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Military Deploying Medical Personnel As Texas Sees Surge; Dr. Fauci Says U.S. Reopened Too Quickly; Atlanta Mayor Says She Has Coronavirus, But No Symptoms; WH Won't Denounce Confederate Flag After Trump Tweets NASCAR's Flag Decision Has Caused Lowest Ratings Ever; White House Struggles To Defend Trump's Confederate Flag Tweet; Around 137 University Of Washington Students Test Positive For Virus. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: They were married for 63 years before dying within three days of each other. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, the military now deploying medical personnel to Texas as cases surge. Two top doctors say the U.S. is in free fall.

Plus, 137 students with coronavirus and classes haven't even started yet. I'll talk to the president of a major university about the outbreak on her campus. Can it be contained?

And the President embraces the confederate flag. The White House won't denounce it. What is Trump's reelection strategy and will it work? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the U.S. Military just announcing it will send medical personnel to Texas as the pandemic pushes the state to the brink. It is yet another sign that hospitals and first responders in Texas are becoming overwhelmed by the surge and it is not just Texas, 32 states are seeing a spike in new cases tonight. More than 130,000 Americans have now died from coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci tonight warning that states reopen too quickly and that the problem is getting worse.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We went up, never came down to baseline and now it's surging back up. So it's a serious situation that we have to address immediately.


BURNETT: And two top doctors in the country with these ominous words. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I believe we are in free fall.



BURNETT: The President though is in complete denial. The White House claiming the U.S. is quote a leader in the fight against coronavirus.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the world is looking at us as a leader in COVID-19.


BURNETT: Wow. Is this what she means that the United States has 4 percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of the world's coronavirus deaths? Maybe not. Maybe this, maybe the green line at the top of the chart.

It shows U.S. cases in March. You see at the beginning roughly the same spot is Italy, Germany and France. Look at that green line now, surging. It is in a league of its own, as other countries have plunged close to the flat line. That is leadership. Certainly not the kind though that anyone wants to trump it.

The administration's misleading comments on coronavirus, however, don't even stop there. The White House is now defending President Trump's false claim that 99 percent of Coronavirus cases are 'totally harmless'. Here's his Press Secretary and Chief of Staff both earlier today.


MCENANY: The President was noting the fact that the vast majority of Americans who contract coronavirus will come out on the other side of this.

FORMER REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): When you look at the facts, when you look at really what we're dealing with, a lot of these cases are asymptomatic.


BURNETT: That though is not what President Trump said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we have tested almost 40 million people, by so doing we showcase 99 percent of which are totally harmless.


BURNETT: Totally harmless. I mean, first of all let's just start here with person number one as he likes to do. If it is harmless, then why does he have anyone take a coronavirus test who goes close to him? Well, every single person who goes close to the President does take a coronavirus test, the reason is because it is not harmless.

And by the way, that's because a person aged 74 with underlying conditions like Donald J. Trump has an estimated 17 percent chance of hospitalization if he gets coronavirus according to the Imperial College London. So on its face saying - the President's assertion that coronavirus is 99 percent harmless as false should be a really easy thing to say that that was wrong. But it isn't easy in the Trump White House where obeisance Trump's objectivity.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong.


BURNETT: Well, we do get in the business of who's right and who's wrong when it comes to facts and fiction, and here's some numbers, 15 percent to 20 percent. That is the number of Coronavirus cases that wind up needing oxygen or being hospitalized according to the WHO.

And when you come out on the other side, how are you? Well, for a lot of people, not the same. Listen to some of the survivors who told me about how serious and long lasting their side effects still are.


JESSE VANDERHOOF, RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS: I still feel the effects of COVID. You lose so much weight and lose so much muscle that you're just going to feel horrible for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My lung capacity is completely shot. I mean I was playing soccer before this and now I'm getting winded just kicking the ball against the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never would have imagined in a million years that I would have got this virus the way that I did. It turned into a cough attack where I couldn't take a small breath without fearing for my life.


BURNETT: And none of them are even in the age bracket as the President or just the statistics or the statistics, death is a very real risk for those young Americans is not harmless either.


Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT. And Jeremy the virus is surging, but the White House is not acknowledging this tonight.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, they certainly are not, Erin. And as we are seeing these cases of the virus surging across the country, it's very clear at this point, Erin, that the President has decided to pass up on an opportunity to lead the country, to encourage Americans to take this virus more seriously.

Instead, he and the White House are much more focused on spinning the current situation that is happening in this country in a much more positive light. We heard both the White House Chief of Staff and the White House Press Secretary try and back up the President's claim that 99 percent of these cases are totally harmless.

Of course, we know that that is a baseless claim. But this White House insisted today that the President was not only not downplaying the situation with the virus, but tried to point to statistics like the mortality rate to try and back up what the President was saying.

Not only does it not back it up as you just showed your viewers, but we also know that mortality rate is one of those lagging indicators. And unfortunately, many experts are predicting that the mortality rate is going to go up in the weeks to come.

And in talking with White House officials, Erin, I can tell you that the message from the White House this week is not to focus on encouraging Americans to take this more seriously. Instead, it is focused on saying we are in a different place than we were when there was this first surge that the infrastructure is in place, thanks to the work of this administration.

But of course, Erin, all we have to focus on is what the public health experts are saying and like we heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci today, this is a serious situation and Americans need to do more to try and bend that curve, Erin.

BURNETT: Yes. He couldn't have been more clear. All right. Thank you very much, Jeremy.

And I want to go now to former White House medical adviser under President George W. Bush, Dr. Jonathan Reiner and former acting CDC Director under President Obama, Dr. Richard Besser. I appreciate both of your time.

Dr. Reiner, the United States, 4 percent of the world population about 25 percent of all coronavirus deaths and there were other examples I gave. But when you just look at that on its face, is the United States a leader in the fight against coronavirus?

JONATHAN REINER, DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION LABORATORY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Leading from behind. The American response to this has been really woeful. We were incredibly delayed in testing. It took almost 50 days to test the first 20,000 people after the first American tested positive on January 20th.

It took a very long time to get the word out to the public to wear face masks and still that's debated by our leadership. So we are truly leading from behind. We have, as you said, 4 percent of the world's population over 25 percent of the mortality with this virus.

We've learned a lot, but I think the President gaslighting this, the President's statement that basically for 99 percent of people this is basically harmless, really dishonors the 130,000 people who have died. That's twice the number of deaths that we had of American soldiers in Vietnam, 130,000, families morning. All to create this fiction that there's nothing to see here, but it's more toxic than that.

When you tell the public that 99 percent of people have no harmful effects from this, then people are willing to go out, not social distance, not wear a mask and that's how you sabotage recovery from this, not how you promote recovery from the pandemic. So it's really toxic and for someone who really wants to move to the other side of this, I can't imagine the President really wants that effect.

BURNETT: Yes. Which is sort of shocking in the sense of if he wants the economy back, the ways are very clear and he's not pursuing them. Dr. Besser, last week when the EU put on a list of who could come to the EU, the United States if you're an American citizen, you can't go because of coronavirus, because they're worried the Americans are going to bring coronavirus over there.

I mean that is - sure a leader but a leader in doing things the wrong way. I mean, it almost seems as if we're becoming an outlier.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR UNDER OBAMA: Well, I mean, when you look at the graphs from Europe, when you look at many Asian countries, South Korea, Vietnam, you see that it is possible to turn this around and drive numbers down to a level where public health can do their job and identify cases and track and provide isolation and quarantine. What we're seeing in the United States are numbers that are going in the opposite direction and it's frightening.

And when you hear every public health leader in the nation, calling on people to do the right thing, to wear masks, to social distance, to wash their hands and then you hear political leaders giving mixed messages. Some saying yes, follow public health, but others saying no, there's nothing to worry about. It's a recipe for disaster and that's what we're seeing across our country.

BURNETT: So Dr. Reiner, the White House today defended the President's claim of 99 percent of cases being harmless, which, of course, as you pointed out is not true.


And he has said this before, he said 15 people in a couple of days, it's going to go to zero in terms of U.S. cases. That was in February and March. He said it's going to go away, hopefully, by the end of the month, right? This is again and again and again and I did, of course, point out the irony of he himself making this comment when his age group would be nearly at 20 percent chance of hospitalization and a very significant chance of death.

How troubling is it that that he just is saying things that aren't true that you can't trust him right now on this topic? REINER: Well, almost everything the President says about the

coronavirus pandemic has been wrong. And either the President lacks the cognitive ability to absorb the data and to understand the science or he's lying. There's no middle ground.

But when the President says something like he said today about 99 percent of people are left harmless by this virus, you really wonder about it. The truth is about 20 percent of people will need hospitalization, about 20 percent of those people will need critical care. And if you end up on a ventilator, 80 percent of those folks will die.

And even the young people are - as you mentioned, young people, people in their 20s are often left with very debilitating illnesses that can go on for weeks or months. This is nothing to be trifled with and the President's statements, as I said a few minutes ago are absolutely corrosive.

BURNETT: Dr. Besser, you also have this issue globally. The WHO has made plenty of mistakes here and raised a lot of questions about its credibility and they have changed course on guidance. Now, part of that is because information changes but now they're being accused of ignoring the risk of coronavirus traveling as an aerosol in the air, right?

So just by talking, you walk by and it just kind of hangs out there and someone else can walk through it and get it, which is scary. But if true, as we're understanding that that is true, why would the WHO not admit it, why would they not put it out there?

BESSER: Well, I think, Erin, it's absolutely essential that the United States participates as part of the global community. The efforts of the U.S. to withdraw from WHO do nothing to help the WHO be successful.

I find though that some of this conversation about aerosol versus respiratory droplets is a distraction. Because if the science comes down, yes, aerosol is an important means of transmitting, it's not going to call on us to do less, it would call on us to do more and the fact that in America, people aren't doing what it takes to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets, wearing masks, social distancing, staying home if they're sick, washing hands, we see those measures working around the globe at containing this.

So if we focus on what works and what's worked in many other countries, we can be successful in America and part of it is this - getting away from this being such a partisan divide and transferring this to being the American way, that we're all looking out for each other.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it, Dr. Besser, Dr. Reiner.

BESSER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next breaking news, the Mayor of Atlanta announcing she has tested positive for coronavirus, what she is saying tonight.

Plus, Trump embracing the confederate flag as Pentagon leaders go in the opposite direction. Why won't the President denounce the confederate flag?

And breaking news, new cases just announced at the University of Washington, 137 students now have coronavirus with a number growing tonight. I'm going to speak to the university's president.



BURNETT: Breaking news, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announcing moments ago that she has tested positive for coronavirus. The Mayor tweeting, "COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had no symptoms and have tested positive."

This as states across this country grapple with a record number of new cases. Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): On Independence Day, Florida suffered more new cases than any state has ever, still the Governor seems sanguine.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: I mean, there's no need really be fearful about it.


WATT (voice over): But some Mayors are.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: What happened is what's happened across the country which is when we opened, people began to socialize as if the coronavirus didn't exist.


WATT (voice over): Miami-Dade just closed dine in restaurants again.


MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH: We're starting to roll the carpet back up. It's pretty clear we have this real problem.


WATT (voice over): Because a staggering 26 percent of old COVID-19 test in the county came back positive on Sunday.


HOTEZ: I fear that we're spiraling out of control.


WATT (voice over): In Texas, the number of patients in the hospital is hitting a new record high every day.


MAYOR RON NIRENBERG (I), SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: If the pace continues, we're a week away from running out of hospital beds and ICU capacity.


WATT (voice over): Now, remember those Memorial Day crash back in May? Well, three weeks later, new case counts climbed nationally and 32 states are now going in the wrong direction. Did we learn a lesson? Well, this was backwater Jackson, the Ozarks Memorial weekend and July 4th, almost indistinguishable.

There were crowds across the country this past weekend, too many drawn to water and a house party in LA and a beach party on Fire Island. So many celebrating shaking off the Brits, but not this virus, not even close.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: We're right back where we were at the peak of the epidemic during the New York outbreak.


WATT (voice over): And remember, what New York looked like in April. Crowded hospitals, more trucks outside. Today, though, a different story.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D) NEW YORK: The numbers have actually declined since we started reopening.


WATT (voice over): They took it slow, mandated masks very early and harsh words for the President for not acknowledging the danger.


CUOMO: He is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus. How did this become a political statement? This is common sense.




WATT: And meanwhile here in California, like so many other places in this country, we're playing a horrible waiting game. Cases have been climbing for a few weeks. Hospitalizations now at an all time high. Will the death toll also rise?

The Governor here says he is modestly optimistic it won't because a lot of the people that are being infected are younger, so therefore less susceptible, but we just don't know yet, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you.

And I want to bring in Dr. David De La Zerda. He is the ICU Medical Director at Miami's Jackson Health System, which is the largest public health system in Florida. I appreciate your time, Dr. De La Zerda. I know that you are in the middle of caring for patients here as we speak, so I thank you for taking the time to tell us what you're seeing.

We've seen hospitalizations in Miami-Dade nearly double, ICU beds have more than doubled up, 114 percent, ventilators up even more than that. And I know you're in the ICU now, what do you see today?

DR. DAVID DE LA ZERDA, JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL ICU MEDICAL DIRECTORY AND PULMONOLOGIST: Hi. thank you for having me. Yes, we seen that there is an impressive amount of new cases in the last week or so. So as you reported, we have more admissions and we have also more admissions to the ICU. So we seen a lot of patients right now.

BURNETT: And what is their condition in terms of when you go in, how do you feel seeing these people now?

DE LA ZERDA: This time is younger than last time, we're talking about 35 to 45, so not really major health problems they have. So caring for really young patients, we're not really past medical history, I mean, it's sometimes scary. You want to do your best to keep this patient safe and you keep seeing patients coming to your unit.

So we have enough beds for now, but you just keep seeing patients come in and come in every day. So it's hard to keep up.

BURNETT: So you just said that they're younger now, 35 to 45 and how that can be scary. And, obviously, the Governor of your state, DeSantis, said that the median age back in March of cases was 65 and now it's 36, which is sort of what you're saying too.

And the reality of it is, Doctor, you and I both know a lot of younger people think it won't - they won't really get sick and so this doesn't really impact them, that it's going to - it just - it's not an issue for them. What do you say to people who have that feeling given what you're seeing in the hospital?

DE LA ZERDA: That's a great point what you mentioned. So sometimes young people believe they will not get sick and they believe like most of the diseases is for all patients. But this disease, COVID-19, is anybody can get sick, from the youngest to the oldest and I think that's what we see now.

So as you point out, we've seen everybody from 34 to 45 dying in the ICU. So the message to young people is they can also get sick and they should also take care of themselves.

BURNETT: So today, when Gov. DeSantis address the surge in cases, here's part of what he said, Doctor, let me show you, let me play it for you.


DESANTIS: So if you are at 5 percent positivity and you test 50,000 and then you test 100,000, the positivity stays the same. Yes, you'll have twice as many tests come back positive, but it's not really evidence that it's more prevalent.


BURNETT: Would you agree with that, Doctor, if the percent positivity rate stays the same, you test more people, it's not evidence that it's more prevalent?

DE LA ZERDA: I mean, the point is, yes, if you are testing more, you will see more cases positive, of course. If you don't test you will not see those cases. I want to add to that, that we're also seeing this increase in admissions in the hospital. So we're getting more tests, you see more patients in the community. But more concerned we also seen patients in the hospital.

So I agree one thing is to check for prevalence with a number of cases in the community. That's why we're getting with the testing. But what is concerning to me is the increased cases also admitted to the hospital. So I think that's two important points to make.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. De La Zerda, I really appreciate your time. And I know that you literally came to us just from taking care of a patient. So our thoughts are with you and thank you.

DE LA ZERDA: Thank you very much and again, sorry, I was kind of late. Thank you.

BURNETT: No. No. No, that's OK. We're glad to hear from you and I appreciate your time.

And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will be joining Chris Cuomo tonight and that is at nine o'clock. As I said, she just said that she has tested positive for coronavirus, so you'll see that at nine.

And next, President Trump embracing the confederate flag and the White House Press Secretary cannot give a definitive answer on what is a pretty simple question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he think it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban it? MCENANY: The President said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the



BURNETT: And 137 students at the University of Washington infected with coronavirus. New cases added tonight. The university's President Is OUTFRONT.




BURNETT: Tonight, the White House refusing to denounce the confederate flag after President Trump criticized NASCAR's ban. Tweeting, "Flag decision has caused lowest ratings," all caps, "EVER."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he believe NASCAR should fly the confederate flag and why don't they Fly it here?

MCENANY: The whole point of the tweet was to note the incident, the alleged hate crime that in fact was not a hate crime at the very end, the ban on the flag was mentioned in the broader context of the fact that he rejects this notion that somehow NASCAR men and women who go to these sporting events are racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he think it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban it?

MCENANY: The President said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the other.


BURNETT: OK. If that's not making a judgment one way or the other, OUTFRONT now Ben Jealous former President and CEO of the NAACP, currently President of People for The American Way and former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

Governor, let me just ask this question point blank. President Trump is essentially embracing the confederate flag, right? Why else would you tweet out flag decisions as in the decision to remove it has caused lowest ratings ever all caps exclamation point.



Why? Why is he doing this?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's flailing, Erin. He -- he is in a meltdown. He looks at his polls and he doesn't know who to blame. He blames his advisers, even -- he's even blaming Fox News now.

And he's flailing. And he doesn't know how to -- how to stop things. So I think he's just throwing everything out over the period of the last three days hoping he's going to strike a chord. What he doesn't realize is that base he has, the edges of that base are beginning to fray. That base is getting smaller and smaller. And at the same time, of course, because he's a Republican, he's causing a brand problem for Republicans.

And mark my words, there's going to be a point in time where these folks are going to leave, you know? And then many of them will say, well, I was never a part of this. You know, I never supported him.

But in the meantime, because they had gone along, they have enabled him to do these kinds of just totally outrageous things.

BURNETT: I mean, Ben, you have -- you know, the press secretary of the president saying he was not making a judgment one way or the other. I mean, I don't even know where to begin with that. He's clearly making a judgment, right? Bring back that Confederate flag and you'll get your ratings back because racism works.

I mean, what's -- what's the point here, Ben? How else -- is there any other way to interpret it?

BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY AND FOUNDATION: Trump is like a one-hit wonder who when he loses his crowd just goes back to that one-hit song. And his hit song for his -- really his entire career in politics has been one of racism and hatred and division. What he's not realizing is he's losing people because of his song.

The entire GOP must be begging him at this point to learn how to sing a new song. That's his song. He's sticking with it. And let's pray that it keeps driving voters to look somewhere else, because we cannot have four more years of this.

BURNETT: So, Governor Kasich, the president gave two speeches over the holiday weekend. Let me play a byte from each to give you a sense of what he did. This is very much him versus them, us very them -- here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters. 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.


BURNETT: And "The Wall Street Journal" editorial, Governor, gave the speech a rave review, writing, quote: President Trump delivered one of the best speeches of his presidency --

KASICH: I saw that.

BURNETT: -- Friday night at Mount Rushmore.

They continued: Mr. Trump is trying to rally the country in defense of traditional American principles that are now under radical and unprecedented assault.

Obviously, you know, the papers come out against him before.


BURNETT: He must be thrilled for this analysis. What do you say?

KASICH: Well, I'm out here in the middle of America. I don't know any angry mobs that are trying to teach our kids to hate the country. I'm sure there's some professor out there doing something or somebody is going to call me and say, oh, you don't understand what's going on.

But I do understand what's going on. And I just rejected it. It's like -- it's like the main course is division and anger and why? Because, Erin, he's in freefall, and he's trying to figure out what he can say that stoke up that base, but it's not going to grow things. You see, these things that have been happening, the elections, the midterms have dealt division a big major blow.

And so I think there's a way for us to look at this as Americans and say, you know, that's not going to cut it. That's not going to work. And it's the Fourth of July. The Fourth of a July is a time when Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would rally people to what America is about, which is unity and together and lifting and equal opportunity for everyone. Not division and anger and talk about angry -- I don't know what he's talking about.

And these protesters, he kind of almost lumps them in. And these protesters are marching, as Ben will tell you, because for too long, there's not been enough justice in this system to make sure that people of all colors are treated equally.

BURNETT: And, Ben, you know, you see gun violence up across the country. You got a state of emergency in Georgia, right, with National Guard now in the streets, 31 people shot, five people killed over the weekend. New York state, 44 shootings and 63 victims. These are horrible things that are happening.

There were more and more protests separately from that in your hometown of Baltimore. Protesters tore down the statue of Christopher Columbus over the weekend, we can see that there. You know, the governor of Maryland said everybody should be against how that was handled.

Are you concerned images like that play into the president's hands?

JEALOUS: Protesters always need to have discipline. And to be clear, their own excesses will be used against them and their cause. With that said, let's be very clear -- what we're seeing is a response

that includes not just a response to what happens in our streets, but the way in which the president impacts that.


For four years, the people of this country have heard him make calls on the FOP to make calls on the Border Patrol, to be as violent as possible.

When the president goes in Fraternal Order of Police and encourages violent tactics, the country reaps that whirlwind. We've got to be clear that we need somebody at the top who is a uniter.

John is absolutely right. This president is the low watermark for presidential leadership we have ever seen. There's no Republican nor Democrat who would ever do what this president has done. And it includes the way that he's spoken to the police of this country repeatedly at their conventions, urged in on television and on Twitter urging them to be as violent as possible.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate both of you.

KASICH: Erin, one thing I want to say is --

BURNETT: Go ahead, Governor. Yes?

KASICH: -- when you look at the terrible, terrible loss of life in Chicago, driven primarily by gangs, OK? That is a separate issue from the issue of protesting.


KASICH: Secondly, Americans, by and large, support the police, but it's getting rid of the ones who are not qualified who shouldn't be there. That's the issue. So let's just make sure they don't connect those things together.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate it, and I thank you for making that point. Thank you both.

KASICH: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, classes haven't even started at the University of Washington, but tonight, 137 students have tested positive for coronavirus. Is the school rethinking plans to reopen in just weeks? The university president is my guest.

And the U.S. and Brazil lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths. It is not all they have in common. Our Bill Weir is on the round with special investigation in Sao Paulo.


[19:40:44] BURNETT: Breaking news, 137 students now testing positive for coronavirus at the University of Washington. The numbers just updated moments ago. They are up from 121, earlier today.

OUTFRONT now, the president of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce.

And, President Cauce, I really appreciate your time.

Look, I know most of these cases are students living in fraternity houses. They are there now. June 30th, 38 students and those 10 of those frat houses tested positive, by July 3rd, 117, now 137.

Do you have any sense of how big this will be and whether there will be more cases?

ANA MARI CAUCE, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, first of all, thank you very much, Erin, for giving me a chance to talk to you today. I'm talking to you, first of all, as the university president who was the very first to make the decision to take our entire university online.

So, we've already proven that we put students first, and then also, I'm a child clinical psychologist that studied risk behavior amongst adolescents. So, this has been a wake-up call. There's no question about it. We may get more trickling in, you know. We will -- we will see.

But I think that, you know, what's important is, first of all, you know, we've never closed. People like to think are you going to open or close, we have never closed. We have been working with over 2,000 students that have been on campus the entire time. And we have been working with them to ensure that they follow public health guidance.

Clearly, there have been issues and those students living off campus. In this case, in the Greek neighborhood, and it points where they need to work with our entire campus population. Even though we're still fully online.

BURNETT: Right, and I know some of the problem is across the country, people are coming back to school or they are saying come back even if it's online learning, because at least there will be more control over them there. And I know -- you know, you could have 45,000 students back to school this fall. Some in dorms, but many on campus, to your point, fraternity row, off campus, privately owned and operated.

How can you control what happens there since it will come on to the actual campus?

CAUCE: Well, I think it's not a question of how do we control it. It's how do we work in partnership with our students to make sure that they control it.

First, we need to change the narrative. We need to keep in mind that these students have been hearing from public health officials, from high government officials, in some cases from other university presidents that there are they are a low risk group. What they need to do is worry about protecting granny.

And we need to change the narrative and make it very clear to students that they are not just transmitters, that the fact that they are staying away from granny isn't enough, that they are every bit as susceptible to getting the virus as the elderly.

And although they may not die, less than 1 percent of students under 30, of people under 30 die, they need to protect themselves. We're learning more and more about how asymptomatic people may end up having very serious health effects in the future. And we need to get that message clear to students.

We also need to work with them and begin to shift as we have gone from stay at home to, you know, being out some of the time. We need to shift from an abstinence to a harm reduction model, an area in which the University of Washington has been a national leader.

We have had lots of success with this approach. There's a reason why we wear seat belts. Why friends don't let friends drive drunk. Why most youth no longer smoke and why teen pregnancy is at an all-time low. We need to help students take control themselves over their environment and to practice harm reduction, risk reduction behaviors. I had a lot of confidence that students can do that.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, when you look at this and balance this out, I know you made the point you were the first to go online, but you got 45,000 students. You know, most of whom, many of whom want to come back. Is this changing your -- any of your plans for reopening when you look at these close to 140 cases suddenly happening in the Greek community?

CAUCE: Like I say, it's a wakeup call. It make it is clear that we're going to have to not only work with students on campus, but with students in the entire neighborhood.


We are going to have to make sure, I mean, these outbreak was first detected in a city testing site that was stood up as a result of a partnership between the city, county and UW Medicine. UW -- we are so lucky we have a world class medical center that we can rely on. They are helping us develop the kinds of testing strategies that will allow us to do disease surveillance so that we can catch these things right away.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, President Cauce. Thank you.

CAUCE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the U.S. and Brazil leading the world -- in both cases and deaths. The leaders using a similar playbook in handling the pandemic. We have a special investigation report on the ground from Sao Paulo.

And a beloved actor being mourned tonight. Forty-one years old after his death from coronavirus.



BURNETT: Tonight, the U.S. death toll 132,000 and climbing, far and away leading the world in deaths from this devastating virus. Brazil is in second place. The leaders of both countries using a similar playbook.

Bill Weier is on the ground investigating OUTFRONT.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the age of COVID-19, Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro are two of a kind. Both love Twitter and by all appearances hate wearing masks.

Both are openly at odds with their nation's top doctors.


WEIR: And rely instead on the support of fans as they dismiss the pandemic as a little flu and a lot of hype.

(on camera): So you don't believe COVID-19 exists at all? It's a hoax?

(voice-over): "It could exist", this pro-Bolsonaro YouTuber tells me. But if it exists, it's weak.

He sounds just like his president who when asked about his nation passing China in fatalities said, so what? I mourn but what do you want me to do? I can't work miracles.

And the pot and pan protests that now ring out every time he goes on TV are one sign of a nation at odds with itself. Testing is still hard to come by and as they dig mass graves from Amazonia to Rio, some experts believe the official 1.6 million infections reported could be 12 to 16 times higher.

And yet, the big cities are opening up. Just as Bolsonaro uses veto power to water new laws to protect the public, ones that would make mask-wearing mandatory in churches, schools, shops and prisons.

NATALIA PASTERNAK, MICROBIOLOGIST AND PRESIDENT, QUSTION OF SCIENCE INSTITUTE: It's crazy. It's crazy. Science is being ignored and this government as it has never been before.

WEIR: Natalia Pasternak is a microbiologist who lobbies for more science and is among the many who are horrified when Bolsonaro fired his respected health minister for advancing quarantines.

A loyal general with in no health care experience is now running the nation's pandemic response. PASTERNAK: Are we going to be able to care for these people? I mean,

will there be hospitals for everyone? Will there be ventilators for everyone?

We never reach the situation that they reach in Italy where the doctor is forced to choose the person that gets the ventilator. I hope we never come to that but I'm afraid we might.


WEIR: And a huge development from here in Brazil. Just a few hours ago, President Bolsonaro appeared in front of the palace wearing a mask, warned the people nearby to stay back and revealed he went in for a lung scan and got at least his fourth COVID-19 test. He had three more back in mid March when they visited the White House, Erin, the trip in which his entourage infected the mayor of Miami who had since recovered.

But it will be fascinating to see if he develops any symptoms, the spokesman for the president's would not confirm whether or not he has a fever.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much.

Obviously, that is going to get everyone focusing on what happens to him. Thank you.

And next, his wife documented the battle with coronavirus. It included resuscitation and amputated leg and he fought for 90 days. We'll bring you the Broadway star's story, next.



BURNETT: Tonight, a devastating loss. Broadway actor Nick Cordero battled coronavirus for 95 days before the disease took his life at age 41. Cordero's wife chronicled his fight on social. People around the world followed. All of us hoping for his recovery.

Jeanne Moos is OUTFRONT.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Broadway star Nick Cordero struggled for three months in the ICU in a coma, up and down.

AMANDA KLOOTS, NICK CORDERO'S WIFE: But he is awake. Dada is awake, yey!

MOOS: But more down than up.

KLOOTS: I'm asking again for all the prayers, mega prayers.

MOOS: His ordeal documented by his wife Amanda Kloots. From "Bullets Over Broadway", to "Law and Order", his career was going great.

NICK CORDERO, ACTOR: This one could be one of the great ones --

MOOS: Until it was cut short by COVID-19.

God has another angel in heaven now posted his wife. Nick had been young and healthy as Alec Baldwin noted.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Forty-one years old. My God.

MOOS: Last June, Nick was looking at his newborn son Elvis in the ICU. This June, Nick was in the ICU himself.

And through it all, Amanda shared the experience.

KLOOTS: He told me four times that he won't survive.

MOOS: He was put on a ventilator.

KLOOTS: His pulse gone for two minutes and they had to resuscitate his heart.

MOOS: They had to amputate a leg.

KLOOTS: It was a situation of life or leg.

MOOS: He communicated with his eyes.

KLOOTS: By looking up or down to yes or no questions.

MOOS: Amanda recruited an army to say prayers, created a #wakeupnick, inspired people to sing and dance.




MOOS: Fans sent in artwork, a GoFundMe page for medical expenses, zoom past $850,000 and rising. Just a few days before his death, his wife spoke with CBS.

KLOOTS: So I grab his hand, and I'm waiting for the day that he holds my hand back.

MOOS: That day apparently never came. He missed seeing his son's first steps.

KLOOTS: Come on. Come on.

MOOS: Nick Cordero was out lived by his 1-year-old who will grow up hearing stories of how much he was loved.

CORDERO: Oh, yeah.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.