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16 States Stop Reopening Plans as Coronavirus Cases Surge Across the U.S. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:12]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

Many states are hitting the pause button now on reopening but can it stop this surge? Sixteen states now rolling back reopening plans. At least 36 states, those in red and orange there, seeing a rise in cases since last week.

In Arizona, the governor was forced to shut down businesses such as bars, gyms and movie theaters again. In Florida, some beaches are closed, and in Jacksonville, which will be the site of the Republican National Convention with large indoor events, officials are now mandating masks in public. Will they wear them at the convention?

California is reporting record daily numbers and hospitals are running dangerously low now on ICU beds. The mayor of Los Angeles says the next two weeks are critical in preventing a catastrophe. And in Texas, bar owners are suing the governor's recent emergency order which once again shuts them down.

Just minutes from now, we're going to hear from two key voices in the nation's pandemic response, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the director of the CDC, Dr. Redfield, they are testifying on Capitol Hill.

We are live across the country covering all the angles. First, let's go to Stephanie Elam. She's in Phoenix, Arizona.

So Arizona, one of those states, as you know, Stephanie, getting hit hard. How are state leaders reacting now?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well it's been sort of based on which municipality you are in, whether or not you needed to wear a mask. And that continues under this new guideline coming from Governor Doug Ducey. But what we're looking at here is a change. We're seeing bars closing down, gyms are now closed. They're also saying that pools -- they don't want people, more than 10 people there as well.

Tubing and all of these types of businesses, they are now closed for at least a month and then they say they'll take a look and re-evaluate whether or not it'll be time to open them up. They're also pushing the first day of school in August. So pushing that to August 17th. They say they will continue to re-evaluate that date. Also saying that congregations of more than 50 people will be banned

throughout the state. However, they're saying local municipalities can decide whether or not to approve larger gatherings but saying that they would have to make sure that those social distancing guidelines are being followed.

We did talk to a doctor here, who wrote a viral post talking about the fact that what he is seeing inside of these ERs, keep in mind, the ICU beds dedicated to COVID are now nearly 90 percent full. Listen to what he said he and his colleagues are seeing inside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BRANDON BIKOWSKI, INTERNAL MEDICINE HOSPITALIST: It's something that we don't know how to deal with as medical professionals. And if I don't know that after all of the years of school and training and if every colleague that I have talked to feels the same way that I do, I think people should probably be as scared as I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: And just to give you an idea, Jim, of how hospitals are dealing with this, they're going to surge capacity. And we know one hospital here, they've actually taken three floors of a children's hospital to take overflow patients so that they have more room for COVID patients in, they're saying, co-hoarded area in another hospital. It just shows you what they're dealing with here -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. Stephanie Elam, in Arizona, thanks very much.

Let's go to Texas now. There's a new lawsuit there filed against the state's order to shut down bars. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Houston.

Lucy, tell us what's behind this. Obviously people want to save their businesses here, but we also know the science knows that bars -- lots of people packed in close are a big way to spread this disease.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a big concern that the disease could continue to spread. The bars are basically saying it's unconstitutional to shut them down as the governor did on Friday because they're keeping other businesses open like gyms, for example. But look, the fact of the matter is the numbers here in Texas are going in the wrong direction, both in terms of hospitalizations and new cases.

We're also seeing, according to doctors, younger people getting sick, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and although the mortality rates remains relatively low, the number of people infected according to the Houston mayor is growing exponentially. And nobody wants to see something like what we saw in Italy, for example, where people just simply couldn't get health care, basic health care, and were dying of preventable causes.

The hospitals here do have capacity, but some ICU wards in Houston are already full. So this is a growing concern. Now, take a listen to this warning yesterday from the Houston mayor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TX: This is real. People are dying. People are getting sick. People are doing to the hospital. People in ICU beds and people who are asymptomatic or infecting their loved ones.

[09:05:03]

The reality is, is that we are all in this together. And we have to blunt the progression of this virus and we have to do it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAFANOV: An urgent call there. We are waiting for the governor to speak later this evening. He's asked all Texas TV stations to roadblock about five minutes of their time for what he calls an urgent announcement. We don't know what that's going to be but for example masks are not mandated statewide. Perhaps that's something that they could be looking into -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That'll be news. We know you'll keep us up to date. Lucy Kafanov, thanks very much.

Let's go now to Randi Kaye. She's in Riviera Beach, Florida.

So, Randi, you know, big subject dispute in the state of Florida, masks. Cities across the state adopting mandatory face mask policies. The governor so far refused such a measure statewide. Is that science or politics?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lots of folks here, Jim, saying that is all about politics, in fact. Meanwhile, we're still watching these spikes in numbers. 5200 cases yesterday, more than 5200 new cases. That's down from the record high, more than 9500 cases on Saturday, but still certainly not the numbers that Florida wants to see.

But back to the politics of it all, cities like Jacksonville are putting in this mask mandate saying everyone out in public if they can't safely social distance has to wear a mask. The governor has said that he thinks it's going to be fine by the time the Republican National Convention comes along on August 24th. It's two months away.

Not sure what he's basing that on, but his communications director says that there's no talk of him right now overriding the mask mandate for the convention that he's very focused on state business. It is interesting, though, how he will explain if there is a mask mandate in place, how he'll explain that to President Donald Trump.

So as you mentioned, no mask mandate. Areas taking it into their own hands. Lots of folks are calling for it, including the mayor of Miami, who is a Republican, wants a mask mandate here. The mayor of Miami Beach is also talking about that as well. He's had to shut down restaurants in that area because servers have not been wearing masks so they have started a mask mandate in their area.

This is what the mayor of Miami Beach said on CNN earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: We don't have a lot of tools left in the kit right now. So, you know, we're trying everything we can to stop this spread and reverse what is a very enormous spike in our community and in our state. And you know, we don't want to go back to sheltering in place because of the impact that has. So we are at a point where we have more than heightened and understandable concern and anxiety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: And Jim, there are certainly a lot of anxiety about the upcoming July 4th holiday weekend. Sure, the state has closed beaches but as they say in Orange County where Orlando is, they saw major spikes, more than 80 percent cases after Memorial Day weekend. They don't want another Memorial Day weekend -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And that's really what we're seeing now, is the effects. Carry on effects of Memorial Day reopening.

Randi Kaye, thanks very much.

Well, California, that's a state that seemed to have had a handle on this but now the cases continuing to climb this morning there, putting enormous pressure on hospitals. CNN's Dan Simon, he is in Los Angeles.

So, Dan, the mayor of Los Angeles says the situation is becoming critical there. How so and what are they doing about it?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Jim. It's just so unfortunate. This is a state that had gotten wide praise for its handling of the virus, for flattening the curve, but now California, Los Angeles, posting a daily record in terms of the number of new cases but it goes beyond the cases. We're seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

In Los Angeles County hospitalizations up 44 percent in the past two weeks raising the possibility that beds could be constrained in the next few weeks. We are already seeing that in Riverside County south of here. ICU beds now at 96 percent capacity and health officials say we're definitely seeing community transmission once again. And that's why they're dialing back the economy somewhat.

Bars are being closed in many different cities. Los Angeles, San Diego. Also the beaches, the beaches are going to be closed over the 4th of July weekend. Of course they would be packed. Fireworks being canceled as well to avoid large gatherings.

This is what Mayor Eric Garcetti had to say yesterday. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CA: It's time for us to take control of this moment. Because I feel that COVID-19 is beginning to take control from us. But we can do things to take control back from COVID-19. And the next two weeks will be critical weeks in defining whether we can do just that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Officials say really this is the time to hunker down, once again to stay at home if you can over the next two weeks, to really to get back into an earlier mindset in terms of what we saw earlier in the pandemic -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Dan Simon, thanks very much.

Joining us now Dr. Leana Wen. She's an emergency room physician at George Washington University.

[09:10:01]

Dr. Wen, always good to have you on. Remember way back weeks ago, there was some discussions, some hope, that summertime, warmer weather, would -- if not get this under control, at least slow the spread of infections. That hasn't played out that way. Do we know why?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, it's actually possible that we still may be seeing a summer effect as in if it were the fall or the winter, maybe COVID-19 would be even worse by now. I think the problem is a combination of things. We do have reopening that occurred too soon, that reopening occurred even when many states were seeing an increase in the number of infections and when we haven't had the infrastructure, the testing, tracing, isolation, in order for us to get this virus under control.

And I think quarantine fatigue is really real. And people are eager to get outside and do things. But I hope that this is a call to action, for everybody to be doing things safely, to enjoying life safely including ideally not being indoors but being outdoors and wearing masks whenever possible.

SCIUTTO: You know, the U.S. is almost unique in having this resurgence at reopening but not having gotten the infection rate way down. You know, you compare it to Europe and yes, other places, even China, are seeing some resurgence as they've been reopening but from a lower base because they got it under better control.

The U.S. didn't so we're seeing the rise happen from a very high level here. And what does that mean for the country in terms of what you then have to do to get a real handle on it?

WEN: You know, this is exactly the point, Jim, that other countries they were able to essentially crush the curve. They didn't just aim to flatten the curve. They crushed it. And so when they reopened, they were so few cases that they were able to identify new cases and rein it in before and -- before there is an outbreak that turns into an epidemic without people realizing it.

But unfortunately in this country we haven't done that. So we've reopened against this backdrop of surging infections anyway. And I think at this point we're trying all these precision tools, if you will. We're trying things like closing down bars and closing down restaurants but I'm not sure that that's going to be enough because what we may need are these stay-at-home orders again.

But I just don't know that we have the political will to be able to do that or frankly the public sentiment to be able to do it. But I think there's some commonsense things we can do in the meantime. So not just closing bars, but restricting indoor gatherings because I don't want people to not go to bars, but then instead be congregating in their homes instead. It's going to be same problem.

SCIUTTO: What you have -- this is just a fact. From the national level, you have exactly the opposite guidance. Because you have a -- the president is going to hold the Republican National Convention indoors. You've had other events with students, the president with students, indoor. The vice president with supporters at a church indoors.

What difference does that make from a public health perspective? I mean, can you -- can this country follow the science if the president is not doing so?

WEN: You know, public health depends on public trust and that public trust is fostered when everybody is on the same page. Not just the health officials but also our elected political officials, too. And we really need for the president and all the elected officials to be singing from the same song book, that we need to be all wearing masks, we all need to practice social distancing.

We all have to be doing the right thing to care for one another in order for this pandemic to come under control. And the thing is we know what it takes. We have the evidence. We have the science. Other countries have done it. In fact, we ourselves have done it before in controlling COVID-19. We just need everyone to be following that same guidance or else everyone will be affected but in particular those who are the most vulnerable. Those who are African-American, people of color will suffer the most and bear the greatest brunt of this pandemic.

SCIUTTO: I mean, as you say there, that is a sad, unfortunate fact. We know what works, right? We know what makes a difference. And many just aren't doing it.

Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, what did the president know? Sources tell CNN that information on Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan was included in his written daily intelligence briefings. House Democrats are now getting their own briefing on that intelligence as we speak.

And a stunning new report on the president's phone calls with world leaders. Why senior officials within his administration say the president himself was a threat to national security.

Plus the federal Paycheck Protection Program known as PPP is coming to an end today. So what happens to small businesses that are still struggling? What could the impact of a potential second shutdown be?

[09:15:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: They had inadequate testing. I mean, Texas is 42nd in the country in testing. They opened too soon and they had a policy where they really didn't push the public wearing of masks. That's not rocket science.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, doctors, they know the science, and they're not holding back on just how important masks are to stop this virus. My next guest says that's why the Texas governor should enforce a statewide mask mandate. With me now is Dallas County Commissioner court judge, Judge Clay Jenkins.

Judge, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TX COMMISSIONER COURT JUDGE: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: So you wrote to Governor Abbott, you asked him to implement a mandatory mask requirement statewide, also to institute the stay home, stay safe order for 30 days. Have you received a response from the governor?

JENKINS: The governor went on television last night and said that the doctors who had made the recommendations in that wanted to throw the state into poverty.

[09:20:00]

But this is a pattern -- it's actually a hopeful pattern because normally what he does is, he goes on television and attacks the people that are requesting change, and then he does go and ask what he says there's something that what we're asking for is a limit of 10 people inside, closing all establishments that wear mask cannot be worn 100 percent of the time, a 50 percent occupancy for other establishments where people will stay home unless they really have a necessity to get out and then statewide masking. He's already changed quietly four or five of the other things we requested over the weekend.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because there's been this false choice presented in effect that you can either save the economy, save businesses, or respond to and try to tamp down the virus here. I mean, the simplest question is, can Dallas reopen its economy safely and sustainably without getting the outbreak under control?

JENKINS: Well, no. Look, and the public health and the economy go hand-in-hand. What is best for public health is best for getting the economy moving. We're a consumer-driven economy and if consumers continue to see the numbers go up, and their neighbors are getting sick and they themselves are getting sick, it doesn't matter what the elected leaders say, it won't work.

And so, by listening to the doctors who have trained their entire lives for this moment, who are the specialists in this, epidemiologists, infectious disease, public health officials, that is the best way for us to get our economy moving again and keep as many people as safe as possible. I'm not making this stuff up, everything that I'm asking is on behalf of the medical community in Texas. And by the way, after I wrote that letter, every other urban area leader in Texas, mayors and judges, joined and wrote the same letter.

SCIUTTO: You know, you've heard from Republican governors such as Governor Abbott, but also Republican lawmakers and the president saying that in effect they want to let local leaders make their own decisions here. This is a question of freedom, they know best how to handle this. Here, you have the odd scenario where you have local leaders in the state of Texas, pushing the governor to let you and others make their own decisions here. Are they tying your hands as you try to get a handle on this virus?

JENKINS: Oh, absolutely. You know, I was the first person in Texas to move to a safer-at-home shelter order. We did it the same day that New York enacted theirs, and as a result, and other large urban areas -- all the other large urban areas followed within a week, and we had a pretty good trajectory going in March and April. The governor stripped our power at the end of April and took over and did not follow the CDC advice or even talk to the local health officials in the large urban areas.

And we are in a situation that we're in now. I think the governor is going to have to act because after he stripped the local power, he went on conservative talk radio and made fun of Republican local leaders who have acted and followed science. And so it may take a while for them to get back to doing that if he gave them the power. We don't have time to wait.

We are in a very dire situation, and so we need decisive leadership like we had on the local level in March. We need that now from our governor.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly before we go, have you found that politics has trumped science in the response to this outbreak?

JENKINS: Well, unfortunately, it has, and that comes from our president. You know, our president openly fights with his medical advisors. He said this was a Democratic hoax and blew the chance to get testing done in January, February, and early March. You know, people like our Governor Greg Abbott are, you know, Trump followers. They will not buck what the president wants or what they perceive the president is saying.

And it really leads to a perverse situation that we just haven't seen before in emergencies where our leaders are doing something different than what all the doctors in Texas are asking them to do.

SCIUTTO: All the doctors around the country it seems. Judge Clay Jenkins, we wish you the best of luck as you do your best to respond to the outbreak there in the Dallas area.

JENKINS: Thank you. Have a good day. SCIUTTO: A source tells CNN that intelligence on Russia's bounty plot

against U.S. troops in Afghanistan was included in one of the president's daily intelligence briefings all the way back in February. Reaction next from one of the Republicans who was briefed on that intelligence next.

[09:25:00]

And we're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, U.S. futures are flat. This one actually down this morning, see the red arrows there, stocks rallied and finished higher yesterday, clawing back some of last week's losses. Investors will likely keep a close eye on the Hill today where the Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are expected to testify. We'll bring you all that, stay with us.

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