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U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000 As Concerns Over Spread Grow; Trump Threatens To Pull GOP Convention From Charlotte; Alabama Beachgoers On Not Wearing Masks, Social Distancing. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 26, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We want to welcome our Viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And this morning, a notable milestone in the fight against coronavirus, the original hotspot on the east coast, New Rochelle, New York, begins a phased reopening today after more than two months of stay-at-home orders.

Here's what the entire country looks like at this moment. 17 states are seeing an increase in new cases. You can see that on your screen in orange and red. And then there are some states that are holding steady, 13 of them. And then you see 20 states that are in green, that are experiencing a decline.

It will be weeks until we know whether the new relaxed restrictions will cause cases to spike. But health officials in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, are now calling on everyone who attended this packed pool party in the Ozarks to self-quarantine.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: We have an important update on the impact of coronavirus on children. More than half of all states are now investigating cases of that pediatric inflammatory syndrome.

At the moment, we know of only 350 cases, which is a tiny fraction of the total cases of the virus in the United States, but this development could have a big impact on the thinking about reopening camps and especially schools.

CAMEROTA: And joining us now, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory. Great to see both of you.

Okay, Sanjay, we're just getting new information in from you that I want to alert everybody to. There's been a cluster outbreak in Georgia, and does it involve young people?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does. This seems to be related to a high school graduation party some time ago. There was a drive-by graduation. This was at a private high school, which sounds like at the time of the drive-by graduation, protocols were followed. People were keeping physical distance, people were wearing masks, people were mostly staying inside their cars.

What seems to have happened afterwards though, there were graduation parties. We're not sure how many of them, where people got together at private residences and then people actually dispersed into other places, going to other parties, going to other locations, things like that.

So the numbers are still -- we're still track tracking down, but it looks like over 20 young people and some of their parents have now tested positive for this virus. And they're now in the process of contact tracing, trying to figure out who else to test, and who needs to be quarantined.

There's also now a 17-year-old who has died in Georgia. We're not sure if it's related to that same cluster or not, but that would be one of the youngest, I think the youngest person to die in Georgia.

So this is obviously of concern. I mean, these sorts of get-togethers, especially near the end of the year, I think most people are doing a good job, from what we're hearing and seeing. We have a lot of people at the hospitals that are sort of monitoring this, but you do get these clusters, these outbreaks that they're going to have to watch.

BERMAN: Well, it's what can happen when crowds get together. And, David, we saw crowds over the Memorial Day weekend. We saw lots of them.

And in some cases, like in the Ozarks, we saw crowds where people clearly were not social distancing, clearly not respecting whatever guidelines were put in place. And Alisyn noted, this is outside, not inside.

But, look, I mean, the people are all over each other there. You can't slather sunscreen on someone's back without violating social distancing rules. Not even you can, David Gregory.

But, look, I mean, seriously, I do think this speaks to what is now happening in the country. Crowds are starting to gather. People are starting to go out and maybe we will see the consequences.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And, I mean, Sanjay knows so well. I mean, There is such an urge now, when the weather gets warmer, people just want to get out. You know, in our area here in Washington, D.C., there's areas to go hiking, you know, on the borders of Virginia and Maryland. And I was out on my bike yesterday, and it was a real crush of people in a pretty small area, not all of whom were wearing masks.

So, yes, you have that concentration of people, even when it's outside. Something like Lake of the Ozarks is just absurd. I mean, I don't know how anybody looks at that and thinks it's not a huge risk. But I do think it speaks to this desire to keep pushing and keep pushing the boundaries and get back to normal.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, can you explain the distinction that the WHO was trying to make yesterday about, if we see a second wave, they were saying, it could be a second peak.


And so what would make the difference and what is the difference?

GUPTA: Yes. And when you think about the waves, I think the way most people have been sort of thinking about it is you're going to have a wave and there's going to be a seasonality to it, so we're going to get a lull in the summer, and then in the fall, you're going to get a second wave. That's how I think people have been envisioning this.

I think what Mike Ryan at the WHO is saying, if you start to look at the data coming in from the United States and, frankly, lots of countries around the world, there's this question now within the first wave, might there be another peak? So could we sort of have a late February, early March sort of peak again, as we saw in this country, but come much sooner, like some time over the next several weeks?

I think people -- you know, this is the discussion, Alisyn, right? We are reopening. We are reopening at a time when the numbers are frankly worse than they were when we first decided to shut down. When we went into the pause mode, there were some 80 people who had died and 4,500 people who had been infected. And now you look at the right-hand side of your screen and you see the numbers, close to a hundred thousand have died.

The virus is the same. If we start to reopen, will we see a second peak and could that peak be significant? I think that's what the World Health Organization is cautioning. They've been cautioning in some way, shape or form this for some time now. But I think now the indicators are a little bit more worrisome.

BERMAN: So, David, an interesting political development overnight. We saw yesterday President Trump and the first lady go to a Memorial Day remembrance. They were not wearing masks. We saw former Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden going to Memorial Day observances wearing a mask.

Brit Hume, who you know well, at Fox T.V., tweeted a picture of Joe Biden yesterday, that says, this might help explain why Trump doesn't like to wear a mask in public. The president re-tweeted it. And now, the medicine of this is clear. The CDC recommends that everyone wears masks.

But I'm just so confused that why the president and Brit Hume thinks this is smart politics. 64 percent of Americans in the Quinnipiac poll said they favor requirements that everyone wear a mask in public.

So the president is re-tweeting a picture of something recommended by the CDC that a vast majority of people support. It's wildly popular with voters. So who's owning whom here?

GREGORY: Well, I don't know. I mean, I think -- I certainly believe the polling that most people want to wear it. I see that in my own life, most people are wearing it when they are outside. But I think there's no question that the president sees this as a political fault line, whether you wear the mask or you don't, does it make you look weak, as he said to the governor of North Carolina over this convention issue, which we may get to, that he's in shutdown mode, accusing the Democrat of being in shutdown mode.

That's very much the mentality, when the president talked about opening houses of worship, he's speaking to primarily a religious political base there to try to push for reopening. So I think it's -- there's no question that public leaders demonstrating wearing of the mask as prudence, as doing your bit is very important.

But there's also Dr. Fauci's advice. Dr. Fauci doesn't wear a mask when he goes running. He says, only do it when you can't social distance. So there's an argument to explain that, as well.

CAMEROTA: See, David, I feel like what Brit Hume is doing is he's trying to call back the memory of Mike Dukakis in the tank and he's trying to suggest that this is an iconic image, somehow, of Joe Biden, that this is what President Trump wants to avoid.

But it's just such a different situation. I mean, to John's point, people may like that image of Joe Biden.

GREGORY: Yes, but I -- I mean, I don't think it's as important what Brit Hume is trying to do. But I think that there's no question that this is -- you're either in shutdown mode or you're ready to reopen the country. You're either weak or you're strong. That is the absurd dichotomy that is presented about wearing a mask.

But, look, we've had this conversation for the past few months. It was very strange in America to be wearing a mask. That is not something that Americans have done typically as opposed to other countries, who have faced public health crises. I think we have switched on all of that and it makes perfect sense, and most people that I encounter do that.

And the notion that it's somehow it's a litmus test, my big fear is that somehow this becomes a partisan divide. It makes no sense. I mean, I think we have to recognize the prudence of good health and also recognize the fact that people have real needs to get out and reopen and to get back to work to provide for their family. This cannot be such a stark divide.

BERMAN: Yes, 40 percent of Republicans say they support wearing masks. So that's actually not that bad of an issue if you're Joe Biden. If you can get 40 percent of Republicans on something, he'd lean into that.

Sanjay, the kids and the inflammatory syndrome that we've seen, more than half the states now in the United States are investigating cases of this.


There're only 350 cases we know about. I don't want to give people the sense that this is a giant number, but it's a number that has people concerned and has states looking into it. What's the takeaway here? GUPTA: Yes. There's a couple of things that have really struck me. One is that I first saw an alert go out about this in the U.K. a few weeks ago, had not heard about it in Asia, China, Japan, the Asian countries. And that was surprising. I talk to those sources all the time. They didn't really have a heads up on this.

Kawasaki syndrome, which is something that people may have now heard of, another type of inflammatory syndrome, is actually more common in Asia, but they're not seeing this MISC, this multisystem inflammatory syndrome over there

So it does appear to be something that is more affecting this part of the world. Is there some sort of genetic predisposition? We're not sure.

It's also the symptoms. Let me just show you the symptoms that people typically have, as you mention, John, some 26 states now are on the lookout for this, still very small number of kids with this overall, but fever and then that second one, abdominal pain and vomiting.

I talked to doctors and patients who have dealt with this now around the country. Those are pretty big. You know, those are unusual. You don't typically get abdominal pain with a respiratory virus. So that is something parents, clinicians, people should be on the lookout for, in addition to the other things, including the rash on the skin, which can be very characteristic.

So, you know, it is still rare, thankfully, but I think it's going to be an important thing that people are going to have to pay attention to, first, that, obviously, these kids are getting sick. And what does that mean for schools going forward? We know that kids can transmit this virus even if they're not sick. So we're collecting new information all the time. This is going to be part of it.

BERMAN: All right. Sanjay, David Gregory, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

President Trump overnight threatening move the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if the governor there doesn't allow the event to operate at full capacity. We'll talk with a Charlotte City councilman, next.



CAMEROTA: New questions about the future of this summer's political conventions. President Trump has threatened to move the Republican convention out of North Carolina unless the Democratic governor there allows that event to operate at full capacity. The president's threat comes as the number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina continues to rise.

Joining us now is Charlotte City Councilman Larkin Egleston. He was the deciding vote to bring the GOP convention to Charlotte. Councilman, great to have you. You probably thought that vote was a no-brainer back then when you made it, but now all of this controversy. And so what do you think about President Trump's threat to cancel the convention for North Carolina?

COUNCILMAN LARKEN EGLESTON (D-CHARLOTTE, NC): I'm not sure it was ever a no-brainer in a lot of people's minds, but I think right now, what is a no-brainer is that nobody can predict what three months from now looks like. And I don't think either that anybody believes we can expect to have the Republican National Convention, or for that matter, the Democratic National Convention in exactly the way that we anticipated we would a year-and-a-half, two years ago.

CAMEROTA: Well, here is the problem. You're right. There is no way, at the end of May, to know what the country is going to look like in mid-August. You're right. And yet, the president is demanding an answer today, from North Carolina.

I'll just read you a portion of his latest tweet. He says, they must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find another Republican National Convention site.

So, do you think that the governor can decide today or this week?

EGLESTON: No, not with any accuracy, knowing what sort of crowd we'll be able to accommodate. Mar-a-Lago might be willing to host the convention that has no safety precautions in place, but Charlotte, North Carolina. That doesn't there can't be some sort of an in-person convention. We would undoubtedly have to be scaled down and made at least partially virtual or remote, in the same way that the Democrats have talked about they're going to have to do in Milwaukee.

So I think people want to see and hear Republican leadership acknowledge that those changes are going to be necessary the way that Democrats have. I was recently elected as a delegate for Joe Biden. I would hope that would mean that I would get to go to Milwaukee and be with a lot of my Democratic friends from all over the country. I know that it might not mean that. Or it might mean that if I am able to go, it will be significantly scaled back from what it would have been or what it was four years ago in Philadelphia.

So there's no way for the governor at this point to say, you can have an arena full of people or that Charlotte can have 50,000 people coming in town for any event. And, frankly, I think the only thing you could say definitively is that that you wouldn't be responsible three months from now. So if we're going to host this convention, it's going to have to look very different than we thought it was going to and the president should acknowledge that.

CAMEROTA: Well, what is the thinking in North Carolina as to whether or not the president is going to follow through on this threat to pull the convention out of North Carolina?

EGLESTON: The only thing more unpredictable than this virus, I think, is what the president thinks or will do. And so I don't know. I mean, I think that it would be really difficult to find a new host city that could pull this together on such short notice. So I don't know how realistic that is.

He's free to look. But, again, if it's going to be here in Charlotte, public health and safety is going to be at the forefront of the decision-making process and I think he needs to get onboard with that.

CAMEROTA: What will the financial fallout to Charlotte be if the president decides to pull the convention?

EGLESTON: It would be significant. And I don't downplay that at all. There's a lot of small businesses many our community and in communities all across the country that have been hurting over the last two months. And this is a shot in the arm that a lot of them were hoping for and are still hoping for.

So that certainly has to be taken into account, but that cannot override public health and safety when it comes to decision-making.


CAMEROTA: You said that my assumption that it was a no-brainer of a vote was wrong. Do you regret your vote today?

EGLESTON: I don't necessarily believe that you can regret something because of information that you could have not possibly had when you took the vote. So I won't say that I regret it. But what I'm going to make sure of is that we don't regret the decisions that we make now with all the information that we have on hand.

So I don't want to look back and say, we could have done more to protect the citizens of not only Charlotte, but of all the communities that will be sending delegates and media and everyone else to come to the convention. When they go back home, we don't want them taking back with them this virus.

So we -- you know, like I said, I don't want to regret something from two years ago, but more important they don't want to regret the decisions that we make now.

CAMEROTA: I hear you. But I mean, it does sound like you -- if you had all the information then, that you have now, that you might have voted differently.

EGLESTON: That's a bit too theoretical a game for me to play.

CAMEROTA: The president has suggest, maybe it doesn't have to happen in as huge a venue as planned. Maybe it can happen in a big ballroom. Is there any sort of brainstorming going on in North Carolina about where this could possibly be pulled off?

EGLESTON: Well, I'm not the state nor county health director who are the experts that we'll rely on for making those sort of decisions, but you would certainly have got to think that a scaled back version of something in terms of with the number of people or something that could potentially be held outside, which when he had the DNC in 2012, there were actually plans to have one of the large nights at our football stadium outdoors. And so there are a lot of option if he is willing to concede, like the Democrats have, that health precautions and measures have to be taken for something like this to occur in any form or fashion.

CAMEROTA: I mean, at the moment, the rules in North Carolina are no mass gatherings more than ten people. So, clearly, something is going to have to change by August or the thinking is.

Councilman Larken Egleston, thanks very much for telling us your thinking on all of this today.

EGLESTON: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: President Trump refuses to wear a mask in public and now it seems others are actually following his example.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he's not wearing a mask, I'm not going to wearing a mask. If he's not worried, I'm not worried.

REPORTER: The president?



CAMEROTA: Well, there you go, the president's words do matter. Is it affecting the spike we're seeing in some states?



BERMAN: This morning, Alabama is just about fully reopened, even though cases of coronavirus there are on the rise, up at least 50 percent since last week. Alabama's governor has announced that summer camps, movie theaters and casinos can resume operations, but not everyone is onboard.

Here is Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coronavirus cases in Alabama are going the wrong way. They are trending up. But the state is now wide open for business.

Social distancing is the state's rule, but that effort has often been an exercise in futility at restaurants and bars in the beach towns of Alabama this Memorial Day weekend as people come back to party.

At this restaurant and bar in Gulf Shores, Alabama, many wonder why it took this long to open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just here just to have fun and meet everybody and just be cool, you know?

TUCHMAN: Across the street, the beach is jammed. Groups are supposed to be six feet away from each other. Police work to enforce that. The groups are also ordered to only consist of people who live in the same household. There is no active effort to enforce that.

Bailey Karr is 21. She just graduated from college.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, everybody has got to go somehow, you know what I mean?

TUCHMAN: You mean die?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but in a way -- I mean, I don't want to die, but, I mean, if that's what God has in store for my life, then that's okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family has the same mindset as me. And we kind of just agreed that if we get it, we get it. We're going to handle it as a family and just get over it, because that's what a family does.

TUCHMAN: When it comes to coronavirus, medical experts will tell you, they're very concerned about the immediate future here in Alabama. On this beach though, your eyes and ears will tell you something much different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like the flu, right?

TUCHMAN: Well, it's not just like the flu, it's far more contagious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I know, but people die from the flu also.

TUCHMAN: They do die from the flu.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, to me, that's just the way I look at it.

TUCHMAN: Do you have any concerns about being at the beach with so many people with your children?


TUCHMAN: How come you're not worried at all that someone could be sick and walk by and get you sick?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because if there's enough wind and air, then it's going to clear it all out of here.

TUCHMAN: The wind and the air don't clear it away. There's no proof of anything like that. There's win and air everywhere in this world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, no, I'm not worried about it at all.

TUCHMAN: And then there is the issue of masks. We saw a grand total of zero being worn on the beach.

Do you ever wear a mask? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. My wife and kids do. I don't.

TUCHMAN: How come you don't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just feel comfortable that I'm going to be okay.

TUCHMAN: But the mask isn't to keep you okay, it's to keep your wife and kids okay, to protect them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get it. I get it. The survival rate is so high, I think --

TUCHMAN: You're not worried about them getting sick, because they're going to live?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all going to get sick with something, eventually.

TUCHMAN: President Trump is part of this conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, if he's not wearing a mask, I'm not wearing a mask. If he's not worried, I'm not worried.

TUCHMAN: The president?


TUCHMAN: Speaking of masks, Alabama has mandated them for restaurant and bar workers. Some restaurants have them. But others where we arrived unannounced and shot cell phone video, employees were not wearing masks. The manager here telling us after our visit, he has now given masks to his employees with instructions to wear them.

At this other restaurant bar where we also saw no employees wearing masks, the manager told us they will continue not wearing them, because she wants it that way, despite it violating the state order.

Traffic very heavy in Alabama's beach towns, all nearby hotels sold out as the holiday weekend began. Alabama is back in business, COVID surge or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it's my time to go, it's just my time to go, I guess.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Gulf Shores, Alabama.



CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Gary for that.

All right, I'm sure by now, many of you are wishing, along with John Berman, that you could go to a hair salon.