Return to Transcripts main page


Inspector General Reviewing New Postmaster's Policy Changes And Potential Ethics Conflicts; "Long Haulers" Still Battling COVID-19 Months Later; Democratic National Convention Kicks Off Monday. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 14, 2020 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, Chris Cuomo is off tonight.

We have breaking news this hour on a review by the Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service, who is looking at controversial changes made by the Postmaster General that have resulted in slowdown in mail service months ahead of the election, as the President talks about holding up funding for the Postal Service.

According to the Inspector General Spokeswoman, and an aide for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who sought the review, the Inspector General is also reviewing potential ethics complaints against Louis DeJoy, who's an ally and donor of President Trump.

More, on the battle over vote-by-mail efforts, plus, the top election official from Washington State, where they'll be voting primarily by mail, in a moment.

We'll also have the latest on Coronavirus, a report from our Dr. Sanjay Gupta about COVID "Long Haulers," those who appear to recover from the disease but then spend months fighting its ravages.

Plus, an examination of the friendship that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have in common, the one they each share with his son, Beau.

But we begin this hour with the fight over the funding for the Postal Office - Postal Service and the ramifications it may have for voters this fall. Let's go to the White House and CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

So, Kaitlan, the President's story keeps shifting on the question of funding the Post Office. What is the latest?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's changed pretty much every day this week. And what's really important to look at here is the President has made clear he understands what the problem is.

The U.S. Postal Service is in desperate need of money. It has been for a while. But it's more important and more pressing now given the critical role they're likely to play in this election if we are overwhelmingly having people vote by mail.

And the President stated it plainly this week. He said he wanted to block funding because he realized that Democrats want to be able to expand mail-in voting, and we know what his feelings on mail-in voting are.

But then, he's shifted from that after he got a lot of controversy over it because he was making it pretty clear that it was in political terms that he was viewing it, to then saying he wouldn't veto Coronavirus legislation if it included money for the Post Office.

But then he was complaining about a $3.5 billion amount that the Democrats wanted in order to make sure there are election resources ahead of a, what's expected to be, largely mail-in voting this fall.

But then, today, he made it sound like he wants to use it as a bargaining chip. He said that he would give Democrats the $25 billion they're asking for, for the Postal Service, if he gets what he wants in this legislation.

Now, he said that, but we should remind people, these talks have all but collapsed on Capitol Hill. There are no meetings happening right now, there are no discussions going on. The Senate is not in session. None of that is even really moving anywhere at this moment.

COOPER: And I mean if it's just a negotiating tactic, there's also now, what we learned about a meeting or a talk with the Postmaster General?

COLLINS: Yes. So, this is interesting, because, of course, as you noted, this is the President's ally, a big GOP donor, who has been put in charge as the Postmaster General.

And we should remind viewers this is the first person to have this position in two decades that didn't come up through the ranks in the Post Office. This is someone who had no experience with it before. And that's why people were opposed to him being appointed to this job, back in May, when he got it. May 6th is when he got this job.

And so, the President said, over the weekend, that he had not spoken with Louis DeJoy. But now we have learned, actually they had a meeting at the White House just the week before that.


And we asked the White House, what's up with this discrepancy, the President saying they didn't meet, when they obviously did, they said it was a congratulatory meeting. Now, obviously, he got the job in May, so that doesn't really make sense either.

But we should note it did come two days before Louis DeJoy had this meeting with Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Capitol Hill, which was expected to be a tense meeting, and did end up being a pretty tense sit-down between the two parties.

COOPER: Wow! I mean, congratulatory meeting, months after he gets the job!

The President went into New York City, late today, to visit, his brother's hospitalized. What do we know about that visit and his brother's condition?

COLLINS: We learned about this, this morning. It's his younger brother, Robert. He's a much quieter Trump than the other ones that we're familiar with. He's 72-years-old though, and he's been sick for a few months.

And we learned today that he's in the hospital. The President described it basically as him being in this gravely-ill condition. He tonight was saying things about paying his respects and going to see his younger brother.

You don't often hear about Robert Trump, but we did recently, because he was the one of the family members, who led that unsuccessful bid to block Mary Trump's tell-all book that came out, the one that was sold a ton of copies, obviously angered the President.

And so, Donald Trump went to Manhattan today, visited him in his hospital. But we really don't know much more about his condition than that.

COOPER: Well certainly wish him well. Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.

As we indicated, these last developments, involving President Trump with the Postmaster General part of a controversy, this has been building for weeks and months, Abby Phillip has that story.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After months of railing against mail-in ballots that he claims without evidence will hurt Republicans.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mail-in voting, it's going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump now admitting, this week, that he wants to hold up funding for the U.S. Postal Service to gain a political advantage in November.

TRUMP: They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they're not equipped to have it.

PHILLIP (voice-over): In May, Trump installed a top Republican donor, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General. And, in the last two weeks, an avalanche of developments, have raised new questions about Trump's influence over the agency and the risk that mail delays could have an effect on the election.

Earlier this month, Trump met with DeJoy in the Oval Office for a meeting that the White House said was about congratulating him on his appointment in May.

Two days later, DeJoy met with House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, in a contentious meeting, where Democrats demanded an end to the cutbacks.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are not going to stop fighting until state election systems and the Post Office, which is part of getting the mail there, on time, get the resources that they need.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Just days after that, DeJoy announced a major restructuring of top USPS jobs that some Democrats called a Friday Night Massacre.

Trump later lying about speaking with DeJoy, despite meeting with him.

TRUMP: Well I didn't speak to the Postmaster General of the Post Office. I know this. He's a very good businessman.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Over at USPS, the warnings of trouble ahead are piling up.

KEITH COMBS, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION LOCAL PRESIDENT, DETROIT DISTRICT: When you start making cuts, you're delaying the process. You're not speeding up the process. I'm a 31-year postal employee. I've never seen these type of cuts being put in place in order to make the service better.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The Postal Service's top lawyer sending nearly all states, including battleground states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Minnesota warnings that ballots may not be delivered in time to meet election deadlines, sending election officials scrambling to determine if and how they can change their deadlines.

And CNN is now learning that USPS is removing hundreds of mail-sorting machines across the country, responsible for processing millions of pieces of mail ahead of an election that could see historic mail-in voter turnout, all this prompting a rebuke from Democrats and Republicans alike.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): But now is not the time to be cutting back services. I do disagree with the President very strongly on that issue. But Postal Service is absolutely essential.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we've never seen before is a President say, "I'm going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting. And I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it."

PHILLIP (voice-over): The Postmaster General writing to postal workers, Thursday, that the restructuring resulted in unintended consequences, in other words, delayed mail all over the country.

And with all this happening, more states are turning primarily to mail-in voting for the general election, the latest, New Jersey.

And in Pennsylvania, state officials say they are willing to accept ballots that have been postmarked by Election Day, a change in their position prompted by concerns over mail delivery delays.


COOPER: And Abby Phillip joins us now.


Abby, while the President continues to say there are claims of vote- by-mail fraud, a Judge in Pennsylvania is asking for actual proof. What's the latest with that?

PHILLIP: Well the Republican Party, which has brought this suit, in Pennsylvania, to try to curtail some of the changes that are being made, in the Coronavirus pandemic, to expand mail-voting, they have until midnight now, to come up with some proof that there is fraud in mail-in ballots and that there is fraud in these drop boxes that are used to collect mail-in ballots without going through the Postal Service.

Now, this is a really key case. It's one of the cases that's going on in battleground states across the country.

And the Republican Party here is really trying to push back on the notion that mail-in voting is safe and secure. They are pointing to the use of ballot drop boxes saying that those drop boxes are ripe for fraud.

But the Democrats had said you can't just make those claims without providing evidence.

And the District - a Federal District Court Judge agreed and has given the Republican Party until today to come up with that explanation. So, we will find out soon, if they're able to come up with evidence of fraud.

We should note, Anderson, that all over the country, especially those states where they've been mailing - voting by mail, for years, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud with any of those aspects of mail-in voting, either the ballots or the drop boxes that are used to collect them.

COOPER: Right. I mean the President had lied about millions of illegal undocumented workers casting ballots in California, for Hillary Clinton, and that's why he didn't win the popular vote. Again, it's just he - this is just made up.

Abby Phillip, thank you very much.

Want to bring in Kim Wyman, the Republican Secretary of State for Washington State, and the top election official there.

Secretary Wyman, thanks so very much for being with us.

This letter from the Postal Service, to your State, warning that voters risk not getting their ballots back to election offices in time because of lags in the mail delivery, how concerning is it? KIM WYMAN (R), WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE: Well initially, it was very concerning.

And we convened a meeting with our USPS representatives here in Washington and our County election officials. And we had a very long talk about specifics, and we walked through, our mail times, in Washington, I think, is going to be just fine with our existing mail setup.

COOPER: So, I mean, do you - what is the setup in Washington? I mean, is it absentee ballots, mail-in ballots? Is it universal mail-in ballots? What is the system?

WYMAN: In Washington State, we've been mailing ballots in all elections since 2011.

And we mail out our ballots 18 days before Election Day. And we do it under non-profit bulk rate, which really guarantees a three-day to 10- day window of time for those ballots to be transported.

So, we are very comfortable that our voters, even if it's at the upper end of that service delivery time, will receive their ballots in plenty of time to be able to vote them.

COOPER: So, you automatically send a ballot to every household?

WYMAN: We do. We have been - we've been doing this for a couple of decades almost with our permanent absentee voters, yes.

COOPER: And how often does like Russia and Iran and North Korea send fake ballots into Washington to upset the elections in Washington? Or how widespread is your voter fraud in Washington?

WYMAN: So far, we haven't had foreign interference in our vote-by-mail ballots.

And in 2018, we actually compared our voter history to other states. We did find 142 cases of double-voting or people voting on behalf of deceased family members. We're investing those right now, and getting ready to prosecute them. But that was out of 3.2 million ballots cast.

COOPER: So, out of 3.2 million ballots cast, there were 142 cases, where somebody double-voted or tried to vote for a dead relative?

WYMAN: That's correct.

COOPER: Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, said that the President, quote, is "Trying to sabotage mail-in voting by degrading the ability of the U.S. Mail to do its job." The President has convicted himself of this from his own lips.

How do you see what the President - when you hear the President's rhetoric, how do you interpret that?

WYMAN: Well, I always get worried when people try to politicize administrative processes like running elections, like delivering mail. And we have to be very careful because the average voter starts to

lose confidence in our election process, and that's the bedrock of our democracy. So, it concerns me, and we just really try to combat that with the facts.

We spend a lot of time sharing with our voters what are the facts and give them the tools they need to be able to vote, and have confidence in our election.

COOPER: It's, wow, it's a pleasure to talk to you. It's a pleasure to talk to somebody who's interested in facts. It really is, I got to tell you, it's getting rarer and rarer.

A couple weeks ago, you actually invited the President and the Attorney General to Washington to see how it's done in your State. Why do you think it has worked there for so long?

WYMAN: Well I think it really was the ramp-up that we had.


We've spent decades building to this moment. So, we started in the early '90s, allowing any voter to be a permanent absentee voter. By 2004, 60 percent of our voters were choosing to vote this way.

And we had the closest governor's race in the country's history. And we realized you couldn't do both a polling place and a vote-by-mail election well at the same time. So, we started moving to vote-by-mail in 2005.

And by 2011, all of our counties were moving - have moved to that, and we're doing vote-by-mail elections.

COOPER: And I should know this, and I apologize that I don't. In terms of turnout, I don't know if you call it turnout, if it's mail-in voting, but responses, how does Washington compare to other states that don't have this widespread mail-in voting?

WYMAN: We are usually always in the top six to 10 states, for turnout, across the country, in any given election. And I think when you look at our Presidential primary, and the primary we just had a week ago, we had the highest - some of the highest turnout in the country.

So, it definitely raises all votes. It doesn't favor one party or the other. It makes it just easier for voters to participate, and it results in high turnout.

COOPER: Wow! You sound like a very rational State, I may move to Washington.

WYMAN: Outstanding! We would - we would welcome you.

COOPER: I should be so lucky to be able to move to Washington. Kim Wyman, thank you very much, really appreciate all you do. Thank you.

WYMAN: Thank you. COOPER: Still ahead tonight, the latest on the Coronavirus. U.S. health officials now preparing for the possibility of human challenge trials, announcing today, they're creating a Coronavirus strain. We'll talk about the ethics of that and explain how it might work or not.

Also, a report on COVID "Long Haulers," you may not have heard this term. It refers to people who live with the ravages of the disease, even after it appears that they have recovered. It's not over when they leave the hospital, unfortunately.

The wife of a man who spent months in the hospital is going to join us, to talk about this, when we continue.



COOPER: There's breaking news tonight in Coronavirus. Once again, the deadly - the daily death toll in the U.S. has topped 1,000. It's at 1,208 to be exact.

And there's news from Dr. Anthony Fauci that the U.S. is actually creating a Coronavirus strain. It's part of what he called a possible plan D for a vaccine research that would involve human challenge trials, which involves intentionally infecting people. Dr. Fauci said the strain is something they would probably not use, but for a "Far- out contingency."

Joining us now is William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, Chair and President of ACCESS Health International, and Author of "A Covid Back To School Guide."

Professor Haseltine, are you surprised the NIH is this far along in potential preparation for human challenge trials?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, AUTHOR, "A COVID BACK TO SCHOOL GUIDE": Not surprised. There have been a drum beat from some quarters for a long time. The Head of the NIH discussed that himself, sometime ago.

But I've looked at this pretty carefully, and I've written about it, and I consider it to be unnecessary, uninformative and unethical. It is not something we should do.

COOPER: I think you and I may have talked about this, a while ago, months ago, because it was being--


COOPER: --it's been discussed around for a while. Can you just quickly explain to people what a human challenge trial is, because it's a way of circumventing the long standard way of trying a vaccine?

HASELTINE: That's one view of it. But basically it's treating people like laboratory animals. To do it properly, you'd have to do what you do for the monkey trials.

That is one group gets infected with the live virus that can cause disease and the other without a vaccine, and the other group is vaccinated, and gets infected with the same virus. That's how you do it in animals, lab animals.

Are we really ready to infect people with live virus that can kill them, that can cause, as you're about to hear, long-term damage in young people? First of all, it's unnecessary. You only do anything like that if you don't have a raging infection.

You've just mentioned how many people are infected every day. There's about 55,000 Americans and 275,000 people worldwide infected yesterday. Isn't that enough to do a vaccine trial?

And if that weren't enough, it's not informative because you'd only be using healthy young people, not the people who really need the vaccine, which is the older people, and you're not going to know how it works. And it takes a long time to get the answer anyway.

And finally, is it really ethical to give people a deadly disease when you don't know if the vaccine works? Or to give people who aren't vaccinated a deadly disease that might kill them, and there is no treatment?

There are people who have done these kinds of things, but with weakened strains, or if you've got a treatment that can cure you, if the vaccine doesn't work.

None of those things exist here. So, again, I would repeat, I believe it's unnecessary, uninformative and unethical. We should not do it.

COOPER: I mean, Fauci is saying Plan D, saying that it would be "Absolutely far-out contingency" were his words.

There's data for other COVID-19 vaccines has shown that in non-human primate trials, some of the animals did get some levels of Coronavirus infection. How risky would a human trial actually become? I mean, to your point--


COOPER: --given all that we don't know about it yet?

HASELTINE: Well it's very risky, because, first of all, there is none of the vaccines that I have seen that gave complete protection.

All of the animals were infected at least transiently. And most of them had raging infections in their nasal pharynx, which I might point out is immediately adjacent to your brain. So, they all had that. So, it did not protect from infection.


Now, vaccines don't necessarily always protect from infection. They might protect some people from disease, like the flu virus doesn't really protect you from infection, nor does the polio virus.

The polio virus vaccine protects you from having the virus go to your brain. The flu is when - vaccine when it works, protects you from getting all the terrible symptoms that's associated with the flu.

But, in this case, we have no animal model to know how sick you'll get, because we don't have any animals that get very sick, so we really--

COOPER: How optimistic are you about what's been coming out of this Operation, so-called, Warp Speed-- Warp Speed?

HASELTINE: Well countries all over the world are moving at warp speed. And I would say it looks promising.

These vaccines are doing what people wanted them to do. They're giving people good immune reactions. They're producing neutralizing antibodies. The big question isn't about do these vaccines create antibodies or neutralizing antibodies.

The real question is about the natural history of this family of virus, Coronaviruses. These viruses have somehow learned to fool our immune system, so even after you get it, they can come back every year, the same virus, the same person.

This virus looks very similar to those cold viruses. It looks similar - kill you, but it looks like, from what we're seeing from the early immunology, that it can come back. We have never faced a vaccine trial like that.


HASELTINE: So, that is the question. We're in an unknown territory. We may be lucky, but we'll have to be lucky. And I desperately hope we are. But we can't guarantee that.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. William Haseltine, I always appreciate talk - always appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much.

HASELTINE: My pleasure, thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: The suffering doesn't stop for some victims of Coronavirus, as we've just been talking about.

Ahead, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, with one man's seemingly endless battle to recover, and the team investigating the lingering toll of the disease. We're going to be hearing, I think, more and more about this, in the coming months, people with long-term damage.

I'll talk with the wife of one of those so-called "Long Haulers" who spent nearly three months in the hospital. That's next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Cruelty of Coronavirus doesn't go away for some people. Dr. Anthony Fauci calls the problem of ongoing symptoms, "Very disturbing."

He says experts are seeing more people who appear to recover from the actual viral part only to start feeling sluggish and short of breath weeks later. The side effects do not stop there.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, tonight, with some of those still battling the ravages of the disease, months in, and the hospital fighting this next-grade battle on the war in COVID-19.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four months later, my stomach is not what it used to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been treated as COVID for 97 days. I'm pretty much in the throes of it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are known as "Long Haulers," diagnosed with COVID-19, but months later, still experiencing symptoms.

MICHAEL REAGAN, COVID-19 "LONG HAULER": Everything from blood clots, seizures, tremors. I have a lot of neuropathy. I don't have control pretty much of the left side of my face, and some issues with memory loss.

GUPTA (voice-over): 50-year-old Michael Reagan had always been on the go, rock climbing, running, scuba diving. And then, just like that, everything changed.

GUPTA: When did you first feel sick?

REAGAN: Well, on March 22nd, which was a Sunday, I woke up in the morning. I was unable to catch my breath. I went into the bathroom and I coughed up blood.

GUPTA (voice-over): Reagan ended up the same day at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. At the time, in the spring, it was the epicenter of the U.S. Coronavirus pandemic.

REAGAN: I remember seeing stretchers come in with lots of people, people gasping for breath.

GUPTA (voice-over): His symptoms dire.

REAGAN: My blood pressure was out of control. It was 200 over 100 and something. My heart rate got as high as almost 200 beats a minute, and I was gasping for air.

GUPTA (voice-over): Fortunately, after five days, Reagan began breathing more easily with the help of medications. He never went on a ventilator. But he spent the next two months in and out of the hospital. DR. ZIJIAN CHEN, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POST-COVID CARE, MOUNT SINAI: We realize that the patients don't really fall into the black and white, where some patients are sick, and then they get healthy again, and then some patients are sick and then they die.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Zijian Chen is Medical Director of the Center for Post-COVID Care for the Mount Sinai Health System, a first of its kind in the country, focusing on recovery.

For the first several months, doctors have been just trying to figure out this disease. But now, the long-term effects are also proving equally mysterious.

CHEN: If you have shortness of breath, we're looking to see whether you see something like CAT scan, or we see something through pulmonary function testing to see that there's specific organ damage. And the reason we break this down is because we need to look at it physically to see what the virus actually does to your organs physically.

GUPTA (voice-over): The CDC estimates 35 percent of adults are not back to normal two weeks to three weeks after testing positive, still experiencing difficulties breathing, nerve pain or even memory loss and brain fog.

A study of 143 Italian patients, found that 87 percent of them reported having at least one lingering effect, 60 days after the onset of their first symptom.

GUPTA: Is there some way of predicting who is more likely to have these persistent symptoms?


CHEN: I would presume that if you had a pre-existing condition that the infection with the virus can worsen that condition. But again, we're also seeing patients who are previously healthy, but their symptoms have also persisted throughout their illness and beyond.

GUPTA (voice-over): It's truly a medical mystery that Dr. Chen and Michael Reagan hope is solved.

REAGAN: When I was in the throes of fighting COVID, I was only focused on breathing. I was scared to go to sleep because I would stop breathing. It wasn't until that I was generally doing better that I started to notice a lot of the other symptoms. And I know other people must feel the same.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


COOPER: Well Stacey Berliner's husband is one of those "Long Haulers." He survived Coronavirus. He spent 89 days in the hospital, six weeks in rehab. He just came home. Stacey joins me now.

First of all, how is your husband, Cliff, doing, and your kids, I mean, everybody? How is - how are you doing?

STACEY BERLINER, HUSBAND SURVIVED COVID-19 AFTER 89 DAYS IN THE HOSPITAL: Well that question could be answered daily, differently. Every day is a new challenge. It was been a long road, unknown road, but he's home, and he's a miracle, and he's doing great.

When I say great, because he's home, mentally he's fantastic. His body needs a lot of healing still, and a lot of recovery. As you mentioned, he was 89 days in the hospital, 76 of those on a ventilator.


BERLINER: We don't know the long-term effects. He came home with lots of stuff. He has oxygen. He has a chest tube. He's got a wound VAC. He needs therapy, OT, PT. We don't know long-term what this looks like for us or my family. It's been a really scary time for us.

COOPER: And I know that's why you were willing to talk about this, because - and I think it's so important that you are, because you and I were talking before we went on air.

And you see people on television who have come out, and look great, and seem to be resuming their normal lives. And yet, that is not everybody's story. And we're hearing more and more people now like with your husband.

I mean, do you know how long the road ahead is?

BERLINER: We do not know. It's unknown, just like this virus is unknown. We don't know what long-term effects they'll have. We don't know if he'll be 100 percent one day. It's day-to-day. We just take it one day at a time.

We have to continue going to doctors. He still has, like I said, a long road ahead of him. And we're hopeful that he will return to his normal-self, whatever the new normal will be, hopefully, if not 100 percent, 90 percent.

COOPER: And I know you - I mean you weren't obviously able to be in the hospital, so you had to kind of try to manage all this over the phone, which is its own nightmare because you - I assume you never really know who you're going to get, what doctors, what nurses, things like that.

And your husband was in and out of it. I understand he doesn't remember even a lot. He doesn't really remember how sick he was. So, you're the one who really, in a sense, kind of went through this, the emotional roller coaster of this?

BERLINER: Absolutely. He was in isolation for basically the whole time, the four months he was gone. I had no contact with him.

Everything was done through the phone. The phone was my lifeline. There wasn't consistency from day-to-day, so I did not know who I was going to speak to. I didn't know what I was going to hear on the other end. I was just glad, when I got an update that he was still here, still

vitals were OK. But from day-to-day, it was a roller coaster ride. Didn't know what I'd wake up to in the morning. It was quite scary, not being able to be with him.

The doctors learning on him, as they went along, so to speak, he was a guinea pig. And thankfully, they pushed him along, and he was a fighter, and he got to this point. But it's very draining on a family to have to go through something like this. No human contact, I had no - just to have a lifeline, I was at the mercy of them.


BERLINER: It's I had to advocate for him over the phone and get daily calls.

COOPER: Yes. I just - if you could, I mean what do you want people out there to know?

I mean there's people who aren't taking this seriously. There's people walking around without masks. I imagine it infuriates you, given all you have gone through and are still going through, and will be going through.

What do you want people to - what do you want to say to people?


BERLINER: I want to tell them that my husband had no pre-existing conditions. He was active. He's a father of two, played softball. He works. This could happen to anyone.

This is not the flu. This is something to be taken serious. I would not wish this on anyone, any family to have to go through what we're going through, and continue to go through for I don't know for how long.

But this - wear a mask, this is serious business here. And don't be selfish. You need to protect your family, others, neighbors, whoever. Please, please wear your mask, and wash your hands.

COOPER: Well Stacey, I really appreciate you talking tonight. And please give my best to your husband and your whole family. We wish you the best on this road. Just you're incredibly strong and thank you.

BERLINER: Thank you for hearing my story.

COOPER: Up next, putting masks to the test, an up-close look at, which ones work best.



COOPER: Face masks come in a lot of different styles, obviously materials. The question, of course we all want to know is, which one works best?

This week, we share with you, new research from Duke University and guidance from a top medical group. The consensus, all masks are not equal, some do a better job than others, Randi Kaye tonight looks at it closer.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside this lab, at Florida Atlantic University, two engineering professors are putting face masks to the test, to see which are best at stopping the spread of Coronavirus respiratory droplets.

DHANAK: Heavy cough.

KAYE (voice-over): To find out, they filled this mannequin's mouth of water and glycerin, a pump forces it to expel the mixture, to simulate talking or coughing. Then a green laser captures the droplets that escape. We tested a handful of popular masks, including this one, with an exhalation valve.

DHANAK: Three, two, one.

KAYE (voice-over): People like the valve because it lets them breathe easier. But the professors found the valve also allows potentially dangerous droplets to escape.

DHANAK: With masks with an exhalation value, what it does, it just basically lets out all the droplets through the exhalation valve.

KAYE (on camera): Which makes no sense at all.

DHANAK: It makes no sense at all.

KAYE (on camera): Defeats the purpose.

DHANAK: It defeats the purpose

KAYE (voice-over): Another popular mask fared poorly too. Watch what happens when the mannequin talked wearing this single layer gaiter.

DHANAK: This gaiter is a bit surprising because it seems to let everything through without any stoppage.

KAYE (on camera): We also tested the gaiter for heavy cough. Now remember, this is a single-layer. And we found that it barely filtered the droplets. So, let's turn out the lights and simulate a cough. You can see the droplets travel straightforward as far as three feet.

KAYE (voice-over): Next up, a single-layer bandanna made of 100 percent cotton.

DHANAK: What you see there is that this clothing cotton one-layer mask performed a little better than the gaiter. You still get some leakage coming through. It filters some of the droplets but some escape through with the single layer. They don't go very far, but probably about six inches, from the face, when you're just talking.

KAYE (voice-over): But the droplets travel about two feet, and can accumulate, over time, in a room where people are gathered.

This double-layer mask made of quilting cotton also spread respiratory droplets when the mannequin talked and coughed, but not as badly as the gaiter and the bandanna.

DHANAK: It doesn't go very far, probably about 2 inches to 3 inches from the face. So significantly better than the other masks.

KAYE (voice-over): The double-layer is in line with new CDC guidance, suggesting two layers make all the difference.

And what about those blue non-surgical masks so many people wear? They did well, but there's room for improvement. When the mannequin talked, hardly any droplets were expelled. But when it coughed, quite a bit, leaked out the top, though still not much went through the mask. So, the professors were impressed with the filtration.

Remember, without any mask, if someone coughs, simulated virus droplets can travel as far as 12 feet, well beyond the six-foot social distancing guidelines. So, even if a mask isn't perfect, the professors say wear one.

KAYE (on camera): Which mask do you think is the best mask?

DHANAK: OK. So, I think there are - obviously no one mask that's the best. A mask that's well-made, different - number of layers, maybe two layers or more layers, which allows, you know, it feels comfortable on the face, fits well, I think that's - that would be a good mask.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Dania Beach, Florida.


COOPER: Well, coming up, he lost a fierce battle with brain cancer, where the spirit of Joe Biden's late son will be clear at next week's Democratic Convention. How Beau Biden helped bring the former Vice President and his new running mate, Senator Kamala Harris together, years after he died.



COOPER: On Monday, after 27 candidates formed the most diverse group ever to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the Party will officially begin to unify.

The mostly-virtual Democratic National Convention will nominate Joe Biden along with the first Black and South-Asian female vice presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris. The speakers on night one include Senator Bernie Sanders, former first lady Michelle Obama and former Republican presidential candidate and Governor John Kasich.

Tuesday's list includes former President Bill Clinton and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On Wednesday, Senator Harris accepts her nomination. Speakers include the last Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton and former President Obama.

And on Thursday, more of Joe Biden's former 2020 rivals will appear, as he accepts the Democratic nomination for President.

One name you're likely to hear, through the week, is that of Beau Biden, Joe Biden's son who died in 2015.

Senator Harris talked about their relationship that they had, during the announcement of her being picked to join the ticket. The memory of Beau Biden is something that clearly binds Senator Harris and former Vice President Biden.

MJ Lee tonight takes a closer look.


MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe Biden selecting Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential running mate, a decision he says is all in the family.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Kamala, you've been an honorary Biden for quite some time. You know, I came first to know who Kamala was through our son, Beau Biden. They were friends.

LEE (voice-over): Harris, once the Attorney General of California, served alongside Biden's son, Beau.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would now like to introduce a great Attorney General, the Attorney General of the State of Delaware, Beau Biden.

LEE (voice-over): Rising political stars just four years apart, Harris and Biden forged a close friendship as they tackled shared issues.

HARRIS: There was a whole finding about how the big banks had been engaged in predatory lending activities. Beau Biden stood with me.


LEE (voice-over): But in May of 2015, tragedy struck the Biden family. Beau Biden lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 46. Harris attended his funeral service in Wilmington, Delaware.

His death came in the middle of his father's Vice Presidency. And Joe Biden, devastated by the loss of his son, announced months later that he would not run for president in 2016. BIDEN: Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.

LEE (voice-over): Four years later, Biden and Harris both on the campaign trail, as political rivals running for the White House. Then, there was this key moment in the first Democratic debate last year, when Harris sharply criticized Biden for his past work with segregationist senators.

HARRIS: You know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

BIDEN: That's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists.

LEE (voice-over): Biden later expressed surprise at the attack.

BIDEN: I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me. She knew Beau. She knows me.

LEE (voice-over): Harris ended her presidential campaign in December and, in March, endorsed Biden with a tribute to his son.

HARRIS: I got to know Joe through Beau.

And Beau showed courage all the time and conviction, and he spoke with so much love about the father who raised the man that he was. I know Joe. And that's why I'm supporting him.

LEE (voice-over): Sources tell CNN, Harris spoke at length about her relationship with Beau Biden in her interview with Joe Biden's Vice Presidential Selection Committee. And it was that relationship that clearly impacted Biden's decision.

BIDEN: My campaign has always been a family affair, every campaign I've run.

I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision.

LEE (voice-over): MJ Lee, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Meanwhile, the Republican Convention begins a week from Monday.

But even with President Trump trying to sow doubts about mail-in voting, there's an aspect of the last election that could come roaring back into view in 2020 electoral votes.

John Berman is here. He's got a new CNN Special Report, premiering tomorrow night, called "Count on Controversy: Inside the Electoral College."

John, what - so what prompted you to do this?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Anderson, two times, in the last five elections, two elections out of the last five, we've had a President who lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College.

And, on top of that, in this election, it could happen by an even wider margin. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by about 3 million votes last time. Well depending on how it goes, he could still win the Electoral College and lose by about 5 million votes.

And it just seemed to me that that is something the American people would want to know more about, a phenomenon like that. How can it keep happening? Why does it keep happening?

And then, this year, it just so happened there was a Supreme Court case that got to the heart of the Electoral College, a little bit of a separate issue, but got to the idea of the electors themselves, and how they choose or if in fact they have a choice at all about who they vote for, for president.

COOPER: So, to those who ask, why do we still have an Electoral College, which is a question many people, from time to time, wants to know, what do you say?

BERMAN: Well it's hard to change. It takes a constitutional amendment to change, which would require two-thirds of each House of Congress and three-quarters of the states. It's almost impossible to imagine that happening at this point, because of the smaller states that would object to it.

The Supreme Court did issue a 9-0 decision, which also allows states to require their electors to vote the way that the states do in the popular vote, and not only require it, but to penalize the electors if they do.

So, one of the things we saw in 2016, which was interesting, people may remember, is we saw the faithless electors, or the so-called Hamilton Electors. We saw a group of electors, who tried to change the outcome of the election after the fact, by denying Donald Trump a majority.

Well they were penalized by their states, and then it went all the way to Supreme Court, and the courts said basically, "You know what guys? These penalties can apply," so it makes it much less likely the faithless electors, will step in, going forward.

Now, the fact of the matter is, I think, most Americans will be shocked to even conceive of the idea of a faithless elector--


BERMAN: --voting a way differently than the State did.

But what people have to know is that the Founders of the Constitution, what they envisioned was the electors voting, how they wanted and their conscience, and there was no requirement for an election at all. COOPER: Yes.

BERMAN: Among the people of the country and the Constitution.

COOPER: John Berman, appreciate it. Be sure to catch the premier of the CNN Special Report, "Count on Controversy: Inside the Electoral College." That is tomorrow night, 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN, John Berman.

Also, join us Sunday night, for a special edition of 360, from 8:00 to 10:00, as we preview the Democratic National Convention, which again, starts Monday. We have special coverage all week.

The news continues. Let's turn things over to Don Lemon for CNN TONIGHT. Have a great weekend.