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Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) Interviewed on Rising Coronavirus Cases in California; Experts Believe States in U.S. Reopened Too Early to Prevent Resurgence of Coronavirus Spread; Miami Mandates Face Masks, Violators Face Fines; Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear on Justice for Breonna Taylor and Containing Coronavirus in His State. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You have been out there conducting tests, literally administering coronavirus tests in California, so we appreciate that. We appreciate the work you're doing to help keep people health. What are you seeing? How do you explain the recent steep increase in cases in California?

REP. RAUL RUIZ, (D-CA): Well, there's two things there that can prevent the spread of the disease. One is to wear a mask in public, near other people, and two, social distancing. Governor Newsom did an excellent job very early and aggressively order the stay-at-home precautions which saved millions of lives. However, we were at a point where some counties were able to open. However, the counties decided to open the economy during the wrong time and too early, and too aggressively remove the stay-at-home precautions without the proper safeguards.

Look, we've been saying, public health experts have been saying this all along. There's a right way to open the economy and there's a wrong way to open the economy. The right way ensures that it's during the right time and with the right safe guards, all the contact tracers, all the isolation units with enough testing to provide surveillance. That will improve the economy because you build resiliency in businesses and you prevent surges. The wrong way is to do it too early without enough contact tracers, without enough isolation units. That is the wrong way because you will not have confidence in the economy and businesses will have to shut down again.

BERMAN: So these California counties did it the wrong way, you're saying?

RUIZ: What I'm saying is, at least in my county, Riverside County, indeed they opened the economy too early. They still don't have enough of the contact tracers or isolation units. It's not an efficient way of being able to help quarantine. So it is a county by county situation. The counties that that you're seeing with the highest rate of transmission and the higher rise in hospitalizations are counties that perhaps opened too early. BERMAN: Let me ask you this, because as we look around the county

now, there are 11 states that have paused, that have paused their schedule of reopening. How is it that merely pausing it will be enough given that the current situation that they're locking in is what has allowed for, say, in Texas, Arizona, Florida, the largest number of new cases we have seen yet?

RUIZ: Well, in some situations, you have to pause. In some situations, you have to go back and really social distance with stay- at-home orders. And so in those cases where you're at the cusp, then you pause and then you work aggressively with an enormous focused, targeted testing in the high risk communities so that then you do your contact tracing and then you isolate as many people as possible, as aggressively and rapidly as you can by providing the social support, especially for those who can't isolate in your homes. And then in others you're just going to have to go back and request that they stay at home.

BERMAN: Two more quick questions, if I can.

RUIZ: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: What role do you think the president's leadership has played in this?

RUIZ: This crisis didn't have to be this way. The economic collapse didn't have to be this way, but because of the failed leadership, the misinformation, the dismissal of this coronavirus pandemic even today is causing a lot of havoc, and people who are no longer willing to wear their masks or demanding that they open the economy aggressively. So we need responsible, compassionate leadership, one that we haven't seen in this presidency, one that I'm hoping we'll see with President Joe -- Vice President Joe Biden. So we need to make sure we have leaders who are compassionate, who are clear, who are consistent, and who are fact-based, and we haven't seen that.

BERMAN: I want to also talk about who this pandemic is affecting more than others. There's a new poll out this morning that I think is pretty revealing. It asks people, do you know someone who has died from coronavirus. If we can put that up on the screen here. I think it's 30 percent of African-Americans say they know someone, 31 percent of African-Americans say they know someone who has died from the coronavirus. It's 17 percent among Hispanics. Those numbers are so high.

RUIZ: They are high, and they're very, very distressing. This virus has really elucidated the disparities and the health inequities that we experience on the day-to-day basis here in our country, and it's no surprise for those of us who have been working in the field. Latinos, African-Americans, they don't have the luxury of working from home. They have to go to their essential business to work without the proper safeguards. Then they go home, and oftentimes they live in a household with three generations with only two bedrooms so they cannot self- isolate from their families, so the transmission goes up.

[08:05:04] And then on top of that, they have higher indices of diabetes, asthma, cardiac diseases, those illnesses that precisely render someone more likely to die. That's why I moved with a group of volunteers called Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, a free clinic, that does street medicine, and we went into the farm workers communities, in Latinos, into trailer parks to administer these tests so that we can provide the information necessary. But the other parts is to get hotel rooms or shelters or places because they can't self-isolate away from their families.

BERMAN: Congressman Ruiz, we appreciate you being with us, and Dr. Ruiz, let me say, we appreciate again, the work you're doing to help keep people healthy in your second job as it were.

RUIZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, joining us now is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So Sanjay, as California Ruiz was just saying, California is a very interesting study, case study right now, because their numbers are going in the wrong direction. They are really struggling. And yet, they did handle, at least from leadership perspective, it differently than Florida and Texas. So what's going on? What do you see there?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think you see these divergences between what the policies are and what people at times are doing. So you're right, in California, I think people were even surprised when Governor Newsom started talking about shutting things down. They thought it seems too early, is it really necessary. But it obviously turned out to be the right decision.

There's two issues, though, after that. First, I think they reopened too early. They started to reopen things too early. The reason the gating criteria were in place, the reason you wanted to have a 14-day downward trend is because everything else followed from that. If you had 14 days of downward trend, the numbers would likely be small enough that you could actually start to find people who are newly infected, contact trace them, and really start to extinguish this pandemic within the state, within the country.

Right now, you couldn't possibly contact trace adequately. You get 40,000 new infections a day, there's no way we could actually contact trace. So if the numbers even stayed where they are now, we would have a hard time keeping up with things.

I think the other thing is that while the public policies in terms of mask wearing, in terms of keeping things shut down, that didn't have as much of an impact on private gatherings. As we start to look into the data, some of our reporting is showing that private gatherings within California, but also other places around the country probably did a lot to fuel this pandemic as well, people getting together in large clusters, not in public but in private, and then going back to their communities and spreading further. BERMAN: Sanjay, I'm so glad you put up the gating criteria there,

because that's to get through door number one. A lot of that is to get through door number. And so many of these states are already in door number three. They're not passing what they should have passed two months ago now. And it gets to a larger issue here, which the science is clear on this, Sanjay. The science tells us what needs to be done, and what people should be doing. So why aren't people doing it? Or preaching it?

GUPTA: Yes, well, this is an interesting point. The science is clear. I do think we look back, and again, reporting over the last several months on this, I think that maybe the science was soft pedaled a little bit at times. It's sort of like, this is it, this is what we believe, but it should have been maybe delivered more forcefully or at least more convincingly.

I also think the idea of flattening the curve, which is a term we all used, that became the sole metric of success. Just flatten the curve, that is going to solve all the problem. Flattening the curve was to stop the bleeding, to make sure the hospitals did not get overrun, because they were starting to red line. It wasn't about actually extinguishing the virus like they have done in many places like in the European Union, like they've done in many places in Asia. It was to sort of get us through. And I think that those two things in combination have made it seem like, a, we succeeded, and b, the science is not that clear.

There's been an assault on science for a long time. Climate change, vaccines and autism, whatever you want to name, but a lot of times those seems like slow moving assaults on science. This is really urgent. This assault on science is having real time ramifications right now. And I think that, to your point, again, the science is clear. I think it just needed to be explained and put out there in a -- maybe more forceful way. I'm not sure that the right word is, but a way that made it more clear to people.

CAMEROTA: By the way, masks are science. They're not a fashion statement. They're science. You doctors have evidence, and you see it in other countries that have done it right, that wearing masks -- I mean, you can measure it. You have showed us the graphics, how it cuts down on the expulsion of the virus.


GUPTA: Yes, and the thing is, we wear masks in the hospitals all the time. I have been wearing a mask for 25 years. When I go into the operating room and I wear a mask every single time, I'm not sick. I'm doing this because I could be carrying a virus in my body, and as I'm operating on somebody I wouldn't want to expel that virus into their wound in that case, into the operating room, whatever it may be. That's why I'm wearing a mask. That is standard science within hospitals for a long time, obviously.

Now because there's this contagious virus that's circulating around the country, around the world, we have to do the same thing. It's not going to be forever, but we have to do this right now in order to curb that spread. The science is clear.

BERMAN: One question on a new study out, Sanjay. You, of course, are a neurosurgeon so you know a lot about this. The new study out about the impact on the brain.

GUPTA: Yes, this is what's so very interesting, John. There's been a few studies now looking at this idea that this virus, while it is a respiratory virus, that is how it gets into the body, there is this evidence now that it affects these different organ systems, actually moving around the body. This particular study, along with one that was before this, shows how it may be affecting some of the nerves, including the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for smell, and making its way up into the nervous system. We know that, for example, loss of smell could be an isolated symptom of this disease. Why would that be? Why would a respiratory virus cause isolated loss of smell? Now we're starting to get a better idea of not only how that virus moves around the body, but the inflammation that it may cause in the brain and the central nervous system as well.

BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for being. Great to have you on this morning.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: So if you're not wearing a mask when you leave the house in Miami today, you could get fined. Miami's mayor joins us live, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The state of Florida is one of the hot spots of this worsening pandemic. In response to explosive growth in cases, the city of Miami is now mandating face masks in public. If you don't wear one, you could face a fine.

Joining us now is Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Mayor, great to have you here.

So, as of last night at 5:00 p.m., there is now a mandatory mask rule in the city of Miami, which I know you think is a victory. However, it has a verbal warning. If somebody is caught not wearing a mask, they get a verbal warning at first. Is that strong enough?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: Well, it's for a first offense. So, what we're trying to do is let people have an opportunity to get accustomed to the rule.

The first offense will be a warning. Second offense is a $50 fine. Third offense is $150 fine. And the fourth offense is a $500 fine. So, it's an escalating fine system.

But, you know, for us, just stay at home order when we implemented it in late March, our expectation is that everyone is going to do it, to follow it. It's very, very difficult to go home, by home, you know, in March -- make sure everyone was at home. But what we did see in March, that stay at home order was extremely effective. It went from the time with we had an increase of 35 new cases a day to a decline of 14 new cases per day, almost within a one to two-week period.

So we're hoping that the mask in public requirement has a similar effect because frankly, we really don't want to have to go backwards and undo some of the openings and potentially re-impose a stay at home order.

CAMEROTA: Would you like to see -- have Governor DeSantis issue a statewide mask order? Would that send a stronger message?

SUAREZ: You know, if he's asking for my advice and called me -- we do talk quite often, I would recommend it. I don't see the downside.

You know, I -- his website recommends that people wear masks in public, and so, I don't think there's a big leap from recommending that people wear masks in public to mandating it.

And I think the numbers are such that, you know, we're -- actually the state is four times greater than the high watermark in March. In March, we had 1,300 new cases. That was a high watermark. We had passed 1,300.

We have had 5,400 in the last few days. We had one that was 5,000. Another few with high 4,000. So, we're four times more intense than what we were in March, and in Miami-Dade County, we're twice as many as intense as we were in March.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why is it so much worse than March?

SUAREZ: I think there's a variety of reasons. I think in part, obviously, you have -- we opened in late May. Actually the city of Miami was the last city to open. But we're also the densest and most populated city in the state of Florida and people went out. And I think they believed that this thing was over.

We had, you know, over 30 days of declining cases. We were down to, you know, less than 100 cases per day some days. I think people just got complacent. And I think now, we're seeing -- you know, we're seeing instances of people congregating in restaurants and outside. And we're cracking down on that as well.

CAMEROTA: As you say, back when you issued the stay at home order, I think you had something like 533 cases a day. Now, you're at roughly 900 cases a day. Obviously, it's going in the wrong direction.

I know you don't want to go have to go back to something draconian, but would you consider a stay at home order in Miami again?

SUAREZ: Alisyn, you have to -- all options have to be on the table. You know, when we see our hospitalizations go up, our ICU beds go up, our ventilators are going up, still with sufficient capacity, but going up, it's worrisome. And there are some hospitals in Dade County that are getting close to capacity.

You know, today at 9:00, I have a meeting -- a call with the Department of Health. I usually have one call a week on Monday. I'm now up to two calls a week to make the decisions and to analyze the data with our epidemiologists and our (INAUDIBLE) statisticians.

I really hope that we don't get to that point. But, you can't discount that option as a possibility.

CAMEROTA: What's the trigger for that, if the hospitals were at capacity?

SUAREZ: Yes. I think the trigger would be an elevating death rate. Also an increased capacity what we think our hospital capacities are at risk.


I think that would be the trigger.

CAMEROTA: You were sick. You had COVID. You tested positive I should say, and so did you have symptoms?

SUAREZ: You know, I was pretty asymptomatic. I got tested because I was in a room with, you know, Brazilian delegation, with -- you know, this was way back in March when this was very new. We actually did not have any positive cases in the whole county when I got tested. I was I think the second and third person that tested positive in the entire county.

But what I did see was that, you know, if I had not acted quickly, I could have gotten a lot of people sick and also what we did was that the growth rate of the virus was incredibly rapid at that time. So, we implemented the stay at home orders.

So, you know, what we do know is we do have that tool in our tool box if we need to. But we're hoping we don't have to because of the devastating impact it has on the economy which, of course, is under a tremendous amount of stress right now.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood. We'll be watching what happens in Miami very closely.

Mayor Francis Suarez, thank you very much for making the time.

Protesters in Kentucky have been demanding arrests in the case of Breonna Taylor who was killed by police in her own home. Why have there been no charges?

Kentucky's governor is going to join us next.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PROTESTERS: I say arrest the cops! Arrest the cops! I say arrest the cops! Arrest the cops!


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than a thousand protesters taking to the steps of Kentucky's capitol to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. She was a black paramedic shot by police in her own home. One officer has been fired from the department. No arrests, though, have been made in the case.

Joining us now is Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

Governor, thanks so much for coming back on NEW DAY.

I want to read to you the letter from the police chief to the officer who was fired. It says, quote, I have determined you violated standard operating procedure when your actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when you wantonly and blindly fired ten rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor.

The question I think that a lot of people who were protesting overnight in your state have is -- given the strength of those words, and again I ask you this as someone who was an attorney general with the good sense of the law, how come this officer has only lost his job? Why haven't charges been filed?

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: Well, the death of Breonna Taylor is tragic and it's concerning.

Last time I was on this show, I think we were talking, I read a statement from her mom Tamika, and I think what Tamika and everybody else out there is looking for is the truth and some form of action, and if there aren't certain actions taken, the reasons, the transparency, about why.

That letter certainly is an additional piece of information that's out there that ought to raise serious and significant concerns, and the investigation which has taken too long and which hasn't been transparent is now sitting with our current attorney general who is independently elected, who has to make that next decision about whether to file charges. Right now, that's the only individual other than perhaps the U.S. attorney that can do it.

But I think people's frustration is how long does it take. And if it's going to take a period of time, you got to communicate with people. You got to let them know what some of the basic facts are and what's going to -- you know, make your decisions and your determination.

I've always felt that as long as you tell people the truth, they can handle it. It might be upsetting but at least we know where to go and where to make changes but that requires the truth first and foremost.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the situation with the coronavirus in your state. The numbers in Kentucky are up slightly, but more or less flat especially in comparison to some other states and some other states around you.

What are your feelings about allowing people who have been to Florida, to Texas, to South Carolina? I know you have had a problem with people who visited Myrtle Beach coming back into Kentucky. What are your thoughts about whether or not they should self-quarantine when they get to your state?

BESHEAR: Well, it's certainly concerning.

We have worked really hard in Kentucky to flatten our curve. We have sacrificed. We have seen significant unemployment based on people doing what we have asked about making those sacrifices, about for the period of time that we did, staying home.

We have done so much that we cannot allow it to now be frustrated by either areas that have become hot spots or areas that don't take it either as seriously as we do or maybe opened in the way that we are opening.

I have always said I don't want to be the fastest. I want to try to be the smartest.

So, we have real serious concerns with either Kentuckians who are traveling to those places which we normally do on vacations. Some of those places are the -- are the premiere destinations for Kentuckians. Also, of folks in those states coming in.

What I have asked people is if we know that there's a hot spot out there, don't travel to it. Don't put yourself in that position. But more importantly, this pandemic is a test of our humanity. Are we willing to put other people in harm's way because of our own decisions?

Let's make sure we make the types of decisions that don't just protect us and our kids and our families but everybody else around us. As it's gone on, as this pandemic has stretched out, I know that's gotten harder on people, but other people around you are still in just as much danger. So let's not let -- go ahead.

BERMAN: You're asking about -- you're talking about areas and decisions among people, but what about decisions among leaders? What about leaders taking it seriously?

I want to play some sound from the president of the United States on this subject.


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'd have no cases. Other countries they don't test millions, it's up to almost 30 million tests.