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Dozens of Florida Hospitals Hit Capacity as Cases Surge; Military Sends Medical Personnel to Texas as Cases Spike; Arizona Tops 100,000 Cases as Hospitals Reach Near Capacity; Federal Government Commits $1.6 Billion to Vaccine Maker Novavax. Anthony Fauci: We Are Still Knee-Deep" in the First Wave of COVID-19 Cases; Thirty One States in the U.S. Report of Rise in New Coronavirus Cases; Dozens of Florida Hospitals Hit Capacity as COVID-19 Cases Surge. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 7, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. It's good to be back with you.

We're knee-deep in the first wave and getting worse. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the current state of the country is, quote, "really not good," as cases surge in 31 states and at least 24 have paused or rolled back reopening plans. At the same time, we're learning silent spreaders, people who are infected but are asymptomatic, may be responsible for half of all COVID cases in the United States.

And the situation in Florida is getting more dire. 43 hospitals across 21 counties have not hit capacity and are out of ICU beds. Other states fearing the same issues are near. The military is deploying medical personnel to Texas to address a spike in cases there.

We're live across the country this morning. Let's begin in Florida. Our Rosa Flores joins us in Miami.

I mean, Rosa, this is exactly what everyone was praying would not happen. What are health officials saying about the hospitals that are at crisis levels? Why? Is it that a majority of beds are filled with COVID patients?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I talked to an expert yesterday who said it's a stab in the heart for any medical professional that's watching these numbers and that is in these ICU units because they know it's not getting any better.

Let's start with the facts here. 43 ICU hospitals in 21 counties across this state are at capacity. That means that there are zero ICU beds in those ICU hospitals. Another 32 hospitals have a capacity of 10 percent or less.

Now, I wish I could tell you just exactly how many COVID-19 patients are in hospitals in Florida right now, but the state does not release that number. That does not stop, however, Miami-Dade County from releasing that data. Yesterday is the latest count. 1,657. Back on June 24th that number was 870.

If you do the math, that's a 90 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalization and when it comes to ICU beds being used that there's an 86 percent increase during that same period of time. And Poppy, if you look at ventilators the use of ventilators during that same time period, 127 percent increase -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. And Rosa, despite these numbers, which are -- you cannot dispute the numbers you just put on the screen, there is still no consideration of a mask mandate across the state from the governor?

FLORES: You're absolutely right. And then hear this. Just yesterday, the Florida commissioner of Education issued an emergency order requiring all schools in Florida to reopen in brick and mortar style starting in the fall. "

Now, here's what he said. Quote, "There is a need to open schools fully to ensure the quality and continuity of the education process. The comprehensive well-being of students and families and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride."

Now as you might imagine, some teachers are already pushing back including in Orange County. The teachers there saying that they are not for this, saying, quote, "The governor and the secretary are pushing a political and economic agenda over the safety and well-being of students, teachers and school employees."

Poppy, the governor is having a press conference today and we're hoping that he can explain his rationale and the rationale of the state for pushing that agenda -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course, we'll watch closely for that. Rosa, thanks very much.

Also this morning, a dire situation growing rapidly across the state of the Texas. Our Ryan Young is in Houston.

Ryan, you have a small contingent of military personnel that are going in to parts of Texas to try to help out. Can you give us the reality of the situation on the ground? Because it was less than a week ago that the lieutenant governor of Texas on another network said, look, this is nothing like what happened in New York. You know, this is the media blowing it out of proportion. What do the hard numbers actually tell us?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, when you're talking to people who live in this community a lot of them don't feel that way. And one of the reasons -- look, there are 963 new cases just yesterday in the Houston, Texas, area. We actually came to an independent testing site. You can see the cars sort of lining up back this direction. They've been here since early this morning.

To give you an idea we're just across from NRG stadium. That's just about 10 minutes outside of Houston. And a lot of people have been this conversation. If you look at this graph, though, and you see from May 1st basically, you can see the lines steadily moving up. And especially every time there was another opening in terms of a bar or a restaurant, you can see those numbers start to climb.

So, Poppy, when you see that even in the June 3rd influx, it has continued to go toward that 8,000 mark and that's what people are worried about.


One of the people that we wanted to talk to is you decided to set up a testing center outside of this area.

Abbas, what was the reason that you felt like you needed another testing center in this city?

ABBAS KHAN, FOUNDER, BLOOM LABS: Sure. Well, this is my home. I'm from Houston and we recognized that the city needed more testing. And in order to meet demand, we created our testing center.

YOUNG: You said people have been emotional in this line.

KHAN: Absolutely.

YOUNG: What -- tell me some of the emotions they've shared with you.

KHAN: Oh, my gosh, you know, it's -- I've had -- I had a gentleman earlier who was crying. He came to us, he said he was so happy that we had this option. He couldn't get in, into the other testing facilities. He said he needed to get back to work. He couldn't believe that we got him in and through the process so quickly.

YOUNG: And just real quickly, when you said people can't get into testing, because this is a private testing center.

KHAN: Absolutely.

YOUNG: When they go to the other testing centers, how long are they waiting sometimes?

KHAN: You know, we've heard from some of the people here that they're waiting four or five hours. We actually heard from some of the folks that they waited four, five hours, and then they actually cut the testing because they met capacity at the other facilities. They came to us right after.

YOUNG: OK. I appreciate you sharing that with us.

So, Poppy, there's a long line. When you think about this, one of the things that stands out about this testing area, one of the reasons why we came here, this is a saliva test. So you actually get one of these tubes when you get in line, and then you fill it up to right about here. When you get up to the front then you also hand over your sample.

A lot of people are also scared about that nose test. I don't know why. I have done it myself. But some people don't like it. And then the idea that some people are standing and waiting in line, or in their cars, in this heat and they are running out of gas as they wait to get tested. So you understand that there are people who are frustrated at this point who want to return to work.

The other thing that I have noticed, Poppy, since I've been here, these right here. Not everybody is wearing them.


YOUNG: People don't want to do it. There are businesses that are still struggling at the doors trying to get people just to put them on.

HARLOW: Even though there is a statewide mask mandate there, right?

YOUNG: Yes, but I mean, who -- like when you're working at a store, right?


YOUNG: They're not paying you enough to not only work at the store and then fight with somebody who's walking in who decides not to wear one.

HARLOW: Yes, I know. I -- yes.

YOUNG: You know?

HARLOW: I hear you. I hear you. That's why, you know, some are pushing for a federal mandate across the board.

Ryan Young, thanks. We appreciate it very much.

Let's go to our Evan McMorris-Santoro, he's in Phoenix.

Look, Evan, Arizona reporting more than 100,000 coronavirus cases and big concern from health officials there is young people being a big, big majority of them.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. And when we talk about that 100,000 number, that's the first time that this state has passed that number during this whole pandemic. Sometimes these numbers -- you know, 3300 cases reported yesterday, 100,000 in total, it's hard to put them in perspective. But let's think about it like this.

We've crunched the numbers and over the last seven days on average, Arizona has added more cases per day than any other state. So that's a per capita average over the last seven days. That's a big deal. That just speaks to a dire situation here in Arizona.

And when we talk about that demographic number that you're talking about, public health officials saying over 60 percent of those cases coming from people under the age of 44. The mayor of Phoenix where I am right now has attributed that and suggested that some of that might be because of the state reopening early. For example, a couple of months ago during the height of the pandemic

and the rest of the country, this state did close things like indoor dining like everybody else did. And then reopened them a couple of months later. Indoor dining is still open here. Things like bars and movie theaters, they've been re-shutdown and gyms have been re- shutdown but there's been some argument among gym owners whether or not they want to do that.

But when we talk about the challenge here, and so these numbers continue to go up and some public health officials here say they're not getting the tools that they need to fight to bring those numbers back down -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. Evan, I mean, that's so striking, per capita the biggest day-to-day increase of cases in any state, in Arizona now.

Thanks a lot for that reporting, Evan.

This morning government awarded $1.6 billion to the biotech firm Novavax to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the largest contract to date for research and development.

Let's go to our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

You know, we knew that the government was going to invest money to mass manufacture vaccines, in the hopes that they would work and lose the money if they didn't work. I mean, how sure are they that this one works?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, no one is sure about any of this. There is a lot of cautious optimism. I think that's sort of the watch word of the day. Cautious optimism that one or hopefully more of these vaccines will work. But hopefully, you know, we need to keep studying them. Novavax has only studied this in about 131 patients. They haven't even finished that. They need to move into phase three clinical trials, which is a large scale 30,000 people trials.

I asked the CEO of Novavax, when will you start these phase three clinical trials, Poppy. Let's take a listen to his answer.



STANLEY ERICK, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NOVAVAX: I think in the fourth quarter. We don't have a date set yet, but hopefully as early in the fourth quarter as possible. Maybe if we're lucky we could start phase three in late third quarter.


COHEN: Now, Novavax is one of four companies that are getting big money from the federal government to do these phase three trials. They have said or several of them have said that they hope to get a vaccine on the market end of this year, beginning of next year -- Poppy. HARLOW: Thank you, Elizabeth, on that.

The government also nearly -- giving nearly half a billion dollars to Regeneron today, a biotech firm. Can you talk about that money? Is that for a therapeutic? Is that for a treatment or a vaccine?

COHEN: That's for a treatment actually. It's a treatment called an antibody cocktail and it's really quite intriguing and there's a lot of hope for this treatment. What they do is they take antibodies that are manufactured or that are made by the body after you've been infected, you make antibodies. They call out the best, most powerful ones, they clone them and turn it into a drug that can be used for treatment or maybe even for prevention. They are testing it both ways.

HARLOW: Elizabeth, thank you very much. Glad to hear these encouraging signs.

Still to come, the nation's top doctor, Anthony Fauci, says the situation in the United States is really not good, that's a quote. But this is a starkly different picture from what the president is painting on Twitter and elsewhere.

Plus, we're beginning to see just how much coronavirus is impacting major league sports as teams are trying to get back on the court and back on the field.

And international students may have to leave the United States. That's what ICE now says if the colleges and universities they're attending go totally online in the fall. Ahead.



HARLOW: And as cases of COVID continue to rise in the country, the president is determined to play down the pandemic. But the top member of his own taskforce, Dr. Anthony Fauci says, we as a nation are quote, "still knee-deep in the first wave". Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, he's outside the White House this morning. Good morning, Joe, tell us more about what Dr. Fauci said overnight.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Poppy, this is a very sobering message from Dr. Anthony Fauci, and he's delivered some others like that during the course of the pandemic. Probably, the most important thing he said is that "we are knee-deep in the first wave of the pandemic". And that there is a resurgence going on in the United States. Listen.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: A series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up in the sense of getting back to some form of normality has led to a situation where we now have record breaking cases. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Contrast that with some of the things that the president of the United States has been saying last week. He talked about how the virus in his view is going to disappear, also as you know over the weekend, said 99 percent of coronavirus cases are harmless, both of which are misleading, false, whatever you want to say. It is essentially not supported by the data.


JOHNS: Now, the president has been trying to put all of this in the rear view mirror when it comes to the virus. We've got another example of that just this morning here at the White House when it was announced that the president is flying down to Doral in southern Florida on Friday, and as you know, that part of Florida is just slammed with coronavirus cases. The president is not going there for that. He's going down to see the U.S. Southern Command. Poppy, back to you.

HARLOW: Joe Johns at the White House, thank you very much. Let's bring in our medical experts, Dr. Ashish Jha; director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and Dr. Cindy Prins; epidemiologist and medical professor at the University of Florida. Good morning to both of you. Dr. Jha, let me just get a fact-check from you.

The president just tweeted a "Washington Times" piece, and he writes, quote, "we" being the United States, "have the lowest mortality rate in the world." And he says the media should be talking about that, but they're not. What are the facts?

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE, HARVARD: Yes, so thank you for having me on. I don't know --

HARLOW: Right --

JHA: What the president means by that. We don't have the lowest mortality rate. We certainly -- whether -- if you look at just the number of people who have died as a proportion of infected people, we're not the lowest. We obviously don't have the lowest number of people who have died, we actually have the highest in the world. So, I'm not sure what the president is referring to, but I'm unfortunately -- I don't -- I can't quite see it in the data that his views are not really supported by the data.

HARLOW: And looking at 130,310 deaths in the United States this morning. Dr. Prins from this, and I was struck hearing from Dr. Peter Hotez who was at the Baylor College of Medicine telling Anderson Cooper last night that essentially because of the spread that we're seeing especially across the south, that it is quote, "rising so rapidly we cannot even do contact-tracing anymore". Do you agree with that assessment? I mean, has the U.S. missed its window to effectively mitigate this and contact trace?

CINDY PRINS, EPIDEMIOLOGIST & MEDICAL PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Yes, I think that we are in a really difficult situation at this point. We have seen such an incredible increase in cases, and every one of those cases needs to be contact-traced, and then every one of those contacts needs to be contacted as well.

And when you think about this rise in cases and the fact that we just don't have enough people on board, the time it takes to contact-trace, we're falling behind there, and that means that we're not talking to people, telling them that they've been exposed and telling them to stay home.

HARLOW: Listen to this, Dr. Jha from Tom Bossert, who of course was formerly the Homeland Security adviser to President Trump. Here's what he wrote over the weekend on Twitter, quote, "we're in trouble, once the state is over 1 percent prevalence, it's becomes much harder to extinguish the flare-up, and it will take a huge effort to push out these outbreak fires.


More than masks alone, we could top 500,000 U.S. deaths this year if this trend continues. Again, this is the -- you know, this is from the man who was advising the president on all things homeland security. Do you agree with that assessment, upwards of 500,000 deaths if we don't turn the page here?

JHA: Well, that's a pretty high number, and I'm hopeful we're not going to get anywhere near that. But I have said, and then I believe that we're going to hit 200,000 sometime early in the Fall this year.

HARLOW: Yes --

JHA: And we might get to 300,000. Bottom line is, we're going to have a lot more illness and a lot more suffering and a lot more deaths ahead of us if we don't turn this around. So whether we hit 500,000 or not, I'm not sure, but --

HARLOW: Yes --

JHA: It is a pretty bleak Summer and Fall ahead.

HARLOW: We know the way to really help lower the numbers here and lower the deaths, Dr. Prins, is through mask-wearing. I mean, that's -- you cannot dispute that. You know, people all around the president wearing masks and taking photos with masks, just not the president. And you have Florida, the governor there where you are not mandating state-wide masks, and also the state's education commission saying they're going to reopen brick-and-mortar schools next month. What is that going to mean for the state of Florida and more broadly for the country?

PRINS: Yes, I mean, I think number one, you know, it is such a critical public health message right now that everyone needs to be wearing a mask, and that needs to come from on high. It needs to come from the highest administrative levels within this country that this is the way to prevent the spread of this virus, and to keep people safe. You know, as far as schools are reopening, I think it's going to be very dependent on the level of cases within that particular area and on the school itself.

I don't think you can reopen the way that, you know, they've been opened in the past. Certainly, there are some students that don't benefit from being schooled at home though. And so we have to consider, you know, students are falling behind and there are vulnerable students that are falling behind because they don't have access to in-person schooling. So there has to be some method of getting them back to school, at least, some students.

HARLOW: You know, yes, I mean, I completely understand the push and pull of that, and you're so right, doctor, about the loss of not having in-person education and what that means, especially for children without access to broadband, et cetera.

Dr. Jha, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we learned last night that she pretty much asymptomatic, she said she had a headache, but that's about it, she has tested positive for coronavirus and you couple this with that new study out of Yale that finds that, you know, silent spreaders, people that are asymptomatic could be responsible for half the cases in the United States.

And you couple that with the -- you know, note from Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp that they are having a hard time processing tests quickly enough. It's taking longer. You know, you've got people getting a test and they're waiting days until they find out what's going on and they could be silent spreaders. So, where does that put us?

JHA: You know, all of this just makes it so much harder to manage this disease, right? Because we're seeing spreading of the disease, bigger outbreaks. A lot of it is from asymptomatic people, and this is why I think it is absolutely critical, like look, this is not rocket science. We've got the message here, it's very clear. Everybody should be wearing a mask, indoor gatherings are really risky, you've got to maintain social distance.

And then the government has got to do a better job of ramping up testing and tracing. If we do all of those things, we really can get a handle on this. But it just seems like we don't have the will to really prioritize all those activities.

HARLOW: Yes, it seems like many people are throwing their hands up. Dr. Jha, Dr. Prins, appreciate you both this morning, thanks very much.

JHA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, setbacks for some sports leagues trying to salvage their season during this pandemic. We'll have more on that ahead. We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street this Tuesday.

Taking a look at U.S. futures, for all three major U.S. indices, pointing down. Global markets also down today after stocks finished sharply higher on Monday. The Nasdaq, which is a tech heavy index actually closed at an all-time record yesterday. Investors once again shrugging off rising COVID-19 infections in the U.S. as economists grow more concerned about how they will affect the recovery. Stay with us.



HARLOW: All right. California's state capitol building closed now after at least five state lawmakers have tested positive for coronavirus. Sara Sidner is with me. Good morning Sara, I hope they're all OK? It just shows though, what's happening even in a state like California, that shut -- you know --


HARLOW: Down early and mandated masks, et cetera.

SIDNER: Yes, it does. It shows that what happens when reopening happens and people become a bit lax about what it is that they're doing with masks and trying to self-distance. When that starts to erode, we're seeing this spike back up. Over the past four days, it was like Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so the holiday weekend, they saw about 11,000 cases had the highest spike -- one-day spike that they've seen throughout this entire pandemic on Friday.

Now we're seeing, you know, several California assembly members have tested positive, five of them. So that means that the capitol is shut down indefinitely. The capitol building shut down indefinitely. There's also a major problem in prisons, Kate, it's basically been hit very hard. There are about 2,400 inmates that have tested positive, and now we're seeing that the state corrections top medical officer has been replaced. He was criticized by the governor for sending hundreds.