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U.S. Sees Highest Single Day of New COVID-19 Cases; California, Texas and Florida Set Records for New Infections; Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Obamacare; U.S. Sees Highest Single Day of New COVID-19 Cases; CDC: Pregnant Women with COVID-19 Have Higher Risk of Being Admitted to ICU; Texas Governor Pauses Reopening Plans Amid Spike in COVID-19 Cases. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Friday morning, I'm Poppy Harlow.


The breaking news this morning, the United States is now leading the world in really just the worst way. Setting a new record for cases of coronavirus. Nearly 40,000 reported in a single day. 32 states now with week-to-week spikes in cases, while the CDC warns that the infection rate is actually likely 10 times higher than confirmed cases.

Possible conclusion -- two months after the last peak and four months into this pandemic, we may very well be back to where this country started.

HARLOW: Today the White House Coronavirus Task Force meets for the first time in nearly two months. The president is not expected to be there. He is going to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, a state with a strict quarantine rule now in place for those who have traveled to states like Arizona, where of course the president recently held an event. The president will not, though, follow those quarantine rules.

And in a late-night filing in the middle of this pandemic, the Justice Department tries one more time asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act.

SCIUTTO: We're reporting every angle this morning from across the country. We begin, though, with the big picture here, what you need to know. Right now about 32 states seeing a rise in case numbers.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, again, you'll hear the president and his supporters say this is just about an increase in tests. The facts are different.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The facts are definitely different. This is just an increase in cases and we know that because we also see an increase in hospitalizations. But let's get to the entire country and take a look. If you take a look at this map, the states in red and orange are seeing increases in cases. The ones in red are seeing more than a 50 percent increase in cases week over week.

That is a huge increase in just one week. And let's take a look at that compared to previously. So right now, as I just said there's 32 states that are seeing increases. And it used to be that there were 23 states. That is a big difference. So in other words, it is not only are these big spikes but the spikes are bigger, they're -- there are more states with these spikes than there were in the previous week.

Now, also, there's another way to look at this, and that's a seven-day average. So forget about a spike for just one day, let's take a look at seven-day averages. There are 13 states that are seeing increases in their seven-day average of cases. That is a very high number and again, when you take a look at those seven days, that tells you it's not just sort of a one-off. This is a trend -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: And Elizabeth, I mean, you throughout this have really veered away from using the term second wave. Do these numbers and what we've learned overnight explain why?

COHEN: Yes. They do explain why. I don't like the term second wave because it makes it sound like we had a first wave in the spring and then there's kind of a lull and it's kind of going down and then we're going to see a second wave in the fall. I don't think that's the right way to look at it. I think it's tricking people into thinking oh, I can have a graduation party for my child. I know people who've done that.

I can go out for Memorial Day weekend, I can go out into big groups for the 4th of July. That is not the case. This is just getting worse and worse, and one of the ways that we know that it's getting worse is that yesterday, we just heard from the director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, that 10 times more people have coronavirus than we previously thought, than the actual case count.

So the case count is actually 10 times higher than what we've been told and they can tell this from looking at certain kinds of blood tests. That's a big problem because those 10 people then spread it exponentially. So this is an exponential spread that up until now we didn't even know existed -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Exponentially. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

Texas just set another record for confirmed cases just a month after the governor there accused Democrats of hyping this, exaggerating this.

Our Lucy Kafanov is in Dallas with more.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Poppy, good morning. Texas has been hit hard. We've seen three consecutive days of record-breaking numbers in terms of new cases. Hospitalizations also at record highs. Suddenly increasing over the past two weeks. If this trend continues, there is growing worry in some cities that hospitals could run out of room, that those critical intensive care unit beds could be at capacity. That's already a concern in Houston which has been hit hard.


The mayor of Austin also warning that his hospitals by mid-July if these trends continue could be at capacity. Dallas, city officials meeting yesterday to see whether they could turn the convention center area, the area outside of it, into a temporary pop-up field hospital to prepare for these numbers in cases.

Now Governor Abbott did issue an executive order to try to make more space in hospitals by restricting elective surgeries in some cities. It's not clear whether that's going to be enough for places like Houston, for example, but he's been under a lot of pressure. Look, he pushed very hard to aggressively reopen the state 56 days ago. We're seeing the surge in cases now.

Here's what he had to said.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We work on a daily basis and you should anticipate more orders coming out in the coming days as we continue to focus on what are the best strategies, we can employ to protect the health and safety of our fellow Texans.


KAFANOV: So as you have heard there, he's hitting the pause button on any more economic reopening, but that doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of businesses have already been allowed to reopen. Bars, restaurants, gyms.

Now there are social distancing measures in place, masks are required in some counties and cities but whether that's actually going to stem the flow especially before that critical 4th of July holiday when people like to gather, that remains to be seen -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: Lucy Kafanov, for us, thank you very much.

Let's go live to Los Angeles now and the county that leads the country in coronavirus cases. Our correspondent Stephanie Elam is there this morning.

Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Yes, we did see that the number of cases -- new cases in the day did drop. So we saw that 7,149 number the day before. Well, now the number coming down to 5,349. However, that's still the second highest number that California has posted so far. So obviously still very concerning.

If you take a look at the hospitalization rate, that number up 32 percent now and the other part that's really key here is the ICU beds now saying that 34 percent of them are filled. That is a record high. We're talking about some 1300 patients who are in these ICU beds battling COVID here in the state. The governor making it very clear that if necessary, that they could

pause reopening or toggle back some if necessary, although he said he would keep the borders open to people coming from other states. But when you look at this overall and you look at Los Angeles County which has been really the epicenter of the outbreak here in California, the numbers have not gotten any better. We see that we had more than 2,000 new cases coming in yesterday.

But what's interesting here is that the county is stopping short of saying that this is because of the protesting that we've seen here for days in Los Angeles County. And they did ramp up the testing capabilities here in Los Angeles County, so people who've been protesting can get out there and testing get the testing done.

But part of the issue here is still the fact that you have more reopenings, more people heading back to work. And I talked to an ER doctor here in Los Angeles County who works at different hospitals and he told me that some parts of the county are seeing this hospitalization rate that has just not stopped while others were stabilizing are now rising back up. So you're seeing that in some parts of the county it really is more difficult for people, Jim, to battle this especially if they have multigenerational homes.

SCIUTTO: Yes, multigenerational family homes often an issue in this.

Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

Let's go now to CNN's Rosa Flores, she is in Florida which has just recorded more than 5,000 new cases for a second day in a row.

Rosa, tell us how this increase is being explained by the numbers.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, there's so much worry here in southeast Florida. The mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suarez, just telling CNN that he used to have one call with the Florida Department of Health every week. Now he's having two calls with the Florida Department of Health because of this surge.

Now, when asked if he would consider reinstating a stay-at-home order he said that all options were on the table.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: All options have to be on the table. You know, what we see in the hospitalizations going up, our ICU beds go up, our ventilators are going up, still with sufficient capacity but going up, it's worrisome. We do have that tool in our toolbox if we need to. But we're hoping we don't have to because of the devastating impact that it has on our economy.


FLORES: Now, mayors in multiple cities and counties here in southeast Florida upping enforcement to make sure that they can do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. Here in Miami Beach where I am, officials say that they've closed at least four businesses in the past week. In the city of Miami officials there are able to now fine people who are not wearing masks out in public.

And in Miami-Dade County which accounts for 25 percent of all the cases in the state, they are sending teams into hot zones, into hotspots to educate the public. This as Florida reports two consecutive days of more than 5,000 cases and according to officials this is due to a surge in young people going out and about, not wearing masks, not social distancing.


And now we're seeing Floridians flock to testing sites, seeing long lines at testing sites. These people try to figure out if they have COVID-19 and now we're also seeing and learning from Apple that they are closing 14 stores across the state.

And Jim and Poppy, and we've said it nearly every day, Governor Ron DeSantis still not budging on requiring masks statewide. He did wear one yesterday during a press conference, but he has said he's leaving it up to individuals, for them to make their own decisions. Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: Let's hope they make those decisions, they keep in mind the health of everyone around there.

Rosa, thanks a lot.

Even as thousands of Americans are suffering in the midst of this continuing global pandemic, the Justice Department late last night filing with the Supreme Court, trying again, Jim, to strike down not just part of Obamacare, but the whole thing.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Even as there's been a surge of enrollment during the COVID crisis.


SCIUTTO: Federal data shows nearly half a million Americans turned to Obamacare after losing their health care coverage this year.

CNN White House correspondent John Harwood joins us now.

John, explain the politics of this in the middle of a pandemic.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it's a massive political gift to the Biden campaign. Biden campaign and Democrats in Congress are already saying, how could you possibly support taking away health care in the middle of a pandemic? Health care is a source of major political advantage, if you look at the polls for the Democratic Party.

We do not expect action on this by the Supreme Court until at least next year. So in terms of concrete results from the brief that was filed, that is not going to happen before Election Day. The case is also considered somewhat of a long shot. Always has before the court. And certainly John Roberts who has become the swing vote on this Supreme Court, even with the conservative majority, he of course was the cast the vote to uphold Obamacare years ago while Barack Obama was still president.

But as you indicated, Jim, half a million people have gained coverage under Obamacare during this pandemic. More than 20 million people overall, about half from expansions of Medicaid, about half from Obamacare itself, have gained coverage from this law. And if you took away the law, if you invalidated it, those people would lose their coverage. The protections for pre-existing conditions would be eliminated. The requirement that women are not charged more than men for health care coverage would also be eliminated.

Now, the Trump administration insists that it would protect pre- existing conditions in a new plan, but it is literally impossible if you don't have an individual mandate and if you don't have massive government spending it's impossible to protect pre-existing conditions under our current insurance system and that's why the Trump administration for all its promises has never actually produced a plan to so -- guys.

HARLOW: That's the key, John. No plan. We want you to strike it down, Supreme Court, but we don't have a plan to immediately replace it.

Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

Still to come the CDC says the actual number of coronavirus cases could be, get this, 10 times higher than the previously thought. What does that mean going forward? We'll speak to a former acting director of the CDC, next.

SCIUTTO: Plus as cases in Texas surge, law makers are calling for the governor to take major steps to now slow down the spread including reinstituting some of those stay-at-home orders. And we will take you around the world as only CNN can to countries where coronavirus is not slowing down. In fact, like in the U.S. where the cases are growing. Stay with us.



JIM SCIUTTO, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Well, the data is real and it's disturbing. Thirty two states are now reporting an increase in COVID cases as the U.S. records the highest number of new cases since the pandemic began. The uptick coming as CDC Director Robert Redfield warns that it's possible millions of coronavirus cases may have gone undiagnosed in the U.S.

POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: The CDC estimates that roughly 20 million Americans have coronavirus antibodies despite never been officially diagnosed with COVID-19. Let's bring in Dr. Richard Besser; former acting director of the CDC. It's so good to have you on this given -- especially your role formerly at the CDC. What do you make of this, and I guess tell us why it matters if it is the case that there were actually 10 times as many --


HARLOW: COVID-19 infections, does that help us to know going forward and if so, how?

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Yes, you know, it's a very important piece of information. What the CDC director said is that they estimate that about 6 percent of people in America have had COVID-19 infection. Now, that tells you a couple of things. It tells you that a lot of cases have been undiagnosed, and we would expect that because as we've been saying all along, and we've all been hearing, a lot of people who get this infection are either asymptomatic, no symptoms whatsoever.

So, very unlikely they would be tested. And a lot of people had mild symptoms, and early on, only people who were severely ill were being tested. The other piece of this that's really important to remember though is that when you say only 6 percent of people have had the infection, now while that's -- 20 million is a lot of people, it means that there are still hundreds of millions of people who are at risk. It's early days in the pandemic.

And what we do now will determine, you know, how many people die going forward and whether we get this under control.

SCIUTTO: OK, so let's talk about what we do now because I think folks -- folks are getting their heads around, right, the disturbing direction that this is heading. So set aside federal leadership, right?


Because the president is still denying the facts here. So what needs to be done at the state level then in these 32 states to stem the spread? What has to be done right away?

BESSER: Yes, so there's a clash of messaging which is absolutely detrimental to what needs to happen. Every public health leader in America is saying the same thing. We need to take this seriously, social distancing is our biggest tool. We need to wear masks when we go out, we need to do hand-washing. Those are the personal behavior kinds of things. But at a government level, we need to ensure that everybody who's infected and everyone who's been exposed to someone who is infected has a safe place to quarantine or isolate.

And that's not being done. You know, we're entering the Summer and the federal supplements to unemployment insurance are expiring. The mortgage protections is expiring. So people are going to have to -- many millions of people have to -- we're going to have to decide, well, I've been exposed. Do I -- do I stay home and risk not being able to put food on the table and risk eviction, or do I go to work and take my chances at -- well, maybe I'm not infected, maybe I won't --

HARLOW: Right --

BESSER: Spread it to someone else.

HARLOW: I mean, I think it's going to be the former, for almost anyone especially who has children relying on them. BESSER: Exactly.

HARLOW: They have to -- have to provide. Can you help us understand what's going on with this new study regarding pregnant women? I asked a number of friends, pregnant, and they're all scratching their heads because they thought they weren't susceptible to sort of worse symptoms or worse outcomes, but now this study is out and it says pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, put on ventilators.

But the study doesn't say critically whether or not those people were admitted to the hospital because they're in labor. So --

BESSER: Yes --

HARLOW: I mean, what should people think?

BESSER: Well, I think we need to see more about that study. You know, the CDC put out a lot of information this week about what groups are an increased risk. And this is what happens when there's any new infectious disease, that you're learning more as you go. But you need to look at the details of that. I'm looking to see what is they specifically say in terms of the risk of exposure for pregnant women?

This is the same study that came out that said that young people who are obese are at increased risk. You know, we've been hearing for so long that young people aren't at increased risk and clearly young people aren't at the same risk as elderly and those with other medical conditions. But there will be more coming on this. What it says is that no one can feel comfortable.

No one can let their guard down. You know, when I wear a mask, what it says is I'm concerned about your health. When you wear a mask, you say you're concerned about my health. And we need our political leaders, our governors, our --

SCIUTTO: Right --

BESSER: Local officials, to do this and to support public health. What's happening to public health leaders right now is unconscionable. You see some being fired, some resigning, you know, threats against their health. These folks are on the frontlines trying to ensure that we can get back to work in a safe way. In a way that protects people's health, and they're at risk. It's really a challenge here.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you wouldn't have expected that basic health information would be so easily politicized and terribly, that's where we stand. It's remarkable to watch. Dr. Richard Besser, always good to have you on.

BESSER: Thanks so much, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Well, nearly 6,000 confirmed new coronavirus cases in the state of Texas in just one day. Now, that state is pausing its reopening. Just how bad is it? What comes next? We'll have more.



SCIUTTO: The spike in COVID-19 cases in Texas has forced Governor Greg Abbott to pause the state's reopening plans. He is now urging people to stay at home. Texas Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat has been criticizing Abbot's response to the virus and he joins us now. Congressman, thanks for taking the time this morning.

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Thank you for having me, Jim.

SCIUTTO: In your view, does the data show that Texas reopened too soon and too quickly?

GONZALEZ: Well, that's clearly based on the data. We've had extreme spike. We had 6,000 positive cases just yesterday. I mean, clearly, we opened up too fast, too soon. In my district in the Rio Grande Valley, we had a 700 percent increase in just the last 30 days. So it's -- we have a robust testing system. We need to continue to increase it.

But I think we need to mandate more rules, and I think the governor pausing the opening is the right thing to do. I think we need to mandate wearing masks, we need to incorporate a lot of the rules that have been followed and other successful places around the country and see what people are doing around the world. And we need to get this under control.

Clearly, the status quo is not working, and we need to put a stop to this now before it costs more Texans more lives and people in my district and across the great state of Texas are dying.

SCIUTTO: As you know, even basic medical facts and recommendations have become political in this. For instance, the question of whether to wear a mask, right? Which all the data shows and the doctors say is a simple step. As Governor Abbott is pausing the reopening, you still have the president saying today, we've got to keep going forward with reopening across the board.

Do you think in Texas that Governor Abbott has seen the light to some degree on this?

GONZALEZ: I surely --

SCIUTTO: That the data is pushing him away from the politics.

GONZALEZ: I surely hope so. Right now is not the time to listen to political consultants while we make healthcare decisions.