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Trump Downplays Crisis As Fauci Warns Of Disturbing Surge; Several Florida Cities Mandate Masks As Cases Soar; Georgia Legislature Approves Hate Crime Bill. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 24, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: The European Union, which has been far more successful in containing the virus, is considering banning Americans from traveling there. The U.S. death rate far outpacing the world with 25 percent of the deaths and 25 percent of the total cases, despite having only 4 percent of the global population.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: So despite all of this, President Trump held a large indoor event in Arizona, which is one of the nation's coronavirus hotspots, cases there increasing so much. How did he handle it? Well, racism. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's got all different names. Wuhan was catching on. Coronavirus, right? Kung flu, yes? Kung flu.


BERMAN: He says to cheers.

Now, most people in the audience there, they were not wearing masks or socially distancing. You can see them sitting next to each other. It's exactly the type of gathering that the president's own coronavirus task force recommends against.

CAMEROTA: -- former White House Ebola Response Coordinator and former Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, I want to start with you because of what Dr. Fauci said yesterday. Dr. Fauci, as we know, is not an alarmist, nor are you. So what do you see today and for the next two weeks?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I have no problem being an alarmist. I mean, I think there are times when things are quite alarming. We're acting like some of these decisions, some of these things are within our control, you know. Maybe we should ask people to sort of stay at home.

We're in the middle of a storm at this point. You hear all of these different metaphors, it's a storm, it's a forest fire, things like that. It's a cancer that has metastasized. We didn't treat it adequately. And now we're surprised it continues to spread. Well, whatever metaphor you want to apply to it, we have a problem right now.

There is a virus that is continuing to spread and spread more rapidly than I think anyone predicted given what we could have done to try and control this. And now we're still sort of dilly dallying about what we need to do next. It's becoming increasingly clear.

We looked at what happened in Italy with horror. I remember being on your program saying, I can't believe what's happening in Italy. People can't get into hospitals that need medical care. It's spiraling out of control. Well, months into this, we are sort of slowly -- not even slowly anymore but finding ourselves in this similar scenario.

So it is alarming. And I think you listened to the hearing yesterday, I listened to the whole thing. I mean, obviously, you have government officials who are choosing their words carefully. But if you read between the lines, they're being pretty clear. If you look at what the former CDC director is saying, if you look what the former FDA commissioner is saying, people who may not as sort of bridled on what's happening right now, they're being very clear. We're in the middle of a huge problem right now.

BERMAN: Ron Klain, seven states are showing record numbers of hospitalizations. That means record numbers of people so sick, they need to go to the hospital. And often hospitalizations are an indicator of mortality that is to come soon.

We heard the governor of Texas recommend staying at home, which is different than a stay-at-home order. What I know from you though is what specific actions do you think that these governors in, say, Arizona or Texas should take? Should stay-at-home orders be reinstituted? Should it be mandatory?

RON KLAIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I think the first thing you do is get on the phone and call the president who was egging them on to reopen too soon and tell the president he needs to step up and do his job. We still need more testing. We need contact tracing. Because if you test people and don't trace their contacts, you're not going to really extinguish chains of transmission. We need gear for people in those hospitals.

If you talk to doctors and nurses on the frontlines in places like Arizona, in places like Texas, in places like Florida, they're talking about shortages of critical gear again. Those are the things the federal government should be doing to help those governors fight this disease.

And I think that the federal government hasn't done those things really since day one. In fact, this week, the Trump administration announced they're going to do less testing. They're going to shut down federal support for testing centers.

And so the basics, the fundamentals -- Sanjay said a minute ago, why didn't we do the things we needed to do to get this under control early. Those key things are testing, tracing and protecting our healthcare system. We didn't do them early, we're not doing them now.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, do we even have the technology to do contact tracing?

GUPTA: Yes. And, you know, contact tracing is a very labor-intensive sort of thing to do. If you go back and look at the gating criteria by which states should be reopening, it's sort of allowed for this 14-day downward trend.


Why is that? The reason is that if you have a 14-day downward trend, you can get to a low enough number of absolute cases -- you should there on the screen -- low enough number of absolute number of cases, where eve with this labor-intensive sort of requirements of contact tracing, you can stay on top of it.

The problem, Alisyn, I think, to your question is if you have very high numbers of people who are becoming infected, who are newly infected, it becomes harder to do. I mean, you're calling people, you're then on the phone calling people and saying, hey, you may have been in touch with somebody who has the infection.

How many times do you get a call where you don't even answer the call because you don't recognize the number? I mean, that sounds like a silly thing in terms of what could hamstring you, but it's those types of things.

So, sometimes they've got to then go to the person's home or their apartment, knock on the door and say, hey, here is the deal. You came in contact, you need to quarantine yourself for 14 days. By the way, we're going to call you every day and make sure you're at home and see how you're doing and see what your temperature is and all that sort of stuff. It's a really labor-intensive thing.

But you can't do it if you have tens of thousands of people becoming newly infected every day. You just don't have the manpower. Some say it would take hundreds of thousands of people in this country to effectively contact trace.

BERMAN: It's interesting because --

KLAIN: Can I just --

BERMAN: Go ahead, Ron.

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Ron.

KLAIN: Yes. So I agree with Dr. Gupta, it's labor-intensive. That's why Democrats on Capitol Hill -- Joe Biden has proposed hiring 100,000 people to do it. We have 20 million Americans who don't have jobs. We could put some of those Americans to work keeping the rest of America safer and healthier. It would solve two problems at the same time. We could train them. We could create a contact tracing corps.

That's what we did in other countries, what we did in West Africa when we fought the Ebola epidemic, when there was a massive outbreak of an even more lethal disease, we trained up thousands of people to do the contact tracing. Yes, we could also use some technology to help empower that.

It is hard, as Dr. Gupta said. I don't want to minimize the challenge here. But what's the alternative? The alternative is we're having states talking about having to shut down again or having thousands of new cases a day. We're having 20,000 deaths this month. That's the level of fatalities we saw during World War II.

So we have -- as Dr. Gupta said, we have a big, big problem. We need a big, big answer.

BERMAN: Sanjay, you brought up the gating criteria. And I think it's so interesting because it's worth reminding people, and in some of these states now, I'm talking about Arizona, to an extent, Texas, North Carolina, the recommendations from the federal government, they're not even at phase one, which is to say, they're not even in a place where they should have lifted the initial stay-at-home orders according to the initial guidelines. That's how far things have slipped there.

And I really do want to know, you're talking about contact tracing. That's one thing you can do going forward. Going forward, starting today, what needs to happen? Realistically, do these states need to consider reinstituting those stay-at-home orders?

GUPTA: I hate to say it, but the answer to that question is, yes.

Now, you've heard, we've been talking about this for months now. If you go look at South Korea, for example, they never had to go into full lockdown mode because their case counts never got that high. They were able to use the measures of masks, physical distancing in public and obviously testing and tracing, as Ron Klain is talking about. It worked when you were at the beginning of this and think of it, again, if you want to use the metaphor of cancer, it was an early stage one problem. You needed a different sort of treatment.

We're sort of now -- this has metastasized around the country and we need to do something aggressive in order to treat this. I think we're still trying these half-baked measures and we're not even applying the half-baked measures that well.

So, yes, I get that there's a significant resistance to going back into some sort of lockdown mode again. We've said since the beginning the reason you do it is to obviously improve health, but also to ultimately get things back open more fully, more quickly if you can apply the effective treatment now.

I'm worried about this. I don't that -- I heard what the governor of Texas said yesterday about recommending people stay at home, not making it a mandate. I don't know that we're going to have -- the decision is going to be our hands in a while. The decision may get made for us in a while.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Ron, the president, as you know, said he wants to slow down testing. His aides then said, no, no, he was just joking. The president just then reminded us, no, he never jokes. And are you saying that that's already happening at a federal level?

KLAIN: So we know two things, Alisyn. We know, first of all, the White House announced this week that they will stop federal support for testing centers. They're going to start to cut back the amount of federal aid to testing centers. So that's one question about, will that slow down testing? It will almost certainly will.

The second point, Alisyn is, I saw the members of the president's task force yesterday testify before Congress that they weren't given any orders to slow down testing. And I take them at their word, of course. But I do think, it's important to remember, that on March the 13th, President Trump announced that there will be a massive program of people getting tested in the parking lots of big box stores.


That would be how all of us will get tested in those parking lots. And he put Jared Kushner and his task force, not the other task force, not the Pence task force, but the Kushner task force in charge of that. And in the end, fewer than 2 percent of those big box store parking lots have testing them.

So what happened to that program? Why didn't we get the universal parking lot drive-in testing that the president promised on March 13th. What did Kushner's task force do about that? I think that's where a lot of these questions about why we're so far behind on testing need to go.

BERMAN: And, sanjay, again, talking about the now, Arizona has got real problems. Arizona's positivity rate is higher than 20 percent. They're seeing hospitalizations increase. They're running out of ICU beds.

And I don't know if we have the picture to pull up. The president, what did he do, he went to Phoenix. I mean, he went to one of the hotspots, if not, the biggest hotspot in the country right now in the coronavirus outbreak, and he gave a speech in a crowded room.

There's no space between these people there, many of whom -- most of whom, according to our reporters in the room, were not wearing masks. Now, they were young people. Is that going to protect them from spreading the virus? What's going to happen from this event?

GUPTA: I don't even know what to say anymore about this sort of stuff. I mean, this is -- to me, it's like a bunch of people being outside in the middle of a hurricane, right? I mean, you can't see this virus, you don't feel it. It may incubate in your body for 14 days, but it makes it no less of a storm.

We're being really, really silly. We're being ridiculous at this point with these types of things. That's the worst-case scenario. I mean, having a large indoor event, unmasked, people not physically distancing in the midst of a pandemic with a very, very contagious virus out there. The virus hasn't changed. We know the virus is contagious. It just -- it defies logic.

History books will be written about things like this. And those will not be fun history books to read. I mean, it's going to be -- we're not going to be judged very favorably.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Ron Klain, thank you both for all of the information this morning.

KLAIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: As coronavirus cases soar in Florida, some cities and counties are mandating now that residents wear masks. Not everyone is happy about that. That's next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All in favor of the motion, say aye?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All opposed? That motion passes 7-0. The Board of County of Commissioners will be in recess for ten minutes and we will reconvene at 1:02. Thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: Okay. That was some Florida residents voicing their anger after officials in Palm Beach County voted unanimously to mandate mask-wearing in public.

Joining us now is County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who voted in favor of the mandate. She is the former mayor of Palm Beach County. Commissioner, great to see you.

You described that as a mini melee, what happened last night. What was their argument? Why don't they want to wear masks?

MELISSA MCKINLAY (D), PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSIONER: You know, their argument is this is some sort of constitutional crisis. Let me just say, a constitutional crisis is voter suppression. It's discrimination based on race. It's not trying to address a public health epidemic by asking people to wear masks to curb the spread of this virus.

If you want to make this a constitutional crisis, let's talk about the 120,000-plus dead Americans who are no longer able to pursue their happiness.

CAMEROTA: I mean, there were only a handful of them, but they were quite vociferous. And they think that you're violating their constitutional rights to what, be able to infect other people, get other people sick? What in the Constitution are you violating, do they think? MCKINLAY: I haven't been able to find that amendment to the Constitution. We viewed this mandate the same way we view wearing clothes in public and putting on a seat belt. We've got a crisis on our hands, we've got people that are dying, we've got a virus that is spreading rapidly, not just across the United States, but, again, across other countries, and we need to do something.

Wearing a mask is a small step. It's recommended by our governor's own surgery general. It's been recommended by several task forces, the Florida Medical Association, I mean, several healthcare organizations and professionals are saying a mask can go a long way to curbing the spread of this virus.

CAMEROTA: And we just showed them yelling there. After that, did they rush the dice (ph)? Did you have to be escorted by police to your car?

MCKINLAY: They did rush the dice (ph). We had to ante the chamber and we had to disinfect the chamber because nobody in the room was following our social distance guidelines. They pounded on our secure door. That's the back of our room there. They threatened citizen arrest. And, yes, I did have to leave the meeting early for an appointment and had to have an escort to my car.

CAMEROTA: And so, meanwhile, against that backdrop, cases are spiking in Florida. Again, here are the numbers. I mean, this is what Florida looks like right now. You can see the marked increase in case, up to 4,000. It's gone down now somewhere between 4,000 and 3,000. I'll show you what Palm Beach County looks like. More than 11,000 total cases, 476 deaths, a lot of hospitalizations, more than 1,500. And then the median age of patients was 44, which, of course, is younger than lots of people associate with Florida and retirees. So what's going on there?

MCKINLAY: For our county, we're seeing the highest increase in the ages between 18 and 34. We've just got a lot of young people that were ready to get back out, want to go to restaurants, want to go to bars and enjoy being young and not really practicing the guidelines that have been put in place.


And so we're starting to see that spread in that age group.

I've got three in that age group and they sometimes think they're invincible. This virus is showing that they're not. Thankfully, they're not getting the symptoms, but on the dark side of that, is that because they don't have the symptoms, they don't know they have the virus and they're spreading it.

CAMEROTA: Are masks going to solve this problem? I mean, I know you've been pushing for mandatory mask-wearing for a long time. Is that enough given where Florida is? Is it time to do something even more stringent?

MCKINLAY: No. Masks are certainly not the end all, be all. Continuing to socially distance, continuing to work from home, if you have that opportunity, to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer when it's not available, avoid large groups.

We're dealing with multiple crisis at the same time. We've got an economic crisis. Our unemployment rate now is about 14 percent in the State of Florida. People need a paycheck they need to put food on their table. And at the same time, we've got public health -- we've got a pandemic.

And we're trying to balance those two items at the same time. And we've taken a few small steps towards reopening. We would like to not have to take any steps backwards. So the business community was asking us, you know, help us here. Help us do something to boost consumer confidence to ensure that we're safe for people to come and enjoy our establishment.

So the masks, I think, will help, but it's definitely not the end all, be all.

CAMEROTA: So you, at this moment, do not think that a stay-at-home order would be wise?

MCKINLAY: I don't think we're going to have our governor take a step backwards. Palm Beach County is a little bit different than the rest of the counties in Florida. We're still at phase one. We've made a request a few weeks ago before we started seeing this surge to go in into a very limited phase two. The governor has not approved that. One of the reasons he hasn't approved it is he doesn't like our numbers and he even said, Palm Beach County, you're not doing as good of a job masking as Broward and Miami-Dade County.

So, hopefully, we can get these masks in place, we can relax our numbers a little bit and we don't have to take any steps backwards.

CAMEROTA: Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, thank you very much for giving us a status report on what happened last night.


BERMAN: So we want to remember some of the more than 121,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

65-year-old Arnold Plant adopted a name Abdullah (ph) when he found Islam, a Newark, New Jersey music lover. He was also a huge New York Giants fan who kept up a friendly rivalry with this Cowboys fan wife of 24 years, Lanie (ph). He has survived by her, a son and two daughters and a huge extended family.

Elizabeth del Mundo (ph) immigrated from the Philippines to New Jersey and worked as a nursing manager until she got coronavirus, an avid scrabble player. She is survived by six siblings and many nieces and nephews. She was 59 years old.

And Washington, D.C.'s hard-driving city administrator Allen Lew leaves behind a number of iconic buildings, including the National Park's Baseball Stadium and the city's Convention Center, who was also involved in a major rehab of D.C.'s public schools, in the words of The Washington Post, Lew blasted through layers of bureaucracy to get things done on time. He was just 69.

We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: Now, to the story that we've been covering for you. The Georgia legislature has passed a hate crime bill that allows stiffer criminal penalties for anyone who targets others because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. Governor Brian Kemp plans to sign the measure after a legal review.

Georgia was one of four states without a hate crime law. The bill comes in the wake of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbrey.

BERMAN: In just a few hours, the Senate will vote on whether to advance the Republicans' police reform bill, which Senate Democrats are poised to block. There are various disagreements between both bills, and including on the issue of qualified immunity, which shields police officers from lawsuits. Some of the other differences including no-knock raids, also whether to outright ban chokeholds.

Now, my next guest has focused in on that issue of qualified immunity. Joining me now is Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana. Senator, thanks so much for being with us.

I think the discussion about qualified immunity is so important and you're leading on it. So I want to delve into it if I can right now.

Right now, the law of qualified immunity means you can't sue a police officer unless you can prove that he or she violated a clearly established constitutional right. What does that mean, clearly established, and why do you think that standard is too high?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): So when the law was crafted back in 1871, there was no concept of qualified immunity. That's happened through judicial review, the court systems from '60s to the present. And it's gotten yes to the point where any organization has to have transparency and accountability.

What makes it tricky here is law enforcement, law and order is so important in this country and it's now being stigmatized by these instances of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor.

So in law enforcement's own best interests, I think you need to find a way to get that basic accountability that all other entities live with so you can do your job and not have the stigmatizing that's occurring currently with not accepting some accountability.


This is where the rubber is going to meet the road in terms -- state police in Indiana.