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U.S. Reports Highest Single Day Increase In COVID-19 Infections; Fauci Suggest New Testing Strategy: "Something's Not Working"; Polls: Trump Losing Against Biden In Key 2020 Battlegrounds; Trump Gives Nonanswer When Asked About 2nd Term; Trump Goes After Biden, Saying He Can't Speak; Players From Several MLB Teams Test Positive As Season Nears. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 12:00   ET


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: The Facebook labeling that as a graphic video, while President reposted it. So there is a label on that ad.

Perhaps more understandable to have a label on something like that. But you know, again, it just points to the type of ads and the type of discourse around politics and the election on these platforms is getting more and more coarse, and big issues and big challenges for that Facebook face. John?


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Donie O'Sullivan, many thanks.

And welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this very important day with us. A very big hour ahead.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting publicly for the first time in two months. Its members rarely see or speak to the President anymore, which should give you pause, especially if you look at the current numbers and listen and to the nation's top expert. "Something is not working," those are the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci. And the numbers back Dr. Fauci up, despite the President telling you that Coronavirus is fading away. But that the problem is that we are doing too much testing.

37,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections in the United States on Thursday. That is a new single day high. Florida last hour, reporting nearly 9,000 new infections in a single day. Florida officials reacting by suspending alcohol consumption at bars statewide.

The nation now adding 33,000 new cases per day on average over the last week. That is faster than at any point during this pandemic. Dr. Fauci says one urgent step might be to abandon the current testing approach. Pool testing, Dr. Fauci says, would test more people at once and allow public health officials to more quickly identify hotspots.

We learned the other day the President has not spoken with his top experts in weeks. Imagine that in the middle of a pandemic. And now listen to this, four full months into this pandemic, more than 125,000 Americans dead, the president united states sounds like a man with no clue about how testing works, and about how this virus spreads among people who show mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we have more cases because we do the greatest testing. If we didn't do testing, we would have no cases. Other countries, they don't test millions. So up to almost 30 million tests. So when you do 30 mil, you're going to have a kid with the sniffles, and they'll say it's coronavirus, whatever you want to call it.


KING: Straight to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She's at the Department of Health and Human Services where this taskforce meeting will play out. Kaitlan, you hear the President there, once again dismissive, but the fact that they are having this briefing today, the first time publicly in two months, it means at least some members of the taskforce get the idea that they better show the American people they're taking this serious.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, and they're seeing the same numbers that we are and they had a taskforce briefing on Wednesday. So it's noted That now two days after they had a second meeting here today, and they're going to have a briefing.

And of course, it's incredibly remarkable that they have not had any briefing in two months. Now, the last one was April 27, in the Rose Garden at the White House, and since then, these members of the task force have not appeared to brief reporters. They've done a few interviews here and there, but they have not appeared all together with the Vice President, with other members of the administration like we're going to see them today, John.

And the other thing that's notable is that it's happening in this building behind me, at the Department of Health and Human Services. Because, typically, these task force briefings happen in the Situation Room at the White House. And then of course, you saw those briefings happening there in the briefing room at the White House, and instead, they have changed the venue.

We do not expect President Trump himself to be here as of course, he has continued to really downplay the coronavirus and he's trying to resume a normal presidential schedule, inviting a foreign leader this week, taking three trips out of Washington.

And we should note, John, as I'm talking about the three trips the President has taken. He was scheduled to go to New Jersey this weekend to go to his golf club, and the White House said he was not going to follow that quarantine mandate that you saw come from the New Jersey Governor for people who have been in states with rising cases like Arizona.

And we just found out in the last few minutes that the White House has canceled that trip and the President is no longer going to be going to New Jersey this afternoon. Though, they did not give a reason for why they canceled his trip.

KING: Kaitlan Collins, outside of that briefing, we'll check back in as this plays out and we'll take you there live when we get the information. The situation on the ground has changed dramatically since that last White House coronavirus public briefing.

Let's take a look at just how much. And if you go back April 27th. Look at the case count, 990,000, 56,500 dead in United States That's the last time we had a public briefing from the top presidential advisors on this pandemic, April 27th. Remember these numbers.

Now look at where we are. Everything has more than doubled more than 2.4 million total cases. 124,000 deaths and counting. You see the map as the coronavirus cases fill in coast to coast. Let's do a little bit more.

If you look at the trends back then you had 27 states going up, 10 holding steady and 13 states heading down. That's the green. Red and orange is where you do not want to be. Red and orange is going up. This is April 27th, the last time we had a public briefing.


This is where we are today. 32 states - 32 states going up, and look how many, including some big states, Florida and Texas among them, Michigan also 50 percent higher rate of cases this week than last week. They're not just going up, they're going up by big numbers. Huge Florida numbers today, huge California numbers this week. That's the trends today.

The top five states back the last time we had a public briefing by the task force two months ago, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and California. Think about how much this has changed. The Northeast was a problem early on. If you look now the top five today, Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Georgia. So the fight has shifted to other states.

I just want to keep up here. Now the trends today where we are here as we bring in our guest to share his expertise Dr. Cyrus Shahpar is Director of Resolve to Save Lives. Doctor thank you so much for being with us.

The coronavirus taskforce meeting publicly for the first time in two months tells you that at least politically they get the idea that they need to look like they're on top of this, but the absence for two months, the words from the President in recent days and weeks that it's fading, that it's dying out, that we're doing too much testing. In the middle of this pandemic, do we also have a leadership crisis?

DR. CYRUS SHAHPAR, FORMER CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL OFFICIAL: I think it's unbelievable we haven't heard from the task force. 1.5 million cases and 70,000 deaths since the last time we heard from them. And we need to hear from public health leaders every day.

KING: I want you to listen earlier as we go through this, this is the Tucson mayor. Arizona is one of the states that is seeing 50 percent higher rate this week than last week. The governor says he won't mandate masks, but he wish people would use masks. Listen to the mayor essentially describing the urgency.


MAYOR REGINA ROMERO, TUCSON, ARIZONA: Arizona is in a state of crisis right now. One in five tests come back positive. Its 20 percent positivity in test taken in Arizona. The City of Tucson is a second largest city in Arizona. And for a city of 560,000 and in the area, in Pima County, we have a million people, we only have 10 ICU beds available. It's very scary.


KING: Doctor help our viewers understand the important point there of 20 percent positivity. Testing is how you find out how deep of a problem you have. At this point in, four months in, if you have a state that's getting 20 percent positivity what does that tell you?

SHAHPAR: It tells me we're not testing enough. It tells me we don't have enough tests being done to get eyes on the virus. A lot more of the tests are turning positive. So we need to expand our testing to really understand where disease is spreading and how to stop it.

KING: And so Dr. Fauci today, saying something's not working. "I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working. What you need to do is to find the penetration of infected people in your society. And the only way you know is by casting a broad net."

And then Dr. Deborah Birx also saying, if you look around the globe, the way people are doing a million tests or 10 million tests, is they're doing pooling. Pooling would give us the capacity to go from half a million tests a day to potentially five million individuals tests per day.

Explain test pooling, and why it could be better in terms of getting a better sense of the universe out there. And if it's a good idea, why are they just turning to it now four months into this?

SHAHPAR: You know, it's a way to get more efficient about using test, to test more people, but not with the same amount of tests. So you don't have to test every individual, but you pool specimens together and only go on to test individuals if one of those pools test positive.

So, overall, the number of tests you need to do goes down, meaning you can test more people if you expand a program like this with the same amount of resources.

In terms of why we're only getting to this now. It's hard to say. I don't know. But I would say, it is a good sign that we're looking to new ways of doing things, because what we've done so far hasn't worked.

KING: We've talked about this before, sir. It's inevitable. We all knew it was inevitable that there would be more cases as the economy reopened. We all know it's impossible to keep the economy completely closed. So we were going to have to deal with this challenge.

But when you see the rate now, not just the rate of cases increases, but the positivity we're seeing in places in Florida, the positivity we just talked about in Tucson, Arizona. When you see at least eight states hitting the pause button on the reopening this week, and we can show viewers where they are.

And I think we've had Florida at least today, adding a new step in Florida saying you can't have bars, you can't serve drinks in bars anymore. So that would be an additional one. Is that enough? is hitting pause enough? Or do you think the state governments and maybe the federal government need to rethink as they rethink testing? As Dr. Fauci says we need to rethink our strategy. Do they need to rethink restrictions?

SHAHPAR: I think we need to be adaptive in our response. This hasn't happened in 100 years. We need to use data and science to guide us and we don't know the path that that lies ahead. But if we use well. If we adapt our response and be targeted in our interventions in terms of instead of using blanket approaches, for example, then we'll be smarter about it and things could reopen. But we have to look to science and data to guide us and we have to be flexible in our approach.

KING: Dr. Shahpar, again, grateful as always for your expertise and your insights and your time, sir. Thank you.


SHAHPAR: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Up next for us the timing here for the President is terrible. The number one priority is your health. But the President's this - increase in cases coming in the middle of an election year, the President's numbers are dropping.


KING: The political news for the President this week is simply bleak. And that may be an understatement. The President losing to Democrat Joe Biden in several key battleground states right now, states that helped him win back in 2016. The President is behind in nine key states according to polls released just this week.

With me now discussing as Abby Phillip and Dan Balz with The Washington Post. Dan, when you look at the map, just these nine states - these nine battleground states that have shown Biden leads today. Number one, they include some states that in our careers, we would normally lean Republican out of the box.

Texas you see their, Florida you see their, Arizona, you see their, North Carolina you see their, Georgia you see their, just back a few years those would be lean to solid Republicans without even thinking. Ohio usually leans that way. Biden in all of these. Those states we're showing there have 173 electoral votes. Joe Biden starts in the ballpark of about 200 firm Democratic states. I mean, it would be a blowout if the election were today. Right?


DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It certainly would be, John. I mean, this is this is not a close election at this moment. And I stipulate that we're talking only about this moment.

But the President is in a very deep hole right now. And I don't think that there is a fast way out of it. I mean, this is going to take a long grind on the part of the campaign, but also on the part of the President, and in a kind of a discipline that that would be unusual for Donald Trump in delivering a consistent message and message that would begin to resonate beyond the hardcore base, which is always where he seems to pitch his rhetoric.

KING: And to that point, Abby, Dan's point that the President needs to change this dynamic. One way to do would be to answer a pretty simple question. If you get four more years, what would be your top priority? What would be number one, two and three?

Well, the President got a chance last night in the most softball setting you can imagine for a politician, sitting across from Sean Hannity who every day spends his day trying to help this President. He asked him, listen.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: What are your top priority items for a second term?

TRUMP: The word experience is a very important word. It's an - a very important meaning. You make some mistakes like, you know, an idiot like Bolton--


KING: Not healthcare, not revive the economy, not continue the coronavirus fight. I'd have more experience and Bolton's an idiot, that's great second term agenda.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really encapsulates the problem that he's facing right now, which is that the argument that the campaign has been making, and we saw this at the Tulsa rally is an argument that is fundamentally just against Joe Biden.

He has not articulated what the second term agenda would be for his supporters. Make America Great Again is probably sufficient, but for the rest of the country it's not. And especially for the independence and people who have been actually moving away from the President in the last few months, that is not going to be a sufficient answer.

The challenge now for President Trump is that he thought that he was going to be running on a gangbuster economy, everything was going to be full speed ahead going into November. And that is not the case. And it's not the case because of the coronavirus, which the American public believes has been mismanaged. So when I talked to Trump advisors a couple of months ago, at the beginning of all of this, they said the reelection strategy is getting this virus under control. That has not happened. And until it does, I think the President's going to continue to struggle to have a forward looking message for the American public going into this race.

KING: And Dan it's a simple rule of politics. If you can't lift yourself up, then you got to tear the other guy down. Is this is a new Trump campaign that I want you to listen to, trying essentially to get into the politics of the moment, the racial reckoning in the United States that demands for police reform and to cause Joe Biden problems. Listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every major crime bill that's come out of this Congress has had the name Joe Biden on that bill. We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden's policies destroyed millions of black lives. Joe Biden may not remember, but we do.


KING: I think it's pretty clear that a bruising campaign already is going to get even more so, especially if the President can't help himself by - if he's not talking about a second term agenda in his campaign, he is going to try to take Joe Biden down.

BALZ: Yes, I'd make two points. One is that we've learned over a number of recent campaigns that advertising in presidential elections is of limited value when compared to a Senate race or a gubernatorial race. That more important is kind of the national conversation that's going on and that's being led by the two candidates themselves, so that's one problem.

I think the second is that, there has been no consistency to the message - even the anti-Biden message that the Trump campaign, and in particular, the President has delivered. I mean, if you go back and look at that Tulsa rally, where he spoke for an hour and 40 minutes, there were lines in the teleprompter version of that speech that added up to a kind of a coherent anti-Biden attack.

And yet it was interspersed with all kinds of other things from the President himself riffing and going ad lib and talking about his walk down that ramp at West Point that diminished the effectiveness of the attacks.

And I think the third thing is in an argument about who is going to be better for black America, Donald Trump is not going to win that argument with black voters. And if they think that they can do it with suburban voters, I think that that's an even - as almost as big a challenge on that front.

KING: Right, we've seen that. If you look at 2018, and if you look at the polling, it's a very bleak - it's a very, very bleak environment for the President. So, Abby, as you jump in, I just want you to first listen to the President a little bit, because he's savages Joe Biden last night in the conversation with Sean Hannity. But if you listen closely to President, even though his campaign says we don't believe any of these public polls, it sure sounds like the President believes them. Listen.



TRUMP: The man can't speak and he's going to be a President, because some people don't love me maybe. A friend of mine said, you have to be the most perfect person.


KING: And he's going to be your president. He sounds defeated.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, it is really remarkable to hear him say that, even as he claims that all these polls are false. But he - the President clearly understands he's in a deep hole in terms of his approval rating, and that this race is not going in the direction that he wants it to go.

You know, I think all of this adds up to not necessarily that the Trump campaign or the President himself believes that they can bring over black voters to their side or even bring back some of these suburban voters. But they do think that they can perhaps suppress some support for Joe Biden, among black voters, particularly younger voters, and among people who are maybe suburban Republicans who have moved away from him. So that might end up being the strategy.

But it seems, John, that these poll numbers are suggesting that that is not going to be enough. If the President is down in states that are not even swing states to Joe Biden, they're going to need to take a completely different strategy. And this is a President who has resisted that at every turn. He has never in the four years that he has been President tried to expand beyond his base.

And, in fact, he keeps tacking back to these sort of culture war messages as he did in Tulsa, and that is hurting him. And until the President themselves buys into a strategy that is different from that, I think it's going to be hard for them to change their trajectory of this race.

KING: As they say, you know, it's hard to get people to change and he doesn't want to change. Abby Phillip, Dan Balz, appreciate it. To Dan's point, President seems out of step on the race issues in the country right now and out of step on the coronavirus.

Next week Major League Baseball Players will start reporting to their teams to prepare for the upcoming 60 games shortened season. But as we hear more and more stories about players and team staffers testing positive for the coronavirus, what is on players' minds as they get back to work? Matthew Boyd is a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Matthew, thanks so much for coming in today. How do you feel about the safety risks? Just today we're learning more NBA players tested positive. Whatever you do for a living, whether you're an athlete or whether you're going into a factory, when people get back to work, we are seeing more positive. Are you worried?

MATTHEW BOYD, DETROIT TIGERS PITCHER: You know, it's kind of - yes, there's going to be - as we get more tests, you know, there's going to be more positives, right and we - we're accepting that risk. It's going to be a risk. It's putting a lot of accountability on us as players and staff.

And knowing that, hey, when we go into the ballpark and what we do - so when we go into the ballpark, it's going to be a bubble, it's going to be safe. But what we do outside of the ballpark is really going to matter and we got to take care of ourselves, but take care of the other guys around us.

KING: You have asthma, which puts you at a bit more risk if you get the coronavirus. It's something you want to avoid at all costs. Are the team that team doctors, your personal doctors taking any extra precautions for someone like yourself or is it all the same?

BOYD: No, they are. I had a phone call with our team doctor yesterday. Because I am high risk, I had an opportunity to opt out of the season. And for me, this is a personal thing, but we can't live in fear. I can't live in fear.

There is a risk. I need to be aware of that risk. I need to take precautions of it. And if it means I need to wear masks more than other guys, and if it means that if I'm working out in there, may that I'll be in full garb, going head to toe in the workout room with gloves on and everything. But it's what we got to do.

I'm called to play baseball. I'm called to represent the City of Detroit and wear that old English "D" on my on my chest and I'm excited for the opportunity that we're going to get to do it. We're thankful for the protocols that we came to an agreement on with Major League Baseball and it's going to be a fluid process. Things will happen each day and I'm sure that we all got to be adaptive in it.

KING: You're talking to a Red Sox fan, but I'm a big fan also of the story franchise. I loved it. I love Detroit and I love coming out to Detroit to go to games. 60 games season, you get training camp by July 1st. The teams will determine if fans will be allowed at some point. I would love to come to Tiger Stadium. I would love to spend some time at Fenway Park this summer, do you think that's going to be possible?

BOYD: That's up to the state officials. It's going to depend on each individually State and that's what I've heard. But we're excited. If we can get fans there, we're excited to get fans back. But more importantly, we're excited to deliver the game. That's what more important. That we're excited about.

[12:25:00] You know, it's not our game. It's the fans' game. You know, baseball - it transcends generations. That its passed down. So we're excited for it, whether it's with fans or without fans. We play for the fans, and hopefully, it'll be in-person instead of on TV for most of the year. But we got to be smart as a society, as a nation in the process of that, so we'll be patient and let that happen when it's supposed to.

KING: How are you preparing for that challenge of playing without fans? Because it is such a fan driven game. If you're in Tiger Stadium, they're cheering you're on. If you're on the road, they're screaming at you and calling you things, and that's what gets the adrenaline going. Are you worried and what can you do? You can't simulate it. So what can you do to prepare yourself that this is going to be weird. You're going to throw a great pitch and it's going to be silence. How do you prepare for that?

BOYD: You know, it's going to be unique. What was normal? Now this is the normal. How long this will be normal? We don't know, right? But for me, I think it's where my game comes from, right?

If my game is kind of dependent on the stands, or the fans or the location, there's something inside that I really need to get out of myself. That I maybe need to do a little soul searching. But my game shouldn't change on location. It shouldn't matter if it's in Detroit, Boston, Toledo or on the moon, right? My game is inherent inside of me, it's my game.

So I kind of think it'll be a new challenge if there are no fans there, which probably the start the year there won't be. They'll just be baseball in its purest form. It'll be like in the backyard flipping wiffle balls to our teammates, right, or like to our friends back in the day. So it'll be a - it's just going to be - you know, it's the game kind of cut down to its raw form and I'm excited about that.

KING: Matthew Boyd, I'm grateful for your time today. I wish you the best of luck and I hope everything works out and I'll be rooting for you except when you're pitching against the Red Sox. How about that?

BOYD: Well, that sounds fine. Thanks for having me on, Mr. King.

KING: Best of luck. Best of luck. Please take care. Still ahead for us, the White House coronavirus task force just moments away from holding its first public briefing in nearly two months.