Georgia's primary election 'catastrophe,' a surge in COVID-19 cases and George Floyd's legacy

Joe Biden called for "racial justice" during a taped speech played at Floyd's funeral on Tuesday.
Image: Steven Posey
Voters in Georgia reported wait times of over four hours on Tuesday.John Bazemore / AP

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Georgia's flawed primary election, mourners bid a final farewell to George Floyd, and a surge in the number of coronavirus cases nationwide.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.


Georgia election 'catastrophe' in largely minority areas sparks investigation

Hours-long waits, problems with new voting machines and a lack of available ballots plagued primary voters in majority-minority counties in Georgia on Tuesday— conditions the secretary of state called "unacceptable" and vowed to investigate.

Democrats and election watchers said voting issues in a state that has been plagued for years by similar problems, along with allegations of racial bias, didn't bode well for the November presidential election, when Georgia could be in play.

In parts of Atlanta, lines snaked around the block and some people reported waiting over four hours to vote. Lengthy waits were reported in other parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights group, called the election "a catastrophe."

Basketball great LeBron James weighed in on Twitter.

"Everyone talking about 'how do we fix this?' They say 'go out and vote?' What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?" he tweeted.


A final farewell and a vow to continue the quest for justice

Mourners vowing to continue in the fight for racial justice packed a Houston church Tuesday and paid tribute to George Floyd, whose death while in police custody touched off worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Capping a three-state, nearly week-long memorial, Floyd's loved ones said final goodbyes at The Fountain of Praise church.

"We may weep, we may mourn, but we will find hope," Fountain of Praise pastor Mia K. Wright told mourners.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, said that Floyd's death has finally sparked an American outcry that can bring on real change.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden offered his condolences during a taped address played at the funeral service and said that Floyd's death should bring a moment for action to address systemic racism.

"Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America," an emotional Biden said in the video.

Here are some other developments:


'The surge numbers are real': Trump blames testing for COVID-19 spikes. Experts fault reopening.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed testing as the reason for documented spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases across the U.S. — but data and public health experts attribute the surge to the easing of lockdown restrictions just weeks ago.

"By the way, when you do more testing, you have more cases. We have more cases than anybody because we do more testing than anybody. It's pretty simple," Trump said Friday in the White House Rose Garden.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in 21 states. There is some indication that expanded testing is catching more cases, but public health experts say that in reality, the surges are due to states' reopening and people relaxing social distancing protocols.

"The surge numbers are real," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, who is a public health analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Amid some confusion, a World Health Organization expert clarified Tuesday that the coronavirus can be spread by people who show no symptoms.

The clarification came after a WHO expert said on Monday that asymptomatic spread was "very rare."

See our coronavirus live blog for the latest developments.


Trump tweets 'antifa' conspiracy theory about 75-year-old Buffalo protester

Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory on Tuesday about a Buffalo man injured by police that has circulated around fringe, far-right online media in recent days, adding to efforts from the president and other conservatives to cast protesters as part of a shadowy antifa movement.

Trump suggested that 75-year-old Martin Gugino, who is in serious but stable condition in a Buffalo hospital after being pushed by two police officers at a protest, may be an “ANTIFA provocateur” who was “scanning” police equipment when he was pushed.

Trump’s claims appeared to have been ripped from a conspiracy theory that aired Tuesday morning on One America News Network, a far-right cable news channel. The theory was originally posted to an anonymous conservative blog.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that there was no factual basis for the tweet and that Trump should apologize to Gugino who is still recovering from the incident.

"How reckless. How irresponsible. How mean," Cuomo said. "And from the president of the United States."

Republican senators were feeling less verbose and mostly dodged questions about Trump's conspiracy tweet on Tuesday.

Some said they hadn't read it. Others said they don't want to know about it. Yet others said they have a policy of not discussing what the president says on Twitter.

"I haven’t read the damn thing. I don’t want to hear it," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill when asked about it.


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Quote of the day

"The man has instigated and inspired a social movement that lived up to his desire to touch the world. It wasn't the way he wanted or thought, but few of us determine how or where our lives will make an impact."

Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University, on George Floyd's legacy.


One fun thing

The do’s and don’ts of mask-wearing, books to help kids understand race in America and a drive-thru safari.

It's been a stressful few months for us all, NBC News' Lester Holt and his team of reporters help make sense of it all on a show you can actually watch with your children: Nightly News: Kids Edition.

Check it out.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra