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NEW DAY

President Trump to Hold Campaign Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as Coronavirus Cases Rise in States Across U.S.; President Trump's Comments on Juneteenth Examined; America's Moment of Racial Reckoning; Coronavirus Crisis Worsens in Latin America. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 19, 2020 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's disappointed in the system, to be honest with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is nothing new. We charged based upon the facts.

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto joins me.

This morning, local health officials issuing a warning to anyone attending President Trump's campaign rally in Oklahoma tomorrow. They say you face an increased risk of getting sick. New COVID cases doubled in Oklahoma in the past week, 100,000 people are expected to converge on Tulsa, and managers of the venue are requesting that the Trump campaign provide a detailed written plan on health and safety measures for this rally. Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether this event should be delayed or canceled.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Coronavirus now surging in 23 states across the country. Florida just set another single day record high with more than 3,000 new infections. Other states, Arizona, California, South Carolina, and Texas also all reporting record high increases.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's find out what this is all about. Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, great to see you.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: So let's just at the end of this week, get a status report of where the country is. Let's hone in first on Florida, because that's the place that people -- some experts, I don't know if you agree, think could be the next epicenter -- 75 percent of adult ICU beds, we're told, in Florida are now at capacity. What do you see happening here? GUPTA: Yes, that is the concern, I agree. We have been digging in to

what's happening in Florida for some time now, as you know, Alisyn. They stayed open longer than people -- they opened up earlier. They shut down later. That's part of the concern here. And there's not the basic public health measures in place in many places, such as mandatory mask-wearing or even strong recommendations for mask- wearing.

So all these things, it's no magical answer here. We see this all over the world. If you don't do these things, you're going to have an increase in cases.

Here's the issue, though, I think even more so in Florida. Just like you mentioned, you do have a population of people that is more likely to be considered vulnerable. They're more likely to be elderly. They're more likely to have preexisting conditions. There's a lot of people who go down to Florida to retire, so you know what the demographics are. So when you talk about 75 percent of the ICU beds being full, this gets back to the conversation we were having in March and April about flattening the curve.

If you start to exceed capacity in these hospitals, that's what really makes Florida concerning as a potential epicenter then. Then all of a sudden you have the need to try and build surge capacity. You have the need to try and get excess resources down to a place like that. All the things that you guys dealt with in New York, that's what they're worried about in Florida in terms of potentially being the epicenter, the cases, but also the demographics.

CAMEROTA: That was a scary time in New York, having lived through it. The idea of running out of capacity at hospitals, running out of ventilators, that was a very frightening time. Obviously, we have learned a lot since then, but no one wishes that on Florida. And we really hope that they can avoid that.

So let's, Sanjay, look at where the whole United States is right now in terms of confirmed cases, because you see that huge spike that we all experienced in March, and then you see it gradually ticking down, but staying at a high plateau. As of this morning, more than 118,000 people have been killed. Am I seeing a tick back up there in this graph?

GUPTA: I think so. It's a little hard to tell when you're looking day to day or even week to week. I think one thing that we're seeing with this particular pandemic is we have to be patient and watch how these trends go.

But Alisyn, I think it's one of the things that everybody expected. As we start to open back up, we are going to see the number of people who become infected rise. That we knew. I think the issue here is that we never allowed the numbers, if you look at that graph, to come back down to some sort of reasonable level. There was these criteria, you have to wait 14 days and see that the numbers come down 14 days in a row. Those gating criteria seemed to be tossed out the window almost as soon as they were advocated by the Coronavirus Task Force. I don't think a single state in early May that started to reopen actually met the gating criteria. So we never got down to a low, manageable level where you could find people, track them, isolate them, do all the things that you need to do.

And now we're stuck with -- the numbers you're seeing on the screen appear to be the basement, 20,000 new infections a day, several hundred people dying a day. If you look at the CDC's projections and do the math, they say it's going to go up to more than 1,000 people dying every day. They say 20,000 people will die within the next three weeks.

[08:05:02]

So these are horrific numbers. More people are dying every day. And I know I keep saying this, and I apologize because I know it's early in the morning, and I don't want to scare people, but I think this is honest. There are more people dying every day than have died throughout this entire pandemic in other countries. That didn't need to happen. Those countries didn't have anything else that we don't have. So we have another chance to do the right thing. Let's hope we do it.

CAMEROTA: So that leads us to tomorrow in Oklahoma. Obviously, people can make their own decisions. There's personal freedom and personal responsibility in this country. If they want to go to President Trump's rally, and tens of thousands of people do, they have been lining up, there's no mandate to wear masks, but now they will be handing out masks.

The irony, of course, is that President Trump himself and his campaign clearly are worried about the spread, though they are not saying that publicly, because, as you and I talked about, Sanjay, President Trump for a couple of weeks prophylactically took hydroxychloroquine. Clearly, he was worried about getting coronavirus, and clearly the campaign is worried about the spread at this rally since they're making everybody sign a legal waiver relieving them of any kind of legal liability if people get sick. So it's a mixed message for what people are going to encounter there.

GUPTA: And the public health members, including Tulsa's own health director have not been giving mixed messages. They're very worried about this. What we decided to do last night in conjunction with Erin Bromage, one of our medical analysts, was to try to get a better idea, how do you quantify the risk here. We know it's riskier being indoors, crowded setting, no mask, it's obviously riskier. I think part of the problem is this becomes nebulous and vague for people. So trying to quantify the risk. Based on what's happening in Tulsa right now, how many people are likely to show up at this rally that are already infected, right? So if you do the calculations, about a hundred people likely to arrive at that rally infected. Not all of them are actually going to be spreaders. Typically what you find is that 20 percent tend to be big spreaders of the virus. So 20 people out of those 20,000 likely to be spreaders.

But given the environment, they are likely to spread to 40 to 50 people. Far more than they normally would if they were outside or wearing a mask or something like that. So there you go, Alisyn, 800 to 1,000 new infections. What happens then? Those people then potentially go to their homes, they go to their or communities, they spread it more and more. That is the sort of anatomy of an outbreak, right? That's how it happens. You have some spreaders, they're going to spread it more and more inside that indoor setting, people disperse, that's what happens.

CAMEROTA: That is really helpful, Sanjay, to see that broken down in the numbers based upon our experience of what we know with this virus, because otherwise it's just this kind of nebulous idea of you shouldn't be in a big arena, something bad might happen. But to see the actual numbers from the other clusters, that is so much bigger. I'm so glad that you and Professor Bromage did. Thank you, Sanjay. Thanks very much. We'll talk again soon.

GUPTA: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Jim?

SCIUTTO: In a new interview, President Trump has admitted that some of those people who attend his Tulsa rally tomorrow might get sick from coronavirus. Joining me now is CNN political commentator Charles Blow. He's also a columnist for "The New York Times." Charles, great to have you on this morning.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.

SCIUTTO: So the president is going ahead with this event. It has all the worst elements for transmission. It's indoors, it's crowded for a length of time with people shouting, chanting, et cetera, expelling a lot of droplets. It's a perfect storm to create transmissions of this virus. Why is the president doing this?

BLOW: I have no clue. What I want to keep reminding people is that people are dying from COVID-19 in America. American citizens are dying. And the president is not doing enough to prevent those people from dying. Therefore, the president is responsible for a lot of those people dying.

These are American people dying. I don't know if people actually get that through their heads. Americans are dying, and the president is responsible for a lot of those people dying. I don't know how we -- I don't know how we push past that. I don't know how we let that go.

And also, I want to always remember this. A disproportionate number of the people who are dying -- if you look at the map that you guys keep showing, where they're dying, there are the states with the highest percentage of black people in the south and the highest percentage of Hispanic people in the south and the west. This is a problem. These are human beings. They're not -- they're not disposable, they're not collateral damage. They're dying. And it's the president who's letting them die. It's the president who is lying about them dying. It's the president who is covering up about the fact that they're dying. These are people.

[08:10:06]

SCIUTTO: Yes. Even attacking -- you have heard the president at times question the death toll. It's a fact, he still questions it.

BLOW: It's aberrant. It's aberrant. It's aberrant. It is inhumane. It is all of the things that you said. I can't even -- I get upset about it because what does it mean? What does it mean that the president of the United States is letting people die?

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. It's remarkable.

I want to ask about the other element, of course, of holding this rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow, the day after Juneteenth, initially scheduled for today. The president moved it one day. He has since claimed that he has made Juneteenth the day to celebrate the freeing of the slaves. There's some history there following the Emancipation Proclamation, but one of enormous importance to black Americans. Tell us about that. Does moving it one day make any difference in your view? Did the president make this day famous?

BLOW: The insult has already been made. The insult has already been made. He's made Juneteenth -- listen, I will concede that not enough Americans understood Juneteenth. But I'm from west Louisiana. Anyone from west Louisiana and east Texas celebrated Juneteenth all the time. That's what we did. That was our July 4th. So whenever this man says nobody knew about something, it means that he didn't know about something. It's a tell, it's a confession of his own ignorance.

But there in the south, west Louisiana in particular, east Texas in particular, it was a big deal for us. So we knew about it. He didn't make it famous. But a couple of years ago I interviewed the last surviving person from the massacre in Tulsa. And it struck -- one thing that struck me was her -- was she talked to me about the fact that the white people in that city, the ones who broke into her home, and she was hiding under her table, under a tablecloth, she was five- years-old, was that they were trying to destroy all of the things that were nice in her house. Anything of value they were trying to destroy. And this disregard for the quality of her life was something that struck me.

And when Trump goes into Tulsa not ever having a regard for the quality of life of people of color, that's my opinion, it reminds me of what she was telling me. So it is a desecration to me. To me it's a desecration. And maybe he doesn't see it that way. Maybe his team doesn't see it that way. Maybe his campaign doesn't see it that way, but I see it that way, as a desecration.

SCIUTTO: That's powerful. I'm going to be speaking later to a pastor from a church on that street about what it means there.

Final question, if I can, because, as you know, another former senior Trump administration official, in this case John Bolton, has come out with just a scathing and yet consistent description of how this president operates, one consistent with how others have described it, whether it's Jim Mattis, John Kelly, et cetera. I want to give you the answer that -- the explanation that Mick Mulvaney, the president's former acting chief of staff, gave for all of this when I spoke to him just a few minutes ago. I'll get your reaction. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There was one criticism that I would level against the president is that he didn't hire very well. He did not have experience in running government and didn't know how to put together a team that could work well with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: We lost, unfortunately, Charles Blow there. But I will get his reaction to that later. But since I have you back, Ali, that explanation here saying that all of the people have described the administration, the way this president operates in the same way, people the president appointed, experienced people, many of them lifelong Republicans, it really was the president didn't hire well.

CAMEROTA: I thought he only hired the best people. I thought he only hired the creme de la creme. I thought that was one of his strengths, that he was a businessman, that he knew how to put together the most competent team.

[08:15:01]

I just thought that was very interesting. I mean, we appreciate Mick Mulvaney coming on and giving the administration's perspective but I thought that in particular was an interesting explanation.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It is. And also because the president praised those people while in their positions until they criticized, right? That was the difference. The difference didn't appear to be competence or decisions but the difference appear to be when they criticized. I mean, that's notable.

Anyway, we do appreciate Mr. Mulvaney that he came on.

We'll have more, and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: These past three weeks of protests have made Americans rethink some of their cultural symbols. Aunt Jemima is retired. U.S. Army bases may be renamed and monuments of historical figures are being torn down. Some worry the pendulum could be swinging too far.

Well, John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: More than 150 years after the civil war, America's finally having a more complete moral reckoning with the Confederacy. And they're going to lose this one as well, because this is a matter of hate, not heritage.

At issue is the legacy of white supremacy but don't take my word for it. Listen to Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens who said: Our new government is founded upon the truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man.

[08:20:07]

We're seeing Confederate statues toppled across the country, Confederate flags banned from NASCAR races and leading military figures pushing to rename bases named after Confederate generals against President Trump's opposition.

The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, wants the city to take down the statue of slavery and secession defender John C. Calhoun to put it in the museum.

This is overdue and all to the good. But some of these statues were put up by the sons and daughters of the Confederates, perhaps trying to spun some dignity in defeat. Others went up around the time that the Supreme Court ordered desegregation in Brown versus Board of Education.

But in the end, they were all statues honoring people who committed armed treason to perpetuate slavery.

In this overdue reckoning, though, there's the question of how far to go. As columnist George Will once said, quote, The four most important words in politics are: up to a point.

This past Sunday, the statue of Thomas Jefferson was toppled in Portland, Oregon. And in response, a debate I had with my friend and fellow commentator Angela Rye went viral again. She argued that the statues of the Founding Fathers, including Washington and Jefferson should be taken down because they owned slaves. They did.

I argued their position would be used by the right to resist taking down Confederate statues. It has.

And in recent days the statue of Abraham Lincoln was defaced by protesters in England. There's a call to take down the statue of Lincoln in Boston.

Today is Juneteenth, marking the freeing of slaves. And if we can't distinguish between a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis while debating the legacy of slavery, then we're in real trouble.

Many of the Founding Fathers were slave owners. Some denounced slavery as Jefferson did in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Washington freed the slaves in his will. Others never owned slaves like John Adams or advocated abolition like Alexander Hamilton.

History is messy but we have an obligation to reckon with it, to right some of the wrongs and provide crucial context. We should be building new statues to forgotten heroes of the Reconstruction, pioneering African-American congressman like Robert Smalls and Hiram Revels, finally gave the black union soldiers the prominence they have been denied.

We should rename Army bases like Ft. Bragg for modern military heroes like Colin Powell who trained there in 1962.

In this reckoning, we must try to find truth and reconciliation. We are all imperfect people struggling to form a more perfect union but surely we with agree there's a moral difference between a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Confederate generals.

And that's your "Reality Check".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Our thanks to John Avlon there.

Coronavirus cases are climbing sharply across Latin America as the region becomes the new pandemic's epicenter.

CNN has reporters all around the world to bringing you the very latest developments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in Mexico City.

Further south in Brazil, more bad news there as the country nears a grim and new milestone. It was Thursday evening that health officials there reported roughly 22,000 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus. That brings the overall total to roughly 978,000.

And given what we've been seeing as of late in terms of newly confirmed cases each day, it will not be a surprise if Brazil, as soon as today, passes the 1 million case mark. Also, we are expecting in the coming days to see Brazil surpass 50,000 total deaths.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance and Russia is indicating sharply higher numbers of medical workers killed by coronavirus. Health official suggesting nearly 500 deaths so far, off from about 100 just last month. If confirmed, that would be more than 6 percent of the overall nationwide death toll, underlining concerns expressed by many doctors in Russia, the lack of protective equipment throughout this pandemic has left them dangerously exposed.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Lisbon where health authorities here in Portugal say that one of the reasons why they have a low death toll might be because they have been treating patients in ICUs for coronavirus with a method that the World Health Organization now says could be a breakthrough.

Doctors here at coronavirus wards have been using steroids to treat patients who are on ventilators and they say the death toll from coronavirus on those ICU wards is fairly low. Many other countries here in Europe, Portugal is also now emerging from the crisis and opening up its economy.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman in Venice, Italy, where residents are getting used to life after lockdown. This city normally over run by tourists is welcoming visitors once again, although only a few have come and only from elsewhere in Europe.

The economy in Venice is heavily dependent upon tourism and for more than three months as Italy struggled to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control, no one came here. Now the tourists are trickling back in. It's hardly a return to life as normal, but it's a start.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[08:25:004]

CAMEROTA: Our thanks to our international correspondents.

So, one of the rallying cries during the nationwide protests is to reform or even defund some elements of some police departments. One big city mayor will share her thoughts on all of this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: A group of mayors from around the country is asking for Congress to work with them to reform policing and address racial inequality. While on the local level, these mayors are fighting battles of their own to make change.

Joining us now is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot who is leading the effort among the mayors.

Mayor Lightfoot, great to have you here.

What specifically -- what help do you want from Congress or what are you asking for from them?

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: Well, first of all, I think they've got to listen and invite us into the conversation. Mayors are on the front lines. We have been on the front lines through COVID-19, that work continues. We're on the front lines when it comes to police reform and accountability.

Whatever the Congress imposes, we'll be the ones responsible for executing it. So we believe the members of Congress, before they push the reform.

END