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Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise in States Across U.S.; Coronavirus Infecting Younger Population; President Trump to Hold Rally in Arizona; Soon: Trump Heads to Arizona, Despite Surge in Virus Cases; NASCAR Drivers Rally Around Bubba Wallace After Noose Found. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 23, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number of daily coronavirus cases has been surging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you put a bunch of people together in an indoor space, those are the perfect conditions to have a super spreader event.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Clashes overnight between police and protesters. This is near the White House. Protesters attempt to topple a statue of former president Andrew Jackson, a slave owner. And they spray painted the columns of the historic St. John's Church. President Trump went on to Twitter to attack the protesters. He also retweeted an unrelated viral vide of a black man punching a white man at a department store. The president did not explain why he wants more people to see that video.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, half the country seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, at least half the states in the country, including almost the entire western United States. Today President Trump heads to Arizona, which is one of the states seeing the biggest increases right now. The positivity rate in testing is higher than 20 percent, meaning that more than 20 percent of people tested have the virus. That's a high number. Anyone attending the president's Phoenix event today, they will not have to wear a mask.

The death toll in the United States has now surpassed 120,000. And later this morning, four of the nation's top health officials will testify on Capitol Hill.

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Besser. He's the former acting director of the CDC. And Sanjay, I just want to put up the screen so people can see it, the new case numbers in the United States, and I want people to see that shape. It's the wrong shape. It' snot the shape you want to see. It's a "U." the number of new cases were dropping in the United States, but they're not now. What does that tell you?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think whenever we started to reopen things, there was a general consensus that the numbers were going to go up. People are more mobile, it's a contagious virus. That was going to happen. I think there's two things that really strike me about that graph that you just showed. One is that we didn't get that far down. You really wanted to see the line really come down to a much, much lower number, and it really just sort of plateaued around 20 -- just above 20,000 cases a day, giving the impression that that is the best we can do in this country, 20,000 new infections a day.

And then as you point out, we're middle of June now, and the numbers are starting to click back up, and in a significant way. We're starting to have the same conversations that we all had at the end of March. We're having them again now at the end of June. That is not the position we want to be in.

CAMEROTA: But Dr. Besser, one different conversation, slightly different conversation that we're having, is who this is most affecting. The CDC now says that 60 percent of all infections are under the age of 50. When this first began, and we talked to Sanjay obviously every day about this, the cases seemed to be 70-year-olds, 80-year-olds, and then the anomalies of younger people. But now the cases are 50 and younger. So what do you make of that?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, a couple things. One is that there's so much mixed messaging going on. You hear public health leaders and medical expert saying this is really experience. We are in the early days of the pandemic and we have to take these measures to try and slow the spread. And then you hear some political leaders saying there's nothing to worry about, go out there.

But in addition to young people being hit, and I think there, that's probably related to changes in behavior and not taking this seriously, we need to break down what's happening across the nation down to the community level, because we know to date that people of color, black Americans, Latino-Americans, are getting hit extremely hard. And I think these high-level numbers are masking that in some communities, as people are going back to work, especially low income workers, we don't have the safeguards in place so that they can go back to work safely, and if they're identified as infected that they have safe places to isolate and their contacts are quarantined for those 14 days.

BERMAN: It's so interesting, Rich, Dr. Besser, that you bring up mixed messaging there, because over the weekend on CNN Peter Navarro told Jake Tapper that the administration is preparing for a second wave of coronavirus in the fall. And then Larry Kudlow, who holds no medical degree as far as I know, he went out and said this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: There are some hot spots. We're on it. 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. It's just hot spots.


BERMAN: That's more than mixed messaging, Sanjay. It's diametrically opposed messaging, and I have to believe it has an impact.


GUPTA: Yes, it definitely has an impact. It minimizes this. People are going out and about thinking this thing is over. People are taking victory laps, and that sort of mixed messaging fuels that for sure.

One thing I will say is that regardless of what you want to call it, a second wave, it's not really a second wave because we haven't gotten out of the first wave. Whatever you want to call it, though, I think the point that I think people need to keep in mind is that these numbers are likely to get worse. And I hate saying that. Nobody likes it when I say it. I don't like saying it. But the numbers are likely to get worse. And we need to be prepared.

But this thing will potentially grow so quickly that all of a sudden, you'll wake up one morning and your mind will be boggled at how much the numbers have changed. That's what exponential growth means. All of a sudden, the hospital is full. They're not expected to be full, and all of a sudden, they are full. That can happen. It's already starting to happen in places across the country. We cannot let that happen again.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Besser, more mixed messaging -- the White House cannot get its story straight on whether President Trump wants to slow down testing. He is saying that he does. And they're saying no, he's just joking. But if the president did is actually issue some sort of instruction to slow down testing, who would take in that instruction? You, as a former acting director of the CDC, would people listen to that? Would people slow down testing?

BESSER: The CDC is a professional public health agency. There's only one political appointee, or I think maybe three now, in the agency. So I don't think that would affect that. But one of the things that I think is being missed here is that as we move from total lockdown to a public health model of testing, tracking, isolating, and quarantining, we have yet to see any state make that transition effectively. And to be able to do that, you need a public health system that's working. You need messaging lined up around that. In New York where they've hired thousands and thousands of contact tracers, we are hearing that there are problems, that people don't want to tell them who they've had contact with.

I think part of that is that a lot of these social benefits in terms of income support, eviction protection, foreclosure protection are going away. And so for someone to go into quarantine it could mean losing your job. We have to figure how to make that transition in a successful way where every state that reopens, even those that have done a really good job at tamping this down, are going to see pretty dramatic rises and we're going to end up back to where we were.

BERMAN: I think you bring up a great point, which is that we need to reconsider some of the public health implications going forward based on what we're seeing now. Look, it's terrific that the mortality rate, the number of new deaths is going down this in country every day. It still is going down. I hope it continues. I don't know that it will. But Sanjay, when you see the numbers of younger people getting it, I have to believe it will impact some of the decisions that are being made when we're talking about what colleges are going to do, when we're talking about what offices are going to do. If more and more young people are getting this, what decisions will need to be made?

GUPTA: Yes. I think people are dealing with these decisions real time, schools, sports programs, our society as a whole. I think that the idea, first of all, that young people can get sick -- they're far less likely to get sick than older people, that part of it is true, but that they can spread it still. You can predict, sadly, that the hospitalization rates will go up as more young people are contracting the infection, and that deaths will go up. I know that you're right, the death rates have gone down. But we get lulled into this false sense of confidence. People start taking victory laps on this data.

The virus has not changed. When we went into lockdown mode, stay-at- home mode back in the middle of March, there were fewer than 80 people who had died and fewer than 5,000 infections. And we thought, wow, this is a problem, we should go into stay at home mode. And now you see the numbers on the right side of your screen, and we're opening things back up. It defies logic.

And by the way, Rich Besser I think makes an excellent point. We keep talking about testing. The whole point of testing, then, is to then to be able to isolate people and contact trace so that you can really start to put the fire out. If we don't have the second part of that equation in place or it's not able to be implemented because of the reasons that Rich was mentioning, then we're going to fall behind there as well.

There were countries around the world, and I know people hate drawing the comparisons, South Korea never went into lockdown mode, and they were still able to do this with the strategies Rich just outlined. Fewer than 300 people died in the entire country, and they didn't go into lockdown mode. We could have done the same thing here.


CAMEROTA: Dr. Besser, we had on one of the ICU -- the head of the ICU unit at a Miami hospital because they're seeing their numbers spike so much. We had him on in the 6:00 hour, and he said that he does believe that the virus is becoming a little less lethal, that it is somehow shifting its virulence. Do you see evidence of that?

BESSER: In the reading I have done, I haven't seen any evidence of that. I would hate to see people change their behavior based on that. What we're seeing around the globe is that the numbers are going up dramatically, the numbers of deaths globally are going up dramatically. Here in the United States, as we're opening up we're seeing increases in cases, we're seeing once again hospitals getting overwhelmed. Hopefully we're improving in terms of our knowledge of how to treat people, and so that may lead to some better outcomes for some. And that's encouraging. But we have a long way to go, and we can't count on the virus toning down in terms of how it attacks. We're going to have to use these tools that we have. And they're crude tools in terms of social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands. But they're as good as we've got right now.

CAMEROTA: Great information. Dr. Besser, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you both very much. Great to talk to you.

BESSER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: President Trump is about to leave for Arizona where hospitalizations just hit their highest level of this entire pandemic. We have more on what that means, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In the next hour, President Trump will depart for Phoenix, Arizona, the state of Arizona just reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the fifth straight day.

And look at the hospitalizations there. They just hit their highest level of the pandemic with 84 percent of the intensive care beds now full.

Joining me now is Will Humble. He's the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Let's start with the president. We haven't talked about that yet. He's going to be visiting Arizona, holding an event indoors there.

You're concerned not specifically about that room per se, but about the wider implications. Why?

WILL HUMBLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARIZONA PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION: Yes. So this is going to be a 3,000-person event. They've got ambiguous mitigation measures in place. I mean, they're not following the CDC criteria to the T. There are a few mitigation measures from what I understand.

My bigger concern is that when you have a president and a governor attending an event like this ambiguous mitigation measures, with 3,000 persons, you know, in a state that's still in phase one and arguably we don't even meet those criteria to be honest, it sends a message to other organizations, whether that be a business organization, faith- based, any kind of -- any kind of organization that it's okay, you know, to have a big indoor event with ambiguous mitigation measures in a state that has really increases in hospitalizations and new cases that are going off the charts. BERMAN: Yeah, masks will not be required at this event. If that's

what you mean by ambiguous, that's more than ambiguous. Masks simply will not be required.

You say and you point out Arizona is in phase one and arguably not even meeting the requirements there. The positivity rates so people know what we're talking about here, the positivity rate on testing in Arizona is higher than 20 percent. That means that more than 20 percent of the people being tested are coming or showing that they have the virus.

Twenty percent positivity rate is actually -- that's the gating for phase one and Arizona is not meeting it. So, if you think about that, I know it's hard to wrap your head around a month or some cases longer than a month after states reopen, basically the numbers are showing now that Arizona shouldn't be open at all.

HUMBLE: Yeah, I mean, the number of new cases had been stabilizing in early May. And actually, the positivity rate had been actually improving. And then what happened was in Arizona, you know, we came out of our stay at home order in the middle of May. And what we saw happening was that around May 26th, an increase in cases that corresponded to the end of the stay at home order.

And if you do a root cause analysis on that, what it really suggests is that if you come out of a successful stay at home order, it's really important to put some standards and criteria in place that are measurable so that you have good compliance and expectations for the community about what to do, businesses, et cetera. And if you have a purely voluntary program which is what we did in Arizona, you're going to get bad results.

BERMAN: Are you saying this was man-made, in other words? In other words, are you saying that we have seen this increase since the end of May because of choices made in Arizona?

HUMBLE: Yeah. I mean, yes. Essentially, yes. We had a very successful stay at home order. It worked. Arizonians complied, in a good way.

What happened was as I mentioned, we transitioned out of the stay at home using a voluntary and compliance was poor, and Arizonians' behavior changed, and that's what -- I mean, this virus thrives on human behavior. The stay at home orders influence behavior. The criteria that you put in place after a stay at home order changed behavior.

And if -- if you don't use the kind of incentives that you need to change that behavior, the virus will take advantage of that and you'll get results like you see in Arizona.

BERMAN: One of the things I have wondered about Arizona, we talk about the seasonality -- or potential seasonality of coronavirus. People say as it gets warmer, the virus may have less of an impact. But states like Arizona, it gets really warm, and people go inside, people tend to go to indoor spaces and maybe ironically getting closer together. What kind of an impact do you think that might be having?

HUMBLE: Not -- I'm not really sure. What I had been hoping was that we would see what we see with our seasonal influenza in Arizona. We see a decrease in May when it starts to get hot.

I was hoping because this is a droplet -- particle-driven disease like influenza that we would benefit from our really high temperatures but that's surely not the case.

I don't think the run-up in cases in Arizona is due to the temperatures. It's going to be 111 here today. And I don't think it's from driving people indoors. It's because of policy choices that have been made.


BERMAN: So, what you can do? Is there any way to put the genie back in the bottle here? Once you've opened, to the extent that state like Arizona has, how do you begin to un-open?

HUMBLE: So, there's some good news in that front. Last week, our governor had a news conference where he -- where he put in some news policies in place. And so, now, as of a couple of days ago, we know have -- businesses are required to comply with the CDC mitigation measures. Cities now have the authority to require masks within their jurisdictions, that wasn't the case until about a week ago.

There's been a more concerted effort to do testing in our assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and in contact tracing that's ramping up. Now, arguably those are things that could have been put in place in mid May. It wasn't. No one has a time machine. We can't go back in time and do that.

You know, what we can do is implement the policies now and urge other states to not make the same mistakes that we made.

BERMAN: What's your level of concern right about ICU beds in Arizona?

HUMBLE: So -- yeah, that's probably I think one of the more troubling things about all of this. Is that essentially, every state is having this same trend which is people are being admitted to hospital beds and being admitted to ICU beds faster than they're being discharged. And what that causes is an increase in the census, it in -- in the number of patients within the facilities.

We have about -- maybe a 10 percent -- arguably even less than that, really, a safety margin of about 10 percent with ICU beds, which doesn't give us much turnaround time if we have another spike. And so, nobody wants to go into what we call in the industry here, the crisis standards of care. That's what happened in New York. That's what happened in Italy.

Nobody wants crisis standards of care because that means lower care for everybody. Not just people with COVID-19. And so, I mean, that's just the challenge here is, to have -- will these new mitigation measures that are in place act in time for us to stay out of crisis standards.

BERMAN: Will Humble, I have to say -- I hope we don't need to talk to you again in the near future, I fear we will. And I hope you will come back and keep us posted as to what you're seeing there. It's really important. Great discussion.

HUMBLE: All right. Thank you. Bye.

BERMAN: So a powerful show of solidarity in Talladega after the noose was found in the garage of NASCAR's only black driver on the top circuit. Why it matters for the sport and why this image you're seeing there matters for America. That's next.



BERMAN: All right. Developing this morning the New York City Police Department has released shocking new video that shows a man throwing a lit firework at a homeless man who was sleeping on the street.


BERMAN: All right, that looks awful. The NYPD is asking the public's health to find the person who did this. CNN affiliate WABC reports that the person is in stable condition.

The attack does come amid a large uptick in the number of complaints about illegal fireworks in New York.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Just horrible, we'll keep you posted on that.

Meanwhile, drivers and crew members walked in a powerful show of solidarity at the Talladega Superspeedway after a noose was left in the garage of NASCAR's lone black driver, Bubba Wallace. Wallace was overcome by all of the support.


BUBBA WALLACE, NASCAR DRIVER: The sport is changing. The deal that happened yesterday -- sorry I'm not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was, that you're not going to take away my smile. And I'm going to keep on going.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Robert Edelstein, he's a NASCAR rider for "TV Guide" Magazine. He's also the author of "NASCAR Legends: Memorable, Moments and Machines in Racing History."

Robert, it's great to have you here. As someone who's been covering NASCAR for 25 years, what did that moment mean?

ROBERT EDELSTIN, NASCAR WRITER, TV GUIDE MAGAZINE: It really meant -- it meant so much. It's really the culmination of a sport that's been around for 70 years. It's really had this issue for a long time and now, we have all the drivers and the drivers are really the heroes, the representatives not only of their brands, but of the brand of NASCAR. For -- to have that kind of solidarity behind Bubba Wallace was amazing.

CAMEROTA: Two weeks ago, you wrote an op-ed for "The Washington Post" in which you were skeptical, basically, that the Confederate flag ban would work. You said basically, I'll believe it when I don't see them.

So do you feel differently now?

EDELSTEIN: I feel slightly differently, only because I feel like what happened with the noose in Bubba Wallace's stall is the kind of thing that I feel that whoever did this probably thought it was going to have one effect and I think it's going to have an entirely different effect. I think that effect is going to really increase this kind of solidarity.

And so, I believe there's a better chance of it happening, but we're in the midst of the season where we have got no fans. Is it going to happen? Is this kind of momentum going to continue? I hope so because it's time.

CAMEROTA: Didn't we see a couple thousand fans trickle back yesterday? I mean, aren't we already testing the hypothesis? Weren't there some fans in the stadium at the speedway yesterday?

EDELSTEIN: There were and there are going to be increasing numbers of fans at different races throughout this season. It's almost like in this situation, it's going to be the perfect test to see if they can make sure that they can have this happen. Then we're just going to have to just wait for next season also to see if they can make sure it happens.

But it is -- it's a controversial thing and the more we talk about it, the more the controversy gets stirred and obviously it touched a nerve with someone.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, the fact that you have covered this for so long, what do you think -- how do you think the fans when they come back in droves will react? Will they be alienated by this or are they receptive to this change?

EDELSTEIN: I think -- I think the majority of fans are.