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New Prediction of 208,000 U.S. Deaths by November; Experts Say Fewer Deaths If Most Americans Wear Masks; Trump Says He Will Pressure Governors to Reopen Schools; Trump's Niece Pens Scathing Book About U.S. President; Despite Spike in Cases, Trump Planning Visit to Florida. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 8, 2020 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:00]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, cases and hospitalizations are surging across the United States as the coronavirus pandemic spirals out of control. Health officials suggest Americans can do one crucial thing to keep it from getting worse.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump leaning into old failures rebuking his government's top infectious disease expert and pushing for premature opening of schools.

And later, more states join the list for vote by mail. For some it's a sigh of relief. For the President it's a reason to wage war on the election process.

Good to have you with us. Well surging spikes, record daily cases and now a leading projection has the U.S. death toll from coronavirus topping 200,000 by November. Around the world 11.8 million cases are confirmed, with more than half a million people dead from COVID-19. As bleak as those numbers are, researchers say as many as 45,000 American lives could be saved by the winter. One expert tells CNN's Anderson Cooper all it takes is one simple thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: If people would wear masks, and we could get it up to that Singapore level of, you know, 95 percent of people wearing masks through, for example, mandates, that could reduce the death toll by November by about 45,000 deaths. So if states start doing that then our forecast will definitely come down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And America's top infectious disease expert is also a big advocate of wearing masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci says they are especially important with the U.S. still knee deep in the first wave. Despite all this President Trump and others are ready for schools to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They think it will be good for them politically so they will keep the schools closed. No way. So we're very much to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools to get them open.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't want to be the reason any school doesn't reopen. To open up America again we've got to open up America's schools.

ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: CDC encourages all schools, all schools to do what they need to do to reopen. And to have plans that anticipate that the COVID-19 cases will, in fact, occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And with new COVID-19 cases accelerating the U.S. has broken its own daily record. More than 60,000 cases were confirmed on Tuesday. Texas among the hardest hit with more than 10,000 new infections, its highest single day increase. And the surge is so bad in Florida that dozens of its intensive care units have hit capacity. CNN's Erica Hill has an update.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cases surging in the sunshine state, more than 7,300 reported on Tuesday, 43 hospitals in Florida report their ICU beds are now at capacity. Nearly three dozen more are close. Yet the Governor is pushing forward with plans to open schools next month, touting his State's efforts to prepare for the long haul.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: The whole point of the curve, flattening the curve was to make sure we had enough healthcare capacity. We're in a way better position today to be able to do that.

HILL: Restaurants in Miami-Dade County told to pull back as hospitalizations there surge. And that curve the Governor mentioned, looking more like a steep cliff. Though it's not just Florida, Arizona now has the highest number of cases per capita in the country.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL CENTER FOR VACCINE DEV.: In Arizona, the cases are rising so rapidly that we cannot even do contact tracing. The epidemic is out of control in the southern part of the United States.

HILL: Texas just reported more than 10,000 new cases, its highest single day increase. Houston's Mayor urging the state's Republican Party to cancel its upcoming convention in his city scheduled for July 16th.

[04:05:00]

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: I believe canceling the in-person convention is the responsible action to take.

HILL: The Texas GOP is still planning to hold the event adding a mask requirement for attendees. Meantime, the Texas State Fair cancelled for the first time since World War II. The Governor now saying he allowed bars to reopen too soon.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) TEXAS: You have to wonder if they should have ever been open at all because bars really aren't made in a way that promotes social distancing.

HILL: California State capitol closed after at least five assembly members tested positive. And a new study finds so called silent spreaders may account for as many as half of all cases.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Even the states that are doing well right now should be on guard. Because they could be next.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is an internal medicine and bio specialist. And he joins me now from Los Angeles. Thank you doctor for being with us.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALISTS: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, the Washington University model now projects more than 200,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by November 1st, but adds that if 95 percent of the population wore masks, that number could be lowered to around 162,000 plus and America's top doctor, Anthony Fauci, says masks need to be mandated by states and local governments. Sir, why isn't that being done right now with around 40,000 lives could potentially be saved between now and November?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, well it's not being done because, unfortunately, politics has gotten into the way of health care and good medicine. There's no doubt that wearing masks decreases the infectivity of this virus and people just need to come to grips with the fact this virus will not go away until it is completely, completely eradicated. So until that is done, we need to basically learn how to live with this beast and we need to sort of live in -- well, maybe the word is not harmony, but to keep it from destroying us. And the way to do it is masks and social distancing and hygiene at this time. Politics needs to get out.

CHURCH: There still some reluctance though, going about Atlanta I see it. People are not wearing masks. But doctor, despite surge in cases, President Trump is pushing for schools to open next month. The CDC is supports him on this and will put out school opening guidelines next week. How can kids go back to school without jeopardizing their health?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, it is a risk. It's something that I honestly, I fight with this every day and I asked my cousin who lives in Miami what she does because what she thinks she would do. Because she has four kids. And I was surprised. She said that maybe they should go back because kids are not going to get sick. If I had children, I would not actually risk them.

So this is something that needs to be done on a local level and something where parents absolutely need to have their voices heard. This would be a couple of years, will it not the optimum for kids not to school? It wouldn't be the optimum but at least they would have a third year to, you know, to go to school. And it would be a lie for that. It's a tough one.

CHURCH: It is a tough one. And doctor, two major U.S. COVID-19 testing companies LabCorp and Quest say the waiting time for results has doubled because of the surge. It's now up to four to six days before people getting results. What's the impact of that in terms of the spread of this virus and why the is the superpower unable to get testing done properly and contact tracing now impossible, apparently, because of the surge? So what is going on here?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, what's going on here is that we were late to the party and when we showed up, we didn't really know what to do. So, this is something that hits home to me because we use both of those labs, and it has -- it's now taking five to six days and people want to know, for example, I had a case today. The gentleman wanted to visit his parents who he hasn't seen in months. And it's almost ineffectual because by the time we get the results back he may already be infected. So we need to ramp up and the problem isn't just that we have so many people now wanting tests and so many people that are getting infected. We were slow in coming up with re-agents to run these tests. So full-court press now has to be done for these lab tests to be able to be accessible to everybody.

CHURCH: Yes, and they've got to be faster. I mean other countries are able to provide fast testing.

[04:10:00]

So, doctor, Florida's governor won't disclose how many people have been hospitalized and Miami-Dade has and it's up 90 percent in just two weeks. Still in Florida it's ordering schools to reopen next month despite the surge in cases but the superintendent of Miami-Dade County schools in Florida says he will not reopen his school system on August 24th if the situation doesn't improve. Will counties need to break from their governors to keep their people safe?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely, and they should. And I think their main obligation is to the children and to the parents. Actually to the whole community. And when you mention Miami, I mean, that is my hometown. So this hits very close to home. But it will happen in every single county and every single state in this country. So, we need to be very aware, and involved. And, yes, they do need to be rebels and they really need to go against the current and do what is safest for those children.

CHURCH: Dr. Rodriguez, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you for hearing me out.

CHURCH: Well, Donald Trump has been very critical of the World Health Organization saying it did not do enough to warn the world about the danger of the coronavirus. And now his criticism has turned to action. The Trump administration has now formally notified Congress and the U.N. that it intends to withdraw from the W.H.O. The exit will take place next July. The U.S. contributes more than $400 million a year to the W.H.O. budget. Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says that if he's elected, he will stop the withdrawal.

The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was briefly hospitalized in June after suffering a fall. A spokeswoman for the court said John Roberts received sutures for an injury to his forehead on June 21st. Doctors think the 65-year-old was light-headed from dehydration. He stayed overnight at the hospital out of an abundance of caution and was released the next day. The court's spokeswoman said the public of not told about the incident when it happened because it was not significant. The court is racing to finish up its term with five cases remaining.

Well, the U.S. is home to more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other nation on this planet. So, why is President Trump boasting about how the U.S. is handling the virus?

Plus a scathing tell all book from Mr. Trump's own niece hits shelves next week. Why Mary Trump calls her uncle the world's most dangerous man. That's next.

[04:15:00]

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TRUMP: So we're at 130, we could be at -- we could be at way over a million right now and I think could it have been two and a half or three million people.

When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: That was Donald Trump both now and back in February. Bragging about how well the U.S. is handling the coronavirus outbreak. Despite those reassurances the U.S. is about to become the first nation to reach 3 million confirmed cases. It's against that backdrop that the President will travel later this week to Florida where hospitals are filling up and the outbreak may be the worst. With more on that here's Kaitlan Collins.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the coronavirus surges in South Florida, President Trump will fly to Miami-Dade County on Friday, but not because of the raging pandemic. Instead, Trump's trip is for a briefing at U.S. Southern Command on drug trafficking in South America and a campaign fund-raiser.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has an important message to share. We have been traveling all around the country.

COLLINS: The White House defended Trump traveling to an area where cases have soared and medical resources are limited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he has a fundraiser on Friday. Is that really important?

MCENANY: We've had several fundraisers. We've had important messages to share. We've been all around the country.

COLLINS: Trump and his aides are tested regularly. But questions remain about whether he's putting his entourage or the area at risk.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He and the Vice President are the two most essential workers in the country, so they are tested regularly.

COLLINS: When any president travels, Secret Service devotes a wealth of resources, like sending agents in advance to scope out hospitals, as they prepare for a worst-case scenario.

Friday's visit could affect hospitals that are already overwhelmed and put agents at risk as well. Some tested positive in Oklahoma when Trump went there for a rally and then again in Arizona. The White House insists Trump isn't downplaying the virus.

On Twitter Trump wrongly claimed that the U.S. has the lowest mortality rate in the world.

While U.S. fatality rates have declined lately, they aren't the lowest in the world, and at least 13 other hard-hit countries have lower death rates.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned about a false complacency over a lower 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.

COLLINS: It's unlikely Trump will wear a mask when he travels to Miami, since he's refused to do so publicly for months. His own aides see it as a foregone conclusion, despite the message some say it could send to his supporters.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: What's the point? He -- everyone who gets near him has been tested. And nobody gets within six feet of him. I mean, what's the point here?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The White House effort to emphasize the importance of mask wearing -- NAVARRO: And you can keep asking it, and I'm not going to go there.

COLLINS (on camera): And during a round table on opening schools safely, as the White House called it, the President said he is going to pressure governors and local officials to physically reopen their cools come this fall. He said he envisions students being back in classrooms along with their teachers and administrators.

[04:20:00]

And he said they are going to lean on officials to do so despite some of those concerns we've heard about whether or not it's safe to do so.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The niece of U.S. President Donald Trump has laid out a damning portrait of her uncle in a new book. Mary Trump, who is a licensed clinical psychologist, seeks to explain Mr. Trump's character through her personal knowledge of their family drama and relationships. The White House has rejected the book and members of the Trump family tried to block its release. CNN's Sara Murray reports on some of the key takeaways.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: There's a scathing new critique of President Trump, and this time it is coming from his own niece. CNN obtained an early copy of Mary Trump's book, and in it she writes about the toxic culture that Fred Trump, the patriarch of the family, Donald Trump's father created. She says that's why Donald Trump is the way he is. And she describes her uncle as a liar, a cheater, essentially a sociopath.

You know, at one point in her book she writes, the lies may become true in his mind, as soon as he utters them, but there's still lies. It's just another way for him to see what he can get away with. And so far, he's gotten away with everything.

Mary Trump includes a number of embarrassing anecdotes from the President, it's clear that there is bad blood in this family, it goes back decades.

One of these anecdotes is actually when Donald Trump was younger, he wanted to get into the University of Pennsylvania and she says he paid another kid to take the SATs for him. Now, the White House said that is absurd. They say it's false and they are questioning why this book is coming out now.

Well, Mary Trump says that Donald Trump destroyed her father, her father Freddy Trump, who struggle with alcoholism and has since passed. She says she's not going to stand by while Donald Trump destroys the country.

Sarah Murray, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And joining me now is Larry Sabato. He is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Always good to have you with us.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Thank you, Rosemary. Appreciate it.

CHURCH: Now, Larry, in a scathing tell all book written by President Trump's niece Mary Trump called "Too Much and Never Enough," she describes her uncle as a threat to the nation, a liar and a cheat who only ran for president to boost his own brand. And she says this.

By the time this book is published hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the altar of Donald's hubris and willful ignorance. If he's afforded a second term it would be the end of American. democracy.

Now she also says he cheated on his S.A.T. by paying for another student to sit for his exam for entry into the University of Pennsylvania. The White House disputes this and a whole lot of other things she said. But what impact could a scathing tell all book from a family member have on Mr. Trump's efforts to win a second term?

SABATO: I think it would have some impact, because it's an individual within the family who has not spoken out before at least to my knowledge. Probably privately providing information to the "New York Times". That's different than speaking out publicly. I think it would have some impact. There are bomb shells in that book. There's no question about it. The S.A.T. example is just one. I guess it hits me because I'm a college professor and any student who was found doing that would be expelled within hours. I do think that Trump's schools, Wharton, who can and Fordham, he attended Fordham. They've got to take a look at this, because if they can prove this is true then his diploma must be revoked. Must be. This is a standard in academia.

CHURCH: Well, she does name the student who apparently sat for the exam. So no doubt someone is chasing him down to get some comment. But, Larry, Mary Trump also says this.

The lies may become true in his mind as soon as he utters them, but they are still lies. It's just another way for him to see what he can get away with and so far, he's gotten away with everything.

And, Larry, it is worth noting that Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist and she has assessed her uncle as a sociopath, a liar and a cheat, as we mentioned. Does the fact that she's a psychologist add weight to these revelations despite suggestions from the White House that she's motivated by money and spite.

SABATO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, maybe she is motivated by money and spite but that doesn't mean she's not telling the truth. So yes, I think that given her background she has every right to say these things. As we all know because we've seen it a thousand times, Trump's base will completely ignore all of this. But there are handfuls of voters that are persuadable that voted for Trump because they didn't like Hillary Clinton but don't like how he's performed. And this kind of information could have an impact.

[04:25:00]

And again, there's so much damaging information in there. How many bomb shells? You read even parts of this book, which is all I've read to this point, and it's hard to conclude otherwise that Donald Trump is a wretched human being. Whatever you think of him as president, he's a wretched human being.

CHURCH: And, Larry, President Trump is pushing for the economy and schools to reopen and he insists there will be no more closures going forward. How does that play politically for the President? Because when we look at the national poll numbers and we'll bring those up, his rival Joe Biden is well ahead of him. But what's the story behind those numbers. In critical swing states and of course, the role the electoral college might play again in the outcome.

SABATO: It's very important to focus on his overall approval rating. Despite everything that's come out, despite the disaster of the pandemic, which he's partly responsible for in this country, despite the terrible economy and racial protests and all the rest, he still at an average of 42 percent. We need to remember that under the electoral college system which now favors him pretty clearly, he only needs to get may be 45 percent. He got 46 percent the last time. He could win with 45 percent. Well that means he's only three points down from what he needs. A lot is going to happen between now and November. So we can't count him out.

And what Trump sees is the opportunity to attract people who may be wavering and he's trying to show that he's a strong President who is going command that the schools open which, by the way, he doesn't have the power to do. That's at state and local level. And also the pandemic, he's decided there's no pandemic or that we got over it and now let's talk about other things. Now it's hard to say that after 130,000 people have died in some models now projecting over 200,000 by November.

CHURCH: Yes, the numbers are simply horrifying. Larry Sabato, many thanks to you for joining us.

SABATO: Thank you, Rosemary. Thanks a lot.

CHURCH: And coming up, after a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Melbourne, Australia is taking drastic measures that are now being felt by millions. The details on a new lockdown when we come back.

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