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Extreme Weather Causes Massive Europe Flooding; America Facing "Pandemic of the Unvaccinated"; Biden Officials View COVID-19 Lab Leak Origin Theory as Credible; Federal Judge Finds DACA Illegal; Sea Migration Surges with Dire Conditions in Cuba; England to Lift Nearly All COVID-19 Restrictions on Monday; Funeral Set for Slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise; Utah's Great Salt Lake is Disappearing. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 17, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Historic flooding across parts of Western Europe, shocking images showing entire villages under water, dozens are dead as rescue efforts continue.

"A pandemic of the unvaccinated": that's how a top health official is describing the COVID situation in the United States. We'll look at who the White House is blaming for the surge.

And a surge of a different kind in the Caribbean. Cubans looking to flee the island amid protests and hardships made even worse by the pandemic.

Welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: International rescue efforts are underway in Western Europe after torrential rains triggered devastating flash floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. And some rivers are still rising.

The death toll has climbed to at least 150 people, mostly in Germany, with hundreds of others still unaccounted for. Bridges have been washed out. Thousands left homeless. And entire villages inundated.

Rescue crews in Germany have evacuated about 700 residents after a dam along the river Rur broke Friday night. Now take a close look at this video from the city of Liege in Eastern Belgium.

After a week of torrential rain, a barge was seen sinking in the flooded river.

And in the Netherlands, Dutch officials have now ordered 10,000 residents to evacuate the city of Venlo as the river there is rising faster than expected. CNN's Atika Shubert has more on the historic floods from Germany. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the streets of Ahrweiler, Germany, soaked residents try to pick up the pieces, some just going through the motions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people are dead, and police are searching after them because it is a mess (ph) and it's horrible. We don't know how to handle it and how to get -- do anything.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Mara Mahmer (ph) tells us that she was helpless when her home began to flood, hiding out for hours as water continued to rise. But she knows she is lucky to be alive.

Across Western Europe, catastrophic flooding has left scores of people dead; many more are missing.

In Germany, helicopters pull survivors from swollen rivers and drop aid packages to those below. Rescuers are going door to door, looking for anyone who may be stranded, as the country suffers its worst loss of life in years.

Widespread power outages continue amid damage to critical infrastructure. Roads, bridges and entire communities are washed away.

SHUBERT: Here in Ahrweiler you can really see the destructive power of the flood. This is a tree that is currently parked on top of a bridge. There are all kinds of debris that is choking up the area here. You can still see, the water behind me moving at a pretty fast clip. It rose so quickly that people really did not have time to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SHUBERT (voice-over): One resident showed us how quickly the water consumed his home, trapping him overnight until it receded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) in minutes. You climb from step to step.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Outsider of Germany, neighboring countries faced similar shock, similar scenes of devastation. In Belgium, the death toll is rising as a number of towns are submerged. Destruction continuing even after the rain has stopped.

Our reporter's interview with the town mayor ending abruptly when a home collapsed behind them. Soon after, frenzied residents tried to escape through the roof.

In the Netherlands, thousands fleeing after flooding broke through a dike, engulfing their homes with water, some trying to salvage what they can. Many left with only their life intact. Others, tragically, did not even have that -- Atika Shubert, CNN, in Ahrweiler, Germany.


BRUNHUBER: And Atika joins us live now. You showed us some absolutely devastating scenes, there. You've been

out speaking to the people affected.

What more can you tell us about how they're coping with this tragedy?

SHUBERT: Well, it's still very much a rescue and recovery operation going on here. I actually spoke to a military commander this morning who said that this area in particular, all along the Aare (ph) River Valley, has been most devastated.


SHUBERT: Almost all of the bridges, bar two, have been wiped out in this valley. We were actually just down there which is Altena (ph). This is a little village sort of nestled in between several bends in the river. It normally is a very picturesque tourist area.

It's now completely covered in mud. We were down there earlier. Unfortunately, communications are completely cut off there, so we had to pull up here. But the military commander I spoke to today said they are still rescuing people in areas like this, where all communication has been cut off.

And because the bridges are down, they haven't been able to get to quite a few of the communities on the other side of the river. It's a very fluid and dynamic situation, and as you pointed out earlier, Kim, there are still hundreds of people missing.

They're trying to locate them and figure out where they are and possibly save anybody who might still be stranded.

BRUNHUBER: And, you know, the devastation to the homes is so extreme.

I mean, in terms of the next steps, what happens to all of these people who have lost their homes?

SHUBERT: You know, a lot of the people that we have met have been amazingly resilient. You walk into a lot of these towns, the villages, and they are just caked in mud. Because what they're doing is they're going into their homes, pulling out whatever they can to try to salvage what's left.

But it's an incredibly grueling process. You have to remember, for a lot of these people, they've seen some really traumatic scenes. We've spoken to people who've been stranded on their rooftops overnight, not rescued until morning.

One young woman that our crew spoke to said that while she was saved with her father, she watched her neighbors clinging for their lives to a window for several hours until finally they let go and disappeared. They are still missing.

So these are the kinds of things that residents here are coping with. But right now, they're just trying to find a way to save what's left of their homes -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for that, Atika Shubert in Ahrweiler, Germany. Thank you so much.


BRUNHUBER: COVID-19 cases are now on the rise in every single U.S. state. The highly transmissible Delta variant is only part of the equation. Vaccine hesitancy is the other. The CDC director says those living in areas with low vaccination rates are suffering the most while communities that are fully vaccinated are much better off.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: There is a clear message that is coming through.


WALENSKY: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.


BRUNHUBER: Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. A doctor there says people in their 40s and 50s now make up about half of her hospitalized COVID-19 patients. That's much younger than before. And many of them aren't making it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's coming for us. It's a beast. That's what we're seeing in the hospital. That's why we're nervous. That's why we're here to talk to you today because it's different. We are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic or we are going to accept death, a lot of it.


BRUNHUBER: Hours from now, an indoor mask mandate returns to Los Angeles County in hopes of bringing case numbers back down. CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Masks, back on in Los Angeles County, where new cases are surging.

DR. MUNTU DAVIS, HEALTH OFFICER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Everything is on the table. You know, if things continue to get worse. Which is why we're want to take action, now.

HILL (voice-over): Starting Sunday, faces must be covered, indoors, even if you are fully vaccinated. Nationwide, new infections are up 67 percent in the last week, rising in every state and D.C., for the first time, since January.

DR. JENNIFER AVEGNO, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS HEALTH DEPARTMENT: The danger is, as more unvaccinated people get infected and Delta is so contagious, it's -- it's really transmitting, at a speed that I haven't seen, since the very beginning.

HILL (voice-over): Deaths, up 26 percent; hospitalizations, 36 percent in the last seven days. The president placing the blame on Facebook and other social-media platforms for not doing more to stop the spread of misinformation.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people.


HILL (voice-over): The FDA confirming, Friday, it's prioritizing the review of Pfizer's vaccine, noting it's among the agency's highest priorities. One official telling CNN, full approval could come in the next two months.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: For some people, the FDA approval process may make a difference. But I do think that we have a fair amount of experience, right now. A tremendous amount of experience that tells us, again, the benefits of this vaccine far outweigh any risks.

HILL (voice-over): Vaccinations are down 11 percent, in the last week. Tennessee, one of the states with the lowest-vaccination rates in the country, just 38 percent, saw new cases increase 84 percent, in the last week. Florida accounts for one in five new cases in the country. Some states, now, asking for help.

JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This week, at the request of the Nevada governor, we are deploying more than 100 people to the state to help enhance vaccine access and support vaccine-outreach efforts.

HILL (voice-over): As the administration beefs up its own outreach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wear your mask and get your vaccine.

HILL (voice-over): New questions about so-called breakthrough infections in fully-vaccinated Americans.

DR. JASON YAUN, V.P., AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, TENNESSEE: And reality is that no vaccine is 100 percent effective. Fortunately, these breakthrough cases are, generally, asymptomatic cases or mild cases. The vaccines do a tremendous job of protecting against severe infection and death.

HILL (voice-over): A message, Noelle Collier is also sharing after losing her unvaccinated mother.

NOELLE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM: I want people to understand that COVID is not gone. I'm fully vaccinated and I still got COVID. But I recovered. The vaccine is worth it.

HILL: On the heels of L.A. County bringing back indoor-mask mandates over the weekend, New York City's mayor said, on Friday, there is no plans to follow suit here, in New York.

The city's health commissioner telling CNN, they'll continue to follow the data in the coming weeks. But again, no plans to change course, at the moment -- in New York, Erica Hill, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: And the Los Angeles County sheriff is rejecting the new mask mandate. Sheriff Alex Villanueva (ph) said his department won't be enforcing its new rule, saying it's, quote, "not backed up by science and contradicts the CDC."

Now the CDC does say that fully vaccinated people can keep their masks off around other people, except when it's required by federal, state or local laws.

U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered the international community to find how the coronavirus pandemic came to be. And some senior officials are now giving more credibility to a theory that the virus could have actually leaked from a Chinese lab, a complete turnaround from what Democrats were saying a year ago. Natasha Bertrand has the details.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are learning that senior Biden administration officials now believe that the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab is at least as possible as the theory that it originated in the wild, naturally, from animals.

This is a dramatic shift from just last year, when that theory, that it may have escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, was treated as a conspiracy theory and unscientific.


BERTRAND: But the president ordered an intelligence review into COVID's origins back in March. The intelligence community then came back in May, saying that they were split on the issue, on this question of whether it originated in a lab or in the wild.

He then ordered a redoubled effort into this question. And what we are learning now is that the intelligence community is really on the fence about where this originated has also led senior Biden administration officials to take that theory, that it escaped from a lab accidentally, very seriously.

Now it is important to note that this is not necessarily a theory that this was engineered as a bioweapon. This is not given credence within the Biden administration. What they believe is that this could have escaped from a lab as they were conducting research on bats. Therefore it is also somewhat of a natural origin theory.

But right now, the two theories are being treated as very credible, both of them, and the administration emphasizes to us that they are reserving judgment until the intelligence community completes its review in about 40 days -- Natasha Bertrand, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: A new court ruling puts a question mark over the status of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. Next, how a single decision upended their legal situation and their lives.

Plus, they say desperate times call for desperate measures and there's a concern more Cubans could take the only way out after anti- government protests hit the island. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The dream of a new life is on the line again for hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. They were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and they've been allowed to stay in the country under the so-called DACA program.

For many of them, the U.S. is the place where they grew up and the only home they know. But as Evan Perez reports, a new court ruling on Friday is putting their lives in limbo.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Obama era program that allowed some undocumented immigrants to remain in this country is illegal. And he blocked the government from accepting new applicants.

Hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States as children are protected from deportation under a program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The ruling from Judge Andrew Hannan (ph) doesn't immediately cancel the program for the so-called DREAMers, who are already participating in it, though it once again leaves themselves in devastating legal limbo.

Hannan (ph) is an appointee of president George W. Bush and he ruled that Congress didn't authorize the Homeland Security Department to create DACA. But Hannan (ph) also wrote it wouldn't be fair to immediately end a program that so many people rely on.

The U.S. Justice Department is widely expected to appeal the ruling, which could send it back to the Supreme Court, which previously blocked the Trump administration's attempts to end the program. The high court didn't rule on whether the program was legal -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, the number of migrants illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico has reached a 10-year high. U.S. officials say they've arrested or turned away almost 189,000 people on the border in June. And that's the highest number in at least a decade.

Activists in Washington are sending a message to the Cuban government after the island saw its largest anti-government rallies in decades. On Friday, the words "Cuba libre" or "Free Cuba" were painted right outside the Cuban embassy there. It's still not clear who's behind the move.

And now more and more of those trying to escape Cuba's growing problems have their sights set on U.S. shores. Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mass protests across Cuba and the Communist-run government's heavy-handed crackdown may be creating conditions for a new crisis on the island that consumed land on American shores.

Cubans, once again, taking to the seas to escape a worsening economic and political situation.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, himself an immigrant from Cuba, issuing this week a stark warning to those thinking of crossing the Florida straits.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Allow me to be clear. If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.

OPPMANN (voice-over): But that's not stopping many Cubans desperate to leave. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, this year is seeing the highest number of Cuban migrants since 2017.

The journey, often perilous, is driven by despair. After 16 days at sea, these Cubans had to be rescued when their overloaded boat capsized off the coast of Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) they just had a wife, take them out the boat to stop (ph), over.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Not everyone is so lucky. The Coast Guard reporting nearly 20 Cubans died in recent weeks.

Beatriz Jimenez's daughter and two grandchildren were lost at sea in March, along with two others. Beatriz told me her daughter was trying to reunite with her husband in Florida.

BEATRIZ JIMENEZ, FAMILY MISSING AT SEA: (Speaking foreign language).

OPPMANN (voice-over): "My daughter is a good mother," Beatriz says.

"She wouldn't have done this if everything wasn't safe, if everything wasn't OK. She wouldn't have put them through this. Her children are everything to her." With daily COVID-19 cases more than tripling in the last three weeks and the government struggling to get it under control, Cubans find themselves with nowhere to go. Most air travel to and from the island was suspended during the pandemic. For many, that now means they have one option, the open waters.

OPPMANN: Building a boat or paying smugglers to take you to Florida is expensive. Recently, it's become common to see Cubans posting ads online, offering homes for sale with everything inside. It's a sign people here tell me of Cubans trying to scrape together, whatever money they can to buy their way onto a boat.


OPPMANN (voice-over): Cubans picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard are brought back to the island under an agreement between the two countries.

CNN got rare access to the port where the exchange happens. The day we film there, we found among the migrants returned to Cuba, a woman and her 8-month-old baby. Cuban official say the U.S. has not agreed to hold migration talks in nearly three years.

CARLOS FERNANDEZ DE COSSIO DOMINGUEZ, CUBAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY: So the recipe and the conditions are there where an uncontrolled migration through the ocean, something that we want to avoid. Now we believe it is possible to avoid.

OPPMANN (voice-over): But any cooperation seems increasingly unlikely. With Cuba's president blaming the U.S. for this week's island-wide protests and President Biden firing back with --

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Cuba is a, unfortunately, a failed state.

OPPMANN (voice-over): -- failed or not, as Cuba faces increased economic and political upheaval, the time to avoid a new humanitarian crisis may be running out -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


BRUNHUBER: Former U.S. vice president Mike Pence is dipping his toes into early campaign waters. Pence took a trip to Iowa on Friday, where he gave a glimpse into his potential 2024 message. CNN's Kristen Holmes reports from Des Moines.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The former vice president walking a tightrope, in Des Moines, as he spoke. He was, both, trying to be politically relevant. Trying to stay in the political arena. But also, was very aware that the Republican Party is, still, the party of Donald Trump.

He did, however, mention January 6th and acknowledged what president -- former-president Donald Trump never has. Take a listen. MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Truth is

we -- we've been through a lot. In the last year. I mean, the global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation's Capitol.

K. HOLMES: Now while he did call it a tragic day, he also did not fully separate himself from the former president. He praised the administration, the work the administration had done. And said that he was proud to serve as part of that and be a part of that.

But it's very clear, now, that the former-vice president is trying to form a political identity that is separate and outside of Donald Trump's shadow. But no matter how vague he is about January 6th or how much he tries to avoid it, it is, eventually, going to be unavoidable because we have talked to so many Trump supporters who are still so angry with Mike Pence over the election.

They think that he shouldn't have certified the election because of all of Donald Trump's rhetoric. So there are a lot of people waiting to hear what Pence is going to say about that and we're waiting to hear, too, to see if he fully separates himself from president Trump or if he, in turn, embraces him.


BRUNHUBER: Destruction and deluge: parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands left cleaning up after catastrophic flooding. Coming up, I'll speak to a member of the German Red Cross leading disaster efforts in one city.

Plus, a serious spike in new coronavirus cases is raising questions about England's plans to fully reopen Monday. We'll talk about that ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back. To our viewers here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

The death toll is rising as catastrophic floods inundate parts of Western Europe. More than 150 people have been killed, the majority of them in Germany, where hundreds more are still missing. Images are pouring in of communities there devastated, fully submerged in water.

Large-scale rescue efforts are underway. Nearly 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to help with the disaster relief effort.

Tanja Knopp is the head of volunteering services from the German Red Cross. She joins me now from Vinton, Germany, where she leads the disaster emergency response. Thank you for joining me. It's terrible what's happening in your

country. People are still trapped in their homes, the disaster spread over such a wide area.

What are the biggest challenges rescuers out there are facing?

TANJA KNOPP, GERMAN RED CROSS: Yes, and hello. The situation for all of the people and for us is a really serious one, as the infrastructure is totally destroyed. Houses are destroyed. And first of all, and we had to evacuate and all of these people from really extreme and serious situations.

And now the people who are evacuated need support. They need shelter. They need clothing, food, drink, medical support, their regular medicine.

We from the Red Cross, hand in hand with others, give them this support with our special unit. And a lot of them need psychological support because they've lost everything. They've lost, yes, their things and some are still looking for close relatives, which they are missing. And we try to save them and to solve all of these problems.

BRUNHUBER: I want to go into a little bit more.

First of all, how are you helping to provide shelter for them, concretely?

And second of all, you talk about the state that they're in, the huge emotional trauma that they must be going through. They obviously must not have very much with them as well because they had to evacuate so quickly.

So what are sort of the needs that you're helping with there?

KNOPP: We've got special units who are prepared to give shelter to the people. And we bring these people to gyms, to schools, where we build beds (ph) and all of these things so the people can stay there.

Especially, the most vulnerable of the people we are focusing on. These are people who need care, people who are evacuated from hospitals. And, of course, we have to give all of this support to them.

We cook food and drink. And for all of this, we are prepared. Our volunteers are trained to do exactly this.

And the people are -- they are absolutely shocked on what's happened. And the situation, as the water goes back, all of these people realize that their problems stay. Their houses are destroyed. They care about what's happening next, of course.


KNOPP: And we try, at the moment, to do our best. But our special Red Cross philosophy is worldwide. Also, as the water goes back, we stay. Red Cross is a network everywhere. And also if our units go back to their homes, the Red Cross, in all of these towns, stays. And we'll try to help all of these people. BRUNHUBER: Yes. You talked about, you know, the volunteers being

prepared to help but also that the people weren't prepared for this type of emergency.

Are you surprised by the lack of advance warning and preparation for a disaster like this?

KNOPP: I think it's -- I can't analyze the special situation in every city. But I'm absolutely sure that we have in future to focus much more on being self-prepared. It's something Red Cross and a lot of other people always talk about.

And we say everybody has to focus on this. Think about what you are doing in such situations but just through such situations as we have lived through now, people become aware that this is reality.

And I think, because of climate change, such situations will become more often and more serious. And I think now is the time to switch and to think more about and everyone should be prepared and think about, what am I doing, if I am in such a situation.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. That's great advice for people all over the world, as we will all have to deal with the effects of climate change. Tanja Knopp, thank you so much for your time and all of the great work that the Red Cross is doing. Appreciate it.

KNOPP: You're welcome.

BRUNHUBER: Well, in just a few days, England is set to fully reopen. That means no more mask requirements in shops and most public places. And bars and restaurants will be able to pack in more customers.

But there could be a wrench in the plans. On Friday, the U.K. reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in six months. Phil Black joins me now from Essex, England.

Phil, I notice there was more blowback to the reopening plans; 1,200 scientists signing onto a letter in "The Lancet," saying England lifting restrictions could be a threat to the whole world, basically just adding to the chorus of naysayers as you're set to reopen in a day or two.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Kim, exactly right. England finds itself in extraordinary moments, where cases are still rising, broadly in the U.K., daily cases that haven't been seen since the previous peak back in winter. More than 50,000 yesterday. It's going to get much higher, we've been told, as much as 100,000 cases a day in just a few weeks.

This is happening remarkably just as the U.K. government is preparing to throw away the pandemic rulebook here in England from Monday. Restrictions, social distancing, as you say, mask wearing, none of that will be legally enforceable anymore.

And it believes that it can do this, the government does, because of the advanced vaccine program and the protection that it provides. It also hopes that, by doing this in summer and having the inevitable surge in cases that comes with reopening, that it will be more manageable.

But there is just tremendous uncertainty surrounding this. Even the government's own scientific advisers say they don't know how this it's going to turn out because it will come down to the people and how they choose to behave.

If they continue to be cautious, the numbers, in theory, should stay relatively manageable. But if they very quickly return to prepandemic behavior, then the modeling suggests that there still could be hospital admissions that are as great or greater than previous waves, previous waves when there was no vaccine program.

So for these reasons, there's very strong criticism from scientists here; internationally, there are those who believe it's reckless and unethical because, essentially, the U.K. is creating, England specifically creating circumstances that will allow the virus to spread more readily.

And because we're talking about the Delta variant, it's so much more transmissible, you're going to have many, it's expected, millions of infections over the coming months. And in addition to that, the vaccine program is incomplete.

So millions of vulnerable people there. So you will inevitably have lots of people that are seriously ill. And in a global sense, the concern is that the U.K. is creating a set of circumstances, where you have high rates of infection, a partial wall of immunity.


BLACK: And that is the set of circumstances, scientists say, where you are most likely to get a mutation, a new variant that is better at escaping the current vaccine, better at working around, beating the vaccines that we have at the moment.

So in that case, that's not just consequences for the U.K.; we're talking about very significant consequences for the rest of the world and its efforts to deal with the pandemic as well. So a great deal at stake. And the reality is, we are only going to get a sense of how this is going as it unfolds in real time -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we'll keep following this English experiment, as you say, and any fallout. Thanks so much, CNN's Phil Black, appreciate it.

With just six days to go until Tokyo 2020 kicks off, the first COVID- 19 case was detected in the Olympic Village. Officials say it was an overseas visitor who tested positive for the virus. The person is now in quarantine outside of the village. So far, there have been 45 cases linked to the Olympics.

An environmental crisis in Utah, one of the state's most unique natural treasures is disappearing, we'll have details ahead.

Plus, mounting anger over the death of a journalist in the nation of Georgia. Local TV stations have joined the calls for the prime minister to resign. We'll explain. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: The funeral for Haiti's assassinated president Jovenel Moise has been set for next Friday.

We've also learned the FBI is in Haiti and has begun its own investigation. That's because some of the key suspects in the plot appear to have connections in Florida.

The country's acting prime minister Claude Joseph said, if the assassination was meant to topple the government, it failed. Haitian authorities say dozens of police are now being investigated over their possible roles, including some who were at Moise's home on the night of the attack.


BRUNHUBER: In the country of Georgia, there are growing calls for the prime minister to step down after journalists were viciously attacked while covering a protest in the capital.

The death of a cameraman several days later has galvanized the opposition to the prime minister with local TV stations calling for his resignation. CNN's Michael Holmes shows how it played out on the streets and the airwaves of Tbilisi.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mourners clap in remembrance among thousands attending this week's funeral in Tbilisi, many wearing a black T-shirt with the picture of a bruised face.

This is the face of Georgian journalist Alexander Lashkariva, brutally beaten, while covering violent protests against an LGBTQ pride march last week. That march was cancelled after demonstrators stormed offices of some LGBTQ groups across the capital.

Lashkariva was one of several journalists who were attacked in the protests. He and many of his colleagues were left injured. Lashkariva -- or Lekso, as he is remembered by loved ones -- died days later, last weekend. Officials have not, yet, announced the cause of his death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Today, we bury Lekso and everyone will see the power of the angered media, which has been seized by way of a special operation by those in power.

M. HOLMES (voice-over): The violent protests came on the heels of a press conference by Georgia's prime minister, who had denounced the pride march. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They are involved -- and I say

it with full responsibility -- they are organizing this parade and these rallies. And it is their goal to instigate public disorder and chaos in the country.

M. HOLMES (voice-over): Now the cameraman's death drawing the attention of human-rights groups and the media. On Wednesday, four Georgian TV channels devoted 24 hours to showing black screens with the names of injured journalists and calls for the prime minister to resign.

Protesters, also, gathered in front of the parliament on Monday.

SALOME SAMADASHVILI, GEORGIAN MP AND FORMER DIPLOMAT: Today, we had one representative of media who has died. We hold the government directly responsible for failing to provide security for the journalists.

And therefore, we believe that resignation of the prime minister and the government is the only response that will be satisfactory to the Georgian society in these circumstances.

M. HOLMES (voice-over): The chants turned into a scuffle, as protesters made their way into the parliament. Pride events are, still, controversial in Georgia, a country led by a conservative government and powerful orthodox church.

But violence against LGBTQ communities has sparked an international outcry. The E.U. and U.S. government, condemning these attacks.

NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We encourage all Georgians, including Georgian officials, to publicly condemn this type of violence that has no place in a democracy.

M. HOLMES (voice-over): For her part, Georgia's president has also tweeted out her condolences to Lashkarava's family and said those responsible must be punished.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. rapper Biz Markie, sometimes called "the clown prince of hip-hop" for the humor he brought to his work, has died at the age of 57.

You may recognize his best-known hit, "Just a Friend." Born Marcel Hall in New York City, he was beloved in the music industry. He also worked as an actor and a narrator. His manager says loved ones will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.

We'll be right back.



[04:50:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

BRUNHUBER: The western U.S. is enduring yet another record heat wave on top of a long-running drought. And experts aren't the only ones alarmed. People throughout the world are seeing changes to where they live. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has one dramatic example: Utah's Great Salt Lake is disappearing.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one of Utah's most unique natural treasures, the Great Salt Lake. Also known as America's Dead Sea, spanning an area nearly the size of Delaware, it's the biggest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, so beautiful.

KAFANOV (voice-over): But there is a big problem with this picture- perfect destination. The Great Salt Lake could soon be no more. Years of water diversions, climate change and an unprecedented drought has pushed the lake's levels towards historic lows. Sailboats pulled from the dry marina, the receding water leaving

behind stretches of parched soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty years ago this was under about 10 feet of water.

KAFANOV: Today, about half of the lake's surface, nearly 750 square miles, roughly the size of Maui, is dry.

And that's a major worry for Kevin Perry, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah. Perry says the dried lakebed soil could send naturally-occurring arsenic-laced dust into the air that millions breathe.

KEVIN PERRY, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: One of the concerns we have is the particles that are coming off the lake getting into people's lungs. And it might contain potentially harmful arsenic.

KAFANOV: If nothing was done to change the current trajectory, what's the worst case fear?

PERRY: This lake could become one of the larger dust emission sources in North America. The ecosystem itself is on the verge of collapse.

KAFANOV (voice-over): The Great Salt Lake is also a critically important habitat for millions of birds and happens to be one of the largest breeding grounds for pelicans in the United States.

KAFANOV: If we don't take action, what's going to happen to the Great Salt Lake?

JAIMI BUTLER, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: The Great Salt Lake will be an environmental, economic and really cultural catastrophe all in one. There's all of this brine fly larva. KAFANOV (voice-over): Jaimi Butler is a wildlife biologist, who's dedicated her entire career to studying the Great Salt Lake's ecosystem. For her, the crisis is personal.

BUTLER: I grew up here. Like, you know a place becomes you.


BUTLER: It, like, becomes you. We are Great Salt Lake, all of us are, and we shouldn't let it go away.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Andy Wallace has spent years working on the Great Salt Lake as a commercial pilot.


KAFANOV: Have you ever seen it look like this?

WALLACE: I've never seen it this bad, not in my lifetime. We're seeing the start of a major environmental catastrophe.

KAFANOV (voice-over): From up above the scale of the problem is obvious. From 6,000 feet up, there's no question that this is a crisis. The Great Salt Lake is vanishing before our eyes.

WALLACE: You can see on this side, the water is purple.

KAFANOV: The beautiful purple color actually means it's an unhealthy, dying lake.

WALLACE: It is. It's going to become an environmental catastrophe and we're going to see so much dust laden with heavy metals and mercury. It's going to blow into the Salt Lake Valley on a regular basis and exacerbate the health conditions.

KAFANOV (voice-over): For years, people have been diverting water to water crops and supply homes. Jaimi Butler argues that needs to change.

KAFANOV: Is this a man-made problem?

BUTLER: Yes. This is like a human-made problem. We need to change our behaviors to keep incredible ecosystems that include humans like here at Great Salt Lake.

KAFANOV: You can see the impact. This may look like a beach but, last year, all of this was under water. The loss of Great Salt Lake will have devastating consequences in the region. One thing everyone says, it's not too late to save it. The question is whether there's a will to act -- Lucy Kafanov. CNN, Great Salt Lake, Utah.


BRUNHUBER: I'm Kim Brunhuber, more CNN NEWSROOM, stay with us.