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Trump Re-Tweets Sentiment That CDC Is Lying About Virus; Tension Grows Between Trump, Fauci As Virus Surges; Some Arizona Mayors Urge Governor To Expand Restrictions As Cases Soar. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Glad you're with us.

Well, this morning, the virus is spreading, and the president is picking a fight with the very doctors and scientists the nation relies on to help us through this pandemic. The president targeting his own CDC by re-tweeting a claim by a former game show host, Chuck Woolery. The message, accusing the agency and, quote, most doctors of lying about coronavirus.

Just a reminder here, the CDC is part of the president's own administration and it's the president that names the director.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and it's a false claim. The facts don't back it up. This as White House officials are also pushing a coordinated effort to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man who is helping to lead the White House task force in combating this virus, one of the premier infectious diseases experts in the nation.

The U.S. now tops 3.3 million coronavirus cases, 135,000 deaths, 35 states, those you see there in red, in orange and yellow seeing a spike in infections. In Florida, just a staggering 15,000 cases reported on Sunday alone.

We're going to be live across the country. Let's begin though in Florida. CNN's Rosa Flores, she has been covering the state's response there for some time.

So it's key now, and this happens. It's in the data. Cases rise and then sadly hospitalizations rise as people get sick. Tell us what you're seeing there now on the ground.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, those metrics keep on going up, and it's difficult to believe, but a month ago, you and I were reporting on this very show that experts were concerned because the total number of cases per day was 2,000, 2,500. And now, here we are, Florida breaking its daily record with more than 15,000 cases in one day alone.

Here where I am in Miami-Dade County, this is the epicenter of this state, accounting for 24 percent of the nearly 270,000 cases in the State of Florida, and the metrics are not moving in the right direction.

When you look at the positivity rate, the 14-day average here in Miami-Dade County, it's 26 percent. The number of hospitalizations during that same time period, up 65 percent, the number of ICU units, 67 percent and ventilators up 129 percent.

Now, earlier today during New Day, the mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suarez, was asked would he consider a stay-at-home order, and here is what he said.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI, FL): Well, it's something we're going to have to consider. You know, I've never taken that off the table. I know the mayor of Atlanta also issued something similar. You know, we're looking at it every single day. We understand that there may not be federal help this time, which is something of a concern. And, you know, we want to make sure that whatever we do, we do it consistently because we want to make sure that people abide by it.


FLORES: Now, Jim and Poppy, at last check this morning, 35 ICU hospitals across the state are at capacity. Seven of those are right here in Miami-Dade County. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Wow, seven, just there, Rosa. Thanks a lot for that reporting.

Let's go to Georgia now where new cases are surging, and a similar story there, right, Dianne? The hospital beds available are running low. The governor is moving to reactivate a makeshift hospital in downtown Atlanta?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. Look, the cases have been steady climbing here in Georgia over the past couple of weeks. But, look, on Friday they hit a new case record for the state, nearly 4,500 new cases. And that's the same day that Governor Brian Kemp reactivated the Georgia World Congress Center, which is behind me as this overflow COVID-19 hospital.

They originally did this back in April when they thought it was the peak in Georgia for cases and closed it down about a month later, but hospitalizations have soared here in Georgia.

Now, the mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms, issued an executive order that basically that mandates masks but also pushed Atlanta back to phase one of reopening, essentially a stay-at-home order.


At the same time, Governor Kemp said that that's not enforceable at all, and he's not sure why the mayor is doing that. They have gone back and forth. We've seen their relationship over COVID-19 deteriorate over the past week or so on what exactly the mayor's powers are.

Meantime, here in Atlanta, the superintendent is going to be having a meeting this afternoon to discuss what they can do about reopening Atlanta public schools. There is a proposal, Jim, that would have the first nine weeks be virtual, but that has to be approved. And, of course, they are doing that online instead of in person to meet each other.

SCIUTTO: Remarkable, so meeting online only to discuss the possible online opening of the school. Dianne Gallagher, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Let's go to our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Good morning, Sanjay. Thanks for being mere.


HARLOW: If we could start on schools because these getting so much attention, some schools are set to open in just a matter of weeks. There's the mandate in Florida. We heard the multiple interviews that the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, did yesterday with not very straight answers on this. You have some reporting from what a source close to the coronavirus task force is saying about what medically really needs to happen consistently to make it safe for schools to reopen physically. What is that?

GUPTA: Yes. And I'll preface by saying, I think we're all putting out journalist as well as our parents' caps with regard to this issue, right? I think everybody would their kids to go back to school. I think that goes without saying.

But there have been pretty strict criteria on this that are evidence- based, and I did talk to sources close to the task force about this saying, hey, let's get specific here because it seems nebulous. There are some recommendations from the CDC in terms of six feet distancing, masking, having hand hygiene stations, things that probably for most people would seem common sense by now.

But I want to read you some specific language that I heard from these sources about what is going to be necessary here, and it really gets back to this idea that, again, we've heard that every community is going to have to look at this on their own. But each community is going to evaluate the status of their outbreak in their particular area.

While there's not hard and fast rules, this next sentence is important, if a particular community has had a five-day sustained increase in community spread, they are probably going to have to revert back to the earlier phase and should not be opening schools until they then go through the basic gating criteria which we've been talking about for months. So let me just repeat that. If you live in a community where you've had five days of increasing community spread based on the numbers that are released by the Department of Health, then you should not be opening because you're going in the wrong direction. You need to then prove that you can come down for 14 days in a row. That's not new. It may sound new to a people but it's not new.

SCIUTTO: No, it's not new, and it was exactly the criteria for states reopening again from this very White House and states violated that criteria when they reopened, the Texases, the Arizonas and Floridas, and we're seeing the effects.

And the question is when you have the president deliberately attacking the premiere expert on that task force and saying schools should open up kind of regardless of the consequences, who is going to win out on this, right, Sanjay? I mean, the guidance is clear, but the politics are interfering once again.

GUPTA: And it's dispiriting, which is a word that was used when, you know, I talked to sources over the weekend, and I know -- you know, one thing about Dr. Anthony Fauci is that even though we haven't seen him on television, he has tried to remain very accessible to reporters, which has been good because. You know, we do need to be hearing from him.

But I know you talked about this last house, by just want to point this out again because, you know, I've been having conversations with people as well. There is now this opposition research that is coming out of the White House. Can you believe it, right? An opposition research in the midst of the numbers that you see on the right side of the screen.

But there was a sound that was from an interview that Dr. Fauci did back on February 29th, they only released part of the interview sound to basically make it seem like Dr. Fauci did not know what he was talking about or was not, you know, in the loop at that time. Let me just play that again for people so that they can understand what he said and what they left out as well. Let's take a listen.


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


GUPTA: That's what they released, but that's not all that Dr. Fauci said. So just bear with me quickly if we can play the rest of that for a second. You'll hear what he actually said.

Okay, let me just read this to you. I guess we don't have the rest of that. But he says, right now, the risk is still low but that could change. I've said many times before, even on this program, you have to watch out. [10:10:01]

You don't need to change anything right now. But if you start to see community spread, then you have to become attentive to protecting this from continuing to spread even more. That's what Dr. Fauci said.

The point is, and I guess people fundamentally, hopefully, get this, is that we have all been learning as we go along. The idea that anybody knew everything from the very start about a novel coronavirus, not only is it not possible because it's a novel coronavirus, it would sort of preempt this idea that we did learn as we went along.

Dr. Fauci has always said if there is an evidence of community spread, it's going to change the game. It's going to change how we approach things. So that's still true even in July.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and the facts don't change on this. And I'm glad you played the whole comment there because, as you noted, Dr. Fauci deliberately described how nimble you have to be and how the reaction might have changed. If the data changed, of course, the data did change.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always good to have you on. Thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's not just Dr. Fauci. The president is also attacking the CDC in a re-tweet by a former game show host suggesting that the agency whose director, by the way,

the president appointed is lying about the coronavirus. It's not true. We'll discuss.

HARLOW: Also, teams are still battling fire onboard a Navy battleship and maybe doing so for days. We'll have a live update.

And as the debate escalates over whether to open schools physically or not, CNN hears from parents about how on earth they are juggling it all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you holding up, and how sustainable is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the thing. It's not sustainable.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Well, the president is clearly turning against members of his own team when it comes to fighting coronavirus nationwide. This morning, the president re-tweeted a completely unfounded pretty bizarre claim from former game show host Chuck Woolery. Among the many things that it claims, it also said the CDC and most doctors have been lying about COVID. That's not true.

This just hours after the White House set its sights on nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Why? That's a big question. The administration releasing misleading bullet points, including some comments by Dr. Fauci over the months about COVID-19 that have just been taken out of context.

Let's bring in our John Harwood and our Abby Philip for more.

Abby, let me just begin with you and get to the central question, which is why and to what end? Why undermine Dr. Fauci in this way? Why take comments out of context? Why cut comments and cut important context out of the end them? To what end?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jim and Poppy. Well, you know, I think that we have to take all of what we've learned over the weekend, what CNN is reporting, what The Washington Post and other outlets are reporting, and it's very clear from administration officials that they believe that Dr. Fauci is undermining the administration's narrative about how this is all going.

Dr. Fauci, over the last week and a half, has been very forthright about the fact that he believes we are on a bad path, that the country is facing really a crisis level situation. And that directly contradicts the narrative that the administration, and that the president wants to put out there, which is that everything is going fine, these are just little flare-ups, little fires, as the president called them, that we need to put out.

So, you know, the administration wants to be able to speak with one voice on narrative, but that is in direct contradiction to the facts and to the science. And so to see this kind of coordinated effort, really an oppo dump of sorts on Dr. Fauci just highlights that these officials are carrying out what the president wants, which is to silence Dr. Fauci on these issues and get him to be a team player of sorts except that that would require that he contradict everything that people are seeing and hearing and experiencing on the ground all across the country.

SCIUTTO: Well, he knows what he's talking about and the facts back him up.

John Harwood, we've seen this before with any members of this administration who contradict the president, don't please him or even overshadow him. You can look at the Mattises, the Kellys, the Yovanovitches of the administration.

I want to show a recent New York Times/Siena poll, because this number is something that I wonder if it's factoring into the decision. This is the number of people who trust Dr. Fauci for information about the coronavirus versus the president, almost 3-1 there. The president is notoriously thin-skinned when others take the spotlight from him. Is this part of the reason he and his advisers are now going after Dr. Fauci? JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure it is. And, you know, it's not a coincidence that the people that the president has gone after over time who either worked for him now or have worked for him are the most competent members of the administration.

And Abby is right, Dr. Fauci challenges the narrative that the administration is putting forward, but Dr. Fauci is not offering a narrative. He's describing the facts. The facts are what has taken to the situation we're in right now where not only do we have a five- alarm fire in terms of the spread of the coronavirus that's a public health crisis, but it's also slowing down the economic recovery that the president was trying to foster in the first place by first denying the pandemic. And, secondly, accelerating prematurely the reopening of the country.


The president has simply decided to go to war on the facts because everyone can see what's going on. He's trying to deflect blame saying, well, this or that expert has given conflicting advice so you can't trust anybody. Let's just plow ahead. It's plainly not working, and it's not working from any standpoint, health, economics or politics for the president.

HARLOW: It's a really important point, Abby, that John makes. And the way that the poll numbers have fallen is not just that poll, the ABC/IPSOS poll, a lot of polling, the president's approval on the handling of COVID has fallen 20 points in a matter of month or so.

Can you talk a bit about Republicans and the reaction we've seen, you know, what Republican governors have had to say and the reverse course they've had to make in a number of states, but also just Republicans in Congress in response to this?

PHILLIP: Well, all you have to do is take a look at what they did on the issue of masks. They completely flipped on President Trump, contradicting his narrative in the most plain way that they possibly could, saying, to Americans you should be wearing a mask, wear a mask, demonstrating it.You saw Mitch McConnell doing it. You saw republicans up and down the ticket. And then you saw at the state level.

Some of these governors who, with the support of the White House, pushed forward with reopening in Texas, Governor Abbott. In Florida, they are now being forced to pull back. They have to go back to square one on some of these plans to get this virus under control.

So the president is, in fact, alone. It really doesn't matter what Republicans say about whether or not they believe they are contradicting the president. Just look at their actions. The president is alone on this island and believing that everything is normal.

Every Republican and Democratic official in this country is forced to deal with the reality. This virus is out of control. They are rolling back in these red states because they have no choice but to contain this virus. That is really not even anywhere close to where we need to be. SCIUTTO: John Harwood, just very quickly. This is a typical pattern here, the whisperers, the undermining, et cetera, does this presage Fauci being fired or forced out?

HARWOOD: I kind of doubt it. There would be a high cost to the president to get rid of Fauci, who is so universally respected within the profession.

But I've got to say, Abby is right, the president is alone in certain respects. But the Trump administration is an 18-wheeler that's going down the side of the mountain and there's no brakes anymore. The Republicans are carping from the sidelines. They are not doing anything to stop him. What they are desperately hoping for is that the vaccine gives them one of those off ramps that allow the truck that doesn't have any brakes to stop.

But at the moment, it looks like the ending is going to be pretty ugly for the Republican Party and for the president.

HARLOW: John Harwood and Abby Philip, thank you both. It's a sad day that politics has become so intertwined. It should just be about science and saving Americans. Thanks to you both.

SCIUTTO: No question.

Now to California. Cases going up there, of course, the state that had responded very aggressively early on. This as officials say hospitalizations in Los Angeles are now substantially higher than they were several weeks ago. We're going to take you there live.



SCIUTTO: To Arizona now where several mayors are urging the governor to expand statewide restrictions as coronavirus cases soar in that state.

HARLOW: Our Evan Mcmorris-Santoro is live for us in Phoenix.

This morning, the mayor of the city has been talking about this. She was on our program last week talking about being plagued by what has happened, and now they are seeing record-setting ventilator use. Is that right? They don't have enough there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, good morning, Jim and Poppy. I'm a at the Valleywise Medical Center in Phoenix, which really is the place to be to tell the story of this pandemic. As you mentioned, the mayor of Phoenix is now talking about the declining capacity of ventilators, something that we're seeing in the charts here. Other numbers that are important for people who are thinking about the story in Arizona, 89 percent of ICU beds currently in use. 86 percent of all hospital beds are currently in use.

This is one of those moments where it feels like deja vu for someone like me who lives in New York and has gone through this once before, because what's happening here in Arizona is the medical people are talking about stress and pressure on the system.

This morning, I interviewed the president of the Arizona Medical Association, Dr. Ross Goldberg, and asked him about the situation here.


DR. ROSS GOLDBERG, PRESIDENT, ARIZONA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Everything and anything that 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.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Sometimes the numbers in Arizona don't look as big as other places because this state is smaller, but the system here is just as stressed as anywhere else.


This is an epicenter of this pandemic and the people who are trying to push back on it are having the same problems that they've had all over the country as we've tried to get this virus under control.