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U.S. Hits Record 63K New Cases in One Day; Arizona Caps Restaurant Capacity at 50 Percent; Delta CEO Says Federal Government Should Mandate Masks on Flights. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 10, 2020 - 11:30   ET





KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The frontline in this battle field --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just crazy and it's still --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anybody else sick at home?

LAH: Southern California's El Centro Regional Medical Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is intense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you the get the rest of the vital statistics?

LAH: CEO Adolphe Edward is a former Air Force officer and Iraq war vet.

ADOLPHE EDWARD, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: I have seen this tent actually deploy with me when we were in Balad, when we were in Iraq.

LAH: Now he's built them on American soil to handle a crush of COVID cases his hospital no longer has room for. Air-conditioned tents in the triple-digit desert heat to handle patient after patient. El Centro is in Imperial County. It sits at the U.S.-Mexico border. This rural community is 85 percent Latino. One in four live in poverty. Per capita, it has three times as many COVID cases as Los Angeles, and the death rate is the highest in California.

(on camera): Is it crazy to you that you are a physician working in a tent in America?

JORGE ROBLES, EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, it's incredible, isn't it? Yes, we'll make it through.

LAH (voice-over): Inside the hospital -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is exhausting.

LAH: We visit the sickest patients in the ICU.

(on camera): This is a new patient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is a patient, perhaps comes the regular call --

LAH (voice-over): Every single patient in this 12-bed ICU has COVID. Eleven of them survive with ventilators.

(on camera): Can you explain what you're wearing?

AMBER MAREZ, NURSE, EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, it's a device that helps keep everything, you know, kind of like closed, so we're not exposed to anything.

LAH (voice-over): It's what nurse Amber Marez needs to wear to stay safe while helping her 40-year-old patient.

(on camera): How sick is he?

MAREZ: He's really sick and he's really young, so we're trying to do everything we can before we intubate him.

LAH: What is that suggesting to you as a nurse that age is dropping?

MAREZ: I think that a lot of people aren't honoring like the stay-at- home. You know, a lot of people are doing the social -- aren't doing the social-distancing.

LAH (voice-over): That's what the El Centro Fire Department sees on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: El Centro Fire Department --

LAH: The battalion chief says in this town of 50,000 people, every single hour, it is this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a possible COVID patient on scene. So at this point, our personnel are gearing up for a COVID patient.

LAH: In a full Hazmat suit, Captain Chad Weddlock(ph) revives an unconscious patient. It's a stifling 110 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to put on all the equipment and remove all the uniforms and take a shower and put a different uniform on for the rest of the day.

LAH (on camera): You're dripping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes ma'am, at the end of the day everybody is really tired and everybody is -- you can see it in my face, I mean -- you know, we're frustrated.

LAH (voice-over): That patient Captain Weddlock(ph) saved arrives at El Centro Medical's emergency room.

ANDREW LAFREE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: We've hit capacity. We've transferred out two or three times the normal amount of patients that we're sending out. I think in the last two months, we sent out something like 500 patients.

LAH: Some to nearby San Diego, others as far as northern California. This helicopter is here to pick up another patient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're starting because they're here for him.

LAH: ER doctors and nurses intubate under this blue drape to limit particle exposure. Stabilized, the patient heads out.

(on camera): Why is it happening so badly here in Imperial County?

LAFREE: I mean, there are a lot of U.S. nationals that live in Mexicali. They had a really bad outbreak there. There's a lot of people that cross the border here for work that live in Mexicali, and then come in to work here.

LAH (voice-over): The fields in Imperial County send produce across the country. And even in a pandemic, some 20,000 Mexican day workers enter legally every morning to provide the labor.

No work, no money for food, says 65-year-old farm worker Hacento Moreno(ph). Four of his fellow farm workers have died of COVID, he says.

LUIS OLMEDO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMITE CIVICO DEL VALLE INC.: We cannot win a war on COVID in the emergency room. Look at the big picture. We need to fight the war on COVID where it's breeding, and that's our neighborhoods.

LAH: In this bi-national county, COVID is not the disease. It's the symptom.

OLMEDO: The experienced social determinants of health, like putting food on the table. Like having to work in dangerous conditions. Like not having a mask. We are the poster of those inequities and the reason why we're not able to control COVID.

LAH: The hospital here is bracing for what's yet to come. This empty tent is the future COVID ward.

(on camera): Is this tent a sign that this pandemic is here to stay?

EDWARD: Yes. So I keep telling folks, look, now it's a pandemic, eventually it's going to be an endemic. So is this really how we want to take care of our communities? And the answer is no.


[11:35:00] LAH: And not only does this hospital need more beds, they need more

staff. The hospital's CEO wrote a letter to U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris asking for more funding. He says what he needs, 28 ICU nurses, 14 respiratory therapists. He also needs 20 ventilators, and Kate, he needs them just to keep up. He needs that next week. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, I have to say, Kyung, that was an amazing look at what they're up against. The fact that the head of that hospital -- what he had seen and built in a war zone in Iraq, he's now building in America. If you do not think that this country is facing a war -- and not right now winning that war against this virus, look no further than what you saw, thank you Kyung.

LAH: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the CEO of Delta Airlines is saying that he supports now a nationwide mask mandate. What he also says that he told the White House -- that's next.



BOLDUAN: Four months in, we are losing the battle with this virus by virtually every metric. Just four states are seeing a decline in cases right now and others are now being advised to shut down completely again as hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. One of those states is Arizona. Let's check in with our reporters around the country.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro in Scottsdale, Arizona. This state has the highest per capita average of new cases in the country for more than a month now. Local public health officials and elected officials have asked the governor to increase the number of closures to try and combat the growing pandemic.

Yesterday at a press conference, the governor gave them a response, a slight tweak to existing government regulations of restaurants. On May 11, indoor dining reopened here in Arizona and restaurants were required to reduce capacity. But the governor's office told us, it was basically an honor system. The new rules say restaurants must be capped at 50 percent of the capacity set by the fire marshal. That's a rule the governor says will be strictly enforced. Local officials still want more, however, and it's not clear if they're going to get it.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ed Lavandera in Dallas. Texas health officials on Thursday reported the deaths of 105 people because of coronavirus. That is a record single-day high. It has not topped the 100 mark since this pandemic started. Texas health officials are also saying in the last three days, nearly 30,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported. The positive infection rate in those cases is now approaching 16

percent. It was at 4.2 percent just at the end of May. And because all of that, the reopening of the economy here starting to slow down. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that he is expanding the limits on the numbers of elective surgeries that can happen across this state. And the governor here is saying it could get worse next week.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Muntean in Washington. And the federal government is getting new pressure from the head of a major airline to mandate that passengers wear masks. The CEO of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, told our Poppy Harlow that he has had discussions with the White House. The industry is urging that passengers wear masks. Delta and other major airlines require it. But there has been no guidance from the federal government.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen. Walt Disney World reopens two of its theme parks to the public tomorrow. Annual pass holders have already gotten a preview, starting yesterday at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Epcot in Disney's Hollywood studios reopens on July 15th. People have to reserve their park attendance in advance to keep numbers low at a reduced capacity. All guests have to go through temperature screenings and must wear face coverings with a loop around the ears.

So no bandana-type or gator masks allowed. People are being spaced out on rides, there are hand washing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the park. And Disney is trying to go as touchless as possible, even testing out new bag screening machines at Animal Kingdom which will reduce employees' touching of people's bags.


BOLDUAN: Thank you all so very much. Still ahead for us, biological warfare, that is what one local official has called President Trump's campaign rally that's scheduled in New Hampshire tomorrow.



BOLDUAN: President Trump is heading to New Hampshire tomorrow to hold a campaign rally. His fourth event with a large crowd since the pandemic started. It was three weeks ago when the president held that rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With the Tulsa Health Department now says likely contributed to a dramatic surge in new cases there. So, what does this mean for what is going to happen then in New Hampshire tomorrow?

What risks there are. What safeguards they're taking? With me right now is Stefany Shaheen; she's a police commissioner in Portsmouth, a member of the board that prevents civilian oversight over the police department. Thank you for being here. I definitely took notice when you have called the rally that is set for tomorrow as "biological warfare". What is -- what is your biggest concern with the president holding a rally in your city tomorrow? STEFANY SHAHEEN, POLICE COMMISSIONER, PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE:

Well, good morning, Kate, thank you so much for having me and for sharing our concerns. No, the fact of the matter is New Hampshire is one of only three states in the country right now that's actually seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases. We've worked very hard over the last five months doing everything we can, staying at home, wearing masks, washing hands.

And now to have a super spreader event like this rally, which projections are, are likely to attract 80 percent of people from out of New Hampshire here, where we know what happened in Tulsa, cases are surging now in that community.


It's unsafe and it's unconscionable.

BOLDUAN: The good job that New Hampshire is doing, the declining cases that New Hampshire is experiencing is actually something that the Trump campaign says -- why they chose New Hampshire in part, at least, that -- and also because the state's guidelines as they stand right now allow for an event like this. What do you say to that?

SHAHEEN: Well, it's unfortunate because we just had guidance issued by our own state health department that said we should all avoid mass gatherings. And here we are now having a mass gathering. We don't have a governor who is willing to mandate mask use at this event. And so, as a police commission, we're forced to provide a security detail.

Our police department will be providing local security detail, and there is no mandate to wear masks, not to mention the cost to our municipality. You know, we're in the middle of a pandemic, we just had a very difficult budget cycle where every department experienced cuts, and now we're having to come up with funds to cover security for this event.

So you know, this is a huge expense to our community, not just the public health risk, but also the financial implications.

BOLDUAN: You're no fan of the president. You have been very critical of the president. Explain that to folks how this is a health -- how this is about health concerns and not about politics.

SHAHEEN: Look, every expert -- the president's own experts, the CDC, Dr. Fauci have said mass gatherings should be avoided, and to have mass gatherings that are attracting people into our state from all over the country. I've seen license plates from Texas, Florida, North Carolina in the last three days with Trump bumper stickers on the cars. So we're bringing people into our state for a mass gathering in the middle of a pandemic. It is dangerous and it's irresponsible.

BOLDUAN: The Republican governor of the state is -- I'm sorry. The Republican governor of the state is strongly encouraging people to wear masks to the event but not making any moves to actually require it, and at the same time I was quite struck when I -- well, let me just read this quote from the governor on Tuesday. "I'm probably not going to go to the rally itself because, frankly, that's just at lot of people. I don't go in big crowds anymore for the COVID thing. I just have to be very careful of that." What do you have to say --

SHAHEEN: Right --

BOLDUAN: To that?

SHAHEEN: Well, so both the president and the governor are taking extraordinary precautions. The president lives in a biological bunker. He gets tested all of the time, and yet the people who are attending this rally are not. You know, they're not getting daily testing. They don't know if the person standing beside them who isn't wearing a mask has COVID-19. It's unacceptable and it's dangerous.

BOLDUAN: Stefany Shaheen, thank you for being here.

SHAHEEN: Thank you. Thank you, Kate. Just as a mom, I have a daughter with a pre-existing condition, and the reality that our family faces and families like ours across the state, we need to take every precaution now more than ever.

BOLDUAN: Yes, thank you for your time.

SHAHEEN: Thank you --

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, as former Trump ally Roger Stone gets ready to report to federal prison, will the president grant him clemency before he steps foot in there?



BOLDUAN: Long-time friend and former adviser to President Trump, Roger Stone, he is expected or set to report to prison next week. But the president is signaling that he might step in, at least half a dozen people close to the president now are telling CNN that Trump is either going to pardon or commute Stone's sentence, though the timing is unclear. Let's go over to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, she has this new reporting about all of this. Kaitlan, what are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's only a matter of days now, Kate, before Roger Stone is set to report to federal prison in Georgia. And so the question is -- really not a question of if the president is going to intervene here, but a question of when?

Many people close to the president believe that he is going to take a step here, whether it's pardoning Stone or commuting his sentence after of course, you know, he's supposed to serve a little over three years in prison after he was convicted of lying to Congress in part, but also witness tampering, obstruction in that congressional inquiry into the Russian interference in 2016.

But of course, the president views Roger Stone, he's been a long-time friend of his and a political adviser. But he's facing opposition about what he should do here. There are some advisors to the president who do not think he should take any steps right now. They think he should wait until after the election at least, because they're worried about the political repercussions of the president getting involved.

However, he's just similarly facing lobbying from Stone's friends who say the president needs to intervene here and he needs to do something and not have Stone even spend one minute in prison where he's supposed to go on Tuesday. So, we have confirmed Stone is at his home in Florida today, of course, the president himself is going to Florida. So the question is, you know, what is the president going to say about this? Let me let you listen to what the president said this morning before he left to go to Florida.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'll be looking at it. I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated as were many people. And in the meantime, Comey and all these guys are walking around including Biden and Obama because we caught them spying on my campaign. Who would have believed that one?


COLLINS: So, Kate, he is strongly indicating something is going to happen, but we're waiting to find out when?

BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you.