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Cases Surge to New High as Trump Declares Pandemic 'Handled'; Thousands to Attend Trump Mt. Rushmore Event. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 06:00   ET



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're setting records practically every day of new cases. Clearly, it's not the right direction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This country seeing its highest single day of new coronavirus cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida hit a record high: 10,000 new positive cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now people understand, this thing doesn't just go away.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: The CDC projects nearly 148,000 fatalities by the 25th of this month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this epidemic doesn't get under control, we're talking about a million deaths over the next year. This is deadly serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This weekend, I hope we don't have a reprise of what happened on Memorial Day.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, July 3, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off, Erica Hill with me.

Happy almost Fourth of July.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Happy almost Fourth of July, and happy Friday.

BERMAN: More importantly.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: So developing this morning, a record number of new coronavirus cases in the United States, beating the previous record that lasted a whopping one day.

New case records in six states: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. Record hospitalizations in six states, including Texas and California.

A reality so stark and so obvious that governors, both Democratic and Republican, are taking actions they never have before to fight it.

The president's overnight reaction: to lie about it. The president says the rise in cases is because of testing. That is a lie. But don't take my word for it. Take it from the admiral who was in charge of testing for the Trump administration.


ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON CORONAVIRUS: There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases, because the percent positivities are going up.


BERMAN: And there are new questions about not just the president's words but his actions, a trail of COVID in the administration's wake.

Cases from people and agents assigned to the president's Tulsa rally, and Secret Service agents assigned to the vice president's trip to Arizona, now testing positive.

This as the president heads to Mount Rushmore for fireworks, followed by a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall. Social distancing and masks not required at either location.

HILL: And despite the data, the president is also claiming this has handled, cases are spreading in nearly three-quarters of the country as we head into the holiday weekend.

Thirty-six states -- take a look at that map -- now reporting a rise in infections. Just two states have seen a decline over the past week.

And the biggest states are grabbing the biggest headlines this morning. A mandatory mask order now in effect for nearly every county in Texas. Singing is out at church services in California. And Florida reporting more than 10,000 new cases, setting another daily record.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in Clearwater, Florida, where some beaches will be open for the Fourth of July weekend. Boris, good morning.


Yes, for the second straight day in a row, the United States setting a record number of new coronavirus cases nationwide: 52,000. At least six states setting their own individual records, including right here in the Sunshine State.

Despite that, President Trump's rhetoric continues to be positive. It is not matching the reality and urgency on the ground.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Another record-setting day for new coronavirus cases in the United States, as the CDC made this startling prediction ahead of the holiday weekend, projecting 19,000 more people could die from the disease by July 25.

But at the White House, a different message from President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is being handled. We have some areas where we're putting out the flames or the fires, and that's working out well.

Now we're opening it up, and it's opening up far faster than anybody thought even possible, and more successfully.

SANCHEZ: Now, 36 states are seeing increases in new weekly infections this morning. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that is extremely worrisome.

FAUCI: It's quite disturbing. And we're setting records, practically every day, of new cases in the numbers that are reported. That clearly is not the right direction.

SANCHEZ: For weeks, governors in Arizona, Florida, and Texas resisted issuing mandatory mask orders, but on Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issuing an executive order, requiring them in every county with 20 or more active cases. That covers about 95 percent of the state's population.

Texas adding nearly 8,000 new cases Thursday, and healthcare providers are asking residents to stay home this weekend, as hospitals become overwhelmed with patients.

DR. MARC BLOOM, CEO & PRESIDENT, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: In Texas, we were worried on fuel being dumped on that fire over the weekend. We actually have a chance to have it be more like a garden hose starting to hit the fire and actually slowing things down. This order really helps that happen tremendously.

SANCHEZ: Intensive care units in Arizona are at nearly 90 percent capacity. Governor Ducey asking the federal government to send 500 additional medical personnel to help.

DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, ER DOCTOR, VALLEYWISE HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER: Our positivity rate is ridiculously high. Twenty-five percent of the people in this state who get tested test positive. That is way higher than the 5 percent threshold. And that's just the cases that are happening right now.


SANCHEZ: Ducey temporarily pausing Arizona's reopening plan.

Florida also doing the same, with no signs of the spread slowing down statewide. The Sunshine State recording more than 10,000 new positive cases.

The Sunshine State recording more than 10,000 new positive cases, a record high. Governor Ron DeSantis defending his leadership when pressed on whether he takes responsibility for the increases.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I don't think anyone predicted a Sun Belt resurgence in mid-June, but we had the infrastructure in place, and we're in a much better place to be able to -- to deal with this.

SANCHEZ: At the same briefing in Tampa, Dr. Deborah Birx sending this message to Floridians under 40.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: But if you've participated in a large gathering in the last four weeks, we ask all of you to come forward and be tested because of the level of asymptomatic spread.


SANCHEZ: Now, Governor DeSantis is blaming a rise in positivity rates among young people for the surge in cases here in Florida. The median age of a new coronavirus patient in Tampa Bay is actually only 34 years old.

And you remember, just a few weeks ago, John, that Governor DeSantis was touting the fact that there had been no deaths among minors here in the Sunshine State. We've learned that that's changed.

A 16-year-old in Lee County, a 17-year-old in Pasco County, both dying because of the disease last week. And last night, we got the tragic news that an 11-year-old child in Miami-Dade County perished because of complications due to coronavirus. That's the youngest death here so far in the Sunshine State, John.

BERMAN: Look, it's rare, but it does happen. And our hearts go out to their families. Boris Sanchez in Clearwater. Keep us posted there. Thank you very much.

More than 7,500 people are expected to attend President Trump's holiday event tonight at Mount Rushmore. They will not be required to wear face masks, and social distancing will not be enforced. There will be fireworks, the first at Mount Rushmore in a decade.

CNN's Joe Johns live right there in front of -- the fifth face, Joe, this morning, on Mount Rushmore. Nice to see you there.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Spectacular view of Mount Rushmore with the lights on. And at least this event with the president tonight is going to be outside. We're told that's a plus.

Still, 7,500 people are expected here, according to the National Park Service. And there's not going to be social distancing, we're told, though face coverings will be handed out to people who request them.

South Dakota is one of those states with increasing numbers. We're told about 7,000 confirmed cases, 97 deaths. But the governor of the state says she's full speed ahead on this event.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): Those who want come and join us, we'll be giving out free face masks if they choose to wear one, but we won't be social distancing. We're asking them to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country.


JOHNS: The state sees this event as a boon for economic development, as well as promotion of the state around the world.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: Joe, there are the issues, obviously, with coronavirus and social distancing. But there are other issues surrounding the notion of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, correct?

JOHNS: Absolutely. And these are issues that have been going on for generations here.

This area is seen as sacred to Native Americans, including the Lakota Sioux. They say they're going to protest the president's arrival, as well as the monument itself. They'd like to see this area given back to them.

There are other issues. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. That, of course, is something in all the history books.

And there's the issue of fireworks. This is the first time we've seen fireworks here in ten years. They stopped them, because there were concerns about forest fires. There's a lot of trees right at the bottom of the hill here. And the National Park Service tells us they're not concerned. They've done an environmental assessment, and they're sure that they can deal with any problems if they occur -- John.

BERMAN: Joe Johns for us in the early dawn hours in South Dakota. Joe, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Stay with us.

HILL: A law enforcement source tells CNN eight Secret Service eight agents preparing for the vice president's trip to Arizona this week tested positive for coronavirus just before Mr. Pence was scheduled to travel to the state.

The positive tests forced Vice President Pence to delay his visit by a day so the Secret Service could swap in healthy agents.

Meantime, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is hospitalized in Atlanta with coronavirus. Cain, a vocal supporter of the president, attended Trump's rally in Tulsa last month.

A statement posted on Mr. Cain's Twitter account says there is no way of knowing for sure how or where he contracted the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country is heading in the wrong direction

with coronavirus. Case numbers hitting all-time records. Doctors in two of the hardest-hit states will join us next with a firsthand look.



BERMAN: Overnight, the United States set another new daily record for the number of new coronavirus cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci states what should be obvious. He says we are not going in the right direction.

Joining me now -- or us now -- is Dr. Nicholas Namias, chief of trauma and surgical critical care at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. And Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.

What I really want to know from both of you, you're in the middle of it. You're in the middle of the fray right now. Two different hot spots in the country, as these case numbers rise.

Dr. Varon, the number of hospitalizations in Texas at a new record high overnight. Just give us a sense of what you're seeing.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON: Well, I mean, what we're seeing is, you know, I have people in my emergency department waiting to be admitted. You know, I have no beds. We opened a new wing of the hospital, an addition of 32 beds, because we literally filled up our COVID unit. It's getting bad. It's getting really bad.

HILL: We saw, though, the record hospitalizations in Texas.

In Florida, we're seeing this record number of cases, more than 10,000 reported on Thursday, Dr. Namias. What are you seeing there on the ground?

DR. NICHOLAS NAMIAS, CHIEF OF TRAUMA AND SURGICAL CRITICAL CARE, JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, MIAMI: Well, on the ground, the numbers are going up in the hospital. The ICU beds are filling up, and it's requiring a lot of work and a lot of effort to move patients around, to make a spot for the new patients, whether they're COVID or not COVID.

BERMAN: To what extent, Dr. Namias, do you feel as if things are under control? The president goes in front of the country and says things are being handled. What does it feel like there?

NAMIAS: It's clearly not being controlled. I mean, his conclusion is not supported by the data. If he were writing a paper about this, it would be rejected.

It's -- it won't be controlled until everybody's wearing a mask; until we see the percentage of new positive cases going down; until we see more tests and positive cases going down, and less hospitalization. So it's absolutely not controlled. HILL: Speaking of everybody wearing a mask, Governor Abbott, of

course, in Texas yesterday announcing this new mandate for -- for most Texas counties. Is that going to make a difference for you, Dr. Varon?

VARON: Well, you know, unfortunately, I think that, you know, the cow is out of the barn. I think that we are a little too late. I mean, this is a measure that should have been instituted months ago.

We are now being what New York was a couple of months ago. And now we're telling people, go ahead and wear your mask and things like that. And yet, you know, we're allowing people to go and participate in mass gatherings.

I mean, people are going to go to the beach this Fourth of July. There are going to be other things. I mean, it's kind of incongruent with what's right to do.

BERMAN: And Governor Abbott, who is instituting the orders now, is saying in any county with more than 20 people with COVID, people do need to wear masks. And that may have a positive effect going forward.

Just so people know, he literally prevented localities, cities and towns, from enforcing mask orders starting in April. So this -- this is a reversal. I think it's important that he is doing it, but people need to know that, for the last two months, he stood in the way of towns requiring mask wearing or issuing penalties.

Dr. Namias, we've heard from Governor DeSantis in Florida that the median age for people hospitalized for coronavirus is low. It's a lot lower than it was a couple of months ago. And that could matter. That could matter in terms of mortality rates.

I just want to know, though, they may be younger, but how sick are the people in the hospitals? No matter what the age?

NAMIAS: So, you know, whenever you have a huge number of cases, even if a tiny proportion are very sick or, God forbid, go on to die, a tiny proportion of a huge number is still a big number, so it's still too many.

BERMAN: So to what extent does the age matter? Explain to me what you're seeing there.

NAMIAS: The age -- the age matters, because the young people typically do better. But young people do get sick. There have been a number of young people in this hospital and other hospitals intubated, mechanically ventilated, and dying. And you know, we saw the other segments on your own show about, you know, tragic pediatric deaths.

So it's protective, but when you get a lot of patients involved, even a small number is too many.

HILL: Dr. Varon, as you're watching all of this unfold, right, running out of beds, as you -- as you pointed out earlier, saying the masks are a little -- too little, too late. Do you think overall, though, the message is getting through, specifically in Houston, which we know is so hard hit, and Harris County about just how serious this is? And how seriously people need to take it?

VARON: No, I don't think so. And actually, I think that that's part of the problem.

You see, the public is getting mixed messages. You have entities, let's say the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) saying something, citizens saying something. In Texas, the governors say something, the mayors say something different. So people are getting complete variety, different messages. I'm not sure that they know who to trust.

BERMAN: And Dr. Namias, one of the issues I know you are having is that you are getting patients who have issues. I don't know whether it's heart issues, some other kind of medical issue, and coronavirus. What complications does that provide to you?

NAMIAS: Well, that's exactly right. And we know that patients who have coronavirus, who have surgery, have worse outcomes from the surgery. And just logistically, it's one thing if a patient comes through the door with symptoms of COVID and gets admitted for COVID. But if they come in for a car crash or a gunshot or some other disease, they have to go to those subspecialty areas and taken care of by those subspecialty doctors.


So you -- you now have to balance the needs of treating the corona, which is algorithmic, and we have some better ideas what to do now than we used to know, but we have to balance that with the needs of that particular disease and the doctors.

Not everyone is like on "Grey's Anatomy." There's no Dr. McDreamy who goes from taking care of the brain to taking care of the heart to taking care of the intestines. You know, we all sub-specialize in everything. We're human.

BERMAN: Though you are very attractive, just to be clear.

NAMIAS: Thank you.

HILL: Yes, John was calling you McDreamy before you even came on the air.


HILL: Just so you know.

Dr. Varon, as we look at this, too, you know, Dr. Namias is talking about people have specialties. I know here in New York, at the height, there were people being voluntold or redirected who may have some experience in the past in the ICU, so they were being moved, maybe, from cardiology to the ICU. People that I spoke with directly.

When it comes to the strain on your staff, are you having to move people around? And a second part of that, how is everybody coping with this on a personal level? Because this is a huge emotional toll for the staff at the hospital. VARON: It is a huge emotional toll. It is difficult to find people

that want to work with them. Nobody wants to work with COVID patients. People are tired. I mean, we have been doing this, at least at my hospital, for 108 days. And yes, we're counting the days, because we are so tired.

And sometimes you have to train people to have a completely different background to do the things that they have to do. The COVID patient is so unique and has so many needs that you have to train people, and you have to train them fast, because you don't have time, you know, for a four-month training process.

BERMAN: Dr. Namias, when things were really bad in New York, which was a couple months ago -- Erica and I lived through it here -- we were under stay-at-home orders. No one was going out. You had a sense that, as bad as things were, that it couldn't stay that bad, because people weren't coming in contact. That things would get better.

Where you are in Florida right now, seeing the cases that you are seeing, do you have a sense that things are being done that will stop the flow, that will stop this increase? Will the Fourth of July, what's going to happen over the next three days, will behavior keep it from getting worse?

NAMIAS: So Florida, Florida is very different than New York. I'm in Miami and Miami Beach. We're -- we feel like the sixth borough of New York City. So we're -- we are trying to contain people at home, and the beaches will be closed for the weekend.

But the rest of the state outside of south Florida won't be. So I don't get the sense that things are being done for containment. I get the sense that we're in denial or reacting to mixed messages.

There's no reason to believe now there's anything happening that will slow down the spread of Florida, until we put some serious limitations. I don't say close down the economy, but get a mask on, everybody, so we can control the spread.

BERMAN: Dr. Namias, Dr. Varon, listen, we appreciate the work you're doing. I know it's exhausting physically and emotionally, and draining. And I appreciate you being here to explain what's happening.

NAMIAS: Thank you.

BERMAN: So despite what you just heard from two doctors on the front lines, the president says the coronavirus is being handled. What is going on with this messaging? Why is he doing it? How is it landing in America? That's next.




TRUMP: The crisis is -- is being handled. We have some areas where we're putting out the flames or the fires, and that's working out well.

Now we're opening it up, and it's opening up far faster than anybody thought even possible, and more successfully.


HILL: President Trump is moving ahead with July Fourth celebrations, despite a drastic rise in coronavirus cases.

For more now, we're joined by CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.

Abby, good morning. Look, not surprising that the president is moving forward with both the fireworks at Mount Rushmore and the event, of course, in D.C. over the weekend, because we know this has been important to the president for some time. It's just, though, another example of reality and then the reality that the president seems to see, which is not reality.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica. It's denial. The president is in denial about what's going on.

In fact, when you really look at what's been going on over the last couple of days and weeks in this country, it's -- these are not embers that are popping up. These -- this is a full-blown forest fire. You have most of the country going in the wrong direction when it comes to coronavirus cases.

And the president is more focused on creating this environment, this image that everything is all right; everything is great. And he's being supported by, in this case, a Republican governor who's allowing this Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore to go forward without social distancing, notably telling people there will not be social distancing.

It's exactly the opposite of the message that a lot of Republicans want to see from the president, a lot of public health officials want to see from the president. That he has to demonstrate what the right actions are for people, as they go into this critical weekend that could be yet another opportunity for Americans, if they're not careful, to spread the virus to their family and to their friends, causing more and more problems down the road.

BERMAN: He's lying about it, too. He's just flat-out lying about it, saying that what we're seeing around the country is because of a rise in testing. The guy who ran his testing says that's not true.

Greg Abbott, the actions in Texas, you don't require face masks after two months of defying it, because you think it's just about more testing. Same thing in Florida.

So the president is not just, you know -- he's out of touch with the reality of what's happening here.