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U.S. Sets New Coronavirus Cases Record Wednesday; President Trump Announces No Supply Shortages; Interview with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: We continue right (ph) along (ph). You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being here.

Just days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily if the current surge is not stopped. Well, we are now halfway there, more than 50,000 new cases were confirmed Wednesday, that is the highest number ever in a single day in this country.

Just for comparison, there are more than 150 countries that have yet to record 50,000 cases during the entire pandemic. And now, governors and mayors nationwide are taking aggressive action to keep, you know, their citizens safe, as one vaccine expert tells CNN that Texas, Florida and Arizona are nearing -- his words -- apocalyptic levels of infection.

So we begin this hour with Jason Carroll. And, Jason, the state of New York, once the epicenter of this whole outbreak, is now holding steady -- thank goodness -- but that is giving the mayor of New York City some confidence in reopening the schools. What's the timetable there?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, it's looking like it's going to happen in the fall semester, in September. That, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He says schools will reopen at that point, certainly encouraging news to a number of parents who wanted to see that happen.

Apparently, what's going to happen is schools will be given a maximum number of students that will be allowed at each of those particular schools. So reopening efforts happening here, while other parts of the country, Brooke, continue to struggle.


CARROLL (voice-over): Across the country, numbers continue to surge. The U.S. saw 50,203 newly confirmed COVID cases, Wednesday, a new record for a single day. At least five states -- Arizona, California, Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas -- saw record high numbers of new cases. And then, today, Florida alone reported more than 10,000 new cases, which marks a new daily record high. The pandemic, not stopping some in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from attending

what one city councilmember describes as COVID parties. City officials say tickets are sold and the first person confirmed to have contracted the virus wins cash.

MAYOR WALT MADDOX (D), TUSCALOOSA, AL: Unfortunately, I don't believe that they're taking this as seriously as they need to. Especially because in Tuscaloosa -- probably like a lot of places in Alabama -- the spread has been asymptomatic.

CARROLL (voice-over): At least 23 states have changed or paused reopening plans due to spikes in COVID cases.

Today, the nation's top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, telling the BBC some states may have reopened too soon.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In the United States, even in the most strict lockdown, only about 50 percent of the country locked down. That allowed the perpetuation of the outbreak, that we never did get under very good control.

CARROLL (voice-over): While states such as New Jersey say they are continuing with some reopening efforts -- casinos, opening their doors today -- California's governor forced to pull back after seeing a surge in cases, halting all indoor activities in businesses such as restaurants, museums and movie theaters in 19 counties.

But some state officials say more restrictions may be needed.

REP. RAUL RUIZ (D), CALIFORNIA: In counties where you have at- capacity ICU beds with very little reserve, very little ventilators left to take care of very sick patients, then you have to do more, possibly even go back to previous phases of opening and make sure that more people are staying at home.

CARROLL (voice-over): Doctors in Texas, overwhelmed by the number of COVID patients. So many, in some parts, there are wait lists for ventilators.

JEFFREY DELLAVOLPE, PULMONARY PHYSICIAN, SAN ANTONIO METHODIST HOSPITAL: I got 10 calls, all of whom, young people who otherwise would be excellent candidates to be able to put on ECMO, they're so sick that if they don't get put on, they don't get that support, they're probably going to die. I have three beds. And just -- and making that decision, being able to figure out who really is going to benefit, it is a level of decision-making that I don't think a lot of us are prepared for.

CARROLL (voice-over): Some potentially promising developments on the vaccine front, one U.S. health official testifying before the Senate, saying there could be more than one vaccine by early next year.

FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: We are all optimistic that the goal that we have set to have a vaccine that works and is safe by the end of 2020, will be met by one of the vaccines. So all of that is where we're putting ourselves on the line, and I think everybody at this table would agree that's really a stretch goal but it's the right goal for the American people.


CARROLL: And, Brooke, I also want to mention this late development that comes to us out of Florida -- Miami, Florida -- the police chief there, announcing just a short while ago that they are going to be issuing fines for anyone caught outside in public not wearing a mask or a face covering -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jason Carroll, thank you very much.


And just this morning, as cases continue to rise across the country, President Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've implemented an aggressive strategy to vanquish and kill the virus and protect Americans at the highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk to return safely to work. That's what's happening.

Our health experts continue to address the temporary hotspots in certain cities and counties, and we're working very hard on that. We're -- the relationship with the governors is very good. We made a call -- Mike Pence made a call, just yesterday, and said, What do you need? Not one governor needed anything, they don't need anything. They have all the medical equipment they can have. Thank you, U.S. government.


BALDWIN: Let's go to the White House, to our correspondent there, Jeremy Diamond. And we know the president insisted that the virus is being handled -- his word -- he also says that he is all for masks despite the fact that he doesn't wear one in public. Why the disconnect?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question that there's certainly a disconnect between how the president is talking about this and how the public health experts are talking about this, including those in his own administration.

If you've listened over the last several days -- whether it's the surgeon general, Jerome Adams; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the government; or even the politically appointed HHS secretary Alex Azar -- the message from all of them is that the window is closing to address this serious, serious surge of coronavirus cases that we are seeing across the country.

But the president is talking about this through looking at the situation, it seems, through rose-colored glasses. The way that the president talks about this as something that is under control, that is rapidly being extinguished, even though cases are continuing to rise.

There's no question that the administration is in a different place in terms of testing, in terms of PPE availability than it was during the previous surge of this case, but that doesn't mean that this is a less serious situation, and that is what all of the health experts are saying at this time.

But, Brooke, what's clear from my reporting and from my -- reporting from our colleagues, is that this administration doesn't want this situation to be viewed as the last one was, they don't want the kind of daily -- kind of national emergency-focused briefings. We've seen those go away, because they want Americans to be focusing on the economy reopening ahead of the 2020 election -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: While I have you, I want to ask you about this other piece of news in case people are just joining us. Herman Cain, who was one of the president's top campaign surrogates, he has just tested positive for coronavirus. What more do you know about that?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. Herman Cain, we have just learned, has been hospitalized for coronavirus. He was informed that he tested positive for coronavirus on June 29th, which is just nine days after he attended this Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suggesting that if he was informed that day, he may have actually tested positive for the virus a couple of days earlier. So certainly, that's within the window of possibility, where he could have contracted or possibly been spreading the virus at that rally.

What we have learned now, Brooke, is from the Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, he tells me that Herman Cain was not at all in contact with President Trump during this rally, and he suggested that contact tracing has been carried out. I don't know how that's possible, Brooke, given the fact that I spoke with Paris Dennard, who is a Republican National Committee advisor for Black Affairs.

He's in a picture with Herman Cain right over his shoulder, flashing a thumbs-up. And he told me as soon as this news broke, that he had not yet been informed that Herman Cain had tested positive. And he said that he himself has not been tested for the virus and that as of now, though, he is experiencing no symptoms.

But, again, this is just one of those concerning reports coming out of this rally. We already know that several other campaign officials had tested positive for the virus in the wake of this rally. So certainly this event, where you saw thousands of people bunched together, no social distancing, no masks, this is predictable -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I -- that's good if the president wasn't physically anywhere near Herman Cain, but I'd want to know if I was one of those people sitting anywhere near him at that Tulsa rally, not wearing face coverings.

DIAMOND: Yes, good question.

BALDWIN: Jeremy Diamond, thank you -- thank you so much . Let's get a doctor to weigh in on all of this. Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University, and she's the former Baltimore health commissioner. So,

Dr. Wen, nice to have you on. And let me just start with the Herman Cain story. You know, in terms of contact tracing, how difficult would it be to do that at an event like the president's rally, if that is where Herman Cain was maybe showing symptoms, didn't know he was sick but was symptomatic.

LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Yes, that kind of indoor gathering with thousands of people, that is a public health nightmare because you imagine that for everyone who had symptoms or was exposed to somebody who had symptoms, they're then going back to their hometowns. They'll be around family members, they'll be going about their daily work and maybe they'll be traveling to get back.


And that's hundreds if not thousands of people for whom contact tracing would have to be performed. And we already know that the public health infrastructure is stretched so thin. And I just really cannot imagine how there would be nearly enough public health contact tracers to be able to trace every one of those infections.

And so that's really the beginning of a superspreader event, where an infection could become a cluster, a cluster could become an outbreak and then an epidemic.

BALDWIN: Presumably, Herman Cain, you know, wouldn't have come in contact with the thousands of people at that rally, but you do have sort of like an inner circle -- right? -- of contact, just even looking at that Twitter picture, with a number of people sitting on all sides of him, not social distancing, not wearing masks. And then the rings go out and out and out.

So at the bare minimum -- there's the picture -- at the bare minimum, how would folks go about contact tracing in that immediate circle?

WEN: So they would identify all those individuals who spent some period of time with Herman Cain. And I think there would need to be the question asked, too, if he contracted the virus at this event, who did he get it from?

And so from there, you would also have to be tracing who it is that he was in contact with who may have had symptoms or may have also subsequently become sick.

But I think it's not just about him, there are other reports too of dozens if not hundreds of people testing positive after the rally. And so I just, again, worry about where those individuals went and who they were exposed to afterwards.

BALDWIN: Again, we don't know he got it, when he got it, when he was symptomatic, but all really valid points. And as you, you know, mention that, we should also just remind everyone, the president and the first lady are going to be at Mount Rushmore tomorrow, at this, you know, event which I'm sure will be a blast at the time.

But, again, you know, they're not recommending -- not requiring masks, and not making people social distance which, from your perspective, doctor, is what?

WEN: Well, by now, we know exactly what it takes to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from person to person. We know how contagious of a disease this is, and we know what will work, which is that six feet physical distancing; it's wearing a mask, which can reduce the transmission by fivefold; it's being outdoors, ideally much safer than being indoors; and not gathering in crowds.

Really, at this time of a pandemic when the number of cases are surging throughout the country, we're having explosive spread, the last thing that should be happening is an event where social distancing doesn't occur, and when there are a lot of people gathered around not wearing masks.

BALDWIN: I know that you have said that this Fourth of July weekend could offer a coronavirus reset. What do you mean by that?

WEN: Well, I remember the conversations that we were having around Memorial Day, that people were letting down their guard, thinking that reopening means that things are now safer. And certainly, the map of the country looked a lot better, but it looked a lot better because of all the steps that were taken before: the shelter-in-place order, the many sacrifices that people made in order to suppress the level of infection.

Well, we're now at a very different place, come Fourth of July. And the question that we have to ask as a country is, what direction do we want to go? Do we want to have all the sacrifices that people made go in vain?

Or do we want to start over and say, Let's really look at what needs to be done. If the priority is going to be opening schools in the fall, then we need to suppress the infections in the summer, maybe bars have to be closed for the summer, maybe we need to be hitting pause not only in the states that are facing these huge rises in infections, but everywhere.

Maybe we need to all do our part now and not do indoor gatherings, including with our extended families. Go outdoors, it's really nice outside. Enjoy the nice weather. And at the same time, protect one another from the spread of this virus.

BALDWIN: Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much. Thank you. Have a safe weekend.

WEN: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Still ahead, one county in New York is threatening $2,000 fines a day for people who will not cooperate with these contact tracers, after several cases were linked to these large parties. We're going to talk about that. Also, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale will join me to talk about his

decision to close beaches and place new restrictions on restaurants ahead of this Fourth of July holiday weekend.

And we will take you live to Atlantic City, as casinos -- look at this -- start to reopen.


You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: Vice President Mike Pence has just landed in Tampa, Florida, where he will be visiting with the governor and his state health teams.

His visit comes as Florida has just reported its highest daily total of new coronavirus infections, and more than 10,000 cases reported today.

And Floridians are not required to wear masks, but many counties and cities are taking individual safety measures ahead of this Fourth weekend. And that includes the mayor of Fort Lauderdale. Dean Trantalis, he is closing Fort Lauderdale city beaches.

So, Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being on with me today. And let's just start with the beaches, right? Because this is what people are really paying attention to. You've ordered that they're closed over this Fourth of July holiday weekend. Talk to me about how that -- you know, you guys will enforce that and then who will do the enforcing?

MAYOR DEAN TRANTALIS (D), FORT LAUDERDALE, FL: Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me on the show this afternoon because we do need to get that message out. We closed our beaches for the weekend, mainly because we wanted to work in concert with the adjacent cities and counties: Miami-Dade decided to close theirs, and Palm Beach County. So all three South Florida counties have now closed their beaches.


And it was important to take that step because holiday weekends are times when people do like to enjoy the beach, and they're entitled to normally. But we cannot afford to have people gather in clusters. And as Dr. Wen just before this segment spoke, you know, she said, It's great to be out in the open air, but she said people can't be in clusters.

So fortunately in our county, we have a mandatory mask order. It's been in there for over two months, indoors or outdoors. And the whole idea is to keep people separated so that they do not contract this virus.

BALDWIN: So on the enforcement point, how -- who's out there? Will it be police enforcing this? Who will you have? TRANTALIS: Yes, so we will have police officers at our beach. We have what's called a wave wall, beautiful architecture feature to our beach. And there are entry points every so often, where we will have police officers stationed, just like we did during the initial shutdown in March. We closed our beaches March 15th to spring breakers -- again for the same reason, again to avoid the cluster gathering of individuals who would spread the disease and take it to their families throughout the country.

Well, here, once again, we're using that same model, understanding that, you know, the idea is to try to help people from contracting this disease and spreading it to others and their family. Because as you know, you know, Florida just reached a high point in the number of infections. And this is not acceptable. This is totally unacceptable.

And our county is suffering in the same way. We have made every effort to try to restrict contact with people. We never even went into phase two in Broward County. Fort Lauderdale is still at the 50 percent mark with restaurants, bars are not allowed to open and never have been, and we still have important restrictions, following the CDC protocols, to ensure that our people are safe.

Nonetheless, we're seeing an increased number of new cases. The age group is significantly dropped, it's plummeted down, under 35 years of age. Yet people are still getting sick, our capacity in hospitals is becoming less and less available. And we're seeing a return of a disease that everyone dreaded from day one.

BALDWIN: That's been -- that's the worry. And some places like Florida are seeing it a bit worse than others.

But what about the governor? I mean, Mayor Trantalis, you have the Florida governor, very clear, earlier this week, saying that he wouldn't shut down again or scale back the reopening. And I hear what you've been -- you know, what you all have been doing in Broward County, but we're talking statewide. You know, just yesterday, the governor said, quote, "By and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity." Your reaction to that?

TRANTALIS: Well, if that were the case, then we wouldn't have this problem. I bought into that theory too. We heard the medical experts, early on, telling us that hot and humid weather is what will kill this virus. Well, guess what? It's hot and humid, it's been that way for months now and we still have the virus at our doorstep.

You know, this is a very slithery virus. It finds its way everywhere. We have no idea where it's going to strike next. All we can do is keep ourselves safe and protected, keep our distance from one another. And when we can't do that, make sure we wear masks. It's important.

So at the beach, we're going to enforce it through our police department. But I have to tell you, most people are pretty compliant. Most people do not want to see this disease spread.

BALDWIN: Good. TRANTALIS: We have a community that respects, you know, the need to

go into grocery stores with masks on. It's really the way we do things back here in Fort Lauderdale.

BALDWIN: Good, good. Keep it up, Mayor Trantalis. Thank you so much. Stay healthy and happy --

TRANTALIS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- early Fourth to you.

TRANTALIS: Thank you.


BALDWIN: How about this next one? At least one large party led to a coronavirus cluster in this one county in New York. But the people who attended are refusing to talk to the contact tracers, they don't want to give up who they were hanging out with. So now, they're facing thousands of dollars in fines if they do not cooperate. We'll talk to the county executive, next.


BALDWIN: There are so many things wrong with this next story. Let me set this up.

So it started with a June party in Rockland County, New York, where as many as a hundred people attended. That in turn violated a statewide order at the time, capping the number of people allowed to hang out to 10.

The host held the party despite having coronavirus symptoms, and later tested positive. So did eight guests. Here's the thing, there are about another 90 or so people who were exposed. And health officials jumped into action, sending tracers, contact tracers, out to talk to those partygoers. This is what they encountered.


PATRICIA RUPPERT, ROCKLAND COUNTY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I don't have to speak with you, don't call me again, I will not tell you anything or I was not at the party, it doesn't matter what anybody else says. I was not there and I'm not going to speak.


BALDWIN: Officials tried being polite, and now they are being forced to take drastic measures and issue subpoenas. Those who don't comply face a fine of $2,000 a day.

Here to talk to me about this is Rockland County executive Ed Day. And, Ed, how did you come to the point where you say, I'm issuing a subpoena to these people?