Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Fauci: U.S. Could See 100,000 Cases Per Day If Surge Continues; DE Gov. Delayed Phase 3 Reopening Originally Set For Monday; WH Says Trump Has No Problem With Masks As More Top Republicans Urge People To Wear Them; Fauci: U.S. Could See 100,000 New Cases A Day "If This Doesn't Turn Around"; CDC Pleads With Young People To Wear Masks; Newly Identified Swine Flu Surfaces In China. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 30, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadccn. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta in the Situation Room and we're following breaking news.
The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. now topping 126,000 people as 15 states report record numbers of new cases and 36 states are seeing cases continue to increase.
Also braving, the governor of hardhead California just said that he'll be announcing more restrictions tomorrow as case there sore. It's one of 17 states now pausing or rolling back reopening.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci warns the country could see 100,000 cases a day up from approximately 40,000 cases a day, "If this doesn't turn around."
Let's begin in Los Angeles right now with CNN's Nick Watt.
Nick, Governor Gavin Newsom says the soaring number of cases in California call for more restrictions.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. German here in Los Angeles County, they have already said they're going to close these beaches on Friday. Keep them closed throughout Fourth of July weekend.
You know, the governor says with the Fourth of July coming up he's most worried about family gatherings. Maybe you walk in with your mask on but then you let your guard down. He says that he is going to announce more restrictions.
Tomorrow, California, one of 17 states right now rolling back on reopening. Also Arizona. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
WATT (voice-over): Arizona's average daily death toll about doubled during the month of June.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The numbers speak for themselves. I'm very concerned that I'm not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in the wrong direction. Clearly we are not in total control right now.
WATT: In Texas the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals more than tripled during the month of June.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: In the United States, daily cases are increasing after an extended decline.
WATT: Average daily cases in Florida, up more than six fold during the month of June. Beaches in the science of the state also closing again before the Fourth of July weekend.
MAYOR DAN GELBER, (D) MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: 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 in very enormous spike in our community and in our state.
WATT: Today is 162 days since the first confirmed case here in the U.S., but one senior CDC official says, "This is really the beginning."
FAUCI: We can't just focus on those areas that are having this surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We are now having 40 plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.
WATT: And the death rate --
FAUCI: It is going to be very disturbing. I will guarantee you that.
WATT: But it might not be too late.
REDFIELD: It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings.
WATT: But in at least 10 of the 15 states right now suffering record numbers of new cases, there is no statewide mask mandate, but you should still wear one.
REDFIELD: Specifically I'm addressing the younger members of our society, the millennials and the Generation Z.
WATT: The economic pain of all this is obvious and crippling. People now camping overnight outside and unemployment office in Oklahoma. But Dr. Fauci says, states must not open too fast and we all must stop doing this. FAUCI: We're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble and there's going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop.
WATT: New Jersey, Connecticut and New York where even the famous library lions are masked, now asking incomers from 16 spiking states to quarantine. Massachusetts asking the same of anyone coming in from outside the Northeast.
And starting tomorrow, the European Union will let travelers in from 14 countries and China if they reciprocate, but not from the United States.
WATT: Now, we've talked a lot about the 17 states that are rolling back on reopening. Here's one state that is not, Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis just said we are not going back closing things. He says he does not believe that it's people going back into businesses that is causing the spike in the state. He says it's younger people and social interactions. But also Jim, he still will not ask everybody in Florida to just wear a mask. Jim.
ACOSTA: Fifty states, 50 different responses to all of this. Nick Watt, thank you very much.
Let's get more on the increasingly dire situation in Arizona. CNN's Stephanie Elam is there now for us.
Stephanie, are Arizona hospitals able to handle this dramatic spike in cases there?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what they're working on doing right now. Jim. You can see that they're preparing for surge capacity, different health systems in the state deciding that that's what they need to do.
We do know that one hospital system banner health saying that they are making room on three floors in a children's hospital for ill patients, ill adult patient so that there's more room in the other hospital for COVID patients so that all those COVID patients can be together. They'll make one of those floors an ICU floor for adults as well.
So just trying to find ways to make up more space available. This as we know that 86 percent of the ICU beds dedicated to COVID patients are full. That's down slightly from the number we had yesterday, but still very much concerning.
And looking at the numbers overall, the number of new cases that were announced today, 4,682. That's over the last 48 hours. There's a glitch with their data the day before. So they're saying more than half of that number should have actually have been released on Monday.
They're also saying that there are 44 deaths announced today. All of this very concerned, especially since we can see now that the average number of deaths per day has risen. It's basically doubled in June to just under 40.
And that's concerning because what we know is that the state opened up from the stay at home or in the middle of May, then you have that two week lag period as people started to mix and mingle and then they started to see that steep increase here beginning in June. So that is why we're seeing the governor Doug Ducey come out saying that they have to do something and saying that they have to put lives over livelihood, which is not exactly going across well with everybody here as they put up signs about wearing masks.
I can tell you, as we've been here in the state, not everyone is doing that.
ACOSTA: All right, a very tough situation in Arizona. CNN, Stephanie Elam, thank you very much.
With us now is the Delaware Governor John Carney.
Governor Carney, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
I'm sure you saw this news earlier today. Dr. Anthony Fauci today said he wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing 100,000 new cases of Coronavirus a day. We're at approximately 40,000 right now, in Delaware.
You're requiring masks and public to try to stop the spread of the virus. Would it be easier for you to enforce this policy if the White House set the right example?
GOV. JOHN CARNEY (D-DE): Oh, it certainly would be a lot easier if the White House has set the right example with respect to wearing masks. With respect to taking this pandemic seriously with respect to the provision of necessary equipment two months ago.
The situation here in in Delaware is very different than in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, many of those other states, we had kind of a classic peak back at the end of April, the beginning of May, two intervals at least 14 days of improving conditions. As the White House Task Force and the CDC recommended before we went to opening at the beginning of June, we are seeing now a little bit of an uptick at the beach areas among beach bar and restaurant workers.
The age, the average age of those have tested positive in our state now has shifted significantly to that younger age demographic, say 18 to 25. And so we need to improve our messaging with that group. Get folks to be more responsible personally in wearing mask and keeping social distance. We got to work in our messaging and our enforcement there.
We've -- Delawarean's have made tremendous sacrifice, closing down businesses, stay at home orders. Tremendous economic sacrifice, and we don't want to lose that ground now with this little outbreak in the beach communities and lower Delaware. ACOSTA: And Governor you just announced that you're delaying moving into phase three of your reopening plan and that bars in your state's popular beach towns, the beaches are beautiful there will close ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. What led to this decision?
CARNEY: Yes, so the uptick that we are seeing in day to day positive cases we're not -- we don't have a declining 14-day trend there. Even though we're testing a lot more people, that percent positive, which is a data trigger that we're looking at as well, is on the upswing. And so we do have a bit of an uptick, an outbreak there in the lower part of our state again in this very specific demographic.
We're doing a much better job with the testing and isolation of people in nursing homes. Those are the most vulnerable populations. That's also a requirement of moving into reopening.
So we're going to pause now on phase two. We're going to close the bars in the beach areas at this very busy time during the year and assess the testing data that we're doing.
We're doing a lot more testing of people that have symptoms, of people that don't have symptoms. We're testing in these restaurants and bars. Some of the bars and restaurants have close to enable us to test their employees.
We'll get through this. Delawareans have paid a tremendous price so far. And it would be a shame to lose all that ground that we've gained in flattening the curve.
ACOSTA: And Governor you're seeing these cases spike in other states around the country, are you concerned about some of these travelers you know, towards coming into your state from other parts of the country where cases are spiking and what can you do about it?
CARNEY: Yes, I absolutely am concerned about that. We don't get quite as many visitors at our beaches from Texas and Southern California and Florida and places like that. I've looked at their graphs online, very -- look very different than ours. We did flatten the curve, and we're having this uptick.
I am more worried about travelers from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey. They're -- they have improving conditions there. And in fact, in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, they've imposed travel quarantines on people coming from those states that with higher numbers.
It's something we'll take a look at. We're not going to do it yet. But we're going to look at the numbers, be driven by the science and make responsible decisions going forward.
ACOSTA: All right, Governor John Carney, all the best to you. Hope everybody stay safe in your state. Thank you very much.
Up next, Joe Biden, slams President Trump on his handling of the pandemics saying, "Our wartime president has surrendered."
Plus, the President increasingly isolated when it comes to wearing mass now at odds with even some of his top allies.
ACOSTA: A few minutes ago, Vice President Pence joined other top Republicans urging Americans to wear masks just to help stop this right of the coronavirus pandemic.
Let's go to CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlin Collins.
Kaitlin, the President's still refuses to wear a mask and he's becoming increasingly isolated on this issue.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there seems to be a change and even his own allies now urging everyone to wear a mask. And pointedly saying that they believe the President should do so, Jim.
On Friday, Mike Pence would not even tell people to wear a mask and now he's doing so along with several Republicans. But in that last minute press briefing today, the Press Secretary said the President has no problem with other people wearing a mask. He himself just doesn't want to wear one.
COLLINS (voice-over): With the nation's top health officials warning the U.S. could now see 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day, President Trump remain behind closed doors as former Vice President Joe Biden opened a new round of attacks on his response.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Month after month as many of us urged him to step up and do his job, he failed us.
COLLINS: In Delaware Biden ripped Trump for attempting to put the raging pandemic behind him and accuse the self-described wartime president of being in retreat.
BIDEN: Fix the shortage of PPE for our health care workers before you tee off another round of golf.
It's almost July. And it seems like our wartime presidents surrender.
COLLINS: Biden has made few public appearances since coronavirus restrictions were put in place months ago. He says he won't hold any rallies for now, unlike Trump, who recently addressed thousands of his supporters indoors in Tulsa.
But a state officials voiced concern about large gatherings with cases skyrocketing. CNN has learned that may have been Trump's first and last rally for some time. The Trump campaign has scrapped plans to hold one in Alabama next weekend and has no others on the horizon. Trump will travel to Mount Rushmore for a firework show this Friday, where South Dakota's governor says there won't be social distancing.
GOV. KRISTI NOEM, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home but we won't be social distancing.
COLLINS: Governor Kristi Noem said they will pass out facemask but won't require them. Trump has continued to refuse to wear one, leaving him almost completely isolated from his own allies.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) TENNESSEE: Occasionally, the President might want to wear masks just a signal to people that he thinks it's important.
STEVE DOOCY, "FOX & FRIENDS" HOST: MAGA should now stand for masks are great again.
COLLINS: As the administration downplays intelligence assessments that Russia was offering to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, the Press Secretary did confirm Trump has finally been briefed on it.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President does read.
This president, I'll tell, you is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face.
COLLINS: That information was included months ago in a written intelligence report that Trump gets on a daily basis, but rarely reads.
BIDEN: The president's daily brief is something I read every single day as vice president. A president read it every day. I was briefed every morning before I got to the White House and then again, so the idea that somehow he didn't know or isn't being briefed, it is a dereliction of duty if that's the case.
COLLINS: Democrats were briefed by Trump's National Security Adviser and Director of National Intelligence this morning and emerged with what they said were more questions.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): The President called this a hoax publicly. Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax.
COLLINS: Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Chairman who attended the briefing criticize the White House defense.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I find it inexplicable in light of these very public allegations that the President hasn't come before the country and assure the American people that he will get to the bottom of whether Russians are putting a bounty on the heads of American troops.
COLLINS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Russia should absolutely not be invited to the G7 like Trump suggested this fall.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I can't verify the current rumors that all of you are writing about. But what I'd be surprised if the Russians were doing something like this, absolutely not.
COLLINS: Now, Jim, in just the last few moments, my colleague, Zach Cohen, has learned that this threat about these Russian bounties was mentioned in intelligence reports given to the National Security Council over a year ago.
Now what we know so far is that at that time it didn't appear they knew which Russian linked group or whether or not the Taliban had accepted those offers for those bounties to kill U.S. troops. But it does give you an indication that intelligence officials have been aware of this for some time now, even though the White House just confirmed that the President has only been briefed about it in the last 24 hours or so.
ACOSTA: It sounds like the White House is still getting its story straight on this Kaitlin.
All right, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.
Nia, let's start with you first. Getting back to the coronavirus. You heard the nation's top infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, estimate that we could see 100,000 new cases of the coronavirus a day. That is so much higher than where we are right now, approximately 40,000 a day. Yet the President seems largely uninterested in confronting this crisis.
They just had a corona virus taskforce briefing. The President wasn't there for that. Vice President was there for that. What do you make of all of that? Why is he not interested in all this?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, in some ways, this has been this President's approach to this global pandemic for some time now.
You remember when everything first happened with some of those early cases, he was essentially trying to wish it away, saying it would go down from 15 to zero, saying it would eventually just sort of die out or wash away. And that has been his stance much more recently as well. Just not seeming very interested or thinking that he can essentially rebrand it and have Americans go back to their daily lives in a way that Americans were before this pandemic.
All of the tools that this President has used of fighting with, you know, enemies on Twitter going after the press, for instance, they -- that doesn't work here, that doesn't work with a virus. A virus is always looking for a host. And the President very much so wants this just to all be over. He wants to turn back the clock to where the economy was before, where people felt very safe in terms of the economy and confident economy that is not happening. So you have a president and you can sort of tell what he is focused on by what he's tweeting about. It's certainly not the COVID death count, which is much higher, I think, than anybody really imagined it would be at this point. We heard those early figures, you know, the early estimates, and it looks like we're catching up with that. And, of course, the bad news today from a lot of the experts on this virus.
The sort of bad news about this is that it doesn't seem to be getting worse in the person of himself who most Americans give a pretty failing grade in terms of his handling of it. It doesn't seem like he is going to get reengaged at any point, even though you see some of his allies trying to prod him and push him to get reengaged in this issue.
Kaitlin, there are some Republicans who are embracing mask wearing and some sound like they're pleading with the President to wear one. Let's listen to a few.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I think they work. And I said, especially if I wear a mask and it opens up baseball, concerts, NFL football, I'd rather wear the mask and go to the game to protect grandma, grandpa, mom and dad.
MCCONNELL: We must no stigma not about wearing mask.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Over my home state. I do believe in wearing masks wearing the mask is the best opportunities for us to keep this economy open.
DOOCY: I think that if the president wore one it would just set a good example. He'd be a good role model.
MAGA should now stand for mask are great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Well, doesn't get more direct than that Kaitlin. Do you think we'll see conversion on the part of the President to wearing masks?
COLLINS: It doesn't seem likely if you talk to the people he spoken to. He thinks that wearing a mask doesn't look presidential. He said he thinks it would give the media amusement to see him when wearing a mask and that's one reason he doesn't want to wear one.
And, you know, at the beginning of this, Republican said, you know, it's the President's personal choice, we're going to wear one. But it's put them in awkward positions sometimes, like when he had that rally in Oklahoma, and Oklahoman senator that was going to it said he wasn't sure if he was going to wear a mask at the rally, even though he said he'd been wearing one everywhere else when he was in his home state.
So, they seem like sometimes they don't wear a mask because of this fear of, you know, aggravating the President. We've heard of lawmakers coming to the White House wearing a mask as they come in the door and then taking the mask off before they go to meet with the President.
Now, the White House is right, the President is often tested regularly, but it doesn't explain, you know, why he's out or when he's out at these events. And Jim, he just chooses not to wear one.
COLLINS: And it's increasingly likely that he's now becoming one of the only people who is not going to wear one. Even his Vice President was wearing one today.
ACOSTA: That's right. And I can tell you when I'm over there at the White House, it's almost like an oasis, a reality bubble where they just don't believe in wearing masks over there.
Kaitlin Collins, Nia-Malika Henderson, we know you were your mass and thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Coming up, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, add more states to their lists requiring new arrivals to quarantine.
Then it's not the coronavirus, but scientists are now looking at a new virus in China, they say has pandemic potential.
ACOSTA: The top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning lawmakers the country could see 100,000 coronavirus cases a day, up from 40,000 cases a day unless Americans can turn around the current pandemic.
Let's get more with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Mark McClellan, a former FDA Commissioner. Sanjay, Dr. Fauci says we could see 100,000 cases a day if these trends continue. That is startling. Help us understand what that would mean in terms of stress on the healthcare system and the potential loss of American lives, as we know deaths are a lagging indicator and all of this and have been so far.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jim, I mean, it's hard to say these numbers out loud and I don't think anybody wants to frighten people more than necessary, but these are obviously huge numbers. If you look at the right side of the screen and do the math, you know, right now as things stand, you know, it's about a 5 percent roughly fatality rate. Now, you know, if 100,000 people are getting infected every day, roughly, that could mean 5,000 people could die.
You remember Jim as well, that when we were flattening the curve and talking about potential problems in New York, in the country at that time, we were under 40,000 people becoming infected every day, and it was still causing significant stress on the hospital system. And that's a sad reality. If you cause that kind of stress in the hospital system, which I think is inevitable, at least in some places around the country, then you have this situation which where people who need care could benefit from the care who might die if they don't get care, simply aren't getting able to go to the hospital.
I hope that doesn't happen. I'm still thinking that maybe, you know, we're going to turn this around because that would be obviously the worst kind of tragedy here, Jim.
ACOSTA: And Dr. McClellan, 36 states are now seeing an upward trend in coronavirus cases and 17 states are taking steps to pause or roll back their reopenings. I mean, it's just stunning to look at these maps and see everything moving in the wrong direction. You can't simply undo the damage that has been done by prematurely opening, right? Is that the moral of the story here?
DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: No, you can't undo it, Jim, and unfortunately it's going to get worse before it gets better because the case is showing up in the hospital or people who got infected seven days ago, 10 days ago or longer and are just now coming to the big complications from COVID. So it just really emphasizes the importance of taking further steps on wearing mask, on pausing reopening, on taking steps ahead of July 4th to avoid big crowds.
And just to add to the point about the number of cases we're facing, I think, Jim, we're already over 100,000 per day. Remember a lot of cases are going undetected because not everybody can get testing. And according to CDC, the total number of cases in the U.S. maybe as much as 10 times as what we've actually been measuring. So just a reminder that we really need to take steps now personally, through our governments, this shouldn't be a partisan issue to contain the spread.
ACOSTA: And I suppose as these cases go up, you're also going to see testing slow down. I mean, that is going to be a stress on that system as well. Sanjay, we know that wearing a mask is an effective way to stop the spread of the virus, but does the type of mask you wear matter? Do people need to pay attention to what kind of mask they're using right now?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, there are some masks that are certainly going to be better than others. And I'll show you some of the data here in terms of what they have found with the different types of cloth versus bandana versus multiple layers of a mask. But as you look at this, nothing should -- nothing should dissuade you from wearing a mask, period, you know. If you wear nothing at all the average distance of a cough travels about eight feet.
Bandana, just wearing a bandana reduces that somewhat, folded handkerchief even more, stitched masks, two layers, two and a half inches is how much a cough would travel then. These are rough numbers, Jim. These are models. We have plenty of evidence to show the benefit of masks now.
You know, if you look in countries around the world where there are mask-wearing cultures, they've obviously seen a significant difference in terms of the impact and how far the virus has spread. But don't have an idea. I mean, this is how they model this looking at these graphics or these animations. You see there what the mask can do. It's not perfect, but man, it can make a huge difference, decreased transmission, several fold, and when you do that, you start to decrease the spread overall the virus in the country.
ACOSTA: Maybe we need to run that video on a loop at some point, Sanjay. Dr. McClellan, the CDC Director and the Surgeon General are now turning their focus to younger people as they urge them to wear masks. Is this a reflection of the younger people are playing in the spread of the virus?
We heard Dr. Fauci saying and Dr. Redfield saying earlier today, you know, young people who go out to bars or who are socializing, they bring the virus home to grandmother, or grandfather and lo and behold, you're going to have cases affecting people who are in an at-risk situation.
MCCLELLAN: That's right. It's a very important issue for younger people in two ways. First off, as you said, more of the cases are in younger individuals, people who are older seem to be paying more attention about keeping a distance and being careful. It's important for younger people to remember too, though, that they also can end up with serious complications, more hospitalizations now are occurring in people under 50, under 40, under 30, and some deaths.
And in addition, just as you said, this isn't an issue of personal freedom. This is an issue like secondhand smoke and other decisions that we make that affect everybody around us. We're all in this together and if we want to save lives, we all need to participate in these steps.
ACOSTA: And that is a great message. All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Mark McClellan, thank you very much. We appreciate your insights.
And coming up, as we expected, the European Union is not going to allow summer tourists from the United States. Standby for the latest on that. Plus, a new swine flu virus emerges in China.
ACOSTA: In global headlines about the coronavirus, the European Union reopens its borders for international tourism tomorrow, and as expected, the United States is not on the list of countries whose citizens will be allowed in. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is in Brussels, where the E.U. is headquartered. Give us more details.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jim. Yes, the E.U. published a list with 15 countries on it, which are seen as being very effective at dealing with the novel coronavirus. Now, the U.S. is not on that list. And that means Americans, at least for the time being, are not going to be able to travel back here to the European Union.
The list is quite interesting because, for instance, China is on the list. But there's also a lot of countries on the list who are significantly less wealthy than the U.S. and whose healthcare systems are also much less well-funded than that of the United States who take, for instance, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Serbia, and even Rwanda are all essentially seen by the European Union as being more effective at dealing with the pandemic than the Trump administration has been so far.
Now, the E.U. says all of that is purely down to scientific criteria. They say they need to see a significant decrease in new coronavirus infections to allow travelers from countries back in to the European Union, Jim?
ACOSTA: Frederik Pleitgen, thank you. South Africa has converted a sports arena into a hospital to handle the coronavirus case load. Let's go to CNN's David McKenzie. Tell us more, David.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, we're here in Cape Town, which is currently experiencing the peak of its COVID-19 pandemic. This is the epicenter of the African continent. We were in a converted basketball stadium, which is becoming a makeshift clinic run by doctors without borders in a large informal settlement.
Now, many people expected a catastrophe here. But they say because of the lessons learned from the U.S. and Europe, they are able to treat those patients and many of them walk out just after a few days of treatment. But the warning coming from public health officials here is that the peak, though it may seem lower, could last for several months and there is a substantial battle ahead. Public health officials and those doctors and nurses we saw working for many months to come. Jim?
ACOSTA: David McKenzie, thanks. And as if the coronavirus is not enough, a newly identified swine flu has surfaced in China. CNN's David Culver is in Beijing. What are you learning?
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, researchers described this as a new virus with pandemic potential emerging once again, out of China. It's based on a study published in the scientific journal proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It warns of a swine flu that can transmit from pigs to humans.
Experts call it G4 and they say it is genetically descended from H1N1 which became a pandemic in 2009. Chinese researchers made this discovery during a pig surveillance program. Scientists say, in two Chinese provinces, more than 10 percent of workers on pig farms tested positive for the virus. They add that it can lead to severe infection and even death. But experts caution that this new virus does not pose an immediate global health threat and does not appear to exhibit human to human transmission like COVID-19.
[17:45:06] When asked Tuesday about how China is handling the pathogen, a foreign ministry spokesperson said China, quote, will take all necessary measures to prevent the spread and outbreak of any virus. But much of the concern is no doubt rooted in Chinese transparency or lack, thereof, following the novel coronavirus outbreak. Jim?
ACOSTA: All right, something to keep our eye on. Thank you very much, David.
Coming up, our shortage of contact tracers is hampering U.S. efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, Joe Biden takes some swipes at President Trump over his response to the crisis accusing the President of surrendering to the virus.
ACOSTA: CDC Director Robert Redfield tells lawmakers that the U.S. needs to aggressively modernized contact tracing to fight the coronavirus pandemic. CNN's Brian Todd has more. Brian, not only is the system outdated, but there's also a critical shortage of contact tracers, is that right?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a very dangerous shortage of contact tracers, Jim. These people are disease detectives who track the spread of the virus in each community and their manpower is especially lacking in states that are now seeing the highest spikes.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, an army desperately needed in the war against coronavirus is undermanned and losing on the battlefield in states recently hit the hardest. Their contact tracers, people who track down those who have coronavirus infected person has had contact with to monitor them for infection. Public health officials say they're a crucial component to being able to reopen the economy so new cases can be contained. But they say tracers are working in an outdated system.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: They really are in need of aggressive modernization. Contact racing, in this case, I'll be very quick, really doesn't have any value unless you can do it in real time.
TODD (voice-over): And America doesn't have nearly enough tracers.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We need to do more, including hiring at least 100,000 federally funded workers to perform content tracing and other public health task.
TODD (voice-over): One estimate says America needs about 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people in a community. But a firm called Nephron Research now says, in eight states, the ranks of contact tracers are dangerously low. Texas only has about 11 contact tracers per 100,000 people. Florida has about seven, Arizona five and five other states also fall well short.
PROF. CRYSTAL WATSON, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Now as we see a lot more transmission, it's going to be a lot harder to do contact tracing because we really just can't get our arms around the epidemics. They're a bit out of control.
TODD (voice-over): Crystal Watson, who co-authored a report on contact tracing says many states did not come up with the resources to hire enough contact tracers. As for the type of person needed --
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: It's a detective investigator in the public health space.
TODD (voice-over): Experts say contact tracers have to interview an infected person to get them to help identify anyone they've been in close contact with.
WATSON: You ask them about close contacts, that's within six feet for more than 15 minutes. Anyone who fits that description would be considered a close contact.
TODD (voice-over): And contact tracers have to race against the clock. Experts we spoke to say they have, on average, less than three days to find someone who an infected person's been in contact with and get that person to isolate. At this contact tracing center in Arizona working virtually, a team leader tells us it's time intensive, emotionally taxing work.
KRISTEN POGREBA BROWN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: Our biggest challenge honestly is just getting people on the phone initially, and talking to them, and then getting them to open up once you get ahold of them.
TODD (voice-over): And there are more challenges tonight. Experts say contact tracing is now more complicated than ever because of the decisions by some governors to reopen their states so quickly.
WATSON: So as these cases grow and spike because of reopening, and because people have come together in large numbers, it's going to get harder and harder to do that.
TODD (voice-over): It's getting so difficult that America's top voice on coronavirus says the armies of contact tracers should start acting like real armies.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You can get community people to get boots on the ground and to go out there and look for the people instead of getting on a phone and doing SoCo contact tracing by phone.
TODD: But experts say contact tracers who go out into neighborhoods should be from those neighborhoods so they understand the community and the culture. But they add another huge challenge with contact tracing. They say it's like a police officer trying to get a witness account of a crime. People's memories of their encounters are often shady and unreliable. Jim?
ACOSTA: Very important information. Brian Todd, thank you.
Breaking news next, California braces for more restrictions as cases there continue to spike. But Florida's governor vows he won't roll back reopening despite the growing health crisis in his state.
ACOSTA: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta in "The Situation Room". We're following breaking news, the coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 127,000 Americans and experts say a surge of new cases could accelerate the growing death toll. At least 15 states are reporting a record level of infection as the virus increases in 36 states.
And breaking news tonight, California Governor Gavin Newsom says he's about to announce new restrictions for residents of his state. They'll join 17 other states pausing or rolling back plans to reopen.