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Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise in Majority of States in U.S.; Texas Issues Mandatory Mask Order to Slow Coronavirus Spread; President Trump States Coronavirus Crisis being Handled; Cases Surge to All-Time High as Trump Calls Pandemic "Handled". Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 08:00   ET


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Do believe this is a real increase in case because the percent positivities are going up.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The percent positivities are going up. There is an increase in people getting sick. This as the president heads Mount Rushmore for fireworks followed by a July 4th celebration in Washington, D.C. Social distancing and masks will not be required at either location.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Despite the data, the president is also claiming that the crisis is, in his words, handled. Cases, though, are spreading in nearly three-quarters of the country as we move into this holiday weekend. Thirty-six states reporting a rise in new cases over the past week. Just two states are green, the ones showing a decline over the past week. A mandatory mask order is 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 yet another daily record.

BERMAN: Yes, the mandatory mask order in Texas, a big development. Joining us now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, and Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama.

Dr. Gupta, here's your chance to write a prescription for America for this holiday weekend. What, in your mind, needs to happen to stop these day after day of new cases, record new cases we're seeing?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I think we need to be looking forward, not backward. There's going to be a lot of time to look backward, but we're in the moment right now. So let's keep everything looking forward. We know, the science is becoming increasingly clear in terms of what can work. We have seen that science here in the United States, we've seen it around the world.

So I want to focus on things that we think can actually help at this point. The mask order, which is now happening in Texas, which, look, I don't think anybody thought that was going to happen in Texas. It needs to happen in Florida as well. I wish people didn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into basic public health measures in the middle of a pandemic, but these things will make a difference. I think stopping indoor gatherings where people are close together for long durations of time, unmasked often, those are the places where you get these big spreading events. I'd avoid those.

The thing about it is, I think ultimately this is probably going to be more about people than policies in places that opened too early. Some of the numbers didn't go up because people still abided by basic health principles. And I think the power of the people is going to be important here. So the masks, the no indoor gatherings, possibly in some areas of the country going into stay-at-home mode, I would put even more specifics on it. If the numbers are going up five days in a row, that's probably enough of an indicator to say, hey, we need to break the cycle of transmission.

We can do this. I think that's probably the thing I'd leave people with more than anything else is that it's scary, it's frightening, but we can do this. We just have to act.

HILL: Right, and we can do it because the power literally is with each individual. Andy, when it comes to this mask order in Texas, as Sanjay's point, is we're looking forward here. I know you have been speaking with a number of governors, and they see this as a really important move at this point. Why?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I hope this is the turning point that it can be. I think governors all across the country do bow to some extent to public opinion, and they wrestle somewhere in between what they're being told by the experts it's the right public health thing to do, and what public opinion is, and public opinion tends to reflect what people are seeing, which is I want the economy back, and they hear the loudest voices saying not to wear a mask.

But all over the country Democratic governors and Republican governors are saying to themselves, wow, thank God they did it in Texas, the last place I would have expected, as Sanjay said. That gives me cover to do the things here that would have been harder to do before Governor Abbott did that. So I hope that every governor in every state takes notice and says, in one of the most conservative, freedom loving states that would have been the last place you'd expect can do it, then it's really OK to say let's put public health first. It's a matter of short-term pain for long-term gain. We're not asking people to put their lives aside forever. But for the short-term, focusing on that, we can get back to having a 2021 Fourth of July that's what people want it to be.

BERMAN: Governor Abbott also responding to the facts on the ground, which is lines at emergency rooms reporting by Dr. Joseph Varon at the beginning of this show, the record hospitalizations as well, so it's public opinion and just the situations in the hospitals.

Andy, I'm an avid reader of your Twitter stream. You say we're basically at a three-way fork in the road here in terms of national leadership, and we can choose any one of three paths. Explain what they are.

SLAVITT: Well, the easiest path is a national strategy. And the easiest path is to do what's been done all across the world, which is to say, let's adopt a national strategy for some period of time.


That would have to come out of the White House. It would have to come out of the task force. It would mean that Trump would have to believe that his job was to look out for the American public and put his focus on recovery and reelection, whatever he thinks it is, to the side. I think that's a low probability, but it's the best chance.

I think if that doesn't happen, it leaves with us two scenarios over the course of July. One is we continue to see cases grow as they're been growing, and the estimates are that they're not growing at 50,000, but if you did all the testing they're growing somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000, and that would lead us to having a difficult July with the end of July being a time period when deaths started to go up.

There's a slightly better hope than that, which I think Sanjay referred to, which is that some measure of getting a little bit of religion, some of the scientific advances we've made that reduce the death rates, can start to put us in a position where even without a federal strategy we start to do a little bit better. It's not a great place to be either. I don't think either Sanjay or I would wish that the country still is wrestling with this sort of up and down, up and down. But this is still spreading around the country. And that's no one's fault but the virus. That's not a political leader's fault. The fact is, this is still spreading. We all have to understand that. And if we do, the better we do at that, I think the better chance we have.

HILL: When we look at that spread, right, there's always talk, Sanjay, about a vaccine, which in some ways you want to talk about the positives there, you don't want people to think that this is going to be to the end all, cure all in a matter of three months but we know that there's a timeline here. But there is some encouraging movement when it comes to vaccines this morning. Walk us through some of that.

GUPTA: Yes. And let me just comment on something Andy just said as well. If you look back in April when the death rate was sort of at the highest, the absolute number of people who are dying, the average was, over seven-day average was around 2,200 people. And now it's closer to about 610 according to some of our calculations, the average. So it's come down.

Part of that is because of exactly I think what Andy is talking about. We have gotten better in some degree of taking care of patients, right? We recognize that the ventilator may not have as much utility as we thought. There are some medications out there. Simply moving patients, proning them in positions that are different, things can make a huge difference. So those are going to be important learning tools. We'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks with the number of people who are dying, but we are all learning together -- HILL: Can I stop you for one second, Sanjay, because I think what you

bring up is really important. If you can stay on that point for a minute, there is a lot of pushback as we talk about new cases, hospitalizations, which we know is really important, but you will hear people cases are up, but deaths are down. So clearly, things are getting better. Is it really that simple?

GUPTA: Yes. The data is important because the data doesn't lie. Now, it's going to change as we know that younger people are more affected right now. They are less likely to get sick, less likely to die. That is obviously good. They do get sick and die, though, and we have to be mindful of that. This isn't a binary situation. There's also a concern that people will ultimately then spread this to more vulnerable populations, and we could see an uptick.

And I should remind, again, not wanting to look in the rearview mirror here, but still, more people are dying every day from this, even with these lower death rates than have died in other countries throughout this entire pandemic. So keep that in the back of your mind. But we have learned a lot as we have come along here. So I think it's important and we'll continue to learn. There are some simple strategies, just like there are simply strategies to protect ourselves from getting the virus in the first place. There are simpler strategies than I think we realized as clinical care docs in terms of actually caring for these patients. The idea that you could actually flip somebody from being supine to prone, and it could such have a significant impact on the person's overall likelihood of survival, I don't think anybody would have predicted that at the beginning of this back in February. So we're learning that.

Quick word about the vaccine, and I'm curious, because there's a lot of back and forth. We still don't see a lot of data on these things. And it's frustrating as a journalist. We see press releases from companies, we see preprints, which are not peer reviewed. We only have seen one peer reviewed paper, frankly, on vaccines. Having said that, I still think there is a lot of optimism here. They've done in weeks what typically take years in terms of vaccine development. The only proof will be if we actually have one at the end of the year, next year, as people are saying.

But I thought it was encouraging when Francis Collins, who is the head of NIH, came out yesterday and said, yes, this is going to happen. We might have a couple of different vaccine platforms by the end of the year, beginning of next year. It's got to be manufactured, it's got to be distributed, it's got to be available, all of that. But you've got to be encouraged by that.


BERMAN: And if we get them, people have the take them, which is the other thing. But let's get them first. Sanjay, great to have you. Andy Slavitt, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HILL: President Trump says the coronavirus crisis is being handled. The facts, though, as we've just been talking about, tell a different story. CNN's Jake Tapper is with us to discuss next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crisis is being handled. We have some areas where we're putting it or 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: So President Trump says the pandemic is being handled. Here's what that looks like on Friday, July 3rd. Nearly three-quarters of the country right now in orange or deep red. The president is moving ahead with his planned holiday celebrations, including a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore tonight, and an event on the National Mall tomorrow.

Joining us now, Jake Tapper, CNN's chief Washington correspondent, anchor of "The Lead" and "State of the Union." Nice to see you, my friend. As we look at this, though, Jake --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you.

HILL: -- as you know all too well, a new record set, as John pointed out, a whopping one day after the one prior in terms of new cases, a new daily high being reported in this country. This is not handled as we know, and yet the president continues to put out that message.


TAPPER: Yes. I mean, it's not being handled well or efficiently. I don't know one health expert who thinks things are going well. Dr. Fauci said the other day that we are losing the battle. But ultimately, we can win, but we're losing it right now.

And I think this is obviously one of the reasons why the president's approval ratings are deteriorating, it's because people can see what's going on. Not everybody, obviously. There's still a number of people who are out there not wearing masks, not practicing social distancing and that's regrettable -- although that's not a particularly partisan issue necessarily at this time.

But the idea that this is now ravaging not just New York, California and Washington state and Chicago, not just the blue parts of the country, but all over the country -- red areas, purple areas. Everybody is seeing what's going on. People are now arriving at a place where they see that we're getting more new cases in one day than we had -- it took it two months in the United States to get up to 50,000 cases.

People see this and it's obviously just factual matters that they're seeing before them that is making clear that what President Trump is saying is not true and what he's doing is not effective. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It's a really important point you're

making there. I mean, obviously, the most important issue is what's happening in terms of Americans getting sick. Of much less importance what it's doing to the president politically, but it's notable that it's hurting him politically.

Jake, first, let me say, it's great to see you in the morning. Waking up with Jake Tapper is one of my favorite ways to wake up. So, I'm glad -- I'm so glad you a here this morning.

I want to talk about John Bolton because you have had two really interesting conversations with John Bolton on both of your CNN flagship shows. The most recent had to do with the issue of the intelligence surrounding Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Our friend Jim Sciutto reporting that people in the intelligence community had been reluctant to talk to the president about anything having to do with Russia because he would get angry, and Bolton to you more or less confirmed it outright.

I want to play that clip.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think I have enough scars from bringing up things about Russia that he probably didn't want to hear that I can say I agree with that. I do think that everybody understood the nature of Russia's activities with the possible exception of the president, and so a lot of activity went on as you might expect it would and we just -- we tried to inform the president, tried to get his reaction. Steps were taken I think importantly to deal with Russian threats, but usually as the president grumbled and complained along the way.


BERMAN: It's rare that you get such a clear yes from an official, even a former official to a question of did people did have worries about going to the president, yes, yes, they did.

TAPPER: Yes. And it's just stunning when you take a step back and forget the politics of it all and what you think of John Bolton, what you think of Donald Trump. We have an American president who sends the signal to people, including his own longest serving national security adviser who has impeccable conservative credentials that he doesn't want to be told anything negative about Putin's Russia and the various ways that that country seeks to undermine the United States.

I mean, just step back from it for a second. He doesn't want to know. He attacks people who tell him this, even John Bolton who are conservative icons in the foreign policy world. Why? What is that about?

I mean, it's -- I was happy for the straight answer as you know, John, a lot of times in our business, we don't -- we don't get a lot of straight answers. We have to push and push and push.

But there he was, saying yeah, I have scars because of all of the times I brought up the ways that Russia was trying to hurt us.

HILL: And it's also remarkable, Jake, that we are still -- as we learn more about what did or did not happen in terms of that intelligence that we are not hearing really anything substantive from the president, from the White House, about any real concerns that -- I mean, this is all brushed off, right, well, this is fake news. Nothing to see here.

But the reality is when we learn about potential bounties being paid to take the lives of U.S. service members overseas, the fact that isn't being addressed, well, if this happened, it's absolutely unacceptable, that is still remarkable.

TAPPER: It's not just remarkable, I mean, I agree with everything you just said, Erica, it's hurtful. It's hurtful to the men and women who serve this nation.

Now, look, we all know this is intelligence. And if there is a lot of evidence that it is true, it is being debated. And this is -- you know, we can't state definitely that this is true and those marines that were killed in April 2019, that was related to that. These are questions, questions that the American people, especially service members and their families want answers for.

But that said, as you know, it doesn't take Machiavelli or some genius when it comes to politics to understand that the proper response is, we're going to get to the bottom of it and if it's true, we're going to do something about it.


But instead, President Trump's ire -- again, this is just factual. This is not an interpretation. His ire about the story has been about those raising it, those reporting it, and not at all on the Taliban terrorists who allegedly carried it out and the Russians who are allegedly paying them to do so.

And we should note regardless of this intelligence, it's been known for years that the Russians are undermining the United States' effort in Afghanistan among other countries. I mean, that's just a fact whether, it's arming the Taliban or doing more. That's just stated fact by generals on the ground. No one disputes that. The question is this one bounty point.

Yet, the president's ire is focused on "The New York Times," not on us. Not on Afghanistan.

BERMAN: Let's talk about Afghanistan and about you. This is a good segue, Jake, although I have to say, I know you would tell me this isn't about you, it's about a story that you told so well.


BERMAN: Look, you know in all kidding aside I have admired you as a journalist for years. The most impressive, astounding piece of work you have down out of a vast array of impressive work is your 2012 book "The Outpost", the best selling book, which is wonderful, wonderful book, which is now a movie, as of now. It is a movie out in theaters and available on demand.

I want to play a clip of this movie for everybody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carter, take a seat. Take a seat, Carter, come on.

You ever heard of Captain Bostick or Colonel Fenty?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're two commanders who lost their lives (AUDIO DELETED) Keating and Yllescas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This commander is a 37-year-old captain who has seen a whole lot of death in Iraq before he got here. He's probably seen more firefights than you've seen in the movies.

Despite all that (AUDIO DELETED), the odds are stacked against him, he's here anyway. People much smarter than you or I put him here. That's it.


BERMAN: So this story that I think you in many ways first told America is now on the screen and it's such an important story, Jake.

TAPPER: It's been a long time coming, this film. As you know, the attack on Combat Outpost Keating was October 3rd, 2009. It was about 53 U.S. troops in an outpost, a remote outpost, the bottom of three steep mountains.

One morning at dawn, up to 400 insurgents attacked the camp and it was the deadliest day for the U.S. in Afghanistan that day. Eight men were killed, eight Americans were killed, but ultimately they beat back the insurgents. And it's a remarkable story of these men in 361 Camp and what they did.

The book that I wrote takes a look at the outpost from its beginning to its end. So from it started when -- when it started in 2006 to its life in '07, '08 and then to its end in 2009. And it is -- it is, as you note, the thing I'm proudest of, the journalistic work that I'm most proud of.

Telling the story of these men and women and their sacrifices has been an honor of a lifetime and now, Rod Lurie, a West Point graduate and a fantastic director, he and the casting director have brought it to life and told the story, and I couldn't be prouder to have played a small part in it.

The most important thing for us was when we showed this movie to the Gold Star families, to the wives and the moms and dads and brothers of people who had lost lives in combat outpost Keating, the Keating family, the Yllescas family, and on and on.

We showed them the film last October around the ten-year anniversary of the attack, and we were very nervous because I don't know what it's like to lose somebody in battle, much less see them depicted in a movie, much less see their death depicted in a movie.

And to be honest I was terrified when we showed this movie to them because, obviously, those are the critics I care about. I mean, we've gotten a lot of good reviews for the film from "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post" and "Variety" and elsewhere.

But their reviews were the ones I cared about and to a person they all said that they thought that the film honored their loved ones and they thought it was an important movie. That made us so proud.

I hope what people take away from it, they see it and they -- it's a very immersive. You feel you're in battle. It's an incredibly inspiring and also troubling story of valor and heroism.

But I also hope that people just understand these men and women are still doing this for us in Afghanistan. Our leaders still have them there. And we need to be aware of that.


BERMAN: Look, the book was wonderful. I can't wait to see the movie. Not for nothing, it's getting terrific reviews.

So congratulations on all of it, Jake. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. Really do appreciate it.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Happy 4th to you, guys.

BERMAN: Be sure to join Jake on "THE LEAD" today. That's 3:00 p.m. Eastern today and the new film, "The Outpost" is out on demand and also in theaters as of now.

Vice President Mike Pence forced to delay a trip after eight members of his Secret Service detail tested positive for coronavirus. More from Arizona where hospital beds are quickly filling up, that's next.


HILL: A law enforcement source tells CNN eight Secret Service agents preparing for Vice President Pence's trip to Arizona this week tested positive for coronavirus and that forced the vice president to delay Tuesday's visit into Wednesday so Secret Service could swap in healthy agents.

On the trip, the vice president acknowledged the dramatic rise of coronavirus cases in Arizona.

Joining now is Will Humble. He's executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Good to talk to you this morning. On that trip, the vice president also said help is on the way, saying that he's deploying hundreds of medical personnel. He's going to assist the state.

Do you have anymore -- have you seen any more specifics about what that help is going to look like for Arizona?