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NYC Mayor Cancels Large Events Through September; Fauci: "I don't Think You can Say We're Doing Great, We're just Not"; Trump Claims Children's Immune System is "So Powerful, So Strong," Pushes to Reopen Schools; CDC Director: No Revision to School Reopening Guidelines Despite Pence Promise and Trump Attack; NYC Mayor on Spike in Violent Crime; NYC Paints "Black Lives Matter" on Street Outside Trump Tower; Texas Announces 105 Coronavirus Deaths; A One-Day Record; Fauci: "You'd Have To Admit" Hyperpartisan Environment In The U.S. Is Making It More Difficult To Suppress Virus; Coronavirus "Silent Spreaders" Pose Unseen Dangers; Supreme Court Rules On Trump Tax Records. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.

We're following breaking news. Nearly 133,000 Americans now dead from the coronavirus and the number of new cases approaching a record high as the virus surges in 33 states, including California, that state now reporting record one day number of COVID deaths, 149 people just today. And Florida is now seeing a positivity rate of more than 18 percent as the number of cases and deaths rise to record levels there as well.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci reacting to all of this just moments ago saying and I'm quoting him now, "I don't think you can say we're doing great. We're just not."

Two big questions this hour, what went so horribly wrong? And what needs to happen now? We'll talk about the escalating crisis in a moment with the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He's standing by live.

But first let's get the very latest, CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us.

Martin, very disturbing new coronavirus numbers from coast to coast.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. And it's not the only thing disturbing because as the number of cases continue to grow, so does the apparent disconnect between what the White House is saying in this administration and what medical science is proving in the field.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): No end in sight. The nation's top infectious disease experts saying coronavirus is perfectly suited to spread.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It really is the perfect storm and infectious disease and public health person's worst nightmare. It's a spectacularly transmissible virus. The efficiency with which this transmit is really striking.

SAVIDGE: Also striking good death toll. California now reporting 149 deaths, the highest numbers since the pandemic began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mortality rates are still front and center and should be in your consciousness.

SAVIDGE: In Florida, it's something they already know. The state's Department of Health reporting today an additional 8,935 new cases and a new grim record for deaths in a single day 120, as well as their highest positivity rate for coronavirus testing in weeks.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I know we've had different, you know, blips and now we're now in a higher blip than where we were in May and beginning of June.

SAVIDGE: The nearly daily record setting surge in Florida triggering long lines of people waiting to be tested and causing officials to question the state's aggressive plan for reopening schools.

ALBERTO CARVALHO, MIAMI-DADE CO PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: 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.

DR. SALLY GOZA, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: A statewide mandate to reopen without consideration of community spread really goes against our recommendations.

SAVIDGE: Nashville heeding the warnings and canceling in person classes at their public schools that were scheduled to open next month.

ADRIENNE BATTLE, DIRECTOR, METRO NASHVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOL: I'm not a public health expert, but I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with the data and information in front of us.

SAVIDGE: Hospitals in hotspots like Florida, Texas and Arizona official say are in danger of being overwhelmed with personal protective equipment again in short supply. Ten thousand people are hospitalized in Texas, with the state's Republican governor calling it a massive spike.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): When you look at the number of people who have been hospitalized over just the past couple of weeks. You can see that there may be more fatalities coming.

SAVIDGE: Arizona's reporting a record-high spiking coronavirus emergency room admission, on top of a shortage of ICU beds.

As coronavirus threatens to get more and more out of control, Dr. Fauci recommended taking a dramatic step.

FAUCI: I think any state that is having a serious problem that state should seriously look at shutting down. It's not for me to say because each state is different.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: Dr. Fauci was also on XM Radio Sirius and he had this to say this afternoon, I really would not like to see us go into a situation where we're focused or locked out again, because that would be very discouraging to people. There already has been a real difficult morale issue with people feeling locked down.

You'll remember, Wolf, that there were some significant protests at the very end of the last lockdown in this country. Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly. All right, Martin Savidge reporting for us.

Martin, thank you.

Dr. Fauci was also asked about the crisis just a few moments ago in an interview with the website 538.com in its coronavirus podcasts. He said the U.S. is not doing well at all, especially when compared with other countries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: Well, let me say there was parts of the United States, like where you live right now, that are doing really well, that you've been through something really bad and you have things under control and you have a governor and mayor in the city who understand what it means to go by the guidelines for the gateway, phase one, phase two, phase three.

[17:05:19]

So you're doing well. Other cities are doing well. But as a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Blunt words from Dr. Fauci.

Let's go to the White House. Right now our White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond is joining us.

Jeremy, the President, at the same time, his intent on schools reopening all across the country, even as this pandemic rages.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump today once again making his call for schools to be again reopening across the country. And the President is not distinguishing between areas that have low case counts versus those that are seeing surging numbers of coronavirus cases. This is a very blanket call from the President who just today was touting the fact that children have, "so" -- an immune system that is, "so powerful." And of course, Wolf, that takes the teachers and the concerns about children spreading this disease to others unknowingly completely out of the equation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND (voice-over): Despite pressure from the President, the Centers for Disease Control says it will not change its health guidelines for school reopening

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: Our guidelines are our guidelines.

DIAMOND: One day after President Trump trashed those guidelines as very tough and expensive, CDC director Robert Redfield said his agency will provide additional reference documents, but the published guidelines, which are six feet between students, closing communal spaces and daily temperature checks, those aren't changing.

REDFIELD: I want to clarify, really what we're providing is different reference documents. It's not a revision of the guidelines. It's just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use, the guidance that we put forward.

DIAMOND: Those comments marking a reversal from Vice President Mike Pence's claim just yesterday.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The CDC will be issuing new guidance next week.

We just don't want the guidance to be too tough. And that's the reason why next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools.

DIAMOND: Trump pressing the issue again today, casting aside the worrying rise in coronavirus cases,

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Children in many cases the immune system is so powerful, so strong. We have to open our schools. Open our schools. Stop this nonsense.

DIAMOND: The White House press secretary insisting there's no daylight with the CDC.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're on the same page with Dr. Redfield, who has said I don't want this guidance to be a reason for schools not to be -- to reopen.

DIAMOND: While also minimizing the value of those guidelines.

MCENANY: I would also note that the CDC recognizes in their guidelines that many of these things that they're recommending are not feasible, which is why they use the words not possible 18 times and not feasible nine times.

DIAMOND: At odds with the CDC, the President is also feuding with the facts.

TRUMP: Because we're doing more testing, we have more cases.

DIAMOND: Claiming the surging cases across the country is caused by increased testing, tweeting, "We have tested 40 million people, if we did 20 million instead cases would be half." But that's not true.

In the hardest hit states new cases are rising faster than testing over the last month. Florida is testing 141 percent more people but cases have increased by 1,061 percent. In Texas, a 118 percent increase in tests outpaced by a 422 percent jump in cases. And in Arizona 134 percent more tests, while cases surged by 579 percent.

Meanwhile, the economic blowback of the pandemic still unfolding, even as the unemployment rate ticked down last month another 1.3 million Americans filing for unemployment for the first time last week marking the 16th week with more than 1 million new unemployment claims.

And today the President raging at the Supreme Court, which rule the president is not immune from a New York prosecutor subpoena for his financial records while sending the case back to the lower courts.

TRUMP: From a certain point I'm satisfied, from another point I'm not satisfied because frankly, this is a political witch hunt collector, which nobody's ever seen before.

DIAMOND: The President, once again, calling himself the victim of a hoax.

TRUMP: It's a pure witch hunt, it's a hoax. Just like the Mueller investigation is a hoax that I won. And this is another hoax.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And Wolf today, we saw the White House press secretary arguing that that Supreme Court case involving the New York prosecutor was a victory for the President.

So the President though taking things very differently arguing on Twitter that the Supreme Court wouldn't have treated any other president that way. That of course, despite the fact that two of the Supreme Court justices who the President nominated to the bench actually ruled against him.

[17:10:06]

And Wolf, the President and the fact that he is continuing to talk about this case is only renewing the facts -- focus on the fact that the President has yet to release his tax returns publicly, something that no other presidential candidate before him in modern history has done. Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeremy Diamond reporting from the White House, thanks very much.

Let's get some more in all of this. Joining us now, the Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio, thank you so much for joining us. I know you got a lot going on right now as well.

You've just announced, I take it that you're canceling all large events in New York City through the end of September. So what went into this important decision?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK: Well, it's all about health and safety first, and this is obviously the thing that President Trump doesn't understand that we don't just decree that we want things to happen regardless of the human impact. We actually look at the science, we look at the data. And the data is telling us it is not time for large gatherings. Just like we said we would not have indoor dining in New York City because we saw the really painful reality in Texas and Florida and other places.

You got to be smart. And what Dr. Fauci keeps telling us is pay attention to the facts and the facts lead you to the safe solution. So, now we don't need big events anytime soon. We got -- we've had a lot of success making New York City healthier. We got to really stick to that plan.

BLITZER: So describe large events for us. What does that mean?

DE BLASIO: It means like street fairs, it means, you know, big outdoor concerts, and it means things like parades. You know, things here in this city can mean not just thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. It's just not time for that now.

BLITZER: What about protests if people want to march on Fifth Avenue, are they going to be allowed to do so?

DE BLASIO: Look, Wolf, this is always an area of real sensitivity. If you're just talking about health, we would always say, hey, folks, you know, stay at home if you can. But we understand at this moment in history, people are talking about the need for his historic changes.

I mean today in New York City, you know, recognizing the power and the meaning of the message Black Lives Matter which we did in front of Trump Tower today, this is a historic moment of change. We have to respect that but also say the people, the kinds of gatherings we're used to, the parades, the fares, we just can't have that while we're focusing on health right now.

BLITZER: What about the U.S. Open? I'm curious. I love going to the U.S. Open. I love tennis. What's happening with that?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, look, this is one of a number of events where there's going to be sports activities that we all love, but without the audience. So that people be able to watch it on T.V., and we'll keep the tradition going. But the same with the Yankees, the Mets, we're not going to have crowds in the stands, but, you know, baseball will be coming back, tennis will be coming back.

BLITZER: So we'll just have to watch it on T.V. and watch all those sports on T.V.

After overcoming the worst of this crisis in New York City, Mayor de Blasio, what goes through your mind right now seeing this horrible surge of coronavirus cases in various new hotspots all across the country, Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, for example?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, it's painful. These are our fellow Americans going through so much. And we know we went through hell. But we learned, respect the unfortunate power of this disease. Pay attention to the science and the data. Take things slow and carefully.

Look, we've been coming back at these very deliberate stages. And the message has been, we're not going to take the next step until we're sure. Like right now, thank God, this morning, every morning I go over the daily indicators with the people in New York City where we stand health wise. This morning, of the tens of thousands who got tested recently, only 2 percent tested positive.

And our hospitals have space and we've proven that a prudent approach actually allows you to get people healthy, and bring back your economy. But you also have to know when to call a timeout. That's what we did with the bars and restaurant. We said it was not time for indoor dining, it's not time for those outdoor big events. Take one step at a time and make sure to always do it according to the data.

BLITZER: What do you think what Dr. Fauci just said just a few moments ago that the country is not in very good shape right now, this is a really horrible situation that we're all going through.

DE BLASIO: Dr. Fauci has been a voice of truth. We're are not in great shape, it's getting worse all the time. And I think the message to people all over the country is let's put health and safety first.

Even folks who are obsessed with starting the economy again, and I am too, I want people get their jobs, their livelihoods back, but you know what, actually the best way to restart the economy is to address the healthcare situation first. If we don't arrest the coronavirus if we don't put it back in its place. You're not going to have a restart of the economy.

There's two big fallacies and they both surround Donald Trump and the coronavirus, one, that you can restart the economy while ignoring the healthcare reality, two, that you can restart the economy without the federal government investing in a stimulus.

[17:15:02]

So far the President is actually steered a so profoundly in the wrong direction, because he won't deal with these realities. And what Dr. Fauci is saying was, we're seeing it before our eyes, a bunch of states are going to have to start going backwards if they don't deal with the situation differently. And we still don't even have the testing we need to do everything that we should to fight this disease.

BLITZER: Hospitals, as you know, in Florida, Arizona, Texas, elsewhere, they're becoming overwhelmed right now with patients. And you feel that the warnings from New York's first responders and you went through this one month, two months ago, those warnings were ignored. DE BLASIO: Unquestionably, Wolf. I mean, look, our hospitals were on the brink of being overwhelmed. I mean, we were days away from running out of ventilators, running out of personal protective equipment. Anyone who watched what happened in New York City would have to be really sober about saying we're not going to risk lives and ignore the science.

But unfortunately a lot of politicians decided it was more important to do what Donald Trump said, or to play to the people, were talking about, quote, unquote, liberate. And they did some very short sighted things. And now lives are being lost because of it.

So, I say from painful experience here in New York City, you cannot mess around with this disease. The way to deal with it is to really put things at the level in your city, in your state, where you can fight back the disease, don't reopen so quickly that you can't handle it, actually contain it and then go through the small careful steps to really gain back to full strength. Otherwise, you're going to have a setback that will put you back a lot longer than anything we've experienced so far.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the critical issue of schools reopening. You're proposing, I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, a mix of in person remote learning, where most students will only be in the classroom, let's say two or three days a week. First of all, is Governor Cuomo on board with this? And are you working with parents? Are they on board with this?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, I'll tell you something amazing. Our department education surveyed parents, we got 400,000 responses. And three quarters of parents said please reopen schools. We want schools again for our kids. But the answer is again, health and safety first for our kids, for our families, for our educators, we're not going to do anything unless we think it's safe.

So you're right, the most -- most kids will only be in school two or three times a week. A lot of social distancing, face coverings, hand washing stations, constant cleaning, full remote learning for families that are not comfortable sending their kids back, one step at a time. And if at any point we think it's not safe, we pull back.

BLITZER: So is the governor OK with all this?

DE BLASIO: I think the governor recognizes that parents really want to see their kids back in school if we can do it safely. And we're working closely with the governor and the state to find the way to do that.

BLITZER: The CDC director is backtracking on issuing what are called revise schools reopening guidelines after President Trump publicly criticized the safety standards put forward by the CDC. Do leaders and parents who plan on going back to school amid all this confusion know precisely what's going on as far as the CDC guidelines are concerned?

DE BLASIO: You know, Wolf, if you're making me a nostalgic for President Obama, we went through the Ebola crisis here in New York City, and we could always look to the President and the CDC for clear smart guidance and unified guidance. Now we have a President of United States fighting with his own CDC.

In fact, the CDC was right to say, only reopened school with a whole host of precautions. They were right, and they should stick to their guns. And we believe their guidance is the right guidance. And parents want those precautions.

The vast majority in our city who wants to send their kids back they want to do it based on knowing there's careful safety and health preparation. So I wish the President would just stand back and let the professionals at the CDC do their work. And of course, listen to Dr. Fauci. But he seems, you know, and it seems like an impossibility for this president to ever just shut up and listen to the doctors.

BLITZER: Amidst all of this, Mayor de Blasio, New York City have seen a horrible devastating spike in crime, 64 people, as you well know better than anyone, were shot over the course of last weekend alone on the streets of New York. So what is it happening that needs to happen right now to protect the people of New York City?

DE BLASIO: Two things, Wolf. What we're going to do immediately the NYPD is shifting deployments, moving officers where the need is greatest, working with communities and this is always the crucial part. You can't just do it with police. You need community leaders, clergy community organizations to come together.

We're having a particular issue in Harlem. And we've gathered community leaders from all over Harlem who in common cause this weekend are going to be out there with the police shoulder to shoulder saying we're not going to allow this violence in our community.

The second piece is to get our court system up and running. It's been that very low speed, the criminal justice system in this state is not fully functioning, and that's creating a lot of problems.

[17:20:07]

Even when police arrest someone, the consequences aren't there. So we've got to get that back up and running. And that's absolutely been a victim of the coronavirus that -- we were missing one of the most important pieces of the equation.

BLITZER: Finally, before I let you go, Mayor de Blasio, you were on Fifth Avenue. You were painting on the street right in front of Trump Tower, a Black Lives Matter. Big, big sign. Tell us why you decided to do that right in front of Trump Tower of all places?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, it was such an important message. The people of this city believe Black Lives Matter and we wanted to send that message to our whole city but to our whole nation.

And in fact, here was an opportunity for the President of United States to show respect for the fact that that's what we value here. And what did he do? He literally tweeted that writing Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue would, "denigrate" the luxury of that avenue. That is pure racism. That is acting like an acknowledgement of the value of black people is somehow belittling, when in fact, what we're trying to do is lift up people who have built the city and built America and haven't been given their respect.

And it can't just be words, Wolf, it has to be action. So we're taking resources from our police department and putting into youth programs. We're acknowledging institutional racism and coming up with specific plans to tear it down.

We need to take this transcendent moment and get the most out of it. But the President, rather than having a chance to acknowledge America's original sin, he literally made it worse by suggesting that, you know, honoring black people on Fifth Avenue would somehow make it less valuable or luxurious.

I got to tell you, people are outraged by that, but more importantly, they're speaking out and folks today felt jubilant and triumphant. We were not denigrating Fifth Avenue, we were liberating Fifth Avenue by putting those crucial words right there in front of President Trump's building,

BLITZER: Mayor de Blasio, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in New York City. Appreciate your being with us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, months into the pandemic, record numbers of new cases and deaths. So what went wrong and how can the country turn around this crisis? I'll ask CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Standby.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:26:40]

BLITZER: We have breaking news just coming into the Situation Room. Texas officials have just announced they've recorded 105 coronavirus deaths in one day. Not only is that a record, this is the third day in a row that Texas has broken its record for coronavirus death. So how did we get to this point?

Let's bring in our Chief Political -- our Political Director, David Chalian and our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, just look at this curve. We'll put it up on the screen here in the United States, it looked like we might be bending the curve, then you see it shoot back up again. So what went so horribly wrong?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I mean, a shorter answer would be what went right. Because there's so many things that went wrong here.

I mean, I think what's going right is there's incredible innovation around the vaccines and potential therapeutics, and that's ongoing. And that's been a source of, I think, considerable optimism. But I think almost since the start, we just didn't take this very seriously, Wolf. I think that's the unifying theory here. And I think everything else sort of translates from that. There hasn't been adequate testing. We know that.

There still isn't adequate testing. It's still very hard to get tested in this country. It's amazing because the numbers of tests have gone up, but they're not enough tests still being done to really get eyes on what's going on with this particular problem.

And not only do you need to get the test you need to get the results back in a timely fashion as well. If it takes too long, someone's positive, they're out spreading the virus, that's a huge issue. So testing is a huge issue.

I think we closed late. Again be you know, some of these states because of the lack of seriousness opened early, didn't follow our own criteria in terms of opening, people still aren't wearing masks. Basic public health measures, Wolf, were not followed. And I think there was just a lack of seriousness about this that that drove all that.

BLITZER: Yes. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, yesterday told us it took her eight days to get the results of her test, she tested positive, her husband is positive, one of her four children is positive. It's a horrible situation to delay the time it takes in various parts of the country.

You know, David, Dr. Fauci was asked just a little while ago if he thinks the country's hyper partisan environment has made it more difficult to fight the virus, listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: You know, I think you'd have to admit that that's the case. We live -- I mean, you have to be having blindfolds on and covering your ears to think that we don't live in a very divisive society now from a political standpoint. I mean, it's just unfortunate, but it is what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So how are we seeing, David, that political division in the country right now influence the critically important response?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Dr. Fauci is right. It is what it is. But of course, what he didn't say there is that Donald Trump continues to try and play politics with this virus, something that is totally a political. So, when Donald Trump sort of demands loyalty, as Sanjay was saying, opening up too early, let's say from Republican governors who felt pressure from Donald Trump's desire to have the economy open, perhaps they didn't follow the guidelines set forth. Donald Trump wasn't even advocating for the guidelines his own administration set forth for reopening. And so you have some of these states reopen, Florida, Texas, what have you, and now you see what's happening there.

[17:30:00]

Donald Trump has been sort of playing politics saying, you know, I can hold my rallies. You don't need to wear masks when you come to this event. That is a danger. It's not just ignoring the science, it's actually injecting politics so that it further divides America at precisely a moment that the country needs to be as unified as ever to attack this virus.

BLITZER: You know, Sanjay, we know what the United States is doing now isn't working in so many parts of the country. So what steps would you recommend that the country start doing right now to try to turn this awful situation around?

GUPTA: Right, Wolf. I mean, so the status quo is not working. So when people say we're going to put a pause on reopening, in effect that saying we're going to maintain the status quo but, you know, as we see, in so many states, that's probably not going to be a viable thing just to simply not reopen because, you know, the numbers are going up.

I think there's sort of three areas. One is that, you know, the CDC has been remarkably sort of quiet, maybe even absent in some of this response. And we have some of the best infectious disease doctors and epidemiologists in the world that work at the CDC. I think that they should be doing a -- they should be running this. They should be sort of giving some briefing every day, give it the seriousness that this deserves, as we saw with Ebola and Tom Frieden, as we saw with H1N1 and Richard Besser.

Two is, you know, I'm still baffled by testing. I -- you know, we started testing late, there was problems with the original test. That's fine that people have talked about that. Now, we're here July 9th, and we still have significant problems with testing. Two months ago, Ambassador Birx said we're going to have a big breakthrough with regard to antigen testing.

We haven't had those breakthroughs. It's still -- it's mindboggling to me that it's still so challenging, Wolf, for you to get tested. If you wanted to go to work and be confident you didn't have the virus, that people around you didn't have the virus. I'm going to send my kids to school in the fall maybe. How confident am I that people around them don't have the virus that they themselves are not carrying it? We could be at that point. We could have really widespread available, accurate, rapid testing. That would definitely be part of the plan.

And finally, Wolf, I think, you know, what people say, look, shutdowns may be part of an aggressive strategy that's still needed. If we wore masks in public, we know from real world data that's happening now, how much of an impact that could make. This virus as scary as it is, isn't that good a jumper. It can be -- it can jump very far and it can be easily contained by a mask. Think how much we can do in terms of curbing spread by those basic public health things (ph).

BLITZER: And as you correctly pointed out, we've discussed many times, a lot of other countries are doing exactly those things and they've been able to beat back this horrible virus.

You know, David, the President seems to want to move on focusing on his re-election campaign. But you can't talk about re-election without talking about his handling of this crisis, can you? CHALIAN: No, no, not at all. This is what his re-election campaign is about. This election is now a referendum on Donald Trump's management in handling this. This is why it's so perplexing to me, that President Trump thinks if he just sort of pushes the virus to the side somehow and talks about the economy coming back and getting people back to school and what have you, that somehow the American people are going to hear that. Well, not if the virus is still impacting their everyday life.

Right now, you have a 14-point advantage in the polls for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in how -- who would better handle the coronavirus pandemic and who would better handle a crisis. Donald Trump can't get re-elected unless he improves those numbers because that's what the American people are thinking about this fall when they're making their choice.

BLITZER: In the meantime, hundreds of Americans are dying every single day. Guys, thank you very much. We have an important programming note for our viewers. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he'll be back later tonight with Anderson Cooper for a brand new CNN Global Town Hall Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Their special guests is the CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, that airs later tonight live 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, the role of so-called silent spreaders. A new study says people without any symptoms may account for a shocking number of coronavirus cases.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:39:08]

BLITZER: Health experts have warned from early in the pandemic that some people infected with the coronavirus show no symptoms at all but can still infect other people. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now. He's been reporting on details of a new study of the so-called silent spreaders. Brian, some very disturbing findings.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are disturbing, Wolf. You know, just today, two people at an event for Mike -- Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for coronavirus and couldn't be admitted to the event even though they showed no symptoms at all. This new study points out that those so-called silent spreaders are infecting more people than many of us think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON HARTELIUS, RECOVERED CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: Nurses, I've had oxygen coming in out my nose, coming out of the wall.

TODD (voice-over): Before he was admitted to a hospital in Pennsylvania, this spring, TV sports producer Jason Hartelius believes he carried the coronavirus in his system while he moved around at his work for about a week. A danger that Hartelius warned about as he was recovering.

[17:40:05]

HARTELIUS: You may say you're fine, you may say you're low risk, you know what, you might get it not know it. Go back to work thinking you're fine never have any symptoms, you could give it to people you work with who could get very sick or die.

TODD (voice-over): That danger of silent unknown transmission of coronavirus is coming into greater focus tonight. A new study published by the National Academy of Sciences says people who are so called silent spreaders could be responsible for about half of all coronavirus cases.

ALISON GALVANI, DIRECTOR, YALE UNIV. CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE MODELING & ANALYSIS: And this makes control of COVID-19 particularly challenging. With COVID-19, people are infectious before any symptoms. So most people who are transmitting the virus are doing so inadvertently without even realizing that they're sick.

TODD (voice-over): Study author Alison Galvani says that means the silent spreaders are mostly people who are going through those few days just before symptoms show themselves or who are completely asymptomatic. And she says younger, seemingly healthy people are disproportionately responsible for silent transmissions.

A key question tonight, given this new study, how do we combat silence spreading? Experts say it means doubling down on the basics.

JENNIFER NUZZO, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: First thing is distance. Second thing is if you do have to go out, you know, try to physically separate yourself from others. And try to avoid those crowded indoor spaces, and wear masks reduce the chances that you could transmit your virus to others if you have it and don't know about it.

TODD (voice-over): And experts say this new information on silent transmission does not mean we should panic when we venture out or think that everyone we see is a silent spreader of coronavirus.

NUZZO: So we still very much think that this virus is spread by close prolonged contact. So we shouldn't take from this that if you're just out in the streets or in the grocery store, and you're maintaining distance from people that this puts you at even greater risk than we may have thought otherwise.

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TODD: Still, tracking these silent spreaders of coronavirus is going to be a huge challenge in the months and years ahead. This new study says more than one third of silent infections are going to need to be identified and isolated in order to suppress any future outbreaks. And the author of the study says we're not there yet, pointing out there's not enough contact tracing available and not even enough tests for people who have symptoms, let alone those who are asymptomatic. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point. All right, Brian, thank you very much. Let's get some more in all of these, Dr. Peter Hotez is joining us, Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, do you think most Americans understand just how much this virus is being spread by people with absolutely no symptoms?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, we're certainly trying to get that message across, but this has been a huge problem and we see it with people refusing to wear masks. They don't understand that there's a good possibility that they could have COVID with no symptoms, and then be transmitting it to others. The reason this happens is because we now know that people are who without symptoms or people who may later develop symptoms but still are asymptomatic, have lots of virus in their upper airway and their nose and their mouths and it's huge amounts of virus. And as they're speaking, they're releasing virus particles.

And this is the basis for mask. And this is why it's so challenging to control this infection, the fact that now we know that probably half of the transmission is associated with these asymptomatic individuals. And what it means practically speaking, is if we do the contact tracing for any person with symptoms, we have to be very aggressive at identifying all the contacts and this is hard work. And it means that if you have a lot of virus in the community, a lot of sick people, it makes it even more difficult to do contact tracing.

That's why I don't think it's possible right now in Florida and Texas, Arizona, to really do contact tracing. There's just too many cases and this is why we have to bring it down. So if you want a national control strategy, this means that we have to look at each state and make a plan for each state to bring everyone down to the same low level. And it's going to be a lot of work in Florida, in Texas and Arizona, and I think we're going to have to go back to some type of shutdown to bring it under control --

BLITZER: So --

HOTEZ: -- so we can do contract tracing.

BLITZER: So Dr. Hotez, is this all about returning to basics, or are there other precautions you would advise people to start taking?

HOTEZ: Well, I think right now, we've got a situation where the President is pushing hard on opening up schools, and we all understand why schools are important. The American Academy of Pediatrics has pushed that. But, you know, if you have such an aggressive level of transmission, in certain states, it's going to be very tough to open up those schools safely.

So we have to have, over the next few months, now a national plan to bring all the states down to that same low level with different states having different requirements and have that federal guidance and roadmap. And unfortunately, we just don't have the leadership now to make that happen.

BLITZER: As you as you know, Dr. Fauci says anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent, maybe as much as 45 percent of cases are actually asymptomatic. So what sort of testing and tracing strategy will catch those kinds of folks, those cases?

[17:45:13]

HOTEZ: Well, we have to rely on the occasional person who does either gets picked up or who has symptoms, and then identify all of those contacts. And this is a tried and true method in epidemiology, but it's hard work. And it's very labor intensive. And you can only handle a few cases like that at a time to do all the contact tracing.

So for instance, when we had four measles cases in Harris County in Houston, last year, it was all hands on deck for the Harris County Health Department to do all that contact tracing. Imagine not having to do that with thousands of COVID-19 cases, it's simply not possible. So if you're really going to control this virus, as they've done in so many other countries, you first have to bring it down to that very, what we call containment level, less than one case per million residents per day or something close to that. And then you could put the public health system in place.

And that was our mistake nationally that we didn't bring it down to that level first, and then have the public health belts and suspenders to make it happen. And now we're paying the price with this massive acceleration, heading towards Dr. Fauci's apocalyptic prediction of 100,000 cases per day. We'll be there pretty soon. And now we're starting to see that lag and the deaths now appear in Texas, we've just had a record number of deaths in Texas today, today and yesterday so that's coming up too.

BLITZER: Yes, a bunch of countries that succeeded in doing that, what you're recommending, we clearly have failed, at least so far. Dr. Hotez, thank you so much for joining us.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

BLITZER: All right. Coming up, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against President Trump and a fight over his tax records. Also, the reason why Michael Cohen, the President's one time personal attorney and fixer, why he's now back in jail.

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[17:51:33]

BLITZER: Judging by his Twitter feed, President Trump is furious over today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that likely will give New York prosecutors access to his tax returns and financial records, although it's unlikely voters will see them before the election in November. Our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin is joining us to discuss today's important rulings. Clearly, the President wasn't very happy about all this, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly shouldn't be happy about the ruling in the case with the Manhattan D.A., because there is basically no way at this point. He is going to be able to keep all those intimate financial records away from the prosecutors in Manhattan. They will probably get those records quickly. But it's very important to point out that that is a secret grand jury proceeding. And those records will not be released ever, or only if there is a criminal trial where they are used as evidence. But still, if you have something to hide, and the prosecutors are going to get your financial records, it's unnerving, to say the least.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by this decision from the U.S. Supreme Court?

TOOBIN: Not really. When you consider that, you know, in 1974 in the United States against Nixon, the Supreme Court unanimously said the President had to produce the White House tapes. In 1998, the court said unanimously the -- President Clinton had to give a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

Here, even though there were some disagreements with two justices, all nine justices rejected the position of the President's lawyers, which said that he was absolutely immune, absolutely above the law. So it was not a surprising result, the speed at which these documents will be produced. And if they're ever made public is something that the President can take some solace in, because none of this is going to happen before the election. But the principle that was established and reaffirmed in these cases is very clear, and the President was very wrong on the law.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on another legal issue. The President's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who made those hush money payments. He's now back in custody for violating the terms of his early release from prison. He was actually seen eating at a restaurant in New York City, what's your reaction to this?

TOOBIN: How stupid can you be? That's my reaction. He got this incredible gift. He got released from prison and was living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. That's a big difference.

What you do in a circumstance like that is mind your Ps and Qs and don't get thrown back in prison. It's unclear precisely what he did. I don't think it was the restaurant visit. It seems like based on some things his lawyer said it involved his desire to write a book or speak to the media, but the idea that he would -- you abuse this gift that he received and wind up back in jail is mindboggling to me.

BLITZER: Certainly is, he's now back in jail. I want to show our viewers your book cover. This is the new book that Jeffrey Toobin has written, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors" The Investigation of Donald Trump", pub date, the publication date, August 4th.

[17:55:01]

We'll see you here in "The Situation Room" on August 4th, Jeffrey, to discuss this important new book you've written. Congratulations. Thanks for joining us.

TOOBIN: Thanks, man. It's a date. BLITZER: Coming up, coronavirus deaths in the United States nearly 133,000 people. Right now some hotspots across the country set very disturbing new records. We'll be right back.

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