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Cases, Hospitalizations Soar In U.S. As Crowds Gather; Experts Say Coronavirus Can Float And Transmit In Air Droplets; Nationals, Astros Cancel Workouts Over Testing Delays. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 13:00   ET


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: United States and Brazil are number one and two in infections and deaths.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Bill, for being there. I'm really interested in what more you learn later on the ground. Thanks, buddy.

We'll have much more on Bill's reporting, of course, throughout the day but thank you all so much for joining us today. I'm Kate Bolduan. Our coverage continues right now with Brianna Keilar.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.

112 days since the White House issued its first guidance on social distancing. America is far from recovering from coronavirus. Instead it's relapsing in many areas. Cases are skyrocketing in several states, specifically the three most populous, Florida, Texas and California.

Overall, see all of that orange and red, 32 states with more cases in the last week than they did the week before. Nearly half the nation has rolled back reopening plans going backward.

And now health officials in municipalities are bracing for the numbers to rise after many people skipped the masks and social distancing to celebrate the 4th of July, and the president is feeding their public defiance by lying over the weekend, saying that 99 percent of cases are, quote, totally harmless.

Moments ago, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, said, by denying the facts, the president is enabling the virus.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): He won't wear a mask because he doesn't want to admit that there is a COVID virus. Why? I have no idea.

But his denial of the problem and his making statements like that, 99.9 percent don't have to worry about it, okay, then there's no issue. What he's saying to the American people is there's no problem and they don't wear a mask and they don't socially distance and they don't take any precautionary behavior and then the virus goes like this.

He is facilitating the virus.


KEILAR: CNN's Tom Foreman has examined the numbers, taking an in-depth look at where states are surging, that includes with Texas where the beaches on South Padre Island were packed this weekend. Take a look at that there, San Padre Island.

Tom, let's start with the big picture nationally.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big picture nationally is terrible, Brianna. This is the reason the United States is falling behind virtually every other nation in the world in handling this virus. Look at that map. When you see that there, the only states that are in green, not the dark green, that means are really moving ahead, but just a little better are Kentucky and tiny cluster up in New England. Everything else is at best holding its own and, by and large, falling further down the hole, indicating this problem is getting worse, not better.

You mentioned Texas a minute ago. Hospitalizations in Texas, if you look at them, that is a ramp right up to the top of the roller coast there. And that is moving so fast that in places like San Antonio and in Houston and in Austin and in other places, Texas officials are saying, look, we are somewhere between 10 and 14 days away from having an absolute crisis in the hospitals where we won't have enough room, much like what you saw there in New York early on when this started

And, of course, the big states leading it all, look at the trend line here. Yes, Florida, Texas, California, the most populous states in this country have the biggest number of cases. They are the biggest states. Forget about the absolute number. Look at the trend lines, going up, going up, going up. That is the problem. Arizona was a smaller population going up too. That's why it's included.

The numbers simply are terrible, Brianna. And here we are at the halfway point in the year when many people, absolutely, just think back a couple months ago how many people would have said, by 4th of July, certainly, we'll have it under control. All of these graphics, all of these numbers tell us we're not even close to having this under control. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, it is very much out of control when you look at the pitch on those graphs. Thank you so much, Tom Foreman.

I want to get now to some breaking news that's coming out of Florida, which now has more than 200,000 infections there, as Tom outlined. This puts it in line with California's total case count.

Let's go to CNN's Rosa Flores in Miami. And, Rosa, this explosion of cases, it's really forcing local officials to change strategy. Tell us how they're doing that. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miami-Dade today announcing that they are rolling back reopening plan. They are going to shut down restaurants for dine-in starting on Wednesday. They're also going to shut down fitness centers and also short-term rentals.

Brianna, the problem with short-term rentals, according to local authorities here, was that there were large parties, large gatherings at these private homes and that is how this virus spread, so it created a huge concern.


Now, Governor Ron DeSantis is hosting a press conference right now, and given the fact that Miami-Dade County, which is the epicenter of the crisis in the State of Florida is rolling back their reopening plan because of the increase in cases.

Now, hear how Governor Ron DeSantis described what's going on in his state. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Some of these things we have seen over the last eight days, I know the media say, oh, this record case, it's basically been the same. I mean, when we do 85,000 tests, we're going to have more. We're doing 40,000 tests, we're going to have less positives. But the percentage has been consistent.

Now, this is -- we want to get back down in the 3, 4 percent that we were in May and early June. At the same time, the 15 percent, that's a far cry from what you were seeing in places like the northeast, so they were 30, 40, 50 percent.

FLORES: Now, Governor Ron DeSantis there said that, basically, it's the same.

If you look at the numbers, just look at the positivity rate in the State of Florida, a month ago, that was under 5 percent. Right now, you look at those numbers of positivity rate, it's between 15 and 20 percent.

Here in Miami-Dade County, where I am right now, the epicenter of this crisis, just yesterday, the county released that their positivity rate 26 percent for the day. For the past 14 days, they've exceeded the 10 percent limit. So, Brianna, to say that everything is basically the same here in the State of Florida is just not true.

KEILAR: No. It's the equivalent of there's nothing to see here, and we know what that means. Rosa, thank you so much for the report from Miami.

Once the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, New York has managed to flatten the curve but pictures on social media of beach parties on Fire Island have many worried that all of that work may be for nothing. The crowds, social distancing. It even gained the attention of New York's governor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: If you look at the festivities over July 4th, you see gatherings that are not socially distanced, they're not wearing masks. You see it in Manhattan. You see it on Fire Island. There are reports upstate of gatherings where people aren't socially distanced and people aren't wearing masks.

I don't know how else to say it. Actions have consequences.


KEILAR: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is joining me now to talk about this.

I mean, tell us your view of what we are seeing here and the kind of consequences that could come about because of these gatherings.

STEVE BELLONE, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK EXECUTIVE: Well, the images that we saw this weekend over at Fire Island are disturbing and they are unacceptable. We have come so far here on Long Island. We have lost thousands of people, and that's the thing for us here. This is real. We have experienced this. We know what this is like.

And that's why what we saw on Fire Island this past weekend was so upsetting because of what has been sacrificed to flatten the curve here and get us into a position where we're reopening our economy and this past week have been able to have more days for the first time in months where we have had no deaths from COVID-19, that we have been able to report.

So what happened there is unacceptable. we are enhancing patrols, stepping up enforcement. We'll be working with the local stakeholders in the community, particularly the Homeowners Association to prevent something like that from happening again.

KEILAR: Well, police were called here and no one received a citation. Can you shed light on why that was the case?

BELLONE: Well, police were called. The Suffolk County Police Department, the Marine Bureau did come to the scene and there was compliance when they did arrive. Crowds dispersed.

And it looked like, honestly, in some of those images that there were crowds that were intentionally going out of their way not to be in compliance with social distancing, gathered very tightly together. But there was compliance. They did disperse. But there were later reports that when the patrols left, they came back and, again, were flouting the orders.

And I want to make clear, and we are making this very clear, that that is unacceptable and that we will make sure that the executive order here and the compliance with social distancing and wearing of face covering is -- that we do receive that, because we cannot go back to where we were and backtrack because we literally have been through hell here on Long Island. We know what that's like. And it's scenes like this where people are just not using common sense that will get us back to that very bad place.


KEILAR: So, I mean, looking at the pictures that we are seeing, right, there's something in common that a lot of these folks, almost all of them, if not, all of them, that we can make out certainly from this video, these are young people, right? So these appear to be people who are in their maybe 20s, certainly no more than their 30s in the pictures that we have seen.

Why do you think they are doing this and how does the change start? Because, obviously, it's not just going to work with the Marine unit pulling up and they disperse, they get six feet away, whatnot. Why are they doing this and how can you combat that?

BELLONE: Well, to a large extent, you really do need people to comply. You need the community to be involved. And that's why we are going to be working with the Homeowners Association. Most of the people on Fire Island who own homes are there with their families.

They want to be safe. They want to be able to enjoy the summer even in the midst of this global pandemic. And there are certain bad apples who we are going to make clear that that kind of behavior is unacceptable and will be enforced.

We'll be coordinating with local law enforcement as well and putting in place progressive enforcement. There will be summons, and if there are continued violations, we will take it further than that.

KEILAR: So what would it look like if you're working with the Homeowners Association and there are people out there on the beach? I mean, are there fines? How are people identified? What would that be?

BELLONE: Well, we are going to have enhanced patrols out on the beaches moving forward over at Fire Island now so that they're not responding to a call and then leaving again. We are going to have people who are there to make sure that there is compliance and working with the Homeowners Association where there are instances, where there are house parties that not in compliance as well. We will work to root out those bad apples, because we do not want to go back to --

KEILAR: Do you need to shut the beach?

BELLONE: Well, we are not at that point that we would make that decision. I think that what we need is people to use common sense. And that's what we are talking about here, keep a distance, wear a face covering if you can. That's how we'll stay in a good place, which is where we are today.

KEILAR: All right. Steve, thank you so much for joining us.

BELLONE: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have some new information on how the virus is transmitted. Why many scientists are warning that this can float in air droplets farther than maybe initially you thought. Plus, a drug that would prevent infections of people who have close contact with someone infected hits a critical stage in trials.

And the baseball player scolds Americans for not following guidelines and says, the country doesn't deserve that kind of a reward right now.

This is CNN special live coverage.



KEILAR: It's not a secret among scientists and even us regular folk, right, that coronavirus floats in air droplets and if you inhale it, you can get sick. But one group of international scientists says the message about airborne transmission is not being delivered to the public and they are pushing the World Health Organization and other agencies to talk more about this.

Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here. Tell us about this because, you know, I think people understand that this is airborne, right? This is why they're social distancing. Perhaps it is a matter of how airborne it is and just getting the clear guidance on this. Why is the WHO reluctant to talk about this, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brianna, airborne is a very loaded word. Public health people get very nervous about this word because it sounds -- they're afraid it's going to sound a little bit hysterical, and let me talk about the distinctions that they're making.

If you look at the WHO or the CDC website, they really emphasize the droplets, little pea (ph) droplets that you can actually see if you sneeze or you cough or sometimes even when you talk, you can see the droplets. And they emphasize that so that you need to be relatively near someone in order to get hit by a droplet and those droplets are heavy, they fall.

What they don't talk a lot about is little droplets that float along in the air that can get there just by breathing, so not these big, wet droplet that fall but these little ones that float around, that stay in the air and someone can leave a space and then you can walk into it a while later and you can run into those little tiny pieces.

So that is what the concern is about. It is not a secret that this virus can spread that way. The National Academy of Sciences told the White House more than three months ago, they wrote the White House a letter and said this can happen. You can spread this disease just by breathing. You don't need these big heavy coughs or sneezes.

But that has not really been emphasized when you at the WHO, the CDC, messages from the White House. This whole airborne thing is de- emphasized. What these scientists are saying is, hey, let's be honest about this. Let's just call it what it is and be honest that this is a way that it can spread. KEILAR: Can we talk more about masks, Elizabeth? Because I was off this past week and I wanted to pick up something at a food establishment and I also went to a state park and both the person who would have been serving at the counter at the food establishment and the person who was taking cash in order to give tickets so you can to go into the park had the mask only over their mouth and not over their nose.

COHEN: That's ridiculous. Why would you do that? What is the point of doing that?


You're breathing through both your mouth and your nose. It needs to cover both. I mean, this is super basic. And, Brianna, I have seen this as well. And also some people with mask kind of around their chin. It almost looks like a mask beard. Really, what's the point of that?

A mask is supposed to be worn over the nose and over the mouth in order to work properly. Wear over the mouth, what is the point? Wear it over both. Do the right thing.

I mean, these people were coming in contact with the public. They were serving them food, they were taking money from them. This is so important. If we want to get this outbreak under control, we need to wear masks and wear them properly.

KEILAR: Thank you, Elizabeth. I really appreciate the explainer, weird that we need one still but it's certainly helpful. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Right.

KEILAR: Broadway star Nick Cordero losing his life to coronavirus after being in the hospital for months. What his wife says about his final moments.

Plus, let's speak with a 37-year-old who has also been battling coronavirus symptoms for months. Hear what she's been going through.



KEILAR: The Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros are canceling workouts today. Both teams are still waiting for coronavirus testing results that they took on Friday. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says the lag could put players, coaches and staff in danger and he's urging Major League Baseball to fix the problem or risk losing the season.

National's closer Sean Doolittle also slammed the MLB over the delay. He says he is planning on playing this season but his wife is high risk with a chronic lung condition and he says he may opt out if he does not feel comfortable. Doolittle says the country has not done what it needed to do to stem this virus. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN DOOLITTLE, WASHINGTON NATIONALS PITCHER: We are trying to bring baseball back in a -- during a pandemic that's killed 130,000 people. We're way worse off as a country than where we were in March when we shut this thing down. And like look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven't done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back.

Sports are like their reward of a functioning society and we are just like trying to just bring it back even though we have taken none of the steps to have it -- to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say. So, like, we did flatten the curve for a little bit and we didn't use that time to do anything productive. We just opened back up for Memorial Day. We decided we are done with it.

Like if there aren't sports, it's going to be because people are not wearing masks, because the response to this has been so politicized. Like we need help from the general public. If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, like, social distance, keep washing your hands, like we can't just have virus fatigue and think it's been like -- well, it's been four months, like we are over it.

There's just been enough time, right? We have waited long enough. Like shouldn't sports come back now? No. There are things that we have to do in order to bring the stuff back.

So -- and now you want to bring fans back? I mean, I don't know. Is that safe? I'm not a public health expert but like we should probably defer to them on these issues. So I don't know if it's safe or not. I really don't know.


KEILAR: In the meantime, more people inside of the president's inner circle testing positive between this and holding into rallies. Why the president is playing with fire.

Plus, President Trump enflaming racial tensions yet again, this time demanding a black NASCAR star apologize, and the president appearing to support the confederate flag.