Return to Transcripts main page


Large Crowd Gatherings For Independence Day Celebrations Spark Fears Of Possible Increase In Coronavirus Cases; Some Members Of President Trump's Inner Circle Test Positive For Coronavirus; President Trump To Hold Campaign Rally In New Hampshire; Interview With Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) On Florida Topping 200,000 Total Coronavirus Cases. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Large crowds gathered in various hotspots like Texas and Arizona over the weekend. This is a video of a lake party in Michigan. There's not much social distancing or mask wearing that we can see. California hit a record for new single day cases with nearly 12,000 positive tests on Sunday.

Florida continues to hit records. They now have 200,000 total cases. Texas could top that today. Again, 32 states are seeing an increase in cases, and that means an increase in hospitalizations, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are in freefall. That is what Dr. Peter Hotez told us earlier this morning. Contrast that with the ridiculous, absurd, false, dishonest statement from the president this weekend that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are totally harmless.

That's just wrong, and every doctor in America knows it, including the FDA commissioner, who refused to say so out loud this weekend, which raises serious questions about what the nation's top scientists are saying to the president, whether they're willing to stand up to him.

CAMEROTA: We will get into that in a moment. Joining us now is Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Great to see both of you. Dr. Jha, what is your biggest concern as we start this week?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, good morning and thank you for having me on. My biggest concern is the remark that Dr. Fauci made last week about how we may get to 100,000 cases a day. We were in the 40s then, and much of the weekend we saw 50,000-plus cases.

And then some of the behavior we saw over the weekend, I think we're just on an accelerated phase, we're going to see more and more increases in the days and weeks ahead, without a real plan for how to stop it and bring the numbers down.

BERMAN: I just want to put a couple more figures up on the screen so people can see them in terms of hospitalizations in Texas. We have a graph there which shows the increase, they are at an all-time high in Texas, the number of hospitalizations there. And in Florida, in Miami- Dade County, where we have seen a recent outbreak, we have sobering hospital statistics. You can see the number of hospitalizations up 88 percent, ICU patients up 114 percent, and ventilator use up 119 percent. That's in the last 13 days, Dr. Jha.

JHA: Yes, and we're not done. And every time you see somebody hospitalized, it's worth understanding that we've got a couple of weeks of increasing infections already baked in because it takes a while wean the time somebody gets infected and they end up in the hospital. And so even if we shut things down now, which I don't think we need to do, we're going to see increasing cases for days, up to a couple of weeks ahead of us.

CAMEROTA: That leads us to what the plan is Dana, and what the White House coronavirus task force is doing, and what the president is saying. And so you had a really interesting conversation with the FDA Commissioner, Stephen Hahn, this weekend. You tried to get him to correct the record as to whether or not coronavirus is totally harmless, and he really struggled. So here is a moment from your interview.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong. What I'm going to say, Dana, what I said before, which is that it's a serious problem that we have. We've seen the surge in cases. We must do something to stem the tide. And we have this in our power to do it by following the guidance from the Coronavirus Task Force and the CDC.


CAMEROTA: Dana, all sorts of polls show that Americans have given up on President Trump giving them real or trustworthy information about coronavirus, but the people around him, the FDA commissioners, they are supposed to be telling us who is right and who is wrong.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The experience that I had on the air with Dr. Hahn was so emblematic of the whole direction or misdirection, confusion that the federal government has left in the hands of the American people since this pandemic started, and it, frankly, I don't think it's the fault of people like Dr. Hahn or Dr. Fauci or other medical experts on the task force, largely.

And it is because they are working -- talk about swimming against the tide. Not only are they trying to help the American people fight a pandemic, they're also fighting against the guy at the top of the task force, at the top of the government's food chain, the president of the United States for whom they work, saying things that are inaccurate.

But it's also Donald Trump. So you could see the struggle there. That was just one example. We went back and forth multiple times on that same question. He didn't say, certainly didn't say that the president was wrong, but he also didn't say that he was right. And my point is, so it's the balance that these public officials,

medical professionals especially, are trying to find, which is they want to keep their job, because they think they're good at it and they want to help the American people, so they don't want to completely outright criticize the president, because they want to have influence with him, and yet they don't want to completely mislead the public.


And the point I was getting at with him is that with things like this, it's so dangerous, because we're seeing things like the pool party that you showed, or the Austin mayor saying people in my city are getting mixed messages, and therefore it's hard to lead, even on a local level.

BERMAN: And that's why this is so important, Dana, and I understand the pressure that Dr. Hahn is under. But it's dangerous, right?

BASH: Yes, it is.

BERMAN: People will die if they think they can walk around, and they have next to a zero percent chance of having harm come to them, because it's just not true. And I saw you pressing him. It was interesting, his unwillingness, even as he was willing in other places to say things that I don't think the president will like, which is to refuse to declare Jacksonville is totally safe for the convention.

But still he has to be careful. You have to be careful if you are one of the leading doctors in the country. And Dr. Jha, you can address this. You can't leave people with the impression that this is harmless.

JHA: Yes, so I actually think Dr. Fauci has done a very good job on this, which is that he doesn't directly criticize the president. He doesn't directly criticize anybody. He just says what is true. And I think that is a model that all the physician leaders in public health, in the government need to take on, which is there's no reason to criticize individual politicians.

But there is absolutely a necessity to speak the truth, to talk about what the science is. And I wish Dr. Hahn had done that. I understand the pressure he feels, but if he can't speak out as a scientist and as a physician, then the question is, why is he in that job?

CAMEROTA: Dr. Jha, I just wanted to ask you about what the WHO is saying, 239, I think, top doctors are trying to get the WHO to, I guess, admit -- or scientists -- that this is an aerosolized disease or that it is infectious through the air. Don't we already know that? Isn't that why we're wearing masks? I'm confused why the WHO is fighting this one.

JHA: Yes, so the scientists a right, and WHO has been dragging its feet, and it's complicated why, because WHO is trying to balance the needs of poor countries not being able to do the right kind of ventilation in hospitals. I understand all that. But the bottom line is very, very clear. Yes, there is aerosolized transmission, and people absolutely need to be wearing masks, and they need to be wearing masks particularly when they're indoors, and the scientists are right on this one. I don't think it's a close call.

BERMAN: It's interesting to hear the scientists are right on this one, I don't think it's a close call, Dana, the same 24-hour period that the Trump campaign announces it's doing a rally in New Hampshire next weekend, some of which -- it's an indoor/outdoor rally, right. It's going to be in an airplane hangar, the overflow will be on the tarmac there. Big crowd of people. The president seems to think that it's OK to talk in front of large groups of people who aren't social distancing.

BASH: Big crowd of people, which Dr. Hahn said in that same interview, that type of thing is risky. People are putting themselves at risk. One interesting difference that we've noticed from the notice that the campaign put out for people coming or wanting to come to New Hampshire is that they strongly encourage people to wear masks. They're going to hand them out as they did before, they strongly encourage them to do so. They're not requiring them to wear masks, but strongly encouraging is a bit stronger language than we saw before.

Having said that, it is the requirement that certainly could help to stem the transmission of coronavirus in the way that you were just talking about, that all the scientists say is the most rapid form of transmission in the air, and also indoor/outdoor and in a crowd. That is, again, just like several other events that we've seen put on by the White House or the campaign, exhibit A of what the president's own government is begging people not to do.

CAMEROTA: By the way, Dana, the president's own inner circle is getting sick. Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr.'s girlfriend, tested positive. Herman Cain, former presidential candidate who went to that Tulsa rally, friend of President Trump's, was hospitalized. Do we know how they're doing? And it couldn't be any closer at this point to the president's family and inner circle.

BASH: No, it couldn't. I'm not sure. It sounds like Herman Cain was hospitalized. We're waiting to hear the status of him. And with regard to Kimberly Guilfoyle and others around the president, what they keep arguing is this is why the protocol at the White House and in and around the president is so different from everywhere else and everyone else, because we get tested all the time.


But Dr. Jha could speak to this. I just don't understand the logic in that protocol in that yes, you're getting tested all the time, but by the time somebody like Kimberly Guilfoyle gets tested and it's positive, she has already been exposing other people. So the transmission has already occurred.

BERMAN: There are campaigns, the Montana governor campaign, Gianforte, has to suspend some of his activity because Kimberly Guilfoyle has been closer. It is a traveling coronavirus road show from the Trump campaign right now around the country. If you look at where it has been and the damage left in its wake, whether it be Tulsa, Phoenix, and now in Montana as well. Dana Bash, thank you. Dr. Jha, always a pleasure. Thanks for being with us this morning.

JHA: Thank you.

New cases in Florida just hit a level not seen since New York back in April. The mayor of Miami, Florida, joins us next.


CAMEROTA: The state of Florida now reporting more than 200,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. This comes as the state broke the U.S. single day record over the weekend with 11,445 new cases.

Joining us now is Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Mayor, thank you very much. I know it's a busy day for you. We appreciate you being here. So let me just put up some other really staggering numbers. This is what's happening in Miami-Dade County. Hospitalizations are up 88 percent. ICU patients are up 114 percent. And then, really, the most disturbing, patients on ventilators are up 119 percent. Are your hospitals at capacity right now?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: You know, they're very near capacity, and you know, I'm going to have a call at 9:00 a.m. with the Department of Health, which is my typical Monday morning call, where we look at, you know, the slope or the incline in cases, where we look at hospitalization rates and we make decisions.

And so you know, it's incredibly worrisome. We're also monitoring death rate as well, which is something that's usually a lagging statistic. It usually takes about four to five weeks from a new case to determine whether the person is going to be okay or whether the person is going to die. So, we're looking at that number as well.

So, it's a very, very difficult time right now. We had three essentially record-breaking days, you know, early this weekend and before this weekend, so we're hoping some of the measures that we put into place start really, really flattening the curve again.

CAMEROTA: What happened? I mean, what went so wrong in Miami-Dade?

SUAREZ: I think what happened is what's happened across the country, which is, you know, when we opened, people began to socialize, as if the coronavirus didn't exist, and I think they forgot how incredibly efficient the coronavirus is at propagating, and how incredibly efficient it is at spreading.

And so you know, we were seeing prior to the shutdown, it was 35 new cases per day. Once we shut down, we saw a flattening of the curve and we started reducing about 14 new cases per day.

Now, we're at over 90 new cases per day as of Thursday. So we are at three times faster growth rate.

I think that the virus has just become very efficient at spreading, and what's happening is when one person gets it in a household, they come home. By the time they experience symptoms and get tested, everybody in the house is infected.

So, you go from one person to a four or five-person infection rate, almost overnight.

CAMEROTA: So I've heard you -- well, I knew that you had shut down beaches in the area and then, I heard you yesterday say that you think you are going to have to take much stricter measures, like what? What's next?

SUAREZ: We implemented a mask in public rule last week. We also created stiffer penalties for businesses that don't comply with the rules. As you said, the county closed beaches.

They implemented a curfew as well, so I think we have basically put into place any and all things that can be put into place to try to really slow down the spread.

If all of that doesn't work, we have to consider the possibility of potentially rolling back some things and even potentially implementing a new stay-at-home order. Things cannot be -- those are options that cannot be off the table.

CAMEROTA: I've always appreciated your candor when you say that nothing is off the table and you may have to do that. But like what? I mean, if this doesn't work, if the, you know, the warning about wearing a mask, et cetera, what would you roll back?

SUAREZ: Well, you have basically Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 was all businesses do an occupancy load of 50 percent. Phase 2 was restaurants to an occupancy load of 50 percent. You can pull back the occupancy load on restaurants. You can actually make restaurants takeout and delivery like they were before and implementing a stay-at-home order obviously was extremely effective.

The question is, will residents follow the orders? And I think one of the things that we're looking at with the mask in public rule is we're hoping people just follow the rules.

We know if they follow those rules, mask in public, there's an 85 percent chance that you will not get the coronavirus, if you wear a mask in public, so we're hoping that people just follow the rules. We believe that if they follow the rules, we can potentially get ahead of this, but it takes a little bit of time to know.

So we won't know for some time until we have to make some of those tough choices. Hospitalizations could be the driving factor.

CAMEROTA: Why aren't people following the rules? I mean, you've been sounding this alarm for a long time, and what aren't they getting? Do there need to be better PSAs or a different kind of leadership? Why aren't they understanding this message?

SUAREZ: I don't know. I think it's because, at least up until now, you know, the death rate has remained relatively low. Hospitalizations up until the last few days have been relatively stable. I think as those numbers change and if they change, hopefully they

don't, by the way. I don't want them to change, but if they do change, I think people are really, really going to be paying attention, because when they realize how lethal this can be, if enough people get it and particularly people who are vulnerable, even young people who are now, you know, we've had a couple of cases of young people dying, then I think that will really, really send the message.

And it's an unfortunate way of getting a message to people, because it's a message that's delivered through the most difficult means possible, so we're hoping it doesn't come to that. We're hoping that people really buckle down and help us out.

We've got to stick together and work together to make sure that we can defeat COVID-19 in our community.


CAMEROTA: Do you need help from the Governor and/or President Trump, meaning the Federal government?

SUAREZ: We'll take any help that we can get. You know, obviously there's been a lot of discussion about our mask in public rule, should it be implemented statewide or nationally? I think it should.

For me, I don't think it's any different than wearing a seatbelt or asking people to wear a seatbelt and ticketing them if they don't wear a seatbelt. If you get into a car accident, it is not a guarantee that you're going to survive, but it certainly increases your chance and to me, it's very similar.

And I think you know, there are a segment of our community that does listen to those national and state officials, and it's important that everybody be on the same page.

So to the extent we can get everybody on the same page, I think it would be helpful, but that doesn't always happen and I have to do what I have to do to protect my city and my citizens.

CAMEROTA: What did you think when you heard President Trump say that coronavirus is 99 percent harmless?

SUAREZ: Well, I don't know if it was tongue-and-cheek or he was joking. Obviously, that doesn't line up with the statistics. There's a big percentage of people who get it and who are asymptomatic, or who have minor symptoms and don't need to be hospitalized, without a doubt.

But obviously, there are hundreds of thousands of people that have died, over 100,000 people have died in the United States, thousands of people that have died in Miami-Dade County in the State of Florida.

Actually over a thousand in Miami-Dade County and thousands in the State of Florida, so you know, this is something that affects people in the most dramatic way. CAMEROTA: Mayor Francis Suarez, we really appreciate you coming on to

again try to sound the alarm. We'll be watching closely what happens in Miami-Dade. Thank you.

SUAREZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Instead of being focused on protecting Americans from coronavirus or giving real information, President Trump appears to be more focused on protecting statues.

What's behind that political play? Next.



BERMAN: New York State enters Phase 3 of reopening today, but there's a catch. CNN has reporters across the country, bringing us the latest developments.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Polo Sandoval in New York City, now entering Phase 3 of reopening. However, there will be no indoor dining allowed in the city. Governor Cuomo is saying over the weekend, he has seen that lead to some complications in the past, so certainly, he doesn't want to see that happen here.

What will be open though? Tattoo parlors, massage parlors and nail salons -- they will be able to welcome customers back for the first time in months as long as they can adhere to strict cleaning protocols, also limit their capacity as well.

But the reasons why we're seeing more businesses open, those numbers, they are trending a fairly positive route in New York, including testing, out of 46,000 people tested on Saturday, less than one percent were positive for the virus.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paul Vercammen in Santa Monica, California and up the West Coast at the University of Washington, officials reporting that 112 members of the fraternity system have tested positive for COVID-19, and an additional nine others also testing positive who were close contacts of those fraternity members.

So, they have set up a pop-up testing site near the Greek row. So far 1,300 people have been tested, as they try to stop a large outbreak at the University of Washington.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Boris Sanchez in Miami Beach, an overnight camp in North Georgia shutting down after campers and staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The YMCA Camp High Harbor said they learned a counselor tested positive for COVID-19 back on June 24th. They closed the campgrounds right away. The counselor immediately sent home, that's according to a statement by the President of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. They added that the counselor actually passed mandated safety protocols and didn't show any symptoms when they showed up for work.

Parents were notified immediately, so they could pick up their kids. They soon learned that there were additional positive COVID-19 cases among campers and staff, at least 30 from local camps.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan Mcmorris-Santoro in Saguaro Lake, Arizona. This state now has the highest per capita average of new cases over the past seven days in the United States.

In Phoenix, the closest major city to this recreation area, the Mayor has imposed a mask requirement for everyone going out in public.

But here at the lake on Sunday, masks were few and far between. I wear one when I'm off camera. A pair of boaters saw me with it on and mocked me for it.

BERMAN: All right, so while the country reels from the surge of cases of coronavirus, President Trump has turned his focus to defending monuments and railing against protesters. Is this the right strategy for him for 2020?

Joining us now, David Frum, staff writer at "The Atlantic" and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. David, I can hear you. Hopefully you can hear us right now.

We've talked a lot over the course of the show and people have heard over the weekend about why the President is so intent on making statues an issue. I think, a more interesting discussion is, will it work, and you make a compelling case that you don't think it will. Why?

DAVID FRUM, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": In 2016, when Donald Trump ran for President the first time, he talked about things that people cared about.

He talked about drugs. He talked about trade. He talked about immigration. Maybe what he said was poorly considered, maybe he didn't have real solutions, but he found real issues that were neglected by others, and at a time when the economy was growing and the country was generally in good shape, his issues resonated.

So, now we're in the middle of this terrible pandemic, more than 100,000 Americans dead; worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the President is not talking about that. He is talking about what he and his ideological bubble care about -- statues, statues, statues.

CAMEROTA: David, you know, we had David Gregory on earlier and he brought up something that I heard as well, in the President's speech, and it was the word that stuck out to me because my brain is also tuned to Fox speak and the second I heard it, I recognized it from all of the other, you know, talking points that Fox relies on and that we've heard from the President in the past, and that was indoctrinate.

And so it's beyond statues, it's we're not going to let the left indoctrinate our children about political correctness and erasing our history. Do you think that that resonates at all right now?