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Interview With Doris Kearns Goodwin; Coronavirus Cases Still Spiking. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: So, tune in. It all starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Happy, healthy, safe Fourth of Julys to all of you.

And, of course, our coverage continues now with "THE LEAD" and Jake Tapper.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to this special edition of THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with the health lead, the coronavirus pandemic, the United States continuing to set record highs for the number of new daily infections, the new record more than 52,000 in one day, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying that it's obvious the United States is not going in the right direction.

The escalation of this crisis coming as Americans prepared to celebrate July 4, sparking fears that this pandemic could possibly get even worse. At this hour, more than 129,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S., and the CDC is now projecting almost 20,000 more deaths in the next three weeks.

Let's get right to CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

And, Elizabeth, let's start with a bit of encouraging news. The FDA has just approved a new test that detects both the coronavirus and the flu. Explain why that is significant.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, once flu season hits, which is usually somewhere between sort of November, December, January, somewhere in there, you can bet there will be doctors all around the country having people coming to them with a headache, a fever, a cough, and the doctors aren't going to know if it's flu or if it's coronavirus.

It's very difficult to tell. This one test will get them an answer, rather than having to do two tests or, even worse, doing one test and then waiting later to do another test.

It saves time. It saves money. It saves people resources. Ultimately, it could save lives to be able to test for both of them at the same time in one test.

TAPPER: Something else I want to ask you about.

There have been many studies showing that the drug hydroxychloroquine is not effective for treating the coronavirus. But there is a new study that found that it did, in fact, help some patients survive, in their view.

The study appears to be something of an outlier. How credible are these results?

COHEN: I have spoken with one of the authors of this study, and he was very excited about it and really feels strongly that this study shows that, if you get -- if you get that drug early to patients, not later, when they're on ventilators, but as early as possible, within a day or two of hospitalization, you can save lives.

And he says that's why his hospital in Detroit did so well and others didn't. But there's a few questions coming up. Why did they get those numbers? Other hospitals also got it to people early, and they didn't find this same result.

Some concerns have come up about this study, Jake. First of all, there were more than 260 patients who the hospital took out of their study, because they were still in the hospital at the time that their study ended. They were still in the hospital.

And some doctors I have talked to said, wait a minute, that's not what you do. You wait and you see, do those patients live or die? You don't just say, oh, they're still in the hospital, we're going to put them out, because, if you take them out of your study, well, maybe they were still in the hospital because they were very sick.

Also a concern that the folks who did not get hydroxychloroquine were older and sicker, and that that was not well controlled for. So, if you don't give the medicine to people who are older and sicker, that's going to make the medicine look better.

I will note that this was a retrospective study. It looked backwards at patients. That's good. But it's not as good as a clinical trial, where you give patients the drug or the placebo, and look at them moving forward.

When you do that -- there were two studies that did that, one in the U.S. one in the U.K. -- they both stopped early because they said the drug didn't work. The one in the U.K. was done on 11,000 patients. That's a very, very large study -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

As we head into the holiday weekend, mixed messages today from the U.S. surgeon general, who is telling Americans to wear masks in public, but also saying that every person has to make up his or her own mind on whether to attend July 4 gatherings.

Many state and local officials and governments are now reimplementing restrictions to try to contain the surge in new COVID-19 cases, such as in states such as California.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Santa Monica, California.

Dan, beaches there, they're closed for the holiday?


We are in Santa Monica. And it's a beautiful day here, temperatures in the low to mid 70s today. And, normally, this would be packed. But, as you can see, it's relatively empty. And you can see the sign here, temporary closure, the beaches closed in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

It's up to the individual jurisdictions in terms of how they want to enforce that, but as long as things do don't get too clogged up, I doubt you will see any kind of enforcement.


This all comes, Jake, as we continue to see a surging amount of cases in California. In Los Angeles County, one out of 140 people are said to be infectious.Mayor Eric Garcetti says next week that could be one in 70.

In the meantime, you also have some cities now taking an aggressive stance towards enforcing the mask policy. West Hollywood says that, if you get caught, could cost you $300. In Santa Monica, a triple fine could be $500.

I also want you to take a look at this PSA from the state of California, very powerful. And one thing we should also tell you, Jake, is that if you plan on attending a church service this weekend in the state of California, the Department of Public Health says no singing and no chanting aloud, because singing, of course, is an easy way to expel particles and spread the virus -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Dan Simon in Santa Monica.

Joining me now to talk about all this is the chief medical officer of the L.A. County and USC Medical Center, Dr. Brad Spellberg. He has a new book, "Broken, Bankrupt, and Dying," which is available online and in bookstores right now.

Dr. Spellberg, thanks for joining us.

So, you're treating COVID patients in your hospital. Give us an idea of what you're seeing every day and just how serious conditions are.

DR. BRAD SPELLBERG, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, L.A. COUNTY AND USC MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Jake, Los Angeles weathered the initial portion of the pandemic very effectively, because our public health officials took action early, right after San Francisco did.

But instead of getting hit with a big massive surge that suddenly overwhelmed us, like happened in New York and Italy, for example, what we're seeing is a steady, continuous rise. It's almost like boiling a frog, each week, more and more and more.

And, at this point, our ICUs throughout the city and throughout the county are really becoming saturated. And, at this pace, if it doesn't stop, we are going to be in trouble.

TAPPER: So, how does what you're seeing right now compare with what you saw at the beginning of the pandemic? California was hit pretty hard pretty early.

SPELLBERG: We were, but we never got out of control, because things locked down early in Los Angeles County specifically. San Francisco went first and then L.A. County.

We were able to keep a matching of our resources with patients -- the patient volumes. We were seeing sort of 10, maybe 15 new patients per day that were positive coming to our emergency room. That number now is typically 20 to 25 per day.

And at that rate, if that rate continues to increase, we will run out of ICU beds in particular.

TAPPER: Why is California continuing to rise? The other states that are continuing to rise, people can point to the fact that their governors were late shutting things down and early opening things up, Texas, Florida, Georgia.

But Governor Newsom in California was pretty aggressive. San Francisco shut down really early. Why do you continue to see this increase in cases, when there have been aggressive steps taken?

SPELLBERG: Yes, I mean, I -- one of the things I think we all have to admit is, we don't know what's going on with this virus.

It feels like four years, Jake, but it's four months into this pandemic. And we know so little about this virus. So, the bottom line is anybody that tells you that they know what's going on and they know what's going to happen, they should open a storefront on Santa Monica and tell you that they're going to read your palm.

Bottom line is this. The initial lockdown was effective. Cases fell fairly dramatically for the first two to three weeks. And then they began to come back up. Now, was that because people sort of lost sustainability for the lockdown and then things eased? Was that because the virus changed?

I don't know the exact reason. Clearly, the cases have been rising as the economy has been reopening. And I do think that it's important for all of us to remember that this is a state, California, not unlike the rest of the country, that went from a $15 billion surplus to a $55 billion budget deficit in three months. We can kill people by giving them the virus, and we can kill people by

bankrupting families. So I don't envy leadership that is struggling with the task of balancing these two competing forces.

TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to the news that the first U.S. clinical trial for the Moderna vaccine has been delayed until late July or early August.

How fast do you think the U.S. will be able to develop a vaccine, if at all?


SPELLBERG: Well, Dr. Fauci is closer to this than anyone, and I certainly defer to him.

What I have been hearing is early next year is the earliest at which we are likely to see vaccines start to be deployed. We have to hope that the many candidates that have gone into the pipeline, at least one or two will come out the back end.

And we don't need them to be 100 percent effective. The vaccines don't need to be 100 percent effective. You give me something that's 50 percent effective, and we will make a huge difference.

TAPPER: Dr. Brad Spellberg, whose new book, "Broken, Bankrupt and Dying" is available right now, thank you so much.

And an 11-year-old boy is tragically the youngest victim of coronavirus in Florida, as health experts plead with younger people to just stay home this holiday weekend.

Despite an explosion in cases, Texas Republicans are looking to pack in an arena for their state convention coming up.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The national lead: Florida is holding on to an unfortunate ranking.

With 9,488 new coronavirus cases reported just today, Florida leads the nation, outpacing California and Texas, in having the most cases reported in a single day.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Palm Beach County, Florida, for us.

Randi, health officials are really putting the pressure on younger people to help slow the spread.


We're seeing now about 169,000 cases statewide, more than 3,600 deaths. And it's younger people who seemed to be getting the most sick right now. The median age in the state of Florida for those testing positive is 37 years old. It used to be over 65.

And 25-to-34-year-olds, Jake, make up about 20 percent of the state's entire number of cases. So, it's definitely hitting the younger people. The latest numbers show that 7,000 minors in the state of Florida have been infected with COVID.

And also the governor, of course, is not now closing the state. There's no statewide mandate to close it or to roll back any of the openings. He's certainly leaving the beaches open. He's leaving that up to the counties.

If you look here over my shoulder, this beach here in Palm Beach County would normally on the holiday weekend be jam-packed. Certainly not going to be, because it's closed, as well as the beaches in Miami- Dade and also in Broward.

But some beaches, Jake, are going to be left open. In Volusia County, they're going to monitor crowds with drones. And Jacksonville Beach is going to be left open, because the mayor there says that it was the bars, not the beaches, that caused the spike in cases -- Jake.

TAPPER: Randi, there's an 11-year-old boy in Florida who is now the youngest reported death in the state of Florida, such a tragedy. What do you know about his case? What can you tell us?

KAYE: We know that he is. He was severely compromised. He was 11 years old. He was from the Miami-Dade County.

"The Tampa Bay Times" is reporting that he was going to dialysis three days a week, and he may have picked this up on a bus to a school for children with special needs. We have not confirmed that independently, but we do know that it was not travel-related. But still, Jake, it's unclear where he picked this up. But he is the third minor to die from COVID.

There was a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy in this state as well.

TAPPER: All right, Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

In Texas, the mayor of Corpus Christi believes many Texans took their low case count for granted early on in the pandemic.


JOE MCCOMB, MAYOR OF CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS: We were so low for so long, I think we just got rather relaxed in trying to pay attention, and it caught us.


TAPPER: While Corpus Christi and other Texas towns have put restrictions in place to limit the size of crowds, the state's Republican Party is planning to do just the opposite. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is live for us in Houston.

And, Lucy, the state's Republican Party planning to host thousands at its convention in Houston in two weeks? Do they have any sort of plan to try to not have any spread of the coronavirus at this event?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, this is an interesting one, an indoor gathering for thousands while the state grapples with a public health crisis.

Republican officials say they're taking steps to make sure folks are safe. They will have thermal scanners at entryways. They will have socially distanced seating, deep cleaning the meeting rooms in between gatherings, and also have masks on hand sanitizer available.

But a lot of folks are concerned about this. In fact, I had a chance to catch up with Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She says this is a danger, and not just for those attending. Take a listen.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): It's not about denying people democracy and freedom and the right to express their views. It is all the other support staff, police, fire, EMS, hotel personnel, hotel workers, those in the convention center that have to provide the sanitation and cleanup.

It's about stopping community spread.


KAFANOV: Texas Democrats had a virtual convention, but, for now, it looks like the Republicans will be having an in-person one, Jake.

TAPPER: Lucy, masks are now mandatory in much of Texas. How will the state enforce this new order?

KAFANOV: Well, the governor's order provides for fines of up to $250 after you get a verbal or a written warning, no jail time.

And this is largely going to be on local authorities to enforce this. But, again, a lot of concern. We're going into that holiday weekend. It's not clear that people are taking this as seriously as they could be -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Lucy Kafanov in Houston, Texas, for us, thank you so much.

Coming up: Honest Abe, who seems a safe distance from the other presidents, may be the only one who gets it right today at a Trump July 4 event at Mount Rushmore during a terrible time in this pandemic.

There's Honest Abe. He's about six feet away from Teddy Roosevelt. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today: President Trump is off to Mount Rushmore to celebrate the Fourth of July and address 7,500 people in the middle of a global pandemic.

The governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, says, no masks will be required at the event, nor will there be any social distancing. It's a direct contradiction of the advice of President Trump's own health officials.

CNN's Joe Johns is live for us at Mount Rushmore.

Joe, what, if anything, is the White House doing to address coronavirus concerns there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there are going to be face coverings for people who asked for them. But people are not going to be required to wear face coverings.

Largely, I mean, probably the most important thing you can say is, there's not going to be any social distancing at this event. One example of that is that there are folding chairs on this level where I'm standing, as well as another lower level, which is closer to the stage where the president will be sitting.

Those folding chairs are linked together by plastic ties, making them almost immovable for the most part. We asked the White House why these chairs were linked, especially given the social distancing questions.

They say it's a requirement for safety imposed by the fire marshal, somebody we saw here just yesterday. So, no social distancing, and it is obviously a big criticism coming from a variety of sources, Jake, especially because of the fact that the CDC recommends social distancing in large gatherings like this one.

TAPPER: And the president continues to just flaunt all the rules and regulations that his own health advisers keep saying the rest of us need to do.

The president's also going to give an address. Do we have any idea of what he might say?

JOHNS: Well, we have gotten a bit of an idea. That's from a colleague, Jeremy Diamond, who works at the White House.

Among the lines he's been given -- and we're told to expect these to be paraphrases, as opposed to exact quotes -- he's going to talk about efforts to tear down our country. He's going to be blaming a left-wing mob for trying to divide our country and apparently is going to make some reference to the movement of the country to get rid of the statues that show heritage, that show history of the United States that some people, some protesters think are signals of oppression.

So, hope to get more quotes from the White House when they're available, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns at Mount Rushmore, thank you so much.

Joining us now to talk about presidential leadership and Mount Rushmore and more, Doris Kearns Goodwin, famed presidential historian and author.

Thanks so much for joining us, Doris.

Her latest book, we should note, is called "Leadership in Turbulent Times."

So, Doris, putting aside the coronavirus concerns, explain some of the other reasons as to why critics are saying Mount Rushmore is not a good place for this event tonight.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Since we're in the president of a huge Teddy Roosevelt, he argued that the leader's most important responsibility is to set an example in their actions and behavior and words.

So, beyond the problem of the lack of social distancing, and the lack of forcing masks, you have got an area here that Native Americans feel is sacred ground and have been opposing the idea of that land being taken.

And at a time when we're reckoning with our own history, that seems to be an odd place to come at this moment. Beyond that, you have got the worry about fires. And I gather it's been a pretty dry area lately. And other times, they haven't even had fireworks there for the last decade because of embers setting off wildfires.

And there's a lot of concern on the part of many of those fire officials from the past about whether this is a good thing to do. So, you have got physical, mental, moral safety issues at hand. And that's the example that is being set by choosing this site.

TAPPER: So, Joe Johns just reported the president from wants to talk about monuments and statues and the move to remove some of them.

You do not see the Mount Rushmore figures, Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, in the same light as the Confederate generals that started a lot of this discussion. Explain -- explain why not, because some people will point to the fact that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves.

GOODWIN: Yes, there's no question that Washington and Jefferson and all of our leaders have disappointed us, that they were stuck maybe in the context of their times, that they did things that we are wishing they hadn't done.

But that's different from the Confederate generals and the Confederate leaders. They should be judged, those other presidents, in terms of the totality of what they did.