Return to Transcripts main page


8 States See Highest Average Yet of New Daily Cases; Florida Reporting nearly 4,000 New Coronavirus Cases; Arizona Reports Record Increase in Cases as Hospitalizations Rise; Tulsa Health Director Recommends Trump Rally be Postponed, Warns Attendees "Face Increased Risk" of COVID Infection; Trump Warns Potential Protesters Day Before Tulsa Rally; Facebook Takes Down Trump Campaign Ad Displaying Nazi Symbol; Top State Department Official Resigns over Trump's Response to Racial Injustice, Unrest. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 11:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The marches today mark that history but also highlight the here and now, the debate over policing and race and demand for justice for Rayshard Brooks and so many others.

Lawyers for the former Atlanta police officer who pulled the trigger in the Brooks shooting one week ago, due in court next hour. Garrett Rolfe faces felony murder charges for shooting Brooks in the back after a mostly clam encounter at Wendy's. That encounter escalating when Rolfe and another officer tried to execute an arrest, and Brooks tried to flee.

The president has already picked the side of the police in this case. His checkered portfolio on questions of race has some new entries today. Facebook took down a Trump campaign ad with a symbol that matches a Nazi concentration camp uniform.

And a resignation from a black woman from the State Department leadership because she says her conscience will not allow her to serve this president.

And there's important coronavirus news this day. The president prefers you forgot or ignore the pandemic. But the numbers and facts tell us what you already know, you cannot wish away this resilient virus. Infections now rising in 23 states.

The nation's top expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says this morning the best way to protect yourself is to avoid crowds. But the president is yet again ignoring Dr. Fauci.

You can see lines forming already in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the president makes his campaign rally return tomorrow, planning to pack 19,000 people or more into an arena, even though Oklahoma's case count at the moment setting daily records in the wrong direction.

Oklahoma is one of eight states breaking records when you look at the daily average of new cases over the past seven days. Florida and Arizona also among the eight. Each of these states now adding more than 1,500 new infections a day, according to the tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami for us and Kyung Lah is in Phoenix.

I want to go to you, Rosa, first.

Yesterday, we talked about record numbers and, today, they are even worse.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. Florida breaking the record again. Yesterday, we were talking about a record of 3,207 cases in just one day. Well, today, the numbers were just posted, and that number grows to 3,822, bringing the total number of cases here in the state of Florida to near 89,000 cases, and deaths exceeding 3,100. Again, Florida breaking its own record, 3,822 cases in just one day.

Governor Ron DeSantis' office continues and maintains that this is all due to aggressive testing saying he's not going to shut down the economy.

His communications director tweeting earlier today, quote, "In Florida the average age of COVID positive cases is 37 years old. ICU beds and ventilators are available if needed and death rate remains low for COVID. It isn't about the rising numbers. It's about hospital capacity and Florida is ready to handle."

Let me share those hospital numbers with you. So 23 percent of ICU beds are available in the state of Florida. And 25 percent of regular beds are available.

And, John, again, like you said, you and I here talking about this again, Florida breaking the daily record. That number today 3,822 cases in just one day -- John?

KING: Rosa Flores for us in Miami.

Let's go from Miami to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Kyung Lah joins us as well.

Kyung, the case count going up in Arizona as well. And several mayors in that state are taking new actions now because of their concerns.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At least a dozen if not more of these mayors, just by our count, just what we're seeing from their public declarations, John.

They are scrambling to come up with some sort of mask ordinance on the local level because the governor has not declared a statewide mask rule for Arizona. So these mayors are trying to take it into their own hands now.

So why the emphasis on masks? Because of the numbers. Just yesterday, the latest day that we have for figures, 2,519 cases in one day. That's a dramatic rise from just a couple of weeks ago. Arizona has been on a steady upward climb when it comes to the new

cases. And even a bigger concern, the percentage of hospitalizations in the ICU. That number is at 84 percent.

Now the governor says that there are enough beds, that he feels confident that people will be cared for if they get sick. But certainly that high percentage is concerning this state.

And it is also concerning E.R. doctors. I want you to listen to this one doctor and what he has to say about what it feels like inside Phoenix-area hospitals.


DR. MURTAZA ACHTER, PHOENIX EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: You know sometimes miracles happen and perhaps God will save us, but the trajectory is looking bad If what I say in the E.R. is anything like what's happening in Arizona then I don't think the numbers, as bad as they are, are even bad enough to reflect my experience. And, indeed, the numbers do seem to be getting worse and worse.



LAH: And when he says worse and worse, he's talking about every single day. Doctor Achter was is one of over 3,000-plus doctors, John, to sign a letter urging the governor to require statewide mandate on masks, something the governor says at this point he simply won't do -- John?

KING: Kyung Lah on the ground for us in Scottsdale, Arizona. Thanks, Kyung.

Thanks to Rosa Flores in Miami.

Let take a look at the numbers and expand to take a national look at where we are. Number one, you look at the trend map. Again, just because case counts are going up. Some of the governors are right. It's not always a cause for concern.

But 23 states heading in the wrong direction. Eight of them are reporting 50 percent higher rate of cases this week than last week. That is troubling no matter your perspective on this.

Eight states, the dark red states. You see Florida among them and Texas among them and Oklahoma among them ump out in the west as well. And 23 states overall with a higher case count this week than last week.

And 12 states, that's the beige, holding steady. Most of them in the northern half of the country.

Fifteen states in green heading down. The deeper the green means the faster the drop down. So that's good news for the state of Vermont there. Let's take a look at these states with the highest number of new

cases. These are the eight states who have hit their highest seven-day average in recent days. They include California and Arizona. If you go out here, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida, the states where the case counts are jumping up.

At this point, I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, let me play contrarian here. These governors say, OK, big population, big states like Florida and Texas, we knew this was going to happen. We're opening up. People are back out there, but we've got this, stop worrying. It's about hospitalizations. It's not about cases.

How would you answer that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the numbers were expected to go up as you reopen. That part of it is true. The question has always been, how significant was that increase going to be, and could the states handle it.

Two things to point out. First of all, it's not just that we're testing more, therefore, cases are going up.

That sounds imminently reasonable. But issue is that you have states where the testing has remained relatively flat, like Florida that you just showed. but cases have gone up significantly.

In Oklahoma, the testing rate has actually gone down and cases have still gone up.

But the big issue I think, John, really, if you take a state like Florida, is going back to this flattening the curve term, which people have heard so much about back in March and April.

And in particular now as Rosa Flores was just talking about, 75 percent of the ICU beds are full. If they start to have significantly more people getting sick going to exponential growth that's a real concern.

So there's no other magical principal here -- John?

KING: You talk about flattening the curve. We've been at this four- plus months, having this conversation. From the very beginning we talked about the goal was flattening the curve.

Let's take a look at we go through it. The U.S. new cases. The red line is your seven-day moving average. And, yes, the United States is down from where it was in late March, early April. It's down here.

The question is, the last couple of days started to trickle back up, seven-day moving average. So you can call this flatter, maybe flat. The question is it's starting to go back up, but it's a plateau at best. Still 20,000, between 20,000 and 30,000 new cases a day, Sanjay. We talked a little bit about this but don't make a direct comparison

to Italy because it's a smaller country and easier for the government to manage.

But this is flattening the curve. This is what it looks like if your country has flattened the curve. You're coming down like that. You're not plateauing and even starting to trickle back up like that. This is what we talked from the beginning, a line that looks like that.

Here's what happens if you look through the regions of the United States, why it's a lot more complicated than Italy. We have 50 states and every state is doing it their own way.

The northeast, that's a flattened curve. It's dropping down. The Midwest, flat, dropping down. It's the south that is now going up. And the west that starts from a relatively low position starting to go up.

So when you look at those lines, Sanjay, it tells you, at least in the south and maybe in the west, they do not have this under control.

GUPTA: That's right, John. I would take it a step further and say that maybe there's a little bit of a regret in flattening the curve as being the ultimate metric of success.

Flattening the curve was basically, in medical terms, to stop the bleeding. That is with the acute care. Unfortunately, it became the only metric of success I think that we think of here in the United States.

Ultimately, an adequate measure of success would have been, as you showed with Italy, to try to bring case counts down into the hundred, not the tens of thousands on a daily basis.

So in many places around the country, we flattened the curve. Hospitals are not being overrun. Therefore, we can claim victory. I don't think that was ever supposed to be the ultimate marker of success here, you know.

And -- and right now, we're nowhere near that. What we've just seen is a shift from the northeast, as you point out with the graphs, from the south and to the west.

KING: Let's look at another challenge in the here and now. Again, I'm going to go back here first to the map. If you look at the trend map in the United States. Oklahoma is among the states that has -- reporting this week, 50 percent higher cases and rates than they did last week.


So let's look more closely at Oklahoma. Again, this is not where you want to be going. You're heading up and heading up in a dramatic way. This is a seven-day new confirmed case. The red line is the moving average. Recent days are shooting up like that. Hospitalizations, if you're the governor of Oklahoma, you can say we are down.

The question is, are you starting to trickle back up at this moment of higher cases? Are you starting to trickle up?

We bring up Oklahoma because the president is due in Tulsa there, due there for the first big rally since coronavirus. And 19,000 people or so to pack into an arena.

Listen, Sanjay, the governor says, you're welcome, Mr. President. The Tulsa health director says, I'm a little nervous.


GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): Oklahoma is ready for your visit. It's going to be safe and we're really, really excited.

BRUCE DART, TULSA DIRECTOR OF HEALTH: Let me be clear, anyone planning to attend a large-scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.

I recommend that it be postponed until it's safer, until the data tells us that it's not as large a concern to have people indoors and in closed spaces.


KING: Just common sense, Sanjay. You're at risk if you put yourself in a large crowded situation. How big of a risk?

GUPTA: Man, John, I'll tell you, that the cognitive dissonance there, in those two clips that you just showed, will be historic. It's amazing. No wonder the country has whiplash over this whole thing.

When we say there's increased risk, what I'm starting to learn is that means different things to different people. It's obviously riskier if you're indoors. It's obviously riskier if it's a crowded situation, if people are talking loudly, even yelling as often happens at rallies like this. It's -- it's a bigger risk if you're not masked. I think people sort of get that.

John, what I wanted to do, what we spent a good chunk of the day doing is, say, let's take the specific event and sort of figure out how much of a risk is it really?

So 20,000 people inside this stadium potentially. How many people are going to show up already infected, right? Look at the data and look at what's happening in Oklahoma right now and get an idea and what you'll find is probably 100 people may show up already infected.

John, I know you always like to learn new things. A principle called Pareto Principle, which means 20 percent of those infected are likely to generate most of the infection spread. And 20 people out of 100 people, 20 people out of 100 people will be the biggest spreaders at a stadium like this. Even all the different risk factors, they are likely to spread it now to 40 or 50 people each.

OK, so what does that mean? After that event, 800 to 1,000 new infections are likely to occur as a result of an event like this. And then what happened, those 800 to 1,000 people go back to their homes and their communities and they start to spread it even more.

This is the Anatomy of an outbreak. This is how these things occur.

So if you're one of those 1,000 people and you think, I have a one in 20 chance of being infected. Again, these are just calculations. No one can guarantee or say how it's going to unfold for sure. And now you get a better sense of what risk really looks like in a situation like this.

KING: You're right. I like to learn new things. The gift of this job is we get paid to learn. But I don't like to learn things like that.


KING: You're talking 800 to 1,000 infections just based on data. Let's hope in this case the data is wrong, but it, normally, usually, is not.

Dr. Gupta, appreciate your insights. We'll continue to track this has we go forward.

GUPTA: Thanks.

KING: For us, a break. And as we go to break, we want to show you some of the Juneteenth celebrations around the country. This is Brooklyn.




KING: Live pictures in Atlanta as well. It's Juneteenth 2020.

We'll be back in a moment.



KING: Some live pictures here. This is Washington Square in New York City, a Juneteenth march. You can see the pretty impressive crowd there. Showed you Brooklyn a little bit earlier today.

This playing out as the mayor of Tulsa imposing a curfew, that ahead of President Trump's planned major rally in that city tomorrow. The mayor says 100,000 people are expected to pour into Tulsa, both to attend the president's rally and to protest it.

The president warning those protesters, tweeting this: "Protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or low lives" -- those are the president's words, not mine - and suggesting police treatment in Tulsa will be tougher than recent protests in New York, Seattle of Minneapolis.

CNN's Abby Phillip is live on the ground for us in Tulsa ahead of the president's rally -- Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm here in Tulsa to see thousands of people to celebrate this holiday, to celebrate Juneteenth, an event initially postponed until President Trump decided to bring his rally to Tulsa on this weekend.

So now what we have here is an impromptu sort of celebration of Juneteenth, and impromptu protest of President Trump's presence.

And just this morning, a new mural, a new Black Lives Matter mural that we'll show you that has popped up just like it has popped up all over the country in response to these George Floyd protests against police brutality.

This is the same kind of mural that we saw outside of the White House in Washington, D.C. There's now one here that was put up just this morning by activists as they were getting ready to set up.

And it gives you a sense of the fact that they want this event to be a celebration. That is what Juneteenth is supposed to be about.


But, on the other hand, we have. a little bit down the way from here, we have President Trump's supporters lining up about two days it early before his rally, preparing to go in for what will be the largest indoor event that we have seen in this country since the start of this coronavirus pandemic.

The city is bracing for these two events to be happening simultaneously. It is not clear how this is all going to go down.

There's a sense here among the organizers of this particular event that I am at right now, that they have been urging people to keep it peaceful. The they have a stand set up for children. And they are preparing for this to be a different kind of celebration.

We saw this morning, the president at the White House putting out a statement for Juneteenth that says, "Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation. It's both a remembrance of the blight on our history and a celebration of our nation's unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness."

But, John, you read the tweet from the president this morning, and I suspect that that will be front and center in the minds of people coming out here on the streets today and tomorrow.

One of the things that they were most upset about, as I talked to people this week, was the president's response to the protests, the way that he used pepper spray in front of the White House.

And so I think you're going to see a lot of folks here expressing their displeasure with the latest tweet that he sent this morning and -- and his -- and his decision to come here to Tulsa tomorrow -- John?

KING: It will be a remarkable 24 to 48 hours in Tulsa.

Abby Phillip, glad you're there to track it for us. Thanks very much.

I'm joined by the former Utah Congresswoman Mia Love. Love was the first black Republican woman elected to Congress.

Congresswoman, it's great to see you this morning, as we celebrate Juneteenth.

The president of the United States was supposed to have his rally tonight and then he postponed it after it was brought to his attention that many people would find that to be offensive.

Now the president puts out this statement marking this important historical day. My question for you -- you have some experience with the president, not all of it positive. He doesn't get it sometimes.

Is that because of who he is? Is that because of who he's surrounded with, a predominantly white staff? What is your view on the president and I'm going to use the word sensitivity or lack thereof?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you're asking me to get into the head of the president, which is very difficult.

But I can say this. I think that there's obviously a different tone between the tweets and the statement that was put out, the statement that the campaign put out celebrating and talking about Juneteenth was the appropriate tone. The tweets not so much.

I mean, I think what people really want is some leadership, somebody to come out and say, look, this is what happened, we need to educated America about Juneteenth, and why we are -- why this is a celebration and why we need to remember what has happened.

And the rally I think was appropriately turned to another day because I think that having a MAGA rally during that day was just not the right tone.

If you're going to have a rally to actually just celebrate Juneteenth and help people remember what that is about, then that's one thing, but if you're going to make it about yourself, then that was completely inappropriate.

KING: Right. And, again, the scripted statement, you're right, paying tribute to the Juneteenth is as well as anyone could have issued that statement, a welcome statement from the president of the United States.

The question is sort of the sensitivity issues. I can just show you Facebook, which allows a lot of garbage to traffic on Facebook, has decided to take down a Trump campaign ad that has a symbol -- the reason it's taking it down is because that symbol tracks very close to a symbol used by the Nazis, upside down triangle, used by the Nazis in concentration camp uniforms.

Facebook taking this down saying it violates its policies about hate and symbols that could signal hate to people.

At the same time, Congresswoman, the highest-ranking woman I believe at the State Department, at least on the leadership team, a woman who also worked in the White House, now announcing that she is resigning.

And this is Mary Elizabeth Taylor, from her resignation letter: "The president's comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions. I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs."

What does that tell you? Mary Elizabeth Taylor worked on Capitol Hill for a while, very well regarded in the Senate. Very well regarded when she worked in the Trump White House, helping to recruit people into the government, and she essentially says I can't go to work anymore.

LOVE: That's unfortunate. I don't know what has transpired there. But obviously, I've had some frustrations with a lot of the statements and have pushed back against a lot of the statements.


The problem that I have mainly with the White House and the president is personality and the fact that we cannot unite America by driving a wedge, continuing to drive a wedge. You have to remove that wedge, expose what is happening in this country and fix the problem.

And when you put out statements that alienate Americans, black Americans, that's not uniting a country. That's not bringing us together. That's not saying, hey, we're all Americans and we need to remember the injustices so that we can fix them.

KING: So help me with this one. You do have a history here. After -- I'm going to play this for our viewers.

After you lost your seat, you had some said some things I will say not terribly favorable and you raised concerns about the president. You lost your seat. And you remember it better than most.

This is how the president put it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad.

Sorry about that, Mia.


KING: It's clear from watching, he was not sorry about that it.

And I ask you in the context not to bring it up to be gratuitous but, in the context of this, the president telling "Politico" in an interview today he wants Republican loyalty in this election year because he's starting to see people raise some questions. "If they are going not going to embrace, they will lose. I have a very hard base. I have the strongest base people have ever seen. We will, on occasion, have some Senators that want to be cute and they don't want to embrace the president."

When the president draws this line, what goes through your mind?

LOVE: Well, is first of all, let me just say I have no regrets with doing my job in terms of calling the president out when he needed to be called out and supporting him on certain issues and policy issues that I felt was important for America and certainly good for my district. I have no regrets.

I'm very comfortable in my skin and nothing that he says will be able to change the person that my parents have raised to be -- to be strong, to be comfortable and to do the right thing. Make sure that I'm an example to my children, to my country. History will decide what they want to tell about me based on that. And so what the president says has no bearing on me.

But I do -- I don't believe that the election was lost because the president -- because I was not 100 percent for the president on certain issues. And I -- I believe that these -- these Senators have a responsibility to their state. They have to remember that they don't stand behind the president.

The president really should stand beside or behind them because they are the legislative branch. It is their job to represent people, not to represent Washington.

Let me say this again. The job of the Senators is to represent their people and not the president. And the president should stand behind these legislators and help them represent their people.

KING: Mia Love, appreciate your insights, especially on this important day. Thank you very much.

LOVE: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

Up next, court proceedings move forward today for that former Atlanta police officer charged in the killing of Rayshard Brooks.