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16 States Halt Reopening Plans As Cases Surge Across Nation; Dr. Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield To Testify Before Senate Committee; Source Says, Russian Bounty Intel Was In Trump's Daily Brief Earlier This Year. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. Lots of news this morning.

We're watching as any minute now, Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield will testify on Capitol Hill. Note, they are wearing masks there. Expect tough questions on the Trump administration's response as coronavirus cases, just look at right-hand side of our screen, continue to surge across this country.

Right now, 16 states are forced to roll back their reopening plans, 36 states are seeing a spike in cases compared to just last week. We're going to be live across the country.

Let's get right to CNN's Stephanie Elam, who is in Arizona, one of those states where the governor has now just down all the bars, gyms and movie theaters as new cases there soar out of control.

I wonder if state officials there are granting now that they reopened too quickly.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's one of the questions there. What we do know is that they had a stay-at-home order that did expire in the middle of May, and then they are saying there was like a two-week lag after that and that's when we started to see the cases really rise back up here in Arizona, and that is the reason for this concern.

There's also been a non-linear plan on how to deal with masks. It is not mandated across the State of Arizona to wear a mask. And one of the questions that has come out of this as you have ICU beds that are dedicated to COVID patients at nearly 90 percent capacity right now, one of the questions that was asked of the Governor Doug Ducey was whether or not this went the way it should have gone. Take a listen to this exchange here.


REPORTER: Did you screw up? GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): We're fixing it.


DUCEY: We're fixing it. And we're going to continue to adjust depending on what the data and information is.

When it comes to protecting lives versus protecting livelihoods, we're going to err on the side of protecting lives.


ELAM: Now, it is possible that here in Arizona today, we may see a very large number in a rise of cases because yesterday there was an issue with one of the labs not getting in all of their data in time so we could see a large number here today, but keep that bit of information in mind.

Also when you take a look at the businesses that are closing, you mentioned the bars, gyms, tubing as well be along those, movie theaters, as well as water parks. They are also saying that across the state, there cannot be any gatherings of larger than 50 people, but they are saying local municipalities can decide to let those happen as long as social distancing measures are being used.

But, overall, when you look at the case load here in Arizona, the numbers going the wrong way here, and now the governor having to step back in and do something about this and some saying that they are afraid it could be just too late for the number of lives that may be lost moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Real consequences. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

Randi Kaye joins us now from Riviera Beach in Florida. So, Randi, Florida, another state said that had it under control and, in fact, thousands of new cases leaving some cities there to mandate masks. That is not as yet a statewide order. What's happening?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And a lot of people here are saying maybe that maybe governor decided to reopen the state just a little bit too early. We're seeing still a spike in numbers, more than 5,200 new cases yesterday, more than 9,500 new cases on Saturday, and as you said, still no statewide ban on masks.

So a lot of the counties and the local governments are taking it into their own hands to try to mandate masks. Miami Beach puts a mask mandate in place today. They have already, even before this, have had closed down restaurants because servers weren't wearing masks so now it is mandatory.

In Miami, the mayor is calling for a statewide mandate. He's a republican, Jim, so it's worth pointing that out. This is what he said earlier on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI, FL): Look, if you're asking for my perspective, I would recommend that he do that, that he do put in a statewide mask mandate because the number of new cases in the state is even worse than in Miami-Dade County.


KAYE: So, in Jacksonville, they are also mandating masks as of yesterday. Worth noting that that is where the Republican National Convention is supposed to start, August 24th, for a few days. The governor says he thinks it's going to be fine by that point. It's a couple of months.

His communications director also telling CNN that the governor is focused on state business and hasn't given any thought to possibly overriding that mask mandate in the City of Jacksonville. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Randi Kaye, thanks very much.

Texas, another state seeing a huge uptick in coronavirus cases. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Houston this morning. Lucy, Texas, more than 5,000 new cases a day, and you have this split between many local leaders in Dallas and elsewhere that they want to have, for instance, mandatory mask rules, et cetera, the governor resisting.


How is that debate playing out?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These things save lives. There is no statewide mandate. Local authorities, of example, here in Harris County are encouraging folks to wear masks. We saw the Houston mayor yesterday saying, look, it doesn't mean if you're a Republican or Democrat if you wear one of these things, it helps contain the spread of this disease. The fact of the matter is that the numbers are also going in the wrong direction here in Texas, both in terms of new cases and hospitalizations. We're now seeing younger people getting sick, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. And though the mortality rate remains low, the number of people affected is growing exponentially and that strains critical hospital resources. And that is when we could start to seeing the death count go up.

Take a listen to what the Houston mayor had to say yesterday.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-HOUSTON, TX): This is real. People are dying. People are getting sick. People are going to the hospital. People in ICU beds and people who are asymptomatic are infecting their loved ones. The reality is that we're all in this together, and we have to blunt the progression of this virus, and we have to do it now.


KAFANOV: So the mayor said if folks do things, like get tested, wear their masks, they could perhaps see the numbers go down in the next couple of weeks. But local authority's hands are tied. You need the governor to do more in order to mandate that.

Now, he has shut down bars. He's slashed restaurant capacity. Yesterday, we saw a handful of bars sue the governor, and Texas alcohol regulators saying it's unconstitutional to shut them down because other businesses are open, like gyms, for example. But, again, more will need to be done to get this virus under control.

We are at a testing location that's expected to reopen in a few minutes' time. But, Jim, I can tell you, Jim, there is a line of cars miles and miles down here. There are more than 900 testing facilities across Texas, but all of them seem to be experiencing long waits. Folks here simply don't know how much virus is out there. Testing is so critical.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And those long waits not a good sign about the effectiveness of those testing programs. Lucy Kafanov, thanks very much.

We are seeing distressing rates of infections growing in California. Of course, another state that seemed to have a handle on this, started early on stay-at-home orders. Things are changing now.

CNN's Dan Simon, he's in Santa Monica this morning. Dan, officials there are focused now on the rate of hospitalization, right, and that's key because it's not just people getting infected or people getting so sick. They have to go in the hospital and stay. How high are the numbers? What's going on?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Jim. Well, first of all, it's shaping up to be a beautiful day here in Southern California. As you can imagine, the beaches here in Santa Monica throughout Los Angeles expected to be packed this weekend. But because of the surging amount of cases that we're seeing, the beaches are going to be closed, no fireworks either to try to prevent large gatherings from taking place.

But things looking increasingly grim. We're seeing a record amount of cases over the past couple of days, both in Los Angeles and throughout the State of California. And in terms of what we're seeing with hospitalizations, up 44 percent in the past couple of weeks in Los Angeles County. That raises the specter that beds could be constrained in the new few weeks.

We're already seeing that in Riverside County south of here. ICU beds now at 96 percent capacity. This is what L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti had to say yesterday. Take a look.


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 in the next two weeks will be critical weeks in defining whether we can do just that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: No question, officials now saying that we are seeing large- scale community spread once again, that's why bars are being closed in certain location, such as Los Angeles and San Diego. But it really raises the question, Jim, whether that's going to be enough. Jim?

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching, and it shows that everyone is going to stay on top of this. Dan Simon, thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, as you've heard, lawmakers across country are now issuing temporary closures of restaurant, beaches and bars again, particularly as July 4th. But are partial closures, even 30-day ones, enough to help stem the resurgence of the outbreak? We're going to discuss with a medical expert.

Plus, what did the president know? New details are emerging in an alleged Russian plot to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and how aware of it the president was, should have been. We'll have more.



SCIUTTO: Happening within minutes, you can see the live picture on right-hand side of the screen, Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield, other top government health officials as well, will testify before a Senate committee as much of the U.S. is right now failing to contain the spread of coronavirus.

With me now is Dr. Peter Hotez, Infectious Disease Specialist, he is also the Dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, good to have you on.


SCIUTTO: You say, and this is remarkable, there's no proof that partial closures will help stop the resurging coronavirus. Why is that, and what does that mean needs to be done?


HOTEZ: Well, we've never been in this situation before where, really, where we've had a successful closure and helped stem the transmission of the virus and then reopened potentially prematurely, and now we have virus transmission, and now, how do we put it back?

So my point has been all along that we need to make some informed decisions, work with the epidemiologists, work with the CDC and get some information. what is the expectation on taking partial measures, meaning only focusing on the bars or only focusing on the restaurants and see do we anticipate that's going to a big impact, because the models looked nearly apocalyptic in terms of the rise that we're starting to see and will that have a substantial effect or not. I haven't seen evidence of that. SCIUTTO: I mean, don't we already have massive test cases for this looking at other countries that got hit first, right? Look at Europe, look at Italy, Spain, even China, though there are doubts about a lot of their data. But, still, can you not look at those countries to see what worked and what didn't work? And if so, why aren't we doing that?

HOTEZ: Well, what we know works is if we do what we did back in March, which is a complete stay-at-home and aggressive social distancing measures. What's less clear and is what the impact of partial measures are, especially in unique settings of the American southwestern metro areas and some low-income neighborhoods. That has to be looked at. I just want to see an informed plan and not be reckless about this, not wait three weeks and say, oh, my God, the deaths are starting to climb and the ICU admissions are now insurmountable, now what? We can't wait for that.

So we've got to make some really informed choices right now, and the states I don't believe can do this on their own. This is where we need the full power of the CDC and the federal government. And what I'm looking for Dr. Redfield and the others to articulate this morning. So far, they have not done that.

SCIUTTO: Well, they may, right? I mean, they have been consistent in their message, the Faucis and the Redfields. But the fact is the president has contradicted their message and some other Republican state leaders have followed that lead right on, for instance, masks, wearing masks, whether that helps or having indoor events. I mean, the president has continued to have indoor events and campaign rallies.

I mean, everybody says you need to wait for a national plan. It does not appear to be happening. So what do you do in lieu of a national plan and national leadership to save lives?

HOTEZ: Well, this is what needs to be done. I don't believe that the current measures being taken and simply leaving it to the states that don't have the horsepower in order to really take on something so aggressive and so difficult as this virus. I think we'll not be able to get there without a full national plan with specific guidance on what we need to do now. And so far, we really have not seen that.

What we're hearing from Secretary Azar and the others of a national plan is stockpiling PPE, manufacturing issues and ventilators and FEMA responses. And all that's good but it doesn't go that next higher level order, which is specific guidance in creating that road map for public health control. Every other country seems to have done that. We've not so far.

SCIUTTO: The president and vice president's claim that the jump in cases is all or primarily because there's more testing. That's just not true. We've already mentioned that on this program multiple times. They have also said that the death rate is coming down. Is the there any truth to that?

HOTEZ: Well, the death rate has been coming down, responsible for that first initial aggressive level of social distancing. But now, with the cases accelerating at the level they are, I believe it's just a matter of time before the deaths start to climb again. Remember, it's not immediate. There's a lag of several weeks while people are on ventilators.

And now we're also learning it's not just the number of deaths. We're seeing long-term consequences of this because of the assault of this virus on the vasculature, permanent injury to the lungs, neurologic complications, we're learning about even neuropsychiatric complications of this. This is an awful virus. So even beyond the deaths, there's a hidden burden of disease that we're not really talking about and articulating. And we've got to prevent it. We have the ability to prevent it and we need to prevent it.

SCIUTTO: Well, we wish you luck in your work. Dr. Hotez, always good to have you on the program.


HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: The president said he was never briefed on Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but a source tells CNN it was, in fact, in one of his daily intelligence briefings. Whether he read it is another question, but we're going to have more on that, next.


SCIUTTO: President Trump claims he was never briefed that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to target and kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


But a U.S. official confirms to CNN the intelligence was, in fact, included in one of the president's daily intelligence briefings earlier this year.

Let's speak to CNN's Barbara Starr from the Pentagon. Barbara, it's your reporting that this was contained in the president's PDB. What explanation are you hearing then as to why this was not highlighted to the president, why didn't he read that information?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what officials are saying, and they are saying it publicly, is their view is it didn't need to be specifically briefed to the president even though it was in that intelligence book that he is supposed to be reading because it wasn't verified and it wasn't corroborated.

Now, whether that holds up as a reason over time very much remains to be seen because not verified, not corroborated, well, we know now that the National Security Council staff had already had meetings about response options to Russia if it came to that. We know that some measures were taken in Afghanistan to ensure the protection of U.S. and coalition forces, that there was a good deal of concern about all of this.

Officials are now saying they are continuing to look at the intelligence. They are trying to determine what this was all about. They say they are still trying to determine if the bounty scheme was for real. But we've talked to people who were inside that White House briefing given to members of Congress, and many members of Congress do feel that there were multiple pieces of information indicating the Russians were going to and were attempting to pay these bounties.

Big question, of course, is there ever going to be a proven case that this resulted specifically in the death, the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That is already something military families clearly want answers to. Jim?

SCIUTTO: As they should. Kylie Atwood also joining us now. How widely was this specific information circulated then even if not fully corroborated and in what circles and how seriously was it taken?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Jim, it's hard to put the exact figure on that. But to give you kind of the broad strokes here, when something is put into the president's daily brief, it is explained that it's going to be put there by the intelligence community to the NSC, the National Security Council at the White House, before they put it in there.

The point is, because the I.C. is basically putting it there because they want to flag it for the president. They expect then that he will be briefed and they expect that there are going to be some follow-up questions for the National Security Council from the president and his national security adviser. So the fact that that didn't happen because the president said he was not briefed on that effectively demonstrates that there was a breakdown in the traditional system here.


ATWOOD: The other thing that I think is important to note is that the White House has sort of boxed itself in. That's because they have said the president wasn't briefed because this information wasn't fully verified, but not everything that goes into the president's daily brief is always fully verified. Sometimes they just need to put it there because they want the president to be made aware of it.

And the other thing that I am reporting is that an administration official tells me that there are certain members in the intelligence community right now who feel abandoned by the president -- by President Trump and his administration. And that is because they are sharing the intelligence, they are doing their jobs, but the president doesn't seem to give it very much stock in comparison to his policy here, and that's especially important with regard to the president's policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan and the peace deal, the peace talks that the U.S. continues to pursue with the Taliban. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Listen, we should note to people the PDB is created specifically for the president. That's why it's called the president's daily brief, not just anything gets in there.

And, Barbara, as you know, intelligence is rarely 100 percent certain. I mean, intelligence is an inexact science and oftentimes you have conflicting signals, right? But this is information that was considered important enough, one, to share with partner countries but also with U.S. forces in the field.

STARR: Well, you know, that's right. Intelligence, if you're going to wait for it to be fully verified, it's probably going to be called history and instead of intelligence. If there is something that potentially, even potentially puts U.S. troops at risk in combat on the frontlines, it's hard to fathom how that kind of information does not immediately go to a president of the United States.

And the big unanswered question still, we have not heard from the president, why no answer. Why has he not wanted to get fully briefed up? Why did he not reach out when this emerged to his advisers and say, tell me everything you know.


If there is a threat to U.S. troops, I want to know everything that you know about it and make some decisions.