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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Dozens Of Florida Hospitals Hit Capacity As Cases Surge; Florida Sees Uptick In Percentage Of Positive Test Rates; Texas Reports Record New Cases And Hospitalizations; Texas Governor: Local Officials Need To Enforce Existing Orders Before Asking For Stay-At- Home Authority. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 7, 2020 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It is the top of the hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you all so much for sticking with us. We have got a lot of breaking news to get to. We want to start in Brazil, the country's President, President Bolsonaro has tested positive we just learned in the last hour for Coronavirus.

This diagnosis, of course, comes after months of Bolsonaro dismissing and mocking really the seriousness of the Coronavirus calling it something like a little flu much like President Trump has done when it comes to COVID-19. CNN's Bill Weir is in Sao Paulo who is following all of this for us is joining me now. Bill, what more are you hearing?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are hearing a lot more of the President's words after his broke news in a little press gaggle in front of the palace. He did give an interview to CNN Brazil and he talked about the fact that given the symptoms, it started Sunday with a certain indisposition as he describes it, aggravated through Monday and a fever and a medical team decided to apply Hydroxychloroquine.

Took it yesterday about 5:00 at 5:00 am I took the second dose and I confess I feel perfectly well. I have to admit I thought I had gotten COVID-19 earlier considering my very dynamic activity in the face of people and I can tell you more, I'm the President I'm on the front line.

I don't run away from my responsibility nor do I shy away from the people. Because of my contact with them, I thought I have contacted already and not noticed like the majority of Brazilian population who contracts the virus and doesn't know.

But later on he talked that people under 40 years old, the chances he says the consequences of contamination is "Close to zero". We have to worry about the virus, yes but also with unemployment no one can recover from dying but the economy does not working leads to other causes of death and suicide.

We have suffered very harsh criticism in this regard but today shows that we are right. The fact that I'm infected Bolsonaro says shows that I'm a human being. Before they said it was to be administered only in severe cases we know now that this stage the chances are almost zero.

So he is really using this moment, his positive diagnosis, after months of defying his own doctors over Hydroxychloroquine and now seems that he is giving credit to it for making him feel better overnight. It will be interesting to dig in more on this.

There was a small study out of Michigan that seemed to find that it helped people survive COVID-19 at a slightly higher rate that's in dispute by other studies. The World Health Organization has backed away from it altogether the CDC lukewarm on it as well.

But Bolsonaro down here is promoting this to the fact that he has his Army General who is in charge of the pandemic response after two health ministers either quit or were fired, they have stockpiled millions of doses of this.

And there's some concern by those in the medical community he is going to take this into the - Amazonian Indians instead of trying to flatten the curve in the more conventional quarantine ways, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Right. And he was also well documented of the side effects of Hydroxychloroquine that had been known, that have been known for a very, very long time and it does not sound at least in this immediate reaction that the President is changing his tone with his thoughts on Coronavirus as we've seen in the last few months just dismissing the severity of it. Bill, thank you. Bill is going to be tracking that, we're going to get back to you. Bill, thank you.

Knee deep in the first wave that is how Dr. Anthony Fauci is describing the current status of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the United States right now this as new data shows 31 states are going in the wrong direction. Four states only are seeing lower case numbers. That bleak picture is leading some medical experts to issue new warnings about the potential death toll in this country.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HAVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: I believe that we are going to hit 200,000 sometime early in the fall this year and we might get to 300,000. Bottom line is we will have a lot more illness and a lot more suffering and a lot more death ahead of us if we don't turn this around.


BOLDUAN: Also comes as seven states have reported record hospitalizations on Monday as you can see on the map nearly all of them there in the south. The nation's new epicenter Florida also seeing a dramatic spike in hospitalizations, 43 hospital ICUs in 21 counties have hit capacity.

They have zero ICU beds available. Another 32 hospitals have 10 percent or less of ICU beds available. But that also isn't a complete picture of the seriousness of the problem. In Florida that is because Florida has so far promised but yet refused so far to release detailed COVID hospitalization data, data that other states have been putting out for months.

Despite this the Florida Education Commissioner is ordering all K-12 schools in the state to reopen next month. Governor Ron DeSantis is going to be holding a news conference in about 30 minutes we're going to be bringing that to you live because what is going on in Florida is very important for the rest of the country today.


BOLDUAN: Rosa Flores is joining us once again, she is in Miami. Rosa, what is the very latest there?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Kate, the very latest is that Miami-Dade County is reversing course. Yesterday you and I were talking about how Miami-Dade County was going to roll back their reopening plan, closing down restaurants, closing down fitness centers.

Well, take a look at this tweet that just went out by Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez says I had a very productive and a productive virtual meeting just now with our medical experts and the county's wellness group.

We arrived at a compromise to keep gyms and fitness studios open all doing activities inside must wear a mask or do strenuous training outside staying ten feet apart without a mask before. Of course that was six feet apart now they're saying 10 feet apart.

This is breaking news here in Miami-Dade Florida because the numbers that we have been talking about are staggering. Miami-Dade County is one of the only counties in the state that actually releases their COVID-19 patient data and if you take a look at this data in the past 13 days the number of COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized is increased 90 percent.

Number of ICU beds increased by 86 percent and the use of ventilators has increased by 127 percent. But if you take those numbers statewide and you look at the number of hospitalizations, it's difficult to tell because like Kate just mentioned the State of Florida does not release the number of patients that are in hospitals currently every day with COVID-19.

What they do release is number of capacity of availability. That is how we're able to look at the map of Florida and determine that 43 ICU hospitals in 21 counties around this state are at capacity. They have zero ICU beds.

That means that if someone goes to the ICU in those particular facilities there is not a bed for them and, Kate, there are 32 other facilities around the state where the ICU bed capacity is at 10 percent or less, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you very much. We're going to stick with you Rosa, as we mentioned the Governor is going to be holding a press conference shortly and we're going to be bringing that to you. On Friday the President will be traveling to Florida and specifically hard-hit Miami-Dade County and on the agenda right now is not the pandemic but a briefing on drug trafficking.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins she is at the White House. Kaitlan, talking about drug trafficking is also an important issue but what are you hearing about this visit? Because are there any concerns considering how bad the outbreak is where the President is going to be touching down?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's a lot of concern because it not just you know why is the President going and is that trip worth it? We have also seen him travel to other places where numbers have been skyrocketed including his recent trip to Arizona and now he is going to be going to where Rosa was just talking about Miami-Dade County where they've had a 90 percent increase in hospitalizations.

And the President is going to be traveling there because he's going to U.S. southern command that is where there he is going to have this briefing on drug trafficking that's happening in South America. But, of course, the question is, not just that the President flies in and flies out a few hours later, he is there he is interacting with officials.

But also you've got to look at who goes before the President does because any time Trump goes somewhere or any President for that matter dozens of officials go there in advance not just political staffers to advance the President's trip but also secret service agents who were there scoping it out, making sure it's safe for the President's visit.

Coming up with plans in case of worst-case scenarios you know they always decide which hospital the President would go to if there was some of an issue to arise. Campaign staffers go look at the venue where the President's going to be? Well, how is he going to sit? Where are people around him going to sit?

So there's a lot of people that fly into the city, stay at hotels, whatnot? So that concern is already shown itself in what happened with his rally in Tulsa where the eight staffers who tested positive where advance staffers who had gone there ahead of the President's visit. So the question is, is by him, the President, making this visit putting secret service agents and his own staff at risk?

BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you very much. So there's also another big concern today. And it's essentially deja vu major slowdowns and holdups in testing as cases are surging in so many states. Two major labs are now admitting that they have a hard time keeping up. CNN's Drew Griffin has been looking into this and he is joining me right now. Drew, how bad are the delays? What are these labs saying?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the labs are going in the wrong direction. They're not as bad as they were but given shortages in supplies and now shortage in capacity, based on this recent surge, you have two of the biggies, quest and lab core reporting a doubling of turnaround times, the time it takes them to turn around a sample.

[12:10:00] GRIFFIN: Let's show you quest was at two to three days last month now they're at basically four to six days doubling there. Lab Corp also doubling now two to four days but what you have to remember Kate, is like we're hearing in Florida, some people are waiting a week, even if they're sick, a week to get an appointment to just get tested.

So you have to add that weeklong delay onto these expanding delays in labs and you're coming back with what we had in the beginning of the crisis, ten days before you find out if you have COVID. It is absolutely going in the wrong direction.

Both of these big labs say they're trying to increase capacity in the coming month but as we see the surge in demand we can see that those problems that we had early on still have not been fixed. Kate?

BOLDUAN: It's really remarkable and troubling. It doesn't need to be fixed in months it needs to be fixed months ago, its needed now to put - to get your arms around the surge and the crisis in multiple states. Drew, thank you very much for that tracking that.

Joining me right now is Dr. Celine Gounder. She is a CNN Medical Analyst. Doctor, thanks for coming back in. Just on what Drew was talking about just your take on what I said is deja vu is this problem with regard to testing once again?

Waiting week to get an appointment to get tested and then it's ten days to get it back. Some cities in these states we're talking about are only testing people with symptoms because of the lack of availability or the demand is so high. What does this do remind folks?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, part of the problem here is that we are not going to be catching people when they're infectious so perhaps even before they develop symptoms and by the time they are being diagnosed they have probably spread the virus to a number of people in their family and community.

So this lack of testing is really a problem both in terms of controlling the spread and then just being able to let people know if their symptoms are related to COVID and if they need more specialized care for that.

BOLDUAN: And Rosa was talking about something that I think is important going on in the country's current epicenter in Florida. The state is not releasing detailed COVID hospitalization data. They have said that they would. They have not done it.

We are getting some data of Miami-Dade County but not throughout the state to get a real picture of what they're looking at? Do you see any good reason the state wouldn't be putting this out?

GOUNDER: It is not just Florida but also Texas that's been withholding data how many people in the intensive care units for COVID and how many are on ventilators? And the only reason to withhold that data is because you are trying to hide the severity of the problem. Arizona which has seen a similar spike in recent weeks they are releasing that data and it's very scary to see how their ICUs are completely overwhelmed.

BOLDUAN: We just heard also from Miami is that they're now - it sounds like they're trying to thread the needle on shutting back down but also leaving gyms and exercise facilities open if folks are wearing a mask inside, trying to keep them open. When you are looking at the data in Miami-Dade County I wonder your reaction to that decision in this moment of crisis?

GOUNDER: Honestly, Kate, that's really wishful thinking. The way to approach this was to say okay, we are really going to flatten the curve. We're going to massively diminish transmission in the community and then it's not back to business as usual the way it was done.

Let's go back to a new normal which is that's when you wear the masks and you do the contact tracing and the testing. And we are back to even before Square One honestly because of the massive surge of cases.

So really we need to go back to unfortunately the lockdown and this time do what needed to be done during the lockdown which is preparing for the testing, preparing for the contact tracing. Convincing people they need to wear masks and then you can reopen more safely and not see this kind of surge happen.

BOLDUAN: And part of the issue there is resistance to that from the Governor and we now know that the President's going to be heading right down to the epicenter of this later this week not talking about Coronavirus at least that's what we hear now.

And the Governor continues to down play the severity of the problem in Florida often continuing to point to increased testing as a driving force in what we see in case numbers. From a public health perspective, Dr. Gounder, can you remind folks why that position, that claim is such a problem?

GOUNDER: Well, you know, this is not about increased testing. We know that from the numbers. If anything the positivity rate has been climbing which what that means is we are actually not testing enough people, that there's a lot more positives out there in the community than we are capturing.

So we're not casting the net wide enough largely because we just don't have the capacity. So it's sort of like you know you going to see a doctor and you get a colonoscopy, that colonoscopy did not give you colon cancer.


GOUNDER: We're finally uncovering what's been there, what is there? You know and honestly we needed to be testing even more because we know that we are not getting everything.

BOLDUAN: Just like a powder keg of problems that we're looking at here. They can get testing need more tests. The wait time is to get the test and CNN has found there has been failure in contact tracing in the states so far. Dr. Gounder, thank you.

Coming up, inside a major hotspot in Texas a Houston area officials warning about the virus and what she want to see from the Governor?


BOLDUAN: Parts of Texas are seeing record levels of hospitalizations for Coronavirus right now. The U.S. military is also now sending medical personnel into San Antonio to help with what they're dealing with.


BOLDUAN: Let's give you a picture of what it looks like statewide. The state topping 6,000 cases a day for several days now and Texas also has over 200,000 cases overall joining New York, California and Florida as the only states to hit that mark.

One of the places facing the most trouble is Houston area, nearly 38,000 cases there so far. Let's get an update on the ground what it looks like what they need? Joining me right now is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Judge, thank you for coming back in.

I watched with interest you speaking out this weekend and you said that as long as we collectively are doing as little as possible with regard to fighting the virus you said that we are always going to be chasing this thing. Are you still chasing it today, judge?

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Absolutely, Kate we are. And Dr. Gounder was talking about this earlier, as well. Look, I am advocating for a stay-at-home order here in Harris County not because I want to see things shut down. I see the pain the community is under economically.

We have given millions of dollars to small businesses, to individuals, of course we can't afford to help every single resident who's hurting and the folks who are turned away, I mean, the stories are heartbreaking.

But I'm advocating for this precisely because I know that a long-term solution based on data instead of wishful thinking is what's going to put our economy in the position to succeed, what is going to put us in a position to coexist with the virus instead of always trying to catch up, to do the bare minimum and just hope for the best.

And so, that's where I'm coming from. Is from a place of recognizing that we know what works and it's tough decisions but it's what the experience of other places, of other states show and we can't just put our head in the sand and hope that somehow it goes differently over here.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and one major concern is hospital capacity. What is the latest there in Harris County?

HIDALGO: We continue to see our hospitalizations rise. They have been rising since a couple days before Memorial Day, before the protests and that's why it's important to highlight. You know, it is these fast and early reopenings that have led to these increases in hospitalizations. We are seeing the last few days the increases a little bit slower but the seven-day trend is faster than the 14-day trend at the 95 percent confidence level so we expect acceleration again. Still though we are not going to flatten the curve and bring it down without taking more severe measures.

If somehow you know the measures being taken so far, which are sort of halfway measures, if those were able to flatten that curve that still doesn't put us in a position to succeed because then you open everything back up and cross you'll capacity again.

The economy will still be subject to this virus every day and it will be open and closing in an inconsistent fashion. And so that's why if we want to get ahead of this we need a stay-at-home order we need to keep it in place until a curve comes down on the other side to 10 percent, 20 percent of peak as other communities have done it.

At that point open more responsibly and that way leap in front of the virus and really make sure that we have a long-term plan. We know the virus is going to be with us for the long haul and our strategy needs to be long term, as well we can't go with the whims of people are tired of being home and the politics of it.

BOLDUAN: Governor Abbott was asked about county judges like yourself who are asking for more authority to issue more orders to enforce social distancing. And as you said you would like to see a stay-at- home order. Here's how the Governor responded to this.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R-TX): All of these local officials who are asking to shut Texas back down they have absolutely refused to enforce the current executive orders that are already in place. What they need to show is action. Not absenteeism. They need to show up, enforce the laws until they're given further authority. If local officials enforce the mask order it will slow the spread of the Coronavirus.


BOLDUAN: Judge, I just want to get your reaction to that.

HIDALGO: First, Kate, let me say we have had a great relationship with the Governor throughout. We are working with him with the federal government trying to think once we make it through this how can we sharpen up our testing and our tracing tools to do better? Now as far as the question of enforcement, what is enforcement really mean?

And we have the experience, the hard data here from our own community about what succeeds and what doesn't succeed? We have a stay-at-home order back in March. We had a restaurant order. We had a bar order before that. They all carried fines and I don't think we ever issued a single one, certainly not from the county.


HIDALGO: We have many, many law enforcement agencies but my general understanding is very few if any fines. And yet, the curve flattened. The curve flattened until the state decided to reopen because it's that signal that there is an enforcement provision.

Now we are there, we are responding to calls but our priority has always been to educate. The priority is not to keep track of how many fines we can collect and how many we can rack up? And so we are - we did enforce and we would enforce the same way as we did back then which was successful.

And right now we need that enforcement provision on staying home. Unfortunately, I wish masks would do the trick. I really wish they would but there's no evidence of that anywhere in the U.S. that we have been able to flatten and lower curve just from face coverings.

But of course, we are going out there to educate folks if it comes down to it we will issue the fines. That's never been the priority and the recipe for success, we have it. We just need that enforcement provision.

So that's why I'm asking for enforcement authority in the stay-at-home order which I no longer have and I'm really just asking the community please stay home for the sake of the long term strategy here. So we can actually succeed in the real world that we are facing right now. Not in what we all hope will happen.

BOLDUAN: It does feel like something is going to have to give in Texas. Just have to see what that is and how far this goes before then? Judge, thank you.

Coming up for us, Republicans are still planning to hold their convention next month in Florida in the midst of the outbreak. Some top Republicans are now saying though that they will not be attending.