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New Cases Soar In 37 States As Pandemic Spirals Out Of Control; Source Says, White House Warned Of Potential Russian Bounty Plot In 2019; CDC Director Makes Plea To Young People To Wear Masks. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 1, 2020 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Not in control of the coronavirus pandemic.


So the only question anyone should be asking is how do we get there? How do we get control? What's the plan?

The U.S. is hovering near an all-time high in coronavirus cases, more than 44,000 new cases just yesterday. And Dr. Fauci says it could get worse.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.


BERMAN: So what's the plan? This morning, infections are up in 37 states. All the states you see there in red, the states if deep red, up more than 50 percent. And last hour, Dr. Peter Hotez, a top infectious disease expert, told us there's not a dark enough color on this map to articulate what is about to happen in the United States.

You can look at what happened in just the last month. All the states there in deep red have seen jumps of more than 50 percent since June 1st. So what's the plan? Merely asking that question has apparently so upset the president that he just attacked us on Twitter.

But seriously, what is the plan other than to protect the legacy of Robert E. Lee?

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: It appears that may be the plan, which is clearly not working for the coronavirus. As this situation grows increasingly dire though, more Republicans and even members of the conservative media are now encouraging all Americans to wear masks. In fact, one senator directly calling on the president to do so, although Mr. Trump continues to ignore those calls and he's ignoring the science.

He's heading to South Dakota on Friday for the Independence Day fireworks at Mt. Rushmore, where social distancing will not be enforced, says the governor, and masks, while they will be provided, will not be required.

CNN'S Randi Kaye is live in Palm Beach County, Florida with our top story. Randi, good morning.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. We saw more than 6,000 new cases here in the State of Florida yesterday and you heard Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that he predicts we could see 100,000 cases a day nationwide if this virus is not under control. We're already seeing 40,000 cases a day, he says.

He also says that no part of the country is safe, but still, that has not stopped Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, from saying that he will not shut the state of Florida down once again. In fact, he's been very critical of the media for comparing Florida to New York. Listen to what he said back in May.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You've got a lot of people in your profession who wax poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. Wait two weeks, Florida is going to be next. Just like Italy. Wait two weeks. Well, hell, we're eight weeks away from that and it hasn't happened.


KAYE: So I caught up with the governor yesterday at a press conference. I wanted to ask him about those comments back in May. I want to ask him if he thought he was wrong for criticizing the media. And here is our exchange.


KAYE: You had criticized the media a while back, saying we had a partisan narrative for saying that Florida was going to be just like New York. But don't these spiking numbers prove that you were wrong in saying that? So what went wrong in Florida and what did you do wrong?

DESANTIS: We're not even close to that. So we went through March, April, people were predicting we would have 400,000 people hospitalized, never came. We had, you know, very stable numbers. All through May and early June, were our best testing numbers, very low test results in terms of percent positive. Obviously, you've seen a higher percentage test positive now. But just understand, some of those states were testing at 60, 70 percent. So, you know, we've been now 10 to 15. We obviously want to get that back down in the single digits.

So we're very well positioned to be able to handle what comes down the pike. But to compare us, what we're doing with that, totally apples and oranges.

KAYE: If I could just follow up, because the high -- if I could just follow up just very quickly. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: So I tried to follow up there, as you heard, and one of the handlers for the governor quickly shut me down and said we're moving on, and called on another reporter. And, in fact, it was the handler who called on the reporter, as you saw, not actually the governor himself.

But I wanted to make a few points to the governor, because he was saying there, that we're seeing a positivity rate in the State of Florida of 10 to 15 percent. And that is just not true. In fact, in Miami-Dade County, they're seeing just yesterday a positivity rate of 22 percent. They also saw in the last seven days in that county nearly 50,000 new cases.

And he also said -- the governor yesterday was talking about the hospitals. He said the hospitals have plenty of capacity. Again, John, that is just not true. We know that in Miami, the Miami mayor told CNN that some of his hospitals are at or close to capacity.

BERMAN: Randi Kaye in Florida, Randi, thank you for asking the questions. Glad the governor has protection from you. I appreciate you being there for us.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Andy Slavitt, he's the former Acting Administrator at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services under President Obama.


And, Sanjay, I just want to put up on the screen so people can see, it's now July 1st, people can see what happened in June, right? The states in deep red saw a more than 50 percent increase in the number of new coronavirus cases. That's well over half the country. I mean, it's just a huge, huge sea of deep red right there. So that's where we are.

Really, the question now needs to be, where are we going? How do we stop this? What's the plan?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. If February and sort of beginning of March were sort of lost time, June was sort of an explosive time with regard to this.

I think that the plan, interestingly, John, I think, had been laid out. There were these criteria by which states could reopen and there were specific things within those criteria to do, if, you know, states started to go backwards in terms of, you know, closing things down, aggressive testing, contact tracing, all those sorts of things.

There're two issues at this point. At the time those criteria were released, the country was in a different place. And what I mean by that is that it's very hard to do significant contact tracing if, in fact, we start going up to 100,000 people becoming newly infected every day. It's just a very laborious task. What I would say at this point in addition to the obvious, which is, you know, obviously, widespread mask use, you know, making sure we have really saturating the country with testing, something that Dr. Fauci has talked about, I think, has been a real source of frustration, maybe even a schism between him and the CDC, I think there needs to be, you know, the CDC, as I said yesterday, really at the helm of this, every day, like we saw with Rich Besser during H1N1.

Every day, perhaps at the state level, there needs to be coronavirus task force coordinators. And we need to basically have plans in each state supplanted by and reinforced by significant testing and contact tracing. It's the basic public health stuff that's been talked about since the beginning. We just never did it.

And it's kind like a patient who has cancer stage one, and we say, here is the treatment, and now it's metastatic. They didn't do the treatment and then they're saying, what's the plan here? Well, the plan was this back at stage one, and now it's got to be more aggressive now that the cancer has start to spread.

HILL: There's also the concern, Andy, as we look at this, as states are trying to pull back and they're trying to put more restrictions in place over whether people will actually follow them after they've had a little taste of this freedom. Is it your sense though that the American people are recognizing that this is here to stay and it will not go away, unless they are part of the solution.

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Well, look, I think that people have their own reality that they've experienced. And up until recently, if you didn't live in the northeast, maybe you didn't know anybody that was affected by coronavirus. Maybe you didn't see the horrible images from New York that were on T.V. or maybe you just forgot about them and assumed it was gone.

I think that's starting to change. I think it is progress that we now have Republican lawmakers calling for people to wear masks. This is not a partisan issue. Florida is not the only one having trouble. So is Texas. So is Southern California. This is how the virus works. It is not targeting Republicans or Democrats. So with all due respect to Governor DeSantis, he just doesn't know. He really doesn't know how much trouble they're in. And in part, they're not publishing their hospital data.

So the public doesn't need assurances. I think we would do a lot better and the public would do a lot better if we had a plan and if lawmakers leveled with us. I think what you saw from Dr. Fauci when he talked about 100,000 people was really probably directed at an audience of one, largely. Because the only way we will have a plan that's coherent is if Donald Trump decides that we will have a plan and to finally takes this seriously. And I think he is sort begging and pleading, at least that's how I hear it, for Trump to take it seriously, start wearing a mask, and implement a national strategy.

BERMAN: It's interesting, because he's not the only one begging and pleading now. I think if you listen carefully to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, if you listen to some governors around the country, if you listen to Sean Hannity in some cases, they seem to be pleading with the president suddenly to step in and say something and do something on this.

Sanjay, the science, let's just talk about the science because science can help here. There is a new study on masks and exactly what kind of mask can help you the most.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, first, this idea of just how much masks can be of benefit to the people around someone who's wearing a mask. You get this video and sort of see what happens when someone is expelling virus into the air.


If you look at this video, you'll get a good idea if someone's talking, coughing, sneezing, you'll see these virus droplets sort of reenacted here. By the way, I always wonder, what would it have been like if we could have actually have seen this virus? It's an unseen enemy. If we could see it, it would probably be a lot different, right?

But there's the mask. It's not perfect but it makes a big difference in terms of what -- how much virus is actually getting out there.

And as you mentioned, there are different types of cloths, different types of materials. We are talking about these cloth masks generally. And if you look at going from wearing nothing at all to wearing sort of a two-layered cloth mask that is stitched together, you get a significant difference in terms of how far the cough will travel. Eight feet with nothing, all the way down to 2.5 inches if you get one of those stitched masks. So that's why you do it. That's part of the way you break the cycle of transmission.

And what we're seeing, is that, even if you look at that sort of science and then apply it to large populations of people, look at places like South Korea, where, in addition to aggressive testing, which I don't think we should take our eye off the ball on that, in addition to that, these masks went a long way. They have fewer than 300 people who've died in South Korea. And the idea that you can wear masks and protect people around you and offer some protection to yourself is very true. The science is clear on this now.

HILL: The science is clear. And as we've been pointing out this morning, hearing it from more people will hopefully have an impact.

When we look at this moving forward, there's the mask issue and there's also social distancing. We've been talking so much about bars after they were closed down again in Texas and measures taken in Florida as well. Dr. Fauci was very clear on bars yesterday, Andy, saying they're a really bad idea. How much of an impact do you think that could make, the closing down of bars? And what else perhaps needs to follow?

SLAVITT: If you look at the graphs of when different actions were taken around the country back in March and April, it was actually when the bars and restaurants were closed in California the first time around and in New York that you started to see the resulting reduction in the R. naught, that is the spread rate of conditions.

So bars are really bad places because people are close together, they have to speak loudly, and they're drinking, their guard is down, it's hard to wear mask. We're going to need to have a conversation in this country about what to do for bar and restaurant owner. Because it's pretty clear at least to me, and into many, that indoor dining and bars are not a safe activity.

And we all know people, our local establishments, that that's very going to be very, very hard on. And we need to have that national conversation, because the alternative is that we sort of ignore the reality and countries around the world, I don't think, understand why we aren't acknowledging the reality and dealing with this.

BERMAN: Sanjay, very quickly, the only conversation that I seem to be having with friends and cohorts is about schools. I mean, everyone wants to know, what is going to happen with schools. There does seem to be an appetite or a sense that schools are going to open until they can't. What do you see?

GUPTA: Yes, I think that's right. So schools are going to depend on the community in which you live and how the virus is spreading in that community. So pay attention to that. That's really important to see how it's happening in your local community.

But I think if you start to look at the data, the testing data, the contact tracing data from around the world, a couple of things have remained clear. Young kids in particular are less likely to contract the virus. They are less likely to spread the virus as well. An important point, they can, but they do seem less likely to spread it.

And they did this by contact tracing data, trying to follow large clusters of kids, following kids and their household contacts. They can spread it, but less likely than adults. And as we know, I think, has become clear as well, is that they are far less likely to get very sick from this virus. So, again, less likely to get it, less likely to spread it, very less likely to get sick from it.

But you got to superimpose that on what's happening with the virus, how much it is spreading in your community. And I think critical, and I've talked to lots of people who are making these decisions about schools right now, you have to understand what your triggers are going to be. You can't approach this sort of saying, hey, we'll see how things go. I think kids and parents and everybody that's part of a school community has got to know, is it a certain number of people who become infected? Is it when you see the numbers go up a certain amount? What's it going to be so that people have clarity on that?

BERMAN: Dr. Gupta, and Andy Slavitt, thank you very much for being with us this morning. Sanjay, we'll see you again in a little bit.

The leaders of Congress will learn more today about intelligence on Russia's bounty payments to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


What did the president know? One Democrat who was just briefed on this intelligence joins us next.


BERMAN: So the top leaders in Congress, known as the Gang of Eight, will be briefed in just hours on the intelligence that Russia was paying bounties to kill U.S. service members in Afghanistan. CNN has learned that the White House was first warned about it last year.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. She is on the Armed Services Committee and attended a classified briefing on this matter yesterday. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us.

So you did get to listen to White House officials in this classified briefing. What questions do you still have about this?

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Good morning, John. Yes. Yesterday, I was in the situation room to get a briefing on reports that Russia had paid bounties for American service men and women.


As you mentioned, I sit on the House Armed Services Committee. I'm a Navy veteran and also former Russian Policy Officer. So I had real concerns about the reporting we heard. And I was happy to be there yesterday to hear from the chief of staff and to hear about some of what went on, but I was also really concerned about who wasn't in the room. We didn't hear directly from the intelligence community, from the CIA or from the NSA, which when you're discussing reports, whether or not you can verify those reports, I really think we need to hear directly from the people providing the intelligence.

BERMAN: So one of the things that has been reported -- and I know you can't tell me what exactly was said in that briefing, but one of the things that has been reported is that there is conflicting intelligence, which draws questions about whether the Russians really were offering bounties. To what extent did you find that other intelligence convincing?

SHERRILL: Well, like I said, I was happy to be there to discuss the intelligence. I can't talk about the intelligence reports. But what I can say is that, you know, I am not expecting people in New Jersey to understand exactly what's going on with Russia in Afghanistan or what's going on with our relationship with Russia in Syria. It's been tough in New Jersey.

We've had one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks just when we get things under control, we see across the country cases rising. We have some of the longest food lines I've seen at our food distribution centers. We have people who are in fear of losing their jobs or their small businesses going under. So I'm not anticipating that the people of New Jersey will be aware of every report that comes out. That is my job. That is something I do on the Armed Services Committee. Hear the reports, read the reports, gather the Intel, and that is what I anticipate the president of the United States will do.

And something that we ask for yesterday at the briefing was that the president come out and reassure the nation that he has our back. Reassure the nation that he's going to get to the bottom of this. And if these reports are verified, that Russia will face repercussions.

BERMAN: He hasn't. And our reporting is that he was first told about it a year ago, in 2019. It was in a presidential daily brief.

Now, the only response that we've had from the White House is that he was never verbally told about this. Does that come close to satisfying your questions about why he hasn't come out and said something?

SHERRILL: Well, whether or not he was verbally told about this, he knows it now. And he's not said anything. And I have to tell you, I've served overseas. I know families who have service members overseas, as we speak. And those service men and women need to know that leadership is looking out for them, that we're doing all we can to keep them safe and make sure that families here at home know that we have their backs. And the president has not provided that.

It's -- you know, John, it's really easy to go to West Point and say you support the troops. We need to hear from the president right now that if there are Russian bounties out on our troops overseas, that he's going to support our troops.

BERMAN: You mentioned, of course, that you are a veteran. The president, overnight, threatened to veto the latest Defense Authorization Act. Why? Because it might contain an amendment to change the name of military bases that are named after confederate generals, like Robert E. Lee or Fort Bragg, named after Braxton Bragg, and not only that, and the process of threatening to veto defense money over confederate general names. He used a racist epithet to describe Elizabeth Warren. I want to know your reaction to this.

SHERRILL: Again, I don't think the president understands or supports our troops when he does things like this. So I've talked to many of the people I've served with, many people who are still serving, many people who really feel that these confederate naming conventions are not appropriate, that they don't represent their values and beliefs.

And so for the president to look at the national Defense Authorization Act, which we review as modernizing our military, making sure that we have the funds we need to promote our American values and keep people at home safe and that's what he's focused on and that's why he's threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, I really have -- you know, I don't understand that.

BERMAN: Congresswoman, how is your husband doing? I know that he had a bout with coronavirus. It was the beginning of April. How is the recovery going?

SHERRILL: He's doing well. He's doing well. He's been fine for over a month now, back at work. But thanks so much for asking.

You know, like you said, you know, he had coronavirus, so many people in New Jersey have had it. I just want to put out a plea to everyone, wear your masks, wash your hands, socially distance.


We just -- you know, in New Jersey, we finally got our case load down from a high in mid-April. I'm really concerned that we're going to see the numbers tick up as we see them go up across the country. We're all in this together. We all have to attack this disease together.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, thank you for being with us this morning. We always appreciate your time.

SHERRILL: Thank you, I appreciate for having me. Thanks.

BERMAN: Hear the congresswoman making a plea to wear a mask. Well the CDC director did the same thing, asking young people to wear masks and socially distance to stop the spread of coronavirus. A 23-year-old who has the virus shares her own cautionary tale, next.



DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: 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. Specifically, I'm addressing the younger members of our society, the millennials and the Generation Zs. I ask those that are listening to spread the word.


HILL: The CDC director, you heard Dr. Robert Redfield there, calling on young people to do their part to help stop the spread of coronavirus.


Joining me now, 23-year-old Payton Chester, from Houston, Texas, who has just recovered.