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Delta Variant Cases Spike In U.S.; Seoul Just Short Of Full Lockdown; Haiti In Crisis; War In Afghanistan; Branson Set For Historic Space Plane Flight; Charlottesville Removes Confederate Statues; Surfside Condo Tragedy; Extreme Weather In Western U.S.; Euro 2020 Final; Argentina Win Copa America. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Release, release, release.

HOLMES (voice-over): A new era in the space race begins just hours from now as Richard Branson prepares for an historic trip to the final frontier. The latest on that and the future of space tourism with my guest, former NASA astronaut, Leroy Chiao.


HOLMES (voice-over): Also --


HOLMES (voice-over): Argentina is the 2021 Copa America champion, ending Argentina's nearly 30-year drought. We will go to the stadium in Rio.


HOLMES: Welcome, everyone. Thanks for your company.

The highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant is continuing to tear through the United States. And rising case numbers are showing it. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. surpassed 20,000 new coronavirus cases for four straight days this week. That is the first time that's happened since May.

Dozens of states are now seeing an increase in new COVID cases, as experts are warning the highly contagious Delta variant could cause mini-surges in places with low vaccination rates. There is still a struggle to get Americans vaccinated. It doesn't help that there was a little confusion this week as well. Polo Sandoval with that.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Certainly, they need to listen to the CDC and the FDA.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nation's top infectious disease expert is saying listen to the CDC and not Pfizer when it comes to needing a vaccine booster. On Friday, this is what Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN about a phone call he received from the head of Pfizer.

FAUCI: The CEO, who's a really good guy, got on the phone with me last night and apologized that they came out with that recommendation. So there is no -- not that apologize about the recommendation, apologize for not letting us know that he was going to do it ahead of time.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): This, after Pfizer announced on Thursday it was applying for emergency FDA authorization for a booster shot to protect against COVID-19, a booster for Americans to get as early as six months after their second dose.

Pfizer set off alarms when they released a statement saying that the immunity from its vaccine was waning, citing Israeli Health Ministry data. The company said, quote, "Vaccine efficacy in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has declined six months post- vaccination."

Hours later, however, the CDC and the FDA said fully vaccinated Americans do not need an additional dose of vaccine at this time. Another expert had this to say to CNN.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: In the U.K., in Scotland and in Canada, there are now three studies showing over 80 percent protection.

So pretty close to what we've seen and that's the reason why we don't need to be concerned right now about getting the booster.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): This confusion coming as the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to the number of COVID cases. According to the CDC, the highly contagious Delta variant makes up more than half of all new infections in the U.S.

Much of that rise in the southeastern United States and a small portion of the Midwest. Health experts say the best protection available from getting seriously sick from the Delta variant is still the full dosage of a COVID vaccine and yet about half of the country is still not fully vaccinated.

Also on Friday, the CDC updated its COVID guidance for schools, saying they should remain open in the fall, encouraging them to keep measures meant to mitigate the spread of the virus in place.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What they're saying is it's really essential for us to get our kids all back in person in school in the fall. To do that, we have to employ these layered mitigation strategies, meaning that we have to look at it as layers.

And so if you cannot maintain distancing in schools, which many schools can't if they want to bring everybody back, then you have to do indoor masking, you have to improve ventilation, you also have to have weekly testing if you're unvaccinated.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Polo Sandoval, CNN, Little Rock, Arkansas.


HOLMES: Now the Delta variant is also causing problems in other parts of the world, especially the Asia Pacific region. New cases on the rise in several countries.


HOLMES: And Russia, too, just hit a new record. Governments are instituting tighter restrictions and struggling to get enough people vaccinated.


HOLMES (voice-over): Lining up in Fiji for the vaccine, that spot in line all the more important after the prime minister announced the country's new "no jab, no job" policy. Public servants could be fired if they are not fully vaccinated it by November. And private sector employees face hefty fines for failing to comply.

Countries across Asia are cracking down to try to contain alarming outbreaks of the virus. Seoul, raising its prevention measures to level four, its highest level ever, just short of a full lockdown.

A top health official warning new cases could surpass 2,000 infections a day by the end of the month. The next two weeks of strict social distancing are meant to slow that spread.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I did not expect this massive outbreak, as it's already been a while since we started vaccinations. So I'm quite surprised by the sudden surge.

HOLMES (voice-over): Grocery stores in Bangkok crowded with shoppers over the weekend. New restrictions now in place there, too, including a curfew from 9 pm to 4 am, what some people say is too little, too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The government does everything so slow. If they really want to impose a lockdown, they should have done it a lot sooner.

HOLMES (voice-over): In hardhit Jakarta, many people more concerned with how to bury their dead rather than what shops are open. Ambulances line up to pick up free coffins, distributed by the government from the back of a van.

Free face masks also being distributed in Myanmar, as crowds push and scuffle to get the coveted supplies. New cases have shot up across the country in the past month, forcing stay-at-home orders in some major cities and townships and some hospitals to run out of beds.

Sydney, Australia, also under lockdown, officials there warning it could get worse before it gets better. The Delta variant moving faster than they can keep up with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what we are seeing is chains of transmission. And we're having difficulty getting ahead of those chains.

HOLMES (voice-over): Getting ahead of this virus all the more difficult when so many places across Asia are already behind.


HOLMES: Colombian police officers are now in Haiti to aid in the investigation into the assassination of president Jovenel Moise; 26 of 28 people suspected in the killing are Colombian nationals. Authorities say several are retired members of the Colombian army, who traveled to Haiti over the past few months.

Meanwhile, confusion over who exactly is running the nation has mounted since Wednesday's killing. CNN's Matt Rivers with the latest from the Haitian capital.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the manhunt here in Haiti continues in earnest for the remaining suspects in the assassination of Haiti's president. With Haitian authorities not really having updated their official numbers in a little while now; 20 suspects have been detained, three suspects have been killed officially and five remain on the loose at this time.

We know that there's 28 suspects in all, 26 of which are Colombian nationals, two of which are Haitian Americans. But that is about all the information that we really have from Haitian authorities that's very solid.

What we don't have is a motive.

Why did nearly 34 nationals come here to Haiti to kill this country's president, as Haitian authorities say they did?

Who financed them?

Who armed them?

How long had they been in this country before the assassination took place?

That's all answers that we don't have right now. And in the absence of official information, there is a lot of theories floating around the Haitian public about why and how this was allowed to take place.

Meanwhile, the political instability in this country continues in earnest. It was on Friday night that Haiti's senate elected the senate president to serve as the interim president of Haiti overall.

The swearing-in ceremony was supposed to take place, according to the senate, sometime during the day on Saturday. That didn't happen and it was in the evening on Saturday that the senate president tweeted out that the swearing-in ceremony had been postponed without really elaborating as to why that is.

It's also not clear that, had that happened, other political factions all around the country would have expressly recognized that fact. It just goes to show how unstable right now the political climate is here in Haiti.

This is a place that political unrest, it's not something that hasn't happened for a long time. There are a lot of protests over politics that happen in this country; some of them do turn violent. That hasn't happened yet. But we are going to watch and see how this plays out over the coming days and weeks.


RIVERS: Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


HOLMES: Aid groups are also sounding the alarm about escalating violence and instability in Haiti. UNICEF estimates at least 1.5 million Haitian children are in urgent need of emergency aid, including medicine, food, clean water and so on.

The agency says the rising violence is only compounding that crisis, making it more difficult for aid workers to enter and get around the country.


HOLMES: Bruno Maes is a UNICEF representative in Haiti. He joins me now from Port-au-Prince.

Thanks for doing so. You said, I was reading earlier, quote, "This is the worst humanitarian crisis the country has faced over the past few years. And it is deteriorating week after week."

Politics aside, conditions for Haitians have been appalling for years now.

How would you evaluate the current situation for people?

BRUNO MAES, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE IN HAITI: Indeed. As you said, nearly one third of all children in Haiti, at least 1.5 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the rising violence, constrained access to clean water, health nutrition, disrupted education but also protection services in times of COVID-19 as well as hurricanes.

UNICEF is deeply concerned that further violence and insecurity following the assassination of the Haitian president could pose serious challenges to the humanitarian work of our teams on the ground and the ability to safely reach the most vulnerable children and families.

HOLMES: To that point, what are the greatest needs?

And, to be frank, what are the chances those needs will be met?

MAES: Well, let us first remember that, since early June, we had an escalation of urban guerilla warfare. New clashes between rival armed gangs have erupted in some urban areas of the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.

And I'm mainly referring to famdemaha (ph) to matissant (ph) to batimass 246 and 8 was all targeted in City Soleil (ph). And this led to hundreds of houses being burned down or damaged. And we had 15,000 women and children, over 15,000 women and children, who have been forced to flee their homes due to the acts of violence in and around Port-au-Prince.

They are currently on seven sites in different communes of the city. And UNICEF is providing emergency assistance to them. But it's not easy work. We have restriction in terms of access because of security. And by chance we have a very vibrant local civic society and we have very strong partnerships to reach these children and women (ph).


HOLMES: Ad on top of all of these issues, there is COVID. Bring me up to date.

Has anyone in Haiti been vaccinated, fully vaccinated?

MAES: Not at all. Definitely, there are delays in COVID-19 vaccination in Haiti for various reasons. The first one is that there have been delays in the supply of AstraZeneca vaccines, following the COVID-19 epidemic that broke out in New Delhi, India.

And where the government halted the export of vaccines to meet the needs of its population. But also, Haiti does not have a new track cold chain and it's only equipped with a cold chain for routine vaccination programs. So we could not get to the central area any vaccines --


HOLMES: And that's al on top of all of these other issues, food insecurity, insecurity in general and the myriad other issues.

Just very quickly, there have been billions of dollars in aid or promised aid over the years, training for police, the U.S. had a peacekeeping force for more than a decade.

What has gone wrong for Haiti and Haitians?

What is the way out? MAES: Well, I think one of the key challenges that we were facing in the last months and also years, is a combination of pay locking 2019 (ph) was the 2020 COVID-19 crisis and then the escalation of violence.

Since the last three years, it's really a disaster for children here. The vulnerability is rising. We have now malnutrition, which is rising the first three months of the year and we have 26 percent more children suffering from acute malnutrition and a lack of solidarity.

I think that UNICEF, for 2021, was looking for $50 million U.S. to meet the humanitarian needs of 1.5 million children and, so far, this humanitarian appeal has remained largely underfunded. Only 31 percent of the required funding are available.

So in UNICEF, we're really calling for more solidarity but we are also urging to end gang violence in Haiti and calling for the safe process to reach affected families with humanitarian assistance in the most impacted area of (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: It's just horrific that, all of these years after the earthquake, virtually nothing has been rebuilt and the country is still in this awful predicament. Bruno Maes, going to leave it there thank you so much, appreciate it, there with UNICEF.

MAES: Thank you. Thank you so much.


HOLMES: Now Australia's defense minister says his country has pulled all of its troops from Afghanistan. Peter Dutton telling Sky News Australia that the withdrawal happened in recent weeks and was ahead of a September deadline.

The move comes as the U.S., of course, nears its own military exit and as the Taliban claims another victory. The militants say they cut off a key highway to Pakistan as they lay siege to Kandahar. CNN's Anna Coren reports from Kabul.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban is continuing its offensive across Afghanistan, targeting strategic road and border links as embattled Afghan security forces desperately try to hold ground.


COREN: The militants claim to have cut the main highway between the southern city of Kandahar and the border with Pakistan, saying all army outposts in a nearby town have been overrun.

They also claim to have the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, under siege. In recent days, the Taliban has taken control of one of the country's main trading gateways with Iran.

The dry port of Islam Qala is where millions of dollars worth of fuel and supplies cross every day. Customs officials, also confirming that militants took control of a border crossing with Turkmenistan.

The Afghan ministry of defense saying its forces had killed almost 200 Taliban fighters in 24 hours in operations across Afghanistan and will continue ground offensives and airstrikes to recapture lost territory.

As the fighting rages, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, is still campaigning for peace talks. He is traveling to Qatar, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to meet with regional stakeholders in an attempt to advance these stalled peace talks.

But many here in Afghanistan are convinced that the Taliban is not interested in peace or sharing power -- Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


HOLMES: The billionaire, Richard Branson, hopes to be making history in the coming hours. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, business tycoons vying to be the first to get to space in their own ships. We'll find out what it all means for the future of space travel.

Also, a former astronaut will be with me to describe what Branson's crew will feel when the flight reaches the high point.





HOLMES: In a few hours, Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, hopes to make history. He and five other crew members are getting ready to take a short suborbital flight.

He will be the first billionaire to travel into space on a vehicle he helped build and fund. Even his fellow billionaire, Jeff Bezos, is wishing Branson and his team well, as the Amazon founder prepares for his own cosmic date with destiny on his own rocket later this month.

And do be sure to tune into CNN's live coverage of the flight at 9:00 am Eastern time.

CNN's Rachel Crane talked to the soon-to-be space traveler about his out-of-this-world event and the risks involved.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The countdown is on. And in just hours, entrepreneur Richard Branson hopes to become the first person to ride a self-funded rocket into suborbital space.

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: Astronaut 001 Richard Branson.

CRANE (voice-over): A launch nearly two decades in the making.

CRANE: Tell me, how do you feel?

BRANSON: Well, I managed to avoid getting excited for 17 years since we started building spaceships and mother ships and spaceports and all these things. And I finally got the call from our chief engineer saying that every single box have been ticked on the safety aspect and that I was, would I like to go to space? And I hit the roof, I was so excited.

CRANE (voice-over): The Virgin Galactic rocket-powered space plane is set to take off tomorrow from New Mexico. The mother ship will release the spaceship at around 40,000 feet. The rocket will ignite and take Branson, two pilots and three others on a 2,400-mile-per-hour ride more than 50 miles up to touch the inner edge of space, as defined by the U.S. military and NASA. The crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to earth.

BRANSON: When you're up there, the spaceship will turn over under these enormous windows and it's going to be able to float around.

CRANE (voice-over): If successful, the space baron will edge out fellow billionaire and world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, who is set to ride his own company's rocket into space in the coming days.

The two men have jockeyed for the astronomical bragging rights that come with being first. Branson has insisted that there's no space race with Bezos and that the missions are different.

BRANSON: The kind of experience you're going to get with the two companies are almost as different as chalk and cheese. So we don't see ourselves as a direct competitor.


CRANE: While Bezos' flight will be after Branson's, his rocket system, New Shepard, will go even higher, past the Karman line, which is the altitude internationally recognized to be the demarcation of space.

His company Blue Origin taking a shot at Branson's trip, tweeting their rocket was, quote, "designed to fly above the Karman line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name."

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: If you fly 50 miles or 62 miles, you're in space. You're not going to notice the difference between those 12 miles. Neither of these vehicles go into orbit, by the way. They touch space and then they come right back down.

CRANE: Both space companies have had successful suborbital test flights over the past decade. But with space travel comes inherent risk. In 2014, a co-pilot for Virgin Galactic was killed during a test flight of a previous model of their spacecraft.

MIKE MOSES, PRESIDENT, SPACE MISSIONS AND SAFETY, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I like to say you can do risky things safely if you know the risk you're taking, you know the controls you have in place and you verify that they are active and we do just that. I don't think the risk of this flight is high. It's not zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, zero and liftoff. The final liftoff of Atlantis on the shoulders of the space shuttle.

CRANE: In the 10 years since the launch of Atlantis, NASA's final space shuttle mission, the privatization of space flight has quickly expanded.

Today, the commercial aerospace company SpaceX, founded by yet another billionaire, Elon Musk, regularly takes NASA astronauts and supplies into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. So far, NASA has been supportive of the billionaire's endeavors, especially after the successes of SpaceX.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: We are seeing the result of these billionaires, that you call them, putting their wealth into the research and development of the space program. We're seeing a lot of advancing of technology, which is good for our country. It's good for building American jobs as well.

CRANE: If tomorrow's mission is successful, it could launch yet a new era of space travel and the final frontier could soon open to space tourism. So far, hundreds of people have signed up for future Virgin Galactic flights, some paying more than $200,000 each. Branson hopes that someday will be soon.

BRANSON: I've had to wait almost a lifetime to be able to go into space. Hopefully, we can speed that process up for many, many others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a billion-dollar view.

CRANE: Here at Spaceport America, they are in their final stages of preparation for this hotly anticipated space flight. But it's important to remember that this is still a test flight.

Virgin Galactic is taking extra safety precautions as a result. All the passengers will be wearing parachutes and supplemental oxygen will be on board -- in Truth and Consequences, New Mexico, I'm Rachel Crane.



HOLMES: Leroy Chiao is a former NASA astronaut, joining me now. Always good to have Leroy Chiao on the program.

Give us a sense of what Richard Branson and others are going to experience.

What will they see?

CHIAO: This will be a very exciting adventure for all of them. When they get into space, even before, just approaching space but they will get that view of the Earth limn, the atmosphere being lit up by the sunlight, glowing these wonderful shades, bright shades of blue. So then when they unstrap and get out of their seats, they will get to look down at Earth and see all the beautiful colors.


CHIAO: It is a pretty awe-inspiring moment. It was for me the very first time I flew into space. The first few moments were really special.

HOLMES: I can only imagine. In a technology sense, this is a suborbital flight which, let's face it, Alan Shepard did 60 years ago.

But are there broader benefits of flights like this and the technology that allows it to happen?

CHIAO: Sure, as you point out, the technology is a little bit different but the event has happened before. Suborbital flight is much easier than orbital flight. Orbital flight, you go up to 17,500 miles per hour to get into orbit.

In this case, you go around Mach 3. So a lot slower, a lot less energy but you will get the experience of what it's like to be in space and the experience of weightlessness and, for a few minutes anyway and you will get to see that beautiful view of the Earth.

So I think it really helps to get more people having that experience and hope perhaps experiencing what is now called the overview effect, where you have that perspective, which is a bit life-changing.

HOLMES: We see all of these private operators going into this, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and so on. You're old-school NASA. I'm curious, your thoughts on whether space is set to become a moneymaker.

Do you see a risk in for-profit space businesses, privatization of technologies and so on, rather than it all being for the greater good?

What are your thoughts on that?

CHIAO: Oh, no, not at all. I think this is a natural evolution. As you point out, we've gone into space for a long time, 60-odd years. So NASA helped to develop the technology in the beginning, along with the contractors and basically showed us how to do it.

Now it is natural to evolve it from a government operation to a commercial operation to see if that can be a sustainable market. So now I'm glad to see that part of the commercial market, the tourism part is beginning and still out of reach for most of us.

A quarter of a million dollars, you can buy a house or you can go up for a few minutes into space, there are a few of us who have the disposable income to make that choice. But the more people we get up there, I think the better; the more awareness we create for space exploration and space travel.

And with more technological breakthroughs, hopefully the price of a ticket will come down. So I think this is all a very good thing. HOLMES: All for the good and, yes, the technology, will get used by

everyone. I want to ask you quickly, Jeff Bezos going up in a few days. He loses the race to Branson in terms of timing. But as I understand it, he will go higher.

How will his flight differ?

Does he get bragging rights or is it actually significant?

CHIAO: Well, yes, they are different flights in ways. They are similar, they're exactly the same in that they will both be suborbital. They will touch space and then fall back to the Earth.

But in the case of Virgin Galactic, they're flying on a winged vehicle so they'll go up on a carrier aircraft, get up to around 60,000 feet, the first stage of a rocket. They'll detach like their rocket engine and then go up in to space.

They're not going to quite get to the so-called Karman line, which is defined as 100 kilometers or 62 miles. But they will reach what the FAA and the U.S. government used to call the boundary of space, which is 50 miles, where the X-15 pilots back in the day to the edge of space.

So the difference between 50 miles and 62 miles, you wouldn't be able to tell. You'll have the same view, the same experience. But as far as bragging rights, I'll let them sort that out. In any event, they're both going to love it.

HOLMES: Yes, they can discuss that over a beer. They can afford it. Leroy Chiao, always a pleasure, great to have you on.

CHIAO: Great to be on, thanks.

HOLMES: Cheers.


HOLMES: Now after deadly white supremacist violence and years of waiting, it is a new era in Charlottesville, Virginia. What it took to finally remove these Confederate monuments. That's coming up.

Also, another of the biggest conferences for U.S. conservatives is underway. And the star attraction's shaping up to be former president Trump and, of course, what is known as the Big Lie. We'll take a look when we come back.





HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

A symbol at the heart of white supremacist violence has been taken down in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Saturday, statues of Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were trucked away and put into storage.

Almost four years ago, white nationalists commandeered the debate over the city's effort to remove the Lee statue. Their so-called "Unite the Right" rally turned violent and deadly, as neo-Nazis fought with counterprotesters. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro reports from Charlottesville.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three hours on a Saturday morning Charlottesville has wanted for years. A monument to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson on its way to storage.

The notorious statue of General Robert E. Lee which overlooked the park that held the deadly "Unite the Right" rally also hoisted away.

ZYAHNA BRYANT, STUDENT ACTIVIST: It's only a moment for people who aren't affected.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): For Zyahna Bryant, who kicked off the effort to remove these statues with a petition drive back in 2016 when she was in 9th grade, it was the end of an effort that brought the world to her doorstep.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Looking back to that horrible day in August 2017 when people were on this very park where we are right now, fighting over these statues, someone eventually died, at a moment like that did you think we'd ever see a day like today when the statues actually came down?

BRYANT: No, I wasn't going to believe it until I saw it. So when it was finally lifted off of its pedestal today, that's when I was able to have my moment and fully processed that it was happening.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Bryant convinced Charlottesville, the outside the city took longer. In early 2017 the city council voted to remove the monuments but groups who defend the Confederate legacy took Charlottesville to court. They succeeded in getting the removal delayed.

RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE NATIONALIST: We are a people. We will not be replaced.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Then white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups joined the cause.

On August 2017, a woman was killed and several other people injured as white supremacists and other far-right groups fought with counter protesters at a rally about the statues. That made the monuments a national cause and the driver of a dark moment in recent American political history. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Very fine people on both sides.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): That created a national movement.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No president, sitting president, has ever said anything like that. And I realized that things weren't going to change very much with this president.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): But in Charlottesville the statues still stood. The removal is still tied up in court, the city council voted to shroud them in Black just days after the August protest.

In October 2017, a judge ruled again that they couldn't remove the statues. And in 2018 a judge ordered that those coverings be removed.

But Charlottesville never changed its mind. The city kept fighting in court. This April, the Virginia supreme court ruled in its favor. Then came Saturday.

MAYOR NIKUYAH WALKER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: What happened, we have the ability to remove the statues today. It has stood for 104 years and it doesn't need to stay a moment longer.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The end of a long and bloody battle for one city grappling with how to tell our nation's story.

BRYANT: There's a lot of work left to do but I'm trying to find a way as a Black woman who has been on the forefront of this issue to celebrate the small wins, as they come. And that is important and I think this work is long and hard. It's not the end, it's not the beginning but it is a win.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.


HOLMES: Lee and Jackson weren't the only statues to come down in Charlottesville. The city council also voted to remove a monument to the American explorers, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their Native American guide, Sacagawea.

A little more than six months after the Capitol was stormed by that violent mob of Trump supporters, the final section of security fencing, added after the insurrection, has now been removed.

There are now concerns about how the campus will be protected going forward and if Capitol Police will have the resources they need. They're having some staffing and recruitment issues and the House and Senate have yet to agree on a funding package.

The rallying cry of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, of course, "Trump won." He didn't, of course. But it is being heard again this weekend at the

conservative political action conference or CPAC. It's the biggest gathering of the year for U.S. conservatives. Let's hear now from CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, who's there at the convention.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much everybody we have spoken to here, this weekend, at the conservative CPAC convention in Dallas, Texas. They don't believe that Trump actually lost the election. Everybody, apart from this one man, have a listen.

O'SULLIVAN: So, you are, you know, one of the very few people I am likely to meet here this weekend who will tell me that Biden won the election fairly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unfortunate. I got to have the evidence. I got to see it. If you tell me you're going to release the Kraken, show me the freaking Kraken for crying out loud. And don't tell me go to Mr. Pillowman's website to get the information.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you guys think the election was fair?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to tell us the Tarrant County election we went blue for the first time since 1962.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not called an insurrection to me. What about it was an insurrection?

O'SULLIVAN: They stormed the Capitol?


O'SULLIVAN: The Trump supporters, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry. Bullshit. You don't know who those people were?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, some Trump supporters were invited in and there's video and there's audio that they said come on.

O'SULLIVAN: Many people we have spoken to are in denial about the election, denial about what happened at the January 6th insurrection. And there is now also some concern about this conspiracy theory that Trump could, in some way, be reinstated as president in this -- in the next few weeks or next few months and how that could lead to further violence. Trump is due to speak here, later this weekend. And a lot of his base,

a lot of his supporters, are going to be listening to see if he mentions or hints at this false conspiracy theory, that he might be able to be put back into office before 2024 -- at CPAC, in Dallas, Donie O'Sullivan, CNN.


HOLMES: We'll take a quick break. When we come back, record heat scorching the West with some regions reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit, searing temperatures. We are live at the scene and Weather Center, next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to stay hydrated with margaritas and IPAs.






HOLMES: In Surfside, Florida, the official death toll at the collapsed condo has increased as more bodies were recovered on Saturday. The grim job moving at a faster pace now after the demolition of the remaining tower. CNN's Natasha Chen with more.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday, the remaining members of the Israeli rescue team will leave the building collapse site. On Saturday evening, local leaders thanked them, along with other first responders, at a ceremony at a church a few blocks away from here.

Then, they walked to the Seaview hotel to meet with family members of victims. It's been an emotional couple weeks, with search teams finding not only people but their belongings, signs of the lives lived there -- children's toys, passports, photo albums, among the rubble.

Meanwhile, families are still eagerly awaiting news about their loved ones; 86 people are now confirmed dead, 43 people potentially still unaccounted for. Pablo Rodriguez, whose mother and grandmother were missing after the collapse, tweeted on Saturday that they had been identified.

He said, quote, "Last night was the first night since this nightmare started that I was able to get a little bit of sleep. The thought they suffered was weighing on me heavily. And confirmation that they did not was a relief. It was the best bad news I could receive in this situation. Only hope I had." Also, among the victims was the sister of the first lady of Paraguay,

her husband and one of their children. On Saturday, their 23-year-old nanny was also identified among the victims.

The Paraguayan Ministry of External Relations tweeted the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benitez, arrived in the U.S. on Friday and will stay in Florida until Tuesday -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Surfside, Florida.



HOLMES: Now more than 30 million people across the western United States are under heat alerts at the moment. Another historic heat wave heading from the Canadian border all the way down to the Mexican border.

How hot is it?

Well, more than 100 record-high temperatures are forecast to be broken throughout Tuesday morning. Already, Death Valley in California hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, the hottest of the -- day of the year so far and inching ever closer to the all-time record of 134 degrees.



HOLMES: Well, the heat wave on North America's Pacific Coast has had a surprising and smelly side effect. Clams and other shellfish are literally being cooked alive on the hot woks exposed to the sun on Western Canada's beaches.

A professor from the University of British Columbia found dead, rotting mussels with open shells at a beach in Vancouver. He said he could smell the stench before he even got to the beach.

Well, jubilation in Buenos Aires after Argentina wins the Copa America title.


HOLMES (voice-over): The highlights of the thrilling match against Brazil when we come back.





(MUSIC PLAYING) HOLMES: Well, there is no mistaking the expectations of Number 10

Downing Street as England prepares to face Italy in the Euro 2020 finals.


HOLMES (voice-over): The prime minister, Boris Johnson, you see him there, showing off the English flag on Saturday at his suitably decorated official residence. He and Queen Elizabeth also sent letters of support to the English squad.

Sunday's match at Wembley is a huge deal, if you weren't aware already. But for England, it is not only because the title is on the line. Don Riddell reports.



DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tournament, delayed by one year, then played by 24 teams across 11 different countries, will finally be settled on Sunday night when England play Italy at Wembley Stadium in London. These are two countries, both craving success after the emotional pain of COVID-19 and the lockdown.

And, on the field, both teams will have something to prove. Italy are no strangers to success. This will be a 10th major final for the team that won this title back in 1968 and who won the World Cup no less than four times.

However, by their own standards, Italy have kind of been in the wilderness. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but have not lost a game in the three years since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need both attributes tomorrow. You can't survive a final at Wembley, against England, without a warm heart. And you can't do it without cool heads.

There will come times when we will need to be more daring, when we need to go for it. And there will also be times when we need to be cooler and try and keep the situation under control.

RIDDELL: England have ridden a wave of euphoria to the final, playing five of their six game so far in London, reaching their first major final since 1966. That was the year they won the World Cup, their only trophy to date. And their fans are dreaming of lifting another trophy some 55 years later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has come before is not unimportant, because we recognize the contribution others have made and we are respectful of that. But the near misses and the tournaments that haven't gone so well weren't important for this team.

And over the last four years, they have knocked down so many barriers and they have come through so many different challenges, different ways to win matches, had to come back from being behind, had to go through extra time, had to go through penalty shootouts.

So their resilience and experiences as a team have really prepared them well for this moment.

RIDDELL: While Italy has consistently excelled over the years, England has really struggled. A series of tournament blowouts or heartbreaking near misses have become so infamous, so painful, that the misery and yearning for success, are almost now part of the national psyche.

RIDDELL (voice-over): All of that heartbreak, captured in a song in 1996, "Three Lions," and the fans have been singing it throughout the tournament. They will be singing the chorus, "It's coming home again," at Wembley on Sunday.

Is the trophy coming home?

Or is it going to roam?

We will soon see. Back to you.


HOLMES: Our thanks to Don Riddell there.

Well, Argentina is the 2021 Copa America champion. They beat Brazil 1- 0 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro. CNN Brasil's Everton Souza has more.



EVERTON SOUZA, CNN BRASIL CORRESPONDENT: It's being 29 days since the kickoff of Copa America. Despite all the doubts and questions about Brazil's ability to host the tournament, it happened successfully.

The final at Maracana stadium took place with few supporters, only 10 percent of Maracana's capacity; 7,000 spectators were allowed by Rio de Janeiro officials to watch. The first title incurred by Lionel Messi with Argentina.

The supporters invited by Conmebol maintained a safe distance from each other. Brazil accepted hosting Copa America after the refusal of Colombia and Argentina. A last-minute decision, taking only 12 days before the competition is started.

The tournament was joined by 10 South American nations during an ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Brazil. During the tournament, more than 28,000 COVID tests were made and 179 people tested positive for COVID. It represents less than 1 percent. All samples were brought to be analyzed at lab. Until now, no results were released -- Everton Souza, CNN, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.


HOLMES: And thanks for spending time of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Do stick around. Kim Brunhuber picks it up with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.