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U.S. Sees Record Day Of New COVID-19 Cases; Schiff: If You Lie For The President, You Get A Pass; Trump Says He Will Wear Mask On Visit To Walter Reed Medical; President Trump Commutes Roger Stone's Prison Sentence; DNC Warns Campaigns About Using TikTok App; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Gives COVID Update. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired July 11, 2020 - 12:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Again in the U.S. setting a new single day record for coronavirus cases as many states continue to contain the spread of the virus. Johns Hopkins University reporting more than 66,000 new cases across the U.S. That's more than 3.1 million total infections. By far the highest of any country in the world.

Another big point of concern, the rising number of deaths and hospitalizations. Florida is reporting more than 7000 people in that state are being hospitalized because of the disease with more than 10,000 new cases reported just today.

And elsewhere in the country, a number of places are rolling back their plans to reopen. The city of Atlanta for example announcing it will return to phase one which includes an order for residents to stay at home except for those essential trips out of the house. It also includes - it also closes dine-in service for restaurants. Georgia's governor is also reactivating a field hospital at a convention center in Atlanta.

And the debate over opening schools next month is still being fiercely debated. Several states including Florida say the schools will resume in the fall in just a few weeks' time but a new report says that one in four teachers face higher risks of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

So let's start our coverage in Florida, a state that is dealing with an onslaught of new coronavirus cases with CNN's Randi Kaye. She's there live in Palm Beach County. Randi, what is the state saying about this dramatic spike that we've seen in the past few days?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a long time now Alex, the governor has really been playing it down. He says that the hospitals are not at surge capacity. He says that basically did everything right even though we did open pretty early, earlier than many other states but if you look at the hospitalizations which the state has finally released after weeks of reporters pressing the governor to get those numbers.

The hospitalizations for those who tested positive for COVID-19 here in the state of Florida are now at 7257 at 7,257 people. In Miami-Dade the hardest hit county, more than 1600 people but yet the governor still says there's nothing to be fearful about and that the ICU beds are not at surge capacity but we can tell you also that we're just learning today as well that there are 44 county bus drivers in Miami- Dade County, the hardest hit county that have tested positive.

One bus driver there has died. We're unclear if that, if the driver was symptomatic or what the route was that driver was taking. The others are quarantining at home. As I said, the governor has been sort of playing this down.

He took a victory lap back in April for doing everything right before the surging numbers but he's certainly on board with Disney reopening today even though the hospitalizations in Orange County where Orlando is were upwards of 500, He's on board with it. He says he thinks it'll be a safe environment though it'll be a very different experience for those going to Disney today.

They'll get temperature checks Alex, on the way in, if it's more than 100.4, they're going to have to leave there. Also if they - they'll have to social distance while they're waiting in line. They'll have to wear masks even in this Florida heat so it's going to be a very different experience and of course, they won't be able to touch and get too close to the characters which lots of the kids are fans of.

So again, certainly times are changing here in the state of Florida even in Disney World Alex.

MARQUARDT: And we're expecting to hear from Florida's governor Ron DeSantis in the next hour and then we'll come back to you when he speaks, Randi Kaye in Palm Beach County. Thanks very much. Now Atlanta's mass transit system will be enforcing a mandatory mask policy as cases are spiking in Georgia.

This as the Governor slams the Mayor of Atlanta for her decision to roll back the city's reopening. They're going back to phase one. Now the surge in new infections has inspired a former Georgia governor, the President Jimmy Carter to share this photo with his wife, encouraging people to wear masks.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins us now from Atlanta. Natasha what else is Georgia doing to fight this new surge?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Alex, as you mentioned, there is that tension between what Georgia wants to do and what local jurisdictions want to do and this kind of reflects that same confusion that we saw in the beginning of the pandemic when different jurisdictions called for different types of restrictions.

Now let's take a look at why there is this back and forth. Atlanta wants to roll back to phase one. Yesterday we saw the record number of daily new cases in Georgia, the state's public health department reporting 4,484 cases and the previous daily high didn't even hit 3000.

If we can take a look at the 7-day moving average of new cases in Georgia, you can see that - you may have seen a stability for a little while but in late June, early July really those numbers took off there. So when the Atlanta Mayor yesterday said that she wanted to roll back to Phase one that means she wants residents to stay home except for essential trips out and to have restaurants and retail rolled back to just doing curbside pickup or take out.

Meanwhile the Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said this in a statement that, "Mayor Bottoms' action today is merely guidance, both non- binding and legally unenforceable. As clearly stated in the Georgia's executive order, no local action can be more or less restrictive and that rule applies state-wide."


Now the Governor did also acknowledge that there is a rising hospitalization rate. We have a chart to show you that as well. He did say though that the people hospitalized now are very different from what we saw earlier in the pandemic. These are younger people, people with less acute symptoms.

They're staying in the hospital for a shorter amount of time, partly due to more that we know about treatment but still very concerning and in that vein, he has reactivated a makeshift hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center downtown.

So again, acknowledging that there is a problem but also saying that the Atlanta Mayor doing her own thing to roll back is not going to work. Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right, Natasha Chen, watching the showdown between the Governor and the Mayor of Atlanta. Thanks very much. Now in Arizona, state health officials are saying that fewer than 1000 hospital beds are available across the entire state and that's where we find our Evan McMorris-Santoro. He's joining me now from the Grand Canyon which of course is one of the state's main tourist attractions. Evan, what are you learning about how that state is dealing with things?


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well hi Alex. As you can see, I'm wearing a mask here on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It's not a place that you would think you need to worry about social distancing. You can see you know, eight miles away out there.

But the South Rim is a very important tourist attraction in the United States and here in Arizona and I actually have somebody that's going to tell me a bit about what's going on out here, Superintendent Ed Keable who is the head of the operation out here at the Grand Canyon National Park.

So Superintendent, thanks for talking to us.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Tell me just briefly about what the rules are for people who are visiting the Grand Canyon national park during this pandemic? KEABLE: Sure. First, I want to tell you that park service is paying

attention to all the White House CDC, state and local public health advisories about the pandemic as we make decisions about how to operate parks. And since I've been superintendent, it's been a little over two months now, I've been making decisions about how to open up the park and we're doing it in a way that I believe is safe and responsible, following all those guidelines that I made reference to.

We also in the park service have the benefit of a tremendous relationship of the public health service. I have a dedicated public health service officer with whom I talk on a regular basis to make sure I have the most current information about the virus and about the conditions here in the state of Arizona and the country generally.

So with all of that said, the Grand Canyon is open as you can see. It's a great open air space. The South Rim where we are. The North Rim eight miles away as you pointed out are open. We have great vistas from our rim trails which are open to the public. We have hiking trails into the inner canyon. Those are all open.

We have campsites on the rooms and in the inner canyon that are also open on a limited basis. We've accepted - we've honored the permits that people have but we have not started new permits. We're trying to maintain a reasonable number of people who were at the park so we can maximize social distancing and the life blood of the canyon is the Colorado River which you - you could see the canyon down on the floor.

River operations are open again with limited access. We've managed those in a CDC compliant way with our river operators, managing the number of boats, the number of people on boats, the number of launches, those sorts of things.

So the canyon is open and people are following CDC guidelines which are applicable across the country in order to manage safety. So masks like you and I are wearing, social distancing like you and I are practicing, people carry around a lot of hand sanitizers as I do. So we're practicing good social distancing, washing hands, hand sanitizers, face covering, those sort of things, comply with the CDC guidelines.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Are you trying to reduce because you know you have two jobs. You have - you operate both this - this giant canyon that you can see in all the surrounding area but also this busy tourist area up here on the South Rim where you have a hotel, gift shops. Are you trying to reduce gathering sizes in those places?

KEABLE: So we have worked with those businesses who work within the canyon. Our hoteliers, our restaurants, our gift shops and bookstores. Each of them before they opened provided the park with CDC compliant operating plans and we determined that those plans are - are really closely adhered to CDC guidelines and they're operating consistent with those guidelines.

So I'm confident that we've got a really good, healthy, safe operating environment here at the park.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Got it and lastly, let me just ask you this. It seems like you know this is - this is a big impact all over the economy of Arizona. We've been covering it for the past couple of weeks. Tell me just what the impact of the pandemic has been on this national park, like compare maybe - you haven't been here that long but maybe this July to last July.

KEABLE: So historically our numbers for visitors are down significantly. We don't have the exact statistics because we roll those out towards the end of the year but I would say on average, depending on the day, we are between 25 and 50 percent of store visitor activities. We usually have a lot of international visitors.

We have no international visitors at this point. So that's minimized the number of people who are at the Grand Canyon and that's helped us to manage social distancing issues and - and it's - it's been probably a little bit of benefit of the resource because there are less people on it.

It's also impacted our revenues because some of our budget depends on the fees that we collect from people who are coming into the park and otherwise, things are normal. People are enjoying the park. Some of you and your staff, this is your first time here, you have a sense for how grand the Grand Canyon is and it's a special place.

It's our responsibility as members of the park service to make these public spaces available to the public. It's my job as a superintendent to make sure that they're able to the public and in a really safe and responsible way.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Thank you Sir. So Alex, there you have it. That's the story from the Grand Canyon today. You know social distancing, masks and but it's open for business.


MARQUARDT: That's great to hear those - those visits to the natural monuments like the Grand Canyon and - and those man made here in DC, way down this year but the park service certainly doing their best to try to make sure that they can be open to the public in the safest way possible. Evan McMorris-Santoro on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Thank you so much.

Now as coronavirus cases continue to rise in states that may have reopened too quickly, we are learning that economic interests may have really driven reopening plans instead of scientific data. According to a new disturbing report from the Washington Post.

In states like Georgia, email records are revealing how business networks and industry organizations have helped write the rules of pandemic response, especially in places that were the last among the last to impose restrictions and then the first to ease them. So joining me now to discuss this is Harris Pastides, an epidemiologist and the former president of the University of South Carolina. Sir, thank you so much for joining me today. HARRIS PASTIDES, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Happy to be with you today.

MARQUARDT: Now it seems as though government officials, both at the local and the federal level haven't as much as they could have been listened - been listening to the experts and the data. Now you used to serve on the - on South Carolina's coronavirus task force. What did you experience in terms that balance of influence between the economic side of things and the science side of things?

PASTIDES: Well, let me just back up a little bit and say, before the pandemic, South Carolina had among the lowest unemployment rates in the country. It's a phenomenal state for commerce, travel and leisure, just named Charleston the best destination in the U.S. again.

So clearly not only business community but the general public had an eagerness of course to reopen and - and try to get back to normal. On - on the task force business was well represented, the Secretary of Commerce, restauranteurs, other people, the Commissioner of the - of Tourism Agency as well.

Many other people of course were represented, the Superintendent of Education, University presidents but there's no doubt that there was a team motivation to open South Carolina up. Look, who would have known that there would have been whether you call this the first wave continuing or the second wave, nobody could have predicted on July 11 we would be where we are.

MARQUARDT: But on that point about schools which is of course at the forefront of so many people's minds now just weeks away from when schools would normally reopen, where you are in South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster says that the state plans to reopen schools in the fall.

Now even though the state has reported a 20.7 percent positivity rate for new coronavirus tests so do you think that South Carolinian students are ready to go back to school?

PASTIDES: Well, I think in general children all over the country are ready to go back to school. You know, I think you have to weigh the risks on both sides. What - what's going to happen to communities, to parents, to employment, if kids have to stay home?

Can learning really over an extended period of time through online technologies really work at the third grade level and at the ninth grade level? Now having said that, we've got to clamp down on the who's able to come into a school building, we've got to take care of those teachers and aides who are seniors if you will.


And so I think on balance, I would be in favor of schools opening but not just you know, just you all come, you know open and - and let's get back to normal but with lots and lots of restrictions.

MARQUARDT: Creative solutions as some have called them. We've heard Dr. Fauci and others urge people, especially young people, young adults to not go to bars inside that that's just really - that's the kind of place that really helps spread the virus. The Governor in South Carolina has banned bars and restaurants from selling alcohol after 11:00 PM.

The goal there of course is to deter those young people from going out, spreading the virus but the Governor says that he can't enforce a state-wide mandate on masks. So given the situation as you see it in South Carolina right now, do you think that the state has gone far enough to fight the virus?

PASTIDES: Well, first of all, many - every major city in the state does have a mandatory mask ordinance and many, many smaller towns as well. I want to be clear here that the answer to controlling the pandemic is not one of technology.

Masks are good and other protective things that we do but it's really about behaviors, it's about social distancing and the problem with bars of course is that when you've got you know a few drinks and your will power and your ability to do the right thing even as you understand it is reduced.

So I think you know, would I like to see a state-wide ban, a state- wide mask ordinance? Sure, I would like that and in fact, I believe much of South Carolina has it but not through you know, not through the governor's undertaking but through a local ordinances.

But that's something I practice and we've all got to practice if we want to you know get back to where we were a few weeks ago.

MARQUARDT: All right, Harris Pastides, thank you so much for your expertise. We got to leave it there. Be well.

PASTIDES: Thank you Alex.

MARQUARDT: Now ahead this hour, President Trump is set to visit Walter Reed Medical Center today and has said that for the first time he's going to be wearing a mask in public. Plus President Trump's longtime friend and political ally Roger Stone is going to be a free man after the President commuted his prison sentence.

The scathing response from one Republican senator coming up.




MARQUARDT: President Trump is defending his decision to commute the prison sentence of his longtime friend and political ally, Roger Stone, falsely claiming today that Stone was targeted by what he called an illegal witch hunt. Now Stone was scheduled to begin serving a 40-month sentence next week.

He was convicted last year of lying to Congress, witness tampering and other charges related to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The move to commute his sentence is now being blasted by members of both political parties. We've heard from a Republicans Senator Mitt Romney today calling it an unprecedented historic corruption.

Democrats also slamming the President's decision. Listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, if you lie for the President, if you cover up for the President, if you withhold incriminating evidence for the President, you get a pass from Donald Trump. That's the message that the President has always wanted to convey.


MARQUARDT: The Head of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff there. Michael Zeldin is doing now. He's a former federal prosecutor and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department. Michael, thank you so much for joining me.

We've now heard these incredible statements across the board, from editorial boards, from politicians, you have Mitt Romney as we mentioned calling this unprecedented historic corruption. Pelosi, Speaker of the House calling it staggering corruption. Put this commutation of Roger Stone into perspective for us.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, what's unique about Stone in some respects is that he was convicted of lying and that one of the allegations with respect to that conviction was that he was lying to protect the President. So the commuting of his sentence is different say, then when George H. W. Bush hardened Caspar Weinberger on the eve of his criminal trial in the (Iran-Contra) case.

Or George W. Bush pardoned or rather commuted Scooter Libby for lying about Valerie Plame. So what's unique about this is that the allegations of lying go directly to the protection of the President who then commuted his sentence.

MARQUARDT: Yes, yes. The judge at the sentencing said that he was prosecuted for covering up for the President. Now we often hear about presidents pardoning people. He commuted Stone in this case. Can you explain the difference between commuting and pardoning?

ZELDIN: Sure. Commuting is sort of reducing the sentence. You hear about it most on television saying that the death penalty sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. It's a changing of the sentence and in this case, they changed the sentence from going to jail at all to no jail what so ever.

Pardon is a complete release of responsibility of the individual so a commuted person is still a convicted person and if the state doesn't let them vote, they can't vote. Pardon is elimination of all those civil disabilities and it's a free pass and so you want to look at Scooter Libby who was commuted by George W. Bush and then later pardoned by Trump.

So you can see it's a two-step process. One, gets rid of the sentence and two, gets rid of the underlying conviction and there's an absolving of the individual of criminal responsibility.

MARQUARDT: So why was Stone not pardoned and does that mean that he might be at a later date?


ZELDIN: He could be at a later date. I think that the considerations here are all political. Can Trump weather the political storm of a pardon? I mean look at the storm that he's created with just commuting the sentence where Stone is still a convicted felon. If he pardoned him altogether and then made that egregious press statement about this was a witch hunt concocted by Mueller to get him, I don't think that the political consequences of pardon were acceptable to him.

And that's why I think he went to commuting.

MARQUARDT: Yes and Stone also said that a pardon would imply an admission of guilt. We have seen House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that she is calling for a new law in response to this commutation. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There ought to be a law and I'm recommending that we pass a law that presidents cannot issue a pardon if a crime that the person is in jail for, is one that - that is caused by protecting the president which this was.


MARQUARDT: Michael, do you agree with the House Speaker that we need a law or do you think it would be in violation of the constitution?

ZELDIN: I think would be unconstitutional. Supreme Court has said that the power of pardon or reprieve vests with the President under article 2 section 2 of the constitution and nothing can be done to abridge that power.

So Pelosi perhaps could pass a law that says in the case of a pardon or commuting, we'd like to see what evidence was brought forth to recommended that decision but I don't think she can or any Congress can interfere with the President's authority to issue a pardon.

And I should say one thing that's unique about pardon from commutations is that normally they go through the Department of Justice and the Justice department makes a recommendation to the president about whether this person is worthy of having their sentence commuted or pardoned.

This president has completely ignored the Justice Department part, attorney's authority to make a recommendation and so we find ourselves in this mess.

MARQUARDT: All right, well an incredibly controversial move and coming up as they so often do on a Friday evening. Michael Zeldin, thanks so much for joining me. ZELDIN: Thanks Alex.

MARQUARDT: Just ahead, despite a surge in cases in states all across the country, President Trump is insisting in a new interview that the U.S. is "winning the war on the coronavirus." We will go live to the White House, next.



MARQUARDT: President Trump will be visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center later today and they're expected to wear a mask in public on camera for the first time. That's despite the skyrocketing COVID case count and the President claiming that the country has the outbreak under control. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the United States losing the war against COVID?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, we're winning the war and we have areas that flamed up and they're going to be fine over a period of time. They flared up in areas where they thought it was ending and that would be Florida, Texas, a couple of other places. And they're going to have it under control very quickly.


MARQUARDT: They're going to have it under control. CNN, Sarah Westwood is at the White House for us. Sarah, the President has been downplaying the dangers and the spread of the virus today. He has decided to take some safety precautions and wear that mask what's behind that change of heart?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's all right, Alex. And it's a really deliberate shift from the President wearing a mask in public for the first time. And what's behind that is more than a week of pleading from aides and advisors who have been getting -- trying to get the President to really start pushing masks, something he hasn't done in the past. He's resisted wearing one in public.

And sources tell CNN that's because he does not want to give the impression that he's buckling to pressure from the media, pressure from his adversaries who have criticized him for not wearing a mask. It also because he wants to project a sense of the country's returning to normal that the pandemic is under control. That's obviously undercut by the data that we've been talking about today.

In an interview with Telemundo yesterday, the President said that in a hospital setting, it's appropriate to wear a mask and said he'll be doing so later today.


TRUMP: No, it's not difficult at all. In fact, I'll be going to Walter Reed, I believe tomorrow. And I think when you're in a hospital you should definitely wear a mask. That wouldn't be difficult at all for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've worn them and you'll start wearing more of it. Will we see you wearing them?

TRUMP: Thank you guys. Yes, if you'd like to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.


WESTWOOD: The aides tell CNN that the President is expected to be photographed in the mask, that's something that hasn't happened before. He did wear one in May to a Ford plant in Michigan, but he were one out of view of the cameras and he later said he just didn't want to give the media the satisfaction of seeing him in a face covering.

But his shift towards wearing a mask comes as pretty much everyone else in both parties has really fully embraced masks wearings and encouraging others to wear face coverings when they go out in public. Everyone from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to Vice President Mike Pence have promoted mask, have allowed themselves to be photographed wearing the mask.

So President Trump was really the last holdout there. Someone who has ridiculed his rival Joe Biden, for wearing a face covering and is even characterized it as a sign of weakness and he wouldn't want to wear one to meet a fellow head of state. So it is a significant shift for the President today if he does indeed emerge with a face covering when he heads to Walter Reed, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Not difficult at all, he says. But he clearly doesn't want to give his critics a win. Sarah Westwood at the White House, thanks very much.


Now President Trump's visit to Walter Reed today is coming as coronavirus cases are surging across the country despite the growing public health crisis. The President and his campaign have continued to travel and hold rallies to try to reboot his reelection efforts.

So to help us understand the risks that come with the President traveling around the country, let's bring in Jonathan Wackrow. He is a former Secret Service agent and CNN law enforcement analyst. Jonathan, thanks so much for being with me.

We have seen the President travel, most notably lately to Tulsa and then to Florida. So what are the risks that you see associated with this travel? Obviously, when he goes somewhere, he goes with an awful large entourage.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Thanks, Alex. You know, listen, you know, I think that it'd be stating the obvious but, you know, people are just not comprehending this. The risks are really twofold right here. We have a risk of exposure of the President of the White House staff, the Secret Service, and event attendees.

In the second part of that is that we have a risk of transmission. So by holding these rallies, by holding these events, we have a two major issues that we're actually exasperating right now, and a lot of people are saying unnecessarily.

If this travel is to continue, what would help is to actually have a national policy around stopping the spread of this virus, you know, having a federal policy that puts certain mitigations like wearing face masks and face coverings in public or large gatherings in place that would allow us to have at least a basics of design per location, where there's one set of rules in mitigation that we could then scale up and down from.

But right now we have 50 different regulations across the country. And it's just -- it's starting to set a lot of confusion for people who are trying to address this deadly virus on a daily basis.

MARQUARDT: Does it put a certain level of strain on an area when a president visits there if they're coming -- if they're suffering, if they've seen surge as Florida has and we did see the President go there a couple days ago. What kind of strain does it put on local and state resources?

WACKROW: Well, listen, I mean, absent of a crisis situation wherever the, you know, President travels, it's not just the President, you're moving the entire White House. So there's a major operation that is, you know, led by the Secret Service to implement a security plan. But it's also in conjunction with White House staff, there's local first responders and law enforcement partners and as well as the military that all come together to put this plan to bring the travel of the President into a region.

That's under normal conditions. That is just completely stressed when you have this overwhelming, you know, public health crisis. You know, Florida has over 4,000 deaths. I mean, they're their medical system is being taxed. Their first responders are being taxed every single day.

So to bring the President into that environment, one, again, it goes to the risks that we just talked about the exposure and transmission, but also it puts that, you know, significant strain on existing resources that really was unnecessary.

MARQUARDT: What about your old agency? I mean, everywhere the President goes he has a shadow, if you will of Secret Service agents. And now we have heard reports, we've had reports of Secret Service agents testing positive from that recent visit, actually two of them to Tulsa and Phoenix, with the President and the Vice President. So how is the U.S. Secret Service dealing with the risks of their agents going on this type of travel?

WACKROW: Well, you know, as I've said before, you know, what we're learning from this virus is that it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter that you're a secret service agent. If you put yourself in a position of exposure, there's a high probability that you're going to contract this virus.

And unfortunately, we saw that over two dozen Secret Service agents and officers had contracted this virus and now are trying to deal with that individually. You know, it brings into play though an interesting construct. The Secret Service is very familiar with addressing physical security threats, that's guns, explosives, et cetera.

And all of the physical security structure that's built by the Secret Service is predicated on one individual to protect, in this case, the President. But now we have a because of this global pandemic, we have health security issues. And health security issues are broader. They have to take into account all of the attendees that attend these different events and putting forth mitigation.

That mitigation though is more difficult when you don't have a national standard. So when you're bringing people together these large gatherings without face coverings, without social distancing, it just, you know, exasperates, the situation and makes a greater risk for everyone.

MARQUARDT: And we should note that the President was supposed to have another trip today up to New Hampshire for a rally but that got canceled over concerns to do with the weather.

Jonathan Wackrow, we've got to leave it right there. Thanks so much for joining me.

WACKROW: Thanks Alex.


MARQUARDT: Now coming up, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he is set to hold a briefing on the state's response to the growing number of people cases of coronavirus that we've been discussing. We will bring that to life when it happens. Stay with us.


MARQUARDT: The Democratic National Committee has warned Democratic campaigns, committees, and state parties on Friday to take additional security precautions when using the app TikTok. And their concerns are over its ties to the Chinese government.

A copy of the warning was obtained by CNN, the DNC's security team saying quote, we continue to advise campaign staff to refrain from using TikTok on personal devices. If you are using TikTok for campaign work, we recommend using a separate phone and account.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan obtained that memo and joins me now. Donie, as we noted, that's not the first time that the DNC has warned about TikTok. What are the fears?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Alex. Yes, the DNC actually warned about TikTok as far back as December telling presidential campaigns of course there was numerous Democratic presidential campaigns at the time to essentially and not use the app. They said because of reported concerns, possible concerns that this Chinese owned up could be sending back information from both people devices to the Chinese government.


Now this is also not the first time that the DNC has raised concerns about Chinese products and services. Actually, back in 2018, they weren't campaigns not to use devices made by Chinese manufacturer, Huawei and ZTE. And we've actually learned that over the past few hours that the RNC, the Republican National Committee, has also existing warnings out to its staff not to use TikTok.

Now this of course, all comes on the heels of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying earlier this week that the U.S. was considering banning Tick Tock and that is hugely popular with teenagers all across the United States out of security concerns.

TikTok in response to all of this is saying that, you know, they have an American CEO. They are -- and they will -- are willing to work with and engage with anyone who has any concerns. And also they deny sending any information to the Chinese government, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, national security officials say that but if you look closely in that small print, that the company would have to hand over that data, if they were called on to.

Donie, I want to talk about another social media platform Facebook, which of course has been blasted lately for a number of different reasons. They are considering changes to their political advertising system as we look ahead to November's election. Why are they doing that? What's the conversation about?

O'SULLIVAN: That's right. Yes. Sources at Facebook telling CNN and other publications just last night that Facebook is considering a ban on political ads in the days leading up to November's election.

Now, you will remember that Facebook's ad policy is hugely controversial. They allow politicians to target Americans with lies, lies in Facebook ads. And I was speaking to people at the company source, at the company. They say that there are multiple sort of options being considered here. Nothing is set in stone.

But it is difficult to really see what would be really achieved by putting a sort of moratorium on political ads just for a few hours or a few days before the election, if they are allowing politicians to spread lies and spend millions and millions of dollars spreading lies on the platform for the weeks and months leading up to the election. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes. Why then, if not now, and of course ads right at the core of Facebook's business. Donie O'Sullivan in New York, thanks very much my friend. All right, well, President Trump claimed this week that he recently aced a cognitive test, in yet another attempt to dismiss questions about his mental capabilities. Next, we'll have details on that curious claim. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: We've heard the President repeatedly calling himself what he called a very stable genius. This week, he elaborated on that saying in a "Fox News" interview that he was bragging, in fact, in that interview about one of his biggest achievements in office and passing a test that is used to measure patients suspected of dementia. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.


TRUMP: I actually took one when I, very recently when I was, you know, the radical left was saying is he all there, is he all there, and I proved I was all there because I aced it.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The President's boast of acing a cognitive test is laced with questions. Does he mean the one he took in 2018 at Walter Reed Medical Center or Something more recent, perhaps during his surprise trip there last November?

Critics remain skeptical of claims he was getting a physical and the White House is offering no proof for his latest assertion

TRUMP: They took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors, and they were very surprised. They said that's an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody --


MARQUARDT: All right, we're going to go straight to Florida and listen to the governor there, Ron DeSantis, take a listen.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Of course our mission really focuses on protecting the vulnerable. We from the very beginning wanted to expand testing. We are definitely doing that. Two days yesterday we reported 95,000 tests. Today, I think we're over 80,000 tests. To put that in perspective, Taiwan has done 78,000 tests the entire pandemic in there 23 million people, so we're definitely doing a lot of testing, practicing social distancing and supporting hospital and healthcare workers.

A couple updates on some of the things that we've been working on today, hospitals throughout Florida will be getting additional shipments of the therapeutic, Remdesivir. That had been something that a lot of the physicians have been using. We got positive responses for it. Of course, that's a new therapeutic that had been developed by Gilead and had been given an emergency use authorization by the FDA.

We were scheduled to get some more later in the month, but there was a need to be -- that's I work with the Vice President and I work with Secretary Azar to get that expedited. He said that there wouldn't be a gap in treatment. So those will be arriving today. And that will -- a lot of vials and hopefully we'll be able -- to be able to serve the patient's needs.

We also have more than 1,000 personnel, contract personnel who are going to be deployed around the state to offer support for different services that are being undertaken. Some of it'll be long term care COVID only facilities. Some of it will be supporting some of the normal medical operation. Some of it may be supporting testing.


When we talk to people around the state, particularly with the hospital system, a lot of it just making sure there's enough personnel to do all this. COVID is very labor intensive. There's a lot of procedures that go in place in terms of the isolation, obviously, they have a lot of personnel who are involved in testing people, both who come into their hospitals and people who are participating in some of these drives through or walk up test sites.

So the personnel is something that's very, very significant. So we're doing a lot of that to be able to help. So if you look at kind of where we've been now with this testing, you know, when we first started out, the tests were very scarce nationwide. I think Florida probably had more test results in one day yesterday and probably the country did as a whole in the beginning part of March.

So if you look, we had about a 10.8 percent positivity rate at the end of March, beginning of May, that kind of went down. And then we really had, you know, a good stretch from kind of the end of April through that June 13th where we were 5.1 percent or under. Sometimes we are, you know, 2, 3 percent in terms of the positivity.

So as the as the cases expanded, or excuse me, as the testing expanded, the positivity was manageable. So, yes, you had more cases, but that was kind of what you'd expect. You know, if you test 200,000 people at a 3 percent rate, you're going to get more cases and if you test 100,000 people at that.

I think you see, you know, when we started to see more cases, yes, we started -- we've been testing more the last three weeks by far than we have before. But you see, you see that 6614 to 620, you know, the positivity then goes up to 9.6 percent. And then the next week in June, 12 percent. And then we were 14.8 percent for the last part of June, beginning of July.

This week so far to stick down a little bit last two days I think have been in about 12.5 percent. If you look around the state, there are definitely areas where you think you where -- we think we may be seeing some declining positivity. Then there are other areas that have been pretty consistently 20 percent range like Miami-Dade.

Here in Manatee, they've been about 10 percent the last two days and majority of their new cases have been under the age of 45. Sara's Soda reporting today 5.2 percent of the test positive, yesterday was 9.5 percent.

And I think some of the folks here will attest that, you know, we may be seeing some decline in this part of the Tampa Bay area, some of the other areas, particularly north and places like Pascoe, you know, you may be seeing more positivity.

But this is something that we're looking at very seriously. So we're going to get the test results to complete the week. We're going to be over 400,000 tests easily for the week. So that's a huge, huge amount of tests. And a lot of it is this positivity rate, you know, there's obviously going to be some prevalence, but if it gets into the single digits, you know, that's something that's much more manageable.

So we increased from the end of June into July, but then have kind of it's been plateaued for the last two weeks, which is, it's a good sign. We'd rather be plateaued at 4 percent. But we didn't want to see it continue to just go up and up.

So we've tested 2.4 million people. That is one for every nine people in the state of Florida. So I'd be interesting to see what other things have been tested at this level, you know, in our country in modern times. But this is something that as a whole, the country has done a lot of tests. Obviously, Florida, you know, we're doing a lot, particularly in the last, however many weeks when the demand has really been high.

Now, if you look at where the cases are coming from, a lot of the cases are in that between 15 and in 54, which, as you can see, you know, those are not the age groups that are producing significant fatalities. In fact, if you're if you're under 55, and you don't have significant comorbidities, the fatality rate for this is incredibly, incredibly low.

You look the 75 and plus, 85 and plus, you know, those are where the bulk of the case fatalities are in terms of those who are who are positive cases. And a lot of that's nursing homes. We'll talk about some of that in a minute. But we really believe that, you know, those in that 65 and above age group are increased risk and we're continuing to advise them to limit close contact outside the home and to avoid crowds as much as possible.