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17 States Pause Or Change Reopening Plan As Virus Cases Explode; Tri-State Area Expands Travel Advisory To Eight More States; Biden Speaks In Delaware On COVID-19 Response, Economy. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 30, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


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[13:00:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN on this Tuesday. Thank you so much for being with me. And, of course, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world.

One step forward, two steps back. That is the trajectory of combating coronavirus in this country as at least 36 states seeing a rise in cases. 17 states are trying to reverse course, rolling back their plans to reopen. Massachusetts and New Jersey are now joining the tri-state area and asking individuals traveling from hotspots to quarantine upon getting there, and even American tourists are now banned entirely from traveling to the E.U.

Lawmakers did hear more testimony from the nation's top health officials, namely Dr. Anthony Fauci. He issued this warning about where we are headed if Americans do not start taking more personal responsibility to keep this virus from spreading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I can't make an accurate prediction but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable. I made that point very clearly last week at a press conference. We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk.

We are now having 40,000-plus new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Among the recommendations to turn it around, wear a mask, everyone. That critical guidance completely in contrast with what we have seen from President Trump. And any moment now, live pictures there in this gymnasium, Wilmington, Delaware, his challenger for the election, former Vice President Joe Biden is about to deliver a blistering indictment of the president's pandemic response and we'll bring it to you live the second it gets under way.

Let's begin though with CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She made headlines this week in her conversation with Dr. Fauci. And so, Elizabeth, we know that today, Fauci also testified that he has concerns about exactly how bad things could get and his fears that the U.S. could see 100,000 new cases per day if we don't stop the spread. Let's just start there, 100,000 new cases per day. That is a startling prediction.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Brooke, I have been interviewing Dr. Fauci many years now, through HIV, H1N1 flu, and now, this outbreak. He does not try to scare people. He does not exercise in hyperbole. When he says something, he means it. He can see where we are heading.

And I will tell you in my discussion with him a few days ago, as well as hearing him testify to the Senate today, I sense a certain urgency, a certain even sort of sadness, how did we get to this point? We were headed in at least a somewhat kind of right direction. We are now really headed in the wrong direction.

You mentioned that there're 36 states that have rising cases. I want to show you a number that I think speaks volumes. So right now, there are 36 states that are seeing rising case numbers. Last week, there were only 23 states seeing rising case numbers. I mean, that was bad enough. But you can see here how we are headed in the wrong direction. And each time you head in the wrong direction, that direction is you're heading in exponentially, not linearly. It gets worse on top of worse on top of worse. It makes it that much harder to turn things around.

Brooke, I have said to you many times, you don't need a PhD in immunology to know that when people get together more, the virus has more of a chance to spread. That's why it's so important to wear masks and to do social distancing as much as possible. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Yes. And it also sounds like hearing from Fauci. When you look at America, it's almost like it's this a patchwork quilt of states doing all these different recommendations, depending on where you are. And Fauci said the rise in cases has a lot to do with the facts that different states doing their own thing and even ignoring what guidance is put out. Why don't we have a national strategy, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Because you would need a president with a backbone. That's why. You would need a president who would say, all right, guys, I don't care what this is going to cost me politically. I want everyone on the same page, I want everyone to do the same thing. Because he knows that if he says everyone ought to wear a mask, he will get a portion of the electorate mad at him. He doesn't want that to happen. That's his base. And so he doesn't want to come out and say that. [13:05:00]

In order to do the right thing, in order to steer this ship as a ship rather than 50 or even 100 or 1,000 little ships, you are going to upset someone. And so what he is doing instead is he has decided to do a -- to practice denial and say, I'm not going to wear a mask because he wants people to think, what's COVID? It's over. Don't worry about it. That's what he is trying to put out there. However, the facts, Dr. Fauci and others, say differently.

BALDWIN: Well, let's show the clip, Dr. Fauci, again, on masks. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: Yes, of course. I think masks are extremely important and we keep hammering home, and I think what you just mentioned is as important. There's no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected, so it's people protecting each other. Anything that furthers the use of mask, whether it's giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I just want to echo that, Senator. In my opening statement, again, I called on an environment that we have, universal mask. I think it's fundamentally the most important thing we can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And, Elizabeth, I know that this continued push for folks to wear a mask comes as this new study is out there about the effectiveness of masks. Tell me about that study.

COHEN: So they looked at a mask -- and we should really call them face coverings. Because when we think of masks, we usually think of like a surgical mask. And for many people, they are just fabric that they have made a mask. So if you are making your own mask, what this study looked at is that multiple layers were a better idea than a single layer. And so not that's not that hard to do. So multiple layers are better and also the -- what are called cone masks, those are also an option that you can use. But a single layer of fabric might not do it. Try to put more than one layer on there.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

And the other piece of news just in this afternoon, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, all of the states are now asking travelers from even more states to plan on self-isolating if they are visiting. And this is happening after the governors of all three states last week implemented quarantines for travelers coming from states with virus positivity rates topping 10 percent.

CNN's Alexandra Field is here in New York. And so, Alex, how would this work?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are looking at a much bigger part of the country now where people traveling into the tri-state area will have to quarantine once they get here. The number of states on the list has doubled in just the last week, Brooke. We are now talking about a travel advisory that affects travelers from 16 states that are traveling to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. The newly added states are California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

The threshold that's been established in the tri-state area is 10 percent. So that means that if you've got a positivity rate of 10 percent or greater over a seven-day period in any state across the country, when you get here, you'll have to quarantine. If you don't quarantine, well, it's up to the states to decide what to do next. It could be a fine. It could be a mandatory quarantine.

Brooke, this is all about trying to maintain the progress that this region fought so hard for when it comes to controlling the virus. But then when you look at the states across the nation, you know that this problem gets incredibly difficult, exponentially more difficult when it comes to keeping the infection out. So it's going to depend on people who come here to really obey the orders, to obey the advisory, to do that quarantining.

And this now goes beyond just New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Rhode Island implemented its own rule, that if you're coming from a state with a 5 percent positivity rate, well, you have to quarantine. Massachusetts is saying you'll have to quarantine if you travel in from any state that not in the northeast. That's how seriously this corridor is now taking this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And as we're sitting here talking about the tri-state, I'm thinking of New York and the conversation I just had with Elizabeth Cohen about -- I mean, she put it pretty bluntly that we don't have a national guidance on so much because, to quote her, that the president doesn't have a backbone. And I'm thinking back just within the last couple of days, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York was calling for that, right? A number of governors are saying, please, Mr. President, because there's this patchwork quilt of guidance nationwide, like give us a nationwide mandate, right?

FIELD: Yes. And it is up to the governors in each of the states. And you've got Governor Cuomo, who was able to not just flatten the curve in New York but actually bend the curve, talking about how he's going to sustain progress here. People in New York City were looking forward to the idea that they'd be able to eat inside of restaurants soon. The governor has not made a final call yet on when that will happen. He says he's still studying that --

BALDWIN: Forgive me, Alex. I've got to interrupt. Let's go to the former vice president, Joe Biden, speaking in Delaware.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about what I think we should be doing right now and I'd happy to take questions.

For weeks, we have been seeing the warning signs. Numbers don't lie. Infection rates are now going up in more states than they're going down.

[13:10:03]

More than 125,000 people in the United States have lost their lives. And those numbers and new infections continue to grow at alarming rate. And, once again, this is confronting the simple fact that we won't be able to solve the economic crisis without a rigorous public health approach. They're not separable.

Despite the administration's propaganda that their response should be a cause for celebration, despite President Trump's request that we should slow down testing because he thinks it makes him look bad, the COVID-19 is still here and the daily threat to the American health and prosperity is continuing. It didn't have to be this way.

Month after month, as other leaders in other countries took the necessary steps to get the virus under control, Donald Trump failed us. Month after month, as many of us urged him to step up and do his job, he failed us. Just look at the record. In January, I along with others sounded the alarm that -- of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump told the country that COVID-19 is, quote, totally under control and that everything will, quote, work out well.

In February, I warned about the failure of getting information that we needed from the Chinese government. What I said was the president should demand Xi produce the evidence, demand it. Trump said, quote, we're in great shape. Reported China's president said it was, quote, doing very well.

In March, I set forth a detailed plan for 500 federally-funded testing sites across the country as well as guaranteed emergency paid leave. Later that month, I called for a full and immediate use of the Defense Production Act, critical, critical for the delivery of supplies that were basically needed. Trump accused healthcare workers -- what was his response? He accused healthcare workers stealing your masks. That's what he said. Healthcare workers are stealing the masks. That's why we don't have them.

In April, I released a plan to secure the supply chain for personal protective equipment, surge nationwide testing through a pandemic testing board and launched a nationwide health corps to focus on contact tracing. Trump's suggestions? Americans should inject disinfectants into their bodies.

In May, I condemn the false choice between preserving public health and our economy. I urged the administration to focus on the basic public health measures, like testing, to enable us to sustain our economic recovery. Trump's response? He pushed for reopening without regard to safety and called testing, quote, frankly overrated.

This month, I outlined the path to reopen our country safely and sustainably. It provided workers, small businesses, schools, state and local governments the tools, resources and guidance that they would need. Trump's proposal? He set a cutoff date for federal funding of testing sites in several states and actually went to court to take away healthcare for 22 million people by trying to get rid of Obamacare.

And now, Donald Trump is in retreat. Remember, back in March when I called and he called, like talked about the need to act like we were at war with the virus, he called himself a wartime president. Remember when he exhorted the nation to sacrifice together and, quote, in the face of this inevitable and invisible enemy. What happened? Now, it's almost July. And it seems like our wartime president surrendered, waved the white flag and left the battlefield.

Today, we are facing a serious threat and we have to meet it. We have to meet it as one country. But the president gives no direction. And he pits us against one another. We can't continue like this, half recovering and half getting worse. We can't continue half wearing masks and half rejecting science. We can't continue half with a plan and half just hoping for the best. We won't defeat this virus with a piecemeal approach, lifting restrictions prematurely, increasing the volatility of the crisis, raising the likelihood of needing to re- impose restrictions.

[13:15:15]

You know, until our science catches up to reality, until we have better treatment for those who become infected and ultimately are safe and proven widely available vaccines, we have to continue to do all we can as the people and the government to keep our fellow Americans safe and healthy.

Today, I'm releasing a plan for the steps I believe Donald Trump should undertake immediately to build on the roadmap I released back in March that would have saved lives had it been adopted. It's a plan to save lives in the months ahead. But, once again, I encourage him to adopt this plan in its entirety. This is too important for politics.

First, testing, testing, testing. More testing is not only how you find more cases of coronavirus, Mr. President. It's how you stop the coronavirus cases, testing followed by rigorous contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols for those who have been exposed. People aren't waiting in lines for miles and miles long in baking hot cars for drive-through nasal swabs for the fun of it. They're doing it so they can protect themselves, but even more importantly they know when they have the mask on, they're protecting others, protecting others.

We know we're not where we need to be in testing. There are still hospitals and nursing homes that don't have access to the test they need. Testing is how we see what's happening in communities all across the country. It's our eyes on the ground. Without that testing, we are flying blind. That's why it's so important to have reliable access to testing everywhere.

We need to increase federal support for testing, that includes doubling the number of drive-through testing sides and keep increasing them until there're no more line. We should create a pandemic testing board to spearhead a nationwide campaign so every worker, every worker who's called back to their job can have the confidence that they and fellow workers are not infected. You know, experts agree that we need more contact tracers to track the path of this virus. Individual states like New York and California are already hiring and training thousands of tracers, but we need to do more including hiring 100,000 federally-funded workers perform contact tracing and other public health tasks and they should begin to be trained now.

Second, every single frontline worker should have the personal protective equipment they need to be safe. Five months into this crisis and our healthcare workers still are forced to scramble for their own supplies. They'd have reuse these masks shift after shift. Hundreds of healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 and tens of thousands have become infected. It should be zero on both counts for these healthcare workers if they had the right equipment.

You know, how are we in this many months into this and still, still don't have what we need? That's why we have a Defense Production Act. You know, Mr. President, use your authority, Mr. President. Use it this week. Scale up the production of N95 masks. You know, the steps you have taken so far haven't gotten the job done, Mr. President. Fix the shortage of PPE for our healthcare workers before you tee off another round of golf. We can't just look at where we are today. We need the masks and gloves and face shields for the foreseeable future and we need to be ready. We know more is coming.

Thirdly, we should be laser-focused on treatments and vaccines. We should be leading a coordinated, global approach on the science, not disregarding experts while pushing dangerous and disproved drugs as if they're treatments. There's been some progress to a treatment and vaccines but the administration hasn't been transparent about how they plan to manufacture enough doses to make sure there's equitable distribution to scale.

[13:20:05]

I hope they're doing it now. I called for a while ago they should be providing $250 million to have a plan now exactly how they're going to distribute this so everybody American has access when and if the vaccine is available. They may be doing it but we have no transparency. Let us see, Mr. President.

The White House should report weekly on this progress. We can't end up in the same scratching and distribution problems that we had in testing. We need to make sure that customers aren't being gouged by new drug therapies and prices when they're developed. We have to immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization for all its shortcomings and missteps around COVID-19. This is why WHO was created. It is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic. And the United States should be leading that response, as we had in the past.

COVID-19 will likely worsen at the outset of flu season this year. So we need to put in place measures now, now, to ensure the seasonal flu vaccine can be ready, available and administered safely to those who need it under social distancing guidelines, especially for seniors. Fourthly, we need real plans, real guidelines with uniform nationwide standards to help us chart our economic reopening. Whatever we have been doing now is not working. The state by state approach will only produce confusion and slow any progress.

You know, you all reported, the CDC tried to clear guidelines about what stages of reopening should look like. The administration delayed and scaled back those plans. We need clear evidence, clear evidence- based steps that states can adopt now. Both the standard must be met in order to safely proceed with further openings and the reposition of social distance rules when cases begin to rise.

This is not rocket science. We need to support schools and childcare programs so parents, if and when they can return to work, are confident that their children will be safe and cared for. We should be holding and providing a sticker saying, safe for shoppers, a certification for stores that prove they're minimizing customer's risk and exposure.

Perhaps we need a clear message from the very top of the federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public, period, period. Wear a mask. It's not just about you. It's about your family. It's about your neighbors. It's about your colleagues. It's about keeping other people safe. It helps you, yes, but it is about keeping other people safe. It's a simple measure. It's also one of the most effective ways we can do the right thing. It may be inconvenient and may be uncomfortable but it's the right thing to do as an American. Protect your co-workers and neighbors.

And, finally, we need to protect the population's most at-risk, our seniors, our black and brown populations, native communities, that are being hit the hardest, vulnerable population with pre-existing conditions. Know that this continued growth in case numbers is causing a lot of fear and anxiety. People especially older Americans and those with loved ones in nursing homes, I get calls all the time. They're simply scared. They're frightened. This is not just taking a toll on the physical health. It's an emotional cost, as well.

We can't expect vulnerable populations to quarantine indefinitely without support. And I want them to know that their health and safety will be my responsibility if I'm your president. And I will not abandon you.

You know, these are five fairly straightforward steps that are going to help defeat this pandemic. And if you suspect that a lot of these steps are the same sorts of things I was talking about in March when I released my first COVID-19 response, you would be right.

[13:25:05]

And it feels like you're hearing the experts talk about the same issues for months, you would be right. These have always been the steps the government needed to put in place to meet the threat.

Statewide lockdowns and so many Americans lived under for months were intended to buy us time to get our act together. Instead of using that time to prepare ourselves, Donald Trump squandered it. Now, here we are, more than three months later. And we're hardly better prepared than we were in March.

Infections are on the rise. The threat of massive spikes that overwhelm the capacity of our healthcare system is on the horizon. Americans anxious and out of work are fearful for their lives and their livelihoods and Donald Trump is doing next to nothing about it.

Mr. President, the crisis is real. The crisis is real and it's surging, Mr. President. Your promises and predictions and wishful thinking pulled out of thin air are not only doing the country no good, making them lose more faith in their government.

America knows the crisis isn't behind us even if you don't. They see what's happening even if you refuse to, Mr. President. They know we need a coordinated national plan. We need it now even though you don't, Mr. President, and won't do it.

You called yourself a cheerleader. We don't need a cheerleader, Mr. President. We need a president, Mr. President, a president who will level with the American people, a president who will tell us the unvarnished truth, a president that will take responsibility instead of always blaming others, a president that will listen to the experts, follow the science, allow them to speak, a president who will lead and be an example for the nation. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Limit the size of crowds.

Mr. President, this is not about you. It's about the health and wellbeing of the American public. American people don't make enormous sacrifices over the past four months so they could just waste their time and you could waste all the efforts they have undertaken with your midnight rantings and tweets. They don't make these sacrifices so you can ignore the science and turn responsible steps, like wearing a mask into a political statement, and they certainly didn't do it, Mr. President, so you could wash your hands and walk away from this responsibility.

Maybe there are times this nation needs a cheerleader. Now is not one of them. America needs a president. Whatever Trump does or does not do, we can't know today what the state of the COVID-19 pandemic will be next January. But I'm almost certain, I hope I turn out to be wrong, I'm almost certainly it won't be over. And if I should have the honor of being elected president on the day I'm sworn in, I'll get right to work implementing all aspects of the response that remain undone.

I'll have more to say about my day one COVID-19 agenda in the weeks to come but my response will begin well before I take the oath of office and will start as soon as the election is decided. I'll be a president who respects scientists, who won't censor their ability to speak directly to the American people. I'll immediately reach out to Dr. Anthony Fauci to ask him to continue his incredible service to the country. And I'll have from day one and ready to go the best medical experts and scientists to advice on our response. Maybe most importantly, I will listen to them and let them speak freely and I'll work with the governors and mayors of both parties from every state, territory and tribe.

It's a simple proposition, folks. We are all in this together. We've got to fight this together. We'll emerge from this stronger because we did it together. And I'm confident we can.

[13:30:03]