctuary. This is one of the last islands before Hong Kong gives way to international waters. And this is, locals say, a well-known smuggling route. The new phenomenon here is that people are starting to try to escape the territory by sea.

Last month, the Chinese coast guard intercepted and arrested a boatload of 12 Hongkongers who illegally crossed into Chinese waters, officials say. The detainees were almost all fleeing criminal charges linked to last year's increasingly violent anti-government protests. Their families gave an emotional press conference Saturday calling for China to treat them fairly and return the 12 to Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to tell my husband, do not worry. I will wait for your return, whether it will take 10 years, 20 years or a lifetime. We will not give up on you.

WATSON: Earlier this summer, the Chinese government impose a national security law that strips away part of Hong Kong's autonomy. Security forces began rounding up opposition leaders as well as anyone who tries to peacefully protest. The boat load of fugitives was captured by Chinese authorities while trying to make them more than 700 kilometer or 440 mile journey to Taiwan.

A source spoke on the condition of anonymity fearing prosecution. He says at least two other activists boats have successfully made a similar escape.


Taiwan says the number of Hongkongers requesting to settle here more than doubled this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now everyone somehow is trapped in Hong Kong, they can't find other way to escape.

WATSON: Among the new arrivals, some activists who don't want to be identified because they fled criminal charges in Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not safer here.

WATSON: People like this 19 year old now face a lifetime in exile, perhaps never seeing their families again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the most I really, really want to go home.

WATSON: Back in Hong Kong, 73-year-old Hatsu Yen (ph) says he sympathizes with the younger generation now fleeing the city.

I support them, he says, adding, I know what it means to fight for freedom.


WATSON: Now, since the arrest of those 12 Hongkongers by mainland Chinese coast guards, the families of those detainees have sent lawyers to try to meet them in detention in mainland China, but those lawyers were denied access to the people who had been arrested.

A couple of days ago the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo issued a statement saying that the U.S. was deeply concerned that these people were being denied access to lawyers and questioned the Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam's commitment to protecting the rights of Hong Kong residents.

Now that has prompted the Chinese government to accuse the U.S. of meddling in China's internal affairs. And to insist that those detainees will be afforded the rights that they are supposed to get under Chinese law. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Ivan Watson for that report. We appreciate it.

Well, back here in the United States, a manhunt is underway for the person who ambushed two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on Saturday night. A warning, this video is disturbing to watch. And you can't see the suspect walked up to their official vehicle Saturday in Compton, fired multiple shots and then took off.

The department official says the deputies say 31 year old mother and a 24 year old man were both critically wounded, but are now out of surgery. Both deputies are new to the beat, sworn in just 14 months ago. Officials in L.A. are understandably angry.


SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: That was a cowardly act. The deputies were doing their job, minding their own business. Watching out for the safety of the people on the train and seeing somebody just walk up and just start shooting at them, it pisses me off.


CHURCH: And L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke about the heroism of the officers with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LA): They stepped out. Let me just tell you real briefly. The female deputy, after getting shot both of them four or five times, her broken jaw in the face, stepped out gave a tourniquet to her fellow deputy who had been shot in the head as well, probably saved his life while calling for help. Thanks to the prayers and the thoughts of amazing doctors who attended to them. It looks like they will both live. Which is an absolute miracle.


CHURCH: Incredible and the Los Angeles County sheriff department is upping the reward to $175,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

CNN Newsroom continues after a short break. Stay with us.


[03:55:00] CHURCH: Well, after her victory at the U.S. Open, tennis star Naomi

Osaka is hinting at more social activism. Osaka brought attention to the fight for racial justice on and off the court during the hard-core season. CNN's Christina MacFarlane has our report.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She was the shy girl of tennis. A two-time grand slam champion, not always comfortable in the limelight. But these tumultuous year has brought about a change in Naomi Osaka. A staggering sporting and public transformation in just four months. It began during lockdown in early May.

I want to ask you about something you posted on Twitter. You spoke about the fact that you are done with being shy. What prompted you to tweet about that?

NAOMI OSAKA, TWO-TIME GRAND SLAM U.S. OPEN TENNIS CHAMPION: I don't know. I wanted to also take the quarantine time to just think about everything and for me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep. And most of the regrets is due to like, I don't speak out about what I'm thinking.

MACFARLANE: She put an end to that when she boarded a plane to Minneapolis to join the protest over George Floyd's death. In numerous tweets that followed, Osaka became a constant and leading athlete voice against systemic racism.

OSAKA: Black rights are human rights. And this movement is not a trend. If our humanity makes you uncomfortable, get used to it.

MACFARLANE: Even voicing support for police reform. Her voice grew louder when lockdown ended and tennis resumed. Forcing a 24 hour paused on the western and southern Open semifinal as part of a wider protest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

In a tweet, she said watching the continued genocide of black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. At the U.S. Open, her fight went global without having to say a word. With seven masks displaying the names of black victims of alleged police or race violence, one for each match to the finals, Osaka had to keep winning to wear them all. Fuel for her to stay focused and comfort for the victims' families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick but at the U.S. Open.

MACFARLANE: Would Osaka recognize herself now, discussing her shyness just a few months ago.

OSAKA: There is a lot of times when I see myself in situations where I could have like put my input in, but instead I held my tongue and then things kept moving in a way that I didn't really enjoy. And I feel like if I had asserted myself, and maybe I would have gotten the opportunity to see what would've happened. MACFARLANE: In the past four months, it was the hardest any of us can

remember. This U.S. Open champion has found her best game and her voice. Just imagine what the years ahead may have in store. Christina MacFarlane, CNN, London.


CHURCH: I'm Rosemary Church, back in just one moment with more news.