Return to Transcripts main page


Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise Across U.S.; Dr. Anthony Fauci Says States Seeing Biggest Spikes in Coronavirus should Consider Shutting Down; President Trump Threatens to Defund Public Schools that Do Not Reopen for In-Person Classes; Trump Threatens to "Cut Off Funding" If Schools Don't Reopen. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we'll check back with you. Thanks so much.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From sea to shining sea, record numbers of COVID- 19 patients in hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would call it a surging of cases within the context of a wave that never went away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time. It's time for us to get our kids back to school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president also slamming the CDC's reopening guidelines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It Is not the intent of CDC's guidelines to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sending kids into our schools unless it's safe. We're listening to scientists, not politicians.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, and this morning coronavirus cases are hovering right around record highs. We have had record numbers of deaths or near records in California and in Texas. And overnight, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the states seeing the biggest spikes should seriously consider shutting down.

Now, that is not what the president wants to hear, and it does seem he might even be trying to prevent it from being said. Dr. Fauci was sidelined for a Coronavirus Task Force briefing. The president really is opening clashing with the country's top medical minds with the health of millions of children, teachers, and families on the line. He is now threatening to withhold money from schools if they don't reopen. He has demanded that the CDC rewrite its science-based guidelines for reopening the schools because the president thinks they're too tough.

CAMEROTA: So John, here is where we are this morning. There are more than 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus nationwide. This morning, 33 states are seeing spikes in cases. Only three states this morning are declining, those that you see in the green on your screen. Some of the hardest hit states are reporting alarming positivity rates. Arizona is seeing a staggering 28 percent positive of the people who took a test. That was yesterday. And Florida reported its highest number of cases in a single day, nearly 10,000.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Vivek Murthy. He is the former U.S. surgeon general and a public health adviser for the Biden campaign. Sanjay, we just saw number after number pointing in the wrong direction. And if you look at the line graph of the number of daily new cases, it is just remarkable how steep the upward curve is. Since the middle of June, we're talking a few weeks, this incredible steep rise here, what jumps out to you as the area of greatest concern?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, if you look at the graph overall, we have been following this, obviously, from the very start. June 1st was actually the lowest number of new cases in the United States, and it was around 17,000. What jumps out at me is that ended up in de facto sort of becoming the basement, the best that we could do in terms of new overall infections. And the numbers have been going up significantly since then.

It took about 99 days for the first million people, before the first million people in this country were diagnosed. Just under 50 days for the second million, and just under 30 days for this most recent million people. So the numbers are accelerating clearly. This going in the wrong direction. It did not need to go this way, right. We should have been having the conversation as we're starting to talk about schools and other things about the numbers going down. But they're going up and they're going up at a faster pace.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, are we worse off today as a country than we were in March when everyone was so gripped by this and there were the stay at home orders?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Alisyn, I believe we are worse off, and for a few reasons. One is because a few months ago we were dealing with an outbreak of cases in New York, and New Jersey followed shortly after. But what we're seeing here is this surge in cases that's taking place in multiple states across the south and the west. And unfortunately, the number of new cases that we're seeing now far exceeds what we saw in New York, and we're seeing hospitalizations start to bump up. We're seeing the death rates start to go up as well. I think what we don't have now, which we had back in March, was the

political will to take the measures needed to tamp down the peak of infections, and that's stay-at-home orders and other measures to reduce physical distance between people. We need that now. We actually need to go back to that in many states. But we are not seeing the political will either on a state level or from our federal leadership to take those necessary measures.

BERMAN: What happens then, Dr. Gupta? What happens if there's no political will for this? And Dr. Fauci overnight said he thinks that states seeing these spikes should consider shutting down.


GUPTA: I agree with Vivek completely, but the thing about it is, at some point, the decision may not be ours to make. And by ours, I mean as human beings, because the virus may really be making the decision for us. If hospitals are overwhelmed, if there's no more places for patients to go if they get sick, all those things that we've been talking about, the worst case scenarios, then we have to have a more aggressive treatment. The same thing in medicine. If this was a stage one sort of problem, we could have been an effective, less invasive treatment. But now that this has metastasized, the infection has spread, we're going to need a more aggressive treatment. It may be, as Vivek is saying, that we have to go back into some sort of stay at home mode. I realize that there's not the political will, but I think the public health may just demand it. How are you going to take care of people otherwise?

CAMEROTA: There's not only not the political will, doctors, our leadership wants to do the opposite. President Trump yesterday was adamant that he wanted schools to reopen with in-person classes as early as next month in some states, some of these hard-hit states, and the CDC seems to be following suit. They said that they will revise their guidelines, I think, to make it easier for schools to reopen.

But let's look at the guidelines as they stand right now, and Dr. Murthy, you can explain what's so onerous about this. At the moment, teachers and students would have to wear a mask, keep desks six feet apart, which I understand could be complicated, stay home when appropriate, meaning when showing symptoms, stagger arrival and dismissal times, have backup staffing plans, cancel field trips and large gatherings, close communal spaces. What's wrong with these guidelines as they stand?

MURTHY: Well, I'm so glad you asked, because this is an issue that's very personal for me as well as a father of two small kids, and it's an issue that's in front of mind for me because I have been speaking with literally hundreds of principals and other school administrators over the last month. And I'll tell you that all of them who want to open up schools safely, all of them recognize that changes that have to be made, like distancing, like wearing masks whenever possible. But where they are struggling is number one, in having real clarity around the guidelines. So there are questions around testing. Do we need to test, when should we test. There are questions around what to do, if somebody comes back as positive, either a student or a staff member, how do you manage at that point?

And what the schools are not getting is clarity from the CDC on these questions. The other thing they're not getting are resources. These changes are expensive to make. And estimates show to that many school districts would incur a cost of $1.7 million or more to make many of the changes. And where are the resources coming from? In fact, what we see is the president threatening to cut resources to schools at a time when they need more support, guidance, and resources to open up more safely.

BERMAN: Sanjay, it strikes me that you have the most ominous warning here, is we keep pretending like we're making the choices when in fact the virus is making these choices for us, and if it's not doing it now, it will in a few weeks.

And there are some organizations or entities that are coming to grips with that. We just saw Stanford cut 11 sports from its roster. Other universities are stopping their college sports practices this summer because people are coming down with it. Ivy League sports just canceled for the fall. Sports is a microcosm of society, obviously, but what is it telling us that these organizations haven't been able to find a way to do this safely?

GUPTA: Yes, I think they're looking at the data. They're looking at -- even if you put the protocols into place, what's the likelihood of having a problem, having a cluster of cases develop? And what are we getting in return for it? What's the risk/reward proposition, decisions, discussions that we have been having since the beginning of this.

I want my kids to go back to school as well. My kids are a little bit older than Vivek's. Mine are going to be in 10th, eighth, and sixth grades. And I think we'll start to get a little bit more granular about very young kids versus high school kids versus college kids. I do think there's differences in terms of the likelihood of getting sick, the likelihood of spread. If you start looking at contact tracing studies, for example, from other countries, you do find that the risk of transmissibility is lower among kids to themselves and to older people. But it's not zero.

The thing that strikes me about this is that if you look at the studies, what is the impact overall of shutting down schools? How much of an impact does that make on society? And they say it's about two percent to four percent according to some of these studies in terms of reduction of the spread, the reduction of hospitalizations and deaths. If you're in a place where you're already having thousands of new people get infected every day, two to four percent of that is a large number. That's the thing. If you had a smaller number of new infections or if the cases were at least going in a downward trend like where you guys are up in New York, I think it would be a much better situation. Where I'm here in Georgia, where Vivek, I think you're still in Florida, it's a tougher sort of thing to ascertain.


I don't know. We'll see over the next several weeks, but unless the numbers go in the right direction, I think it's going to be tough for the schools to reopen in any kind of normal way.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, as the former surgeon general, you know how the CDC works. When they release the updated guidelines, will they address the issues you're talking about? Will they talk about whether there can be the rapid-fire testing, and what happens if somebody is positive? Is that why they're revising the guidelines, or what do you expect to see now?

MURTHY: Well, Alisyn, I'm worried about this upcoming revision of the guidelines, because, let's be clear, we have this skill within the CDC, within our scientists and medical professional there, to put out guidelines that are specific and that are evidence based.

But the pressure that the CDC is getting, particularly in the last 24 hours from the president himself directly, is not necessarily to make them more robust and more evidence-based. It's to make them more watered down. In fact, what Vice President Pence said is that they're worried that the guidelines are too strong too difficult to implement, and they want to make it easier. That's not what you want to hear.

The truth is that what we have right now, sadly, is not a failure of science. It's not a failure of skill. It's a failure of effective leadership. It's like having a car that has the best engine, top of the line brakes and state of the art GPS system. But if you don't have a good driver you're going to crash. And right now, that is our situation. We need better leadership and better execution to be able to address this pandemic.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Murthy, Dr. Gupta, thank you both for all of your expertise on this. And be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a new coronavirus town hall. Their guest is former CDC director Tom Frieden. That will be interesting to hear from him about these guidelines. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.

BERMAN: So the pandemic really hitting so many states across the country. Louisiana's governor says the state is back to where it was in early June in its fight against coronavirus. We have reporters across the country bringing you the very latest.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nick Valencia in Atlanta. Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards says that his state has lost all of the gains it made in combatting coronavirus in June. Over the course of the last three weeks Governor Edwards says that there's been an increase of nearly 1,900 new cases, 95 percent of which he says can be attributed to community spread. The demographics of who is getting the virus are also changing with patients in the hospital getting younger and more white people contracting the virus than before, according to the governor. He says with the latest developments, his state is now in a statewide pandemic.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro in Scottsdale, Arizona. The pandemic continues to put a crunch on the hospital system here. Arizona still leads the nation in the highest average per capita new cases per day, and the ICU beds are filling up, 91 percent capacity according to the latest figures, with just 145 beds left in the state. That's the lowest number since Arizona began reporting that figure back in March.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elizabeth Cohen. The pharmaceutical company Gilead is going to be doing a new clinical trial of remdesivir. Remdesivir is the drug, the only drug that's been approved for COVID-19, but it's currently only used in hospitalized patients because it only comes in the intravenous form. Gilead is going to try it in the inhaled form to see if it works, and then it could be used by patients at home.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: I'm Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta. The pandemic is hitting nursing homes particularly hard. Experts say better funding and more specialists on the ground are needed to slow the spread of COVID. Not all nursing homes have the money in the budget for more protective equipment for their caretakers. The right equipment can help prevent the spread of the disease. And not all facilities have funds for testing. Testing helps track who is sick. In the U.S. about a quarter of all COVID deaths come from nursing homes.

BERMAN: Thanks to our reporters across the country.

So we just spoke about this, President Trump threatening to defund public schools if they do not reopen this fall. But what about those cities and states that are seeing this sharp rise in cases right now? The head of Miami-Dade public schools joins us next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is threatening to cut off funding for public school systems that do not reopen in the fall. And the CDC is revising their guidelines for reopening schools after President Trump criticized them.

So what about schools in the hardest hit states? Will they reopen?

Joining us now is Alberto Carvalho. He's the superintendent of Miami- Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest school system in the country.

Mr. Carvalho, thank you very much for being here.

So Florida is being told to reopen in-person classes next month in August.

This comes from the Florida Commissioner of Education. He issued an emergency order to that effect.

Let me read it to you. Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.

So, are Miami-Dade schools going to be open next month?

ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, number one, good morning, Alisyn. Thank you for the opportunity.

Well, that order also provides some flexibility and leeway to the local authorities. Number one, it establishes that first day of school can be different across the state of Florida. It limits quite frankly the opening on the basis of local health conditions and formed by the local health department as well as the state health department.

And let's recognize one thing. Miami-Dade is right now the epicenter of the epicenter in our country in terms of COVID positivity. At a time when hospitalization numbers are up, at a time when the number of patients in ICU beds are up, at a time when quite frankly restaurants have been emptied out, shuttered, it is counterintuitive to mandate students to return to school at full capacity.

CAMEROTA: So can I -- I mean, can I assume that you are not going to follow the order of the commissioner of education, and you're not going to reopen schools in Miami-Dade?

CARVALHO: At this point, that emergency order offers flexibility. Now, we believe is an agreement with our reopening plan.

Look, we are a choice district and 63 percent of the parents in our community at this point have declared that they prefer at a schoolhouse model of instruction. Well, about one-third would rather a remote, continuous learning opportunity like we did during the last quarter of the last school year.

We need the flexibility to transition to phase two prior to reopening schools at full capacity which is what we hear from the federal level. We're hearing something slightly different from the state department of education.


CARVALHO: We need that flexibility to ensure the health and well- being of our students and our staff.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I understand, I mean, just to be so I understand -- just to be clear, are they opening in person or not?

CARVALHO: If we transition to a phase two status and a phase two status in the state of Florida as published by our governor, as well as the White House's own plan to reopening America describes a phase one as one that does not allow the opening of schools.


CARVALHO: We need a phase two to be able to reopen schools, so --

CAMEROTA: But you're in phase one right now.

CARVALHO: The federal and the state guidance prevent that.

CAMEROTA: You're in phase one currently.

CARVALHO: We are in phase one. Should we transition to phase two, then we do have a plan that will bring students back to school five days a week while offering other options to parents as well.

CAMEROTA: But right now, you are not opening despite what the commissioner says, despite what the governor says, despite what the president says, he wants -- President Trump yesterday said we are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open schools. Despite that, schools in Miami-Dade are not opening for classes next month?

CARVALHO: Both federal and state guidelines basically dictate that any county, any community that is in phase one is unable to open schools. That is the federal and state guideline at this point. I think it would be counterintuitive --


CARVALHO: -- with positivity cases increasing, with restaurants just this week being shut down again for us to pack up schools.


CARVALHO: It does not make sense.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Your positivity rate as of yesterday was 28 percent. I mean, that is -- I think the highest in the country.

And so, are you concerned that President Trump will follow through on his threat to, you know, deprive your district of funding?

CARVALHO: Look, I have confidence in our state department of education that it will fight for the resources our kids need. I think it would be quite unfair for children in Miami-Dade, 73 percent of whom live at/or below the poverty level, huge number of them are still English language learners, who have been in crisis to begin with, to be deprived of the necessary resources.

So I am hopeful that actually when I heard Vice President Pence say yesterday which was despite this order to reopen schools in August to full capacity that there are some districts in the nation that will face limitations. I believe Miami-Dade is facing limitations.

We are at the epicenter of this COVID-19 on the basis of hospitalizations, ICU beds and when you're facing that type of condition, it cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to look at local environmental conditions prior to making these decisions.

We are ready, willing and able to open once we transition to phase-two and that's exactly what the state and federal guidelines have indicated all along.

CAMEROTA: And the CDC guidelines as they currently stand, the wearing of masks, being able to keep desks six feet apart, staying at home, obviously, if there's any symptom, the staggering of arrival times and dismissal times, backup staffing plans, canceling field trips, closing communal spaces, is that -- do you think that those work at the moment? Would you follow those? CARVALHO: Well, we built our reopening plan for Miami-Dade public

schools deeply informed by the current CDC guidelines, by current best practices not only in this country but across the world. The experience that that successful countries have had in reopening and quite frankly informed by an expert panel of individuals which incidentally included Dr. Vivek Murthy, a graduate of Miami-Dade County public schools, was part of my working group, that developed this -- this reopening plan.

So, it is informed by health experts, by logistics experts. We want to make decisions in Miami-Dade that are health-based, that are science- based, not necessarily politically grounded, and that's exactly what we're doing.

I believe that the commissioner of education for the state of Florida will provide the leeway, the flexibility for us to reopen in a safe and healthy way.

Look, I understand the concern regarding a healthy economy.


I too want a healthy economy, but let us not forget that a healthy economy relies on the healthy workforce and the healthy community. I need -- I think we need to start there.

CAMEROTA: OK. Alberto Carvalho, we really appreciate you giving us the latest information. Thank you very much.

CARVALHO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Breaking overnight a desperate search for a former star of the hit TV show "Glee" after her young son was found alone on a boat in a lake in southern California. We have the latest details.


CAMEROTA: Search and rescue efforts will resume this morning for former "Glee" actress Naya Rivera after she went missing in a lake in southern California. Rivera was last seen taking out a boat yesterday afternoon with her 4-year-old son.

CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us with the latest.

This is so worrisome. What do we know?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Alisyn, it's a really tragic circumstance here.

Authorities say Rivera rented a pontoon boat with her toddler on Lake Piru in Ventura County around 1:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon. About three hours later, another boater discovered the pontoon drifting with her son asleep in it and unharmed on board.

Police say the 4-year-old had a life vest on.