tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 18, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is a special edition of the situation room. we begin with alarming new numbers from the coronavirus pandemic coming out of the state of florida. right now, the latest from the state health officials staitoda more than 10,300 new infections and 90 deaths. that's just a one-day set of numbers in florida. texas meanwhile also reporting shocking numbers. more than 10,000 people tested positive in that state.
once again just today. and globally, the number of new coronavirus infections confirmed infections is also dramatically on the rise. the world health organization reporting today more than a quarter million new confirmed cases worldwide. and, as i just said, shockingly high numbers of new coronavirus cases being reported in texas. the mayor of san antonio is joining us right now. and mayor, i know you got a lot going on. five straight days of 10,000 new cases or more statewide in texas. why are things so apparently out of control right now? >> well, wolf, thanks for having me, and, you know, the trend continues in texas where we're seeing a dramatic acceleration of cases, not just in the urban communities but also in the rural areas, and the combination is making for a lot of stress on our hospitals, and every part of it from, you know, the beds on the floor to the icus to the
ventilators, and then of course end of life. even in the morgues. so we're in a serious situation here. and as we load balance the hospitals, it's putting stress on every other part of the system that treats people not for covid. >> you called it a perfect storm since around memorial day, governor abbott of texas did reverse himself and order most of texas to wear a mask starting at the beginning of this month. do you see that making any difference, at least so far? >> you know, we're beginning to see a little bit of a slow down in the hospitalization rate, but unfortunately, a lot of what has been done is baked in. because we're also seeing at the same time, a rise in the severity of cases. and that's really at all levels and all ages and all demographics, and even with otherwise apparently healthy people. noted the other day that a good 30% of our hospital admissions now are people who have no other
underlying health conditions, and even the mortality as well. and we're seeing pediatric patients who the majority of which do not have any underlying health conditions. so the severity is rising at the same time we're seeing a slow down in the hospitalization rate. >> the governor of texas is refusing to budge on ordering another shutdown in the state. let me play what he said. listen to this. >> people are panicking, thinking i'm about to shut down texas again. the answer is no. that is not the goal. i've been abundantly clear. i've been saying exactly what the head of cdc said today. what the head of cdc said today, if everyone can adopt the practice of wearing a face mask for the next four weeks, we will be able to get covid-19 under control. >> i'm anxious to get your reaction. what will that approach mean, let's say, in the weeks ahead for the folks in san antonio? >> you know, it still means that there's a tremendous amount of
mixed messaging that's happening. you know, without proper state and federal support and a clear message about what we need to do to slow this thing down, we're given the choice between, you know, letting people get sick or letting people starve. this is a false choice. we all need to get back to the health professionals' guidance, which is wear masks and limit social gatherings. limit mass gatherings indoors especially and eliminate all these exceptions that you could drive a truck through. if we are able to do that, we can start to slowly get back to life again. but right now it's a myriad of messages that comes from the state and federal government that gets people to think what should i believe and creates this kind of environment where people let their guard down. >> mayor, would you try to force another stay-at-home order or shutdown in your city? >> you know, the epidemiologists and professionals i talk to on a daily basis are concerned that a
shutdown won't actually change what's going on. what we're seeing more apomorph are cases that are going from house to house with extended family gatherings and dinner parties in people's homes. so we're asking for a roll back, be very targeted. reduce or eliminate the exceptions to mass gatherings and other social gatherings. reduce the amount of interaction that we're having and be very clear about the guidance with regard to physical distancing and enforcement of the mask orders. right now there is an opt out of this mask order happening all across this state. so we need to get back to the proper health guidance. and if we can do that together we can slow it down. but right now there's too much of a mixed match in information. >> you got a great city. good luck to all the folks in your city. good luck to everyone in texas right now. i know all of you are going through some very, very rough times. thanks for joining us.
>> thank you, wolf. now to some new reporting today about what's going on inside the white house when the country was largely shut down. and the pr the president was very eager to get the economy up and going again. jeremy, there's new reporting from the "new york times," a very lengthy report. what did their investigation find out? >> reporter: well, so much of what we are seeing today in terms of the surging coronavirus cases can be traced back to what president trump was doing in mid april, and that is encouraging the country to reopen, putting pressure on governors to reopen their economies. some of them before they had even hit those benchmarks laid out by the white house itself. but as the president was making that decision, white house officials were discussing whether or not it was prude tnto move forward with this reopening. dr. deborah birx was a central voice in terms of this decision to focus on reopening.
in large part it appears because she was overly optimistic about some of the modeling they were seeing about the trajectory of kriefrs in t coronavirus in the united states, believing it would be similar to italy, a rapid peak and cases coming down. instead, the united states saw a much higher plateau and now this surge in coronavirus cases. now according to the times, they call her the chief evangelist for the idea that the threat of the virus was moving on. and it appears that one of the things that they may have underestimated was the extent to which the president's focus on reopening, rather than on these mitigation measures may have in fact contributed to what we saw across the united states, which is governors and also many americans relaxing some of their mitigation efforts. now of course dr. birx is just one of the players in this decision making, and the president, even as it has become clear that the trajectory has
not followed that path, he has continued to focus on down playing this threat, saying recently that 99% of coronavirus cases were harmless, and even today in an exzecerpt from an interview the president is doing, he is contradicting the cdc, going against theis idea that if all americans wore masks for the next four to eight weeks the virus would go away or be mitigated. the president against that idea. >> it's interesting because we're just getting word now, and i know you got new information that the commerce secretary, wilbur ross has been hospitalized. what do we know? >> reporter: that's right, a commerce department spokesperson confirming to me that wilbur ross has indeed been hospitalized. the spokesperson is saying it was for minor, non-coronavirus issues. the spokesperson said ross, who is 82 years old is doing well and they hoped we be released from the hospital soon.
the commerce department has been unwilling to provide details, but we wish the commerce secretary well for whatever recovery he is dealing with here, wolf. >> we certainly do. we hope he is released from the hospital quickly and has a speedy, speedy recovery. thanks very much jeremy diamond reporting from the white house. we'll have more on the pandemic in just a moment. but first, we should note the passing of an american giant. john lewis died yesterday at the age of 80 years old. it's impossible to sum up his legacy in just a few words. he was one of the most important civil rights leaders of our time and a congressman who served in the house of representatives for 33 years. i was fortunate to have spoken with him here in the situation room on several occasions, and i'm going to share one of those moments with you later this hour here in the situation room. much more on this coming up. also new tonight, the cdc releasing new guidelines for those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and how they
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the centers for disease control and prevention are offering new guidance on people who have tested positive for coronavirus, whether they have symptoms or are asymptomatic. let's get details and analysis with emergency room physician and an epidemiologist. dr. al sayed, let's start with people who are symptomatic. the cdc saying they may stop isolating ten days after, or if a fever has passed without use of meds and two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative. how significant is this change? what's the bottom line? >> the bottom line is if you
have symptoms, stay away from folks. we're starting to get a better picture of just how long people might be shedding virus after their symptoms are subsiding. what the cdc is giving us is a better sense of the calipers of when that period is. the same points that the public should understand remain clear. number one, everybody ought to be masking and staying socially distant, because you may not know that you're spreading it, even before you have symptoms or without symptoms, but if you do have symptoms, after those symptoms subside we have a better sense of when you can assume that you're not shedding virus. this is really what the cdc is explaining to the public now. >> there's people who are totally asymptomatic and may not know they have coronavirus. they can easily spread it to their parents, grandparents, any strangers on the streets for that matter, folks who don't wear masks. the cdc also updated guidelines for asymptomatic people who
tested positive, it's also recommended they wait ten days after the first positive tests or if two tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative. do we have any indication at all of how many people might be asymptomatic, completely without symptoms but still able to spread this potentially deadly disease? >> so, wolf, this is one of the big questions that we're exploring right now within public health and medicine. and to break it down, what asymptomatic means is that you have no symptoms, no sore throat, no fever, no cough, no fatigue, nothing. there's also mildly symptomatic and presymptomatic, which means it's a day or two before you are going to develop symptoms. depending on how it's measured, studies say 15% of people may be asymptom akt. wh it is critically important for
us to always behave as if anyone who is around could be infected and asymptomatic. that's why mask wearing and physical distancing is critical no matter how much you trust a person. the second place it really matters is around testing. if we're only testing symptomatic folks we are missing the people who are super spreading. there are those reports about people sickening people in church or choirs. we have to test for people who may be spreading the virus. >> the guidance relies on testing in some cases. yet unfortunately, it's so hard for people to get tested and get results back in a timely fashion within, let's say, two or three days. some folks have to wait a week, ten days, how useful is that information and why are we still lagging so far behind a bunk of
oth bunch of other countries in testing and reporting. >> we could get such a better handle on this virus if we had the testing to be able to do that. and the fact of the matter is, we just have not had the federal leadership that we've needed to be abe to clear the way to get all the components of a test together at the scale that we need to be able to provide them to the g to the general public. this really is frustrating, because we've been dealing with this virus in earnest since march and frankly we should have been dealing with it since january in earnest. meanwhile you have well-meaning protocols coming out of public agencies. we just don't have the testing available to be able to activate those for enough of the people who, who may in fact be exposed and potentially ill. and just to put an exclamation point on the doctor's excellent point, we don't know if we are
carriers of this disease. it is absolutely critical not just to pay attention to what happens when you have symptoms but to assume even if you don't have symptoms you could be one of those people who is spreading it. >> that's really important as well. what are we learning now, new nx about reinfection rates. are people getting coronavirus more than once? >> it is too early for us to say for sure whether people are being infected by coronavirus more than once. there are a few anecdotes or case studies of people who haven been infected, got better and then were reinfected again. two-thirds of people develop antibodies, and then in half of those, their immunity disappears in a couple months. those studies are concerning to us, but there's no definitive evidence. it is too early in the course of
this virus to tell for sure. time will tell, and we hope to goodness that people will not be able to be infected more than once. but we're waiting and seeing and watching. >> the doctors and medical experts and scientists have learned a lot about their virus, but they all acknowledge there as still a whole lot more they still have to learn. to both of you doctors, thank you so much for joining us. appreciate it very, very much. stay safe out there. thanks for all the good work. >> thank you for having us. a crisis unfolding in portland, oregon right now. the city's attorney general is demanding an investigation after video surfaced online that showed masked and camouflaged federal agents detaining peaceful protesters. but are there legal issues for these kinds of arrests? we'll discuss that and have much more on the coronavirus when we come back. frizzy, unruly hair? you need a hair smoother. get fructis sleek & shine with moroccan argan oil. hair is super sleek even in 97% humidity.
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we'll have much more on the late breaking coronavirus developments in just a few moments, but there's other important news we're watching right now unfold. imagine this. armed, unidentify federal agents in full camouflage snatching up protesters off the streets and hauling them off in unmarked civilian cars, sounds like something out of an authoritarian regime. but the president hints that more cities could see the same tactics. cnn's josh campbell is in portland for us right now. what are you seeing, josh, what's going on? >> reporter: wolf, it's starting to get tense here where we've seen some of the protesters arrive. we've also seen a small group of counter protesters. and we're here at the epicenter of this federal building behind me where they've erected barrier.
there's destruction on the far end where people tried to make their way into the building. this has been the epicenter where there's been largely peaceful protests during the day, at night sometimes turning violent with confrontations between protesters and police. just last night we know in three instances they had police deploying disbursants and tear gas. there is a group starting to gather on the fringe area of this area where the protests started. there were a lot of people kind of around this area. and at night, a lot of them move in. last night there were over 1,000 people here in this area. and, again, it's yet to be seen with police setting up this barricade and this presence that will be seen what will happen tonight. we saw just a while ago a very tense moment where if you look on the far end you see a man holding an american flag. now this gentleman here is a former u.s. marine corps veteran. he tells us that he's a proud american, he came out to actually put american flags up, which were quickly torn down by
protesters, which were leading to this very confrontational exchange. it was basically a lesson in assumptions. the protesters assumed that he was on the far right in their words. he actually said no, he doesn't support the president. he doesn't support the federal presence here in portland, but he also supports the country, and he's trying to bring the country together. a lot of the protesters here weren't buying that, saying essentially that that flag is something that they take great exception to right now in this moment of heated tension. growing tension here in portland. it's continued to happen for well over 50 days. we know there's been their division between local leaders and federal leaders. local leaders telling the feds to get out of the city. the department of homeland security saying they're not going
>>anywhere as long as this building is here. that is why they're calling for this largely, very aggressive federal presence to leave the town. we don't know when it's going to end. we expect more tensions here tonight in the sticity of portl. >> joining us now are chief legal analyst jeffrey toobin, the book out august 4th. there you see the book cover right there, looking forward to getting that book. thanks very much, let's talk about what's going on in portland right now. are these actions that we're seeing unfold legal? >> well, what i think a lot of people don't know is that the federal government doesn't have to have the permission of local authorities to send in police, you know, federal police forces. here we have a bizarre situation where the governor of oregon
doesn't want these federal, federal police. the mayor of portland doesn't want them. the two senators don't want it, but the president feels it is important to have a federal presence in this situation. the question is, are they doing more harm than good? but, but the local authorities, state and municipal, they don't have the ability to tell the feds to just go home. so they have to deal with the fact that the feds are there, and the question is, are the feds provoking more outrage, provoking more protests, or are they serving to quiet things down. i don't have the answer here, and i don't think anyone knows the answer at this point. >> so if the protesters are, you know, obviously protesting, but let's say they're going through and breaking down that fence around that federal building in
portland, does that justify the local police doing something about it? or does that justify federal armed personnel coming in and we've seen the pictures. >> well, according to the president's executive order, federal authorities, including these federal agents there, do have the ability to arrest people for interference with federal property. they do have the legal right to do that. the question is, is it wise? is it a, is it an appropriate use of federal force? are they doing it as something the president is trying to prove that these democratically-run cities and states are outlaws or are they actually trying to keep the peace. i think, as a technical legal matter, the feds have a right to do this, the question of whether it's wise or not is very
different. >> in the case where a protester was injured, let's say, how can that protester or other protesters seek justice or compensation when it's unclear who did what was going on? >> the short answer, wolf, is that it's almost impossible. in the first place, it's almost, it's extremely difficult to sue any governmental agency, whether it's state or federal, for any sort of traditional tort claim. there are laws about local immunity, which are quite controversial now, especially coming out of what's gone on in minnesota. there is a lot of controversy about whether these laws about, you know, the, the way, the way it's, how difficult it is to sue municipalities, whether those laws are appropriate, but those laws are on the books now, and
so it's very hard to sue to get damages, plus, you have the question of causation. it's not clear, as far as i understand it, who or what caused these terrible injuries, so i think the chance of a civil lawsui lawsuit based on these injuries is pretty remote at this point. >> remind us, jeffrey, what's the federal government claiming is the justification for all of this? >> well, the federal government, the president has issued executive orders saying he has the right or the federal government has the right to protect federal interests in localities where there might be these sorts of disturbances. they have the right to protect federal monuments. they have the right to protect federal buildings. that is certainly true. the question that is raised by all this is, is the federal government, through these actions just protecting their
interests, their buildings, their property, or are they being more aggressive than that, seeking out conflict with protesters, where the local authorities could do a better job or even more, in a more sin ser w sinster way, are the federal authorities provoking more violence and more outrage than if they had simply not shown up in the first place. those are the questions that are raised. that's why the local government, state of oregon, city of portland, the two democratic senators from oregon are so outraged, because they think these, these federal authorities are actually just, even if they have the technical right to be in portland are doing more harm than good. >> jeffrey toobin helping us appreciate what's going on in portland, thank you for that and we look forward to your new book coming out in a few weeks. despite new cases surging
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no, just like why is everyone making sourdough now [laughs]... but yes, you're gonna want 5g. at&t is building 5g on america's best network. visit att.com to learn more. while texas and florida have certainly emerged as hotspots here in the united states, coronavirus cases are also sharply rising in georgia. and in that state, the governor and mayor of atlanta are at odds over how to handle the pandemic. cnn's natasha chen is joining us. what's the latest on this feud between governor kemp and the atlanta mayor, keisha lance bottoms? >> reporter: this has really escalated. and in the last few days is when georgia governor kemp sued the atlanta mayor and atlanta city council over their roll back to phase one. that's a set of recommendation
where the city of atlanta would like to go back to curbside pickup and delivery only. atlanta is one of several cities with a mask mandate. all of that was mentioned in this lawsuit filed by kemp. mayor bottoms fired back on twitter saying raiding eading i fundamental, and kemp has said he's doing this on behalf of atlanta businesses who are struggling and who need to put food on the table. when we talk to some atlanta businesses, restaurant owners in particular, they said the real problem is that there's no clear guidance here and they feel like they're children caught between two divorcing parents. here's one restaurant owner and what he said. >> we're not getting the answers, so it's like, we're having to make decisions on our own on how to do this. it's a political game, i call it a political pickle that i'm in that i don't want to be in. i don't want people to see us as
choosing sides. >> reporter: and his restaurant, homegrown, has decided to stay closed. if they were to stay open just for curbside or delivery think would be opening at a loss. others have stayed open, paying attention to the governor's comment that these city orders are unenforceable. according to kemp, no local %-p state-wide executive order. so the restaurants are really caught in a situation here, and they feel like whatever decision they're making is a political one now, because of the local and state feud here between the leaders. just to recap on the cases here in georgia, in the past couple of weeks here, we've seen the trend of new covid-19 cases climb steadily upward, with more than 3,000 georgians who have died of covid-19 since the pandemic began and more than 100,000 here in the state who have tested positive, including the mayor herself.
wolf? >> natasha, all this, georgia ranks clearly as you point out near the top of the country in daily hospital cases there in georgia. how are they holding up? >> reporter: right, well, governor kemp has made it clear that he's working to improve, to enhance the capacity for hospital beds and to expand testing. that's been something that they're keeping an eye on, given the numbers increasing. he actually reactivated the makeshift hospital at the georgia world congress center about a week or two ago, just to make sure that there is enough capacity for that, wolf. >> all right, natasha, thanks very much, natasha chen reporting. let's get more on the georgia crisis. the mayor of augustsa is joinin us. more than 3,000 new cases, almost 2,000 of those in your city, augusta hospitalizations? deaths i taking they're really
soaring. what's your reaction to what you're hearing from the governor as he's trying to impose his will on your city? >> well, wolf, one, it's no secret that cases are rising at an extraordinarily high rate in georgia. in the last 24 hours we've had almost 4,000 new cases with an additional 60 in my city alone. of that, almost 4,000, which, brings us to 21065 cases. 63 deaths in richmond county. what we're finding again, if people were to wear a mask, wash their hands and watch their distances we could have done an even better job of stopping or slowing the spread of the virus. with the governor's efforts around trying to mandate that we couldn't enforce our local executive orders, many of our cities across the state of georgia have enacted them anyway out of abundance of caution and concern for our cities. i'm a border city.
south carolina's numbers are surging at the same time georgia's are. and our neighbors are south carolinians. and so when the governor allowed local governments to put in place a local order and ordinances for masks, we're here in georgia, having a debate about whether we have the ability to do that. here in augusta, we've move forward with mandating that masks are in fact required, not only in government building but in public spaces as well. we think it's the appropriate thing to do. in consultation over lengthy number of days with our local public health officials and our hospitals, we believe it's the right thing for us to be doing if we're going to slow the spread of the virus. i heard that, again, go ahead, wolf. >> no, no, no. finish your thought. >> yeah. here in the last few days, we've had almost a dozen restaurants and bars close, not because of masks but because of employees testing positive for covid. and so we've got to do more if
we want the economy to come back at a steady pace, we've got to make sure we're taking either appropriate steps to wear a mask, wash our hands and keep a distance, we're not having that in place. >> these will save a lot of lives if they will start doing it. the governor was quick to issue stay-at-home orders and quick to open things back up. do you think he's responsible for the conditions in your state right now? >> we, i think, you know, again, the governor's leading the state. we share responsibility in terms of how we do that. local governments move very quickly to close things down. and the governor followed that. we pipfind ourselves now where there was an effort to move georgia to the top of the list in terms of opening quickly, and now we're seeing the effect of that. this is the time to be prudent
in our leadership around how we provide for the health, welfare and safety of all of our citizens, and without question in the state of georgia, as one of those 18 states just listed in the white house report in the red zone, augusta happens to be one of those. we have to be more deliberate about our approach to what we're doing, particularly in terms of wearing a mask. all of the cdc guidelines, all of the coronavirus task force requirements or recommendations coming from the white house say that masks should be mandated, if not at the state level then at the local level, and that's where we are in the state of georgia, and i think that's what needs to happen as opposed to us looking for opportunities to find ourselves p had in a lawsuh the state of georgia. we need to take care the citizens of the state of georgia >> you certainly do. these are life and death decisions that have to be made. mayor hardy davis, thank you so much for joining u gos.
good luck. a titan of the civil rights movement has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. we're going to pay special tribute to the life of the georgia congressman, john lewis, next. i don't want shingles when i'm your age. [camera man] actually, if you're 50 or older, you're at increased risk. [maria] that's life, nothing you can do... [camera man] uh, shingles can be prevented. [maria & theresa] shingles can be whaaaat? [camera man] prevented. you can get vaccinated. [maria] where? [camera man] at your pharmacy, at your doctor's. [maria] hold on! [maria] don't want to go through that! [theresa] hija. [camera man] talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting vaccinated.
of child sex abuse. even in these uniquely challenging times we're still fighting with dedication and devotion. california law gives survivors a chance to take legal action, but only for a limited time. if you were sexually abused by a priest, scout leader, coach or teacher contact us confidentially today. it's time. the supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg revealed she is undergoing chemotherapy to treat a recurrence of cancer. in a statement on friday, the 87-year-old justice said the treatment is yielding positive results, and that she remains fully able to continue her post. our chief medical correspondent, dr. sanjay gupta, sheds some light on justice ginsburg's
latest health battle. >> well, over the years, we've certainly gotten to know justice ginsburg, in terms of her tenure on the supreme court. but also, her medical history. something that we have followed, very closely, as well. going back to 1999, she had colon cancer surgery at that point. in 2009, she had pancreatic cancer surgery and treatment. at that time, we were told it was for early-stage pancreatic . she's had nodules removed from her left lung. in august, she started therapy for her pancreatic cancer, which seemed like either a recurrence or a new type of pancreatic cancer. we're still not, entirely, clear. but what we do know, now, from her statement, the justice's statement, and also her most recent medical therapy is she started immunotherapy, at that
point, and we also know it really didn't work for her. really, didn't have much of an effect. in may of 2020, she had this nonsurgical treatment for her gall bladder and what was now just revealed was that, at that time, she also started another form of chemotherapy known as gemcedivine. she says seems to be working. but i will say this type of chemotherapy is typically thought of more a palliative chemotherapy, rather than a curative chemotherapy. it is to reduce symptoms and maybe -- maybe, hopefully, prolong life. but not, necessarily, something that you give with the hopes of a cure. people always ask, and every patient's different so doctors don't like to answer the question about what does this mean in terms of survival? but average survival after someone stafrts is around a year. but everyone's different.
she's 87 yaefears old. she's been through a lot. i'm sure it is something we will hear about from her and her office. we'll certainly keep an eye on it and wish her well. >> we certainly do wish her only, only the best. thanks, very much, sanjay, for that. i'm wolf blitzer here in washington. to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. i will be back tomorrow night for another special edition of the situation room. tomorrow night. up next, jake tapper is a cnn special report, the pandemic and the president. but, before we go, i want to take a moment to mark the passing of a truly wonderful and great man, john lewis. as atlanta's mayor said in a statement, there are no words to describe the tremendous loss of congressman lewis. she's, of course, right. he was certainly an iconic civil rights activist. a leader who worked his whole life, to make our nation a much better place. a few years ago, lewis tweeted a
picture of a mugshot right after his 1961 arrest, for using a so-called white restroom in mississippi. describing why he was smiling in the picture, lewis noted that even though i was arrested, i smiled because i was on the right side of history. yes, he was. personally, he wit was always, always a pleasure for me to speak with congressman lewis. he was a real, real gentleman. such a nice guy. and we need more leaders like john lewis. our deepest condolences to his family, his friends. may he rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing.
as the u.s. continues to struggle with its response to the coronavirus, the centers for disease control issues a chilling, new projected death toll. also, a survivor tells us about the toll the virus took on his body, and how he was lucky to win his battle with covid-19. also, the passing of a civil rights icon. america salutes congressman john lewis. >> hello and welcome to our viewers, here, in the united states and all around the world. i am michael holmes and this is cnn "newsroom."