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Texas Governor Issues Executive Order Requiring Masks in Public; Jobs Report Shows Record 4.8M Jobs Added in June Before Spike in COVID Cases. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 16:30   ET


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This affects nearly 70 percent of counties across the state, including Harris County, home to Houston where we are right now.


As you point out, these numbers have been going up day by day, 7 -- pardon me, nearly 8,000, more than 8,000 new cases yesterday. Nearly 7,000 people across the state hospitalized. In about 30 minutes, we'll get the new numbers for today.

And I would not be surprised if we again break records. This has been very difficult for the medical facilities that are seeing a surge in patients. They are trying to do their best to meet the demand but they've been restricted and hampered in some ways by the lack of a statewide mask mandate, the lack of the restrictions.

The governor also giving local officials, county judges as well as mayors the power to restrict public gatherings to just 10 people. Before that public gatherings of about 100 people were allowed.

All of this leading up to the Fourth of July weekend. You know, this medical facility where we've been in front of you, I was talking to the doctors a few moments ago. One of the doctors said, look, every time we had a big holiday weekend, whether it's Mother's Day or Memorial Day, we've seen a surge in cases.

They have been very worried about what's going to come after this weekend. So perhaps the statewide mandate will help reverse that trend to some degree, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Lucy Kafanov wearing her mask in Texas as is now required by law.

Joining us now, Dr. Peter Hotez, the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Hotez, first of all, I want to get your reaction to Governor Abbott's executive order on masks. You've been coming on this show and other CNN shows and warning for months that things were going to get bad, that Texas needed to take this seriously, that the lieutenant governor of Texas was saying a whole bunch of ill-informed things giving people a false sense of security.

What do you think about where you are today and this order on masks?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VCCINE DEVELOPMENT AT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, the order on masks is necessary. The question is whether it's going to be sufficient. I'm not certain that's going to be sufficient. We are seeing, as you've been pointing out, this massive rise in the number of cases, the steep acceleration in multiple states across the south and primarily in the metro areas. Big cities of Texas, Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Phoenix.

And as a consequence of this, what we're seeing a huge increase in the number of cases nationally. We just -- we're at about 40,000 last week, we're at 50,000 now. Those numbers will continue to accelerate. Dr. Fauci mentioned we could hit 100,000 cases -- new cases a day.

On a population basis we've already hit that now and are close to it in Texas, in Florida and Arizona, so I think we have to face a pretty hard reality that this epidemic is out of control in the United States. We do not have our arms around it. These numbers will continue to accelerate and not only in the South but I think it will now spread to other parts of the country if it hasn't already.

And we need a new plan. We need a new roadmap. Let's put it this way. We need a plan. So far, I think, there hasn't been a plan. It's been the states out front and without much of a federal roadmap plan.

TAPPER: We're on the eve of this long holiday weekend, Fourth of July. It bears repeating on Memorial Day, May 25th, there were 18 states seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases. That number has doubled. 37 states are seeing an increase. What is August going to look like if we continue on this trajectory and there remains the vacuum of leadership at the federal level and the absence of any sort of concrete comprehensive plan?

HOTEZ: Well, we've now seen some of the predictive models coming out of both Seattle, the University of Washington, as well as University of Pennsylvania. That's where I sometimes used the word apocalyptic. By that, I mean, we're seeing a two to three to four-fold increase in the current number of cases in the month of July and we're already seeing surges on intensive care units. Our health systems across the south and other parts of the country simply will not be able to handle it.

This is what I mean we have to whatever term you whatnot to use, call an audible, make a change, we now need to implement a plan. It's been the case the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been, have the states lead. The coronavirus task force is doing important things, with scaling up manufacturing of PPE, of ventilators, and on the supply -- supply management, but they are not providing guidance on a roadmap and a strategy.

And until we have federal leadership on that to inform the governors what needs to be done, this will continue to spiral.


And I'm getting to the point where we have to realize White House coronavirus task force is never going to provide that leadership and maybe we need to think about a new way to do things, possibly move it to Atlanta and put the CDC out in front to provide that guidance or maybe there are other opportunities --

TAPPER: President Trump --


TAPPER: President Trump continues to say things that are completely at odds with not only science but just basic fact. Here he is today, this morning, talking about his handling of the virus and where the U.S. is right now. It's almost as if he's on another planet.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China was way early, and they are getting under control just now. And Europe was way early, and they are getting under control. We followed them with this terrible China virus and we are likewise getting under control.


TAPPER: So, that's -- this is the quote that I'm referring to when I criticize the president. We are likewise getting under control.

Do you think the United States is getting under control when it comes to the virus?

HOTEZ: Well, all you need to do is look at a graph of the numbers and you see that very steep acceleration with no end in sight, where clearly we'll be at 100,000 cases a day in a few weeks.

And there's no bottom. There's no ceiling to that, right? It can basically keep on climbing and climbing and climbing. And practically speaking, what this will mean is every single American will know somebody who's gotten severely ill from coronavirus and that will have an extraordinarily destabilizing effect on the nation.

I do believe that we can make an impact. We just need the right kind of guidance. We need a plan. We need to explain to the leaders of the states what the models will show and what projections on the states will look like in the coming weeks. Give them clear guidance on the steps that need to be taken and to hammer that message home day in and day out.

It's not going to come from Washington. We've already seen that. It's -- I think it's got to come from the CDC and credibility of the CDC.

TAPPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you so much. Appreciate it. I wish people have listened to you a few months ago when you were sounding the alarm.

President Trump is touting the new job numbers, but could scene such as this one, with people lining up around the block to file for an unemployment, be a sign of what's to come?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The money lead now. A jobs report today that on face value appears to show an improving economy. Unemployment dropped to 11.1, a record 4.8 million jobs were added in June.

But, obviously, there's much, much more to the story given the economic hole that the United States is in due to the pandemic. When those numbers came out this morning, President Trump called reporters to the briefing room to make it known it happened on his watch.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today's announcement proves that our economy is roaring back. It's coming back extremely strong. We have some areas where we're putting out the flames.


TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley to talk more about this.

So, Julia, this jobs report obviously only tells some of the story. The numbers only track through June 12th, but it doesn't account for businesses that close as coronavirus cases started to spike again for example.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: This is key. This report basically contains all the good news tied to reopening and none of the cost, the apparent cost associated with it like rising cases. But, you know, there are other issues for me, too. If I add back all the people that are saying today, look, I'd like a job, I just can't find one, or they're misclassifying themselves.

That unemployment is more like 16.5 percent. The unemployment rate for white workers coming down way faster than it is for minority workers, particularly Asian and African-American workers. Look at where the jobs are being created here. They are in hospitality, retail, these are the two sectors most vulnerable if we pause reopenings, or we have to go into some kind of lockdown again.

So, the cost of these record job gains, Jake, are spiking cases all around the country. Neither of these things are sustainable. And, of course, this could have been prevented.

TAPPER: Right. This is the cost of a stupid reopening as opposed to a well-done reopening.

Today, the treasury secretary said the Trump administration is considering giving money to schools to help them reopen in the fall.

Take a listen.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We want to make sure that kids are safe and that if there's money that schools need to spend to safely have people in classrooms, social distance, spread things out, change hours -- these are all the things we're looking at.


TAPPER: So this would suggest, Julia, that this amplifies the need for a different, another stimulus deal, stimulus package. And, quickly, some school districts frankly want to reopen by the end of this month.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. They could have done with this money weeks ago. Congress should have acted sooner. And the incentive is clear.

Brookings have estimated that the cost of keeping the nation's children at home is $50 billion a month because, of course, workers have to stay with them. But part of a bigger issue here, without more action from Congress, at the end of July, America effectively falls off a cash cliff.

We've got states that are struggling to balance the books. We have got unemployment benefits, the bump up that rolls off at the end of this month, the paycheck protection scheme.

All of these things end at the same time. The action, the requirement for action from Congress is clear. And this actually should have happened weeks ago, Jake. No time to lose.

TAPPER: All right, Julia Chatterley, thank you so much.

We're going to talk to members of a key voting group who overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016. In 2020, however, some seem to be leaning towards making a different choice.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Florida today reported a record high for coronavirus cases, more than 10,000 new infections, and the pandemic seems to be impacting voters' choices.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny talked to some longtime Republicans who say they will not vote for Trump because of his response to the pandemic.



JOHN DUDLEY, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: Based on my friends, he doesn't have a chance. He's -- he blew it.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Dudley is talking about President Trump, who he supported four years ago, but won't again.

DUDLEY: He had everything. We were so excited in the beginning, a businessman to run our country like a business. And it hasn't happened. All he succeeded in doing was, he juiced up the stock market. And now that's gone to pot because of the coronavirus.

ZELENY: Dudley is a retired banker and the face of a new Trump campaign worry, losing the senior vote, amid summertime signs of anxiety from the beach to testing sites for soaring COVID cases.

Here in Florida, people 65 and older made up 21 percent of the vote in 2016. Trump won that group by 17 points. Polls now show Joe Biden with an edge among seniors in key battleground states and nationally.

For Trump, there is virtually no path to winning without Florida, which make places like the On Top of the World retirement community critical terrain.

PAULA SCHELLING, FORMER REPUBLICAN: I had to change parties. I could not do this anymore.

ZELENY: Paula Schelling abandoned the Republican Party. Marsha Lundh still considers herself a Republican, but not a Trump one.

MARSHA LUNDH, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I hoped that I was wrong in not voting for him and that he would turn out to be a great president. But it didn't happen.

ZELENY: Even loyal Trump supporter Robert Blethen wishes the president would do one thing.

ROBERT BLETHEN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Our president should wear a mask, because we're doing it. We're -- you know, it's a -- we're supporting him.

ZELENY: On Florida's Gulf Coast, Trump won Pinellas County by 1 percentage point, the same margin he carried the state. Since then, Democrats have seen a new surge in voter registration.

JOYCE MONAHAN, BIDEN SUPPORTER: There are more Democrats now than there used to be in years past.

ZELENY (on camera): Do any people who voted for Trump last time who are not going to this time?

DAVE CORDES, BIDEN SUPPORTER: Actually, I know several, including my son and grandson.

ZELENY (voice-over): The airwaves are already noisy, including this Trump ad questioning Biden's fitness for office.

MONAHAN: Trump is not that much younger. But in the case of Joe Biden, I think his inherit wisdom and his desire to surround himself with the best people. It's the wrong place to talk about age.

ZELENY: Sheila Griffin, secretary of the county GOP, believes the president's record and resilience will lead to his reelection.

SHEILA GRIFFIN, PINELLAS COUNTY GOP SECRETARY: If you're talking to the base, his standing is as strong as ever, and it has not been changed.

ZELENY: But as Biden supporters gear up for November, Trump is also a motivating force for them.

JIM DONELON, ST. PETERSBURG DEMOCRATIC CLUB PRESIDENT: Trump is our biggest ally, just an enormous amount of energy that I have seen and never seen before.


ZELENY: Now, there is no question that, four years ago, Republicans and Democrats essentially even here in party registration. Now Democrats have 10,000 more voters.

But, Jake, it's clear seniors paying so much attention to the policy of the coronavirus. The vice president was in the Tampa Bay area today. He said, we will try and slow the spread, but speaking in a hopeful tone, as opposed to the past tense -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny in Florida, thank you so much.

A look at why some conservatives are flocking to a new social media app called Parler. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead today: Twitter's got some new competition.

After the social media giant started slapping fact-checks and warning labels on some of President Trump's tweets, such as these, many high- profile Republican officials started publicly jumping ship to a new platform called Parler, which promotes itself as a free speech space.

Now, that's not exactly true. The site does have some restrictions, though racist and anti-Semitic content seems quite easy to find.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports.


NARRATOR: Parler is the only social media platform that protects your constitutional right to free speech.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Never heard of Parler? Team Trump is pushing the social media app as a new center for conservative conversation, with big-name Republicans signing up fast, as the president's campaign manager tweets: "Hey, Twitter, your days are numbered."

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Big tech is out of control, filled with hubris and flagrantly silencing those with whom they disagree.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I love Twitter and tweeting, and I have -- between that and Facebook, I have like 10 million followers.

FOREMAN: Going into the 2016 election, Trump was a huge fan of big social media sites, especially Twitter, using it to pump his message directly to his now nearly 83 million followers, and to dodge the scrutiny of mainstream media.

TRUMP: It's a thing called free speech rights.

FOREMAN: He has long been criticized for promoting conspiracy theories, lies and racist tropes on Twitter, as he did with this video, before removing it hours later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White power! White power!

FOREMAN: But now, with Twitter cracking down on some of his content for being misleading or encouraging violence...

TRUMP: There's nothing I'd rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account.

FOREMAN: ... his campaign team is considering several other platforms, even working on one of their own, to let Trump say what he will, unquestioned, unimpeded.

JOHN MATZE, CEO, PARLER: The idea that there's no political censorship.

FOREMAN: And, right now, Parler is getting the most buzz, from conservatives who love it and progressives who say the app is biased against them, even with the co-founder promising an electronic town square for all.

MATZE: Without the idea that there's somebody looking over your shoulder, saying, uh, is that a politically correct view or not?