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Cases Soar In U.S. As Concern Grows About New Spike; Trump Campaign Bets On Defending Monuments As Winning Issue; Cities In Texas, Florida Concerns About Packed Hospitals. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: And welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

A dire public health crisis, that's how one leading doctor just described to us how the coronavirus pandemic is hitting major U.S. cities. He told us we are in free fall. He also told us the virus could leave behind a generation of disabled Americans.

Even so, we saw crowds gathered over the weekend. This is video at a lake party in Michigan. A lot of people, a lot of beach balls, but no masks or social distancing. California hit a record for new single-day cases with nearly 12,000 cases on Sunday. Florida continues to hit records. They now have 200,000 total cases. Texas could top that today.

This morning, 32 states, all the states there in red, are seeing an increase in cases.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: And, John, that means that hospitalizations in several cities are up. Hospitals are at or near capacity. And this morning, the death toll is nearing 130,000 Americans.

Meanwhile, President Trump making a ridiculous and dangerous claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are totally harmless. As Dr. Peter hotez told us this morning, that's not true on any level, but the FDA commissioner refused to say that this weekend.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong. It's a serious problem that we have. We've seen the surge in cases. We must do something to stem the tide.


CAMEROTA: Why won't the White House coronavirus task force correct bad information?

At the same time, the world's top doctors are asking the WHO to acknowledge that COVID-19 is an airborne virus. BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, she is the Chief of the Division of Infectious at Mass General Hospital, and CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem, she is the former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. This is our Massachusetts miracle panel this morning. Thank you both so much for being with us.

Dr. Walensky, you look at the statistics around the country, and let's stick with hospitalizations, right? Let's not even get into the discussion about testing, as more testing lead in more cases. We are seeing more sick people, dangerous levels of sick people. Look at Texas, the increase in hospitalizations in Texas. That's the chart there.

We just got fresh numbers from Miami-Dade County about hospitalizations there. They are up 88 percent, hospitalizations are in just two weeks, ICU bed usage up 114 percent in two weeks and patients on ventilators up 119 percent in two weeks. This is why I think Dr. Hotez told us, not even 45 minutes ago, Dr. Walensky, we are in freefall this morning.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good morning, John. I believe we are in freefall. You see the footage of what happened this past weekend and people are either naive to the influence of their actions or they're simply resigned to ignore it.

I think we know at this point that we've had about 3 million documented cases in the United States. The CDC estimates we've had about perhaps ten times more than that, 30 million.

But let's remember, there are 300 million people in this country who remain susceptible and have been uninfected so far. And this virus is far from running out of people to infect. And until we change our behavior to prevent these infections, the infections are going to continue to soar.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, you know, we were all so struck by what the FDA commissioner told Dana Bash this weekend, in terms of not correcting when President Trump said the coronavirus is harmless. I mean, that's what he said, 99 percent harmless.

And I understand that the people around President Trump are in this untenable position of not being able to speak truth to power. We've seen it time and again. However, if we can't trust the White House coronavirus task force to give us real information, I don't know where Americans are this morning.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I don't know where they get accurate information anymore. In a crisis or a disaster, a leader needs to provide two things, facts and hope. That's all people want. They want to know what kind of harm am I in or could I be in, and they want to know a path forward.

And so I think President Trump's statement about how people get sick or how many people get sick is consistent with how he's been since January. No effective way to stop the virus from spreading, no unified way to get us through this pandemic and no realistic way to get us out. So what all he has left is to say, there's not a problem.

And the fact that the people around him don't correct him, I think, is just consistent with the kind of people that he surrounds himself with, and why so few of them are willing to speak out against him.

BERMAN: So, Dr. Walensky, what needs to happen today?

WALENSKY: Well, you know, I want to just echo what Juliette said. There are two ways this virus can be harmful.


This can be harmful because it kills people it infects. We know of the 50,000 cases this past day, a single day of this past weekend. If they're young people, it could be 500 people who die from that. If they're older people, it could be 7,500 people who die from it, just from a single day of infection.

So I think that there is individual harm that can be done by this virus. But I want to remind people that there's transmission that happens. So even if a person does not get harmed individually, they have the potential to infect two to three other people who will be harmed by this infection. So there's a lot of harm that could be done.

I still very much believe we have to take the measures that are uncomfortable, draconian, to prevent this virus. We need hand washing, we need social distancing, we need masking.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, that brings us to one of the therapeutics that has seemed to work, and that's remdesivir. But we hear conflicting reports as to whether or not we're running out of a supply of remdesivir and whether or not hospitals will be able to get their hands on it. So what should be the answer here?

KAYYEM: So this is once again a supply chain issue that the White House should have gotten ahead of. Remdesivir is available now for the patients who need it, which is the critical patients. But if it proves to be a successful treatment for those with lesser treatments, look, this is good news, right? Because while we all hope for a vaccine and wait for a vaccine, there is so much that we can do in between now and then that can save lives and protect people who may have long-term harms, because they get this.

One of those, many of those, include, you know, masking and social distancing, but one is these treatments that are coming online. The White House could take control of production, once again, as we've seen, as we've complained about before, when it came to masks and other goods that we were talking about when we were talking about the Defense Production Act.

The White House could take charge of this treatment and then test it on patients who are not chronic. Because if it proves to be a successful treatment, that is good news. That is a way to live with the virus. That's what we have to understand. We have to live with the virus, work around it, manage around it, until we get a final solution, whether it is a vaccine or it's that the virus sort of loses its potency.

But, you know, this is something that can White House once again could get ahead of and seems to not have.

BERMAN: Dr. Walensky, you're hearing from colleagues in Texas, they can't get their hands on the drug, or as much as they want, at least.

WALENSKY: I certainly am. I see three problems with remdesivir right now. One is a single manufacturer is making it, Gilead. Two, it is that we are going to run out. I think you can't look at the number of cases that are happening right now and not anticipate a shortage. And three, last week, it was priced at over $3,000 for a five-day course for a drug that we know costs $6 for a five-day course to make.

So HHS has the power and the patent rights to this drug. I think we need generic competition. I think that we need more companies making it, so that we have enough drug for the people who need it and so that the price can be driven down so that people can afford it.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, that leads us to what happens next, and that is, September is around the corner. I mean, I hate to say it, but it is. And so all parents want to know are our kids able to go back to school in September? And you've studied this, you have looked into it. And you think it's a risk that's worth taking?

KAYYEM: I think -- I have a piece coming out in The Atlantic this morning. Obviously, everyone sort of has woken up to this and the debate about why do we open bars and not schools. Schools are hard. There are some jurisdictions that are going to be able to have some in-person schooling for our kids. I'm talking about K-12 now. That's because they've brought the numbers down, Massachusetts is one of them. And full disclosure, I helped work on that. Rhode Island is another. New York is potentially another.

So we will see a hodgepodge of solutions in the K-12 realm. I cannot see how Texas right now is able to do it, how it won't go almost fully, if not fully remote. So this is the kind of sort of, you know, the kind of recovery that was absolutely unnecessary, had we taken seriously three months ago the need to stop the spread, the need to flatten the curve and to focus on getting our kids back, not just for them and all the challenges that they're facing, but, of course, for working parents and for staff and teachers to protect them.

So, just like we've seen before in the last couple of months, we're going to have a hodgepodge of solutions on the K-12 area. Some countries, because I've looked at other countries, have done it well. Others admittedly have opened and then have closed, like Israel, so it is not going to be consistent for parents. You need to get your head around this. You need to plan for the likelihood that your kids are home for part or a significant amount of the time in the fall.

BERMAN: What strikes me in this discussion, as we talk about kids, younger kids going back to school, I spent some time this weekend with a senior, who I may or may not be related to.

[07:10:08] I mean, a senior citizen, a 77-year-old man, my dad. And you look at what's happening around the country, Dr. Walensky. And if you're a senior or you're a kid who wants to go back to school, you're looking at these 20-somethings at these pool parties and bars and you're saying, what are you doing to us? What are you doing to us? You're making it so these kids can't go back to school. You're making it so our 75-year-old parents can't leave their house. This is a real issue.

And I think there are a lot of people right now deeply offended by what they're seeing.

WALENSKY: I would wholeheartedly agree with you. And I would say, you know, we saw in certain areas in the northeast that were hard hit by this early on in March that if you are diligent in, you know, complying with masking, with complying with a slow, phased reopening, that you can sort of contain this. And in other areas of the country, they just have not had the same stamina or care to go ahead and do that.

And I would wholeheartedly agree with you. I have several children who want to go back to college, and they are outraged as they're looking at the footage.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Walensky, Juliette Kayyem, thank you both very much this morning for all of the information.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

WALENSKY: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Also new this morning, a CNN investigation finds health authorities in Florida, a major hotspot for the virus, as you know, often failed to do the contact tracing, which is considered key to containing any outbreak. Let's get the latest from Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

What is this, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. The White House describes contact tracing as a core state preparedness responsibility. The CDC says it can effectively break the chain of transmission. You find the cases, you ask who they've been in contact with while contagious, and then you tell those people they need to quarantine.

So we looked at Florida, which, of course, is now the nation's number one hotspot, and here is what we found. We talked to more than two dozen people who had COVID, 27, to be exact. We found that only five of them had received contact tracing phone calls from Florida state health authorities, only five of them.

Now, the -- part of the problem is that Florida should have more contact tracers. If you compare them to the standard of the National Association of County and City Health officials, they are missing thousands of contact tracers. They're not alone. Only seven states have enough contact tracers when you look at the standard that's set by that group.

But the problem is that Florida is in a particularly bad situation. Let's look at what happened over the weekend. They set a record, and not in a good way, they set a record for the number of COVID cases on Saturday, 11,434 new cases in one day. That is more than New York was at its height.

Also on Saturday, the state set -- also had 18 deaths in one day. So, concerns about contact tracing in Florida. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

So President Trump is planning another campaign rally, as he tries to change the story from surging coronavirus cases to confederate statues. Is it working?



CAMEROTA: President Trump is planning a campaign rally in New Hampshire this Saturday, this after delivering another divisive speech over the holiday weekend.

Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers. Great to see both of you.

Bakari, President Trump really -- what am I -- I didn't even talk about your book, My Vanishing Country. There it was. You can put it on the screen.

BERMAN: Apparently, The Vanishing Book. It just disappeared from the screen without Alisyn even talking about it.

CAMEROTA: Why didn't I lead with that?

Bakari, are you surprised by how much President Trump really likes those confederate statues? He just really supports them. He wants to protect them. Here is a moment of his speech on 4th of July.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms.


CAMEROTA: Your thoughts, Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well -- and David will have to chime in here, but when you're running for a second term, if the only thing you have in your cache of things to run on is keeping up monuments, then you're really not in a good position at all. And it's weird to me that the president of the United States always finds refuge under the shadows of the confederacy. I don't completely understand that. We're having a reckoning with the history of this country right now, and I will take that battle over the confederacy with the president of the United States any day of the week.

And we're not trying to erase our history. We know we can't erase our history. But what we are trying to say is we don't have to live under the shadows of the confederacy anymore. There is no reason for us to have a Ben Tillman statue up in South Carolina or John C. Calhoun statue. It makes absolutely no sense.

And for the president to want to re-litigate this because this is his only winning issue means that the economy is not doing well, that over 100,000 people have died during a pandemic. He's all out of ideas and the only things he has left are culture wars and statues.

BERMAN: David?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I agree, in substance, with Bakari, but I have a slightly different view about its potential effectiveness. I think presidents do run on fear and they run on reelections based on fear. And I think what the president is doing, and if you look at his language in these couple of speeches over the holiday weekend, he mentions confederate monuments, but he makes it bigger.

His use of the term, indoctrination, goes to this larger argument about liberal orthodoxy, about indoctrination of young people, about erasure of the past and the kind of intolerance in this moment of racial awakening and equity turning into shame.


And I think that has the potential to resonate with some. How big that some is, I don't know. Because I think we're in the middle of a national moment that's bigger than anything I've seen in my lifetime that is a bipartisan moment, for sure, that is transcending and -- or, I should say, moving into major institutions, beyond politics, into corporations.

So I think his argument is narrower and narrower, but it is a version of what we saw in 2016. One of the ways he got evangelical voters, for example, is, in a way, saying, look, people are saying you're a bigot, you know, because you don't support gay rights. Well, you're always going to have a place with me. I think that's what he's going for. And the power of definition could be important.

BERMAN: Yes, you may be absolutely right, it may resonate with some. The question is, with whom or how many? And does it, in any way, extend the base?

And the other thing, Bakari, is I just -- it's not the pandemic, right? It's not this issue, which is affecting millions of Americans, including in states like Texas, in Florida, in South Carolina, in Arizona, states the president absolutely needs to win. A couple of statistics that jumped out to me today, the New York Times did a deep dive into the racial disparities in the pandemic and people of color are one third -- three times more likely to get infected with coronavirus and twice as likely to die.

And those statistics are related, I think, to what the president is saying out loud at these rallies, because it may indicate why they're not going to land, his rallies, land the way that they might have otherwise because people know what's going on in the country.

SELLERS: People do know what's going on in the country and people are directly affected by that. I mean, people are dying all around us. Everyone knows someone -- everyone watching this show knows someone who's been hospitalized with COVID-19. I mean, everyone. So this pandemic is touching us in a way that the president simply wants to ignore.

And to David's point, that's interesting. I mean, I think that the president of the United States, his base is going to be the same. I don't think that the president of the United States will lose his grip on that 35 percent of America.

And I've always told people that I don't believe that Democrats should literally chase after those Obama/Trump voters. I find them to be somewhat of a unicorn in the political process. But there are these voters who voted for Barack Obama, who stayed at home for Hillary Clinton, who are Democratic voters, who are 4 million, over a third are African-American. These are the voters, that's over 1.3 African- Americans who voted for President Obama, who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton. That is Joe Biden's path to victory.

And I believe that the more the president speaks about this confederacy, the more, instead of, you know, making his base wider, he's actually igniting these voters who didn't show up for Joe Biden. So I think it might be actually backfiring.

GREGORY: I think that's a right point to make and it's a smart point. And I think what I'm getting at is, to me, what I'm hearing the president doing is trying to go big on fear and liberal excess, kind of liberals gone crazy. There's a lot of voters out there who may feel under attack in this racial moment, saying, I have good intentions and this is just liberals telling me how to think and what monuments I ought to have. They're not having a more substantive or nuanced debate about what these monuments may actually mean. They may actually be focused on the economy.

And so if the president is in a position to ignore the virus and the incompetence with which that's been handled by the federal government and to focus on fear and then focus on the economy, and if there's some rebound or enough of a rebound that he can argue, there may be voters susceptible to the argument that, hey, if liberals get control, if Biden picks an Elizabeth Warren, things that have gone well are going to be under attack for you or in real danger. I think that can resonate. In other words, I think that can get to the potential to expand that base.

BERMAN: Interesting. In other words, so you see the path, you see the reason behind it.

GREGORY: I see what I think is a narrow path. But I just don't want to get involved in saying, well, everything is stacked against him because I just start to hear all of us in 2016 be persuaded of how clear everything looked.

BERMAN: David Gregory, Author of How's Your Faith, and Bakari Seller, Author of My Vanishing Country, Alisyn Camerota author of Amanda Wakes Up, me, author of nothing.

CAMEROTA: Not yet.

BERMAN: Exactly. No, it's great to have you guys on. My diary, dear diary, I talked to Bakari and David today, it was nice.


Thanks, guys, I appreciate it.

So the mayor of Austin, Texas, says his city is two weeks away from running out of hospital beds. He joins us, next.


BERMAN: A dire warning this morning out of Austin, Texas. The city's mayor says hospitals treating coronavirus patients could run out of beds in two weeks. This comes as Texas hit a new record in terms of the number of cases on Sunday, reporting at least 8,000 people have been hospitalized. That is also a record and deeply concerning.

The mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, joins me now. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us.

We have heard your warning that Austin could run out of beds in two weeks. What's the situation this morning?

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-AUSTIN, TX): Well, we're trying to change the trajectory. Finally, we got the governor to allow us to enforce masks, first limited just through businesses, but last week, more opened up. We're finding that that may actually be changing behaviors. I wish we had done it several weeks earlier, but there's a lesson to be learned, I think, in what's happened in Texas in May and June.


We opened up in ways that were not sustainable.