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Cities in Texas, Florida Raise Concerns About Packed Hospitals; July 4th Weekend Marred By Gun Violence in Several Big U.S. Cities; Parents in the U.S. Struggle to Teach Special Needs Kids with Classes Closed. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 07:30   ET



MAYOR STEVE ADLER, AUSTIN, TEXAS: 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, and now we're having to turn that curve or else we're looking at our hospitals being overwhelmed here in the next 10 days to two weeks.

JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: So what is going to keep those hospitals from being overwhelmed? It's not just people or more people wearing masks, is it?

ADLER: No, to a large degree, it is. You know, the virus spreads from person-to-person. So the fewer the physical interactions that you have, the greater the chances the virus won't spread or won't spread at the same rate. So, yes, it's about masking. It's about people staying home and not going out when they can. It's about people social distancing. It is those basic block and tackling things that do make a difference.

BERMAN: What is your consideration right now in terms of issuing new stay-at-home orders?

ADLER: It's something that we're considering. And I think, you know, it's only a last -- only to be used as a last resort. But if that is the only last resort, just like we're doing surge planning, then there's got to be something that is -- that is -- that is considered.

You know, the modelers tell us that if we were to go back and tamp down the virus again, get it back to situation that we had back in March and April, not only would we be able to contact trace better, not only would we be more effective at testing, but it would increase the chances that we could open up schools in the Fall.

So no one wants to shut down the economy again. There are a lot of people that want certainty with respect to schools. So this is the discussion that the community needs to be having.

BERMAN: Just as a point of fact, even if you wanted to or decided to or tried to issue a stay-at-home order in Austin now, could you? ADLER: Well, the conventional wisdom is that we cannot. That the

governor's order is control. So cities are getting together and we're lobbying our governor. Know that he was open for cities in March and April. It was cities that acted. We put just by city action over half the population of the state in stay-at-home orders. And we're lobbying the governor now to return to cities that measure of local control.

BERMAN: How harmless in terms of your experience in Austin is the coronavirus?

ADLER: It's not harmless. There are people that are dying in my community. It's incredibly disruptive. And the messaging coming from the president of the United States is dangerous and it is -- it is -- that is harmful.

One of the biggest problems that we have in terms of getting the community to do those behaviors that are necessary to co-exist with this virus, one of the biggest challenges we have is the messaging coming out of Washington that would suggest that masks don't work or it's not necessary or that the virus is going away on its own. That is one of the chief hurdles and barriers that we're facing.

BERMAN: You picked up on what I was getting at there. Obviously, the president this weekend said 99 percent of cases are harmless, which just isn't true. You talk about consistency of messaging. Why would that be helpful?

ADLER: Well, it's helpful because in order to be able to deal with this virus, you need your entire community acting in a way that is consistent with the fact that we're going to be living with this virus for who knows how long? You know, it looks at least through the end of the year and into the next year. So you have to have a community who by its behaviors is tamping down the virus while at the same time you're trying to open up the economy.

And if a significant part of your community doesn't think this is real or something they have to worry about, that group of people will for the entire city make it more difficult to open up the economy. That group of people will make it more dangerous for seniors and susceptible people. That confused message divides a community and prevents a community from getting the critical mass that's necessary to be able to deal with this virus.

BERMAN: Can you talk to me more about your hospitals this morning? We had Miguel Marquez, a terrific reporter in Houston, also in Bexar County in the hospitals there, and they were stretched to the limit. Those hospitals were being stretched to the limit. So, how are the hospitals in Travis County?

ADLER: Well, today, we're within our limits. But when we look at the numbers and the trajectory that we're on, the modelers who have been pretty accurate so far tell us that if we don't change the trajectory we're on now, that in 10 days to two weeks, we're going to have overwhelmed hospitals and overwhelmed ICUs. And such is the physical space. It's the healthcare professionals. It's the doctors and skilled nurses, and it's beginning to look like Houston and Dallas and San Antonio are all going to be competing with that same talent as Austin here in a couple of weeks.


And that has great concern. So we're not at a place right now where we're overrun, but the numbers tell us that if we -- if our community will not change this trajectory, then we're hurting.

BERMAN: Mr. Mayor, if I told you, you could have one thing, what would be the one thing you would ask for this morning?

ADLER: A vaccine.

BERMAN: We all want a vaccine. It could be months, if not years --

ADLER: That's one thing.

BERMAN: Until we get that -- no, you're right, I had a wide parameter that in terms of things that could be deliverable to you this week, what would it be?

ADLER: Well, at this point, I would like the local control. I would like for individual cities in Texas to be able to tailor the action to what's needed in that city and what that local community wants to do.

BERMAN: Mayor Steven Adler, I wish I could get you the vaccine today. I think everyone in the country desperately wants that. Until then, we all need to be smart. I appreciate the work you're doing in Austin. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ADLER: Thank you. Be safe.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: John, we want to remember some of the nearly 130,000 Americans lost to coronavirus. Twenty one-year- old Juan Garcia is the first-known Penn State student to die. School officials say Juan had a remarkable spirit and was greatly loved. Thomas Mesias (ph) started feeling sick not long after attending a barbecue near his home in southern California.

On June 20th, his family says he posted a poignant message on Facebook regretting his quote, "stupidity" for putting his family at risk. He prayed he'd survive, but the next day Thomas Mesias (ph) died. He was only 51 years old. Arias Sotomorales (ph) of Durham, North Carolina was only in the second grade when she got sick in late May. Her family tells CNN affiliate "WRAL" that she was hospitalized after a seizure because of swelling in her brain. She slipped into a coma a few days later and died. We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: The 4th of July weekend was marred by a shocking level of gun violence. Several innocent children were killed after being caught in the crossfire. According to the NYPD, at least 60 victims were shot in New York City this weekend. New York is not alone. Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., they all saw spikes in shootings and homicides this weekend.

Joining us now is New York City's councilman, Donovan Richards. He is also the chair of the city's Committee on Public Safety. Councilman, you are the perfect person for us to speak to this morning. What's happening in New York? Why is there this spike in gun violence?

DONOVAN RICHARDS, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY, NEW YORK CITY: Well, it's been a perfect storm recently. You know, let me just be clear. We've made a lot of progress around gun violence over the years. But this Summer with the impacts around COVID-19 and certainly police violence and gun violence, it's just been a powder keg that's been brewing here in our city. And we certainly saw that over this past weekend when over 50 people were shot.

So clearly, we have a lot of work to do to come together, to heal this city because that will only ensure that our public safety is prioritized --


RICHARDS: And that we're not seeing these spikes in violence the way we did this weekend --

CAMEROTA: But councilman, I don't understand the connection. Connect it for us. What's the connection between possible police excessive force -- we've seen, obviously, you know, the George Floyd and beyond, and the gun violence that's killing children now in New York? What's that connection?

RICHARDS: Well, let me just put out there. I mean, you look at historically how these communities and where these shootings are happening. These are the communities that have historically seen very little disinvestment.

You know, in New York City, we like to say "idle time is the devil's playground". And during these crisis, we've seen Summer youth jobs cut. We've seen unemployment high. We've seen our health care, we've seen people dying at alarming rates of COVID-19. We are in a public health crisis here in New York City. So this certainly --


RICHARDS: Is a direct correlation between all of these things. And we're going to have to pull up our sleeves --


RICHARDS: And really be out in these streets to ensure we can keep our communities safe.

CAMEROTA: That part, I understand. I understand the coronavirus connection to making things more chaotic in the city, for sure. What I don't understand is if you're saying that somehow the police have backed off from policing these communities, and if that's a connection.

RICHARDS: Well, certainly, there's been some issues around morale. And I would hope that our police commissioner is paying very close attention to what is happening in these communities, on the ground. You know, he's touted neighborhood policing for a very long time. I'm interested in knowing how that program has been working out over this course -- over the course of this last weekend.

And then we have the crisis management system which the mayor announced, I believe an additional $10 million for, which helps us to hire young people who might have been involved in gangs to go out and work in our streets. The resources have not hit these pockets of our city, and this is why we're seeing the levels of violence that we are --


RICHARDS: Here, without a doubt is a direct correlation --

CAMEROTA: Well, the NYPD sees it differently. There are two assistant chiefs who believe that this is the fault of elected officials, not of police officers. So here's what they say, I'll just read it to you on Twitter. This is from NYPD assistant chief Kathleen O'Reilly. She says, "disgraceful, the amount of people shot in Manhattan north in the past 24 hours. Where are the elected officials and violence interrupters? The community is suffering."

Then a different assistant chief, Steven Hughes says, "Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, where are you? No show at any shooting scene. Our community is being attacked. There have been 24 people shot in the city in the past 24 hours. Where are you!" exclamation point.


They seem to be suggesting that the DA is not charging people and prosecuting people at this time?

RICHARDS: Well, let me be clear. I mean, for the police department who's tasked with upholding public safety, it is their job. They are the ones with the guns and the badge, and they're the individuals responsible for keeping communities safe.

So to put blame whether on Cy Vance, whether I agree with him on everything, he is a district attorney. He's not someone who sits in a police car that's supposed to be out there preserving and protecting individuals in our community.

So I want to say that, you know, when you point a finger at someone, you have four pointing right back at you. And I urge the police department to get on their job and to address this morale issue and work with communities to really create safer spaces for our young people. This is what we should be aiming to do in New York City.

And that's the only way you're going to create a safer city, is to ensure you're working directly with communities and that there is a strong partnership. And at this moment, I can clearly say that, that's not happening.

CAMEROTA: Councilman Donovan Richards, thank you very much for your perspective and your time this morning.

RICHARDS: Thank you, have a great day.

CAMEROTA: You too. Let's bring in former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cedric Alexander. Cedric, I know you've been listening to this. When you hear that over the weekend, a 7-year-old girl who was playing on the street with other children in Chicago was shot and killed.

An 8-year-old in Atlanta riding in a car with her mom, shot and killed. An 11-year-old boy in Washington D.C. who ran into his aunt's house for a second to get a phone charger, shot and killed. I could go on. I mean, it's been a horrible weekend. What is happening in your eyes?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, I think it's a culmination of a lot of things that's going on right now, Alisyn. And one in particular, certainly, we're nowhere in the middle of this COVID, but you can't blame it solely on that, either. I think it's too many guns that are out there on the street.

I think that there's a callous behavior on behalf of criminals somehow now in this period that we live in feel very emboldened. I think in some communities, you do have police departments that have morale is rather low. But one thing I will say about police officers is this, regardless of that, they're still going to respond and be there for situations such as this.

But one thing we cannot do, and you cannot continue to point back and forth to each other as to whose fault it is. Is it the whole community has some responsibility in terms of curtailing this violence. And people who live in those communities have a responsibility to report to police as well. Who are those that are pulling those triggers? Because people do know.

But there is somehow, in the minds of many people, they don't want to be involved, but those communities continue to be stricken with this type of violence.


ALEXANDER: So what has to happen, in my opinion, Alisyn, is that communities, both police and communities in those neighborhoods across America, are going to have to form a pact even if they may be in conflict and have some issues with each other around more recent incidents that have occurred. At the end of the day, people want the public safety. And the only way that you're going to achieve that, is that police in those communities going to have to work together because if it does not, and if they do not --


ALEXANDER: Then what we're going to see is just a continuation of this. And this is not fair to anyone.

CAMEROTA: But Cedric, what about what the police chiefs that I just read, those tweets are saying? They seem to be saying that police are still doing their jobs, but police can't operate without prosecutors. So in other words, if the police are going to communities and arresting people for gun possession, let's say, but the prosecutor, the DA who they're blaming in these tweets, isn't prosecuting people, then there's no there, there.

Then people are still on the streets with guns. I mean, I know you're saying we don't want to point fingers and I get it, but we're looking for a solution. Is it the police -- have the police backed off or is there something else going on?

ALEXANDER: Well, I -- here again, I think it's a combination of a number of things. I certainly think that there's some low morale in some of these departments across the country, and police can only do so much. But also, you have DA offices, they have to abide by the law in which they're governed to do their job, as well. That's why I say, Alisyn, in terms of everyone pointing fingers at each other, each of those entities have the ability to do something extra to plan, to prepare, but they have to sit at a table to do that.


Because the American people and the people who live in those cities who are victimized by this violence don't want to hear anyone pointing fingers, they want to see people coming up with a plan and here again, the community themselves, they have a responsibility to report those who that they know are involved in this violent behavior, where we're having a loss of these children, and it's just way too frequent and we all share some responsibility in doing something about this.

CAMEROTA: It's appalling. It's appalling. But I hear what you're saying that everybody has to be at the table together to solve this and it's past time. I mean, it's just past time after what happened this weekend.

ALEXANDER: It is quite time.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Cedric Alexander, we really appreciate your perspective. Thank you very much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Coronavirus creates even greater challenges for parents of children with special needs.


JOANNE DE SIMONE, SPECIAL EDUCATOR, PARENT OF TWO CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: Until things dramatically change or there's a vaccine, he can't go anywhere.


CAMEROTA: We're going to take a closer look at their special challenges.



BERMAN: Special education classes resumed today in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut which will come as a huge relief to so many parents. As hard as these months have been on every parent, they've been even harder on those whose children have special needs. Many saw services just vanish when states shut down, and they worry what comes next. CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us with a much closer look at this. This is such an important aspect of all this, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: John, it's a huge issue, and with those in-person Summer school classes now on in the states you mentioned, we can expect to see temperature checks, face coverings and staggered drop-off times at school. And while in-person classes aren't mandated right now, it's such a crucial step for so many students who have been cooped up at home.


DE SIMONE: I think that the general ed population gets to focus on this will be over in the near future, and we can move on with our lives, even if it's a little bit different, except our future does not look like that at all.

JARRETT (voice-over): As a mom of two kids with special needs, Joanne de Simone is no stranger to the challenges of parenting. But with schools closed, she and her husband, Joanne are now on duty around the clock. Their son, Ben has lissencephaly, a brain disorder that puts him at an increased risk for complications if he gets COVID-19.

DE SIMONE: Until things dramatically change or there's a vaccine, he can't go anywhere.

JARRETT: Ben's familiar way of life now completely up-ended. He used to get over nine hours of school, programs and therapy every day with online learning though, it's eight hours per week.

DE SIMONE: We're struggling to try to keep him engaged. I don't have physical therapist hands. I don't know what they're feeling.

JARRETT: At 21, Ben is now aging out of the educational system with no safety net, falling off the so-called cliff.

DE SIMONE: It's what everyone says like, oh, they're falling off this cliff, right? And I'm like, Ben didn't mosey on over to the cliff, he just got shoved and we're falling.

JARRETT: All this while she also tries to manage the schoolwork and progress of his younger brother Sebastian who is on the autism spectrum.

DE SIMONE: I'm watching how long it takes him to do things. I don't know what this time is going to do to push him back. JARRETT: It's a sobering, new reality for the over 7 million students

who receive special education in the U.S., that's 14 percent of all U.S. public school students. Kids like Beck Williers who is visually and hearing impaired and has been without his interpret for weeks.

MICHELE WILLIERS, PARENT OF CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: The music teacher was trying to do a music class on Zoom, and I will tell you, my son asked not to be part of it anymore. He didn't know who to look at first, he didn't know where the teacher was, where his interpreter was.

JARRETT: His mom, Michele still working full-time herself now sits by his side for therapy online, but she says he's missing the face-to- face interaction with those who understand his needs --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I missed you, I haven't seen you in a long time --

JARRETT: And she worries about what happens if school doesn't reopen this Fall.

WILLIERS: I don't know mentally and emotionally if that happens, how we can continue to sustain like we are now. I think our child needs that environment. There could be a second pandemic in our society, if people don't realize the importance of bringing school back at some level.


JARRETT: As we're seeing new coronavirus cases now raging across the U.S., reopening in-person classes this Fall may be even further in jeopardy. But one thing the parents that I spoke to made crystal clear, John, virtual learning for their kids simply doesn't cut it.

BERMAN: Look, this needs to be addressed. I'm so glad you're taking a closer look at this for us this morning. I know how much these parents just need help right now.

JARRETT: Absolutely, they're crying out for it.

BERMAN: Laura Jarrett, thank you very much.

JARRETT: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health experts are warning the July 4th holiday weekend could trigger even more spikes in coronavirus cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see why health officials are certainly concerned when they see these kinds of pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hospitals in states like Arizona and Texas are filling up and could soon be overwhelmed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't get our hands around this virus

quickly, in about two weeks, our hospital system could be in serious trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump claiming that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are totally harmless. That claim not only evidence free, but defying reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple epicenters and there are going to be more in two to three weeks, no doubt about it.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. "It's going to be a horrible week", that's the quote from a leading coronavirus expert in Houston, Texas. Cases in 32 states this morning are surging, and the 4th of July crowds did not help. Large crowds gathered in various hot spots like Texas and Arizona over the weekend. This is a video of a lake party in Michigan.