Return to Transcripts main page
New Data Highlights Shortage Of Contact Tracers In Hotspot States; Roberts Sides With Liberals To Block Louisiana Abortion Law. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 29, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
The race to reopen the nation now facing a major reality check. 31 states are now seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases just days away from the July 4th weekend. At least 14 states are now pausing or rolling back their reopening plan.
President Trump's health secretary striking a very different tone from his boss on the growing threat of the virus, warning that the window is closing, his words, for the U.S. to get this pandemic under control.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that a vaccine, if and when it is developed, will likely not end the outbreak completely. He says it's unlikely the U.S. will achieve what's known as herd immunity, even with a vaccine.
Also this morning, new data shows that some of the hardest hit states in the U.S. have nowhere near the amount of contact tracing they need to help stop the spread of this virus, that is identify people who have it, talked to other people they have had contact with.
It's a lot to get to this morning. First, let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye in Palm Beach County, Florida. So, Randi, we're coming up on the July 4th weekend, Florida opened very aggressively early on. What are officials saying there now as cases continue to rise?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are starting to pull back just a little bit, Jim. They are closing the beaches here in Palm Beach County for the July 4th holiday weekend, at least from July 3rd to 7th. They could be extend even if things get really bad, worse than they are already here in the State of Florida, as we see these spiking numbers, Miami-Dade also closing the beaches.
And if you take a look here, you can see why people are upset about this in Broward County, they are also closing them. People come to Florida to enjoy the surf, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the water. And just yesterday, as Broward County officials made their announcement that the beaches would be closing for the July 4th holiday weekend, they were heckled.
Listen to what happened with the mayor of Hallandale Beach. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR JOY COOPER, HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA: You should stay at home and celebrate with your families. Be grateful for the wonderful America that we have. We're all in this together now, and we will get through it if everyone cooperates and continues to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and make sure we care for one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: If you think closing the beaches is extreme, all you have to do is look at the numbers. Florida hit a record high on Saturday with more than 9,500 cases. Then on Sunday, there was a drop to 8,500 cases in a single day. But The Miami Herald reports that, still, a 144 percent increase over the previous Sunday high.
The governor still not mandating masks in the State of Florida. many people would like him to do that, but it's still not mandated, although Miami-Dade and some other areas are mandating masks on their own. Part of the reason in Miami-Dade, just about a quarter of all -- of all the new cases in the State of Florida, Miami-Dade had a about a quarter of them, according to The Miami Herald.
Jim, back to you.
SCIUTTO: Randi Kaye there, thanks very much.
To Texas now, another outbreak, where CNN's Miguel Marquez recently went inside a Houston-area hospital where you are really seeing cases surging. And, Miguel, these views inside the hospital, I remember what you did in New York, it just shows people how bad it can get when those facilities are overwhelmed. Tell me what doctors said their biggest concern is right now.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The big concern is that surge that will basically not let them see more patients. So the virus may be bad, but people not being able to get healthcare because they can't find a hospital that will take them could be worse.
One more, if it can get any more disturbing, it has. We just spoke to the doctor that we spent several hours with yesterday, who is the chief medical officer here at United Memorial Medical Center. Yesterday, 24 hours ago, he said he thought they would be full up in about two weeks. They are about 80 percent yesterday. They had a couple of cases in the E.R. yesterday, COVID cases, they had a bunch come in overnight. This morning, they are at about 95 percent capacity. He thinks they will not have bed space by the end of this week.
This line of cars that you see, this is not people coming to work, this is not people parking up. These are people waiting for a test at this hospital. They do testing all across the city at five different locations. They have tested about 85,000 people total there. Positivity rate is about 13 percent, about twice, over twice what the state and health officials say it needs to be to have, to be able to manage the disease essentially.
One other frightening thing that this doctor told us is that, you know, half the people coming here, they are still taking regular patients.
If you come here for a hangnail or a heart attack, they give you a COVID test, no matter what you come here for. Half the patients, 47 percent of the patients are coming here for other things have COVID.
There is just a massive number of people out there that don't know they have it and are spreading. It's full-on. New York was terrifying two months ago, it is just as scary here in Texas today. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, looking at that line behind you, I mean, that is not an efficient way to test people for this virus.
So let's hear about patients. You spoke to patients recovering, two of them, a husband and a wife. What's their message to folks this morning?
MARQUEZ: Stay home. There was a doctor I spoke to early on in the New York thing, and her message was stay the F home. These people are -- stay home. This is a husband and wife who are in the same room now. They did everything they could. They put on masks, they stayed away from others. They stayed home. They weren't going out, only as necessary, and they still got it. He, the husband, is having a real hard time breathing. She was able to talk to us and just said, look, stay home. Take it seriously.
What is most frustrating for people we speak to is that they don't understand why others don't believe it and don't understand how this thing gets spread. And that even if you have it and you're not showing symptoms and you don't have a bad case of it, it doesn't make it okay because you could give it to somebody and it could kill them.
And they don't know what turns on the switch that makes it so bad in some people. In this hospital, they treated people from 19 years old to in their 80s. The 19-year-old almost died from a blood clot and they were able to save his life. So it just doesn't matter. They don't know much about -- the more they learn, the more they realize how much they don't know about coronavirus. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, there's deliberate disinformation out there, some of it shared by the president, and it sticks. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.
To Arizona now, another state facing this. It's just reported its highest single day spike in new coronavirus infections. Let's get to Stephanie Elam, she is in Phoenix, who has more. How is this changing the state's response to this? Is it changing the state's response? STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, but not equally across the state when you look at how it's being parsed out here in Arizona, Jim. I can tell you that that number, that new one-day record that they had here is over 3,800 cases in one day. That's an increase of more than 5 percent from Saturday. And what's also very alarming here is the number of ICU beds that are filled. It is nearing 90 percent capacity here.
So hospitals here enacting surge capacity rules where they can take different parts of the hospital that are vacant an use those areas to put in patients to treat them for COVID as well.
Also, we know that some of the hospitals are actually going out to contractors and are bringing in registered nurses to bring them that help. Some of those registered nurses have worked in New York, and during their horrible, horrible time with the coronavirus. So they are doing what they can here
But what's not the same is that governor here, Governor Ducey, has left it up to the cities and the counties to decided whether or not they are going to mandate for masks.
Now, he has said that people should be wearing masks. He's just making a statewide mandate. And they have seen an increase in the numbers cases since the stay-at-home order expired in May. And so the beginning of June, you're seeing these numbers starting to go up.
Now, Governor Ducey did also point to the fact that some of this has been bars. We've seen mayors talk about the bars opening up too soon, so some have closed down. But they're asking people to stay home, wear a mask and also avoid large gatherings here. Jim?
SCIUTTO: It can't be repeated often enough. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.
As cases skyrocket, the White House task force is giving briefings after what was a two-month hiatus. But now, Response Team Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says that masks have another benefit. They don't just protect you, your neighbors, rather, they protect you from getting infected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: I'm really appealing to every Texan to wear a masks. I think we know now there's scientific evidence that masks both keep you from infecting others but may also partially protect you from getting infected. I think that's a new discovery and a new finding, and it's very encouraging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Let's speak now CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. One fascinating thing about this is we're always learning, we're learning about the virus itself but also what works and what's truly risky. So this is a big deal, is it not, in terms of reinforcing the case to take that simple step of wearing a mask?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think there's been, you know, some evidence of this for some time. I mean, you certainly look at countries around the world, even places like South Korea, which, by the way, never went into a lockdown mode, a culture of mask-wearing there, and they have had, you know, obviously exponentially fewer cases, exponentially fewer deaths.
The idea that if you're wearing a mask, if you're carrying the virus, you will greatly diminish the amount of virus you're putting into the environment.
I think that evidence has been clear. And once we've realized that asymptomatic spread was possible, mask-wearing became, you know, very important.
But now, I think, what Ambassador Birx was talking about is that wearing a mask is not perfect in terms of protecting the user, but it does offer some level of protection there as well. Combine those two things and you start to see significant reductions in transmission of the virus.
SCIUTTO: Yes, it becomes a no-brainer, right?
Okay. So a lot of this comes down to decisions that people are making, and you and I have conversation and we're making our own decisions, particularly as you come up on the July 4th weekend. Let's go through a couple of them, air travel. Is it safe to fly?
GUPTA: I would still fly for essential travel. I think for, you know, other types of travel right now, I think there is a significant risk just because you're going to be in a situation where it's not just the distance that you have from people, closer than six feet, although some airlines are better than others about this, but also the duration. Once you're in contact with somebody for longer than 15 minutes or so, that's considered a close contact. So, you know, I think it's challenging.
And as you point out, Jim, it's a risk/reward proposition for everybody, certainly vulnerable people, people with pre-existing conditions, which is a large segment of the population. I would say, no, for sure but for other people if it's essential in some way, then I think you have to make that decision.
SCIUTTO: All right. Restaurants outdoors, safe to go outdoors to dine?
GUPTA: I think it's okay to eat outside. You know, I've done a lot of reporting and visited a bunch of various restaurant establishments. I think there's a couple things. One is you want to figure out the restaurant itself. Are they a place that's adhering to being careful about things, you know, just in terms of overall disinfecting, maintaining some sort of physical distance?
But also what is the community like in which you were dining? Is this a place where the virus is starting to spread pretty rampantly? We got reports just yesterday, South Carolina, if you're on the beaches in South Carolina over the last couple of weeks, a report came out and said, you were likely to have come in contact with COVID. You should go get tested.
So now, you know, you put yourself in the same situation, you go to a restaurant, eat outside, you may get a notice. You need to get tested. You came in contact with somebody. So, again, it's the risk/reward proposition.
I get asked this all the time, Jim, by my friends and family, and all that, for the most part we're staying home still. I think if you're not vulnerable, I think the chances are low, much lower you're going to get sick but that's the decision matrix you have to have.
SCIUTTO: Yes, let's listen to what the doctors say and watch what you do.
I do want to ask you before we go about young people, because that's become a consistent factor as we've seen a spike in new cases. I had the mayors of El Paso and Miami-Dade both saying, yes, they're really seeing a jump among young people.
Why is that and what does that mean?
GUPTA: I think there's two things that are driving it. One is that, you know, there is a sense of invincibility among younger people so they are going to be out there in larger numbers, and I think that some of that is based on the data. I mean, they are less likely to get sick. That is true.
I also think that we are -- part of this is driven by testing in the sense that we were not testing asymptomatic people in most places up until recently and still in a lot of places you can't get it.
one point I want to make, Jim, because I listened to your interview with Michael Osterholm --
SCIUTTO: Sanjay, if I can, I'm sorry to interrupt. We will come back. It's just that we have some breaking news coming in now from the Supreme Court. We want to bring you right there.
Our Jessica Schneider, she is outside the court. Major decision. What do we know?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, a major decision this morning on abortion rights, and in this case, the Supreme Court has blocked a Louisiana abortion law from going into effect and crucially the chief justice here, John Roberts, has once again joined with the liberals in this decision.
We're still going through the opinion itself, but this, again, is significant. This is the second time in two weeks that the chief justice has sided with the liberals. Last week, it was on DACA, and today, it's blocking this controversial Louisiana abortion law.
Now this law has been blocked for several years as it's worked its way through the courts, but this is a law that challengers said would have left just one doctor in the entire state able to perform abortions. It would have effectively shut down two of the three remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana. That law now though not going into effect, it has not been in effect nor will it if into effect.
This was a law that was passed by the Louisiana legislature that would have required doctors at these abortion clinics to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles. And the lower courts, they have blocked this, and now the Supreme Court saying that this law will remain blocked.
Jim, it was interesting at oral arguments, you know. There was a law -- there was a case out of Texas that happened just a few years ago that was nearly identical to this.
Texas had also passed a very similar law here concerning admitting privileges. And the chief justice at oral arguments really struggled with this, saying, look, the Supreme Court held that the Texas law was invalid. How could we now hold that this Louisiana law was valid when it's virtually the same as that Texas law.
He struggled with it. He seemed to try to find maybe if there could be differences based on state-to-state law. But it appears today that the chief justice could not find that distinction from the case in 2016 involving Texas, and this case involving Louisiana and, crucially, Jim, the chief justice, again, siding with the liberals here.
SCIUTTO: Jessica Schneider, stay with us. I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin, Chief Legal Analyst, as well as Sabrina Siddiqui, National Politics Reporter.
Jeffrey, first to you. Fascinating decision here, the chief justice once again siding with liberals. Explain the impact, the significance and surprise, if you have it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I have plenty of surprise. Something is going on with John Roberts. I mean, John Roberts has sided with the liberals now in three of the biggest cases of the year. The case that said under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, you can't discriminate, you can't fire people because they are gay or transgender, in the DACA case, he voted to join with the liberals to overturn the effort to stop DACA, and here, this law was almost identical to the one in Texas.
John Roberts dissented in that case. John Roberts said that Texas law was constitutional, but he lost that case because Anthony Kennedy was still on the court, and he voted with the liberals in that 5-4 decision. Louisiana passes a law that's almost identical to the Texas law, and here, Roberts switched places because, he says, stare decisis, the rule of precedent requires that we honor the decision of a couple of years ago even though I disagreed with it at the time. What that suggests is that Roe V. Wade may need one more justice from President Trump in order to win, because if John Roberts feels this precedent needs to honored, Roe V. Wade is an even more well- established precedent. So, I mean, this is an extremely important decision to the lives of women in Louisiana most importantly, because it means that Louisiana will not effectively have abortion ban, but it also is a message to other states that don't think there are five votes on the Supreme Court now to uphold overturning abortion laws.
So it is a major decision. It is a major message that Chief Justice Roberts may not be who we thought he was.
Joan Biskupic, our Supreme Court Reporter, wrote the book on Chief Justice Roberts, the chief. Remarkable there to Jeffrey's point because it's not just about this case, it may be in his view about Roe V. Wade. And Brett Kavanaugh, I mean, the intention of Brett Kavanaugh replacing Kennedy, was it not, was in part the hope of many conservatives was to move the court on Roe V. Wade. Tell us about Roberts' role in this, from your view.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, thanks, Jim. This is the first time that John Roberts has ever voted against an abortion restriction on the merits here. Now, he made clear he did not agree with the 2016 precedent, which first looked at these physician requirements that are known as admitting privileges, but he said that's the law of this court, he has to abide by it and provided the fifth vote.
I think this ruling today by John Roberts is more significant than the first two. On the gay rights one, he was actually the sixth vote. On the undocumented young immigrants, he was the fifth vote but that involved very sloppy Trump administration attention to a statute.
This is a constitutional matter having to do with abortion rights as just at a pivotal moment in our country and here is John Roberts saying there's something bigger here, something bigger than anything that he's done before, which, again, every single time, he's been a vote against abortion rights to now side on the merits.
One other thing, Jim, though is in February of 2019 when this law might have taken effect. John Roberts did cast the fifth vote to at least block it from taking effect but that did not tell us what that would do on the merit, and we see that today in a really stunning assertion of abortion rights that we did not think John Roberts would do.
SCIUTTO: Joan, one -- I don't have to tell you this, but our viewers might not know this, one consistent thread in your book about John Roberts is that, yes, he has a belief that he has to maintain the court as an apolitical branch of government, but he is also a staunch judicial conservative. How do you reconcile those two? Do you see a change in his view? Is the Trump presidency any factor in these decisions?
BISKUPIC: I actually think the Trump presidency is a factor in his decisions. The Trump administration has pushed so hard on this court and so hard on the law in America that it's sort of unmooring John Roberts whose conservative instincts date to the Reagan administration. He was very much against abortion rights back then. He's been against abortion rights when he in the George H.W. Bush administration. He even filed a brief asking the court to diminish abortion rights. So that's where he always was.
So I do think the Trump administration is one factor here, and it's also a very important desire that he has articulated to try to steady this court so that he conveys the message that there are no Trump judges, there are no Obama judges. And he and his court as a Reagan/Bush, second Bush judge. But at this time in America, I think what we see is him sending the signal that someone has to move beyond politics, beyond ideology and it was him. It was him.
Jim, you remember when Anthony Kennedy left the bench, he lost the center and John Roberts has decided he's going to fill it.
SCIUTTO: Remarkable, really. I want to read a quote from the decision, this, of course, the Chief Justice John Roberts' writing, and this is something that Jeffrey referenced earlier. But the legal doctrine he writes, Roberts, of stare decisis -- actually, different quote. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore, Louisiana's law cannot stand under our precedents.
To Jeff's point, Joan, what he's saying there, even though he voted on the other side of the previous case, he's saying, because we, the court, decided against the Texas law, we can't then uphold this Louisiana law. I mean, is that the correct understanding there? And that's what -- okay, go ahead.
BISKUPIC: Yes. What I'm going to say is that is incredibly important for abortion rights advocates and it's an important message to the states. Do not try to do this. Do not try to do what Texas did and what Louisiana did because John Roberts, even though he didn't think that what Texas had done had burdened women's rights to end a pregnancy, the majority did, and he is going to abide by that.
This is a very big signal to the many states that right after Anthony Kennedy left the court, moved to try to restrict abortion, and what John Roberts is saying is we're going to abide by that 2016 precedent, which has now been reinforced here. And that is a very important legal assertion here that I think will bring a lot of people up short.
SCIUTTO: So, Sabrina Siddiqui, National Politics Reporter for The Wall Street Journal joining as well. I don't have to describe to you the enormous political implications of this decision, and I haven't seen it yet, but I imagine within minutes, we will have the president tweet something along the lines of, we need another justice.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, just to break down this ruling a little bit, this law, of course, would have required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. And because complications from abortions are extremely rare, it is often difficult for those doctors to enter into contracts with hospitals because they simply don't generate enough patients.
Now, the interesting thing is Chief Justice John Roberts, when examining a near identical law in 2016 in Texas, in that case he dissents even though the court struck down this law. This clearly has to do with precedent and not going against the Supreme Court's earlier decision.
So it is a victory for women's health advocates who were very concerned about what access to abortion will look like with President Trump having added two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court. And it does have at least some bearing on the court's willingness to re-examine Roe V. Wade, which, of course, is the biggest concern among advocates for abortion, among advocates for women's health, I should say.
We, of course, don't know what this means for how Chief Justice John Roberts would rule in other abortion cases that may come before the court. In 2019 alone, there were more than 350 pieces of legislation introduced throughout the country seeking to chip away at access to abortion.
But I think that a lot of women's health advocates are taking this as a positive sign that he is increasingly seeming to be the new ideological center of the Supreme Court.
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Toobin, this run of decisions in the last couple of weeks with Roberts consistently siding with the liberals when you take in the LBGTQ decision, the decision on DACA and this, truly remarkable, is it not? Place that into context. Have you seen in your many years of covering the court a move like this?
TOOBIN: Well, you do see justices evolve over time, and it does happen. I mean, it happened were David Souter, who was a George Herbert Walker Bush appointee, who started out pretty conservative, wound up a pretty steadfast liberal, John Paul Stevens, appointed by Gerald Ford, who turned out to be an extremely liberal justice. Going back even further, Dwight Eisenhower's appointees of Earl Warren and William Brennan turned out to be very liberal. John F. Kennedy's appointment of Byron White turned out to be pretty conservative. So, you know, justices do change over time. But certainly in the modern era, in the last 20 years, we have not seen justices change dramatically.
Now, these are three very big cases. You know, John Roberts is going to be chief justice for a long time. I don't know if we can say this means a sea change for decades he is likely still to serve of on the court, but for this year and for very important cases, you know, the future of discrimination against gay people in the workplace, that's a huge issue. The future of 700,000 DACA young people is a huge issue, and abortion, I hardly say, is perhaps the most controversial issue before the Supreme Court. To see John Roberts side with the liberals on those three cases can is an extraordinary thing, and it will, I think, in part shape the presidential campaign because it will inject the Supreme Court back into the conversation which year after year it tends not to be except among the base of the Republican Party.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, these are not ivory tower Supreme Court decisions. These are decisions with real effects on real people immediately.
And, Joan, you know better than anyone, you know, Roe V. Wade, in particular abortion laws like this, is were an explicit target, were they not, of conservatives in terms of generating candidates like a Gorsuch or a Kavanaugh for the court hoping that that would turn things, and that strategy has failed, at least for now.
BISKUPIC: That's exactly right. And President Trump said that he was going to appoint people who were against constitutional right for a woman to end a pregnancy. But it's interesting when I think back over -- over the course of history, our more modern history, when justices have moved over on abortion rights, it has been exactly in this kind of moment.
In 1992, when the Supreme Court in a ruling known as Planned Parenthood versus Casey suddenly affirmed Roe, it was with the votes of three key Republican appointees that we ought were more conservative, Justices Souter, O'Connor and Kennedy. Harry Blackman and John Paul Stevens were also on that court and they were Republican appointees. But it was Justice O'Connor and Justice Kennedy who were so crucial there, and that's when Justice Kennedy flipped over on abortion rights after earlier being like John Roberts voting to uphold abortion restrictions. And I don't think we should discount either the Trump administration or this election year in John Roberts' thinking.
And I do not think that we are not looking at a transformed liberal here. I think we're looking at a jurist who is taking cases one at a time and thinking very seriously about the integrity of this court and his own personal legacy.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, and, Joan, you know this as well as anyone, better than anyone perhaps. The name David Souter, for instance, I mean, that's a rallying cry for conservatives to say we can't have another justice like that who goes to the dark side, as it were, in their view. And that's part of the vetting for these candidates to make sure in their writings, in their questions in the confirmations hearings that they don't show a signal that they might go that way, right, in their view. And here you have the chief justice taking remarkable stands, Joan.
BISKUPIC: That's right. And I have to say, Jim, the right wing had already written off John Roberts after his 2012 vote to uphold Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. So, you know, they had seen him inching to the left.