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U.S. Passes 2.4 Million Coronavirus Cases, Nears 125,000 Deaths; Gov. Advises Southern California County to Reinstate Stay-At- Home; U.S. Reports Highest Single Day Increase in New Infections; Coronavirus Task Force Holds First Briefing in Two Months; Houston Area Raises Virus Alert Warning to Highest Level; Trump Tweets He Cancelled New Jersey Trip "To Make Sure Law & Order Is Enforced" In Washington, D.C.; Pence Claims "Free Speech Is Reason Trump Holding Campaign Rallies Despite Health Experts' Warnings; NYT: E.U. To Block U.S. Travelers Due To Coronavirus; Fauci: Rising Infections In Young People Put Everyone In Danger. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 26, 2020 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:10]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news.

Nearly 125,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus. That grim number comes one day after the United States set yet another record for a new confirmed coronavirus cases. Emerging hot spots like Texas and Florida are slamming the brakes on reopening. Ordering bars to shut down as infections climb dramatically.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force addressed the growing crisis during its first public briefing in two months. Medical experts are slamming Vice President Pence's rosy portrayal of the very disturbing new data and his refusal to acknowledge the critical importance of wearing a mask.

Let's go to CNN's Erica Hill. She's in New York for us. Erica, governors across the country right now are facing some extremely tough decisions as these new cases are climbing.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they certainly are. It's not just cases as you know, Wolf, it's also hospitalizations and ICU care that are also on the rise.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom is now saying that a county in southern California when he's watching should actually reinstate their stay-at-home order in that county because it has a 23 percent positive return rate on those tests, on those positive cases in the county. This is Imperial County. It's east of San Diego.

Over the last five weeks or so, 500 patients have actually been transferred out of the county for care. The National Guard has been brought in to help. And again, Governor Newsom says it's time to go back to the original stay-at-home order. And he's not the only governor advising changes.

Today we find ourselves careening toward a catastrophic and unsustainable situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Today, we find ourselves careening toward a catastrophic and unsustainable situation.

HILL (voice-over): Harris county, Texas elevating public threat level to red. The highest level.

HIDALGO: The outbreaks are worsening. Our public health capacity is strained or exceeded. Healthcare surge is not only likely but is already in progress.

HILL (voice-over): Governor Greg Abbott pausing the state's reopening, closing bars and cutting restaurants back to 50 percent occupancy as new cases continue to rise.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-TX), AUSTIN: Pausing will not make things better. We need our people in our community here to act differently. The status quo will not protect us.

HILL (voice-over): Staggering numbers in Florida. Nearly 9,000 new cases reported on Friday.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-FL), MIAMI: All options have to be on the table.

HILL (voice-over): Governor Ron DeSantis says that spike is just do more testing.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Really nothing has changed in the past week.

HILL (voice-over): Florida banning on-site alcohol consumption at bars. One of at least 11 states now rolling back or pausing reopening plans.

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D-CA), SAN JOSE: What we're learning is decisions we make about reopening the economy are pretty irrelevant. It's really the contagion that determines how quickly we're going to be able to reopen.

HILL (voice-over): The Vice President painting a much different picture.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're in a much stronger place. The truth is we did slow the spread. We flattened the curve.

HILL (voice-over): The curve is actually going up. Nearly 40,000 new cases added on Thursday, an all-time high and a new peak. Thirty-two states moving in the strong direction over the past week. MAYOR REGINA ROMERO (D-AZ), TUCSON: Arizona is in a state of crisis right now. One in five tests come back positive. It's 20 percent positivity and tests taken in Arizona.

HILL (voice-over): Just 12 percent of Arizona's ICU beds were available on Thursday. Of those in use, nearly 40 percent occupied by COVID-19 patients.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we don't extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread.

HILL (voice-over): While no state is in the clear, it is a sharply different story in the northeast where plans for in-person learning are now on the table in several states.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: The maximum number of kids that can be in school -- that is our goal.

HILL (voice-over): Illinois, also moving forward. Chicago allowing indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. As officials cautiously watch the spread.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): If anybody thinks this is over, I would just ask them to take a look at the data coming out of a lot of the states in the south and the southwest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Another state to look at, South Carolina, which has continued to see cases rise. The governor there saying earlier today majority of those cases are in people under 40, especially in the 30 to 35 range. He was also asked again about a statewide mandate for masks. He said he won't put one in place.

[17:05:01]

Although he's encouraging people to wear masks. But he said that it would not be effective. It wouldn't be enforceable. It would be impractical and give some people a false sense of security.

He went on to say he's not going to lift restrictions on nightclubs, concert venues, theaters, spectator sports. Anything that will involve a crowd until the virus is under control in South Carolina.

BLITZER: Erica Hill reporting for us. Thank you.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, Coronavirus Task Force members, they just held their first briefing in two months. Tell us more.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. While President Trump was laying low at the White House, the Coronavirus Task Force returned to the spotlight holding a news conference. Not at White House but over at the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Trump was not there, so he didn't take questions. Instead Vice President Mike Pence seemed to tiptoe around the issues of wearing masks and holding rallies. But Dr. Anthony Fauci was much more direct telling Americans they aren't doing enough to control the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): With COVID-19 sweeping across the south and out west, the administration's Coronavirus Task Force finally reemerged with Vice President Mike Pence appear to be looking at the soaring number of cases through rose colored glasses.

PENCE: All 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly. We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We saved lives.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not quite true. As a surprising spike in coronavirus cases is spreading from Florida to Southern California forcing some states to pause their reopening. Task force Dr. Anthony Fauci tried to add a dose of reality gently putting his finger on some of the nation's missteps.

FAUCI: Everything from maybe opening a little bit too early on some to opening at the right time but not actually following the steps in an orderly fashion. To actually trying to follow the steps in an orderly fashion but the citizens didn't feel that they wanted to do that for a number of reasons.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Fauci tried to make an appeal to individual Americans to do more.

FAUCI: You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility.

ACOSTA (voice-over): It was the first task force news conference in nearly two months with a change of scenery as officials addressed the pandemic at the Department of Health and Human Services instead of at the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then I see the disinfectant would knock it out in a minute.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Where the briefings came to a screeching halt back in April when the president suggested that Americans inject themselves with disinfectants to kill the virus.

As for the wisdom of holding crowded campaign events like the president's rally in Tulsa last weekend, Pence tried to dance around the question.

PENCE: We still want to give people the freedom to participate in the political process.

QUESTION: So how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem -- PENCE: Even in a health crisis the American people don't forfeit or constitutional rights.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Pence also declined to give a full-throated endorsement for masks despite wearing one in public the day before.

PENCE: The first principle is that people ought to listen to their state and local authorities

ACOSTA (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would try to mandate masks.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would insist that everybody on public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen would have to make sure that they walk into a business that have masks.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The administration is considering a new approach to halting community spread with something called pooled testing that would have health officials testing batches of samples from people in groups. The batches positive, individuals in that group need to be tested. If a pool is negative, that means the whole group is likely safe.

TRUMP: If we didn't do testing, we would have no cases.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even as the president continues to downplay testing, he is struggling to lay out what he would do if he won re- election. Never really answering the question on Fox.

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

TRUMP: Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I've always said that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The Wall Street Journal argued, Mr. Trump still has no second term message beyond his own grievances. And may soon need a new nickname for "Sleepy Joe" Biden. How does president-elect sound?

While Mr. Trump attacks Biden's occasional gaffes, he had one of his own. Appearing to say the former vice president would win the race.

TRUMP: I mean, the man can't speak and he's going to be a president for some people don't love me maybe and you know all I'm doing is doing my job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now even in the middle of a pandemic and a recession, the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare. That's despite the fact that nearly a half Americans who lost their health insurance during the pandemic were able to obtain coverage through Obamacare and the president has not yet explained what he would do if Obamacare is overturned. Wolf? BLITZER: All right. Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta at the White House.

Let's get some expert analysis right now from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And the former Baltimore City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

Sanjay, did the messaging you heard today from the administration match the severity of the crisis we're all in right now?

[17:10:00]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Wolf. I mean, it almost felt like an alternate reality. I thought you know, look, it's been a couple of months. The numbers of obviously we've been going in the wrong direction lately. We had some of the highest numbers of newly infected people ever just over the last couple of days.

So, I thought the Coronavirus Task Force was going to come out and say, hey, look, we want to address what is happening in the country and here's our plan. Here's what we want to do about it.

That's not at all what we heard in fact. What we heard was this idea that things are going fine. The vice president started off by saying all 50 states are reopening safely and responsibly. They're not.

Most of the states didn't even meet the basic criteria that the task force laid out. He said that we have greatly expanded testing. We're still probably only doing 10 percent of the testing that we need to do. He said that we have slowed the spread. I mean the numbers are going up.

It was really, I think, surprising, Wolf. I mean you've covered a lot of these types of press conferences. I think there was a certain expectation. This is a problem right now. We're in an unmitigated sort of issue right now with regard to this coronavirus and it runs a real risk of becoming an uncontained problem in this country. So, it did not at all match expectations, this press conference today.

BLITZER: It certainly didn't. You know, the vice president, Dr. Wen, trying to spin this as simply small pockets of outbreaks. Various parts of the country. But the country just hit a new peak in reported cases. Is the Trump administration being honest right now with the American people?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: No, Wolf. And I agree completely with Sanjay that it just appeared that there was this stunning disconnect between what the vice president was saying and the reality on the ground. Because, frankly, we have a four-alarm fire. We have exponential spread of coronavirus in multiple metropolitan areas around the country. In multiple states, we're seeing ICUs being filled.

We're basically seeing the same picture that we saw back in March in New York City. But in many places and the country and without plan to be able to address it. And I do agree with the vice president on one point which is that we did flatten the curve the first time around. Then what happened?

When we reopened without having the capability to ring in these infections and now all the sacrifices that people have made are going to go in vain and we still don't have a national strategy or even recognition from the vice president that we have a problem here.

BLITZER: We certainly do. And you know Sanjay, there was a pretty extraordinary moment when the vice president tried to explain why the Trump campaign isn't following the task force own guidelines. Can the task force expect Americans to do the right thing when President Trump and his campaign refuse to do the same thing, look what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Arizona over the past several days.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, there were local ordinances in these places as well, where local officials guided by their health officials were trying to do the right thing. Saying you know, we don't think this is a good idea. The numbers are going up in Tulsa. This is a hot bed, a viral sort of spread right now. At a minimum, you know wear mask inside and try to physically distance and obviously that didn't happen.

Wolf, it sends - you know there's a lot of science denialism that's out there. I mean it's been something that I've seen for 20 years as a medical journalist. That, we know. The problem is that this denialism is causing a very present and urgent problem right now.

Sometimes the science denialism causes ramifications years or decades down the road, but this is right here, right now and it's being enabled I think by these types of things. And people are going into a big rally without masks, it normalizes it. It's really one of the only strategies we have right now to try and get a hold of this thing. We're not even doing the basic public health measures that we should.

BLITZER: And you know Dr. Wen, the vice president refused to answer questions on whether Americans should even wear masks even though the task force, the CDC says you got do wear masks. It's critically important. He thunderously (INAUDIBLE). He listed a whole bunch of things that Americans should be doing right now but there was no mention at all of how important it is to wear a mask. Did you hear any real advice that Americans should change the -- should do something to change the situation we're in right now?

WEN: You know, it's interesting about masks because we hear the vice president and others talk a lot about remdesivir and these other treatments. Well, we actually have a treatment right now, if you will. If you wear a mask, that reduces your risk of getting coronavirus by up to five times. Imagine if this is a medication that we can all be taking.

This is a basic intervention that all of us should be doing right now in order to save lives and keep up that social distancing. It is important to emphasize personal responsibility. And I do think that people should take matters into their own hands as much as possible and try to stay safe. Keep that 6-foot distance. Be outdoors rather than indoors but we also cannot absolve our federal government of responsibility either. [17:15:08]

And the vice president needs to model good public health behavior. And also, I expected just as Sanjay was saying, there to be much more of a plan that's actually outlined. What are we going to do to stop the spread right now? How can we ramp up testing? It may be too late for us to ramp up testing in some of these areas that are the hot spots, so are we going to be stopping forms of indoor gatherings? That should have been what the press conference (AUDIO GAP) today.

BLITZER: Yes. And clearly the vice president did not do that. Dr. Wen, thank you. Sanjay, thanks to you as well. We'll have you back later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, the most populous county in Texas just raised its public threat warning to the highest level. I'll speak with the official behind that decision who is sounding the alarm about what she calls a catastrophic outbreak in the Houston area.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:15]

BLITZER: Breaking news in Texas right now where officials just reported over 5,700 new confirmed coronavirus cases. Texas officials now are taking drastic action to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Greg Abbott just issued new restrictions on bars and restaurants. Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, raised this coronavirus alert warning to the highest level.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in Houston for us. Alexandra, tell us more.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf. Look, Texas reopened quickly and frankly, everything has gone wrong. You are seeing the cases surging, breaking new records day after day. You're seeing this increase in hospitalizations day after day.

Now the governor who really wanted to get Texas open, who really wanted to keep businesses open has been forced to do more than put the reopening on pause. He's taking additional measures that will largely target bars and restaurants in order to stop the awful spread of this virus.

On top of that, you got the chief executive in Harris County, the third largest county in the country, taking action. Raising the county's threat level to its highest level severe which indicates that there's an uncontrollable outbreak which indicates that there's a strain on testing and on tracing and which comes with a strong advisory to people that they should stay-at-home unless they need to leave their house for an essential reason.

The mayor of Houston also speaking out today. He has been sounding the alarm bells. He's telling people, yes, you remember that you faced a dramatic situation in March and April. It's more dramatic now today in Houston the infection rate is some three times what it was just three months ago. Wolf? BLITZER: So, so worrisome. Alexandra Field in Houston for us. Alexandra, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the top official of the county that includes Houston, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Judge Hidalgo, thank you so much for joining us especially on a critically busy day like today. You moved the county into the highest threat level there is. Red or severe. Just how dire is the situation that led you to take this extraordinary step?

HIDALGO: We are a position, Wolf, in - in a position in Harris County where we are crossing our operational bed capacity in our hospitals. We're moving into surge capacity and we have between a matter of days and a matter of two, three weeks before we run out of all capacity. So, we have to do the only thing that we know works and that is asking people to stay home.

BLITZER: You say, Judge, that anything short of a full stay-at-home order is truly gambling with people's lives. So, what's your reaction to Governor Abbot steps today to limit people from gathering at bars and restaurants?

HIDALGO: The first reaction, of course, is gratitude, relief. It's a step forward. But it is not enough. We have no evidence that simply doing that is going to get us to where we need to be. The data is very clear. And I think that expecting that more limited measures are going to make a dent as quickly as we need them to, is wishful thinking.

And so, that's why I need to ask my community, the first time we flatten the curve it took us 44 days. We don't have 44 days. Anything less than what we did then is only going to take longer. And I understand some folks wish we didn't have to do that. I wish we didn't have to do that. But we have to be realistic here. And as people - people's lives are on the line and we have to get smart. We have to get real.

BLITZER: Yes. These are life and death decisions that you have to make right now. You warn that Houston, Judge, is what you call the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country. So, what lessons can other parts of the country learn from your very dire situation right now?

HIDALGO: We have some great examples from around the country of states that waited to reopen until that case count and those hospitalization rates have really come back down and are doing it slowly in a responsible way. And so, it's sustainable. And we're becoming an example of what not to do.

You cannot expect there to be a shortcut. You cannot reopen before that curve has come back down. And certainly, you can't do it so fast.

And so, this is giving our community another opportunity to try again. First, we have to get through this crisis and then we have to make sure we don't make the same mistake twice. So, I hope we are word of warning for other communities to buckle down before they end up in situation like this. And for my community, I hope we will continue to work together through this.

[17:25:02]

But it's hard. My hands are tied. I don't have the authority to require a stay-at-home order anymore as I did at first. And so, I'm urging them to help me with this.

BLITZER: And you specifically say that hospitals in Houston and Harris County are on pace right now to simply be overwhelmed. How much time do you think you have?

HIDALGO: We have projections. So, we basically look at the trends from the last seven days and the last 14 days. Both at a 95 percent confidence level. And all we're doing is stretching out those trends linearly. Even though the trends are quadratics. This is a conservative estimate. And it shows we have anywhere between 10 and 38 days. And depending on which curve you stretch out.

So, if we work together, we'll be able to stave this off. And we have to keep going. It's going to take a while, but we can't gamble with people's lives like that. And so, that's why we need to accept the situation. Hope is not a strategy. We got to get to work. The steps the governor is taking is a good step forward. But we are well past time to have a full stay home order. And if the best I can do is be very clear with my community, that's what I have to do because I'm responsible for the five million people that live here and I don't see lives as collateral damage.

BLITZER: Yes, that's so, so important. Good luck. Judge Lina Hidalgo, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

HIDALGO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, a disconnect between politics and science in today's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. Why is the vice president touting what he's calling encouraging news?

And later, we'll get an update from Florida which just set a single day record for new coronavirus cases.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:35]

BLITZER: So we have more breaking news coming into "The Situation Room" right now. President Trump just sent out a tweet explaining why he decided today to cancel his planned weekend trip to his golf club in New Jersey. And guess what, it doesn't have anything to do according to the tweet with coronavirus.

Let's bring in our correspondents to discuss. Abby Phillip and Jamie Gangel are with me. Abby, let me read the tweet what the President just posted on twitter. "I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey this weekend but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure law and order is enforced. The arsonists, anarchists, looters and agitators have been largely stopped. I am doing what is necessary to keep our community safe. And these people will be brought to justice."

So what's your reaction when you hear that, Abby? He didn't say anything about there's a critical situation unfolding, a life and death situation unfolding involving coronavirus here in the United States. He spoke about what he called the law and order in D.C.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for him to acknowledge a problem with the coronavirus would be to also acknowledge some degree of failure in keeping the number of deaths and new cases down. And the President's not willing to do that. It is not believable, frankly, Wolf, that the President is staying in Washington in order to monitor a situation involving a few -- and actually in the case of Washington, D.C. only one Confederate monument.

He would be better off sending a signal to the American public that he is very concerned about the rise in cases in the southern states and is doing something about it. It is the wrong message, frankly, for the President to say that he is not even concerned enough about this uptick in cases that he's willing to stay in Washington in order to get a handle on it. He didn't attend the Coronavirus Task Force meeting today, he didn't appear at the press conference. And he has been silent on the fact that Americans are dying every single day and the numbers aren't going up and not down.

BLITZER: Yes, hundreds of Americans are dying every single day. And you're right, the numbers are going up. You know, Jamie, he seems to be more concerned about what he calls these monuments law and order in D.C., for example, that he is about life and death decisions happening all over the country.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as Abby said, this is about denial and it's also about changing the subject. But I'll tell you the Republicans that I've been talking to this week think it is a terrible mistake that people are worried about the coronavirus. People are looking for leadership. People are really concerned about these hospitals filling up in Texas and in Florida. And so there's -- it's tone deaf on his part.

I'll tell you there was even -- I think we have a picture of it on Twitter this afternoon. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney posted a picture of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. You see it there wearing a mask, and it says, "Dick Cheney says wear a mask". And she is part of the Republican senior leadership. She's number three in the House. That's a direct hit at Donald Trump.

[17:35:02]

And if you look at the hashtag it says, hashtag real men wear masks. That gives you a sense of how Republicans in Donald Trump's party are feeling about what he's doing and they're not happy about it. Wolf?

BLITZER: They certainly. There's a lot of concern out there what, four or five months away from the election at the same time. You know, Abby, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, they held its -- their first briefing, public briefing in nearly two months today. The Vice President was repeatedly asked why the Trump campaign seems to be ignoring the advice of its own Task Force.

Listen to this really strong and important question by Paula Reid of CBS News and the response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA REID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: And in Arizona, one of the hardest hit states, you packed a church with young people who weren't wearing masks. So how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem that Dr. Fauci laid out?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I want to remind you again that the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. And even in a health crisis, the American people don't forfeit our constitutional rights. And working with state officials, as we did in Oklahoma, and as we did in Arizona, we're creating settings where people can choose to participate in the political process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Freedom of speech and political activity, he seems to be suggesting that's more important than trying to keep people alive.

PHILLIP: Yes. And it's clearly not the case that you have the freedom to do whatever you want, if it also means that you're putting other people's lives in danger, but the Vice President is not willing to contradict the President on this. He's the only person who was standing at that dias today, who was unwilling to say that wearing a mask is a good thing. Nobody is saying necessarily that they should completely give up on the idea of holding political rallies. They're just saying why don't you simply ask or require people to wear masks? Why don't you consider outdoor venues? They are not willing to do that.

And in addition to, as Jamie pointed out, Liz Cheney saying wear a mask. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader also said very clearly wear a mask. Republican leaders know that they have to step up and do this because there is no reopening of America if the virus is not under control. You cannot just wait for that to happen, as we've seen with states like Texas and others that are now closing back down because they cannot get a handle on the transmission of the coronavirus.

BLITZER: All right guys, stand by. I want both of you to stand by. We're getting some breaking news on some new decisions being made by the European Union involving the United States of America. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:27]

BLITZER: There is breaking news, "The New York Times" just reported the European Union is now getting closer and closer to blocking travelers from the United States because of the surge in coronavirus cases here. Let's go to our National Security Reporter Kylie Atwood, she's over at the State Department for us. What's going on Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. So Wolf, "The New York Times" is now reporting that the E.U. has made a decision to bar. Most American travelers from entering the E.U., from visiting the E.U. when they start to reopen their borders on July 1st to international travelers.

Now another country that they're going to bar visitors from is Russia. But then there are a whole host of other countries who have done a better job in terms of controlling the coronavirus pandemic in their countries. They will be allowing visitors from those countries to come to the E.U. That list includes countries like Canada and Australia. Now we should note that China is also going to be a country on the list of allowed visitors if they allow visitors from the E.U. to visit China, reciprocity here.

Now the bottom line, Wolf, is that this is a decision that we knew that the E.U. had been considering for a while. Keeping out American visitors because the U.S. keeps seeing the number of coronavirus cases go up in the United States and allow in visitors from other countries. This is a reflection of how the U.S. has not gotten a handle on the virus.

Now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about the possibility of the E.U. making this decision earlier in the week and he talked about the fact that the U.S. doesn't want to create problems. He essentially acknowledge that the U.S. does not want to allow visitors to go into the E.U. because of the coronavirus cases here in the U.S. But this is going to have damaging impact on the U.S. and what it means to be an American right now. And also on the economic realities given that there are lots of American travelers who traditionally go to the E.U. to European countries in the summer for travel. Wolf?

BLITZER: No visits to Spain or Italy or a whole bunch of other countries in Europe.

Jamie Gangel is still with us. Jamie, how do you think the President of the United States is going to react being lumped into this no fly zone, if you will, together with Russia, while Canada Australia and other a bunch of other countries are included in what they're calling the safe zone?

GANGEL: Right. In one word, Wolf, embarrassing. This is embarrassing for Donald Trump. He may not want to admit it. I doubt he will.

[17:45:06]

But the reality is, this speaks to the fact that the lack of leadership in this country, the lack of proper testing, tracing, we are not considered safe to go visit Europe and that falls again on his leadership. I think that he is, you know, he always likes to say that we're the best ask anyone. Clearly this is a sign that we are not the best at dealing with the coronavirus. As Sanjay said earlier today, we are in the middle of a public health disaster, and the E.U. clearly knows that, Wolf? BLITZER: Yes, that graphic we're showing our viewers right now, I just put it up on the screen for one more second. You see the United States that the lines is going up the E.U., the line is clearly going down and that's one of the reasons the E.U. not poised potentially to block most U.S. citizens from visiting Europe this summer.

Alright guys, thanks very much. There's more news we're following. We're also about to take a much closer look at the growing evidence that young people here in the United States are driving the resurgence of the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that the troubling trend could potentially endanger all of us.

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[17:51:26]

BLITZER: There was a stark warning today from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the rate of infection among young Americans is climbing dramatically. A trend that could spell lots of trouble for all Americans.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at this very serious problem. What did you find out, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, four months, a common belief among experts was that younger people while not immune might have had some protections against coronavirus that other people didn't have. Well tonight, that perception is being shattered.

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TODD (voice-over): At the Trump rally in Tulsa, and air of confidence over coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that I am fully taking on the risk of possibly encountering, you know, or being exposed to it but as an American that's my right.

TODD (voice-over): At this Irish pub in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Erika Crisp and more than a dozen other women gathered for a night out recently. None of them wore masks and 16 people in the group tested positive for coronavirus.

ERIKA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AFTER NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS: I think at the time it was more out of sight, out of mind. We hadn't known anybody who had it personally. Governor, Mayor everybody says it's fine. We go out to friend's birthday. It was a mistake.

KAT LAYTON, TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: My experience definitely, you know, of course we're regretful. We do feel foolish standing there in front of all those people, we knew we were pushing it.

TODD (voice-over): In New York City, young people have been seen crowding outside bars recently, several not wearing masks. Tonight, the price for those risks is coming into focus. The CDC says more younger people in the U.S. are becoming infected. DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I also want to appeal to the millennials and those that are under 40. It's really important that this group really commit themselves to these practices to protect those at risk.

TODD (voice-over): Infection among young people is especially acute in states that are now experiencing huge spikes. In Arizona, people aged 20 to 44 account for almost half of all cases. Young people make up the majority of new cases in urban areas of Texas, according to "The New York Times". And in Florida, according to state officials, the median age for people testing positive has dropped way down to between 33 and 35 years old. Experts say a key factor, younger people are much more willing to take risks as those states have reopened.

DR. AMESH ADALJA, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Some of the activities that they may partake, in going to parties, going to bars, it's very hard to social distance. So you are seeing transmission in many places linked to attending bars.

TODD (voice-over): Overall death rates could go down as a result of more younger people getting infected. But experts are still critical of remarks made by Vice President Pence today on that front.

PENCE: Younger Americans are less susceptible to series outcomes of the coronavirus. And the fact that we are finding more younger Americans who've contracted the coronavirus is a good thing.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I don't want young people to hear the Vice President's comments and get from that a false sense of security that for them this infection is a walk in the park.

TODD (voice-over): Pence did warn young Americans about something that medical experts are also sounding an alarm about

ADALJA: They can then transmit that to vulnerable individuals. And in states where hospitalizations are rising, that's likely what's happening that these young people are serving as links and a transmission chain.

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TODD: And some other warnings tonight for America's young people. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin says some younger coronavirus victims are staying sick longer for a period of many, many months and it's not clear why. And she says contracting the virus when they're young can expose some people to getting chronic fatigue syndrome which can stay with them for life. Wolf?

[17:55:06]

BLITZER: Yes. The young people may be asymptomatic or limited --

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: -- by symptoms but they could pass it on to their parents, their grandparents, other loved ones, family, may not even know what they're doing. It's really, really dangerous out there. All right, thanks very much, Brian, for that report.

Coming up, we'll have more in our top story the coronavirus resurgence gripping the United States right now. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room".

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