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Apocalyptic Virus Surges Feared In Major U.S. Cities; CDC Says, For Every Coronavirus Infection Detected, Ten Others Undiagnosed; Texas Governor Halts Further Reopening As Cases Soar. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 25, 2020 - 13:00   ET



STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, it's rare, John, that we've had these many big cases still outstanding this late in June.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This close from an election. Steve, I appreciate your insights there. We'll see you back at this time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar and I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

America is in crisis. The country's three most populated states are seen dramatic surges in new coronavirus cases and an infectious disease expert says if California, Texas and Florida do not mitigate the spread, their outcomes could be, quote, apocalyptic.

The U.S. has hit the fourth highest number of cases in a single day nationwide since the pandemic began and another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.

CNN's Tom Foreman has been tracking all of the trends we are seeing. Tell us, take us through this, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. These numbers are just appalling. There's no other way put it. Take a look at Arizona right now. This is not one of the most populous states. But if you look at the trend line there, if you were to draw a line right down the middle of that graphic, a little to the left, and a little to the right, anyone can see how the numbers are getting worse, worse, worse there. And why, well, one possibility, one connection, Arizona is a neighboring state to California.

And when you look at the three most populous states, California, Florida and Texas, look at what is happened with the trend lines there since early in June. California, a steady, steady, steady climb, Florida and Texas much sharper climbs there, but nonetheless, just going into stratospheric numbers here.

And simply put, Brianna, if you look at it this way, when these three states have a problem, we all have a problem. Whether it's an epidemic or whether it's an economy, we all have a problem if these states have a problem. And right there, you can see very severe problem. And it's not just the numbers, it's also the severity.

Look at the hospitalizations in Texas. That number also going way up. So this is not just a matter of people getting cases and saying I'll go home and just get through it, the number of people who are in serious distress is also climbing rapidly.

So, again, Brianna, I can't say it strongly enough, if these three big states have a problem, we all have a problem, and they definitely have a serious problem right now.

KEILAR: And are other countries seeing similar spikes in populated areas, Tom?

FOREMAN: That is the thing that I think is so tragic to so many health officials. Look at our lines compared to those of the European Union and even Italy, down there at the bottom, that one at the bottom, that's Italy. Remember, it wasn't that long ago we're talking about Italy's having a terrific problem and they have steadily worked the way down, the European Union steadily working the way down.

And if you follow that green line at the top, the U.S. was trying to work its way down and right there when you see the turn up in early June, when it starts moving up, what does that coincide with? Anybody can tell. That coincide with so many places saying let's reopen, let's try to get back out there and so many people saying I won't wear a mask, I won't social distance. I don't think there's any clearer way to say it. Look at those lines and look at those numbers and that tells you the results. There's nothing to do with politics, there's nothing to do with how you feel about things. That's biology. That's how it's working. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, that is a terrible graph if you're in the United States. Tom, thank you for walking us through that.

With the 4th of July holiday approaching, public health officials worry about an even sharper spike in tourism hotspots. The Florida Department of Health is reporting more than 5,000 new cases.

Let's go now to CNN's Rosa Flores. Rosa, you're there in Miami and Miami-Dade County is reporting a 27 percent increase in positive COVID cases. What more can you tell us?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we just heard from another hospital system who is also seeing an increase in cases. Aventura Hospital saying that they're seeing more COVID patients, they're also seeing younger patients. An expert put it very clearly. This uptick, this increase is due to young people going out, partying, not wearing masks, not social distancing, then going home and intermingling with their parents, their grandparents and going to work doing the same thing and spreading this virus.

We checked the numbers. Here in the epicenter in Miami-Dade County, we are seeing a 27 percent positivity rate yesterday. The goal for the county is 10 percent. For the past ten days, the county has exceeded 10 percent. Again, yesterday, 27 percent positivity. Here in Jackson, Jackson Health, one of the largest health systems in the state, they are reporting a 108 percent increase in the number of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the last 16 days.


There's a lot of concern here in Miami-Dade County. The mayor announcing yesterday that there was an outbreak in South Miami-Dade of farm workers who were working in very close quarters. And even though they don't need hospital beds, they need isolation, and they don't have a place to isolate.

So, the county is jumping in, they are offering hotel rooms to these workers so that they can isolate until they get better. And the county, the cities in this area, they're doing what they can. They are mandating masks. We just learned that Miami Beach closed four businesses since Friday that were not following the rules.

But, Brianna, what we are hearing from the governor's office and Governor Ron DeSantis reiterating yesterday, the day that Florida broke its record with more than 5,500 cases, and like I mentioned today, we just got the numbers again and Florida, again, exceeded 5,000 cases, Governor Ron DeSantis doubling down, saying that he is not requiring masks statewide. Brianna?

KEILAR: Rosa, thank you so much, live for us from Miami.

This is a nation in crisis. We are watching leaders who are in denial and it's killing Americans. Just compare where we are as a nation to the rest of the world. New cases are on the rise in 29 states. The nation's three most populous states there setting daily records for coronavirus cases, hospitals are overwhelmed. It's like we're back at square one when the pandemic first hit or worse in many places. This is how medical experts describe this.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: The greatest public health collapse in the history of our nation, this is an epic failure.


KEILAR: Now, we have learned nothing from the suffering of other countries and our own. Much of this is a failure of national leadership and a failure of a national strategy. Here is the evidence. The president is deliberately negligent. He knowingly puts Americans at risk by holding indoor rallies and events and by cutting funding for coronavirus testing, including in hotspots, like Texas, where cases are surging. He doesn't like testing because it shows what's really going on and he has been admitting that for months.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have so much testing. I don't think you need that kind of testing and that much test. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad.

I have always said, testing is somewhat overrated.

This is why the whole concept of tests aren't necessarily great.


KEILAR: You can't just pretend your way out of a medical condition by not testing. I have a two-year-old son, right? If I hadn't taken a pregnancy test almost three years ago, I would have a 2-year-old son.

And also when Americans need to be informed the most and given the hard truth, the president is keeping his own task force doctors from briefing the public. Dr. Fauci says that they don't talk for weeks. In the middle of one of the country's worst disasters of modern times, the president of the United States does not talk regularly with his own medical experts.

And then the masks, study after study shows they save lives. A new model projects that if everyone wears them, we will save 30,000 lives by October, 30,000. That is five times the number of people at the president's campaign rally in Tulsa this weekend. That is a lot of people.

And yet the president still refuses to set an example by endorsing the use of masks or even wearing one himself. He mocks people who do wear masks. It is childish but it's also illogical because the president's number one concern is the economy, right? And if it is, he should be pushing masks.

Just look at countries where masks have not been politicized. Cases are significantly lower than the U.S. Culture and society are getting back to normal. Right now, a number of nations are considering a ban of Americans traveling to the countries because it's so bad here. And all of this leads to more people dying.

Remember when this was the president's benchmark.


TRUMP: They had minimum numbers of 100,000 and I think we're going to beat that, 100,000 deaths. Can you believe that? That was a minimum.

The minimum 100,000 deaths and I hope to be substantially under the minimum, meaning, we all hope, Mike, right? We all hope to be substantially under.


KEILAR: More than 122,000 Americans have died in the last few months. This is more than every war since the start of the Korean War combined. And the president barely mentions them or their families. He doesn't even acknowledge the collective loss of the nation. Instead, he turns the pandemic into a racist punch line for his rallygoers to cheer.

The president is focused more on sending troops to protect statues of dead confederate generals than on protecting American lives. Sources say he personally asked to restore the only confederate statue in the nation's capital as we, America, are in the middle of a massive racial reckoning.


And he's not the only one in denial. Local leaders are abdicating their responsibility to the people who elected them as well.

A month ago, as New York was dealing with its peak in the coronavirus outbreak there, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, was lecturing states and the media for not opening up fast enough and for warning Americans about the life and death risk of the virus.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun and part of the reason is that because you've got a lot of people in your profession who wax poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. Wait two weeks, Florida is going to be next. Just like Italy, wait two weeks. Well, hell, we are eight weeks away from that and it hasn't happened.

Not only do we have a lower death rate -- well, we have way lower deaths, generally, we have a lower death rate than the (INAUDIBLE), D.C., everyone up there. We have a lower death rate than the Midwest, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio. But even in our region, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida has the lower death rate. And I was the number one landing spot from tens of thousands of people leaving the number one hot zone in the world to come to my state.

So, we've succeeded, and I think that people just don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption, so they got to try to find a boogie man.


KEILAR: That was a month ago. And now, New York's cases have fallen dramatically today, the lowest number of hospitalizations of the entire pandemic, and in Florida, they are hitting new records.

Why doesn't the president appear to care about all of this? Well, maybe it's because according to the man he hired to be the national security adviser, the president looks at everything through the prism of his re-election. So, he believes as long as the economy is reopened, despite the risks, that helps him, no matter how many plant workers or frontline employees get infect and possibly die.

The most tragic part of all of this is that much of this heart break could have been avoided and much can still be avoided because we are still at the beginning of this pandemic. We have the best medicine in the world. Other countries traditionally model themselves after America. But right now, the United States is a cautionary tale.

I want to bring in our Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon. It is -- looking at this deliberate negligence by the president of the United States in the middle of this deadly pandemic, I think this is one of the things that will stand out the most about his presidency when history judges it. What are his advisers telling him, John?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: His advisers keep trying to get him to focus on the things that could unite the nation, to be more proactive. Obviously, Trump land is fractured itself along many lines. But if the president's number one priority is re-election, then everything he is doing in confronting this crisis is counterproductive to his goal, because the country is crying out for a unifying leadership.

Every president since Washington has tried to marshal the forces of the office to unite the nation, focus on what unites us, not what divides us, except this president. And it's a matter of instinct. It's who he is.

KEILAR: Yes, it is instinctual. You can see how he's reacts to all of this. Republican Senator Marco Rubio says, and this a quote, he says, everyone should just wear a damn mask. Of course, we know the president does not wear one. He has very much politicized masks, he has ignored social distancing guidelines. I also do want to mention the folks around him tested all the time, right? So he's got that. And we don't always see that, but that is happening.

What can lawmakers, John, do in the absence of presidential leadership? Is there a way for them to make up for that when you're talking about public health?

AVLON: I think Marco Rubio made a strong step in that direction simply by saying in a way that folks can understand, wear a damn mask, don't pay attention to the president in this case. All politics is local and Republicans politicians can look at the polls and see the president is in deep trouble. Double digits with key demographics, women, independent voters, even losing voters over 65 right now in some polls to Joe Biden.

So they recognize that while the president has been able to defy gravity within their base, they are confronting not just the pandemic but the problem of polarization. Trump has been able to silence critics in his party because he's very popular among a narrow swathe of the American people, around a third percent Republican.

But he has negative attraction to many other folks, including those voters in the middle and independent voters increasingly. And those, the folks who decide elections and Republicans realize that. This is a trap of their own making. And they're trying to figure out how to save their own skins if the Trump ship goes down.

KEILAR: All right, John. Thank you, John Avlon, for joining us.

[13:15:01] Just in, multiple Trump campaign staffers are now in quarantine after his rally in Tulsa because they were exposed to other staffers who were infected with the coronavirus.

Plus, breaking news from the CDC, including who is at highest risk and why there is so many more undetected cases than previously thought.

And the fight about masks is escalating, as more cities and states are mandating them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people. It literally is killing people. And my -- the people, we the people are waking up.



KEILAR: Just a short time ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a coronavirus briefing.


And among the headlines, for every infection that has been detected, ten others have not been diagnosed, so that is 20 million Americans. Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now to discuss this.

That number is -- I mean, it just bowls you over, it's huge, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is huge and many people suspected this was the case. But, Brianna, to see this in writing, you know, from the CDC is really stunning. This was something that Dr. Redfield talked about today on this call.

What that means is that ten times more people are spreading this virus around than we thought. That's huge. I mean, just the -- even the numbers, as we know them, that's a huge number. But to have ten times more people spreading this virus around than we thought tells you how difficult it is going to be to get this under control.

And, Brianna, in that very eloquent essay that you just read, you talked about the mistakes we've made in the past. Moving forward, we now know that we are dealing with an even bigger challenge. We have ten times more cases to get under control.

KEILAR: And as we see experts kind of -- they almost learn day-to-day of new information what is going on and the risks associated with coronavirus. This has to do with having coronavirus while being pregnant. What can you tell us about that?

COHEN: Right. There was a lot of question marks here, a lot of things that we didn't know. So this study has come out and this is a big deal. So this is a study of more than 90,000 women with COVID. When they look at women who were pregnant versus women who were not, all of them had COVID, but the ones who were pregnant, 32 percent were hospitalized. The ones who were not pregnant, 6 percent were hospitalized. So that suggests that there's something about this virus with pregnancy that it does not combine well.

Now, when we look specifically about what is being affected, 46 percent of these hospitalized women were Hispanic, 23 percent were white, 22 percent were black. Those percentages that is way more Hispanic women and black women than you would expect to see based on the population.

KEILAR: Yes, it is. Elizabeth, thank you for that.

Iconic brands, Disney and Apple, struggling to reopen, plus dozens Secret Service agents and campaign staffers are quarantining right now after the president's rally in Tulsa. We'll hear why.

And what we went wrong in California? The state that took some of the strictest precautions initially is now seeing a sharp rise.



KEILAR: This just in from Texas. Governor Greg Abbott is pausing the reopening of the state as the number of new COVID-19 cases there is soaring. The latest tally stands just over 5,500 cases there, eclipsing a record that was set just one day earlier.

CNN's Alex Field is in Dallas. And, Alex, just a few days ago, Governor Abbott said that shutting down a second time would, quote, always be the last option. So, this isn't obviously something he wants to do. How long is this temporary pause going to last?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it won't be a shutdown, Brianna. The governor has made it clear that what he is trying to do is stop the spread. This is one of the states that was first to reopen. Numbers are showing now that things are not going well. You've had two days of record-breaking new cases. You've had 13 days of increased hospitalizations.

So, Governor Abbot says they've got to do something to control the virus. His plan now is that businesses that are already open and just operating at limited or reduced capacities can stay open. They can continue to orient at those capacities, but they won't see more of the restrictions lifted, at least not yet. He hasn't laid out exactly when the state would be ready to move forward but this is a serious situation across the state, Brianna.

And it seems that the governor is now trying to get a grasp on this. It's becoming dire for the people who are getting sick. We heard from the mayor of Houston that the ICUs at 97 percent capacity. Now, we've got another order from the governor. He has said that in four of the hardest hit counties, they will pause elective surgeries in order to make more rooms in the hospital to deal with the increasing number of sick patients and the increasing number of serious cases here, Brianna.

KEILAR: And what does he do, Alex, if cases continue to surge, even with a pause?

FIELD: That's going to be the question for Texans. Look, this is a governor who has made it clear that he wanted to get businesses back open. Again, they led the way with a handful of other states in reopening. He has said again today, as he enacts this pause across the state, that it's important that Texans continue to get those paychecks.

But, yes, there is that option of last resort that you pointed of a shutdown. The governor has said he's not ready to turn back the clock on the progress. But, really, these numbers, they are alarming, Brianna.

Part of the plan now is to really encourage people to wear those masks. We know that they are effective. The science bears that out. You've got the governor who is now saying that Texans really need to wear these masks. It is not something that he has ever mandated for individuals across the state, but local governments have been given the right to order business to require their customers to wear masks.