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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Health Experts Urge Caution As Nation Celebrates July 4th Weekend As COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise; Trump Jr.'s Girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tests Positive For Coronavirus; July 4th Travel Surges Despite Skyrocketing Infection Rate; COVID-19 Surge In Texas Strains Hospitals Across The State; Trump Delivers Independence Day Speech From Mount Rushmore. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired July 4, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With new cases rising in at least 36 states, hospitals in some of the hardest hit areas are struggling to keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's set up a perfect storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people gather on 4th of July the same way they did in Memorial Day, it could lead once again to an increase in the number of people who lose their lives.
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: There's nothing more American than making a sacrifice by staying home to keep a family member safe, a neighbor safe or a stranger safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an administration that can't seem to come up with a plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The virus has breached the president's inner circle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a top fundraiser for the reelection campaign, tests positive in South Dakota.
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CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Want to wish you such a good morning. We're so grateful to see you. I'm Christi Paul on this Saturday, July 4th and with us today ...
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: I am Martin Savidge in today for Victor Blackwell. We hope that your holiday weekend's off to a great start.
PAUL: Absolutely. So glad to have you with us here, Marty.
SAVIDGE: Thank you.
PAUL: So obviously the nation's celebrating independence in a very different way than we've done before. This is during a pandemic and health experts say they don't want us to let our guards down. The concern is these big gatherings. We're talking about barbecues, beaches, fireworks. They could increase the infection rate even more. Safety measures are being enforced at beaches from the West Coast to the East, some places closing them entirely such as in Southern California.
SAVIDGE: The U.S. enters the holiday weekend after reporting more than 50,000 new cases for a third straight day. Thirty-seven states are seeing an increasing trend of new cases. Only one, Vermont, is seeing a decline.
PAUL: And late last night we've learned the coronavirus has breached the president's inner circle.
SAVIDGE: CNN's Sarah Westwood joins us now from the White House this morning and good morning to you, Sarah. What more are you learning about this?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Martin and Christi. Happy 4th of July and yes, last night we learned that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for coronavirus in South Dakota where the president was set to give that speech last night. She did not have contact with the president and a spokesperson for the Trump Victory Finance Committee, of which she is the national chairwoman, said that she was immediately isolated after that.
But keep in mind that she was at the rally in Tulsa, so she was backstage at that event and later that same week, which was just a couple of weeks ago in late June, she was also at the president's event in Phoenix. So she has been very close to the president and so far, Donald Trump Jr. has thankfully tested negative. They also said that Kimberly Guilfoyle would be tested again given that she is asymptomatic.
But it's just another sign that the coronavirus is still very much with us and still penetrating the president's inner circle. There have been Secret Service agents who, for example, this week were preparing for a vice president's trip who tested positive, also advanced team members working on that rally in Tulsa, but even so the president made very little mention of the coronavirus last night, although he did thank first responders during that speech at Mount Rushmore. Take a listen.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us also send our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders and the doctors, nurses and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus. They're working hard.
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WESTWOOD: And we should mention, Martin and Christi, that there was very little social distancing at that event in South Dakota yesterday. SAVIDGE: Yes. We didn't see much of that either in Tulsa. President Trump used the rest of his 40-minute speech mostly for slamming protesters. He accused them of trying to wipe out our nation's history and I'm wondering did the president try in any way to strike a unifying tone, Sarah?
WESTWOOD: That did not appear to be the goal of the speech, Martin. In fact, the president was focused much more on a darker message that decried cancel culture, that accused his opponents of trying to erase history, trying to minimize American heritage.
That's something that he has been pushing before, but this was the most forceful expression of that message that we've heard from the president. Want you to take a listen to part of that speech where he went after what he called a merciless campaign against history. Take a listen.
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TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children. Our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.
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WESTWOOD: Now, Martin and Christi, in the shadow of Mount Rushmore there, the president not taking the opportunity to strike a unifying note, even though this was an official event, this was not technically a campaign event.
[06:05:01] It was a highly political speech. It had all the hallmarks of a Trump campaign rally. The president, though, focusing on that darker message, something that we may hear more from him as he heads back to the campaign trail.
PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, always appreciate seeing you. Thank you. Let's go to Coney Island in New York now. CNN's Polo Sandoval is there. I know, Polo -- I know it's usually packed where you are on the 4th of July. What you seeing this morning? And good morning to you.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Christi, and happy 4th of July as well. The crowds will certainly likely be thinner, not just at this beach, but many across the country. Look, it is certainly going to be a not-so-normal 4th of July for Americans across the country here.
You mentioned many firework shows are canceled, many beaches remain closed, parades, many of those are canceled as well, but the question here that authorities are asking is how will they keep this outbreak from getting worse and the answer -- self-control.
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SANDOVAL: A coronavirus perfect storm could be looming this Independence Day. Several factors are at play including more people traveling, states reopening and for some, repeated disregard of mask and social distancing guidelines as people gather to celebrate this July 4th.
JOSHUA BAROCAS, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER: Avoiding places like pools, beaches and even playgrounds, especially this weekend that's going to be high-density traffic outside, are very important measures that we can take.
SANDOVAL: U.S. COVID-related deaths exceeded 129,000 this week and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting that we could see another 20,000 people lose their lives to the virus by the end of the month. Florida surpassed its previous record for new COVID cases reported in one day, the pressure now on younger people to help lower infection rates in that state.
You see the vast majority of Florida COVID cases affecting those in their mid-30s. Some Florida beaches are open today, though that won't be the case in Miami Beach. The mayor there implementing a curfew and made masks mandatory.
GELBER: There's nothing more American than making a sacrifice by staying home to keep a family member safe, a neighbor safe or a stranger safe.
SANDOVAL: Texas continues buckling under the surge and saw its highest single-day increase this week. Hoping to reverse the trend, Governor Greg Abbott is requiring face coverings in most Texas counties, though many of Abbott's fellow Republican leaders have resisted similar mask mandates, the president among them.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Anyone who thinks COVID-19 is not dangerous, the numbers are glaring warning signs that this is dangerous, but everybody has the capability of making sure they do not get COVID-19.
SANDOVAL: Out west, Arizona and California continue shattering their own records. Arizona's state health data's showing hospitals are seeing an unprecedented spike in COVID patient admissions and only 9 percent of ICU beds were available by the end of this week. California re-implementing earlier restrictions to contain their outbreak.
Temporary closure signs are back up at beaches, singing and chanting at religious gatherings are temporarily banned and some cities are taking an aggressive approach in enforcing mask policies with a threat of hefty fines. As the nation celebrates together, health officials are hoping they'll do it from home.
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SANDOVAL: Back on the Coney Island boardwalk, fairly quiet this morning. A few people out for strolls, but of course there are some people that are going to be expected to make their way onto the beach, albeit with those social distancing measures that are in place.
A couple of things that you will not find at least open for business though, Martin and Christie. That famous shoreline -- the famous shoreline attractions, those will remain closed for obvious reasons. Also that famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, that will actually be held at a secret location, not in front of your usual live audience. By the way, first time in history that people will actually be able to bet legally on the event, guys.
PAUL: Interesting. All righty. Polo, take good care of yourself and the crew out there ...
PAUL: ... and happy 4th to you as well.
SANDOVAL: You bet. You too.
PAUL: At least he's on the beach, right? Getting at least a little fresh air I suppose. We want to take a look at some of the trends that health experts are going to be watching closely this holiday weekend, Marty.
SAVIDGE: Yes. Across the south and the west, the big story remains the consistent climb in new cases. The northeast, which struggled early on in the pandemic as you'll remember, is now keeping their case curve heading in the right direction, while the south and west, represented here in pink and yellow respectively, trended to new highs. States across those regions are also reporting an increase in hospitalizations and in the percent of tests that come back positive.
Arizona illustrates this rise clearly. Here you can see a steady climb in people hospitalized and then you've got the percentage of new tests that are positive in recent days in Arizona and see it's hovering between 25 and 30 percent.
These data points contribute to a national picture that ranks as the worst in the world right now and compare that situation here in the U.S. with our neighbors to the north, Canada's seven-day moving average of new cases lining up nearly perfectly with the bottom of this chart compared to the U.S. and compared to a single U.S. state with a similar population, Canada's curve still looks better.
Here it is matched up with California. By contrast, the state of New York lines up much more closely to Canada now. It's no longer the epicenter of this pandemic here in the United States.
So let's bring in Dr. Saju Mathew. He's a primary care physician, public health specialist and a CNN medical analyst. Good morning to you, Doctor. Happy 4th of July.
SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Martin.
SAVIDGE: So can I ask you first a question that I have wondered and that is we see an increasing number, a significant increase of cases as we've just shown, but the death rate seems -- I won't say low, but lower than in, say, the previous outbreaks we saw earlier this spring. What's the reason? MATHEW: Yes. That's a good question, Martin. I think that we shouldn't be too excited about that and the reason is by the time somebody gets sick, that already could take two weeks and then once the patient checks into the hospital, gets into the ICU, there is, unfortunately, a lag period of about three to four weeks before we start seeing, unfortunately, again these debts rise.
But also on a positive note, we have to commend the fact that we have made some strides in treating patients, the sickest patients, Martin, in the ICUs with a steroid called Dexamethasone and Remdesivir, which is an antiviral.
So I think it's a combination of those factors, but unfortunately, in the next three to four weeks, we will definitely see the death toll rise.
PAUL: So talk to us about Dexamethasone and Remdesivir and the difference that you see it making, say, in the next few weeks in terms of if we're having this rise in cases, fortunately the lower death numbers, what about hospitalizations?
MATHEW: So hospitalizations are up, Christi. In fact, there's this one article in Texas that's saying that they're expecting 2,000 new COVID patients, 2,000 patients per day at this hospital and, you know, Christi, in my work as a physician, I've never heard of a wait list for an ICU and there are wait lists now in different hospitals in these states where the cases are surging.
But to answer your question about Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, I am actually very optimistic, especially about Dexamethasone, for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's readily available. I use it a lot as a primary care doctor to treat migraines, arthritis and gout.
It's readily available, the side effects are really minimal. And really quickly on Remdesivir, it's an antiviral medication that really stops the replication of this virus and it has shown to decrease mortality rates and the number of days in the ICU has been shortened as well.
SAVIDGE: Can I just bring up the tweet that you put out there and you compare the pandemic to a volcano and the virus as lava. So you say stay at home orders are really the only way to buy us some time. We do have states that are slowing down their reopening or reversing course, but is that really enough at this point?
MATHEW: You know, Martin, from day one, we've been playing catch-up and we continue to play catch-up. I can't believe I'm about about to say this, but the United States, it's the worst hit country with this pandemic and that should never happen.
We have some of the world's top epidemiologists and public health specialists in America, but yes, the reason I compared it to a volcano with that hot lava, which is the virus, that analogy of the lava being the virus, is we have two options. We can run towards the lava without a vaccine, without protection or we can run away and shelter at home. And I think that instead of making this sort of knee-jerk reflex decisions about bars, the states that are surging, especially states that have a high number of cases every single day for five days, Martin, I don't think they have an option, but to reenact the stay at home. That's the only way that we're going to quieten this virus and decrease the surge at these hospitals and emergency rooms.
PAUL: So I wanted to ask you about the balance of the physical health and the mental health of people right now because we're four months into this. It's really taking a toll on people in an emotional and a mental way as well and when we talk about masks, we just heard Polo say that self-control is what's being urged, but is self-control really the issue when you have groups of people seeing this, one as political and one as a health issue?
MATHEW: Yes. So Christi, you know, I've said this so many times on CNN and I don't know how else to rephrase it, but the masks save lives. You know, ultimately we have to realize that yes, we can make decisions for ourselves, but when it starts to affect somebody else, somebody else's right to be healthy, I think that that's really where I have a problem. I mean, we live in a country where we can make independent decisions and decisions that only affect us.
With this virus, unfortunately, it sees no state lines, it sees no racial boundaries, it doesn't matter who you vote for. This virus is looking for two human beings that are less than six feet away to do its damage. So I think ultimately the power is within the individual person. We have a right to not only protect ourselves, but we have a right to also protect other people like our grandmothers and our parents.
PAUL: Dr. Saju Mathew, so appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Thank you, Doctor.
MATHEW: Thank You, Christi. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Coming up, flights booked at capacity, RV rentals sold out. Many Americans seem bound and determined to get away this holiday weekend. However, they can change or -- we'll tell you what the changes are going to be in the road, for the rail and also air travel to keep you safe from infection. That story when we come back.
PAUL: And don't miss CNN's the "FOURTH IN AMERICA," an evening a fireworks and an all-star musical lineup. It begins at 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.
SAVIDGE: This would normally be one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, but because of the pandemic, this holiday is looking a lot different.
PAUL: Yes. CNN's Pete Muntean has more.
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PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This weekend, airlines are anticipating the most passengers of the pandemic, but only a fraction of a year ago.
MICHAEL BARON, TRAVELER: Well, we planned this trip approximately a year ago and certainly I need a vacation.
MUNTEAN: Flyers like Michael Baron have a higher chance of being on a full flight. American Airlines announced it is now selling every seat. It joined United which has been selling middle seats throughout the pandemic. Major airlines are now requiring that passengers wear masks, but even still, some lawmakers are demanding social distancing onboard.
JOSH EARNEST, CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: It's very, very difficult, if not impossible, to socially distance on board an aircraft. Keeping the seat next to you open is not going to make a material difference.
MUNTEAN: Fear of flying is one of the reasons AAA thinks road trips will drop only 3 percent this summer. Travel analytics firm INRIX says the distance that drivers are traveling has returned to pre-pandemic levels in many states and holiday traffic could feel more like normal.
BILL KARRAS, EASTON, MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENT: By the Bourne Bridge, it was a parking lot. I was stuck there for about 30 minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each and every one, we have to spray it, sanitize it.
MUNTEAN: Amtrak is restarting trains that are cleaned after each trip and it's leaving every other seat empty.
The summer is a peak travel season for Amtrak, but ridership is still low.
MUNTEAN: Regardless of how they get there, Americans are facing holiday travel that is far from the norm. A TSA checkpoint in Atlanta was shut down temporarily when a worker tested positive for coronavirus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably the most different 4th of July travel day we've had maybe ever.
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MUNTEAN: One more difference, the TSA is opening up more lanes at security checkpoints across the country. The goal is to speed passengers through more quickly to keep exposure to employees low. The TSA says the number of its workers who have tested positive for coronavirus is now nearing 1,000. Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.
PAUL: Thank you to you, Pete. So healthcare workers seeing an increase right now in the number of people critically ill with COVID-19. We're taking you somewhere that maybe you haven't seen before. This is inside a Texas hospital and you're going to see what they're up against right now. Stay close.
SAVIDGE: The surge in coronavirus cases in Texas is putting a real strain on hospitals across that state. Some of those hospitals are allowing CNN's Miguel Marquez and his team to come and see what healthcare providers are up against.
PAUL: And boy, did he find some really interesting things. Let's go with him now into this Houston hospital.
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MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Houston, Texas now home to a major coronavirus outbreak. A procedure all too common when treating the most seriously ill with the virus, this patient on a ventilator, the breathing tube being replaced to improve oxygen flow to the lungs. The tube pulled out, caked with dried secretions from the lungs rife with the coronavirus. The new tube immediately improves oxygen flow.
JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: That's the first one for today.
MARQUEZ: So that was ...
VARON: We had to change a tube on somebody that has no oxygen. He could have died. His tube was malfunctioning. It has a little balloon at the end that was ruptured, so he was not getting enough oxygen.
MARQUEZ: United Memorial Medical Center, a 117-bed hospital serving a mostly working-class community in North Houston. Some things we've seen elsewhere. On a ventilator, a patient's chance for survival goes down, way down.
VARON: The problem is that once you intubate them, the chances of them leaving the hospital are less than 20 percent.
MARQUEZ: Unlike other hospitals we've seen, this facility is transforming itself into a sort of COVID specialty center.
VARON: In the last three weeks, I have seen more admissions and sicker patients than on the previous 10 weeks. So it's been an exponential increase on the severity of illness and in the number of cases that we admit.
MARQUEZ: Its COVID unit expanding way beyond its intensive care unit by turning whole sections of the hospital into temporary airtight chambers, creating negative pressure zones to keep the airborne virus moving up and out and strict protocols are in place for moving in and out of these zones. Everyone must have a test for coronavirus before entering, even journalists, and protective gear now so abundant that everyone triples up, some employees getting through eight sets or more of PPE in a single shift.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this is for the people that you're treating? So they know what you look like.
MARQUEZ: In the hundred days, they've been treating patients with coronavirus, only one nurse has developed the sickness. She's now being treated by her own colleagues.
(on camera): You are the front line worker in the battle against COVID. And you now have it?
TANNA INGRAHAM, ICU NURSE, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, and it's -- I wouldn't wish this on my own enemy. Because I hurt, from here all the way down, the base of my neck and it's -- and getting any sleep is almost like -- it's impossible.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): She's not sure how she got it, but thinks that may have been a patient who had stopped breathing, and despite multiple layers of PPEs, the physical effort to save his life may have put her own at risk.
INGRAHAM: I was coding him. And as I was pushing down, air was coming, but that's the only position I could do it with.
MARQUEZ: The isolation of the disease difficult to deal with, even for someone who knows what to expect. Her thoughts now with her 9 and 10- year-old daughters.
(on camera): What would you say to Madeleine and Abigail right now?
INGRAHAM: Baby, mommy loves you and misses you. I hope you're having a great time in California -- OK, I'm done.
MARQUEZ: The lone star state now in a full-blown surge with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rising at alarming rates. In Travis County, Austin's Convention Center is preparing to host a coronavirus emergency care facility. Bexar County, home to San Antonio, saw a more than 600 percent increase in hospitalizations in June.
And in Houston, hospitals are nearing capacity and preparations are underway to turn NRG Park where the Houston Texans play back into an emergency medical facility. It was taken down in April.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars.
MARQUEZ: Texas now reversing parts of its aggressive effort to reopen its economy. Bars now closed again throughout the state.
MOHAMED ALAM, OWNER, THE ORIGINAL RED ROOSTER: Well, it's very difficult.
MARQUEZ: Mohamed Alam owns two night clubs in Houston, both now closed until further notice. He's now fighting for his life.
(on camera): How do you think you got COVID?
ALAM: When the club opens, and I have customers(ph), they like to give me a hug and everything. So they tried to give me a hug or shake hands or maybe they were paying the money, counting the money.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Today, United Memorial Medical Center is at about 80 percent capacity.
JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Please understand, these patients are very sick. These are patients that are about to die. So we have to admit them. And once they're here, in spite of everything that we do, I mean, they have to stay in the hospital anywhere between five to ten days, at a minimum. So those beds will be occupied for a period of five to ten days. So sooner or later, within the next two weeks, we're going to be at full house.
MARQUEZ: Dr. Varon, who has now worked for more than a hundred days without stop has become a sort of coronavirus specialist. For now, it appears to be paying off, 96 percent of patients admitted to the hospital, he says, beat the disease.
VARON: COVID is a very fluid illness. It's an illness that changes. And what I knew four months ago is completely different than what I do now. The way I treated patients two months ago is a 100 percent different than what I do now.
MARQUEZ (on camera): And does it still surprise you? Does the disease still do things that make you scratch your head?
VARON: Every single day, I get surprised. Every day.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dr. Varon now aggressively attacking inflammation and blood clotting, using everything from vitamins, physically rotating patients, antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine for some, even stem cells soon. Anything from having to put patients on a ventilator. The virus still confounding doctors and surprising those trying to avoid getting it.
This husband and wife who did not want their names used now share a room in the coronavirus unit here. They say they did everything, staying home, wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a little bit scary. I wish that people would take it more seriously. They should take it more seriously. You can't -- you can't trust people just because they look healthy, because a lot of people are walking around looking healthy and they're not healthy. MARQUEZ: It's the biggest challenge. Those that don't know they have
it are giving it to others, making them sick, and possibly killing them.
VARON: In Houston, we have two types of patients, those that have COVID and those who will get COVID. My concern as a healthcare provider is that when they get sick, they don't all come to me at the same time, which is what's happening at the present time. And that's what's going to kill patients because we won't have enough resources.
MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Houston, Texas.
PAUL: I mean, you watch that and you think about these doctors and these nurses going into that environment every day and the anxiety that they have just trying to save these people's lives. It's not even fathomable I think for most of us. Because we know hospitals obviously overwhelmed right now. However, the president didn't mention it. I mean, barely mentioned it during his rally last night. His latest speech and what it says about his re-election strategy. That's next.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud. And they will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: That was the president last night speaking to a crowd of supporters at the base of Mount Rushmore. The president barely touched on the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans. Instead, choosing to tailor his message exclusively to his base, warning that the country's history is under attack from what he called far-left fascism.
But is that really the kind of message that would resonate with the country at large? Take a look at a new poll from Monmouth University, and it has the president losing to Joe Biden by 12 points nationally with nearly three quarters of voters saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction. A record for that poll on handling the coronavirus, just 40 percent of Americans say President Trump is doing a good job. And a number that has been on a steady decline for the president. And
with us now to discuss is CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis. He is also the host of "You Decide", the podcast. Errol, good to see you.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Martin, good to see you.
SAVIDGE: So, let me get your first brush on this Monmouth poll. What were your thoughts looking at the numbers?
LOUIS: Well, look, national polls are a little bit tricky because they are basically reflecting a non-existent election, right? We don't elect presidents nationally, we elect them state-by-state-by-state. So as a broad brush indicator, it tells you that the president's got a little bit of a problem. That right track-wrong track, however, that's a lot more serious, and it gets to be more serious the closer we get to election day. Right now, we're what? A 122, 123 days out.
So it's serious, it's not critical just yet. But as you get closer and closer to election day, the incumbent party, the incumbent president has a big problem if a vast majority of the country thinks we're going in the wrong direction because the election has a chance to change that direction and it just doesn't get any more simple than that. So the polls suggest to me, Martin, that this is a problem that the president is going to have to turn around.
And I think that's why we see him amping up the rhetoric. He and his team know that the time is running out and every day that the country thinks that we're on the wrong track is a day that they're a little bit further away from winning this election.
SAVIDGE: All right, so that begs the obvious question, is the president's culture war-messaging going to work for him? Is he going to pick up new voters, and, you know, essentially what he needs in order to win in November?
LOUIS: Yes, you know, it's real interesting, Martin because he's doing what any politician would do. First, you consolidate your base and then you see if you can expand it somewhere along the line. So he's trying to consolidate his base, but he sees elements of that base just walking away and the poll reflects that actually. Senior citizens are walking way. Middle class white women are walking away.
They're telling the pollsters they're not interested in this president being re-elected. And so, what he's trying to do, I think is amp up the rhetoric, make much more intense, emotionally intense appeals like we saw last night to that base. But at the same time -- and that it risks and it seems to be alienating the very people that he needs to stay with him. Some of the people are kind of on the outer fringes of his base who are looking at other options and saying, you know what? I don't want any more of this division.
I don't want to be told that I have to be a culture worrier. I'm more concerned about COVID. I'm more concerned about my family. I'm more concerned about double digit unemployment with no end in sight. I'm concerned about states locking down after they try to open up. So people have real serious problems, and they expect this president to deal with them. A cultural appeal is not necessarily going to cancel all of those very pressing problems that people cannot avoid, and I think that's the president's dilemma, Martin.
SAVIDGE: One of the areas and you've touched on it, but it surprised me, was the way he has lost, slipping away other 65-year-olds and older crowd which had been very supportive the last time.
LOUIS: Yes, you know, I've -- I talk sometimes with my father, he's my best indicator of this. Not that he was a Trump supporter at any point, but he can tell me what's going on with he and his cohort who are in their 80s. And they're very concerned about COVID. We know that it strikes seniors with a special force and fury especially in assisted living or nursing home settings.
They don't like being restricted from seeing their grandkids. They don't like being told what to do. They don't like to see a president who seems to not want to engage on this issue and get them safe and get them back in touch with their families.
And so, these are folks who also know about Joe Biden because Joe Biden has been in politics for his whole adult life. So for the last 40 or 50 years, they've had a chance to kick the tires and see Joe Biden. An so he offers a plausible alternative. He's not some new kid that they're going to take a chance on. They see Joe's been there, he's been solid, he's been in the Senate, he's been in leadership, he's been the vice president and it gives them a ready excuse to walk away from Donald Trump.
I think that's kind of the dynamic that's going on there. And the Trump team has not figured out a way to reverse that bleeding of senior citizen voters.
SAVIDGE: Yes, it has to be a concern for them. Errol Louis, always good to speak with you. Thanks for joining us this morning.
LOUIS: Thank you, Martin.
PAUL: So up next, after being criticized for years for its racist connotations, the Washington Redskins are under increasing pressure right now to rebrand. The iconic franchise isn't the only franchise contemplating a name change. We'll talk about it when we come back.
SAVIDGE: Facing public and financial pressure, the Washington Redskins have taken a step that may, we should underscore may pave the way towards a new name.
PAUL: Yes, the team says it will conduct a thorough review of the controversial nickname, it dates back to 1933. Now, team owner Daniel Schneider has strongly been against the name change in the past. Now he says he wants input from other people while he's taking into account a tradition and history of the franchise, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement, saying he's supportive of the important step.
Now, this is happening because or after I should say investment groups with a combined $620 billion reportedly threatened to end their relationships with Redskin's sponsors PepsiCo, FedEx and Nike if that team didn't change its name. We've also got baseball's Cleveland Indians saying they will review their long-debate nickname which has been in place for 105 years.
Two years ago, the team made a notable change by removing a cartoon caricature as its logo, and that had long been criticized as offensive to native Americans.
SAVIDGE: Many athletes are also doing their part to create positive change by fighting racism.
PAUL: Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning, Carolyn.
CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning to you, both. As you've noted, these issues of race and inclusion and diversity continue to really be top of mind for leagues all across the country. And back on Juneteenth, in Major League Soccer, over 70 black players created the black players coalition to tackle issues of racial inequality, not only in their league, but also far beyond that. And in this week's "CNN DIFFERENCE MAKERS", we spoke with the executive director of that group, Toronto FC's Justin Morrow.
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JUSTIN MORROW, DEFENDER, TORONTO FC: The Black Players Coalition is focused on three key initiatives. We've had great contact with Major League Soccer already, hoping that will collaborate in the future to higher achieve diversity offers, and implement some initiatives around hiring that will key in on implicit bias training, culture education courses. We want to help build our black communities in terms of soccer and off the field as well.
We want to make sure that our young black boys and girls have the educational resources that they need to be good citizens in the future and really successful citizens in the future. And finally, I want to be a voice for the black players in Major League Soccer.
After such a crazy year, it's exciting to begin close to playing soccer again in real matches. There's just been so many negatives this year, and we're hoping that this tournament in Orlando can be a positive. And the Black Players Coalition has been able to collaborate with Major League Soccer on some projects that you'll see in Orlando that highlight the Black Lives Matter movement.
But we are hopeful that one day the players in the EPL or the players in La Liga or the players in France or Germany will also band together and form a coalition just like we have. You see in Italy, how desperate they are to have something like this because the fans celebrate black players. So, I'm hopeful and our coalition is hopeful that one day we can unite together on a world front and stand up against this racism that exist in football.
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MANNO: And Christi and Martin, as you heard there, Major League Soccer making its tournament style return this next Wednesday which is four months to the day that the league played their last games. But it shows you what the efforts that Justin Morrow and others are doing that these issues of race, these programs have unprecedented stamina in sports. They're certainly not going away. It's a larger discussion that continues.
SAVIDGE: All right, Carolyn, great to see you, thank you very much, happy 4th of July.
MANNO: You too --
PAUL: Thank you. So coming up, after months without visitors -- oh, I love this story, these assisted-living home residents are looking for some new friends to chat with about their favorite things. You can help here, people. How they're connecting with people around the world, but you can still get involved here.
PAUL: So at assisted-living community in North Carolina was looking for pen pals for its residents who -- they hadn't had any visitors for nearly four months. So, they were ready for some sort of engagement there. They took pictures and -- how about these signs, you have to see these. They had their names, their interests like gardening, sports, family feud, tattoos. The images were posted on Facebook. And the cards, letters, packages just started arriving from all over the world.
SAVIDGE: Now anyone can send mail to these residents. And all they have to do is go to the Victorian Senior Care Facebook page to select a pen pal. Their addresses are right there in the captions.
PAUL: And thank you for doing so because you know, that just makes their day. He even got some chocolate kisses too, look at him. Be sure to tune in to CNN special the "FOURTH IN AMERICA" tonight at 8:00 p.m. It's an evening of fireworks and an all-star musical lineup. Next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With new cases rising in at least, 36 states, hospitals in some of the hardest-hit areas are struggling to keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sets up a perfect storm.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): If people gather on 4th of July the same way they did on Memorial Day.