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Florida Shatters Single-Day Record for Coronavirus Cases; Georgia Hospital Beds Running Low as New Cases Surge; Phoenix Mayor Says City Seeing Record Usage of Ventilators; Tension Grows Between Trump, Fauci as Virus Surges; Trump and DeVos Push Schools to Open This Fall; Brazil Nears 1.9 Million Coronavirus Cases. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's Monday morning. Happy you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto. This morning our nation is fighting a worsening pandemic. The facts show it, and the president accusing members and agencies of his own administration of lying about it.

Here are the facts. The U.S. now tops 3.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases. 135,000 deaths from the virus. Hospitals in many areas now strained and critical supplies running low once again. In Florida, a staggering 15,000 cases reported on Sunday alone, and Florida just one of 35 states now seeing a spike in infections.

HARLOW: It is time that our nation get the facts and just the facts. They need them now more than ever. So why is the president accusing the CDC, the agency many Americans rely on for guidance of lying about the virus?

Just a reminder, by the way, the CDC is part of his own administration and by the way, the president appoints the director of the CDC.

And what about Dr. Fauci, a key voice in the very task force the White House has tapped to lead in this crisis? Tensions are building with him too? He and the president not speaking. The question today, why?

We're covering all of it this morning. Let's get to our Rosa Flores. She joins us in Miami with the latest numbers out of Florida, breaking a new record in terms of new cases?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, it's not getting any better. Florida shattering its daily record of coronavirus cases with more than 15,000 cases just yesterday.

Now here in Miami-Dade County, this is the epicenter of the crisis in this state. It accounts for 24 percent of the state's nearly 270,000 cases. If you look at all the metrics, they're not going in the right direction. It's not getting any better. When you look at the 14-day average positivity rate, it's at 26 percent.

The goal for Miami-Dade County is not to exceed 10 percent. Well, this county has exceeded 22 percent for the past 14 days. Now during that same time period, hospitalizations are up 65 percent, ICU units 67 percent, and ventilators 129 percent. This of course very concerning to local leaders here including city of Miami mayor, Francis Suarez. Take a listen.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: So it's inevitable that we're going to see deaths rising in the state, and you know, we're going to -- we're hoping to see, you know, things improve over the next couple of weeks because we are reaching a critical level.


FLORES: Now despite all of these metrics, despite the fact that these numbers keep surging, the state of Florida still requiring schools to reopen next month for in-person instruction.

Now, Poppy, you and I have been updating our viewers regarding schools and I want to leave you with this quote from the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association because it's very telling. They wrote on their Facebook page in the past 24 hours, quote, "What kind of alternative universe are we living in when teachers are spending their last days of their summer vacation writing wills."

The teachers union there, Poppy, helping teachers there, referring them to attorneys -- Poppy.


SCIUTTO: It's remarkable. Remarkable. Rosa Flores in Florida, thanks very much.

To Georgia, another state where new cases are surging and hospitals now are finding beds running short. This has prompted the governor to reactivate a makeshift hospital in downtown Atlanta.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more.

And again, you know, this is the concern here. You see cases rise soon after the science shows us. You see hospitalizations rise as people get sicker. Tell us about the numbers we're seeing in Georgia.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Jim, this hospital -- makeshift hospital, the Georgia World Congress Center actually originally opened back in April. It shut down about a month later. The governor determined on Friday they needed to reactivate it due to the high number of hospitalizations and record number of new cases.

Nearly 4500 on Friday alone in Georgia. Georgia also experiencing a record number of deaths last week, as the numbers just continue to go up. Now if you remember, the state of Georgia was one of the first to open up early, way ahead of many others to the point that even President Trump at one point said that he didn't agree with how quickly it was happening in the state of Georgia. Since then, we've seen the numbers slide in the wrong direction especially in the past recent weeks.


Now here in Atlanta, the governor enacted a mask mandate. The governor said -- I'm sorry, the mayor enacted a mask mandate. The governor said that's not enforceable even as he flies around the state and says that people should wear masks. She's also pushed us, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Poppy, back to stage one. The governor again said that's something that he doesn't really understand why she would need to do that. The mayor said she hasn't really gotten much guidance from the governor.

HARLOW: And again, in the crosswords of all of this -- Dianne, thank you -- is the schools and the teachers and parents and answers for the children and what's going to happen.

Jim, come, you know, a few weeks in some states these schools are going to open maybe. Not Arizona, where several mayors are urging the governor there to expand statewide restrictions to help try to control the spike of COVID cases they've seen there.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is still in Arizona for us. He reports from Phoenix for us this morning. And the mayor of Phoenix says the city has been plagued by record-setting ventilator usage. How are they coping?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the real story in Arizona is one of the medical system really being plagued by shortages. When you look at the numbers in Arizona overall, it certainly looks smaller than in places like Texas or Florida because it's a smaller state but there are two important figures you need to keep track when you think about the story in Arizona.

The first one is 89 percent. That's the number of ICU beds currently -- excuse me with this mask. 89 percent is the number of ICU beds currently in use and the second number is 86 percent, which is the number of total hospital beds currently in use in Arizona. So just the hospital system under pressure here.

And to talk about it, I have the president of the Arizona Medical Association, Dr. Ross Goldberg.

Doctor, thank you for talking to us.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Can you tell us just quickly what is the situation for medical professionals in Arizona right now?

GOLDBERG: Well, you kind of talked about the numbers. The system is under a lot of pressure right now because we have so many patients in the hospital. Now people say, oh, you always run at a high number of COVID, you want to be in a high number.

The difference is a lot of these COVID patients are here for a long period of time. So in the hospital our goal is to take care of someone, get them better, get them out of the hospital. Here it's a much longer kind of hospital stay which takes bad circulation so you get people coming in and coming in, it just adds pressure on the system.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Are you finding you're running out of things and supplies are getting short?

GOLDBERG: Not yet. It's always a concern. We've been worried about that since mid-March. I mean, the great thing at least in my hospital here is we track that every day. There is a transparency about what we have and what we don't. We've been able to get stuff in but again, you want to be really, really cautious and careful about it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And what do you need?

GOLDBERG: Everything and anything we need available. We need testing. We need PPE. We need everything just as much as we can, especially as our protocols go up for safety. We're going to burn through more PPE. So the more stuff we can keep on getting in the better off we'll be.


Poppy and Jim, as you mentioned, local officials here are pressing for more statewide regulations involving trying to bring these curves -- the curve down on this pandemic here. For example, masks which I'm struggling with this morning, but masks are not required statewide. Some places you have to wear them, some places don't. It's things like that that people who are -- public health officials I spoke to say could be helpful in making some of the numbers here that are so high start to come down -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Folks, it's in the science. Every scientist knows it. It's in the data. The masks work.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thanks very much.

As cases surge in most states around the country, President Trump is accusing members and agencies of his own administration of lying about this pandemic, as Poppy said. Leaders that the president himself appointed. He has retweeted a false claim this morning from a former game show host, Chuck Woolery, saying the CDC and most doctors have been lying about the virus for the sake of winning the election.

HARLOW: The White House is also attempting to undermine the reputation of the nation's and one of the world's top infectious disease doctors, that is Dr. Anthony Fauci. It took a rare step of sending out a list of misleading talking points attacking Fauci over the weekend, including comments completely taken out of context or just unfinished statements, and frankly, Jim, this looks a whole lot like opposition research in a political campaign but against one of their own.

SCIUTTO: It's a tactic we've seen before from the White House. Let's go to CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

So you look at these talking points and many deliberately taken out of context here to undermine the reputation of Dr. Fauci. Can you walk us through? Because we don't want to give any more oxygen to these talking points than necessary, but walk us through one example here, where they deliberately cut off the second half of a statement that Fauci made about the outbreak early on.


JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this was part of the opposition research that the administration sent out about Anthony Fauci, and it alludes to a February 29th interview that he gave to NBC's "Today" show in which he said at that point, there was no reason for Americans to change their routines. Take a listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No, right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you're doing on a day-by-day basis. Right now, the risk is still low, but this could change.


HARWOOD: "This could change." That's the key point. And Anthony Fauci went on to say in part of the remarks not shared by the White House that this could still become a major pandemic. What you see from Anthony Fauci, even in those early stages when he was being cautious is an attempt to grapple with the facts, grapple with the science, and adjust as the facts and the science led him to different conclusions.

That is not what President Trump has done. President Trump has consistently tried to gloss over the facts, as you can see from this set of clips from the president earlier.

HARLOW: To that point, John, the -- one of the major differences, there are so many, between Dr. Fauci and the president, is what you said, right? As we learn more about this virus, Dr. Fauci has quickly and adeptly navigated and said, OK, here's what we know and here's how this changes what I may have said a week ago, et cetera. That's not what the president has done consistently.

HARWOOD: No. What the president has done consistently is to try to downplay in the interests of preserving confidence in the economy, which he thought was his ticket to re-election and the thing that made him feel good about his presidency, try to gloss over the facts, and so you've seen this from the beginning all the way through the springtime. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. The coronavirus, which is, you know, very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it. We're going down, not up. We're going substantially down, not up. And again when you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.


HARWOOD: And what we've got now is a situation where the facts have turned unambiguously bad, not just in blue states which had a problem early on and have done somewhat better but it's now fully engaged the red states in the country that early on the president could try to deny what was going on because they hadn't had outbreaks. He's now going to war on the facts.

The people delivering the facts, but that is a game that ultimately is not going to work when people's health and when people's ability to reopen schools and their livelihoods are being affected because this is now slowing down the economic recovery that Trump was trying to protect in the first place -- guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Going to war on the facts. John Harwood captures it in this case, no question.

HARLOW: Thank you, John.

Let's talk about the medical side of all of this. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz is with us, deputy physician in chief for Quality and Safety at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Just your reaction from a medical perspective, politics aside, polling aside, just the facts that save lives or end up in more people dying, what is your reaction to the way that the White House is going after Dr. Fauci, not just the president's comments saying, you know, he's a nice guy but he gets stuff wrong a lot, but this like list is just like opposition research.

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It's very disappointing. You know, Dr. Fauci is a hero for many of us. He's kept his integrity from Reagan's administration on but doctors are used to giving bad news.

You know, it's part of what we do. We try to stick to facts. We know we are wrong a lot of the time but we try to correct things as we go, so this is a very stupid strategy I think of the president, but it doesn't change the facts. So those of us in the medical community are bothered by this side show, but the facts are the facts. We're in a crisis and the president can't talk his way out of this one.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Sepkowitz, the sad fact is that the attacks on the facts work for a certain portion of the population. We see that in the data because when people are told and they believe it that it's not a real threat or that masks are an infringement on freedom and don't work, and you know, a Democratic kind of conspiracy, et cetera, it changes behaviors, does it not? Does that attack on the facts weaken the response to the outbreak?

[09:15:00] SEPKOWITZ: Surely, but you know, arguing rationally against people who hold an irrational belief is never going to work, screaming louder that, for example, seatbelts work, something --


SEPKOWITZ: Smoking works. It doesn't sink in everywhere. And so, at a certain point, you know, trying to get the last person to agree is not a good strategy. The strategy is to stress masks, you know, testing, social isolation, and just keep hammering it and people are going to do what people do.

HARLOW: How much as we talked, doctor, about reopening schools physically or not, how much do we know or do we not know about children and how they spread this disease? We know many of them are asymptomatic. They don't have severe symptoms. But do we know enough about how they spread it?

SEPKOWITZ: We don't know enough to be a 1000 percent sure or a 100 percent sure. But we know about respiratory viruses in kids. We know that they are thus, spreaders of influenza. It appears that coronavirus isn't spread as efficiently by kids, but of course, they're going to spread it. I mean, they're kids. They've got snotty noses, they crawl all over each other, they grab stuff and, you know, stick it in their mouth. So, there's no question but that this will happen.

It will put teachers at risk. It will put whoever is carpooling that day at risk. It's going to be a disaster. I mean, there's nothing -- there's no softening this. It's odd that we're pretending that there might be a slight variation, and I mean, they are not for kids. It's just so far off the base for what the problem is. We're nibbling on the edges here.

HARLOW: Dr. Sepkowitz, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate the facts from you this morning --

SEPKOWITZ: Thank you.

HARLOW: Texas is getting hit very hard still by coronavirus. Hospitals nearing capacity there, and more help coming to the state from the military. Do they have what they need at this point to wrestle with this spike? And as Brazil nears 1.9 million cases of coronavirus, some of the hardest hit in that country are indigenous tribes. We'll have a reporting on that ahead.

SCIUTTO: Plus as the debate over sending kids back to school in the Fall intensifies, teachers are now speaking out, one says I love my students but I don't want to be next. Stay with us as we discuss.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. In Texas, many hospitals are now nearing capacity, and the governor who resisted controls on the outbreak initially admits things will get worse in the coming week. Today, more than 500 medical personnel from the Department of Defense arrive in the state to help with the response to coronavirus. Meanwhile, testing sites in at least one county were forced to close early over the weekend because of the extreme heat there.

Joining me now is the mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler. Mayor, thank you for taking the time this morning.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER, AUSTIN, TEXAS: Jim, good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So first, an update from where you stand. On CNN just over a week ago, you issued a dire warning that hospitals in your city would soon be overwhelmed. Where do things stand this morning?

ADLER: Well, we're right on the edge. You know, two weeks ago, I said, we needed to do something here locally to change the trajectory we were on or we would be overwhelmed in our ICUs, probably today. What that meant is the community really needed to fully adopt wearing face coverings and doing social distancing. About two and a half, three weeks ago, the community did that. We have -- you know, had our trajectory taper off, we've bought some more time.

But if anybody is listening now from Austin, now is not the time to take the foot off the break. We are -- we are on the edge. We had 17 more people admitted into our ICUs last night. That's a 10 percent increase. So we're still --


ADLER: In a rough place.

SCIUTTO: Well, the fact is, state leaders in Texas did take their foot off the brakes for a number of weeks, resisting stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, et cetera, and thereby violating the CDC's own guidelines for reopening. Do you blame state leaders? Do you hold them responsible for the outbreak that Texas is currently seeing?

ADLER: I think the lesson to be learned in Texas is you cannot open up the economy in ways that looked like the economy was opened before. So yes, I do believe that the failure at the statewide level to have a mandate on masking when we opened up the economy is one of the chief reasons where we are today. You know, the governor was better than many governors around the country.

He was encouraging people to use masking. He would even be photographed wearing masks. But there's a difference between saying that and actually making it mandatory. It conveys an entirely different message, and a message coming out of Washington, it needs -- it's harmful, and it's dangerous and it's causing problems right now across the country. There needs to be a very clear message that masks are mandatory and have to be worn.

SCIUTTO: Well, the fact is, you're getting even worse disinformation from Washington. Today, you have the president retweeting a former game show host, claiming that the CDC is lying about cases of this disease. Do you find in your community that people buy that, and therefore do not act to control the spread of the virus, take simple measures like wearing a mask?


ADLER: You know, fortunately, most people in Austin don't buy that. But the bad part is still a material and significant number of people do, and it just shouldn't be something that's debated. If you look at the states right now that are doing well, they're the states where people are wearing masks. Even in Austin, if you look at the trajectory that we were on up until the point where the governor allowed us once again to make masks mandatory when he acted, there's an immediate change in the numbers that we're seeing.

That is the lesson to be learned. So those conflicting messages, even if it's not being bought by most people, if there's still a significant number that do, it works against the entire community and puts opening businesses, it puts people's health, it puts people's lives at risk.

SCIUTTO: Yes, final question if I can. We're hearing reports today that in Corpus Christi, healthcare workers there are being told they can only use one N-95 mask per day, an indicator of a shortage once again of key PPE, personal protective equipment. Do you -- just quickly, do you see any similar shortages where you are?

ADLER: Not quite where we are yet, but we're beginning to hear the stories and frankly, what happens around the state impacts us. We've already being contacted by hospitals down in the Valley asking us if we have space in our ICUs for their patients. And we have been calculating our need based on our need, and now we realize that it's going to be coming from all over the state. This needs a statewide and a national wide response.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, folks, I've been saying it for a long time and it hasn't come, that national response and plan. Mayor Steve Adler, thanks very much.

ADLER: Thank you, Jim. Be safe.

HARLOW: Well, some of the hardest-hit communities in Brazil where they are just getting slammed by COVID-19 may be the least equipped to handle this pandemic. Coming up, how the virus is ravaging Brazil's indigenous communities.