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Vice President Pence Writes Op-Ed Claiming Success in Combating Coronavirus; Cases and Hospitalizations Due to Coronavirus Continue to Rise in Parts of U.S.; Quaker Oats to Change Name & Image of Aunt Jemima Brand; Soon: Senate Republicans to Unveil Police Reform Bill. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2020 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Decision happening, but that's not enough. That's not true reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's progress. It's the caboose, it's not the engine. But it's on the right track.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. Jim Sciutto is in for John Berman, and it is great to have him here. We begin with the Trump administration trying a new spin on the coronavirus pandemic, trying to spin it as a success. Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, published an op-ed Tuesday that doctors says is riddled with misinformation.

Here are the facts. This morning, 21 states are reporting an increase in cases. Ten of those states are seeing a spike of 50 percent or more, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Folks, just look at the numbers, look at the facts. A senior CDC official tells CNN that the vice president is, quote, cherry picking data to misrepresent the truth. And the American people need facts. But the last White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing was more than seven weeks ago.

But CNN has just learned that the top doctors from that task force have continued meeting regularly and will in fact brief the vice president today. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now with the breaking news. Sanjay, do they plan to confront the vice president with the facts?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that they're definitely going to present real data in terms of what is happening in this country right now with regard to these increasing infection rates in many places around the country. I think it's just extraordinary, right, the last task force meeting,

April 27th, the official one back at the end of April. This doctor's group essentially had to band together as an off shoot. These are the top doctors, including Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Hahn, Dr. Birx, to basically keep the emphasis on the science and the medicine. The Coronavirus Task Force, according to sources I talked to, started to focus on the reopening on the country, the economy, so that this doctor's group had to get together to basically keep the focus on the science and the medicine. They meet two to three times a week and then they are briefing the president, who is the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. And one of those meetings, as you mentioned will take place today.

And these increasing infection rates around the country is going to be the topic of discussion, not decreasing. So this is obviously a very important point, and the fact that this doctor's group has to exist at all, a very important point.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure the vice president is get their message, Sanjay, because he said that cases in Oklahoma have flattened. No, they're still going up. He sees this as a success story. He used the word with the governors, I think he used -- no, in his op-ed, he used the word "celebration." On our screen you see almost 117,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. And I got the impression that you took issue with some of the things that the vice president penned in his op-ed by the 24 tweets that you sent at 11:00 p.m. last night. What had you exercised?

GUPTA: There's a lot that was in that op-ed. Again, we're talking about the vice president, who is the head of the Coronavirus Task Force. There's a lot here. We have made mistakes with handling this pandemic from the very start. I remember having conversations with you on this program earlier on where I'd say, look, projections are 30,000, 40,000 people could die, and I remember you would say that's very sobering. And now, as you mentioned, you look at the right side of the screen, and keep in mind, as you've talked about in other countries they measure their death counts in the hundreds, not the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands.

But let's take look at some of the specific things in the op-ed. The Vice President Biden talked about the fact that the second wave is sort an overblown media-driven panic. The reality is if you look at what that really means in terms of second waves, it's worth pointing out that we're really never out of -- we haven't gotten out of first wave yet. The idea of talking about the second wave is something that may not even be a reality here. We're not sure that we're going to get out of the first wave. We may have a series of spikes.

Take a look at the United States versus Italy, for example. Where are we in terms of the overall infection rates versus what's happened in Italy? Italy gives you a better idea of what a sort of wave would look like. The left is the United States. The right is Italy. We have plateaued a bit here. It's very likely these numbers are just going to go back up. It's sort of shifted where the case counts have been in this country. Primarily in the northeast, before, now in the south and the west, primarily. That isn't improving or creating sort of a wave. That is just actually shifting where case counts are in the country. Italy has had more of a true decline. We never got there in this country.


SCIUTTO: Yes. And if you look at more broadly in Europe, similar, where you have that wave like look there of it coming down.

I want to drill down on another point you made in contradicting the vice president here, and that is on his contention that the only reason cases are going up in effect is because you're testing more. And just as an example, and this is one you cited, look at New York, which for a long time was the center of this. As testing has gone up in New York recently, in fact, cases have gone down. Testing in blue on the left. You can see them rising, cases in right in yellow going down. Explain why the vice president is wrong saying that the cases are only going up because testing is going up.

GUPTA: Yes. First of all, the data just doesn't bear that out. There are states around the country, including Oklahoma, by the way, which is obviously in the news a lot, where the cases have continued to go up significantly. One-fifth of the entire case count in Oklahoma happened over the last week, one-fifth, 20 percent. At the same time, testing rates have actually gone down in that state. So that has nothing to do with testing. And that is the same story in many states around the country. The amount of testing going on does not account for the increase in the number of cases. Also, you look at hospitalizations. Hospitalizations have gone up in many of the cases. That would not be because of increased testing.

This is a counterintuitive point, but I think it's really important. As you increase testing, case counts should go down, not up. That's because you find people who are carrying the virus, you can isolate them, and you can prevent further spread. That's the whole point. It's not simply to just find more people and increase the case counts, as was suggested in that op-ed. It is to actually ultimately decrease the pace at which the infection is spreading.

We are not doing it adequately. Yes, we have increased the amount of testing in this country, some 400,000 or 500,000 tests per day now. According to some of the data, we need to be closer to 5 million, so 10-fold increase in testing.

And I can just tell you personally because I'm still talking to my colleagues at the hospital, working at the hospital, it is still very hard to get the testing. You fill out these questionnaires. You may even say you have symptoms. You may say a doctor referred you for some reason, and you may still have a very hard time getting a test. That is not the way it should be five-and-a-half months into this. We don't have a vaccine, we don't have a medication. We have seen how testing can actually be really beneficial in other countries. Five-and-a-half months into this, we are still not doing that. And instead, we are hearing a discussion about the media is overblowing the panic -- 120,000 people nearly have died. How are we overblowing the panic here and still not doing the fundamental things that need to be done? CAMEROTA: Sanjay, you also took issue with the vice president

praising President Trump's modeling of social distancing. The vice president said President Trump rallied the American people to embrace social distancing guidelines. What is he talking about? We see them stand right next to each other at the signing ceremonies.

GUPTA: It boggles the mind. You should hear some of the discussions I get in the medical communities about this. The most basic precautions in the midst of a pandemic, a virus that is circumnavigating the globe, we will look back on this time, I think, with tremendous shame from a medical standpoint.

We know, again, we don't have a vaccine, we are still working on therapeutics. The fact that we aren't taking basic precautions to try and slow the spread is mind numbing. And I will tell you, we've got increasing evidence about the effectiveness of mask. The question often comes up, if I'm standing next to you, I have the virus, you're within six feet of me, what is the likelihood I'm going to transmit the virus to? The study out of "The Lancet" said it's around 17.4 percent. There's going to be a lot of studies on this, but this is what that study showed. So that's the likelihood. It's not inevitable that I will spread it to you, but it's pretty high.

What about when I wear a mask, then what is the likelihood of spread? And you find that the number actually drops to about 3.1 percent. So you get a six-fold decrease in transmission by simply wearing a mask. If you're doing things outside, it decreases by another 18-fold. My point is that we have lots of data in terms what can actually help and work in terms of decreasing transmission. And at the White House, among Coronavirus Task Force meetings and things like that, some of those basic precautions are still not being taken.

SCIUTTO: One other point you made, Sanjay, is that states that have been reopening aggressively are not meeting the White House's own standards to do so, which is to show the decline in cases I believe over 14 days. So how can the vice president claim everything is hunky- dory, right, when those areas are not even meeting what the White House put out as guidance necessary before you reopen?


GUPTA: It makes no sense. These were their own guidelines, 14-day decrease trend in terms of the overall numbers of coronavirus cases, 14-day downward trend in terms of influenza-like illness, so symptoms that are associated with coronavirus, and having adequate testing in place to quickly identify people who are newly infected.

I don't know that any state really meets that requirement right now. So this was their own data, this was their own criteria by which states could open, and they got thrown out the window, it seems, almost immediately. And we're starting to pay the price. The reality is that the numbers that we see on the map as they have gone up in many places around the country are going to continue to get worse.

And I hate talking about this stuff because when we looked at the IMHE models early on, Jim, and I remember thinking, by August 4th they say 60,000 people would die. That was the original projection. And I remember think, boy, when we do math and we crunch the numbers, it looks like it's going to be a lot worse than that. We're almost double and it's the middle of June. Now they're saying 200,000 people by October 1st, and sadly, I think it's going to be worse than that. As high as the numbers are, we're not doing anything to try and really mitigate the spread adequately in so many places around the country. I know that there's places in green right now. But I'm worried about the entire country because of what is not taking place right now.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, we hear your frustration. We really appreciate you bringing us the facts this morning. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, Quaker Oats announcing a major change with the Aunt Jemima brand. They're just announcing it. We have the breaking details, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This just in. One of the ripple effects of social justice movements playing out across the country now hitting the corporate world. Quaker Oats announcing plans to retire Aunt Jemima. That line of pancake mix and syrup that has been around for something like 120 years, maybe more. It is now seen as the face of the mounting criticism over racial equality.

Its parent company PepsiCo acknowledging the name which has been around for 130 years, there it is, and the image are based on a stereotype. The company has not said what the new brand will like or be called, but consumers can expect to see the change later this year.

The news comes about an hour before Senate Republicans reveal their police reform bill.

Joining us right now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers.

Bakari, Aunt Jemima is retiring. Your thoughts?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's about time. I know, it's 131 years late, but I'm actually glad that people are cognizant about what's going on around them. The social change, the cultural change that we're seeing, let's just hope it permeates the halls of Congress. Let's hope it permeates state legislators and city councils around the country, because the symbolism is fine. I like the removal of the Confederate flags. I like the removal of Confederate statues. I like the removal of Aunt Jemima, but we have to have statutory changes in order to have true, systemic change in the country and root out a lot of the institutional racism we want to see.

The last thing I'll say, Alisyn, is with Aunt Jemima gone, here's to you, Uncle Ben's. So, that's what we're looking at next. I mean, these racist -- these racist and racial caricatures must go. So Uncle Ben's I believe is probably next.

CAMEROTA: Interesting.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: John Harwood, you're seeing here as we have seen on over social justice issues the private sector leading the public sector, right? Getting ahead of it, for instance on guns, right? You had the stores such as Walmart stop selling big magazines when there was no national action.

What is happening in terms of legislation now? Because you have major differences between the Republican plan and the Democratic plan. Is there room where they will meet? Is there overlap here?

Because the key difference, right, is incentivizing change like banning chokeholds and the Republican plan in the Senate as opposed to requiring change, and that's a big deal.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's subject matter overlap and that generates the space for conversation.

And if you listen to Tim Scott, who was on our air last night, he seems genuinely interested in having that conversation with Democrats. The question is how much of the Republican caucus is going to go along with him?

So, in Tim Scott's bill, he has reviews of the practice of no-knock warrants, he does not outlaw them. He uses the carrot and stick of federal funds and the denial of federal funds as a lever to try to end the use of chokeholds. The House bill would ban those chokeholds.

One thing that Tim Scott does not touch is the issue of liability -- legal liability for police officers. The qualified immunity that they now enjoy and one of the interesting pieces and back of forth we've seen is Tim Scott on behalf of the Republicans have said, well, that's a nonstarter in our caucus and we shouldn't talk about it, which is a way of saying, well, since we're against it, we can't have it in our bill.

Nancy Pelosi has done the same thing on the issue of chokeholds by saying let's be reasonable. You've got to ban chokeholds in a serious bill.

So they're sort of facing off against one another.

The question is, is there going to be space to make a deal? You can see the Democrats saying, we can get a lot more done next year if we win the election, if we -- both the Senate and for the president, than if we cut a deal with President Trump now and that's going to conflict with the idea of getting some action immediately.

CAMEROTA: Well, Bakari, what do you think? Is there enough common ground in these two plans between Democrats and Republicans that you think they will be able to do something very soon?

SELLERS: I think they will be able to do something mainly and I get criticized for this often because I do have faith in Tim Scott. You know, most people on social media, et cetera, you know, I served with Tim Scott in the state legislature and actually having somebody in the Republican who you want to work with is now frowned upon for some ridiculous reason.


I disagree wholeheartedly with Tim Scott to John's point about the qualified immunity. That is something that is necessary. That is a great deterrent. That is something that we need to do, eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in civil cases so they could no longer hide behind the shield.

I wish the Republican Party would be willing to do comprehensive change. But to kind of bring this full circle, we are seeing culture move faster than a political process and unfortunately that always happens. But as Dr. King talked about, we have to have the fierce urgency of now, because as we, at the rate we're going next weekend, we'll be talking another police shooting. I hope I'm wrong, but at the rate we're going, that's probably true.

SCIUTTO: John Harwood, where is the president here, because his press moment yesterday -- not a conference where he announced this executive order, he said a lot of things. Do you see him as changing his message at all in response to the enormous public show of dissatisfaction, of anger and outrage here, or is he sticking on his please the base strategy?

HARWOOD: Mainly the latter. He is making minimal accommodations to the breadth of public discontent on this. He continues to repeat, as he did yesterday, he's a law and order president, and his conception of what that means is a sort of get tough, don't permit -- don't permit anything to get out of control.

And so, he -- it's clear that Republicans in general and the White House in particular thinks they have to have some response to these protests and so you had kind of a de minimis response in that executive order. It's not nothing, but it's not a lot. It's less than what Tim Scott is proposing in the Senate.

It would try to lead police departments along for enhanced data collection for certification and standards and discouraging use of chokeholds except where it's allowed by law, unless the police officer thinks his life is in danger. So, there's some discouragement there, but it's not nearly as proscriptive as Tim Scott's approach is.

I think the administration's idea is that if the Congress can't do anything as a back stop, they will at least have done something and then he can get back to his original message.

CAEMEROTA: Bakari, I know that this has been a long time coming. I know that from where you sit, it's long overdue. But have you been struck by how in the past three weeks from legislatures, from state legislatures, to Capitol Hill, to the White House, to NASCAR, to other sports, to now Aunt Jemima -- I mean, the cultural wave, the legal wave, it does seem to be dovetailing. What are your thoughts as you watch all of that? SELLERS: So, yeah, I'm excited, Alisyn. I mean, this warms my spirit.

You have two sets of emotions here. I mean, watching young people -- I mean, the reason that Aunt Jemima is pulling this down is because they went viral over the last 24 hours because of a young woman on TikTok, right? So, this started from social video who reminded people the symbolism of Aunt Jemima.

Watching athletes from Oklahoma State, watching Bubba Wallace, watching NBA players, I mean, watching Trevor Lawrence and Taylor Swift and et cetera, I'm always go back and give Taylor Swift props, watching them -- watching them raise their voices to speak out against injustice is just -- I mean, this is what this country was built upon.

But let me remind you and let me be clear to both you and Jim. The reason that we're here, the reason we got to the Federal Housing Act in 1968, the reason we got to the Civil Rights Act and the reason that the Confederate flag came down has always been because of black blood that's flown through the streets of this country.

And the reason we're here is because of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. And we, one day, will have this level of progress in this country that does not require black folk dying in the streets.

And so, while I'm excited I'm sober in realizing how we got here.

SCIUTTO: It's a good reminder, Bakari. We're only three weeks removed from watching a man die on video over 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

It's good to have you on. Your thoughts, Bakari. Sean Harwood as well.

SELLERS: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So how will police departments put these reforms into action? A police chief who testified about his own experience will join -- will join us next.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I wouldn't like to live in a country that I'd be afraid to be stopped. So hopefully we can all understand that problem and fix it, but it is a problem. Every black man in America -- virtually every black man in America feels like if they get stopped by the cop. It's a traumatic experience.


CAMEROTA: That was Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, holding the big hearing on police reform.

Our next guest testified that law enforcement must do more to purge bad cops from the ranks. How can police departments do that? Well, joining us is Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Chief, thank you so much for being here.

You testified yesterday in front of that Senate Judiciary Committee. So what was your message?

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: I think that the message from the main street chiefs (ph) and myself personally is that we have to do a lot more. Our community across this nation, all colors and faiths and social standings want more done in terms of police accountability.

And that starts with the national registry where we can track sustained compliance and criminal misconduct by police officers, so no one can slip through the cracks and go to one agency to another, because we have 18,000 police departments in this country.

CAMEROTA: So, is that the one thing -- if you -- if you had a magic wand.