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Florida Records 5,000+ New Cases in 24-Hour Period; Cases Declining in Blue States, Sharply Rising in Red States; Dr. Jeffrey Morris Discusses Troubling Hotspots in Coronavirus Surge in 3 States; More Young People Testing Positive for Coronavirus; Trump Lays Wreath at Korean War Veterans Memorial; GAO Report Shows National Stockpile Not Properly Equipped. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2020 - 11:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John King in Washington. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

We'll see President Trump later this hour here in Washington. He's laying a wreath at the Korean War Memorial before heading off to Wisconsin today, that a critical piece of his re-election puzzle.

New polls show deepening political trouble for the president. An electoral map tipping more and more in favor of Joe Biden.

Now, we are careful about too much politics in the middle of a pandemic, but there's a clear connection here. The president needs you to feel better if his polls are to get better. So he keeps telling you he did a phenomenal job and won the coronavirus fight. But you live in the real world, and most of you know the fact is that fight is hardly over.

In many communities at this right now, it's getting tougher. And 34,000-plus new cases Wednesday alone, 34,000 plus new cases Wednesday alone. That's the fourth highest single day total over this entire pandemic.

The top line numbers, well, they are quaint haunting. Nearly 2.4 million cases here in the United States and 122,000 Americans have lost their lives so far to this virus.

The economics also grim. Another 1.5 million people filed for first- time unemployment benefits last week. The running total of Americans who have lost a job since mid-March, 47.3 million.

There's also politics sadly in the debate over how to stop this case surge and how to keep the economy open. Wearing a mask helps, period. Yet, the president says some wear a mask only to protest him, and he does not consider them an essential coronavirus countermeasure.

New projections again pit the president against the science. The current path where Americans take the mixed approach to wearing masks ends with nearly 180,000 dead by October. If 95 percent of Americans wear masks, the model says 30,000 fewer Americans would die.

New York's governor this morning says the science is clear and the debate ridiculous.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I say to them all look at the numbers. You played politics with this virus and you lost. You told the people of your state and you told the people of this country, White House, don't worry about it. Just open up, go about your business. This is all Democratic hyperbole.

Oh really? It was never politics. It was always science. And they were in denial and denial is not a life strategy.


KING: One of the states struggling right now is the state of Florida. Brand-new numbers out of that state right now.

Let's get straight to CNN's Rosa Flores in Miami -- Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, remember, when you and I were talking and experts were worried about 1,000 cases and then more than 2,000 cases, more than 3,000, more than 4,000? Yesterday, we crossed the 5,000 mark here in Florida.

Today, another 5,000 mark, more than 5,000 cases reported by the Florida Department of Health and just yesterday. And during a press conference Florida Governor Ron DeSantis doubling down saying he's not going to require masks statewide.

But here's a reality on the ground. We talked to an expert. She put it like this. It's very simple. There are a lot of young people in the state of Florida who are out and about partying, not wearing masks, not social distancing, and then going home and intermingling about their parents and grandparents, going to work and mingling with their co-workers and spreading this virus.

We checked the numbers here in Miami-Dade because Miami-Dade is the epicenter of this crisis here in the state of Florida. And just yesterday, there was a 27 percent positivity rate.

Now, you've got to listen to this because the goal for the county is not to exceed 10 percent. They have exceeded 10 percent for the past step days.

When it comes to hospitalizations, Jackson Health reporting a 108 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in the last 16 days. Leaders here are concerned.

The mayor of Miami-Dade reporting yesterday that there's an outbreak in south Miami-Dade County involving farm workers that live in very close quarters.

They are very concerned about these individuals -- they don't need hospital rooms, according to the mayor, but they do need to be isolated. So the county is stepping in offering hotel rooms to these farm workers until they get rid of this virus.

Again, a lot of concern. Multiple counties here in southeast Florida requiring masks. But, again, Governor Ron DeSantis, John, doubling down yesterday.

You and I were talking yesterday how Florida broke the record yesterday with more than 5,500 cases. On that very same day, Governor Ron DeSantis had a press conference and he doubled down and said he's not requiring masks statewide -- John?

KING: Every one of those numbers you go through, Rosa, every day, troubling, troubling, troubling and, in some cases, more troubling.

Rosa Flores, appreciate the on-the-ground reporter in the critical state of Florida.

The national numbers do look more troubling by the day. Let's look. The United States currently averaging 31,000 confirmed infections. The trajectory is a complete reversal from where we were last month. In one month, the United States has added 724,000 new cases, 24,000 more Americans over that period have died.


The World Health Organization says Europe recorded an increase in COVID cases this week for the first time in months. But look at the trajectories, look closely. You see Italy and the entire European Union. Those are the ones down low.

Much more success coming down the mountain of managing the new normal than the United States, which you see in the green on top. New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, have all flattened the curve, pushed it down close to zero. Again, far better results than here in the United States.

Here, the state with the worst metrics at the moment, Arizona. It is recording the highest number of new coronavirus cases per capita.

The president is fond of taking after Democratic governors and mayors. But look at the national map and there's a big difference in how red and blue states are navigating this critical chapter of the pandemic.

In blue states, won by Hillary Clinton, cases are declining. And states where the president won in 2016, cases are rising and sharply. Experts say it's just a no-brainer. Lives will be saved if every American begins wearing a mask today.

But this is a new political divide. And 21 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require face masks when you're out in public and you could be close to others. Georgia and Utah encouraging masks but not mandating them.

Joining us now from the "Washington Post" is our White House reporter, Josh Dawsey. Josh, it's stunning, it's stunning in the middle of this pandemic,

that masks, a pretty simple task, have become a giant political divide.

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": They have. And -- and even in the White House, you've seen it play out that way as well.

I went to the rally on Saturday with the president and the vice president in Tulsa, and you saw not many of the president's staffers or vice president staffers wear masks. They say we are testing every day so we don't need masks.

The president is not wearing the mask publicly. We're not seeing many White House staffers wearing a mask.

You have the president saying the CDC guidance is to wear a mask if you want to wear a mask, you should wear mask but it's really up to you. And you see surging cases across the country again now.

KING: And so, look, I'm not a doctor. You're not a doctor, although I like to call you Dr. Dawsey.

This is a seven-day moving average of case that require masks and don't require masks. You see California, which does require masks, the nation's most populous state. California, especially because of L.A., in the middle of a surge right there.

And let me blank this so you see other states. Florida, no mask requirement, that's the green. You see it right here heading up, right? Texas no masks. You see it heading up. New York, which was the epicenter early on, requires masks. It is way down here where you want to be.

If you just look at that, why is this so hard?

DAWSEY: Well, that's a good question. I'm not sure that it's just masks. I think it's policies that folks are doing on reopening, social distancing and influx of people in and out of states.

If you talk to all the experts, there's a wide confluence of experts that some states having more cases than others. It's the governing seriousness, you know, of how a state is doing. It's not just masks.

With that said there's a correlation there and, you know, public health experts are repeatedly saying, if you're out of public, you're inside, you're somewhere where you're around people, you should wear a mask. That's what they are saying at least.

But you're not seeing a lot of states follow that maybe as well as public health experts would like.

KING: I guess let's set the science aside a bit. The president hits the road. We'll talk later about the new battleground polling that's not good for the president. This is seven-day moving average of new cases in 2020 battlegrounds,

meaning states the president needs to win, needs to win at least most of them. Look at the 2020 battleground the case count is going up. This is not the graphic I wanted to see here.

This is another graphic of states that lean Democrat and states that lean Republican.

Let's go back through them, please, in the control room. Let's start with the 2020 battlegrounds.

OK. We're not going to show you that graphic.

But 2020 battleground states, 2020 battleground states -- you see it there -- the cases are going up. Doesn't the president risk, as he goes today in Wisconsin -- he was in Arizona the other day. He goes into these battleground states and he keeps saying, I did a phenomenal job, the drive is behind us.

And these people -- this is their life. They are going back to work. I don't care whether you're a Democrat or Republican or Independent, it's around you. You see it around you.

Does the president risk being out of touch?

DAWSEY: What you see in the battleground states is that the president trailing in a lot of these places, Wisconsin, Michigan, saw some polling where he's not doing great in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina.

A lot of these states are states he has to win. He's competitive in some of them. But in the internal polling that the campaign and RNC has done, you know, his handling of the coronavirus has been something that the public has faulted him as well. You see some people having concerns about the protests.


Some Trump advisers say, there's four and a half months before the election, everything could change. This is not time to be that concerned yet. But you're seeing growing concern around the president because the numbers are all trending in the wrong direction.

You know, some of these polls where it's double digits now at this point, those are not promising signs for him.

KING: Not promising signs. Simply saying something to everybody out there that has common sense. Most people do. And however they vote, their real lives tell them something different from what they hear from the president.

Josh Dawsey, appreciate your reporting and insights.

This quick programming note for us. Very importantly, Bill Gates will join Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a new CNN town hall, "CORONAVIRUS, FACTS AND FEARS," live tonight at 8:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

Coming up, some new COVID projections warn of a surge. We look particularly at three states.



KING: A closer look now at many of the most troubling spots as this new coronavirus surge plays out.

With me now, Jeffrey Morris, the director of the Division of Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania, and also lead researcher for a coronavirus modeling project at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Thank you, sir, so much for being with us.

We're seeing this surge across country. About half of the states having issues. I want to focus on some of the spots that you look at and our most concerned about. Let's start with Maricopa County in Arizona. That's where Phoenix is. When you look at the data there, why are you worried?

DR. JEFFREY MORRIS, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF BIOSTATISTICS, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA & LEAD RESEARCHER, CORONAVIRUS MODELING PROJECT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I'm worried because the increase in growth is staggering and something we really haven't seen in this pandemic yet, as well as increased testing positivity.

And so because of these factors our projections are that this surge is likely to continue in the next few weeks.

KING: And you connect key dots. We did this earlier in our business. Maybe in our business we haven't done enough throughout it to remind people.

It's not just the case counts. The president says we're finding more cases because we're testing more people but the percentage of positivity is critical. Please explain why.

MORRIS: Yes. Naturally increasing testing will increase cases. But in many of these places where we're seeing these surges, the increasing cases is at a much higher rate than the testing.

And the testing positivity rate is a good factor to watch, to look at that. That's the proportion of viral tests that come back positive. So as that is increasing, that is showing strong evidence of a real surge.

KING: And Jeffrey, are you also have concerns. Let's go Clark County, Nevada. If you look at some of the numbers here, they appear to be heading in the right direction, but, and there's an important "but," right?

MORRIS: That's right. I think they are seeing some upticks that are reminiscent of what we saw in Florida, Texas and Arizona earlier. And the increasing tourism and the weather, keeping indoors might be a perfect storm for a surge if care is not taken.

KING: Another place, obviously, we saw this play out in real life, just over the weekend, you had a number of staffers on the Trump campaign and number of Secret Service officers get coronavirus, test positive for coronavirus after being in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the president's rally down there. Tulsa County, were the numbers as well heading up.

And you believe, if that continues, it could be dangerously so.

MORRIS: Correct. The situation is also ripe for a potential surge there if something is not done to slow it.

KING: And when you say something is not done, you know, there's a debate about masks. There's a debate about whether they should be mandated. You do see some companies, Apple closing stores, Disney pulling back.

What should be done?

MORRIS: Yes. I think mask-wearing is one of the keys that we've seen in many places. They make a real difference in safe reopening. And from what I've seen mask-wearing is not at a high level in Tulsa. That's one thing.

But also following the social distancing directives, especially indoors around people, both for businesses and individuals. That's another factor that's very important.

KING: Let's not be all pessimistic here. There are some places where things are going in the right direction, among them the Richmond area of the state of Virginia. We had the mayor on, a couple of months back, when things were bleak there.

If you look at Richmond, Virginia, right now, that's not as low as you would like it to be, but going in the right direction, you believe?

MORRIS: Yes, for sure. We were a little concerned about it, but it hasn't surged. It's flattened out. And I think the mask-wearing directive in May and social distancing adherence might have been the key to turning that around.

KING: And you also cite as positive if we go out to Oregon as well. What are you seeing out there?

MORRIS: Yes, same thing there. We were seeing some increases in early June, but last couple of weeks, it's really stabilized. And our model has -- has projected that it's not going to keep going up.

And so, again there, I think careful social distancing and mask- wearing are key factors there as well.

KING: And so as -- as we go through this, I want to close on that point. You know, it's science. If you talk to the experts like yourself, involved in science, to me, as a lay person, to be common sense, social distancing and masks work.

And where you see situations where people are violating those common- sense and scientific norms, they don't. That's what you see when you go through the bad places and good places.

Pretty crystal clear, right?

MORRIS: Pretty clear.

KING: Jeffrey, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it today. We will continue the conversation as we go through hit. And we'll focus on good spots as well. I promise.

Officials also are warning more young people are starting to test positive for coronavirus.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen takes a closer look.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last place Jerry Ward thought he'd end up, in the hospital with COVID-19 at age 29.

JERRY WARD, YOUNG PERSON WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: I went to a house party for a cousin's birthday, and three days later, everyone started texting me and said we all wasn't feeling well.

COHEN: Jerry says 10 people from that party in south Florida, all in their late 20s and early 30s, have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

(on camera): What message do you want to get out to people your age?

WARD: They should take it serious. Only go to places that are as needed, such as doctor's appointments, work, stuff of that nature.

COHEN (voice-over): But some young people in Florida are gathering in groups and not wearing masks.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noting that in March the median age of confirmed cases in his state was 65. Now it's 35.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What we've seen, particularly over the last week, is a real explosion in new cases amongst our younger demographics.

COHEN: Some people, like Jerry, have underlying medical conditions and need to be hospitalized. But most young people recover at home and have no symptoms but they can still spread the virus.

DR. LILIAN ABBO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: The message is, you can get hospitalized and get others infected and sick as well. You need to protect yourself and others. COHEN (on camera): That's the message Taisia Graham is trying to get

out. She's 23 and recovering from COVID-19. She made this YouTube video.


TAISIA GRAHAM, YOUNG PERSON WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: This is like the worst feeling I've ever felt in my whole entire life.


COHEN (voice-over): Taisia I now isolating and missing her 2-year-old daughter.

(on camera): When you look out and see young people your age in Florida out there partying in large groups without masks, what do you think?

GRAHAM: Honestly, I was one of the people that went out in the very beginning. Now that I have COVID now I think it's really important that people really take this serious.

COHEN (voice-over): Taisia and Jerry are hoping if they tell their stories --

WARD The process has not been easy and it's still probably not going to be the easiest to finish.

COHEN: -- then maybe others won't have to suffer like they have.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.


KING: Very important report there.

Up next for us, the House takes its turn at debating a police reform bill.


KING: We're taking you live to the Korean War Memorial here in the United States. The president and the first lady you can see walking in. It's a somber, yet understated, but beautiful memorial. The president and the first lady laying a wreath on this 70th anniversary and the beginning of the Korean conflict.

Let's watch the first lady and president as they walk in.


KING: If you've never been, when it's safe to do so, it's really a sight, beautiful, small, but very moving memorial.



KING: You can see the president talking to Korean diplomats on hand as well as some of the veterans of the Korean conflict.

The fighting lasted three years, 1950 to 1953. That war never officially over. Never an official end between the North and the South. More than 33,000 American combat deaths in the bloody Korean War.

You can see the president and the first lady. They are spending some time. It's on the National Mall, not far from the World War II Memorial. An incredibly somber memorial to the Korean War.

Again, we see the president and the first lady making their way and spending some time with the dignitaries and veterans on hand on this important day. And 70 years ago today, the beginning of the Korean conflict. We'll keep our eyes on that event.

We'll move on to a new report just out taking aim at the Trump administration for what it called a slow response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That report from the Government Accountability Office highlights a lack of preparedness by the federal government when it comes to having enough supplies on hand to help the states.

Our congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, is on Capitol Hill with the details -- Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORT: Well, essentially, John, what this report says is every aspect of our response to the coronavirus, from getting testing up and running at an adequate level, as well as those tests actually being accurate, to the fact that the Strategic National Stockpile was never equipped to handle the kind of crisis that coronavirus caused for this country.

As well as the inability of the government to get out trillions of dollars in stimulus funding out the door in a quick and concise way. All that have covered here in this GAO report.

And I want to read to you, because the GAO as part of their job, as part of the implementation of the CARES Act, was required to conduct this report. And they interviewed a few officials about what they saw on the ground.

This is what a couple of officials said about the Strategic National Stockpile. They said, "The Strategic National Stockpile did not have the capacity to provide states with the supplies at the scale necessary to respond to a nationwide event such as the COVID-19 pandemic."

The GAO also took aim as the Treasury Department because of an interpretation that the Treasury Department had in getting those direct stimulus checks out the door, John.

They gave some of that money to descendants of people who were deceased. They were not cross-referencing who filed a tax return in 2019 and who was still living.

That meant that $1.4 billion in direct stimulus checks went to descendants and not people who were eligible for that money because they were deceased -- John?


KING: Lauren Fox, accountability is important. Let's hope the lessons are learned.

Lauren, appreciate that reporting.

Police reform again the focus on Capitol Hill today.