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CDC Director Made a Mistake; AstraZeneca Pursue Clinical Trials; Hurricane Sally Left Areas Inundated; A.G. Bill Barr Compared Lockdowns to Slavery; Joe Biden Saying I trust Scientist, But I Don't Trust Donald Trump; President Trump Faced Questions on COVID-19 from Undecided Voters; Grieving Daughter Blasts Trump Over COVID-19; Venezuelans Fear COVID-19 Diagnosis More than Death; CNN Accompanies Turkish Coast Guard on Migrant Rescue; U.S. Fed Say it Will Keep Interest Rates Near Zero. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 17, 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, the U.S. president's assault on science again causes division as he demeans the man he appointed to head the CDC.



WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know, other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in the history of America.


CHURCH: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr slams cause for a national coronavirus lockdown and ridicules Justice Department prosecutors who work beneath him.

And rescues are underway along America's Gulf Coast after Hurricane Sally unleashed four months of rain in four hours.

Good to have you with us.

Well once again, Donald Trump is at odds with the nation's top health experts over the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 6.6 million of Americans with a death toll nearing 200,000. This time, the issue was over masks and the vaccines.

After the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified to Congress on Wednesday, the president immediately accused him of being confused and mistaken. Here's what Dr. Robert Redfield told lawmakers about the timeline for a vaccine.


ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think there will be vaccines and initially be available sometime between November and December, but very limited supply and will have to be prioritized. If you're asking me, when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccines to get back to our regular life, I think we are probably looking at third, late second quarter, third quarter of 2021.


CHURCH: Well that was not what the president wanted to hear.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think he made a mistake when he said that. It is incorrect information. I called him and he didn't tell me that. And I think he got the message may be confused. I called him and I said what did you mean by that? And, I think he just made a mistake.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, you had the call. You said that you told him that he made a mistake. What was his response?

TRUMP: No, I didn't tell him anything. I said what happened? I got the impression he didn't realize when he said what he said he might have said. I didn't see him say it.


CHURCH: Well the CDC later backed up the president saying this in today's hearing. Dr. Redfield was answering a question he thought was in regard to the time period in which all Americans would have completed their COVID vaccination, and his estimate was by the second or third quarter of 2021. He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans.

Then there was the CDC director's endorsement of face masks. Take a listen.


REDFIELD: We have clear scientific evidence that they work. And they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID then when I take the COVID vaccine.


CHURCH: Again, President Trump was having none of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I called him about that. Those were the two things I asked about. I believe that if you ask him, he would probably say that he did not understand the question, because I said to him, I asked him those two questions. The one question which we covered and the mask question.

When I called up Robert today, I said to him, what's with the mask? He said I think I answered that question incorrectly. I think maybe he misunderstood it.


CHURCH: Afterwards, Dr. Redfield issued this statement. I, 100 percent believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a COVID-19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life. The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.


Well, meantime, the president's Democratic rival Joe Biden is rejecting Mr. Trump's accusation that he is spreading fear about the safety of any potential vaccine. Biden says he will follow science and that the process cannot be rushed.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't allow politics to interfere with the vaccine in any way. Americans have had to endure President Trump's incompetence and dishonesty when it comes to testing and personal protective equipment. We cannot afford to repeat those fiascoes when it comes to a vaccine, when it occurs. The stakes are too high. American families have already suffered and sacrificed too much.

So, let me be clear. I trust vaccines. I trust scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump.


CHURCH: Well, vaccine maker AstraZeneca has resumed its clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 after one of its volunteers became ill. But exactly what happened to that volunteer? It wasn't immediately clear. Other than it was a spinal cord problem.

Internal documents obtained by CNN indicate the company knew more about the women's condition then it publicly admitted. That lack of transparency is very frustrating to U.S. health experts, such as former CDC director, Thomas Frieden.


THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Here's the bottom line. For a vaccine to work, it doesn't just have to be effective and safe and accessible, it also has to be trusted. And anything that's done to undermine trust makes it less likely that we will be able to get the vaccine out.

And even if we do have a safe, effective vaccine that most people take, it's not going to make the pandemic magically go away. This is not a fairytale ending to the pandemic.


CHURCH: Meantime, the coronavirus continues to spread around the world at an alarming rate. Close to 30 million cases so far and well over 900,000 deaths. And nowhere is it more pervasive than the United States.

Here's CNN's Nick Watt.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One single unmasked wedding in Maine now linked to a least 176 cases and the deaths of seven people who didn't even attend the event.


NIRAV SHAH, DIRECTOR, CDC, MAINE: These are all individuals who got COVID from somebody who was at the wedding or somebody who got it from somebody else at the wedding.


WATT: That is how this virus spreads, black and brown Americans still bearing the brunt. Hospitalization rates among the Latinx community, more than four times the white population.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: That is an extraordinary, unacceptable disparity in health that relates to things that we can't right now do something about.


WATT: Fifty thousand cases and counting on college campuses. At least five colleges that opened in person have moved to online only, as cases mount. That's wrong, says the president's advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas in a New York Post op-ed. Universities should stay open, even when they see an increase in cases. Science tells us that young adults are at extremely low risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19.

CDC data does show of the more than 196,000 Americans killed by COVID, 397 were under age 25. But the jury is still out on how they act as vectors for this virus. Still, the Big Ten will now after pressure from the president and others play football this fall, but no fans in the stands. Listen to the coach of the current NCAA champions.


ED ORGERON, HEAD COACH, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY TIGERS: Now all of our players, but most of our players have caught it. So, I think that hopefully, they won't catch it again and hopefully, they're out for games.


WATT: So, the message coming out of the White House is they are very bullish about the prospects of a vaccine, but the trials are still continuing. Many experts disagree with the president's timeline on whether a vaccine will be available, and also, there is a big question. Will enough Americans trust a vaccine and take a vaccine to make it make any difference?

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Carlos Del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory University School of Medicine. He's also a professor of Global Health and Epidemiology. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us.


CHURCH: In an unprecedented move, the President of the United States disputed his own CDC director on masks and vaccine availability on Wednesday. I want to deal with what he said about face masks first.


Because testifying under oath, Dr. Robert Redfield said masks may protect us even more than a potential vaccine. The president responded saying Dr. Redfield was confused and misunderstood the question. What was your reaction to that extraordinary moment?

DEL RIO: I was, first of all, I'm very happy that Dr. Redfield spoke the truth masks are like a vaccine. We have them right now and if we use them appropriately, if 95 percent more of Americans were using masks, we would be able to stop this virus.

In fact, once we have a vaccine, we're still going to have to use masks for quite a while, because a vaccine is not going to be rolled out immediately. So, Dr. Redfield is wrong, and President Trump is unfortunately wrong. Dr. Redfield is right.

CHURCH: Right. Exactly. So, Dr. Redfield also said only a limited supply of any approved vaccine would be available between November and December. That would need to be prioritized. And he said the general public wouldn't get access to the vaccine until mid-next year.

Now Mr. Trump did not like that answer. Again, he disputed his CDC director and said he got it wrong. What do you say to that?

DEL RIO: I say again, Dr. Redfield is absolutely right. We are going to start probably -- if everything goes well, by November, December we'll have limited supplies of vaccine, but the reality is for the general public to have access to vaccine, probably the middle of next year to, you know, third quarter of next year.

And that's why I frequently tell people the vaccine is not like a switch. It's not like you will turn the lights on and everything is going to be done. It's going to be more like opening a faucet slowly and with a drip. It's going to take a long time to get enough vaccine into people. And that's why we need to start using a mask. Again, Dr. Redfield is right, and Mr. Trump is wrong.

CHURCH: And the White House says that within 24 hours of any FDA vaccine approval, they will begin distributing doses. How possible is that, and will enough people trust this vaccine and take it?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, the distribution of vaccines is very complicated. And it's particularly complicated in a vaccine like this one, because as far as I'm aware, all these vaccines require refrigeration. Many of them require freezing. So, you need to have enough of a freezer capability. Many of those vaccines require two doses. So, it's not just getting one dose, but getting a second dose.

So, it's not an easy issue to roll out this vaccine. And in addition to that, you have the issue that you mentioned. You have the issue of trust. You have the issue of people willing to come and get the vaccine. So, it's not going to be easy.

I can guarantee you that we'll struggle quite a bit to get this vaccine rolled out to the people that needed the most, which are primarily people -- you know, minorities and people in the inner cities. And people who are poor. It's going to be hard to get the vaccine to everybody that needs it. It's going to take some time.

CHURCH: Right. And in the meantime, we need to wear masks, of course, as you point out. So, after the vaccine company AstraZeneca paused its human trials, and internal company document obtained by CNN showed one volunteer was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neurological disorder after taking the second vaccine those.

Now the company had previously claimed that diagnose was never confirmed. How concerned are you about this? Particularly given the trial was paused in the U.S., but continues in Britain?

DEL RIO: You know, any clinical trial has to be paused when they're say, a serious adverse event. And what happened this time as what needs to happen. It needs to stop needs to be looked at. I am not aware of what the DSM-V and the regulatory agencies in England saw that they decided to continue the study.

I know the FDA and the American authorities are looking at it, and until they are convinced that there is not a problem with the vaccine, the trial has been put on pause. And what this means is that the regulatory agencies are doing their jobs and the trial is going the right way.

So, in fact, I'm actually very happy that things are going this well, because it would have been irresponsible to continue the trial without stopping it and taking a pause and really looking at the data.

CHURCH: Dr. Carlos Del Rio, many thanks for joining us.

DEL RIO: Thank you so much. Delighted to be with you.

CHURCH: Well U.S. defense officials considered using a heat ray on Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington, D.C. back in June. The new revelation comes in a letter a D.C. National Guard major wrote in August; the device emits invisible beams that make people's skins feel like it's burning.

The major told the U.S. Defense Department that the National Guard didn't have the devices they were asking for. Demonstrators were instead dispersed by tear gas, so the president could take pictures holding a bible in front of a church.

Well, CNN's security analyst Juliette Kayyem says a heat ray has been discussed by the U.S. government as a tool to break up groups of people but it has never been intended for use on civilians.



JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Those tested by the Department of Defense for crowd control, mostly because our wars essentially in the last 3- years have been some kind of urban warfare than we've been in urban area. So, imagine a crowd starts to form. You don't want to do bullets in them. You may -- the tear gas is complicated as well. So, the system was tested out. But it hasn't been actively used and it's never been used in a civilian domestic population.

The very notion of it is just shocking I think it's the right word and shows -- I mean, it just shows just how out of control the White House was and is often about the use of military assets.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, a source tells CNN U.S. Attorney General William Barr has urged prosecutors to consider charging violent protesters with sedition. Barr has reportedly pushed justice officials to get tougher on demonstrators who engage in protest violence. He wants to see more of them charged with federal crimes. The rarely used sedition law prohibits conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.

And that's not the only reason Barr is making news today. He's also in the spotlight for slamming his own Justice Department employees comparing them to children.


BARR: Name one successful organization or institutions where the lowest level employees' decisions are deemed sacrosanct. They aren't. There aren't any. Letting the most junior member set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool but it is no way to run a federal agency.


CHURCH: At the same college event, Barr shared his views on lockdowns and stay-at-home orders aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus. Barr compared those measures to slavery. Take a listen.


BARR: And most of the governors do what bureaucrats always do which is they act, you know, they defy common sense in a lot of what they do. Putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders is like house arrest. It's, you know, other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.


CHURCH: So, let's bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, she joins me live from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: Areva, Attorney General Bill Barr, equating a nationwide coronavirus lockdown with slavery in this country. What's your reaction to that?

MARTIN: It's a pretty outrageous statement, and really shows the ignorance of this attorney general to even equate a health order, something designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to save tens and thousands of lives to compare that to slavery is really an outrageous statement.

And it just goes to show how far this attorney general and his office will go to support the policies of this president, even at the extent of offending, you know, millions of African- Americans who are, you know, who bear the legacy of slavery in this country.

And it also shows the insensitivity about this moment that the country is in, in terms of a reckoning around race and systemic racism. So, at a time when most of America is coming to the realization that systemic racism still plagues this country, and tries to find ways to resolve those issues, and to work towards anti-racism policies, he sets that movement and those discussions back by making this really grows comparison of a lockdown down to save lives with slavery, which we know, actually, took thousands of lives from African-Americans, so really outrageous statement.

CHURCH: Yes. And Barr's comments about slavery came just minutes about he slammed hundreds of Justice Department prosecutors, calling them preschoolers as he defended his own politically-charged decision- making in the Trump administration. What did you make of that, and what's he trying to achieve by saying that?

MARTIN: Again, he has made his support of Donald Trump -- he's made -- his efforts in terms of political patronage more important than commitment to the rule of law, by intervening in the Roger Stone case as it relates to the sentencing for Roger Stone, intervening in the Michael Flynn case, efforts to have that case dismissed even though Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI.

And even going so far as to want to intervene in the civil defamation case against Donald Trump involving allegations of sexual assault, that every point this attorney general is acting more like the personal lawyer for Donald Trump, rather than the attorney for the United States of America, and rather than upholding his commitment to the rule of law and to the Constitution.


Again, inserting himself as if he's a political operative, and really making the Justice Department, the United States Justice Department another branch of Donald Trump's campaign for reelection.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, as you've said, we've seen Barr take a much more aggressive stance defending Trump administration policies in recent weeks, criticizing state governors for their response to COVID-19, undermining mail-in voting and attacking the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Have you ever seen this level of political interference from a U.S. attorney general?

MARTIN: Absolutely not. There is absolutely no precedent for the kind of conduct that Bill Barr has engaged in, and when you talk about being critical of governors, again, it's all very partisan, Rosemary. He's not critical of governors in Texas, governors in Florida, who are Republican governors, who have seen some of the highest death rates as it relates to COVID-19.

It's all of his attacks are targeted at states where the governors are Democratic. And we also have learned that he even has asked his Justice Department to look into possible criminal charges against the Democratic mayor of Seattle, in terms of how she handled certain protests that went on in that city.

So, again, it's attack -- Democratic governors attack Democratic cities while at the same time, offering support for, you know, red states and Republican run states. Again, suggesting and acting as if the country is divided and he's only the attorney general for those states that support Donald Trump and the policies of Donald Trump, rather than being the attorney general for all of the United States.

CHURCH: Areva Martin in Los Angeles, many thanks.

MARTIN: Thank you.

CHURCH: U.S. Gulf Coast residents have been surveying the damage left behind by hurricane Sally. The storm has weakened, but it still poses a flooding threat. We'll have the latest for you, next.


CHURCH: Battered beaches, damaged homes, flooded streets, and knock down trees all part of the destruction left behind by slow-moving Sally, the storm that slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast as a category two hurricane. Now almost 24 hours later, the system has weakened to a tropical

depression, but the rain has not let up, and the flooding threat persist well inland. High water already seen in Alabama where Sally came ashore and in the Florida Panhandle.

Pensacola's fire chief says the city saw four months of rain in just four hours. And near Florida's border with Alabama, hundreds of people had to be rescued from floodwaters.

Joining me now on the line is Grover Robinson, Mayor of Pensacola, Florida. Thank you, Mayor Robinson, for talking with us.


MAYOR GROVER ROBINSON (R), PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

CHURCH: Absolutely. And so, we have seen those incredible images of a portion of Pensacola three-mile bridge missing after hurricane Sally made landfall. What impact is that having and what's the overall damage assessment so far in your area?

ROBINSON: Well, it is going to be an impact. And we were -- the governor is supposed to be in town tomorrow and I do plan to address some things with him, and what we can do in the area. This is a fairly important bridge that connects as to where the beach goes and there's also another peninsula where several people live or commute into Pensacola.

So, it is very vital link that we have, but right now, right now things are nice, actually for September to have a kind of a cool evening, which is nice because nobody has electricity. So, I'm sitting here with my windows open on a September night.

But hopefully the biggest thing we need right now after a long day, we're looking forward to hopefully tomorrow getting some electricity up and running. I think that's what people really need. It's been - it's been a wild day significantly, with some of the wind is a little bit higher than we thought, but really, the real thing about today's story was certainly the water.

The rain over 30 inches of rain, and the storm surge and the two combined together really to put a significant portion of our community underwater for at least some time, but at least now the tide has gone back out, everything has drained away, and so everything at this particular time is good with water, and like I said, other than not having power, that's really the big issue for us. But, we're --


CHURCH: Right. So, what is the latest on your flood rescue operations and recovery there.

ROBINSON: You, know again, I think 30 inches of rain is just a significant amount. I mean, about two-2 thirds of the country don't see that much rain in a year, much less one night. So, for us, it is part of a challenge. We have invested heavily into our still water, but even those investments will probably toppled by this kind of rain.

We have a bit of an assessment into where we are and what's going on, but right now, at least all of our roads back out of rain, the water is back out that the tide has gone out. So, those are all good things.

CHURCH: Mayor Grover Robinson, thank you so much for talking with us. I appreciate it.

ROBINSON: Thank you very much for having me today. And like I said, we are going to get over this. But we certainly appreciate everybody's thoughts, well wishes, and we're going to get through this.

CHURCH: Yes, you certainly shall. Thank you, sir.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

CHURCH: And meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now with the latest on Sally. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary, you know, this sort of set up, of course, you really noted it well when it comes to that previous interview as far as what they are experiencing, what is happening on the ground, the water we hope will recede here.

But some of the scenes out of portions of Florida, portions of Alabama with remarkable amounts of rainfall and still a tropical depression. It is almost entirely now and look at it across the state of Georgia, and eventually will reign itself out around the Carolinas. But tremendous amounts of rainfall on the coast, and tremendous amounts of rainfall now inland as well.

In fact, upwards of 630 millimeters in Pensacola Florida, which is equivalent to what London sees in one year. They've seen in a matter of hours across that region. So, this is going to be a wide-reaching kind of an event when it's all said and done.

And you will notice power outages have increased in the past hour up to 600,000 customers without power across the southern portion of the United States. And we've noted this in recent days that this is, of course, peak hurricane season. The activity persists for some several more months.

Look what's happening off shore. We've got couple of areas of interest, where there's couple of names storms as well. But out of our 21 names storms that we have available to us, 20 have been exhausted, Wilfred is our final storm name of the season before we go into the Greek alphabet.

And this is the area that is poised to become Wilfred in the southern Gulf of Mexico. This is an area very conducive for development, Rosemary, inside the next few days. Water temperatures into the lower 90s Fahrenheit which is about 33, 34 degrees Celsius.

And models at this point really all over the place as we saw with Sally, but the general guidance is a northern trajectory and then we know it sits over warmer waters. So, it's certainly an area to follow over the next few days, this could be again the final storm letter of the season, they are w before we go into the Greek alphabet next week. We'd be talking about storms alpha, beta, gamma, and so and so. We got --


CHURCH: Just a --

JAVAHERI: -- the pattern continues with a stormy weather.

CHURCH: Thank you so much. Pedram Javaheri bringing us the very latest there. Many thanks.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: And just ahead on CNN Newsroom, I will speak with a grieving daughter who lost her father to COVID-19. Why she is blasting the U.S. president for his response to the pandemic.




JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear. I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don't trust Donald Trump.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: After a briefing with health experts on the coronavirus, U.S. Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, did not hold back as he stressed the need for a government transparency. He said politics should not interfere with the development and distribution of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

And Biden support for science isn't going unnoticed. For the first time in its 175 year history, Scientific America is endorsing a presidential candidate. The Magazines editorial board backed Biden saying quote, the evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people, because he rejects evidence and science.

The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. The Magazines editor and chief told CNN they felt it was their responsibility to make that endorsement.


LAURA HELMUTH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SCIENTIFIC AMERICA: We took the decision very seriously. You do not break 175 year traditions without a really good cause. But when we went around to the editorial staff. It was unanimous. It wasn't that long of a discussion. We all agreed that all the evidence shows that Trump has just been catastrophic for science and for public health and for the environment. And Joe Biden has you know, really smart policies that should make the world better, so we felt it was like our duty to speak up.


CHURCH: And that endorsement came before the president confirmed and undecided voters at an ABC News town hall. Many questioning him on his coronavirus response. Here is a reminder of some of what the president said just last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low income families and minority communities?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I did not downplay it. I actually in many ways I up played it in terms of action. My actions were very strong. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that as an example --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are those people?

TRUMP: Well, I will tell you who those people are. Waiters.


CHURCH: And one woman whose father died from the coronavirus has harshly criticized President Trump for his handling of the pandemic. Here's what she said at the Democratic national Convention last month.



KRISTIN URQUIZA, LOST HIS FATHER TO CORONAVIRUS: Donald Trump may not have cost the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his is irresponsible actions made it so much worse. We need a leader who has a national, coordinated, data driven response to stop this pandemic from claiming more lives and to safely reopen the country.


CHURCH: So, let's talk now with Kristin Urquiza, thank you so much for being with us.

URQUIZA: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: And Kristin, you wrote an impassioned obituary for your dear father, saying his only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life. When you heard what the president said Tuesday night at the town hall, denying he downplayed COVID-19 and under-playing the wearing of masks, what did you think?

URQUIZA: I mean, what we saw, again, from the president was a commitment to not actually tackling this pandemic head on. And quite frankly, he delivered monologues of incoherent word salads. Which makes me question even if he is mentally fit to do the job. He questioned Joe Biden's ability about mandating a mask ordinance, but that is actually his job as the president to do. I have no confidence in President Trump's ability to protect humans in the face of this pandemic.

CHURCH: And Kristin, when you hear this President Trump's attitude toward people of color who we know are at high risk, what is your reaction to that?

URQUIZA: That is infuriating. My dad was Mexican American. We know that this pandemic is disproportionately impacting our community and also the folks that have been on the front lines of keeping the skeleton economy going, ensuring that we are in the fields, picking vegetables or in the grocery stores. We have been disrespected time and again by this administration. And it makes me so angry.

CHURCH: And Kristin, let us just listen to what Donald Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden had to say about COVID-19 and vaccines on Wednesday.


BIDEN: I would make the case why it is necessary. I would have the scientists to lay out in detail why. And I would go to every Governor and I would go to Governors related to Republican and Democratic Governors, and I would say, we have to have this national mandate. We must do it. And at a minimum, what I would do is I would not walk around saying masks don't matter.


CHURCH: So there he is talking about a mask mandate. He also talked that same address about vaccines and being led by scientists. So, Kristin, what is your reaction when you hear Joe Biden talk about how he would deal with this pandemic?

URQUIZA: Well, what we are seeing from Joe Biden is a commitment to a coordinated data driven, national response. We know that if we instituted a mask mandate we would save at least 100,000 lives between now and the end of the year. And what Donald Trump is doing instead is putting politics over science. He has done this so much the fact that Scientific America magazine has actually endorsed Joe Biden.

The first time that it has ever done that in history. And when I hear Joe Biden talking about the careful process that we need to go through to ensure that the vaccine is safe for people to take, I know that that is the scientific method and we need to ensure that these vaccines are safe, and not having some you know, snake oil being thrown at us on election day in some sort of political stunt.

CHURCH: Right. And Kristin, how are you and your family doing? And what do you think when you hear the audio of President Trump admitting to downplaying the virus and other revelations linked to Bob Woodward's book? URQUIZA: It has been a hard week for me and my family and the 6

million people who contracted coronavirus, and the 200,000 families who have lost a loved one here in the United States. It is a stab in the back that the president chose to lie and advocate his central duty, which is to keep Americans safe.

CHURCH: Kristin Urquiza, thank you so much for talking with us. We wish you and your family the very best through this incredibly difficult time. Thank you.

URQUIZA: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, Venezuela is reporting just over 63,000 coronavirus infections. Some of the lowest case numbers in Latin America.


President Nicholas Maduro says that's because the country is handling the pandemic better than its neighbors, but medical workers are speaking with CNN have a different explanation. And those with suspected infections are telling horrific stories of how they are being treated.

CNN Isa Soares is following this story from London, she joins us now live. Good to see you Isa. So, the government is saying one thing. While Venezuelans are giving a very different story. What did you find?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Rosemary. Good to see you. When the numbers started coming out at the height of the pandemic in Venezuela, one thing stood out and it is the fact that it did not match the trend that we were seeing in Latin America the high number of infections and high numbers of deaths for many raised eyebrows.

That really propelled me, Rosy to get to talking to people on the grounds for months now. I have been speaking to doctors, I've been speaking nurses and all of them, even NGOs who have been on the ground have been telling me, what Maduro is painting the picture, he is painting simply does not match with what they are seeing day in and day out. With many of them telling me the picture is far, far worse. Here is our report from the city of Maracaibo.


SOARES: 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 is still shaken by her experience.

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.

She says inside there was little food or water and personal hygiene, a luxury. 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 patients. In a bed to keep them off Venezuela's crumbling hospitals, where the situation is similarly desperate. The main hospital here, one doctor tells me, has only 9 ICU beds. Six hours of available water a day. Intimate in power, and when x-ray machine that hasn't worked for months. Details that even health care workers are not comfortable sharing because of the climate of fear.

In this video from a hospital in Maracaibo shared on social media. Patients protested the shortage of medical staff. Begging for help. 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 the results. Doctors and NGOs tell us many cases go unreported and some die without even knowing if they have COVID.


SOARES: Doctors have been calling for increase testing since the pandemic reach the country. The Venezuelan academy of Physical Mathematical and Natural Sciences is currently predicting a peak of up to 14,000 daily cases. An early report in May was met with a threat of physical violence by a government official on TV.


SOARES: They are 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.

SOARES: Is their pressure also for doctors not to note down who has contracted COVID and who has died from COVID?

Is that that type of pressure?


SOARES: While doctors work under the government radar and patients stay away from the streets, embattled President Nicholas Maduro tightens his grip on power under the guise of COVID 19.


SOARES: And Rosy, CNN gave the Venezuelan government multiple opportunities to report to respond to not just these accusations, but also to the criticism from what we saw on the ground, the hotel, the conditions, the motels, the conditions in the hospitals, and thus far we have received no response.


But I just want to reiterate the mood of that piece on what I saw and I've been speaking to doctors and nurses from the grounds, having been to Venezuela on several occasions, I've always seen people going fearful of how much they say on what they say, and who they say to. This time around, Rosy, it is another level. Doctor so fearful of speaking to me because what they are telling me is that the government is using COVID-19 to crack down on these dissenting voices.

And so many are being punished for this, and that goes hand in hand in many ways with reports that we saw from the U.N. just 24 hours ago. The U.N. facts of finding mission has spent over a year looking at murders and disappearance in the country, and has accused the Maduro government really of being against his people, of a crime against humanity. That is really told directly from U.N., Rosy.

CHURCH: Just horrifying, and Isa Soares, many thanks for shining a light on that. I appreciated it.

Well, coming up, on CNN Newsroom, migrants rescued from the Aegean Sea, describe a hellish exit from Greece. And they are now questioning if Europe really is where they want to be.


CHURCH: Government officials in Greece strongly deny accusations that their coast guard is pushing migrants back into Turkish waters and leaving them adrift in dangerous conditions.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh accompanied the Turkish coast guard on a mission in the Aegean Sea, a group of migrants rescued from a tiny raft told her what they had been through.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the new pattern the Greek coast guard vessel right on the edge of Turkish waters. The crew is telling us that they just got an information about a possible pushback incident migrants and refugees possibly on a life raft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: the Greek ship is moving towards its own waters. It is now fleeing towards Lesbos.

KARADSHEH: Turks mobilized foresee rescue with the added risk of COVID-19.

Now it's race against time. Its waters has already claimed too many lives.

We spot the motor-less life draft drifting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the rope. Take the rope. Grab the rope and don't let go.


KARADSHEH: One by one, they emerge, 11 in total barely able to stand cold, wet and exhausted, they huddled together in the back of the boat

KARADSHEH: You really don't want to know what they have done to us.

Still in shock, they recount how they made it to the Greek island of Lesbos two days earlier, but they were caught by Greek authorities they say their belongings and money taken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He grabbed me from my neck and started hitting me. They put a knife to my husband's stomach and they held a gun to my son's head

KARADSHEH: They were forced on a boat and abandoned at sea.

Fatimah says her family fled a hopeless Lebanon. They have tried the sea crossing five times in the past six months. This was the first time they had reached Greek soil. Human rights advocates and the United Nations refugee agency have documented many similar accounts since March. Watchdog groups accusing Greece of violating human rights obligations by expelling asylum seekers at times leaving them adrift at sea for hours.

According to the Turkish coast guard, there have been close to 200 pushback incidents in 2020. They said they rescued nearly 6,500 men, women and children.

Ayak, who's from Somalia says that they were treated like animals. Everyone we spoken to here said they do not want to try this trip again. They do not want to try and go through Greece, because of what they went through. They are really shocked that this is how Europe deals with human beings.

In response to CNN's reporting, the Greek government denies that they are pushing back migrants and refugees. They say authorities are guarding the borders according to the rules of international law.

The accused Turkey of weaponizing the migrant issue at a time when immigration is at the heart of a political storm in the E.U.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard that Greece is part of the E.U. I wanted to get to the E.U. to Germany, to educate my children and live there. But if Greece represents the E.U., I don't want any of it.

KARADSHEH: Definitely, definitely, they say they will not be going back to Greece after what they have just gone through.

These forced expulsions and pushback seems to be morphing into the new norm, not only putting the most vulnerable at risk in treacherous waters, but also drowning out the values that Europe claims to stand for.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN in the northern (inaudible).


CHURCH: And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Well, good news for borrowers. Not great news for savers.

Wednesday from the U.S. Federal Reserve, it's planning to keep interest rates near zero, potentially for years to come to help the U.S. economy recover from the COVID crisis.

And CNN's John Defterios joins us now to explain the decision. Good to see, you John. So, anyone of course with the mortgage will welcome the news. But what is the likely impact on the investors and the economy?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Wm you know, it's all being digested right now, Rosemary, but Jerome Powell, the Fed chair could not be more direct. He's basically suggesting lower interest rates for longer. That will as you are suggesting probably prompted -- lift up in the house we are starting to see that already.


And the stock market as well, despite the fact that we have very high evaluations. He also suggested that the recession won't be as deep in 2020 if, and this is a big if here, the tree add moves forward -- that's the house, the Senate Republicans and the White House. There is still quite a big gap here. He addressed it during his testimony that more stimulus is needed.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: The initial response from fiscal authorities was rapid. It was forceful and pretty effective. That said, my sense is that more fiscal support is likely to be needed. Of course the details are that for the Congress, not for the fed. But I would just say they were still roughly 11 million people still out of work due to the pandemic, and a good part of those people or working in industries that are likely to struggle.


DEFTERIOS: And they are still struggling, Rosemary. We will get the latest update with the jobless claims this week. It still a very high number expected. About 850,000. 13 million still filing for the claims. . And this is what makes the stock market a little bit edgy. If you take a look at the numbers that we've seen in Asia and Europe, we are looking at losses of about 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

And even the DOW, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ futures are down sharply. We are looking at losses, at least at this stage, one and a quarter to 1.5 percent. Because of this uncertainty, and we are still looking at a contraction in 2020 of about 4 percent, but not the 6.5 percent that the Feds was expecting originally.

CHURCH: All right. John Defterios, many thanks, joining us from Abu Dhabi. And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more news in just one moment.