Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Cases Rise in Majority of States in U.S.; Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) Interviewed about Most of California Counties being Put Back on Near Lockdown Due to Coronavirus Spread; President Trump States He Has No Problem with Wearing Mask; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is Interviewed About the Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 2, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rise in new cases. All those states in red, that's more than half the country. And nearly half the country is now rolling back plans to reopen businesses.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, doctors are warning about a perfect storm this holiday weekend as people gather and celebrate the Fourth at beaches and parties. Many cities have already canceled fireworks, they don't want congregating. The White House, though, is making plans for a celebration on the National Mall, one that could attract thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. President Trump will actually kick off his holiday weekend tomorrow in South Dakota with a fireworks show there at Mount Rushmore where masks and social distancing, as you know, will not be enforced.

Though, for the first time, Mr. Trump is suggesting he has no problem with masks, but still insists it's a personal choice. The president is also repeating his claim that the virus will disappear on its own. Well, there's no sign of it disappearing in Texas, with the most new cases on Wednesday, as you see there, more than 9,300. Just below that, California adding another 7,200 plus, and that state of course now being ordered back to a near shutdown in multiple counties.

Kyung Lah is live in Los Angeles for us this morning where those restrictions are now being enforced, and this is not just L.A. This is a huge part of the state, Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nineteen counties, that's approximately 75 percent of this state. Now, what this virus is showing the state of California is that it simply cannot be underestimated. California announcing that major step backwards, rolling back those re-openings across the state, the state acknowledging it is in the middle of a surge.


LAH: To understand why California is losing the battle against COVID- 19, meet Manhattan Beach. At restaurants, partitions are up. Tables sit empty for social distancing. Talk to the residents -- JONATHAN SMITH, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: I don't want to swear too loudly,

but I want to go to the beach. It sucks. This is not the same situation we're dealing with where people from all over the world are partying on a beach in Miami.

ROCK JACOBS, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: I don't agree with being told that we can't do anything, especially on a holiday that this country is supposed to be celebrating independence.

LAH: Call it COVID exhaustion, and it's showing up in the numbers. After early signs of success controlling the outbreak, California is now bending the wrong way with little sign of slowing.

JEFF BYRON, MANAGER, THE KETTLE RESTAURANT: I suspect there will be plenty of people walking around not social distancing and not wearing their masks. We see it quite a bit.

LAH: Los Angeles County alone has more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases. That's higher than all of these states in the U.S. with the exception of the top seven. Governor Gavin Newsom ordered indoor restaurants, movie theaters, and museums closed in 19 counties and warned all residents to not gather in large groups on the Fourth of July.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: You have 40 million people in the state of California, and if 40 million turn their back on these guidelines and common sense, that is not something we can enforce.

DR. ROBERT WACHTER, UCSF CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE: I'm pretty gloomy and a little bit angry and sad.

LAH: Despite how Dr. Robert Wachter feels watching California slide backwards, he does credit Governor Newsom for shutting the state down early. Most of the governors in states seeing a resurgence in cases are Republicans. California is an exception, and that's the public health lesson here, says Wachter.

WACHTER: I think the problem here is less about governance and more about human nature. And if enough of them say, all right, the rules are beginning to loosen up, and I am just going to get together with friends, and I'm going to stay a couple of feet apart, then it really doesn't matter what the rules are. The virus says I see an opportunity, I'm going to pounce.


LAH: And the big challenge, of course, is the calendar, what happens in two days, July 4th in California, specifically in southern California here in Los Angeles. It's an event, John, that a lot of people get together, have parties, and parties, these small events at homes, are what had been a major cause of the spread in the state of California. John?

BERMAN: Don't do it. It's just not worth it right now. Kyung Lah in California, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate your reporting. Joining me now, California Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz who is

also a medical doctor also. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. So in these counties for 70 percent of Californians, no restaurants, no bars, no zoos, no movie theaters, that full list, is it enough given the growth of cases in your state? Is it enough? Why not new stay-at-home orders?

REP. RAUL RUIZ, (D-CA): John, in some counties it is enough, and some counties it is not enough. 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. Just inhibiting people from dining inside, because those businesses that you mentioned, the restrictions are only for inside participation.


So restaurants are still open. There's dining outside. There's outdoor zoos that people can attend and still go to. But we really have to be more aggressive with the local counties, really enforcing the wearing the mask order and enforcing with the businesses and other locations that they should limit the amount of people that are inside the buildings at one time, and possibly even go back to previous phases of opening and make sure that more people are staying at home.

BERMAN: You're talking about hospitals being put at stress levels. Our terrific reporter, Miguel Marquez, went inside a hospital in San Antonio, in Texas, a different state, but you know your way around an emergency room. So I want you to listen to some sound from Dr. Jeffrey Dellavolpe from San Antonio.


DR. JEFFREY DELLAVOLPE, PULMONARY DISEASE, SAN ANTONIO METHODIST HOSPITAL: Well, yesterday was probably one of the worst days that I've ever had.


DELLAVOLPE: 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 had three beds. And just in 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.


BERMAN: I have to imagine these are the decisions, these are the stresses being felt in Riverside County and counties around California. What do you hear there?

RUIZ: Yes, I practiced in the emergency department in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, and it's not joke. You're busy, you don't have a minute to spare, and you're going from bed to bed. And it is a crisis. And this is what's frustrating right now is that people aren't taking it as a surge. Everybody thinks that with false hope that this is gone, well, because businesses have opened. In the Riverside County, 99 percent of the beds are occupied. They have some ventilators, but it's not about the ventilators, it's about the workforce. I'm hearing that doctors and nurses are tired, they're fatigued. They know that the worst is yet to come and they're already at wit's end.

So we need to really do our part to help our hospitals who are in surge capacity and having to limit service -- other services in order to accommodate the most sick.

BERMAN: So I see you, congressman, holding a mask in your hand. Overnight we did hear a slightly different tone from the president on masks. So listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear -- if I were in a group of people and I was close, people have seen me wearing one.

I sort of liked the way I looked. I thought it was OK. It was a dark, black mask and I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.


BERMAN: So, to be clear, we haven't seen the president wear a mask. But what do you hear there? Is that the leadership you were hoping for?

RUIZ: Not, that's not the leadership that America deserves right now. You can contrast that to Vice President Joe Biden who is wearing a mask and being very certain. And what I would like to tell the president is to man up. This has been six months after the beginning of this surge, six months later, and he is saying that he wouldn't mind because he looks like the Lone Ranger? So man up, Mr. President. Wear your mask. That's the best thing you can do. You can save millions and millions of lives if you simply wear a mask.

BERMAN: It's on all of us. Truthfully, it is on all of us. We all have to make the right decisions right now. Congressman Raul Ruiz, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

RUIZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Erica?

HILL: Let's bring in now Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. And Sanjay, I wonder if we could just reset for a moment, and let's look at where we are on July 2nd. We have the map. We go to this map every single day, but there's good reason, because it is so illustrative -- 37 states today are trending in the wrong direction. They're showing an increase in cases over the past week. Those are all the states in deep red and orange. And we also have at least five states setting a record number of new cases on Wednesday. We have been talking a lot about Arizona, California, Texas. But now North Carolina and Tennessee also showing a record high number for single day new cases. South Carolina and Arizona, Sanjay, recording record high deaths on Wednesday. None of those metrics are where we want to be.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they're clearly not. And it's tough to follow this sort of day to day, even with these seven-day averages because, look, if you have had a gigantic surge of cases over the last few days, and then you've plateaued, you may in fact look like you're doing better, but it's not really reflective.

I think what this map is really showing is that the virus is clearly spreading throughout the United States. You may have some relief day to day in various places, but you have a contagious virus at any given time in the country, despite all we knew, probably 50 percent of the country really went into some sort of really formal stay-at-home mode, lockdown mode.


And we are seeing the repercussions of that now. I don't think a single state really met the gating criteria for reopening, and we are seeing the ramifications of that now. So it's a problem, it's one that needs to be addressed. It cannot just go the way that it is. And just saying, hey, we're just going to put a pause on things and maybe not reopen certain sectors, that can't be the way that it is either because that is the status quo, and it's clearly not working.

BERMAN: Sanjay, a little while ago we had Mayor Latham from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. They're opening the beaches on the Fourth of July weekend in Jacksonville Beach. His reasoning is because he wants to be able to spread out the people more from the boardwalk. He says outdoor transmission doesn't happen as frequently. What do you think of that decision?

GUPTA: Yes, I think there is some logic to the idea that outdoor spaces are going to be significantly safer than indoor spaces. So if people are able to congregate outdoors -- not congregate, but rather be outdoors and not congregate, not actually spend a duration of time next to one another, I think that there's potentially some advantage to that. I have less of a problem with that than the idea that people will then instead congregate indoors.

Right now, you prefer neither to happen, right, because we're in the middle of something that is certainly growing. And what you hear from California, and you say, well, what happened to California, why did their numbers start to surge? First of all, they did. That's just the bottom line. It's a contagious virus, it's out there. You get a few introductions of virus into a community and that can create a forest fire.

But the reality is that there was probably lots of private events at home, parties, things like that, that are leading to these surges as well. So I think that outdoor better than indoor. But it's distance away from people and it's duration with people. So people are moving and not actually congregating, not being close to each other. I think that that's going to be a lot better off. HILL: Sanjay, you mentioned parties. We have some reporting out of

both Alabama and New York about parties, specifically in Alabama and Tuscaloosa. We're learning from officials there that there are COVID parties where people are selling tickets, right? There are parties that people who are known to be positive, other people are going. If they end up with the virus, they get a payout. To say that's disturbing is an understatement. You look at that and then these other parties in New York state where they're having trouble contact tracing because people aren't responding. They're going to put civil fines of as much as $2,000 a day, and yet there's so many areas where there's this cavalier attitude of it's not going to happen to me, I'll just make light of it. It's not the chickenpox. It's not a chickenpox party from the 80s.

GUPTA: Yes. I'm not sure what else to really say at this point, right? I think that if there's one unifying theory as to what has gone so wrong here in the United States, and I think we can safely say that things have gone wrong here in the United States compared to just about every other country in the world. We represent 25 percent, as you can see, of the world's cases and the world's deaths from this COVID virus. It did not need to be this way.

And now you hear about people saying, I am absolutely going to throw caution to the wind. I don't care if I get it. I don't care -- they're saying as well, whether they realize it or not, they don't care if they spread it. It makes it really hard to figure out how do we move forward.

Having said that, I think there's a lot of places around the country where people are doing the right thing. People even ahead of policies are doing the right thing. Even where I live, even as the state started to reopen, there were people who still said, hey, look, I'm going to stay home. I get it. There's a contagious virus. And if I go out, I am going to wear a mask despite the fact that there's not a mask ordinance in place. So you're going to see different things in different places.

But young people need to understand, first of all, they're not totally immune from this. Yes, they're far less likely to die, that is true. But you can get really sick, as you just saw in Miguel's piece in Texas, several patients needing ECMO. Those are for patients who are not responding to breathing machines. And those are young patients I heard from Miguel's piece.

I think also even, we tend to think of things, either you live or you die. But if you get sick, it could have long term ramifications. We see data out of China now showing people have long term ramifications, decreased lung function months, if not longer into the future. So we don't know yet. There's a lot about this virus we don't know. Now is not the time to take chances.

I know that the audience that is listening right now probably fundamentally gets that, but I'm not sure that everybody that needs to be hearing this message is hearing it. So maybe we can show Miguel's piece to other people. I don't know. But people need to understand this is not the path forward, I think. BERMAN: I'm going to post Miguel's piece everywhere I can humanly

can, and everyone should so we can see it, because it's filled with people in their 20s and 30s whose lungs are failing.


It's filled with doctors saying we're seeing more young people come in sicker than we have ever seen them, Sanjay.

So, again, we need to be saying this. People need to be seeing it and it needs to sink in.

Sanjay, thanks so much for helping. I appreciate it.


BERMAN: Well, what can the federal government do? Look, we all need to do better in terms of fighting coronavirus, but it has to happen from the top as well. So what does the federal government need to do now going forward?

A top Senate Democrat joins me next.


BERMAN: So, new this morning, the United States just reached an alarming new record, more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus recorded in one day.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois joins me now. He's a Democratic whip. He's on the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Durbin, thanks so much for being with us.

Just so people can see Illinois, your homes state, Illinois had it bad. The number of cases has come down largely as has the number of deaths there.

But as you look around the rest of the country, 50,000 new cases in one day. State after state setting new records and highs in hospitalizations. Two states record numbers in deaths.

What are your thoughts this morning?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I can tell you, Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago, in Illinois, stepped up and said some unpopular things. They weren't the kind of things that politicians like to say but they were the right things to move us in the right direction.

We're not counting our blessings yet. We still got a long way to go, but we made some important, early decisions.


John, do you know what it would mean to America if the president of the United States today had a press conference and said, I'm reading these numbers, America is under attack from this virus, let's face the reality? And the president said, I'm putting this mask on on the 4th of July and calling for everybody across America, join me, take this seriously.

That statement by the president would inspire people to finally put those masks on and to protect others. It could turn the corner.

The president is the leader of this country. He should step up at this point and say, I'm putting all my statements in the past aside, we got a serious problem, let's fight it together.

BERMAN: The president did have a changed message of sort on masks overnight. He said he's OK with wearing them. He says he would wear them if you're around other people. He likes the fact that it makes him look like the Lone Ranger he says.

That's not what you're asking?

DURBIN: Not at all. You know, the president should put that mask on and walk into the first meeting he has and let people know that this is going to be part of his normal routine, as it should be for everyone who cares.

We all should care, not just about our own health but the health of others around us. The president of the United States unlike any other person can lead us now in the comeback fight against this virus. I hope he has the courage and determination to do it.

BERMAN: The president continues to say that he hopes or thinks that it will just disappear. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point, that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope.

INTERVIEWER: You still believe so? Disappear?

TRUMP: Well, I do, I do. Yes, sure, at some point. And I think we're going to have a vaccine very seen, too.


BERMAN: All right. Hope is not policy. Hoping it will disappear is not a policy. Let's stipulate that.

What I want to know from you, though, is beyond masks, beyond wearing a mask in public, what can the federal government do now?

Forget the rearview mirror. I understand the criticism, but we are where we are today. So what can the federal government do starting today to turn this around?

DURBIN: Well, we go to the states that are being hardest hit and find out what they need. Is it protective equipment? Is it additional ICU units and hospital beds? We've got to move in on the emergency basis.

Some of these states did not take it seriously months ago and now they're paying a heavy price for it. But let's put that behind us. The object now is to stop the death rate and the infection rate in the United States of America.

Why are we leading the world when it comes to this? This is a developed, civilized nation that should be leading the world in terms of putting this behind us.

Smaller countries like New Zealand are really setting the standard. They stepped up and made the hard decisions and their leadership said unpopular decisions and now, it's behind them or at least in the rearview mirror.

We need to do the same thing, first, to the states that are facing the toughest infection rates, and then across the board, to say to everybody, don't let your guard down, Illinois. The numbers are good today but may not be tomorrow.

Don't violate the social distancing norms. Let's stick together and get this thing behind us.

BERMAN: People are suffering economically. They're suffering medically. But they're suffering economically as well.

I know the Democrats in the Senate have a proposal to deal with the unemployment -- the expanded unemployment benefits which are set to expire. You want to continue payments of $600 to people on unemployment given that they meet certain stipulations depending on where their states are.

Republicans have a different, Rob Portman of Ohio, which is basically $450 to people who would be in different employment situations.

Where can you meet in the middle?

DURBIN: Well, I think we can meet. But we should have started this conversation a long time ago. The House of Representative passed the Heroes Act six weeks ago, six weeks ago, and we should have been preparing for this day that is inevitable.

We're leaving now today for two weeks. At the end of this month of July, the unemployment benefit package from the federal government expires, July 31st. Who believes of the 47 million unemployed across America that this is behind us as of the end of the month? It is not.

The first thing we need to do is to agree to negotiate immediately with the White House, they've got to be in on the conversation, Democrats, Republicans, House and Senate.

Senator McConnell has said he doesn't feel a sense of urgency on this issue. I hope he goes home to Kentucky as I'll go home to Illinois and listens to unemployed families. It may change his point of view.

BERMAN: Senator, one issue you've been working on for decades has to do with Dreamers. And you went to the Senate floor and again proposed a path to citizenship for Dreamers. It was blocked by Senator Ted Cruz.

Why did you do it now and what expectation did you really have that it would pass in the Republican Senate?

DURBIN: The president keeps daring us to pass legislation. Guess what? A year ago, the House of Representatives passed legislation and sent it to the Senate. It's been sitting on Senator McConnell's desk.

We can take it off that desk and I believe it can pass on the floor.

Yes, people across America, do you want to stand up for DACA and Dreamers -- overwhelming percentages, Republicans, independents and Democrats want to do it.


I told the story of Cynthia Ramirez (ph), brought to the United States at the age of 4 from Mexico. Now, she's a nurse at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. This Cynthia Ramirez is treating COVID-19 patients and worried that she's bringing the infection.

She's a DACA recipient. Does the president want to deport her in the midst of this pandemic? I don't think so. I think if we can bring this matter to the floor, there'd be a sensible, bipartisan response.

BERMAN: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, we appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you for joining us.

DURBIN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: On the subject of unemployment and suffering, we're just minutes away from getting a brand-new snapshot on the unemployment situation in America. Last month's hiring resurgence caught a lot of people by surprise. So what will happen this time? The latest numbers just ahead.


BERMAN: We're just seconds away from the latest reading on the pandemic economy with the June jobs report. More than 47 million Americans have lost their jobs in this pandemic.

Low income immigrant families are among the hardest hit. Many have nowhere to turn for help.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us with more -- Vanessa.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, while many Americans are getting back to work like at this coffee shop just behind me, that is simply not the reality for tens of millions of Americans.