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Texas, Florida, and Arizona COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket; Trump Travels to Florida Today; U.C. Berkeley Student COVID-19 Surge May Be Tied to Fraternity and Sorority Parties. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 10, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The Army National Guard soldier graduated yesterday from Army Special Forces training in North Carolina. And in order to earn her Special Forces Tab she had to complete the daunting and infamous 53-week Q Course, which, according to the military, two- thirds of those who attempt are unable to do. "Stars and Stripes," reporting that she will go on to serve in a Special Forces unit.

Women are a significant part of the Special Forces community -- little known fact -- but this milestone, a female Green Beret who can now serve in an operational capacity, is a first.

And if you have ideas for "HOMEFRONT," please e-mail them to me at homefront@CNN.com. Be sure to check out our columns at CNN.com/homefront.

Top of the hour now, I'm Brianna Keilar and thank you for joining me. The nation's top infectious disease doctor is sounding the alarm louder than he ever has before. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is being restricted by the White House from going on television, has not briefed the president in two months as America's pandemic is getting worse.

Today, he told a World AIDS Conference that the situation is, quote, "a true historic pandemic."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It seemed that whatever we did in different parts of the world, there were responses that were sometimes favorable, in that countries got it under control.

But as you can see from this slide here, my own country, the United States -- as I'm sure we'll be able to discuss a little bit more -- is in the middle right now, even as we speak, in a very serious problem. .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: A short time ago, a top World Health Organization official said of the current situation, quote, "It is very unlikely that we can eradicate or eliminate this virus."

CNN's Martin Savidge has been following where exactly the virus is exploding. And Martin, Florida is really emerging here as the epicenter of the world. Tell us about this.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And each day, Brianna, the numbers grow more and more alarming. And it's into Florida that the president has traveled today, a state that is a hotspot in more ways than one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Deadly deja-vu: Deaths from coronavirus still rising, two states reporting their largest single-day death toll since the pandemic began, Florida and Texas -- and California, with its largest since April.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For those that just think now people are getting it, no one's dying? That is very misleading. In fact, it's fundamentally untrue.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): And more deaths are almost certain to follow, as the U.S. saw its highest single day of new COVID-19 cases, with 63,247 reported.

CNN's been tracking the change in numbers of new coronavirus cases reported each day since states began reopening, and the results are startling. In Texas, new daily cases are up 849 percent compared to their May 1st reopening. In Arizona -- which began its reopening May 8th -- new cases are up 887 percent. And in Florida, since May 4th, new cases have gone up 1,237 percent.

FAUCI: In some of the states, the governors or the mayors essentially jumped over the guidelines and the checkpoints, and opened up a little bit too soon. Certainly, Florida, I know, you know, I think jumped over a couple of checkpoints.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): States that delayed reopening -- such as New York and Massachusetts -- show a significant decline in new cases.

Florida is paying a painful price. In addition to a record single-day death toll of 120, including the death of an 11-year-old child, Miami- Dade County reports hospitalizations are up 76 percent in less than two weeks, and the use of ventilators, soaring by 124 percent. And 86 percent of ICU beds are currently in use. The county's also seeing a staggering 33.5 percent positivity rate of the tests being taken now, according to the mayor's office.

President Trump heads to Florida today, not planning to focus on the pandemic but discussing drug trafficking and attending a fundraiser. Before traveling, the president, once again threatening states to reopen schools or they could lose federal education funds.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open. SAVIDGE (voice-over): But the surging numbers of COVID cases are

alarming parents and teachers, who fear leaders again are moving too quickly and carelessly. Florida's governor, likening schools reopening to reopening a store.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Meanwhile, Michigan's governor says she's not bowing to any political pressure when it comes to the safety of students and staff.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I'm not sending kids and our education workforce into our schools unless it's safe, it's that simple.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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SAVIDGE: And now, the debate about masks again. It not only apparently makes good medical sense, but apparently also makes financial sense, at least according to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Robert Kaplan, saying that if more people wore masks, then this current COVID-19 outbreak could be brought faster under control, meaning the economy could bounce back that much quicker -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, very good point. Martin Savidge, thank you.

And now, back to Florida, where, a short time ago, the president arrived there in one of the nation's hotbeds for the pandemic. And once again, he has not been wearing a mask. He's in Doral, which is in Miami-Dade County, which has been the hardest-hit area in the hardest- hit state. There, one in three of those who are being tested are positive for COVID-19.

Joining me now is Dr. Nicholas Namias, he is the chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Doctor, when you see the president traveling to our region -- which is the most infectious area in the country -- and it's for an issue that is not related to coronavirus, how much could it help if he were there modeling the correct behavior and talking about the problem?

NICHOLAS NAMIAS, CHIEF OF TRAUMA AND SURGICAL CARE, JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Well, that's absolutely critical, that the president model what's necessary for the health of our people, so it's inconceivable to me that he could get off an airplane in Miami without a mask on, it's -- I have no words.

KEILAR: And I mean, what kind of risk is he putting himself at and others at to walk off the airplane, not wear a mask, walk by people who aren't wearing masks, talk in close proximity to people, then go to an event indoors, not wearing a mask, talking.

NAMIAS: I mean, any time you're without a mask, you're increasing the risk of transmission of the virus to himself, from others and from others to him. And most importantly, from others to others. Because if he's not wearing a mask, you've seen so many people on your own network saying, If it's good enough for the president, it's good enough for me. So they go without a mask and they expose each other and you see these alarming numbers that we're seeing in Florida and in Miami-Dade County right now.

KEILAR: So tell us about what you're seeing there on the ground in the Miami area, your hospital? What's it like?

NAMIAS: So you see that the percent positive rate for Florida now is about 15 percent of everyone, 16 percent today of everyone being tested is positive, and it's even higher for those who are coming into the hospital.

And what we're finding in the hospital is that as these patients come in with COVID, not just for a respiratory disease that you relate with COVID, but for any other disease -- and happen to be COVID -- we now have to move them through the hospital, through their specialized tracks to care for their main disease and their COVID, which is a real problem, especially for subspecialty areas like transplant, trauma, neurosurgery. Those patients now need COVID beds, but they can't go to a COVID ICU, they have to go to the specialty ICUs where we're having to create COVID beds.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, that is -- and that's a logistical -- that's daunting logistically.

The governor of your state, Ron DeSantis, is pushing for schools to reopen with in-person instruction next month. He said if Home Depot and Walmart can do it, schools should be able to. I know the superintendent of the Miami-Dade School District differs with that, and he's certainly very worried about this.

What will it look like if schools reopen in person? How will that change the situation on the ground for you from a medical perspective?

NAMIAS: Well, what it's going to change, it's obviously going to increase the number of infections because the children are children, and they're in a classroom that is a closed space, a closed airspace. They're going to be sharing the same air.

And you know, one kid brings it from home because his father got it at the job he had to go to, and gives it to another kid who goes and gives it to his grandmother, who then gives it to 10 more people? It's irresponsible. I mean, if it can be done, it has to be done safely with the guidelines of the scientists at the CDC -- and I don't mean the revised guidelines under pressure, the original guidelines of the scientists. And even those we have to wonder, we really have to wonder.

KEILAR: All right, Dr. Namias, thank you so much. You are there in the thick of it at Jackson Memorial Hospital. We really appreciate you joining us.

NAMIAS: Thank you. KEILAR: The medical examiner in one county in Texas says he no longer

has room for any more coronavirus victims. He'll be joining me live, next.

Plus, as health officials plead with young people to stop spreading this virus, one university is blaming fraternity and sorority parties for its surge.

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And I'll speak to a daughter who lost her dad to coronavirus. Now, she's calling out leaders for their pandemic response, in his obituary.

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KEILAR: Texas is one of at least three states reporting its largest single-day death toll since the pandemic began. You can take a look at this chart, you can see how the number of fatalities has just shot up there on the right. This is a grim milestone that brings with it a harsh reality, morgues are running out of space for bodies of victims.

Dr. Adel Shaker is the Nueces County medical examiner. Sir, thank you so much for being with us. I understand that your morgue is -- it has no more room. Tell us about this overwhelming situation you're dealing with.

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ADEL SHAKER, NUECES COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: Basically, I'm serving, in Nueces County and the surrounding 14 to 17 counties so that adds (ph) more work on the county. So the population of Nueces County is around 383,000 and double this amount in the surrounding counties through interlocal (ph) agreements. So COVID-19 cases add more work to us.

KEILAR: And so you've run out of space at this point, which you're contending with, you're really at capacity. But you are also in a situation where you are conducting autopsies on victims of COVID-19, right?

Tell us about what you're seeing. Because at the beginning of all of this, we really thought this was -- this is like a -- I don't want to say like a cold or a flu, but it had the respiratory issue that people are familiar with when it comes to a cold or a flu. And now, you're finding a lot of blood clots. Tell us what you are seeing in these autopsies.

SHAKER: At the beginning, as you mentioned, it was restricted to the lungs and the upper respiratory tract. But now, we see blood clots all over the body: in the brain, in the lungs, in every organ, even in the pancreas, in the kidneys, all over the body, yes. Because --

KEILAR: So what is that -- why is that?

SHAKER: Because the coronavirus disturbs the mechanism between coagulation and the bleeding mechanism. So it will lead to clotting in certain areas and bleeding in other areas at the same time.

KEILAR: So it destabilizes the systems for bleeding and clotting, which is incredibly alarming compared to thinking it's just a respiratory issue. And this brings me to another question for you, because we've just learned that there was an infant who died in your county, in Nueces County. Can you tell us anything about that?

SHAKER: Yes. I was informed by investigators around 1:00 a.m. early morning, that there is an infant under the age of six months who died yesterday because of COVID-19.

KEILAR: We've long thought that babies and young people were less likely to have the problems. It is the case -- they are less likely, but you're seeing the reality there on the ground.

SHAKER: Unfortunately, it does not discriminate. It affects people's comorbidities, previous or pre-existing pathologic conditions like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, morbid obesity. But now, it affects everybody. Nobody is excluded from that infection.

KEILAR: Well, Dr. Shaker, thank you so much. You are very much in the middle of this, we appreciate you talking to us about your work there and what you're seeing.

SHAKER: Thank you, Brianna (ph).

KEILAR: The U.C. Berkeley health director says the surge there is due to college students partying. She's going to join us to talk about that.

Plus, rap star Eminem slams Americans who refuse to wear masks in a new song.

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And President Trump says he aced a cognitive test. Question is, why is he taking cognitive tests in the first place?

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KEILAR: California went from being a coronavirus success story in the spring to a summer hotspot, with more than 300,000 confirmed cases right now. One troubling trend is that more young adults are testing positive for the virus; that includes at the University of California- Berkeley. The number of students testing positive on campus more than doubled in just one week.

And Dr. Anna Harte is the medical director of U.C. Berkeley University Health Services, joining us now. And, Doctor Harte, tell us about this because you're attributing this spike to fraternity and sorority parties causing a surge. What's happening there?

ANNA HARTE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, U.C. BERKELEY UNIVERSITY HEALTH SERVICES: Well, there were a number of events, social gatherings and a few parties as well, larger parties attended by members of the Greek system, and some other students as well about a week and a half ago, where people were definitely not wearing masks, physical distancing, et cetera. They were sharing beverages and food. And there were certainly more than the current recommended 12 people involved.

So what happened is, a couple of cases started popping up. When we called those cases, we heard about the events and then over the next few days, it rapidly became apparent that some of those cases had gone to their own households or other smaller gatherings and it had spread there too.

So there's a seeding effect that's happened in our community that really all -- or almost all of them -- trace back to some pretty happy gatherings that happened a little while ago.

KEILAR: And so this might jeopardize reopening. Tell us about that.

HARTE: Well, in a couple of ways. First of all, the most important one is, you know, right now, fortunately, we really haven't had anyone get seriously ill. Our students are mostly young and healthy, and they've been getting away with it.

And many of us have been getting a little bit more relaxed with time. But sooner or later, there'll be a tragedy. When a tragedy hits, obviously, that's going to affect a lot of things, including people's families and willingness to come to campus.

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Also, as the numbers go up, our public health officer, with whom we work very closely, obviously becomes concerned and it will affect the county and community's ability to reopen. Berkeley's been very cautious and slow in reopening, unlike many places, and we've kept things pretty well under control.

But if the numbers keep going, we're going to have to backtrack. And when we backtrack, then campuses, schools and also a lot of businesses will not be able to open, and that'll be really sad because we've done pretty well thus far.

KEILAR: And I'm actually a Cal grad myself. And so, you know, we're very familiar with Berkeley, it's in an urban setting. I was a resident assistant when I was there, and so as we've been talking about reopening universities, I was thinking about the dorm that I lived in, which is really a model for many dorms at Cal. And that is a high rise -- I think it had eight floors, I want to say there were about 250 students.

And one of the things I would tell people about having gone to school at Berkeley was, we actually had one floor with a bunch of rooms, and there was a large communal bathroom that was co-ed, which is -- that's kind of standard in a lot of dorms.

How do you contend with that, where you actually have -- this isn't a suite style living situation in the dorms. And of course, housing is at a premium in Berkeley. How do you reopen when you have so many of your freshmen and even your sophomores who are supposed to be living in that kind of environment? HARTE: It's really challenging. We've been putting a lot of thought into it. So first of all, one thing we've learned is whether we hold in-person classes or not, a lot of students want to come back to Berkeley, they want to see their friends, they want to socialize, they want to be part of that experience, so it's not all hinging on the classes being in-person or not.

That said, on-campus housing, we actually have more control over. We've been doing a lot of thinking and reallocating rooms. While traditionally a lot of rooms are triples or quads or at least doubles, we are now going for single occupancy.

Which unfortunately then has a ripple effect, which means that students who want to come to the community find housing -- excuse me -- outside of the campus. And as often happens, especially in a community where rental and housing prices are high, they tend to congregate in very large households.

So, frankly, I'm a lot less worried about the on-campus housing situation than I am on what can happen out in the community. So we're working -- that's why we have to work so closely with our health officer to strategize around that, which is why we take this so seriously even though none of these students actually had spent any time on campus, they're still part of that community.

KEILAR: That's very interesting, as you were -- I know it's a logistical feat that you all are going through. Dr. Harte, thanks for being with us.

HARTE: Sure, thank you.

KEILAR: President Trump is revealing that he supposedly aced a cognitive test he took at Walter Reed. I'll be asking an expert why he took it to begin with.

Plus, I'll speak to a woman who blames lawmakers for her father's death from coronavirus. We'll talk about what she's doing now to fight the pandemic.

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