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Cases Surge All-Time High As Trump Claims Pandemic Handled; Trump Hosts July 4th Celebrations As Cases Soar. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Just 24 hours, to shatter the record for the most reported cases of coronavirus in a single day.


There are new case records in six states, you can see them there, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. There are also record hospitalizations in six states, including Texas and California. Democratic and Republican governors are taking actions they never have before to fight it.

The president's reaction overnight, to lie. The president says the rise in cases is just because of testing. That is a lie. And he's even being contradicted by his own health experts. And this happens as the president heads to Mt. Rushmore for fireworks followed by a 4th of July celebration in Washington, D.C. Social distancing and masks will not be required at either location.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: Well, despite the data, the president is also claiming that the crisis is, in his words, handled. Of course, cases are spreading in nearly three quarters of the country as we head into this holiday weekend.

36 states, take a look at that map, all of the orange and red, those states reporting a rise in infections. Just two states, Rhode Island and Vermont, have seen new cases decline over the past week. The biggest states really grabbing the biggest headlines this morning, singing is out at church services in California, an all-time record of 10,000 new cases in Florida in a single day and a mandatory mask order now in effect for nearly every county in Texas.

Let's go live to Houston this morning, where we find CNN'S Lucy Kafanov. Lucy, good morning.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, good morning. This coronavirus crisis is far from being handled. And this move by Governor Abbott is a major reversal. He has previously barred local governments from penalizing people who didn't wearing masks. Now, wearing one of these in the State of Texas is the law. That is, if you live in a county with 20 or more cases. That applies to roughly 95 percent of all Texans. Take a listen to what the governor had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Now, I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business.

I also know that not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking people's lives and ultimately closing more businesses.


KAFANOV: He's also giving local officials the authority to restrict gatherings of ten people. He's asking that folks maintain social distancing, six feet or more if they do get together. All of this of course coming as Texas continues to see nearly record-breaking numbers in terms of new cases. Yesterday, we saw nearly 8,000 new cases. That's a tiny bit less than Wednesday, where the numbers surpassed 8,000.

We're also seeing more than 7,300 people in hospitals. And this is putting a major strange on medical facilities here in Houston. Some hospitals so overwhelmed that they've had to start transferring patients out to other facilities. Doctors worry that as we enter the 4th of July weekend, despite this mask order, despite the new rules restricting public gatherings, that people might still get together and we could see another surge.

And I will tell you, here in Houston, at least, they're not taking any chances. The mayor putting a voluntary order and asking people in addition to all those other steps, for example, not going out, wearing their masks, trying not to gather, he's asking businesses to slash capacity even more, from 50 percent to 25 percent. He is also asking churches to resume virtual prayers. This is all in order to stem the tide. Texas buckling under the surge of coronavirus cases, Erica.

BERMAN: Yes. Dr. Joseph Varon, in Houston just told us moments ago that people are lining up outside the emergency room. That's the reality they're seeing. Lucy Kafanov, thank you very much for being there, really in the middle of it.

I want to bring in CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And, Sanjay, the order from Greg Abbott, instituting this mask order, is acknowledging a reality, the reality that Lucy is reporting on, the reality that Dr. Varon told us about last hour, the reality that record hospitalizations in the state. He has decided not to do it up until this point, right? I mean, for two months, he prevented this mask order from happening.

But now, it's going into place and it's an acknowledgement of reality, a reality that the president still seems to deny by saying that this increase is all about more testing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, you know, you'd like to think that they wouldn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into what is going to be an obvious decision. Because, you know, I think the same thing is going to happen in Florida as well, shortly, where they're going to have to implement these types of basic public health measures, A, because they work, and, B, because, you know, they see what's happening in their state. If they did it earlier, it would have made a difference.

And, by the way, we run into this sort of situation where we start to focus on one thing. And right now, it's masks, understandably so, but I think what happens in a lot of these states is then other things sort of get forgotten or fall by the wayside here.


You know, we know how this virus spreads. I mean, that part has stayed pretty consistent since, you know, we've started reporting on this over the last several months. It actually can't jump that far. It can be fairly easily contained by a mask. As scary as this virus is to a lot of people, it's actually not that hardy a virus. It doesn't like to -- it can't live without us hosts. So we shouldn't be so accommodating to it and we got to spread out, right? We know that?

My point is this, as we go into the July 4th weekend, masks are going to be an important tool. But if people are still gathering and if they're gathering indoors in particular because it's so hot outside or whatever it might be, that's a problem.

You know, if we put up that trend graphic again, I want to show you something here. We can look at what sort of happened in this country. We knew that when we went into sort of stay-at-home mode, at least half the country sort of went into stay-at-home mode, the numbers started to come down. These are the new confirmed cases over the last several days.

But if you look at overall for the country, what we know is that June 1st it was the lowest number of recorded cases in the country, June 1st. And that was about 17,000 at that point, okay? We had the highest, remember, mid-30,000. 17,000 became the basement.

Really, since June 1st, we've been increasing steadily throughout the entire month of June. That's what happened in June. And you could have predicted that. As states started to reopen, there it is, in the beginning of May, you could have predicted that, you know, three to four weeks later, you would start to see the increases. And it behaved exactly as you would have predicted.

I mean, there are a lot of unknowns about this, and I would cede this, that nobody knew everything about this virus in the beginning, but there are a lot of things we now know about it and that graph is one of them, so we can predict now exactly where this is going to go.

HILL: And we know that those new cases are actually new cases, not just about testing. We heard that from Admiral Geroir yesterday.

When we look at what we're learning though too, because as you pointed out, Sanjay, there are certain things we know and there are things that are popping up because we're learning as we go. There is this new information about how the virus has mutated. There's a mutation that actually spreads quicker. It can be more infectious, although you're not necessarily getting sicker. I mean, is that something to be concerned about when we look at vaccine and how effective a vaccine could be if we're looking at a mutation now?

GUPTA: No. Let me give you a little bit of good news there. I don't think it's a concern for the vaccine. But this is really interesting. We actually did a little bit of reporting on this when there was some hint of this back a couple of months ago. What they noticed is that if you looked at the West Coast of the United States and the East Coast of the United States, you seem to have two different viruses. Not wildly different, but a slight mutation.

And then if you also looked at the United States, the U.K. Europe, you did get this sense that the virus was spreading more rapidly. And now it seems to bear out in terms of when you look at the genetic sequence, you realize there is a mutation on this virus that is spreading in this part of the world more quickly, now it's spreading around the world, that allows more of these spike, the spike proteins allows the cells -- the virus to enter more cells and to replicate more quickly.

So as a result of that, you have more virus in your nose and your mouth. Now, that's relevant, because if you have more virus in your nose and your mouth, even if you're not sick, you're more likely to spread it. So that's essentially what makes it more contagious.

What it doesn't seem to mean so far, obviously, where, again, as you say, we're all learning together, but it doesn't seem to mean that it makes it anymore lethal. There's no evidence of that. The fatality rates haven't changed in response to this mutation. And, two is, you know, when you're making a vaccine, you are making a vaccine for the virus that you have right in front of you now.

With the flu virus, for example, it drips every year. That's why you have to have a new flu shot every year. This virus seems to be relatively stable and there's no indication that the vaccine that is being created wouldn't work for the small mutation that they're seeing so far.

BERMAN: In terms of learning as we go along, Sanjay, a new study over the last 24 hours about hydroxychloroquine in a different study, different results than we've seen before because we haven't seen any real positive impact from hydroxychloroquine until this study out of Detroit published in the Journal of Infectious Disease, which does show a difference in mortality to people who were given it, albeit, during a very specific period in the development of the illness.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know, the country is getting to see a little bit of the sausage making when it comes to actually getting drugs approved or not approved. So, you know, we could show some of the results of this study, and it was pretty promising if you look at specifically mortality. And what they found was that the people who were taking it, who were receiving the hydroxychloroquine, mortality rates still high, 13 percent. But those without, double, 26 percent.

Now, this, as you point out, is in pretty stark difference to just about every study that we've seen around the world that have been these larger studies that have been randomized, and what that means is you don't know who's getting the medication, you don't know who's not. And you follow them forward and you see what happens.


And most of the studies so far have shown not only did it not seem to show benefit but it could actually show harm.

When you talk to the researchers in Detroit, Henry Ford Health System, what they'll say is, look, we decided to give this medication at an earlier stage of the illness. We believe that giving the medication before someone started to go into the shock of having too much inflammation in the body would seem to make a difference. And so far, these results seem to bear out. It was just under 3,000 patients in the study.

We talked to the FDA about this. So the FDA has now to take all of these various studies and try and figure out what to do with this, what does it mean. And what they basically said was some version of we don't really have a comment on this study at this point. And they pointed us to their revoking of the emergency use authorization.

So in this country, they had given out an emergency use authorization, telling doctors, you want to use this, use this. As they started to see data coming in from around the world, they pulled that. They said it's too concerning. NIH did the same thing. The American Medical Association released a statement on this. So there's all of these associations that said, too concerning, don't take this medication. Now there's this new study. So we're going to see if the FDA changes their mind or they say, hey look, very specific situations where you can use this medication, where we think there's benefit.

BERMAN: It's interesting and it bears watching. Sanjay, thanks for explaining it. I appreciate it.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: So President Trump's trip to Mt. Rushmore tonight, controversial for reasons beyond just the risk of spreading coronavirus. We'll explain, next.



BERMAN: As the president heads to South Dakota today, there will be no masks required, no rules for social distancing in place at the 4th of July celebration tonight at Mt. Rushmore. Thousands of people are expected to attend.

CNN's Joe Johns in South Dakota with a preview.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is a made for T.V. election year photo op for the president to kick off the 4th of July weekend.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's going to be a fireworks display, like few people have seen.

JOHNS: Standing in the shadow of four presidents at Mt. Rushmore, with military flyovers and the first fireworks display at the monument in a decade, all amid a global pandemic. Critics say the event is risking coronavirus spread among the expected 7,500 spectators. As cases continue to spike across the country, there are nearly 7,000 confirmed cases in South Dakota and 97 deaths. There will be no social distancing, but masks will be provided.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): 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: It's not clear how many of those 7,500 visitors will come from other places experiencing rising cases.

MAUREEN MCGEE-BALLINGER, CHIEF OF INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION, MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL: We are concerned about the coronavirus. We want our visitors to be safe and healthy. We're very confident that we have been quite careful in analyzing the situation on how to have a safe and responsible event.

JOHNS: The president once suggested to South Dakota's governor that he'd like to be the fifth face on the mountain. And here in Trump country, people actually buy into it.

LOIS DEYOUNG, VISITING FROM BRENTWOOD, NEW HAMPSHIRE: One day, Donald J. Trump will be on that monument, I firmly believe.

JOHNS: But at a time of racial unease, when protesters are tearing down statues of slaveholders and calling for the names of confederate generals to be removed from army bases, the Rushmore event is a reminder that Trump is fighting to preserve these relics of heritage and history that some see as symbols of oppression. And to indigenous people, Mt. Rushmore with four white presidents, two of whom were slave owners, is one of those symbols.

NICK TILSEN, FOUNDER AND CEO, NDN COLLECTIVE: Indigenous people and my ancestors fought and died and gave their lives to protect this sacred land. And to blow up a mountain and put the faces of four white men who were colonizers, who committed genocide against indigenous people, the fact that we don't, as America, think of that as an absolute outrage is ridiculous.

JOHNS: The dispute over Mt. Rushmore has gone on for decades, carved out of South Dakota's black hills on land sacred to Native Americans who have never gotten over the fact that the government took over this location and turned it into a tourist attraction.

Native American activists say the government should give back the land to the original owners. They're planning protests and local tribal councils have denounced the Trump visit.

TILSEN: All of a sudden, what indigenous people have been saying for generations, there's an appetite to have a conversation about symbols of white supremacy, structural racism. JOHNS: Historian Tom Griffith says getting rid of the monument is not the answer.

TOM GRIFFITH, HISTORIAN, MT. RUSHMORE SOCIETY: We can easily erase all of the symbols of our past but we can't ignore the history. It will remain, no matter what sculptures are torn down around the country, and that continues today.

JOHNS: To some, Mt. Rushmore, the creation, is almost as controversial today as its creator, Goodson Borgland. The sculpture was an ardent supporter of the Ku Klux Klan, although he never took the oath.

GRIFFITH: I think more than ideology, but more practically, he was affiliated with the Klan to raise money.


JOHNS: And we are also expecting a fireworks display tonight. That too is controversial. Because of the potential for forest fires, the park service they do have it under control. They've done a study and don't expect any problem. Erica, back to you.

HILL: All right. Joe Johns, live for us this morning. Joe, thank you.

I want to bring in now, Dr. Nancy Babbitt, Family Medicine for Quick Side Medical in South Dakota, and Bakari Sellers, CNN Political Commentator and Author of My Vanishing Country.


You know, there are -- as Joe just laid out for us, there are so many threads to what we are about to see unfold in South Dakota. And I do want to start -- I want to start in the public health issue if we could, Doctor. Just give me a sense, where do things stand? I mean, your -- where you are at Creekside is not too far from that monument. How are you feeling about the way coronavirus is not only spreading, but the way it's being handled right now?

DR. NANCY BABBITT, FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, CREEKSIDE MEDICAL: Well, leading up to this event, we have been doing really well in our county. I think, generally, people that live in this town of Rapid City to about 30 miles from Mt. Rushmore have been generally spaced (ph) and practicing good habits. We peaked at about 40 COVID patients in our local hospitals. That, as of yesterday, was down to 25.

The problem is, as a physician and primary care physician in this community, it feels so sad and disappointing that we know that will change. And then healthcare workers and other people in our community will be put at risk because we know if people aren't wearing masks, they'll be at risk for getting sick.

HILL: And that is, when you think about how easy it is to wear a mask, you're right, and how many people could be put at this especially, especially those on the frontlines. So there's the health part of it. And we know, again, Bakari, as Joe just laid out for so well, there is so much else that goes along with this. And especially on a July 4th that feels very different, and not necessarily because of the virus, but because of the -- of what is happening in this country, because of a reckoning with the history of this country. And you look at this monument on sacred land, for multiple tribes actually for the indigenous people of this country, the history of the sculptor, the history of some of the men up there.

And it's not just that the president. Bakari, is ignoring the reality of the virus, he's also ignoring the history there. And, again, it's an opportunity, I guess, for him to stoke the cultural flames.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and thank you to Joe Johns, because I just learned a little bit about this sculptor. I had no idea who actually sculpted at Mt. Rushmore, so thank you for educating me this morning. And I hope that the president was listening, although I truly doubt it.

One of the things that (INAUDIBLE) the president is the nuance of American history in our past. For him, this is just something that will be another day he can pit us versus them. And that's what this speech is going to be about. That's what this moment is about for him. And for some reason, he wants to draw a line where people who want to have this reckoning, for people who want to make this a more perfect union are somehow less patriotic than he and other white folks in this country, And that's simply not the case.

And so while we want this country (INAUDIBLE) together, while we are becoming untethered, this is eerily reminiscent to 1968. this president of the United States will instead pour gas on those flames and make this again us versus them, which we do not need right now.

HILL: Dr. Babbitt, what is -- just in general, I mean, just give us a sense of what people are saying about this event and have you noticed the conversations changing at all locally from when it was first announced to where we are now, because a lot has changed in the country?

BABBITT: Well, I live in a red state and there are many, many Trump supporters and people are excited about having the president come to South Dakota. But at the same time, because I'm a primary care physician, I've been here for more than two decades, I've seen many, many, especially Republican patients, talking about the disappointment they feel in our governor and the president not requiring people to wear masks and not promoting social distancing. I have many elderly patients that have been lifelong Republicans saying, look, I raised my kids by leading by example. Why can't our president do that?

And so where there's excitement, there's also concern, because we have a relatively older population. And we know it's such a simple thing. The virus will only spread to another person through respiratory droplets, for the most part.

And somehow it's become more complex through the politics of this. But as a physician, it's not complex. You know, if everyone wears a mask, we're not allowing the virus to continue to spread from person to person.

HILL: The science is pretty clear. As a non--physician, even I can see that. Do you see -- I mean, are a lot of people wearing masks just out on the streets where you are in Rapid City?


BABBITT: You know, in stores, I would say it's about half and half. I do think far more older patients and people in our community tend to wear masks if I'm at the grocery store. I have an elderly mother here and I do grocery shopping for her. And I find that, you know, where she lives is being relatively safe. But there's plenty of people that follow this politicization of mask-wearing, which I truly do not understand. I think it's -- sometimes I wish President Trump would just talk to one of my elderly patients and have them explain to him why it's important, because I truly don't think he understands or grasp the concept.

HILL: Well, maybe -- who knows. Maybe one of them will get in his ear today.

Bakari, as we head into this 4th of July, and as I sort of alluded to it before, maybe it's just me, but I think it feels different. And I think part of it is the virus, but part of it, again, is also recognizing that a holiday that celebrates freedom in this country has never really fully celebrated freedom because not everybody has been free, as we know. Do you think that there is a broader recognition and acceptance of that in 2020, Bakari?

SELLERS: I think we're beginning to get to the acknowledgement of that. And that is, I mean, you can't tell anyone out there that they're not a patriot, that they're not as American as someone else on this holiday when we are pushing for everyone to be free. You know, it's kind of unique in this country that people are finally having an understanding about what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma 99 years ago, that people are finally understanding what Juneteenth is and the (INAUDIBLE) massacre. And they're learning names like Medgar Evers and Jimmy Lee Jackson for the first time.

It seems as if you're right. We're having a moment here in 2020 where we can reconcile all of those things and the pain and trauma. And together, we can move this country forward. No one believes that it's just going to be black folk or white folk or brown folk or Asian folk to push this country alone to become a more perfect union. It's going to take us all together.

So hopefully on this July 4th, we take a moment and reflect on all the progress we've made, recognize we still have a ways to go and try to find some perseverance and hope to get there together. And my only issue is that we have a leader who wants to divide us.

And I hope he sets that aside on July 4th. I know he will not. I have no faith that he will. But we need to have people come together so we can move forward together and reconcile many of these differences that we have in a country that's brought many people.

HILL: Bakari Sellers, Dr. Nancy Babbitt, really appreciate you both being with us this morning. Thank you.

BABBITT: Thank you.

HILL: The July 4th holiday weekend typically a big one for beachgoers. Many this year though will be closed on both coasts around the country, frankly. And there are some safety concerns for the ones that will be staying open. We're going to speak with the mayors of two busy beach towns, next.