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Bars Ordered Closed in California to Slow Spread; Bounties on U.S. Troops; Coronavirus Update across the Country; Stocks Hope to Shake off Coronavirus Surge; Wearing Masks Shouldn't be Controversial. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 29, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS (D-CA): And so the governor yesterday issued an order to close down the bars in about -- in seven counties because, frankly, bars are just high-risk areas for infection. So we've always known that we might have to toggle things back and this is an example of that, but we still have flattened the curve in California and we're very, very serious about keeping the number, the overall rate of infections down.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is closing bars going to be enough in some of these counties where the cases are rising and if people aren't listening, how do you make them listen?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, I think that we've been pretty good in this state about people listening. I think there was just a false sense of security that when things started easing up, it meant that it was more safe. What it really meant is that we were prepared. We have 50,000 more hospital beds. We have 250 million masks that we've ordered and have on the ready. But being prepared for people -- more people to be sick does not mean that anyone should want to see more people get sick. So we're sounding the alarm again.

But I think the issue with the bars, though, is that it's just really hard to socially distance in a bar. If you're drinking and you're talking to your friends, it's easy to take that mask down. We know that close contact for at least 15 minutes with someone who's infected is very likely to transmit to another person. So bars were always high-risk, and this is a way I think both to stop the spread of infection, but also send the message to people, look, we're not out of the woods. We have to continue to take every single possible precaution, and I do think people in California believe science and are going to pay attention and adjust their behavior.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting because I think people look at the map and they see California and they see, oh, this is a liberal state where everyone agrees with all the measures for mask wearing and everything else. California's a big state with a very diverse array of opinions and there are counties, very rural counties, where mask wearing is not at all popular right now. And so with these populations, how helpful would it be to have national leadership saying, wear masks. KOUNALAKIS: Well, it is extremely important, and honestly, I was very

happy to see Mike Pence is finally putting a mask on and signaling and, you know, I think that that's probably going to be helpful in places like Texas and, yes, probably in the central valley, in parts of our state, where you do have more people who are listening to the signaling out of Washington, which has been something like, you know, a mask is politicized, if you're in a red state, you reject it, if you're in a blue state, you wear it. This is ridiculous. It's like sunscreen. You wear it to protect yourself. And in this case, of course, you really wear it to protect others and to stop the spread.

So California by and large very science-based. We've done a really good job in flattening our curve. I do hope that the federal government will continue to message now, as they have, that people should wear them. But the whole thing has been certainly discouraging. It's time to get back on track and really stick to the science.

BERMAN: Yes, the president hasn't done it yet certainly when it comes to masks. We may have seen it over the weekend from the vice president, but not the president.

A lot of people often look to California for guidance on education, the biggest school system obviously -- probably in the world for all I know but certainly in the country. Given the rise in cases, how will that affect the decision whether or not to have schools come back with in-person teaching?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, I think you've hit, actually, on the hardest part of what our phased reopening is going to look like. Everything else, the protocols are in place. We're talking about adults. You're talking about places where people might go for a short period of time. A lot of businesses are able to continue to run with people working from home.

Schools 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, and the school districts across the state are working with local health officials as well as with state health officials to really try to figure this out. It's going to involve social distancing in the classroom. It may involve mask wearing in the classroom. We're talking about hand sanitizing stations, disinfecting classrooms, keeping our educators safe. This is going to be really, I think, everything come this fall the biggest challenge that we have.

BERMAN: State, city school districts and parents trying to figure this all out right now.

[08:35:00]

Lieutenant Governor, we really appreciate you coming on NEW DAY. Please come back to NEW DAY really soon.

KOUNALAKIS: Yes.

BERMAN: Thank you. KOUNALAKIS: I appreciate it. Thanks. Bye.

BERMAN: So reports that Russia paid Taliban forces to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Details on what the president knew and new reaction from the Kremlin, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Developing this morning, "The Washington Post" reports Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to kill coalition forces. They are believed to have led to the death of U.S. troops.

Overnight, President Trump denied he was ever briefed about it because he said the intelligence was not credible. Moments ago the Kremlin responded to these reports.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in London with details this morning.

Good morning.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you might imagine, the Kremlin calling these reports a hoax, a lie and pointing to President Donald Trump's own suggestion that, in fact, the intelligence wasn't credible enough for him to be briefed on it as proof that maybe there's nothing behind these allegations. But I have to tell you, I mean this latest, it's Saturday night, we were speaking to a European intelligence official who confirmed the existence of this Russian military intelligence plot to offer cash rewards to the Taliban to kill coalition soldiers, American soldiers.

[08:40:06]

Now they believe, in fact, that that plot had resulted in coalition casualties. It wasn't clear what nationality number or nature of casualty, but now we hear "The Washington Post" saying they believe, in fact, it may have resulted in American deaths.

U.S. officials speaking to my colleagues Barbara Starr in Washington also confirmed this plot but also seemed to some degree to still be looking for verification of that intelligence information, although they, too, believe, in fact, that money did, in fact, change hands and, in fact, those cash rewards were given to the Taliban.

The Taliban, they said they had nothing to do with this, that they are looking for peace and don't need Russians to tell them how to run their insurgency. But all of this extraordinary situation occurs when the U.S. is seeking a peace deal with the Taliban, various discussions underway now despite a stall because of a prisoner exchange that didn't quite go through. This is America's longest war and, startlingly, the White House response so far initially was not to play down the intelligence, but to say the president hadn't been briefed on it. That in itself is startling, if indeed American lives were lost because of Russian military intelligence cash payments to militants as bounties, it would be remarkable the commander in chief hadn't been told about it. But, still, it seems the focus at this point from the White House response is that nature of the story, their own process of briefing, rather remarkably than this allegation itself, stark as it is, in America's longest war now limping it seems perhaps towards a peace resolution that still leaves many Afghans in peril.

Back to you.

BERMAN: Look, major questions about the substance of the reporting as you're pointing out right now and also the process behind what went on here.

Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much for being with us.

Texas trying to contain the outbreak in its state with hospitalizations more than doubling in just a few weeks.

CNN has reporters covering the pandemic from coast to coast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Alexandra Field in Houston, Texas, where the case count is soaring. Governor Greg Abbott trying to get control of the surge here by shutting down bars. He says the majority of cases are now affecting younger people.

Still, ICUs hit their capacity in Houston last week. Hospitals across Houston are now moving to their surge capacity plans and local health officials are warning it could be just a matter of weeks before hospitals are entirely overwhelmed.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles, where a 27-year-old man says that 28 of his family members contracted Covid-19. That includes his father, 60-year-old Vidal (ph), who died the day before Father's Day. Richard Guarai (ph), the son, wants everyone to know about this story. They were extremely cautious, he says. They used that hand sanitizer. They socially distanced. They were also wearing their masks. They don't know how the father got it. But they say, if it happened to their family, it can happen to anyone.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen in Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Less than two months from the Republican National Convention being held in Jacksonville, Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis visited this area Sunday to address the rising cases of Covid-19 across the state, reminding people to socially distance, wear a mask in public and not be around crowded spaces with a lot of other people. All things that would be happening at a convention of that size.

We asked whether he had assured President Trump he could hold such a large gathering indoors with no masks requirement. DeSantis said that it's a dynamic situation. One that he hopes would improve two months from now.

(END VIDEOTAPE) U.S. stocks are hoping to shake off a surge in coronavirus cases. Stock futures pointing up now ahead of the open.

CNN anchor Julia Chatterley joins me now.

Julia, good morning.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

OK, so we're in a tug of war situation right now between the bounce- back in data from the lows of lockdown versus the challenges that we're seeing all over the place in terms of rising cases of Covid.

Take a look at what we saw last week, because this at least makes sense to me. We saw stock markets go down as cases rise. We saw it happening across a number of different states, including the biggest that you just mentioned there, Erica, Texas, of course, stalling (ph) reopening efforts. That's going to have economic consequences. It's going to slow the recovery. We just don't know how much.

And the reality for stocks is that it's anything but clear based on what we've seen year-to-date. If I just give you a look at the performance -- and we've talked about this so many times -- we started off the year in an 11-year bull market. Then we made record lows in record speed. And now we've bounced back.

And this is the big challenge for investors, it's the case of what next? And it's so hard to predict. Key to this initially is going to be data, like job this week. Thursday we've got non-farm payrolls. We're expecting to see a further 3 million jobs added. That will take the unemployment rate down to just over 12 percent. But as we discussed all the time on this show, we know the situation is worse than that for people who have lost pay, people who have lost hours, in addition to those simply aren't registered as unemployed.

[08:45:04]

Then we've got the likes of Jay Powell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaking on Tuesday. So we have to look out for hints on what they say about more stimulus. However good the data is, more support's needed. And that's the reality. It's going to be a busy week.

BERMAN: Yes, even if the unemployment rate does go down to 12 percent, it's still 12 percent, which is incredibly high.

CHATTERLEY: It is.

BERMAN: Julia Chatterley, thanks so much for your reporting.

Now here's what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: Soon, former Minneapolis police officers in court.

10:00 a.m. ET, U.S. Supreme Court issues opinions. 3:00 p.m. ET, California Gov. Newsome briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So if wearing a mask can help stop the spread of coronavirus, why do some people still refuse to do it? Dr. Sanjay Gupta back with the science and those who refuse to listen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:20]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I'm really appealing to every Texan to wear a mask. 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)

BERMAN: Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House Coronavirus Task Force telling Americans what a lot of us already know, which is wearing a mask helps protect you and others from the virus. Yet some people are still against wearing them.

Watch the reaction after Palm Beach County, Florida, passed a mask ordinance last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you --

CROWD: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Back with us, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

First, Sanjay, just -- as a man of science, as a doctor, when you see that kind of reaction, when you see that kind of rage to people being asked or required to wear masks, how does it make you feel?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that -- that's not about science anymore, I don't think. I -- you know, I think that there's something else at play here. It's about people feeling like they don't want to be told what to do or others can't tell them what to do. I don't know. Because I think the science is pretty clear.

I think, as you mentioned, we've known for some time, certainly about the ability of the masks to prevent others around you from getting sick. Yes, I wear a mask every day when I'm in the hospital. When I'm in the operating room, I'm wearing a mask to prevent, you know, putting my own germs into the operating room where I'm operating. It's a sterile environment. It's the same sort of concept here. So that evidence is pretty clear. So it's what I see there with that sort of, you know, back-and-forth is unscientifically based concern that could lead to a real problem or is already leading to a real problem in terms of the spread of this virus. We don't have a lot of other options at this point. Masks are one of the best things we have to try and slow this thing down.

HILL: We know the president does not want to wear a mask. Secretary Azar was just asked about this a short time ago, too, about why the president shouldn't be wearing a mask. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The president's situation is very different as the leader of the free world. He's the most tested person probably on earth. Everybody who's with him is tested before they're with him that day. He's -- he's kept in a very protected bubble there. So it's a very different situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Is it different enough that he doesn't need a mask, Sanjay?

GUPTA: No, it's not different enough. I mean there's so many things in there. First of all, people around him, he should be wearing a mask. He could still be harboring the virus, even if he's getting tested. The tests, you know, we know can have up to 15 percent to 2 percent% false negative rate.

Also, when you're tested, you are negative at that time. You could be -- you could become positive thereafter and still potentially infect people. There's, obviously, the example that he should be setting for the country at a time when we're in some deep trouble with regard to this virus.

The other part of it, I think, is interesting, a little bit of a side issue is the testing. I mean, on one hand they talk about testing not really being necessary, and on the other hand he gets tested, as do the people around him, every day because they know that testing makes a difference in terms of starting to get things to some sense of normalcy. So that's not a mask issue specifically but that really, I mean, that really, I think, is -- it burns because, you know, on one hand we should be in a better testing position than we are in this country. We talked about having breakthroughs two months ago in terms of testing and still people can't get tested.

I work in a hospital where I know health care workers sometimes still can't get tested when they need to be tested, end of June. That's still the situation here.

Let me just show you quickly about masks, though, in terms of the effectiveness overall. We know in terms of people who wear masks, the likelihood of transmission versus people who are not wearing masks, the likelihood of transmission. There it is. I mean this is from The Lancet. A pretty good study. It's -- if you're wearing a face mask, a 3 percent chance of transmission. If you're -- if you're not, about a 17 percent chance of transmission. It's not perfect, but if you start to extrapolate that to large groups of people around the country, it can make a huge difference.

BERMAN: That's thousands of people potentially.

And, Sanjay, there are also these scams out there. People who don't want to wear masks are going to great ends to not wear masks. We have a picture of one of these fake face mask exempt cards I think we can put up so people can see. They're producing these laminated cards which say they don't have to wear a mask.

The U.S. attorney for the middle district of North Carolina actually had to put out a statement that said, don't be fooled by the chicanery of misappropriation of the DOJ eagles.

[08:55:06]

These cards do not carry the force of law. People seem to want to get around things the best they can.

GUPTA: I don't know why people right now at this time in our history going through what we're going through are looking for these types of loopholes to basically get around basic public health precaution. I mean nobody -- nobody wants to be in the situation that we're in and we're not going to be in it forever. But why wouldn't we all do what we can do to get through this?

There are -- you know, if you're a child under the age of two, you shouldn't wear a mask. Someone who has a -- whose not fully conscious shouldn't wear a mask. Somebody who can't take the mask off themselves shouldn't wear a mask. Other than that, I've been wearing a mask for 25 years. There's no problem with wearing a mask. And it could help us, again, get through this.

BERMAN: And you have a great face, so it's a shame to cover it unless you have to. But, Sanjay, there are times, like now, when faces have to be covered.

Thanks so much for being with us.

GUPTA: You got it.

BERMAN: There is some breaking news this morning. We just learned from the White House that Congress will be briefed today on the situation with Russia reportedly paying bounties for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Our coverage continues, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:00]