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CNN Goes Inside Houston Hospital On Frontlines Of COVID-19 Fight; Dr. Anthony Fauci Spoke With CNN Earlier On Vaccines, Whether Herd Immunity Is Possible In U.S.; Dr. Leana Wen Discusses Dr. Fauci Speaking On Herd Immunity, Vaccines, The Anti-Science Movement, HHS Secretary's Comments On Getting Back To Work; Trump Sticks To Tweeting On Divisive Issues, Avoids COVID-19 Crisis; Eric Mackey, Alabama State Superintendent Of Education, Discusses Alabama Putting Out Plans To Reopen Schools As Cases Rise. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 29, 2020 - 11:30   ET



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So yesterday, he said he was at 80 percent capacity. He thought he had another two weeks before he was at 100 percent. We spoke to him a little while ago. He's at 95 percent now. They had a bunch of patients come over last night and a few more than came in yesterday, and now they are at 95 percent capacity.

That's the danger here. That's what will kill patients more than anything when hospitals can no longer take them.

What he needs now, more doctors, more nurses, more people just to clean up the hospitals and clean rooms so they can move people in and out.

The Lone Star state is facing down a crisis right now -- Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, Miguel, it's like deja vu. This is exactly what you saw outside a hospital in Brooklyn.

People may be exhausted by the anxiety of coronavirus and the disruption to their lives and the strain of coronavirus and what this has done to economies everywhere. But those doctors you're talking to, they don't have the luxury of that. They are still in there.

And I think it's so important that they allow you in, that you can tell the story because, when you're not in there, it seems, for a lot of people, it's easy for them to forgot that this is still happening.

MARQUEZ: It is terrifying. And seeing it that up close so many times in so many places, and it's still happening, it's -- it's depressing and all at the same time -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. More to come from Miguel.

Thank you, Miguel.

Coming up from us still, a new warning coming from Dr. Anthony Fauci about whether or not the U.S. will ever achieve herd immunity from the coronavirus.

We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: A reality check this morning from the nation's top disease expert on where we are as a country. And the huge question that has always been hanging over all of this, is, when can the country really expect to get back to normal or even a new normal.

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to CNN's Elizabeth Cohen about that difficult path ahead. It's an important interview at a critical time hosted by the African Ideas Festival.

Elizabeth is joining me right now.

Elizabeth, what did Dr. Fauci tell you about a vaccine and the goal of reaching what we've all learned about and have come to know as herd immunity?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, Kate, despite all the talks about vaccines, we've yet to see any human data come out of studies. We've yet to see any human studies on human data.

But Dr. Fauci says he has seen human data and he says that does look good but he does have concerns.

So let's take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I doubt seriously that any vaccine will ever be 100 percent protective. The best we've ever done is measles, which is 97 percent to 98 percent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there. I don't think we will.

I would settle for 70 percent, 75 percent effective vaccine because that would bring you to the level that would be herd immunity level.

COHEN: If only, say, 70 percent to 75 percent of Americans are willing to get the vaccine and it's only, say, I think you just said 70 percent to 75 percent effective, will that get us to herd immunity?

FAUCI: Unlikely. And that's one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community as we're doing now to get community people to help us, for people to understand that we're doing everything we can to show that it's safe and that it's effective and it's for the good of them as individuals and in society to take the vaccines.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COHEN: Now when I asked Dr. Fauci, what happens if only 70 percent to 75 percent of Americans get this vaccine. That's because polling shows that that's about how many Americans will get the vaccine. The rest say they don't want it. That's a real problem. If, indeed, that's how it works out, that's going to be a problem.

I also talked to Dr. Fauci about contact tracing. He said there are problems with contact tracing, that it is not going well.

Let's take a look at what some of these numbers show. And what they show is that in Florida, is that in Florida, that only seven people -- they only have seven contact tracers per 100,000 people. In Arizona, only five contact tracers for 100,000. In Texas, that number is 11. In Georgia, it's two.

Take a look at these numbers. Keep looking at these numbers and you'll see that, in New York, and I'll tell you, in New York, they have 49 tracers per 100,000. In Massachusetts, 36. Way more than these four states.

And we didn't choose these four states randomly. These four states are states that have hot spots.

So the four states that have hot spots don't have nearly enough contact tracers and don't have anything close to what states like Massachusetts and New York have -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Great interview, Elizabeth. Thank you for bringing it to us. I really appreciate it.

Joining me right now for on this is Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician at George Washington University.

It's great to see you again, Dr. Wen.

You heard Dr. Fauci say that he would settle for a coronavirus vaccine that's about 75 percent effective. But given how many people would likely get it, it would likely not provide herd immunity.

What should that mean to folks at home and fears of a second wave in the fall?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY & FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I think it means that we have to be extremely careful about what we do in the meantime and know that a vaccine is not a cure-all.


I've heard a lot of people talking about the vaccine as if that's the end of our fight in coronavirus. But it's very likely that whatever vaccine we get won't be even close to 100 percent effective. Think about the flu vaccine, it's 40 percent to 60 percent effective. We should still be taking it but it's not panacea.

And the other issue that Dr. Fauci mentioned, which is real, is about this anti-science movement. And the last thing we want to do to fuel the anti-science sentiment is to develop a vaccine too quickly without having the safeguards in place.

So we have to make sure that the vaccine that's developed is safe and effective while, in the meantime, doing our best to lower the rate of infections because, right now, we're seeing explosive spread in so many parts of the country now.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the explosive spread. I feel like we're back to where you and I were having this conversation back in March and April and what we're looking at in some of these states.

What do you see her? With a record number of cases, spikes, record number of hospitalizations in many states, is this all about states opening too early, too quickly?

I ask because we heard two very different takes on that very question. And I want to play this for folks. First, from the former CDC director, Tom Frieden, and also the current HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Listen to this.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: If you open when cases are still increasing, as many states did, it's like leaning into a left hook. You're going to get hit hard and that's what's happening.

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: It's not really about reopening. We can and we have to get back to work, back to school and back to health care. I've been in Michigan. I've been in Massachusetts --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Responsibly, though, right? Responsibly.

AZAR: That's not so much about what the law says on the reopening as what our behaviors are within that.


BOLDUAN: Who is right here?

WEN: Well, the key is that there's a way for us to reopen safely. In fact, the White House's own Coronavirus Task Force laid out those guidelines, which included that states, in order to reopen, had to be on a decline of the number of cases.

Otherwise, there's no way for us to rein in the infection with testing, tracing, isolation. You have to have a low enough number for those measures to work.

And unfortunately, we are seeing exactly what you and I were talking about back in march, Kate, which is you're seeing not only in one region, in New York City, as was the case in march, you're seeing multiple states now in this area of explosive spread.

And I'm afraid that unless we impose much stricter measures now, we are going to see hospitals being overwhelmed. And so now is the time to implement measures like universal masking.

Not only should we be pausing on reopening, we should be limiting indoor gatherings because we know that indoor versus outdoors makes a big difference.

I don't know that we need to close down beaches, but maybe we can allow people on to beaches but enforce social distancing and encourage people to use beaches as recreation.

Those are the types of things that are common sense but need to be implemented right now in order to avoid a catastrophe the way that we could have seen in New York but were barely able to avert it.

BOLDUAN: Let be honest. I want to have you back on so we can try to, like, bust through the myths. There's no myth. What the problem is that people have with masks. It blows my mind. It's like sunscreen. It's like seat belts. It's like why we don't smoke on planes anymore. It is for your health and those around you.

And it's -- there's nothing in the Constitution that says that you can't be told to wear a mask for public safety.

Dr. Wen, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, what does the president's Twitter feed tell us about his priorities right now?



BOLDUAN: As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, President Trump has been on a tear again on Twitter on unrelated topics. Re-tweeting and then deleting a video of a supporter shouting "white power." And, yes, again.

In any other time and any other presidency, that one presidential message would be more than enough to stop anyone in their tracks. But then again, this is Donald Trump.

Add to that, more tweets on baseless mail-in voting conspiracies he's sending out or tweets he's sending out about prosecuting the vandalism of monuments. Re-tweeting out this video today of a couple in Missouri pointing guns at a group of protesters marching past their house.

Honestly, look at that.

CNN White House correspondent, John Harwood, joins me now.

John, why this right now? Is this a classic Trump attempt at distracting from the troubling problem that he actually has on his hands of a pandemic that isn't just disappearing miraculously as he's hoping?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I've never been a big fan of the distraction theory, mainly because the stories he directs our attention to tend to be as bad for him as the ones he's directing our attention away from.

I think what's playing is that the president has been overmatched by the problems that he faces in the pandemic, in the racial justice protests in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. The economy is a wreck.

And what he's doing is playing the one song he knows best, and that's white racial grievance. It happens to be a dangerous song to play for the country right now, given how raw racial feelings are in the country.

And it's dangerous for him politically because the ground has shifted beneath his feet. We see, in public opinion polls, that there's growing appreciation across the spectrum of the need for police reform and to deal with the injustices that black Americans face.


But that's what the president knows. And he keeps following. And that's a big part of the reason why he's in such a deep hole against Joe Biden right now.

BOLDUAN: I mean, we are hearing that amongst -- amid the anxiety of advisers that he should be adjusting that message, trying to make a turn of some sort. But, again, one note, one president. Keeps hitting it.

Thanks, John. Good the see you, man.

HARWOOD: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, it's the hardest part of any state's reopening plan -- that's what state officials tell us -- what to do about getting kids back in school. What do these recent spikes mean for fall plans? Alabama's superintendent of education joins us next.



BOLDUAN: I want to show you the trend map of cases across the country right now. So what we're looking at here is 31 states seeing an increase in cases, a handful holding of them steady and, literally a few seeing a decline in coronavirus cases.

As we have been talking about, that has a huge impact on communities big and small. What these troubling trends also may be throwing into question now, schools reopening.

Listen to the lieutenant governor of California when asked about this just today.


ELENI KOUNALAKIS, (D), CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, I think you have hit actually on the hardest part of what our phases reopening is going to look like.

School is really, really hard. We have millions of kids who are ready to go back to school in the fall. And having the appropriate protocols, figuring out what to do with small children, we have a lot of work ahead of us.


BOLDUAN: Another state, Alabama, has just put out its road map for reopening schools, even as you see, cases are on the rise in that state, as well.

Eric Mackey is the state superintendent of education for Alabama. He joins me now.

Thank you for being here.

It is also -- I want to make sure folks understand is not just an outline that you have put out. It's a 50-page document outlining how to reopen schools safely. As a parent, I really appreciate that level of detail.

Can you lay out for folks, how is the school day going to look different. What should students and parents be preparing for?

ERIC MACKEY, ALABAMA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION: As you just showed a few moments ago, the most difficult piece for us and most difficult piece for any state is that we have to get ready for the reopening of schools. And things will look very different from place to place.

And even we find that here, in Alabama, from community to community it is going to look different. But we will have both traditional school settings so it won't look the same but some kind of traditional format and also a remote learning format going on across the state.

BOLDUAN: You heard the official there in -- oh, go ahead. Did I cut you off? I'm sorry.

MACKEY: No, no. Please.

BOLDUAN: You heard the lieutenant governor of California talking about it's such a difficult decision. Are the trends that we're seeing across the country, of spikes, once again, especially as we're seeing throughout the south, is that making you rethink the plan for reopening already?

MACKEY: Well, it is definitely going to make us have to think from community to community. As you noted, Alabama is spiking and our numbers continue to go up. But we have counties where the number's stable and declining.

Right here, where I live, in Montgomery County, which is growing fast. So the mayor has exceptional rules that don't apply to the rest of the state. What we've tell the schools in Montgomery is we want to abide by those


So what we will see is that they were going to be different rules in different parts of the state. One of the most troubling and difficult pieces is going to be when people leave their jurisdictions.

So things like field trips and ball games, we are still working on how to make those as safe as possible as we move toward the fall, hoping that the numbers go down and the curve begins to level off some before we get to the start of the school. And most of our schools start mid- August here in Alabama.

BOLDUAN: What you are hitting on is something I think is really important for folks to consider and to understand is that what you are laying out are recommendations. They're not mandates or regulations.

So does each school district have the power to reopen or not in the manner that they choose?

MACKEY: They do have a lot of authority as to how we reopen. And we have been polling parents across the state and we know that about 15 percent say that, at this time, they plan to just keep their students at home and do remote learning for the fall.

But that number varies. So in one jurisdiction, it is under 5 percent, and in another jurisdiction, it is about 80 percent or more of parents saying they intend to keep their children home.

So you can see how it's so difficult to do a statewide plan when, even from community to community, people have such varying ideas about how they want school to look.

So we're trying to lay out a baseline for what is the safest foundational kind of base we can lay. And then it will look very different from place to place.

And the plan, as we told superintendents, is bound to change between now and mid-August as we continue to work with the Department of Public Health and medical officials and local mayors and town councils to make all of our openings as safe as possible.


BOLDUAN: Yes. It is -- talk about a challenge on your hands. It is pretty remarkable.