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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 10, 2020

Guests: Kurt Andersen, Mercedes Carnethon, Michael Osterholm, David Plouffe, Tim O`Brien>


Trump says that children are virtually immune to the coronavirus and don't transmit it, that the younger, the better. Trump says he's considering to make insurers cover pre-existing conditions even though Obamacare already offer such protections. Critics are blasting Trump in his attempt to use executive order to address relief for the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida governor continues to push hard on schools to reopen as new state data shows shattered its previous weekly record with 3,355 hospitalizations. Joe Biden's advisers are planning an announcement for the middle of the week as his search concludes, people briefed on the selection process said. The polls show Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by six percentage points among likely voters in both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Donald Trump revealed that he's considering Gettysburg or the White House as venues for his presidential nomination acceptance speech.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: One of the big surprises about among the names you name of who the evil geniuses are. Before he was a Supreme Court justice, I had no idea his role in all of this. That's in the book.

Kurt Andersen, we're out of time. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.


O'DONNELL: Kurt's book is "Evil Geniuses", and those are tonight's last words, two words. "Evil Geniuses", great book. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening, once again. As we start a new weekday, 1,299 of the Trump administration, 85 days to go now until our presidential election. By the way, we're about a month away from the very start of mail-in voting in our country. We'll keep tabs on that.

This evening, after an eventful weekend at his New Jersey golf resort, a weekend in which the nation reached five million known coronavirus cases, Donald Trump was back at the White House podium. Here's a look at what he wanted to talk about first.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought I'd start by talking about mail-in voting. Our systems not equipped for it. The post office is not equipped for it. And people should vote like they did in World War I and World War II.


WILLIAMS: So that was our president. In about the three minute mark, the president was suddenly interrupted.


TRUMP: It's hopefully soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, we're just going to have to step outside.

TRUMP: Excuse me?


WILLIAMS: Trump returned to the podium minutes later saying there was a shooting outside the White House that was, quote, under control. Indeed, the Secret Service confirms the shooting was officer involved a few blocks away that the White House grounds were never breached.

As Trump resumed the briefing, he praised the stock market's performance. He hailed the increase in used car sales, something he's mentioned three times now. And even claimed there was no reason the economy wouldn't grow by 20 percent in the third quarter. Eventually, he got back around to the pandemic.


TRUMP: We have a lot of great things happening in terms of the vaccines and therapeutics. I think we'll have a vaccine before the end of the year. I think at the end of a fairly short period of time, you're going to be in very, very good shape all over our country.


WILLIAMS: While there has been a decline in new cases in regions, parts of the Sun Belt especially today even Trump noted his administration is monitoring rising cases in places like Boston, Chicago, other parts of the Midwest. Tonight, the publication's Stat news warns, quote, winter is coming, and that medical experts fear the window of opportunity to get control of the virus before flu season, before something truly Dickensian is rapidly closing.

Another new report raising new concerns about the impact on our children at a time when parents are deciding whether to send their kids back to school. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds at least 97,000 kids tested positive for the virus in just the last two weeks of July. The president was asked about that today.


CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Does that give you any clues about schools reopening for in-person learning?

TRUMP: Because they may have as you would call it a case, it may be a case but it's also a case where there's a tiny -- it's a tiny fraction of death, a tiny fraction. And they get better very quickly. Yes, they have. They may have it for a short period of time but as you know, the seriousness of it in terms of what it leads to is extraordinarily small. Very, very much less than one percent.

LEE: But you still believe that children are essentially (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Yes. I think that for the most part they do very well. I mean, they don't get very sick.


WILLIAMS: So the operative quote there is a tiny fraction of death. The president has spoken often about this so-called immunity in children.


TRUMP: Young people are almost immune to this disease. The younger, the better.

My view is the schools should open. Children are almost -- and I would almost say definitely but almost immune from this disease.

They're much stronger than all of us when it comes to the immune system.

Children just are -- I guess I heard one doctor say virtually, it's their immune from it. They have a strong -- they have a very strong something and they are not affected.


WILLIAMS: Perhaps you recall seeing days ago this photo of students jammed into a hallway between classes. This is the North Paulding High School in Georgia.

Well, over the weekend the school revealed half a dozen students, three staffers now been diagnosed with COVID-19. They closed the building down for two days. Today, Georgia's governor decided against ordering public school systems to impose any kind of a mask mandate for returning students and teachers. Brian Kemp called it a decision for local education officials.

Also, during his White House briefing this evening, the president introduced a new advisor on the pandemic.


TRUMP: This is Scott Atlas, you know that. Scott is a very famous man who's also very highly respected, Stanford, and he's working with us and will be working with us on the coronavirus. And he has many great ideas.


WILLIAMS: None of the actual Task Force doctors were there at the briefing today. But let's tell you about Scott Atlas. He's a fellow at the Stanford University Hoover Institution and a Fox News regular who has warned of the dire consequences of school closings and shutdowns. It's not clear if Atlas is now part of the White House Task Force.

The president also defended his decision to issue one executive order and three memos to try to address the coronavirus crisis and the economic crash in light of the ongoing stalemate in the talks on a new relief bill. He today talked about a prospective executive order, he says he's considering to make insurers cover pre-existing conditions in Americans, even though ObamaCare already offer such protections.


TRUMP: As an executive order, it hasn't been done before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you need to (INAUDIBLE) executive order if it's already a part (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Just a double safety net and just to let people know that the Republicans are totally strongly in favor of pre-existing condition and taking care of people with pre-existing conditions. It's a signal to people. It's a second platform. We have pre-existing conditions. It will be taken care of 100 percent by Republicans and the Republican Party. I think it's a very -- I actually think it's a very important statement.


WILLIAMS: A couple of other things we heard today while praising his administration's efforts to attempt to control the coronavirus by shutting down travel, the president said this.


TRUMP: If we didn't close up our country, we would have had one and a half a two million people already dead. We've called it right now. We don't have to close it. We understand the disease.

The closest thing is in 1917 they say, right, you know, the great pandemic certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people. Probably ended the Second World War, all the soldiers were sick. It was a terrible situation.


WILLIAMS: A couple of things, it's just worth taking a moment to review that was not the death toll. It's the pandemic of 1918 that the president always prefers to call the pandemic of 1917. It took place during the First World War. The Second World War, of course, ended in 1945.

Then it was back to complaining about mail-in voting when he was asked about new intelligence showing Russia is trying to interfere in our November election.


TRUMP: I'll tell you who's meddling in our elections. The Democrats have meddling by wanting and insisting on sending mail-in ballots that -- where there's corruption all over the place.


WILLIAMS: North Carolina will be the first state to start sending out mail-in balance. They'll start out going by -- they'll start sending them out September 4th, exactly 60 days before the election.

Here to react to all that and start off our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize winning White House reporter for the Washington Post, Nancy Cook, White House reporter for Politico, and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon back with us, vice chair of preventative medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine out at Northwestern University.

Well, good evening and welcome to you all. Ashley Parker, we begin with you, something of a procedural question but it's so urgent. Is anyone feeling any pressure inside the White House to deliver actual relief now that we've looked at what's behind the documents he signed at his country club and realized that a lot of it just isn't real?

ASHLEY PARKER, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, one of the questions I heard over the weekend as the president signed that from Republicans was this worry that the president may end up believing his own hype, that believing this headlines and the idea that these executive orders and to be clear as you've pointed out, one order, three memoranda frankly, are not the same as legislation that passes through Congress. And again, the concern is that the president sort of washing his hands and thinks he's done.

That said, there is a recognition inside the White House that what you really need to solve all these problems or to help solve them, frankly, is legislation. And even White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany sort of acknowledged that today saying that the president had done what he believes he can do but anything more fulsome does have to go through Congress.

So, I do think there is a recognition among the president's advisors that something bigger needs to be done. And there's also the sense that what the president did -- you know, these are tangible things and so the people who are getting $600, now they're going to get $400. If they don't get those $400 because their states can't kick in their 25 percent, that is something they will feel. That is something that will have real effects on if they can't make their car payments or their mortgages. And so this isn't again something that can get a derisive nickname or a tweet. And they do understand the need that their relief comes or it doesn't, and people will be making decisions about that before the November elections.

WILLIAMS: Nancy, is it your understanding this is just going to be what the briefings are like? In effect, everything's good, a sunny picture of our nation all evidence to the contrary, and tossing out things like the Democrats are meddling in the election.

NANCY COOK, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. What I have been so struck by reporting on the White House over the past month has been, there has been so much debate about how they need to change the messaging on the coronavirus or the congressional negotiations. They're obsessed with whether or not Trump should do the briefings or not. They're constantly thinking about the optics of it or different ways they could frame it.

But there is really not a lot of thought being given by Trump's top aides. And by that I mean Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner, really the top echelons of the White House as to how to actually do things like move the congressional negotiations along faster. Or, you know, really come up with a national strategy to curb the coronavirus.

And it's such an interesting moment to me that they are so obsessed with the messaging and not really the underlying policy. And I think that we're seeing that reflected in the polls. So many voters are very unhappy with the president's handling of the coronavirus. And also just the state of the economy which was his best-selling point heading into his re-election.

WILLIAMS: And Doctor, let's continue on the theme of all evidence to the contrary. You know, notably, there were no physicians at today's meeting. It's been a long time since we heard from Fauci and Birx from that podium, just the president. So, you and your colleagues who we depend on at this network have become in effect our public health experts.

So with that in mind, with the troubling new evidence in mind from the president's own CDC on children, what is the effect publicly of hearing from our president that children are virtually immune and don't transmit it?

DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think it's quite notable, Brian, that you don't see physicians standing behind that statement. When he first started using the terminology virtually immune, and I recall a reporter challenging him to say who said that. He brushed that off. And that's because medical professionals as well as public health professionals have been learning as we go along.

The early myths that children were less likely to contract the virus came out with the reports from Europe which did rapidly shut down and move children out of circulation once the coronavirus started to spread there. And when that happened, they prioritized testing those individuals with symptoms and testing those individuals who were on the verge of being hospitalized. And that is something that we had to do early on in the pandemic here when we had a shortage of testing.

What has changed for us is the ready availability of testing, the number of settings and scenarios when children have come together such as summer camp settings and even those schools that have opened. And what we have found out to our great dismay and concern is that yes, children cash the coronavirus. Certainly, a small proportion in hospitalized, that proportion being roughly equivalent to that of the number of adults who are being hospitalized. And there are children who died. So to say it's an infinitesimal percentage, that's not reassuring to a family who has lost a child or who has suffered to the stress, the financial strain, and the emotional strain of a child who's been hospitalized with COVID-19.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, Ashley, your piece on the diminishment of the effect of the president's bombast got the attention it deserved over these past several days. And, you know, just today, he returned to his new economic marker of used car sales which is not a thing that's never been an economic indicator that someone buys a Gremlin with 160,000 miles on it. But in a bad economy, he's obviously looking for positives. What measurement do you have -- what measurement will there be of public tune out from his remarks?

PARKER: Well, what we're seeing is, first, his aides are giving him that positive reinforcement he want. They're showing him data that in sort of cooking it in a way that supports his overly rosy outlook on the coronavirus. That said, on the one hand, he's the president of the United States, this isn't to imply that if he says something dangerous or offensive or racist, you will purely be ignored. But people increasingly have a sense that the president says things and they are not always true to say the least. And people have now almost four years and learn to go about their lives and tune him out.

So, some examples just to take coronavirus are his own public health officials have no problem contradicting him and going to the states and speaking to the governors and telling them these were the facts, this is the reality, this is our recommendation. The president will say what he does from the podium but this is what's coming from the scientific and medical community. The governors are very much are making their own decisions based on what is best for the citizens in their states. And you especially see this with the school systems and the school superintendents and the local educators.

The president has made it very clear he wants the schools to reopen, and basically every major school district with the exception of New York has said they're going to start with distance learning. So the president can still send his tweets and make his proclamations, but especially when it comes to issues of public health and safety, you're seeing people doing what they believe is best and most responsible and safest for their loved ones in their communities regardless of what the president says.

WILLIAMS: And Nancy, let's just be direct about this, for these governors in the states who are scared about getting tweeted at, who have pressured schools to open and we all know who they are, is there an acknowledgement inside the White House that this indeed may be the next bomb to go off that we're going to see openings that have to be rescinded, kids that need to be home and quarantine more than we've already seen in the last 48 hours.

COOK: Well, I think that the health officials inside not just the White House but throughout the administration are very aware that this is a ticking time bomb. You know, as the doctor said, there is really not been a lot of evidence yet or just a full scale evidence of what the effects of COVID are on kids because kids have been out of day camp and out of schools largely. So this is going to be a huge experiment.

And I think the political people are treating this much the way they treated testing earlier this spring. You know, it's a problem that they want solved but they're trying to push it out on the states. They're doing the same thing now with schools reopening. They're not offering any more sort of specific guidance to schools. They're not offering any additional money to schools to, you know, promote more social distancing or buy more equipment.

All they're trying to do is Trump is really just trying to bully schools reopen because he links it so closely with the closing -- with the opening up of the economy and his own re-election. And I think that that's why you see the health officials sidelined and not at these briefings because they don't necessarily want to stand behind Trump's remarks that kids are immune from COVID because we just don't know if that's the case yet.

And I think that, you know, he's tweeting out and he's sort of saying this tagline hoping it catches on. But I'm just not sure Americans are willing to buy it at this point or willing to risk their kids' lives or their safety just because the president wants to win the election.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Carnethon, living and working in Chicago, today's weather aside, and we're going to have a word about today's weather in Illinois later on in the broadcast. It's not hard even in early August to imagine the wind coming off the lake and it's turning colder and winter is approaching. What do your thoughts turn to when you think of this approaching winter of 2020?

CARNETHON: Brian, I think the headline in Stat news summed it up that our window of opportunity has closed down to try to get them under control before we have interference from our ordinary cold season and from the flu season. How many times this past spring did people go out and come back feeling a little tired and think oh no, I hope I don't have COVID-19.

Think about how many times that's going to happen during flu season and during the cold season every time somebody has so much as a little sniffle. And the problem is that we didn't get this virus under control when we have the opportunity for people to maximize their time outdoors, when we have the opportunity to actually test out how well wearing masks in crowded spaces could work to prevent the transmission of disease. Instead, we focus so much on reopening that we really ended up sabotaging our ability to reopen.

We're in a situation now where many school districts, particularly in the southern states that have already tried to open up, they're opening up in the setting of surging cases. Under no circumstances would anybody think that it makes sense to open up school system under surging cases. Colleges are facing the same barrier. And right now, we don't know really how well college education can work. And that's in part because we didn't put into place the safeguards to keep the numbers as low as they were in May following out wholesale shut down.

It will be unfortunate if we have to shut down society again. But if that's what we ended up having to do in order to try to regain some sense of control when the flu comes in and when colds come in and people are largely indoors, I think that's what we need to do to stop another five million cases.

WILLIAMS: Three of the very best we have to offer as we start a new week, Ashley Parker, Nancy cook, Dr. Mercedes Carnethon. Our thanks for starting us off.

Coming up for us, another record setter in Florida's fight against the virus. The governor continues to push hard on schools to reopen. We'll hear from the specialist who says the only way out of this, to the doctors' point, six weeks of lockdown and later.

And later, the wait is nearly over. Biden is about ready to name his running mate tonight. And he clues about who she might be. What to expect when it happens as THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on this Monday evening.


WILLIAMS: Florida has shattered its previously weekly -- or its previous weekly record according to the new state data and we quote, some 3,355 people were admitted to Florida hospitals from Sunday, August 2nd, to Monday. Although new cases have started to decline in the state, the state is still averaging about 6,000 new cases a day. So far, Florida's reported over 530,000 cases, 8,000 deaths. Their governor and Trump acolyte Ron DeSantis, taking an increasing hard line on reopening schools especially in the Tampa area.

Our next guest has a stern warning about the months ahead if there are no state by state lockdowns. He writes this, quote, the next six months could make what we have experienced so far seem like just a warm up to a greater catastrophe.

Dr. Michael Osterholm is a professor and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota. Also happens to be co-author of "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs". Doctor, make your case for a unified six-week lockdown and why that would be the answer knowing you don't have sympathetic ears listening in the White House.

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, we have actually two parts to that argument. Number one is the fact that although you look at the number of cases we're seeing right now anywhere in the low 50s to high 40, thousand new cases a day. Once schools reopen particularly higher ed, colleges, universities or high schools, just as we've seen the peak from the March time period of 32,000 drop to 22,000 around Memorial Day. And then, of course, we saw what happened there, it went up to 65,000. Now it's come down a little bit. I can see that the peak in September, October going into November could far exceed the 65,000 cases a day.

So we have a very, very difficult road to hoe. We can -- and we can change that. And why do we know we can change that? That's the second part of this.

If you look at the other countries of the world that also were on fire last March and April but they pursued a lockdown and finish the job, they got the case numbers down to very low levels, less than one case per hundred in thousand population per day. And when they did that, they then could begin to control their release to the population back into everyday life and to keep the numbers low.

We haven't done that. We gave up on our lockdown long before the virus gave up on it. And so, now's our chance to do it one more time, and the argument in our op-ed piece is that both from a health standpoint and actually from an economy standpoint, we'll do much better if in fact, we do that sooner than later.

WILLIAMS: If we keep going the way we're going kind of bumping along having fits and starts, openings, re-closings, what inning does that mean we're in?

OSTERHOLM: Well, as you and I have been kind of narrating the story for months now, you know, I think we're entering in three to four. But I just want to remind the audience, after all of the cases we've seen in the United States, we still have only infected about eight to 10 percent of the U.S. population. And for us to develop we called herd immunity, that concept of enough people being infected develop immunity, is it through the infection or through a vaccine to slow transmission down, we have to get to 50 to 70 percent of the population.

So think about that all the pain, suffering and death and economic disruption for eight to 10 percent. So that's what's ahead of us. And this virus will continue to go after us. We're like would that this forest fire a virus is waiting to burn.

And so unless we lock it down, hold it back, we're going to have to deal with this. The one chance we're going to have to get out of this down the road will be a vaccine. We don't have a guarantee on it, we don't have a timeline for certain on it. Our only chances to get it under control like these other countries of the world have done and I might add as the state of New York has done. Look what -- they've had 10 consecutive weeks of flat, very low numbers of cases, they've had days without deaths. The rest of the country could be so envious to do what New York did because they did show us how to lock it down and then go into the next stages of releasing the population back into the public.

WILLIAMS: Final question, if I asked you to design a super spreader event, would your final design look a lot like Sturgis, South Dakota this past weekend, quarter million bikers, very few wearing masks?

OSTERHOLM: Well, there are two things happening in Sturgis. One is you're right. We have 275,000 people there that really don't seem all that concerned about the virus. A lot of it is outdoors. And just as we saw at the protest, was outdoors tends to have lower risk. But there's a lot of indoor bars and surges.

And so I think we could have a number of super spreader events that are going to occur in Sturgis. And I worry that those bikers will all be heading home. They're all going to be going back to 49 different states. And that's going to be a real challenge.

WILLIAMS: We wish them well not only on the roads, but with their health. Dr. Michael Osterholm, thank you as always, it's always a pleasure --

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: -- to have you on. Coming up for us, the biggest decision of his political career, probably days maybe hours away to people experienced in national politics and getting under Donald Trump skin are standing by to talk about one Joe Biden and his choice.


WILLIAMS: Former Vice President Joe Biden poised to announce his running mate any day now. Any moment now. The New York Times tonight adding to the speculation calling it eminent quote, Mr. Biden's political team has prepared rollout plans for several of the finalists and he is expected to announce his decision as soon as Tuesday though more Democrats expected to come on Wednesday.

Officially there are six women on the shortlist. Many have speculated he will ultimately choose a black woman running mate.

Back with us again tonight. David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager, senior advisor to President Obama also happens to be on the board of directors for the Obama Foundation. His latest book is called "A Citizens Guide to Beating Donald Trump."

Also with us Tim O'Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion back from his role with the Bloomberg presidential campaign and the author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald" further endearing him to one Donald Trump. Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

And David, I'd like to begin with you hop on into the conversation everyone else's in it. Whether or not Joe Biden's choice need be a black woman.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, there's a lot of folks, I think really pressing for that, understandably so big. Joe Biden has to right make the right decision for him. I think less for the campaign trail, Brian, then if he were to win the huge task in front of him to dig us out of this hole.

So, I think the good news is, everyone on the shortlist is qualified to be president. So I don't think we have any fliers here. They're going to cause issues. And I think that would be the only issue with Joe Biden pick somebody that the American people didn't think it would be reading.

So if he does not pick a black woman, he's going to get the question and he's going to have to answer that. But I think at the end of the day, he's gone through this process before he was selected. He's done the job. He understands that this person is going to have enormously weighty responsibilities. So he's going to make the right decision and the person ultimately that he has the most chemistry with and that he has the most trust with.

WILLIAMS: Tim, are we in the news business prepared enough? For the change in the race that's going to come the minute. Biden is thought of as a duo in this race. That's question one. Question two. Do you think there is any truth to whether or not Donald Trump would consider dumping Pence?

TIM O'BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, on the first matter, I mean, of course, it's going to -- I think it's going to add, I think, to both the texture and the importance of this campaign once Biden makes his pick. I, you know, I think to tilt off what David just said, I don't know how much electoral difference it would make, you know, the traditional wisdom is a vice presidential pick, doesn't have that much electoral impact.

But I certainly think it's really important right now, historically, I can't imagine Vice President Biden not picking a woman of color right now. I think it's important historically. We're in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. We have lots of redress, we need to attend to in terms of how grotesque the black experience in this country has been.

And Biden owes a deep debt, I think to Jim Clyburn and South Carolina voters and in particular African American voters in South Carolina, who turned his campaign around. And I think all of that in this moment that we're in right now, in this ethical year, the most important year of the century and one of the most important U.S. history in which racial equity and social justice are part of this. Of course, I think it changes how we look at him and his campaign.

In terms of Trump, you know, I was one of the people that thought he was going to dump Pence at some point earlier in the year. I thought it might have been for Nikki Haley. It's very late in the process right now and I can't imagine that Trump would dump Pence at this point. I just don't see that happening.

WILLIAMS: All right, I'll take it. Our guests have agreed to stay with us. We'll continue our conversation on the other side of a break much to discuss when we come back.


WILLIAMS: We are back to continue our conversation with our two special guests tonight, David Plouffe and Tim O'Brien, both of the hardened professionals in the political and journalists backgrounds.

So, David, I have some battleground polls, any number of which I can show you from any number of states showing Biden up above the margin of average margin of error. Do any of them to you equal a buck got a warm sped, do you believe any of the numbers this far out?

PLOUFFE: Well, you'd better -- you'd rather be up Brian by five or six and down. But you know, if Joe Biden worth 52 or 53, I feel better about them. So you still have a lot of voters who are undecided. You still got soft supporters. We still have our first presidential election and (INAUDIBLE) pandemic.

So there's a lot of uncertainty here. I still expect this race to tighten. I will tell you compared to 2016, Hillary Clinton had a lead in battleground states. It was smaller than Joe Biden's. And it wasn't this large and her number was maybe 44, 45. He is in the high 40s. So you're knocking on the door of the presidency, but you're not there yet.

So, you know, I think that -- but what gives me the most concern is just the execution of this election. People voting for the first time by mail. We've seen registration numbers down in some states. So there's a lot of work to do to actually materialize the support. Joe Biden is enjoying in polls right now in the actual vote, but I'll feel better if he's sitting at 52. And my guess is we won't see that in the entire campaign. So, Democrats are notoriously nervous. They should act accordingly, you know, between now and the election.

WILLIAMS: So Tim O'Brien both conventions are basically Zoom meetings and Donald Trump talk today about this. This second possible venue for his acceptance speech, adding the Gettysburg Battlefield we'll play this talk about it on the other side.


TRUMP: I've been to get his heard numerous times to National Park, so National Historic site, it's incredible. You know, it's the history. It's incredible, actually, to me. It was a very important place and is a very important place in our country. So we're looking at that. The White House would be a lovely place to do it. Also the least expensive place that you could do it would be at the White House. It this is a government expense.


WILILAMS: So Tim if past is any prologue, there is always the chance he'll toss in a modifier that complements the Confederate Army. The New York Times is saying tonight about either of these venues for the speech that boasts would have ethics problems. Talk about that.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, it's the president using federal property to enhance a private endeavor his presidential campaign. I, you know, when he speaks about Gettysburg, specifically, as being historical, it's a national park. I will bet dollars to donuts, Brian, that that Donald Trump could not tell you why Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address there, or even what the substance of the Gettysburg Address was about, you know, the heart of that address was honoring people who perform the highest form public service they gave their lives to protect democracy in the interests of a government by four and of the people.

Donald Trump has never had a moment of interest in public service. He has floated above the miseries of most of the people in this country, like a gilded dirigible and above his own inadequacies as well. And so when he speaks about a place like Gettysburg, when he's someone who's not a student of history, he doesn't read and doesn't really have any interest in furthering some of the values that that site embodies. And it comes off not only as cynical, I think, but as yet another fraying of some of the majesty around the office he inhabits.

WILLIAMS: To our audience if there is not a garage band with the name gilded dirigible in the next 24 hours, you have failed. David Plouffe and Tim O'Brien, you have performed beyond our wildest expectations. Gentlemen, thanks you both.

Coming up for us, the president likes to say children are virtually immune to the coronavirus but the parents of children who have ended up in the ICU would beg to differ, that report when we come right back.


WILLIAMS: As we mentioned over 97,000 children were confirmed positive for coronavirus in just the last two weeks of the month of July. And despite the president insisting children are, quote, almost immune from the virus, and that there's just a tiny fraction of death, as he warmly put it today. He even assured the American people today that children quote, get better very quickly.

The problem is a new CDC report warning children are at risk for severe COVID-19 while the hospitalization rate for kids is much slower than adults. The CDC reports at this way quote, one in three hospitalized children was admitted to an intensive care unit.

There's also new reporting on neurological symptoms that some infected children are experiencing. NBC News correspondent Willem Marx has our report from London tonight.


WILLEM MARX, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 15-year-old Nia Horton (ph) is a typical teenager. But doctors say her fight against COVID-19 has been anything but ordinary.

NIA HORTON (ph), COVID-19 PATIENT: It was really scary. I could hear voices and stuff. It was extremely traumatic.

MARX: The virus in to attack her lungs in early April and she spent two weeks or dated on a ventilator. She recovered but then her brain became inflamed a condition called encephalitis that's visible in these light areas of her MRI scan.

HORTON: The encephalitis for me in my opinion it was worse because it has given me hallucinations and signals just crazy.

MARX: Nia's mother, Justina, says parents should know that COVID-19 can ravage not only their children's bodies, but also their minds.

JUSTINA HORTON (ph), NIA's MOTHER: I don't know which was scarier her being on the ventilator not being able to breathe, or the fact that she came out of it with completely different personality.

MARX: At London's, Evelina Hospital, the doctor treating Nia was pediatric neurologist Ming Lim.

DR. MING LIM, PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGIST, EVELINA CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Imagine not having, you know, the ability to or, or starting to feel it very difficult to breath, losing control of your bodily functions before she was ventilated. And then waking up from it thinking you're well, and then suddenly having a second hit of the brain inflammation.

MARX: He's successfully treated a handful of COVID link cases like this, but he's concerned about the future implications, especially among children.

LIM: The amount of inflammation is phenomenal, roughly how that would not impact the brain. We would struggle to think of, we worry that the long term effect would be In essentially brain growth.

MARX: Since the start of the pandemic, the damage from COVID-19 to the heart and lungs is well documented, but several recent studies have examined its potential threat to the brain to.

Dr. Mike Zandi at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery has helped lead this research effort and adults.

DR. MIKE ZANDI, CONSULTANT NEUROLOGIST, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON HOSPITAL: We certainly have seen some patterns in the brain scans with inflammation that appears new and where we do feel that there is convincing scientific evidence that the patients had coronavirus first and then they had this pattern of inflammation and there was no other reasonable explanation.

MARX: As global coronavirus infection numbers continue rising, several neurologists in the U.K. and U.S. told us that could be a second wave of neurological side effects in children and adults.

DR. ARUN VENKATESAN, NEUROLOGIST, JOHNS HOPKINS ENCEPHALITIS CENTER: I think it's only going to be a matter of time before. We see more and more of these cases. We've certainly seen some and I fear that we are we are just at the beginning.

MARX: Nia still suffers from flashbacks and struggles with her memory. A one two punch from coronavirus. No one saw coming that doctors fear could create a complex painful legacy for yet more young patients. Willem Marx, NBC News, London.


WILLIAMS: For the story right there, coming up for us the rare event today that was both destructive and very much on brand for 2020 thus far.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight over one million Americans in the upper Midwest are without power tonight after one of the largest weather events in recent memory, a storm they call a Derecho. It was a fearsome looking thing on the radar satellite loop.

This storm unleashed the equivalent and power to an inland hurricane. And on that point, listen to the wind from this video from social media. This was earlier today at the thick of it and Belle Plaine, Iowa, east of Des Moines.

That's what a Derecho looks like and sounds like. This one got spooled up in the eastern part of Nebraska then went on a tear. Winds up to 100 miles an hour as it went. That's strong enough to blow out your car windshield and a number of them did. As the storm system was moving east at 75 miles an hour, outrunning cars on the interstate, it tore through Iowa, parts of Wisconsin. It hit Illinois hard moved on to Indiana.

Derecho don't have an eye like a hurricane. The wind doesn't rotate like a tornado tends to be straight line wind but they can spawn tornadoes. The term Derecho has been used in the weather business going back well over a century. It was not in our general vocabulary until the folks at the Weather Channel started trying to popularize it by working it into their coverage as they have with other similarly scary sounding weather events like bombogenesis and polar vortex.

Because there was so much property damage from this thing today. Trees down, vehicles toss, roofs missing, because a million people are without power tonight. It's already being predicted this will go down as one of the most consequential weather events of our crazy year, the last bad Derecho in 2012, left behind a price tag of $3 billion in damage

That's our broadcast as we start a new week on a Monday night with our thanks for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.


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