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U.S. Hits Grim Milestone As Coronavirus Cases Top 3 Million; Fauci Rejects Trump Touting Mortality Rate, False Narrative; Ohio Governor Mandates Masks For High Risk Counties. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 8, 2020 - 13:00   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And for them, it's bad for opening the economy.


It's also very tricky when it comes to what it takes to open those schools, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It seems the only clear point is the one thing that one help is less funding, that the president is threatening right now is trying to pull funding. And that is something that seemed very clear coming out of that.

Guys, thank you very much. Thank you all for being with us. I'm Kate Bolduan. CNN's Brianna Keilar is going to pick up our coverage right here.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEWSROOM: Kate, thank you so much.

Continuing this special coverage, I am Brianna Keilar. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have now surpassed 3 million as the nation experiences the highest daily case count since the pandemic started. Just over 60,000 reported in a single day, and yet a short time ago, the vice president, the man who leads the White House coronavirus task force, said this.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We are actually seeing early indications of a percent of positive testing flattening in Arizona and Florida and Texas. Governors in each of those states have taken strong steps to flatten the curve.

And, again, as Dr. Birx will describe, we're beginning to see early indications that positivity is flattening, and in Arizona and Florida, we are beginning to see declining numbers of emergency room visit as well.

We believe the takeaway from this for every American, particularly in those states that are impacted is, keep doing what you're doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: He mentioned Arizona. He did not mention it only has 145 ICU beds left in the entire state. That's 145 for the entire State of Arizona.

And he brought up Florida. 56 hospital there say that their ICUs are full. In fact, 35 states are now experiencing more cases in the past week than the week before.

A mere three states are green, which is what they want to be, just three of them here. And while the national mortality rate is down, the states that the vice president just mentioned are breaking records when it comes to their case counts. Texas just reported in a single day 10,000 new infections, and what's more, the pandemic sickens even more Americans than before.

There's new pressure from the president, who tweeted a threat today, that he may cut funding if schools don't reopen this coming term, mentioning it's been done in Germany, Denmark and elsewhere, pointing out here that there's a reason why those countries were able to do it. They're in a very different situation than the U.S.

Yesterday, Germany had 279 cases, Denmark had 10, Norway 11, Sweden, 283. And again, the U.S., 60,021.

So in the middle of a global pandemic, when the situation is deteriorating in the United States, the president is politicizing schools. He's politicizing science, statistics, reopenings, and, of course, masks, which according to a new model could save 45,000 lives this year.

The vice president held the briefing at the U.S. Department of Education, where he emphasized the president's point that schools need to reopen despite some states experiencing more infections than ever before.


PENCE: What we heard, again, yesterday from education officials and what we heard from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's absolutely essential that we get our kids back into classroom for in-person learning. We can't let our kids fall behind academically.


KEILAR: Lily Eskelsen Garcia is President of the National Education Association, the teachers union, important to note, has endorsed Joe Biden for president. And also here with us, we have internist and viral specialist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez.

Lily, first to you. I'm sure that you were watching this coronavirus task force briefing at the Department of Education with a lot of questions on your mind. I'm wondering what your reaction was and if those questions were answered.

LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Well, let's answer the question as you introduced me, is there any doubt in anyone's mind why we're endorsing Joe Biden? We are absolutely frightened with the lack of leadership. I'm speechless, and I give a lot of speeches, with what we are seeing coming out of this White House. It's chaotic. It's dangerous.

And we can't say this enough. Please, parents, governors, news reporters, do not, under any circumstances, take medical advice from Donald Trump. That is never going to end well.

And we have seen what happens when people are cavalier with this dangerous pandemic. We saw governors opening bars and we saw those bars packed with young people who should have known better.


We're not talking about bars here. We're talking about second graders. We're talking about putting children, their families and their teachers at risk. We know how to do this right, and they are ignoring the science, and the intentional plan that you would have to do.

It's not impossible, but it's complicated, and it takes some resources to do what you need to do. And we're willing to sit down and help with those plans. But we don't see a plan here. So I have no questions.

It is unquestionable to -- I don't look to the White House for anything but chaos. We need to go around Donald Trump. Parents, and that includes Republican parents, Democratic parents, socialist parents, tea party parents, of course, they want their kids back in school. We want our students back in school. And we are going to do it in a safe, responsible way. And nothing, nothing that Donald Trump has said in the last 48 hours has been safe or responsible.

KEILAR: Dr. Rodriguez, one of the things that we heard coming out of this was, because, look, a lot of educators, a lot of administrators, will be looking at the government guidance that's out there right now about reopening schools and they'll say, wait a second, we're not meeting these requirements that we should be reopening, and so we cannot actually follow what is government guidance.

What was really interesting about this briefing was the vice president was kind of backing away from the guidance, and he said that there would be other guidelines soon to come out about reopening schools. what did you think about that?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: Well, I agree with you, Brianna. I mean, first of all, and I agree with Ms. Garcia, there is a complete lack of leadership from the top-down, which is why local governments and local school districts need to take it into their own hands and jurisdiction and do what is right.

As you know, or maybe not, I am from Miami, so this is even more near and dear to me. Miami-Dade, and I think there's a superintendent of school says there's no way that they're going to open. That is a hotspot. And in my opinion, they don't meet the general criteria for adults to socialize and we don't know yet about children. So if it was my child, I would definitely not risk it. And a lot of the things that the vice president was saying are sort of pseudo truths disguised in a pretty, little bow. For example, he said that Arizona and some states, they're flattening -- the curve is flattening. I'm so tired of that statement. It is flattening at approximately 19 percent to 20 percent positivity rate. That's nothing good. It needs to go down.

So take all that with a grain of salt. I think the leaders of each community must assess their individually and make decisions for what is correct for that region. And for me, Miami-Dade at this point, should not open schools.

KEILAR: You know, lily when we think about how do we send our children back to school, you wonder especially when we know the sizes of classes in so many districts, in so many states, how do you fit all of those kids in a room? Or else you're talking about staggering or alternating or something.

How are schools doing when it comes to this issue of social distancing?

GARCIA: Thank you for that question, because that is heavy on our minds. I am a sixth grade teacher. I had 39 kids one year that barely fit in that tiny, little classroom with one window that didn't open half way. And so we've already told our principals, our administrators, the school nurse, the school board, we want to do this right. Let's sit down.

Every one of the doctors that I talked to has said, when we get the infection rate down to, what was it, 14 days of decline, we can start slowly opening this up, spacing the kids.

And so as started saying, let's talk about split shifts. half the kids in the morning, half the kids in the afternoon, running two buses so you don't have the buses packed with kids, wearing the masks, having stations to disinfect your hands, all of those things very expensive alternatives, but would take that step into saying, all right, we're going to distance these kids in the cafeteria and the hallways and we'll be creative.

But that's not what I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is, you do it now. You put all of them in there. You stuff those 39 kids in that classroom. We don't care if it's unsafe for them and all of the people they could infect, because I don't know. What is this about getting jobs numbers up or making the economy look good on paper?


Not at the expense of somebody's kid. This is life and death. And why doesn't this president understand that? We are at an end of the rope here.

KEILAR: And, Dr. Rodriguez, to one of the things that we heard the vice president and other officials stress was that kids do better when it comes to the ramifications of coronavirus. I think you just rolled your eyes. Okay. So, you explain why? RODRIGUEZ: I did roll my eyes. First of all, we don't have all the information. And that's why I'm a bad poker player. You can definitely tell what it is that I'm thinking. We don't know all the ramifications of children. And, sure, if we're talking statistics, that's almost obscene, because if you lose your one child, you don't care about the statistics. So we really have to think of it that way.

And I think what it brings to the point right now is how we abandon education and the school system in this country. Our people are its main resource. And if we don't educate our children from kindergarten on up, then we have a problem. And schools are overcrowded. Schools are unsafe. This is an opportunity in the future to start redesigning how we educate. Maybe we don't have to give people free college, if we educate them enough so that when they complete high school, they really are high-school grade.

So I know I'm diverging. The point is we don't know how this really affects children in the long-term, and we don't know the infectivity of children to the adults, both their teachers, their parents and their grandparents when they go back home.

KEILAR: Yes. I think we can all agree that this pandemic is revealing bigger problems that we are seeing with very difficult challenges. Lily, Dr. Rodriguez, thank you to both of you.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: There's tension between Dr. Fauci and the president, and it's getting clearer after Fauci dismisses the president touting a lower mortality rate.

Plus, new revelations that this virus is not only airborne but spreads more silently than originally thought.

And the sheriff says he's not the mask police and refuses to enforce the state's mandate. He will join me live.



KEILAR: The government's top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is sounding an alarm. In an interview, he pointed to repeated remarks by the president downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus and touting a recent decrease in the death rate.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death. There's so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don't get yourself into false complacency.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Now, the U.S. just passed the 3 million case mark here in the last hour. And despite the rising numbers, the president has a very different view of the situation.


TRUMP: I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him. You know, Dr. Fauci said don't wear masks. And now says wear them. And he said numerous things, don't close off China, don't ban China. And I did it anyway. I sort of didn't listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worst shape.


KEILAR: All right. Just sort of clarifying the president's remarks, what he said back in March, the CDC recommended conserving face masks, which were in short supply for healthcare workers and coronavirus patients. Fauci at the time was in line with CDC guidelines. He's taken criticism, as a lot of White House officials and coronavirus task force officials have for that guidance.

I want to talk about this now. Let's bring back Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. And I think, you know, part of what's so important about what comes out of the White House, doctor, is just the sense of, is this an urgent situation or not. And we're getting the sense that it is not urgent. What kind of impact does the minimization of the dangers of coronavirus have on the general public?

RODRIGUEZ: It has a huge impact, and the impact is negative. Because if you minimize it, a lot of people just follow what President Trump says regardless of whether they give any thought to it. So to minimize the fact that this is still a huge pandemic, that is killing -- I mean, let's put it in terms. Yesterday, three jumbo jets full of people died, the equivalent of that, from coronavirus. Every day, at least one jumbo jet has died. And yesterday was the highest in a month. If that were happening, if we were to see that, I think we would be responding differently.

So I have been associated with Dr. Fauci for almost 25 years with HIV research and such, and he's completely right. Death is not the only thing even though it is obviously the most critical thing. We are seeing complications from people that get COVID that are not just death, all right, which is obviously the worst thing, put things that are going to affect them their whole life, brain changes, lung changes. So until we know more, we need to be cautious.

And I think it's very -- pardon me for continuing, it's very disingenuous of the president to say, he changed his mind one day, and the next day, it's this. We are discovering as we go along. That doesn't mean that what we said one day was not right for that day. This virus is very humbling. And every week, we learn more. That is why recommendations change. And it is a wise man that changes along with the knowledge as opposed to the man that just sticks to his intuition.

[13:20:07] KEILAR: Dr. Rodriguez, thank you, again, for being with us.

And there's a sheriff who says he is refusing to enforce mandatory masks because he's, quote, not the mask police. He'll join me live, next.

Plus, counties in Arizona have run out of ICU beds. So what will happen to those patients who need one?

And a Fox host takes his outrageous attack against a Purple Heart recipient to a new level, calling Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, a moron and a coward. We will discuss.



KEILAR: Coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations are on the rise in Ohio. The state is reporting more than 58,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths. Going into effect at 6:00 P.M. tonight, residents in seven counties will be required to wear masks.

The Ohio Department of Health identifying these regions as having a very high risk of exposure and spread and one of these areas affected is Butler County, where there are currently more than 1,600 confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 47 deaths. But the county sheriff says he won't be policing the governor's mask order.


SHERIFF RICHARD K. JONES, BUTLER COUNTY, OHIO: I am not the mask police. I am not going to enforce any mask wearing. That is not my responsibility. That is not my job. People should be able to make that choice themselves.


KEILAR: And Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones joins me now to talk about this.

Sheriff, explain this to us. You say it's not your job to enforce the mask order.

JONES: Yes, basically. Our ICUs are less than 10 percent, they're not full, we're not overrun. People are getting tested, they're going home. And it's an order that came down. It goes up, it goes down. And I'm not going to be the mask police. I'm telling people, don't call 911. All the police have been decimated as far as being laid off, having their budgets cut. The hospitals are less staffed. It's -- and it changes as we watch T.V. And I am not going to enforce the mask wearing.

We tell people, if you want to call the governor's office, or call the health department, and they can put a little yellow light on their car and they can stop people for it. I'm not going to do it. It's all we can do to enforce police services anyway. People are angry all over the country at the police for stopping them. We stopped doing citations for speeding. We just ease up. People are angry. They're fed up. This is in the heartland. They're tired and they're confused that the messages are going back and forth.

KEILAR: So you're saying, you're not citing people for speeding or not wearing seat belts or, let's say, smoking indoors? Or --

JONES: We're giving them -- yes, we're giving them warnings if they're speeding. We're enforcing the law. But people --

KEILAR: But you're not citing them? So there's no tickets or anything?

JONES: We are now. We're giving citations for speeding. We're giving still warning tickets.

KEILAR: Okay. I just wanted to be -- I wanted to be clear because it sort of sounded like you said you weren't.

Okay, so you say this is a personal choice. Will you be wearing a mask?

JONES: I wear a mask all the time. I wear a mask, and I wash my hands, and -- but I've been with that the whole time, but it should be a choice. You shouldn't have to wear a mask if you don't want to. If you're sick, that's one thing.

But when our governor goes ahead -- he's a nice guy and he's doing the best he can but he's not communicating with the people in their communities. I believe there's more people dying because they don't have enough money to go to the hospital to buy their medication, because of the two months of non-work.

The hospitals have laid people off before the pandemic. The insurance companies are controlling the hospitals. You get sick, they don't want you there. People are confused. The Republicans and the Democrats, we don't have many leaders and in either party right now. They're so busy with things that aren't important to the regular American.

KEILAR: Okay. I want to -- you say if -- I will say the data does not bear out what you said about those other things, killing more people than coronavirus. But you did say that if someone is sick, you understand how they should be wearing a mask. But there's a study that found silent spreaders. So these are people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, right? They're contagious but they haven't started showing that they're sick. They could be responsible for half of coronavirus cases.

And the studies show that so many lives are saved through masks. Why does protecting Americans from that not fall under your purview of protecting people?

JONES: Listen, I protect people every day. And this study you're talking about, I don't have a copy of it. There's probably 20 other studies that say just the opposite.

KEILAR: No, no. Sir, this is the study -- this is the data the White House relies on.


This is good data. I promise you.

JONES: Well, I'm not trusting what you say. I don't know you that well.