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NASCAR Investigates Noose; Did President Trump Ask For Slowdown in Coronavirus Testing?. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 22, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So, it's something we're going to continue to talk about, as this is a negotiation.

Barry Svrluga, thank you so much for talking about your column with us.


KEILAR: And our special coverage will continue with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Monday afternoon. You're watching CNN.

Let's begin with this. The U.S. is now officially unflattening the curve. More than 120,000 people have now died from coronavirus, and significant spikes of new cases are emerging all across the country.

Check out this map with me, 23 states. Almost half are now reporting this rise in new infections compared to the previous week; 11 states are up 50 percent or more. And not only that, 10 states are seeing their highest seven-day average of new daily cases since the start of this whole thing.

But in the face of the staggering numbers, President Trump has said that he has hold aides to slow down testing. In case you missed it, here was the president first on Saturday night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's the bad part. When you test -- when you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people. You are going to find more cases. So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.


BALDWIN: And while the president's advisers were quick to say that he was only kidding when he asked officials to slow down testing, this is now how the president has just answered a very direct question this just today.


QUESTION: But did you ask to slow it down?

TRUMP: If it did slow down, frankly, I think we're way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth. We have done too good a job.


BALDWIN: So, no joking there, definitely not in denial -- or not a denial of what he had said about slowing down testing.

So, let's go to Kaitlan Collins. She's our White House correspondent.

And, Kaitlan, what are you hearing about this behind the scenes from your sources?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, Brooke, this is often something you see where the president makes a remark. Often aides say he's only kidding about it, and then the president undercuts them by not following up and saying, yes, I was just kidding.

You noticed when he was talking to that reporter just a few hours ago here at the White House, he paused and then said he believed, if they did slow down testing, it still wouldn't be that big of a deal because of how ramped up it's been in the United States.

Now, you saw how the president just reacted. Listen to how two of his top aides responded yesterday asked about whether or not the president was being serious when he made that remark.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You're preparing for a second wave in the fall?

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: You prepare -- you prepare for what can possibly happen. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but of course you prepare.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We know how to deal with this stuff now. It's come a long way since last winter, and there is no second wave coming.


COLLINS: So they're saying that they don't believe a second wave is coming, talking about the preparations. Peter Navarro, the first official you saw there, also said the president was being tongue in cheek when he made that remark.

Of course, that is not even something the president himself said today. And, Brooke, the question, as you know, because testing has been such a critical part of all of this in the response to the pandemic, and health experts only say it's going to be more of that going forward, and it was one of the biggest issues that the administration had to deal with as this was happening.

They had that serious delayed rollout of testing because tests were contaminated because of sloppy lab practices at the CDC. So it is a very important topic, of course, the administration has touted time and time again. And even the vice president was pressed on this by governors during a call today on what it was the president meant when he said that.

BALDWIN: I have got a doctor waiting in the wings. We will talk about the science on all of this.

Kaitlan, thank you.

Let's go now to one of the state's seeing record levels of new infections, Florida. Florida is one of the 10 states seeing its highest seven-day average of new daily cases since the start of the pandemic. And, today, the state crossed the grim milestone of 100,000 total COVID infections.

Rosa Flores is live Miami.

And, Rosa, what is going on in Florida?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, in the last half-hour Brooke, the mayor of the city of Miami announcing that there will be a mandate effective immediately for everyone in the city of Miami who's out in public to wear a mask or a face covering.

The mayor, Francis Suarez, very concerned, saying that it is due to the increase in the number of hospitalizations, the number of people on ventilators, the people -- number of people at ICU, and also he mentioned that there are certain zip codes that are of most concern, including Little Havana.

In these zip codes, he says that the city of Miami will be handing out masks to anyone out in public that doesn't have one. Again, this is a big step for a local mayor to say that face masks will be required in the city of Miami.

Of course, we know Mayor Ron -- excuse me -- Governor Ron DeSantis has not issued in order statewide, despite the uptick in cases.


Now, earlier today, our very own Poppy Harlow interviewed Mayor Suarez and asked him about how he felt about moving forward, given the uptick in cases. And she asked him if she -- if he would support President Trump if he wanted to have a big rally, for example, here in the city of Miami, and here is what he said. Take a listen.


FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: We're not opening large venues, where you could have any sort of large congregation of people, whether it's a sporting event, whether it's a rally, so none of those kinds of things are open in the city and won't be open after today's data, which is worse than last Monday's was.


FLORES: Though, according to Governor Ron DeSantis, the uptick in cases here in the state of Florida is due to community spread in the younger generations, young people not social distancing, not wearing masks.

According to the governor, what he plans to do is to publish PSAs and also to send inspectors from the state to businesses to make sure that they're following the rules.

But, Brooke, here's what he is not doing. He is not shutting down the economy. He is not requiring masks to be worn statewide. And like we mentioned earlier, now local leaders like the mayor here in Miami taking action on their own requiring masks here in Miami -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me get the doctor on all of this.

Rosa in Miami, thank you very much.

So joining me now is Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and he is also former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC.

So, Dr. Khan, nice to talk to you.

And first Let's go back to the president's comments and his suggestion for over the weekend that it would be OK to cut back on testing. Your thoughts on that?

DR. ALI KHAN, FORMER CDC OFFICIAL: So, thank you, Brooke.

So one, let's -- one, of course not, because how do you manage an outbreak without testing people? And you would still have this tragic cases of 120,000 people who have died from this outbreak. So not testing isn't the solution.

But the other part of that comment that you have just discussed is decreasing testing. And that actually isn't supported by data. So we have gone from less than 100 cases March 1 to -- 100 tests March 1 per day to half-a-million tests per day right now. So we have made a large increase in testing.

That's going to continue to increase. But testing and number of testing is so January 2020. Who cares at this point when we have enough tests? The real issue is, are we testing and tracing and doing something with those tests to get cases down in our community?

BALDWIN: Well, what about on top of that? There's been all this discussion about, is there a second wave or will be all these wavelets?

Or another metaphor I read over the weekend in "The Times" was this prominent doctor saying, well, it's just like a massive forest fire, right? Anytime there's wood, it's just going to continue to burn. And you heard Larry Kudlow say, well, there's not going to be a second wave.

What are facts?

KHAN: So, the facts are, we have never figured out the first wave.

So I like the forest fire analogy. I use the house on fire analogy, sort of like, before worrying about whose house is going to burn down in the fall, can we take care of the house that's burning down right now?

BALDWIN: So true.

KHAN: So, our response has been stalled for four to six weeks. We have had a stalled response.

And because we have failed to test and trace, because we have failed to make sure that everybody wore masks and washed their hands and social distanced, we have been -- now for the last couple of days have seen an increase in cases, back up to from 22,000 per day, which is enormous, up to 30,000 per day.

BALDWIN: You mentioned -- so let's go there. Let's talk about Florida. And we're seeing more and more people in their 20s and 30s testing positive, right?

So when this whole story really broke and we started covering it, no one really thought that the younger folks could get as sick as they're getting sick. And then down in Florida, Governor DeSantis has been noting that those under the age of 40 are much less likely to be hospitalized, much less likely to die.

What do you make of this trend of young people testing positive for COVID?

KHAN: So this whole discussion is really a symptom of our absolute greatest public health failure in American history, right?

So let's go to this younger people. So younger people actually -- he's spot on. Younger people are less likely to get sick and die, but they do die. And in my business, every death counts. And they also, unfortunately or fortunately, go visit their grandparents, go visit people who have underlying health conditions, 30 percent of Americans.

So they can still spread disease to people who are at high risk. And the final point is, we need to be very careful about blaming people for getting infected because the government didn't protect them from getting infected.

If you take this to the logical conclusion, we should blame the elderly for getting infected in nursing homes and for Hispanics for getting infected in meatpacking plants, right?

So let's make sure that we realize it's the responsibility on the part of government to test and trace, get cases down in the community. And on our individual part, everybody should wear a mask when they're out in public. Everybody should wash their hands, and everybody should social distance.


BALDWIN: Dr. Khan, what about sports?

I mean, I know you are advising Major League Baseball. And "USA Today" is reporting that all MLB training camps in the -- speaking of, Florida, Arizona, where they have seen an uptick, right, they will close temporarily after multiple teams have reported positive tests.

I know that players and owners are still negotiating how and when to play the season. But what should we expect? Do you think that they should play, period? Do you think it should be stop-start depending on who gets sick? From a medical perspective, what do you think?

KHAN: So, before I go to the medical perspective, it's a great example of where the political, social and economic perspective may actually be larger than the medical perspective.

So, getting this disease contained is an economic imperative, as far as I'm concerned. Not surprised. You have cases within the community. The increasing number of cases you have within the community, more likely, when people come together, they're going to get infected.

So, yes, I can talk about baseball, but I could talk about any setting where you put more people together, whether it's in a church, whether it's a rally, whether it's a music festival. People are going to get infected.

So, again, drop the cases, people will be safer to play. And if you are going to put people together, then you need to think about every layer you can put on to reduce that risk.

BALDWIN: Dr. Ali Khan, thank you so much for all of that.

KHAN: Oh, last word, Brooke. Mask on.

BALDWIN: Oh. Got mine right here.

KHAN: All right.

BALDWIN: There you go.

KHAN: Way to go.

BALDWIN: Walking the walk, Doc. I appreciate it.

KHAN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

KHAN: You're welcome. Always a pleasure, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you. Let's move on. A sickening side at the Talladega Speedway, a noose

found hanging in this space used by NASCAR's only black driver. Now there's this fast-moving investigation. We have the latest there.

Also, a Trump adviser says the president is -- and I quote -- "very upset" about his rally in Tulsa on Saturday. And the campaign is blaming one person in particular for the disappointing lackluster turnout.

And then, later, workers getting paid time off on Election Day. Corporate America responds to a cultural reckoning in more ways than one.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Right now, the rain-delayed NASCAR race to the Talladega Superspeedway is under way, but the excitement of getting back to the track now overshadowed by just this disgusting display of hatred that happened overnight. A noose was found hanging in Bubba Wallace's garage.

He is the only black driver in NASCAR's top circuit. Wallace has responded on Twitter, writing, in part: "This will not break me. I will not give in, nor will I back down."

NASCAR is investigating the incident and expressed outrage in a statement, saying that officials will do everything they can to -- quote -- "identify the person or persons responsible and eliminate them from the sport."

NASCAR's president reinforcing that a short time ago, saying that person will be banned for life.

Bubba Wallace was recently thrust into the spotlight as an active voice in the Black Lives Matter movement. He also led the successful push to have Confederate Flags banned at all NASCAR races.

And still, as fans arrived at the track Sunday -- you see this -- they saw this Confederate Flag with a "Defund NASCAR" banner flying over the raceway, along with Confederate memorabilia being sold just across the street.

And just moments ago, before the start of the race, an incredible, though, show of support from NASCAR drivers and pit crew members, as they pushed Wallace' car down the pit, followed by a large procession of people.

So, let's start there.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is with me live from the speedway there in Alabama. And tell me more about that, that show of solidarity that we just saw.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Really emotional pre- race activities. And I don't know if you can hear the cars actually starting up behind me there at the racetrack right now. They walked out on the grid, the other drivers pushing the number 43 car of Bubba Wallace to the front of that grid, as essentially what was the entire garage. All of the team members walked behind them in solidarity, coming up to the top there to show this hashtag #IstandwithBubba.

It caught fire last night. They even painted it on the grass there in the infield here at the track. Bubba Wallace got out of his car once it got to the beginning, became emotional, kind of leaning over in the window.

Richard Petty, who owns the car that he drives, that iconic number 43, came over, put his hands on Bubba's shoulders, as you could see Bubba Wallace becoming emotional. He then proceeded to hug and elbow bump all the other drivers. They're masked up, of course, for distancing and COVID purposes.

But you could see the tears and the emotion in his face. They then stood around the car as the national anthem played as he stood next to Richard Petty before they got in their cars and began the race here. He took a selfie with all the other drivers behind him.

Again, it's this show of solidarity, Brooke, that NASCAR has been trying to put forward ever since they announced that noose was found in the garage stall of the number 43.

Now, NASCAR says that it wasn't Bubba who found it. He did not see it. It was actually a team member of who reported it to NASCAR. NASCAR President Steve Phelps is the one who told Bubba about that noose. They then informed the FBI, who is actually here on site still investigating.

Here's the thing. That garage stall, it's a restricted area. The people who are there are not fans. Remember, there's only 5,000 of them. This is the first event where fans can come back to.


But we're talking about other people who are there, the people who are our credential team members. They are other people who are already allowed to be back there. So, they say they're investigating, looking through the tape, potentially. They have cameras out here.

But, Brooke, I want to go back to this tweet that Bubba Wallace sent out showing all of those drivers behind him, this selfie that he took, showing that solidarity. Bubba wrote "Together" on there.

And that's been what he's been trying to push forward for the past few weeks here, as he sort of found his voice with that Black Lives Matter car that also had courage and unity on there. Getting the video with his fellow drivers to talk about what's going on right now, to say the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, to get NASCAR, which obviously has had a very difficult past, and up to the present, as you saw yesterday, with things like the Confederate Flag, and try and create change within this sport.

And he has to do it, as he said, with his fellow drivers and team members alongside him. He can't do it by himself. That was what they were trying to show today, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, it's like it took this ugly thing to really bring this light.

Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

Want to stay on this.

Brad Daugherty with me now. He's a co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing. He's also a five-time NBA All-Star and co-host of SiriusXM NASCAR on Mondays.

And, Brad, we will get to Bubba's tweet and the show of solidarity in just a second. But, first, when you when you heard that there was a noose hanging in his garage, your first thought was what?

BRAD DAUGHERTY, CO-OWNER, JTG DAUGHERTY RACING: Yes, it's a restricted area. And so it's not like people are just wandering through their aimlessly.

So, for me, it says, OK, that's someone basically within the sport on the inside of the sport who's reacting this way. And for me, at first, it did shocked me. It bothered me, obviously. But it also gave me an opportunity to look at this.

And I said to myself, we're going to get a chance to show people that there is this underbelly that is there in our society that a lot of my Caucasian friends don't -- some of them don't understand, because they have never dealt with this.

And as we have had all these conversations over the past month-and-a- half about racism and intolerance and being insensitive, people have asked me daily, and my friends, I grew up with, my Caucasian friends, what does this mean? Because they have never dealt with it.


BALDWIN: What do you tell them?

DAUGHERTY: Well, they get to see this. Now they see this.

And the little subtle things that happen throughout my life or the obvious things that happen in my life, I try to explain to them, but they don't get to experience that. So the noose is just another example of that.

And they get to see that under these circumstances, Brooke, and now they get to say, this is disgusting. It's terrible. Who would do something like this? And then they get a chance to look in the mirror and say, what is my (AUDIO GAP) BALDWIN: You and I -- I'm listening to you so carefully. And you and

I were talking just, what was it, a week before last, when the news broke that NASCAR was banning the Confederate Flag.

And you were -- I remember, I mean, you were genuinely applauding NASCAR, saying that this opportunity really, really for them to make good, and you saw the statement. I read it a second ago on this noose.

NASCAR came down really hard, banning this person, whoever it may be, for life. What else, though, Brad? Like, what other actions do you think NASCAR needs to take to really send a message?

DAUGHERTY: Yes, I think it's -- we -- NASCAR's taking a tremendous step in the right direction.

And they need to continue to march forward, be very open, very supportive, very progressive in their thinking. The thing that we all have to do, though, Brooke, is, we have to create dialogue. We have to create more dialogue.

There's a lot of people that are just kind of talking amongst themselves and trying to come up with these ideas of how to approach and how to do this. We need concrete solutions. And that all starts with dialogue.

And I'm asking people to go to a Web site, which is It's a Web site that offers some educational resources. It gives us opportunities to take action and create solutions for communication.

And that's what I want to see with NASCAR, continue to have the communication, which, in this country, we have done a very poor job of, because it's the political correctness. We need to talk about this.


DAUGHERTY: We need to have these conversations with our brothers and sisters, and go beyond the sympathy. No one wants sympathy. But we need empathy and we need people to understand. And the only way you can do that is if you hear my story, I hear your story, and we can come to some common ground and respect one another and go forward.


BALDWIN: Well, Brad, to me what really -- and you heard our correspondent talk about how Bubba Wallace was emotional, when you see all those drivers and the pit crew out on the track walking behind him and his car, because I was thinking before we did the segment, to me, a huge point of this is, he's the only black top driver.

So we need to talk about allyship, right, and what the other white drivers can do to show solidarity. Today was a great start. What else can -- what else can the drivers do that don't share the same skin color as Bubba?

DAUGHERTY: Yes, continue to educate themselves. We really don't need anyone else doing commercials and speaking up and

doing all these things that they really don't understand. So I think the trueness of it for everyone is, we all need to educate ourselves and try to understand where each other is coming from.

I love the symbolism of the drivers. I love all of this, because this is something we would have seen a decade ago in NASCAR. This is something we wouldn't have seen a decade ago in a lot of our different facets of our life.

So that is all fine and good. But we have got to take the political pieces out of this. And we have to get people to sit down and talk and come up with solutions in our African-American communities. We have to come up with solutions with our Caucasian brothers and sisters, who look at us, and some people of the Caucasian persuasion, they don't -- it's not their fault, and we have got to understand that.

They're just trying to take care of their family, do the best they can do. And this is not a weight-bearing topic or subject for them. We need those people to understand that, if they don't educate themselves, they're just perpetuating the problem.


DAUGHERTY: So, that's the direction we need to go.

BALDWIN: Yes, educate, and then show up, show up for our brothers and sisters.


BALDWIN: Brad Daugherty, you are the best. Thank you very much. Good to have you back.

DAUGHERTY: Thanks, Brooke. Thanks.


BALDWIN: And -- you got it.

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