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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Obama Offers Personal Testimonial For Biden At First Joint Event Of Campaign; U.S. Reports Record-High 99,000-Plus New Daily Cases Friday; Biden Holds Ten-Point National Lead In CNN Poll Of Polls; England To Go Into Second National Lockdown; A Look At How Absentee Ballots Are Processed In Georgia; Businesses Boarding Up over Concerns of Post-Election Unrest; Trump Campaigns in Reading, Pennsylvania. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 31, 2020 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:05]

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This president made it clear, not just about being in Flint but talking about the fact that Donald Trump is not a person of humility. He is a person who struts. He is a person who has no shame. And he also talked about COVID.

And Michigan is a state that has been impacted by COVID. The governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had been fighting so hard to get ventilators, to get the swabs for the COVID testing kits, and now look at what's happening. We are in the moment, former President Barack Obama emphasized strategically, that we're seeing an increase at this moment, the worst week ever as this White House is saying that it's not going to -- this is not happening anymore, that this is over.

So, President Obama made the case poignantly, strongly, and he also -- if you remember, four years ago, he said don't boo, vote, now, he's trying to take the anxiety that people have and turn it into action.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And, David, as you're watching Michigan, I mean, just a state obviously that Donald Trump won pretty narrowly, but as Jeff reported, there are a lot of union workers in Michigan who say they don't plan on coming back, that they are standing by President Trump. I guess, the question is, how widespread is that and can Biden turn out other voters who could counter some of those folks that may be lost to the Democratic Party?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, like those union workers we saw, home of the Reagan Democrat. That's where -- they were in Michigan. That term, the Reagan Democrat, came out of Michigan. But you're right, you asked the right question, Brianna, which is, well, what is Biden going to make up with that lost vote with women in the suburbs, with independents, with other slices of the electorate where he seems to be performing rather well and, of course, boosting turnout among base voters like African-Americans, which is a part of Barack Obama's mission today.

I do think what you were just speaking of though gets to Barack Obama's message here, broader than simply the immediacy of the get out the vote turnout operation that he is trying to light a fire on during these closing hours. That notion about Trump exhaustion that you won't have to worry every night at dinner with your family, talking about what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did that day, that's Barack Obama speaking beyond just where he is in Flint today.

But speaking to all those what we call pivot counties across the country that went for Obama and then went for Trump and reminding people who had been with him in some of these key places who are not necessarily just the core Democratic base voters but actually moved, just how exhausting these four years may have been for them and perhaps, they can find a way in a Biden administration to not have to worry every moment about what's going on at the White House.

That's a real thing. You hear it from voters. It's not just sort of a throwaway line. It's actually a real thing that voters are experiencing. And I think that was President Obama speaking to a lot of those Obama/Trump voters in that moment.

KEILAR: Yes. Because, April, he spent as much time talking about the tone as he did about policies, right? We know that there are a lot of people who are out there who worry about having a president on their television if they say, have children at home, is he going to say something the kids should even be listening to. I mean, this is a big concern especially for suburban women voters who the president, as he is addressing them in his final push here, appears to be -- he appears to be misunderstanding what they are about.

And the fact that, for instance, as he talks about women and getting their husbands back to work, when, really, it is women who, under -- with COVID going on or leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men.

RYAN: Yes. Women, as we all know, we vote in force. We are the majority vote, and black women in particular are leading the black vote. But getting back to the suburban woman issue, it's a racist issue that this president wants to bring back from the '50s and '60s and beyond that how dare black people come into the community that is quiet and calm.

And this goes along with redlining, keeping black people out of communities that they are allowed to. The Fair Housing Act happened in 1968 where you can move and live anywhere. And this president is going against civil rights laws. This is a law. This is not a myth or it's not conjecture. This is a law.

And also, Brianna, I want to bring back something in Michigan, a lot of those suburban white women were in the auto industry as well.

[15:05:02]

Their husbands were in the auto industry and the auto industry right now is suffering, and they are split. The domestic auto industry split on this president about the things that he says about domestic auto cars and also this tariff that is painfully, financially hit the pocketbooks of suburban women's households. So this president has given a double message. Given a message of, I'm going to help you in your suburban communities so you can be safe from crime, but yet, their pocketbooks are hurting in the Michigan suburbs from what he's done to the auto industry. So it's being weighed carefully by these white suburban women.

KEILAR: And, Sabrina, we saw highlighted here just really the difference in the message on COVID as we're heading into these final days of the election. It does seem like the Trump campaign's approach is to downplay that it's really a big thing, even though it's a huge thing and it's getting worse.

And to that point, you heard the former president say that as well. He, as a device, pointed in the direction, or at least where he thought Canada might be, trying to make the point it's not that far away and they're having much better success when it comes to preserving lives because of the way they have handled coronavirus.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. These two campaigns are operating in entirely different worlds. And when you look at the closing argument for the Biden campaign and his surrogates, like President Obama, their message has been entirely focused on this administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and trying to drive home that point that you just raised that the rest of the world is actually doing a lot better.

It doesn't mean that there is still ongoing challenges in terms of containing the virus and its spread but that this is really, in terms of where the United States is right now, a consequence of the administration downplaying the severity of the virus and not really heeding the calls of public health experts.

On the other side of the coin, you have President Trump out there barnstorming at these large scale rallies where there really isn't any social distancing in place. A lot of people still not wearing masks. This is a president who himself, earlier this month, was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. But that has not changed his message as he claims that the U.S. is rounding the corner, when we as we very well know, it is not.

The we will be question three days from now if what the president is out there saying resonates with voters whose lives have been paralyzed by this pandemic, whose children are home from school, who have seen their jobs upended by its impact on the economy, that really is what we have seen in polling that president's handling of the pandemic is directly tied to the drop in his approval rating. How much that will really be perhaps what makes the difference on Election Day. That's what remains to be seen.

KEILAR: And Jeff Zeleny there on the ground for us, what else are we expecting from President Barack Obama's involvement in the Biden campaign?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we are expecting him to travel to Detroit, just a little bit south of here, later today. There's going to be a big event with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Stevie Wonder. And, again, that is focusing on Wayne County. These voters we have been talking about, specifically 75,000 who did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, many did not vote for president at all in that race. They voted for down ballot versus 2012. So that is the next stop here.

But the Biden campaign also sending the former president to Georgia on Monday and to South Florida on Monday. They do believe Georgia is an opportunity to pick up African-American voters, suburban women as well, inspire those voters and it's a bit of a fire fighting exercise to put out what they believe is a fire in South Florida. They do not believe that Democrats have sufficiently turned out in early voting in Miami-Dade County and in South Florida.

So, the former president who won Florida, of course, in '08 and '12 is going down to South Florida to try and fire up some of those younger African-American voters and younger voters overall.

So, the Biden campaign, I would say, is confident, heading into Tuesday, but certainly not complacent because they do not know, frankly, if their program of virtual organizing has been as successful as traditional organizing. That's why they're sending the former president out there again on Monday.

And Joe Biden, for his part, is heading to Pennsylvania, where that is the mother of all battleground states, President Trump, of course, spending all day there today for reason in that. So that's what the next three days look like, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much, David Chalian, Sabrina Siddiqui and April Ryan, it is wonderful to talk to with all of you as we head into Election Day here.

Meantime, President Trump filled his schedule with back-to-back rallies in the must-win state of Pennsylvania. He has four there today.

So I want to go now to CNN's Sara Murray, where President Trump is holding his second rally of the day in Redding, Pennsylvania, yet to get under way.

[15:10:01]

Sara, what is the president's message to Pennsylvania voters here in the final days?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think what the president is trying to do is really sprint through the tape in Pennsylvania. I think Republicans here are pretty optimistic about his odds, even though he's down in the polls. Well, look, they know from the numbers we've seen, we've seen big, early mail-in voting in the state and they know that that's going to be a lot of Democrats.

And so the president is barnstorming Pennsylvania today because he wants to make sure he turns out as many of his voters in public. It's possible. His first stop today was about the suburban women kind of trying to stop the bleeding in those color counties around Philadelphia. We're here now in a county he won by ten points last time, where he's trying to run up the score. And then later today, he's in these deep red parts of the state where they are really trying to turn out voters that they believe are pro-Trump but just didn't turn out in 2016.

That's their strategy here. We'll see if it works. Joe Biden is going to be in Pennsylvania tomorrow as well. So this is a big prize. It's 20 electoral votes, no one is taking this state for granted at this point.

KEILAR: And what kind of precautions are they taking there? We know that there has been an analysis of Trump events and the fact that spikes in coronavirus have followed in many places. What is going on that you can see, Sara?

MURRAY: Well, Brianna, I think, as I see it at these rallies, there's no social distancing, whatsoever. There are some people here who are wearing masks but it's certainly not the norm. It's kind of funny because a guy just walked and he had a bunch of these Trump face coverings that he was handing out and he went pretty quickly.

And it just kind of shows you that if the Trump campaign, if the president himself was really out there promoting this, how popular it could be among his supporters, when he has been so dismissive of wearing a mask and coronavirus, in general, that we just have not seen them taking widespread precautions at any of his rallies, and this one is really no different, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Sara Murray for us in Redding, Pennsylvania, thank you so much.

Again, we are waiting for that rally there, President Trump's rally in Redding to get underway. We're going to take you there live once it begins. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:00]

KEILAR: The U.S. reported just under 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, which is by far the highest figure yet in the course of this pandemic, eclipsing the peaks that we saw this summer by tens of thousands. These numbers raise the stakes in an already contentious election with many battleground states confronting this public health battle as well.

Jean Casarez reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Scary numbers across the country this Halloween weekend as the U.S. surpassed 9 million coronavirus cases on Friday. 1 million of them added in just the last two weeks.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: At the moment, today, we now have one person being diagnosed of coronavirus every second. We have one American dying of coronavirus every two minutes.

CASAREZ: Officials nationwide are pleading with people to opt for public safety instead of public celebrations.

GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): As we head into Halloween weekend, the time when many would normally be out and about in a different sort of face mask, please stay home.

CASAREZ: The Midwest where both President Trump and former Vice President Biden campaigned on Friday has seen a particularly grim spike. And while mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines were visible at all of Biden's events, Trump poked fun at a Fox News personality for following protocols at his rally in Michigan.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I can't recognize you. Is that a mask? No way. Are you wearing a mask? I've never seen in a mask. Look at you. She's being very politically correct.

CASAREZ: This as the new seven-day case rate in that state is up 52 percent from last week. In Minnesota, 3,165 new cases were announced on Friday, the first time the state has ever crossed 3,000 new cases in one day. And Ohio reported nearly 4,000 new cases yesterday, marking its highest increase for the second day in a row.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio. There's no place to hide.

CASAREZ: That's just not true for Middle America.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's very bad and it's going to get worse until we do things differently.

So what distinguishes our current outbreak from what happened initially in the spring with our so-called first wave is that the virus is all over the country now.

CASAREZ: In the northeast, New Jersey reported over 2,000 cases on Friday, marking the state's highest one-day total since May. And out west in Utah, a statewide alert was sent to all residents on Friday as the percentage of positive tests hit a record 18.17 percent and a whopping 72.5 percent of the state's ICU beds are occupied.

In California, a Bay Area resident, someone under 65, has become the first person there to contract both coronavirus and the flu, yet another reminder of how important it is to be vigilant this time of year.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: People shouldn't let their guard down now. We should try to remain vigilant and be careful these last two or three months as we get through what is going to the most difficult season.

So I would say, have the same prudence around Halloween and Thanksgiving this year. We've protected people for a long period of time. We've got two or three months to go here that we need to be careful. GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): In the end, whatever fun you choose, please remember, this virus does not make exceptions for holidays or because you want to take a break from it.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And President Trump has just landed in Redding, Pennsylvania, for his second stop of the day.

[15:20:02]

We are going to take you there live and then to the magic wall for a look at what it will take for each of these candidates to get to 270.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Just three days until polls close and Joe Biden is holding a pretty comfortable lead nationally. He is ten points ahead in CNN's poll of polls but presidents aren't elected by popular vote and 2016 certainly offered a lesson in that.

Joining us now is CNN Political Director David Chalian. And so, David, I know there are people sitting at home saying, yes, I know you say that Biden is ahead but we thought Hillary Clinton was ahead in 2016 and look what happened.

[15:25:05]

There are a lot of people who -- they're just waiting to see what happens come Election Day.

CHALIAN: As they should. Yes, as they should. We're waiting for those votes to be counted. What we've done here with the electoral map, for you to look at sort of the paths to 270 electoral votes for both Biden and Trump, Brianna, is we've taken all our toss-up states and added in our leaning states, states that are slightly leaning to Biden or to Trump. We made them all yellow. And let me just walk you through here what sort of Joe Biden's path to 270 would be.

When you divvy up the safe red states and the safe blue states, you have Joe Biden at 203 and Donald Trump at 125. But let's start with the states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Donald Trump trying to make something happen in a couple of them but so far, the polls haven't indicated it's working. But in Nevada, Colorado, I'll give to Biden, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.

So those are the four sort of hold states for Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton won them narrowly in New Hampshire and Minnesota and Trump has made a real attempt in Minnesota and Nevada specifically. So we'll see if he's successful there. But let's let Joe Biden hold them for the purposes of this exercise.

And then the next thing that Joe Biden needs to do, which he has said very publicly is, he needs to rebuild that blue wall, right, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Now, if he does that, that's it. Joe Biden is at 278. Donald Trump can win everything else yellow on each and he won't get to 270.

So these are Joe Biden's two most critical missions, hold those states that are currently leaning his way that Hillary Clinton won and build back the blue wall that Donald Trump busted through. That is Joe Biden's path, Brianna.

But let me show you what Donald Trump needs to do. Like, I said, he needs to hang on to Arizona. Obviously, he needs to hang on to Texas. It's a 38 electoral votes, there's not much he can do if he loses Texas. Hang on to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa. Now, he's at 258, okay?

Let's give him this congressional district here in Nebraska. He won it four years ago. Maybe he could win it again and do the same thing in Maine. They award electoral votes by district. He won that four years ago. Let's get -- he's at 260. Where does he go to get those last ten electoral votes?

Well, he goes right to this region, the great lakes states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and he tries to recreate what he did in 2016. If Pennsylvania would do it, if that stayed blue, then Michigan would do it, that would put him over the top if Michigan and Pennsylvania were to stay blue. Wisconsin doesn't, okay? So he just would need one of them, if he were to win all those other toss-up states and those congressional districts. He just would need one of those three.

But this, winning all this red right now is a tall order for him. I could happen. That's what we're going to watch for on Tuesday. This is certainly his path back to the White House for a second term, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. David, thank you so much. It's so important to understand what the math looks like and that was incredibly helpful. David Chalian, thank you.

Now the U.S. is smashing record after record and not in a good way, nearly 100,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday, nearly 1,000 deaths.

And moments ago, the U.K. announced it is going to enter a second national lockdown. Can the U.S. avoid the same? We'll have a live report from London right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:32:58]

KEILAR: The U.S. recorded nearly 100,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday. This was far and away the highest number yet since this outbreak began.

What is more, the five highest days of new cases have all come in the last eight days. In other words, things are moving very quickly all across the country now. I want to bring in Dr. Peter Hotez joining me now from Houston. He is

a professor and the dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine and he co-directs the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

Dr. Hotez, I first want to talk to you about what we're seeing happen in the U.K., which is they're announcing a new lockdown, a second lockdown. This happened just moments ago.

With all of the numbers that we just listed in mind, is the U.S. headed for the same fate? Should it be doing the same thing or can that still be averted?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR & DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE & CO-DIRECTOR, TEXAS CHILDREN'S CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: Yes, I think so because, look, the numbers in the U.K. look like they're around 40 or 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period.

We're actually double that now in the Dakotas, North Dakota, South Dakota, up in Wyoming and the Great Plains states. So we're already past that level.

So there's no question that we should now be getting ready to aggressively social distance, having masks mandates, but we're not doing that.

We don't have the leadership in Washington that's stressing the importance of that. If anything, they're continuing to play down the importance of this epidemic.

We're not seeing mask mandates coming from the governors. In fact, some of the governors in the states have been deliberately defiant about masks.

We're headed in a horrible, horrible direction. And the country's clearly going this the direction of probably the most serious part of the epidemic. We'll hit 100,000 new cases per day any day now.

KEILAR: We just crossed 230,000 deaths. We can see that on our screen, Dr. Hotez.

[15:35:00]

And you mentioned the president playing down the death toll. He's doing that. His allies are doing that. I want to listen to part of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I went through the CDC and kept hearing about new infections. But I was like, why are aren't they talking about deaths? Oh, oh because the number is almost nothing.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right? (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I mean, our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, I'm sorry, but everybody dies of COVID.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I mean, the lies there, we just have to Fact Check, real quick. Donald Trump Jr doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. He's not talking about the right numbers. He's completely misrepresenting what's going on with deaths.

We just shouldn't even listen to what he's saying there because it's just full of crap, to be frank.

HOTEZ: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: And then when it comes to President Trump, I mean, he's talking about provisional numbers, Dr. Hotez.

But I want to ask you about what President Trump -- and just to be clear on provisional numbers, that's death certificate information. So whatever you're looking at with a provisional number today isn't going to be correct.

And then you hear from the president there, what he's saying about doctors, I mean, he's saying they're committing fraud.

Which every time I talk to a doctor about it, is just appalling to them. They're not getting paid more for this. Hospitals might get paid more because it costs more to deal with the COVID patient.

But that's not what they're doing, Dr. Hotez.

HOTEZ: You know, you're absolutely right. You made the statement, they don't know what they're talking about. The horrible reality is they do know what they're talking about and they're deliberately deceiving.

This is a coordinated disinformation campaign coming out of the White House to play down the severity of the epidemic, to make up, try to discredit masks, to try to say that we're going to reach herd immunity.

This is all carefully orchestrated and coordinated to deceive the American people. I hope it doesn't work on November 3rd because it's having deadly consequences.

The new numbers coming out of the Institute for Health Metrics show we'll double the number of Americans who die from COVID-19 by the early part of next year unless we can get 95 percent compliance with masks and aggressively social distancing.

So it really breaks my heart to see how we're just accelerating towards the number of deaths that so many could be prevented right now.

Especially where the epidemic is the worst, in the northern part of the Midwest and the Great Plains states.

And pretty soon, if you look at the heat map of the U.S., it's going to be over the entire country. We're already pretty much getting there. And that's what that 100,000 new cases per day really means.

KEILAR: I think that's an excellent point that you make, which is they've put out this false information. They know it's false. They continue to say it. They're saying knowingly something that's a lie.

Doctor, if you can stay with me. We have some developing news that I want to get to but then I want to get your take on it.

Because the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson just announced a renewed lockdown in England. So this isn't the entire U.K. This is in England, and this happened just moments ago.

I want to get now to Max Foster. He is covering this for us in London.

This is the second lockdown. Tell us what this is going to look like.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: It's a four-week lockdown from Thursday. It has to go through parliament, but we assume it will go through parliament.

It won't be as strict as the first English lockdown because schools remain open but bars and restaurants have to close.

And what's worrying about this, the type of language they've been using to describe the scale of the problem. This isn't something that Boris Johnson was planning to do. It's very much a U-turn.

But he looked at the numbers and we've just seen the number of coronavirus cases going over a million here in England and that's a huge concern.

But he's looking at the National Health Service and he's talking about a potential medical and moral disaster if the number of hospital admissions continue to go up at the rate they currently are.

He's concerned about the National Health Service collapsing in a matter of weeks unless something is done. So he's telling people to stay at home for four weeks.

He's aware it's a huge problem for businesses. Many small businesses said they're going to collapse. But he's extending the furlough scheme for businesses in England.

But a major turnaround for him. And it really does express the problem not just here in the U.K. but across Europe as numbers surge - Kate (sic)?

KEILAR: Max, this is very serious what we're seeing going on here. It looks like a U-turn because they are confronting reality. I want to bring in Dr. Hotez to talk a little bit about this.

Clearly, they believe this is necessary and doctors are telling them this is necessary in England.

When you're looking at the U.S., whether or not Donald Trump wins the election or loses the election next week, or whenever we find out the results, he is going to be in charge of the government response for months to come.

[15:40:08]

So what is that going to mean with the type of measures -- as we look to the U.K. to see what they're doing in England, what is that going to mean for what the federal response will be here for what's needed in these dark days ahead of us?

HOTEZ: Brianna, you asked the most important question. And there's two parts to that answer.

First, what Mr. Johnson is doing today, that's the face of pragmatic leadership that cares first and foremost about saving lives. And that's what a leader is supposed to do.

And what he's worried about and what the U.K. government is worried about is, as the numbers start to accelerate, there's these huge surges on hospitals.

And as intensive care units get overwhelmed, that's when the mortality rate skyrockets. That's what we saw in Spain and Italy earlier this year, what we saw in New York City.

And the British prime minister is basically saying all-hands-on-deck to avoid that.

That's exactly what the U.S. president needs to be doing right now in the worst-affected states in the northern part of the country. And he won't do it.

And we know what's already happening. We're already seeing massive surges in hospitals in Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota. We're seeing it now in El Paso and Texas.

And instead of showing leadership, what's happening is it's being left to the governors or, in some cases, not even the governors. It's being left to local leaders to figure out.

There's an absolute refusal from the national government to lead a national response of COVID-19 in the United States.

And there's a reason why we have 225,000 Americans who perished. And there's a reason why it will continue to double.

And you point out that, no matter what happens with the election, President Trump is still in the White House for the next few months until January 20th. And it's been bad enough even without having a lame duck that we

haven't had anything resembling the full force of the federal government and the executive branch of the federal government and the CDC in charge leading this response.

I can only imagine what it's going to be like as we go through November, December, and January.

I'm just horrified and so upset. And that's why I'm here trying to push as hard as I can -- and I know you are as well -- to inform Americans to look after their families, look after themselves, be aware of social distancing, be mindful, have situational awareness.

And also, we have that reminder to keep track of your mental health as well because this is going to be a very stressful time.

And identify your social distancing unit that you need to be with, try to avoid being alone if you don't have to, and have numbers available for mental health counselling.

This is going to be one of the darkest periods in our history.

The only good news I can offer is this will get better. Starting next summer, I think vaccines will become more widely available.

It won't completely change things, but it will make our quality of life much better as companion technologies and existing public health control measures.

KEILAR: That's one of the suggestions you've been making over and over, for which I appreciate telling people, look, get some mental health resources in place because you may need them. And if you don't, that's great, but get them in place so if you do need them, they're ready.

Dr. Hotez, always wonderful to see you. Thank you so much.

HOTEZ: Great to see you, Brianna.

[15:43:29]

KEILAR: And we're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:48:28]

KEILAR: In recent presidential elections, Georgia has been reliably red. But this year may not be so reliable.

As a result, President Trump is returning to Georgia tomorrow. And former President Barack Obama will head there on Monday to stump for Joe Biden.

This state has already crossed the halfway mark for total 2016 votes cast and many of those are absentee ballots. So what happens after those absentee ballots leave the voters' hands?

We've got an inside look at the action in Georgia.

CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now from the election headquarters of Gwinnett County, the second most-populous county in the state.

Natasha, walk us through the process in that facility.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, this is going to be similar to what a lot of you across the country would have in your local counties.

Now, basically, the ballots come through those back doors via mail.

And what these people are doing right over here, they're looking at the envelopes to make sure there's a valid signature and that it matches the signature on file.

Now, because we are so close to the Election Day, if there's an issue, they are required by the state of Georgia to contact the voter within one business day to rectify the situation.

Now, if you've got a ballot that is good to go, they are accepted and sorted into the bins over here by precinct.

And from there, they go to a team in the back. I think some of them are on break right now. But they would be extracting the ballots from the envelopes.

Now, if there's any issue at all with the markings on the ballots, for example, if somebody crossed something out and chose another candidate, there are teams of three that have to all agree on what the voters' intent was.

[15:50:08]

And in some cases, they may need to create a clean copy of that voter's ballot to scan into the machines.

And the machines that are scanning these are currently in another room. They were able to start scanning on October 19th throughout the state. But they cannot tabulate those until Tuesday night.

So the first returns that you see, at least from this county, are going to be the in-person early votes. And then the absentee ballots that are all behind us right here.

And the paper copy is stored in a locked bin for auditing purposes.

Let's take a look at some of the numbers that really indicate the enthusiasm, the turnout that we've seen across Georgia.

In total, so far, 3.8 million votes cast. In person, 2.6 million. And of the ones that were filed absentee, 1.2 million out of that total.

And this is a 63 percent increase compared to the same point in the 2016 election.

We should note that the secretary of state here did tell us that there are almost 300,000 absentee ballots that have not been returned yet.

So wherever you live, if you're hanging on to an absentee ballot, the guidance is you probably want to drop that off in a drop box at this point instead of putting it in the mail.

But one of the reasons it could be outstanding is, anecdotally, we've talked to people standing in lines for the early voting who wanted to surrender that ballot and vote in-person instead.

So, Brianna, the good news here is that Gwinnett County tells me they're all processed as far as yesterday's ballots and they're working on today's ballots right now.

KEILAR: I will say, Natasha, it gives you an appreciation for the process of all this.

Thank you so much for taking us through that.

Businesses in many cities around the country are boarding up their doors and windows in anticipation of post-election unrest.

I want to go to Jean Casarez in New York to talk about this story.

I will tell you, Jean, we're seeing that very much in Washington, D.C., as well. What are you seeing there?

CASAREZ: Well, we are. And we do have some video of that.

But first of all, let's look at the New York situation. Macy's at Herald Square, 34th Street, it is the flagship location of Macy's for this country.

And as you can see, they are boarding up a lot of their windows right there at 34th Street and 6th, which is just the hallmark of New York City for shopping.

They're saying they're doing it and taking additional security measures out of an abundance of caution, not only at the flagship store but they're also saying at several other stores throughout the country. They're not disclosing the other ones.

But now I take you to Washington, D.C., because there are a lot of businesses that are being boarded up in that city.

And the deputy mayor for planning and environmental development in D.C., John Falcicchio, says that they don't have intelligence that there's going to be anything that is happening, but they are vigilant.

And they do support the businesses. And they understand the situation the businesses are in, who feel that they must do something like this.

And they also say that they call on anyone to please exercise your First Amendment rights. But if you see violence, report it immediately, because that is not,

they say, exercising your right under the First Amendment for free protest.

KEILAR: No.

All right, Jean, thank you so much. Jean Casarez in New York for us.

And after a race like no other, it all ends here. You can join us for special live coverage the way only CNN can bring it to you.

From the first votes to the critical count, understand what is happening in your state and all across the country. "ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICAN," our special coverage starts Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

And as we go to break, let's listen in to President Trump on the campaign trail in Reading, Pennsylvania.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- the back of the barn.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Well.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: A slight slap. You don't have to close -- you didn't close your fist.

Now they say, he's inciting violence.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: No, no. But when Biden -- I thought it was a terrible thing. Remember, he actually, like, I want to take him to the back of the barn. They didn't say anything.

If I said that, they'd say, this is a terrible human being, right?

It's all right. You know what? In the meantime, we have the White House, right? We have the White House.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: We have the presidency.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: We have fracking. We have energy. We have manufacturing that they totally gave up. Remember? You'd need a magic wand.

In the past five months, we've created a record 11.4 million American jobs. There's never been that many jobs produced in that short a period of time. (CHEERING)

TRUMP: While foreign nations are in a free fall -- and they are, unfortunately, I feel badly for them, but they are. We are creating the world's greatest economic powerhouse.

We are going to be more powerful than ever before. We had to stop. We had to close.

[15:55:03]

We had -- we saved two million lives. Remember that? They don't want to ever talk about that. The model was 2.2 million. That's what they said. We saved two million lives. We closed it up.

How would you like to be me? I'm sitting there, we have the greatest economy in the history of this country. In the history of this world.

We were doing so much better than China. I was throwing tariffs on them. They were paying us billion dollars. I gave $28 billion to farmers because they were targeted by China.

(CHEERING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:59:59]

KEILAR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar. And I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

President versus president today on the campaign trail three days until America votes. And the Democrats' closing weekend strategy is to get the band back together.