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Florida Shatters U.S. Record For Most New Cases In Single Day; White House Tries To Discredit Dr. Fauci As Pandemic Worsens. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To shut them again a few weeks later after health officials traced a few clusters of cases of coronavirus to people visiting bars.

[07:00:07]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: New Day continues right now.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And this morning, the situation is getting worse in 35 states. Florida just set the single-day record for new coronavirus cases. Florida had more than 15,000 new cases reported on Sunday. No state, not even New York at the height of its outbreak has approached that level. That one-day Florida number is higher than South Korea saw in six months.

As I said, 35 states are seeing increases in new cases. Many hospitals in Texas say they are nearing capacity. Some counties are asking for refrigeration trucks as morgues are reaching capacity.

And in Houston, local officials are urgently calling for a new lockdown. The governor is resisting that.

BERMAN: So what do you do when the death toll hits 135,000 and a state sets a new record for the number of cases? You attack scientists and go golfing. That's what the White House is doing, launching a coordinated, orchestrated attack on the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The White House and president are pointing out instances where Dr. Fauci has been wrong.

Now, this is not just the pot calling the kettle black. It's the whole pot factory, distributor and store, but also the kettle here helped battle AIDS, Ebola, and the flu and the pot suggested ingesting disinfectant. So that's the context here.

As for safely reopening schools, the president's education secretary cannot even answer a simple question about whether schools should follow the CDC's guidelines.

let's begin in Florida. CNN's Rosa Flores is there, the single highest case count that any state has seen in this entire pandemic, Rosa. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, John, just a month ago, you and I were reporting on this show that experts were concerned because Florida was reporting about 2,000 cases and here we are now, Florida shattering its daily record with more than 15,000 cases.

And if you look at the numbers, these cases account for about a quarter of all of the new cases in the United States on Sunday. Here where I am in Miami-Dade County, this is the epicenter of the crisis in Florida, accounting for 24 percent of the state's nearly 270,000 cases. And as the experts and leaders here continue to look at those numbers surging, they warned that hospitals are hitting capacity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: Florida coronavirus cases surging, more than 15,000 cases announced on Sunday alone, marking the highest daily number of confirmed cases in the state ever. The test positivity rate in Florida has not dipped below 15 percent since June 25th.

Governor Ron DeSantis suggested over the weekend that Florida will not proceed to the next phase of reopening.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So right now, we're not making any changes, status quo. We want to get this positivity rate down. And as we get in a more stable situation, you know, then we'll take a look at it.

FLORES: Hospitals in Miami Beach are nearing full capacity.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-MIAMI BEACH, FL): We're going to have to start moving regular beds into ICU beds. So we're clearly being strained at this point. And there's obviously an impact on non-COVID cases, which also need to be taken care of. So this is really straining our healthcare system dramatically.

FLORES: Walt Disney World reopening some parks, despite the surge, making masks mandatory and barring anyone displaying COVID symptoms.

Georgia seeing an increase in new cases over the past two weeks after being one of the first states to start reopening. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was moving the city's reopening back to phase one, telling residents to stay home, except for essential needs. Governor Brian Kemp calling this merely guidelines and says the mayor cannot issue her own restrictions.

And in Northwest Michigan, this 4th of July event with hundreds packing the beach causing the health department to issue a possible public exposure advisory, after some partygoers tested positive.

[07:05:05]

And in Texas, many hospitals are nearing capacity and Governor Greg Abbott warns that things will get worse in the coming week.

35 states across the country are experiencing an increase in weekly coronavirus cases, but administration officials continue to downplay the surge. ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: We are all very concerned about the rise in cases. No doubt about that. And that's why we're meeting regularly, we're surging in assistance, but we are in a much better place. This is not out of control.

FLORES: And despite warnings from health experts and school officials, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos brushing off the risks of reopening schools.

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them. And, in fact, it's more a matter of their health and well-being that they be back in school.

FLORES: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi firing back, saying DeVos is putting children and teachers at risk and ignoring the science.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think what we heard from the secretary was malfeasance and dereliction of duty. We all want our children to go back to school. Teachers do parents do, and children do. But they must go back safely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: Bow, here is the reality, on the ground in Miami-Dade County. The 14-day average positivity rate is at 26 percent. The goal for the county is not to exceed 10 percent. Well, they've exceeded 22 percent for the past 14 days.

As for hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, those have gone up during that same time period by 65 percent. ICUs, 67 percent, and ventilators, 129 percent.

And, Alisyn, when it comes to ICU hospitals across the state, 35 are at capacity this morning and seven of them are right near Miami-Dade County.

CAMEROTA: And that's the really troubling part. I mean, that's what I remember when I was in New York, that's the thing that got everybody's attention, the hospital capacity. Rosa, thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and we'll get to that in a moment, Sanjay.

But, first, I just want to ask you about this tension or whatever is happening with Dr. Fauci, the preeminent expert in our country in infectious diseases, like this, and President Trump. You know, the reporting is that Dr. Fauci hasn't been able to brief President Trump in more than a month. President Trump has stopped going to the coronavirus task force meetings.

And now -- and I know that you spoke to Dr. fauci this weekend, and I'm just wondering, was he aware that the White House is releasing this list of basically opposition research about him, his so-called mistakes that the Trump administration wants reporters to be aware of? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's very aware of it, Alisyn. I talk to Dr. fauci regularly. And I will say even though we don't see him on television, he does remain accessible to me, to a few other folks as well.

So he's still very interested in getting this information out there. But you're absolutely right. I mean, there's sort of been this crescendo. At first, it was, you know, the task force meetings, the task force briefings sort of going away, and then it was a -- best described as an out of sight, out of mind. No one is necessarily mad at Dr. Fauci but we'd rather not see him because he reminds us of something we don't want to think about. And now it's gone into this sort of much more attack sort of mode.

Let's go back and look at the things that Dr. Fauci has said and let's point out all the places that he's wrong. Let me show you one quick example, because this is an example that the White House is using to say, hey, look, Dr. fauci, he's a nice guy, but he's not always right. I want you to hear the beginning of this interview and also the back part of it, as well. Just listen really quick here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we be changing our habits? And if so, how?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Now, that was February 29th, okay? That's what the White House says, hey, look, he got it wrong, right, no need to change anything on a day-by-day basis. The problem is, and we see this over and over again, they eliminated the rest of what Dr. Fauci said. So listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: Right now, the risk is still low, but this could change. I've said that many times, even on this program. You've got to watch out, because although the risk is low now, you don't need to change anything you're doing. When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So there you go, right? Therein lies the context. Did everybody know everything at the very beginning of this pandemic? No. That's why in part this is a novel coronavirus, a new coronavirus, and so everyone was figure things out.

But the point is, is that even back then, February 29th, Dr. Fauci said, here is the trigger.

[07:10:01]

If we start to see community-to-community spread, that changes the game. So he wasn't wrong. It was just that that hadn't happen yet, and that's the point he was trying to make.

BERMAN: How does Dr. Fauci, Sanjay, feel about these attacks? I think we're getting reporting just in that he's going to be at the White House today for meetings, but does Dr. Fauci feel like he wants to stick around?

GUPTA: Yes, I think that's very much still the case. I think he wants to stick around. I mean, I think he is feeling a little beaten up by all of this, I think there's no question about it. But he is seeing a lot of support. The National Academy is coming to his defense, many of the large medical organizations coming to his defense.

And then people, you know, making sure to point out that, look, again, we are learning as we go along here. Nobody knew everything from the very start, including Dr. Fauci, but that's very different than saying, hey, the guy was intentionally wrong or somehow misleading in some way, which seems to be the suggestion.

But, yes, John, it's a good point. I don't think he wants to go anywhere at this point. He wants to stay on the job. And a big part of his job, still, is the other part of the vaccines and the therapeutics, right, helping oversee some of that. And that is an ongoing trajectory. Those are some brighter spots in what is otherwise a gloomy picture here in the United States. Nothing is said and done yet, but they are making some considerable progress in the vaccine and therapeutics areas.

CAMEROTA: Is Dr. Fauci, Sanjay, worried about losing his job?

GUPTA: I don't know. I asked him that. He -- I think, as you point out, he is going to the White House today, to have some of these meetings, but I don't think that he knows. It's really -- it's sort of been -- he's been a little bit in a black hole, I think, with regard to this. He is seeing some of these attacks come out at the same time that the rest of us see these attacks come out.

BERMAN: It's not so easy. He's a career civil servant here. So for the president to get rid of him won't be as simple as saying -- snapping his fingers and making him go, but I don't think the president wants that fight either.

I'm at a loss, Sanjay, for how this saves a single life. That's the part of it to me that is just really makes your head explode here. There are 135,000. It's right there on your screen, 135,000 dead Americans from this. Florida just had the single highest case count that any state has seen, which is more than South Korea has had the entire pandemic, and the president is attacking Dr. Fauci. I just don't see how that saves a single life.

GUPTA: Right. And through that, we still don't have a national testing program in this country, something we've been talking about since February. There's still no mask mandate. People keep saying, how are we going to turn this thing around? Well, there's plenty of real- time data in terms of how other places have turned this thing around, around the world. We can look at those things.

And some of it's not that complicated. The mask mandate, as we know, goes a long way. We didn't realize just how significant an impact the masks could have, I think, early on. But now it's become really clear as we look around the world and say, hey, they look really good in other countries. What did they do that we didn't do? Masks are a big part of it.

A national testing strategy, interviewed Dr. Robert Redfield this past Thursday, and that's one of the things he's said, July 9th, we need a national testing strategy in this country. It boggles the mind that on July 9th, they would now say, hey, this is something we should be doing. We should have been doing this back in January. So, national testing program, mask mandate.

And one other thing I want to say about schools in particular, because I think this is obviously coming up a lot as schools are starting to plan. What is the real trigger? We talk about guidance, six feet apart, making sure kids are wearing masks. That's obviously all important. But how are these school districts going to understand when to stay open, when to possibly shut down?

And some of the reporting I've found over the weekend, talking to people within the administration saying, hey, look, if you have a significant increase of five days in a row, if you have five days in a row of increasing numbers in your community, that is a signal that you then have to go dial back, shut down the schools, and then wait for the numbers to come down 14 days in a row.

Bottom line -- if that sounds familiar, that's because those are the same gating criteria that were released several months ago. They're saying, here they are, follow them, and you can start to get back to some sense of normalcy.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we really appreciate all of the information. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, Florida now has one out of every four new coronavirus cases in the United States. Do the officials there think it is time to shut down again? Miami's mayor joins us next.

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[07:15:00]

BERMAN: Developing this morning, Florida has shattered the U.S. record for the most new cases of coronavirus in a single day. More than 15,000 new cases reported Sunday. That's a record for any state during this entire pandemic.

In Miami-Dade County, hospitalizations are up 65 percent, the number of ICU patients up 67 percent and the number of patients on ventilators up 129 percent.

Joining me now is the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez. Mr. Mayor, we appreciate you being with us.

You are warning your constituents that deaths will increase. What are you seeing?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI, FL): Well, we're seeing that our ventilators are at an all-time high and there's a percentage of people, unfortunately, who are on ventilators, who do die. That percentage, thankfully, has gone down since the beginning of the pandemic as treatment has improved. But nevertheless, our all-time high back in March/April, was 196 ventilators. We just eclipsed the 200 mark. 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 things improve over the next couple of weeks, because we are reaching in critical levels.

BERMAN: Rosa Flores reported moments ago that in the State of Florida, 35 ICU units are at capacity, and Miami-Dade County, seven of your ICU hospital have reached capacity.

[07:20:00]

What concerns do you have there?

SUAREZ: Well, we have concerns that we have to be able to provide critical care for the people in our community. Obviously, we have the ability to be somewhat flexible and provide more ICU capacity. So I think we can grow capacity over the next couple of weeks.

But we have to get control of these numbers. These numbers are out of control in the State of Florida. You're talking about almost 15 times what it was at the high watermark in March/April. And in Dade County, you're talking about seven times the high watermark. And that has an effect all the way down -- it trickles all the way down to hospitalizations, as you said, ICUs and vents and ultimately will impact deaths in our community.

BERMAN: You say these numbers are out of control. Just to be clear, you're saying the pandemic right now in Miami is not in control?

SUAREZ: Well, I think the numbers are obviously record levels. They're 700 percent greater than they were when we shut down in March/April. So we have to flatten the curve. We've got to get people to wear masks in public. And we've got to get control of this.

BERMAN: The mayor of Houston, Texas as well as the county leader there have both called for new stay-at-home orders in that city. What are your considerations there?

SUAREZ: Well, it's something we're going to have to consider. I've never taken that off the table. I know the mayor of Atlanta also issued something similar. We're looking at it every single day. We understand there may not be federal help this time, which is something that's a concern.

And we want to make sure that whatever we do, we do it consistently because we want to make sure that people abide by it. But we definitely saw a significant, you know, flattening of the curve when we implemented a stay-at-home order in March/April. And if we get to a point where we don't feel that we can care for the people that are getting sick, that's something that we're going to have to strongly look at.

BERMAN: Well, what gets you there? What does get you to the point where you will say, we need to institute this order?

SUAREZ: I think what gets us there is our hospital capacity. I think if our hospitals tell us, look, we just are getting to the point where we cannot, you know, risk anymore people getting sick, that's what's probably going to get us there and that's something that we're looking at on a day-to-day basis.

BERMAN: Any positive signs that you're seeing?

SUAREZ: Well, before Sunday, we were seeing some positive signs and some of the positive signs that we were seeing was after we implemented the masks in public rule, the growth rate before Sunday, I have to say, had diminished by about a factor of half. That's something that with Sunday's results, I'm not sure what happens to that number. We have the Department of Health call at 9:00 in the morning, when get the numbers sort of given to us in terms of what the actuals are for the day. So we'll know what has happened to that number.

But prior to that, to Sunday, we were seeing some gains. And, unfortunately, we saw what happened on Sunday. So we'll see how that impacts the numbers.

BERMAN: It's interesting because, you said, right here in this interview, that when you did do the stay-at-home orders, you did see things flattening. That is what flattened the curve back when you were doing it. What will flatten the curve short of that?

SUAREZ: You know, we're hoping that the fact that we implemented a mask in public rule, the fact that we have rolled back some openings, that all of those things together does start flattening the curve, that people just understand that they have to follow the rules. That if they don't follow the rules, things are going to continue in the way that they're going.

What we are seeing is a lot of people getting sick at home. So what happens if somebody comes home sick, it takes a while for them to get tested and get their results and they get everyone else in the household sick. So that's something that are we are seeing and we've got to message that better as well.

BERMAN: Talk about messaging, the president and the White House over the weekend attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci. How does that help you in Miami? SUAREZ: It doesn't. I don't think it does. I think what we have to do is we have to have a consistent message all the way down from the federal government to the state government, all the way down to the city of Miami.

We should have a national and probably a statewide mask in public rule, not just because, you know, the urban areas in Florida have already implemented it, but because there's a segment of our population that are not going to listen to anyone other than our federal and state officials.

And so, I think, in order for us to get a high level of compliance, we need everybody on the same page, providing a consistent message.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, the president, while we were speaking, re- tweeted a statement that said the CDC is lying about the coronavirus. The president putting out the message, the CDC is lying about coronavirus.

Again, I ask you, how does that help you in Miami?

SUAREZ: It doesn't. And, frankly, he controls the CDC. So I don't understand how it helps him. And I think we look to the CDC for guidance. We look to the Department of Health for guidance. Cities like Miami do not have a health department. So we don't have an epidemiologist.

[07:25:00]

We don't have, you know, experts. We have to cobble those people together from the university system to interpret the data, because a lot of the decisions that have been pushed down to local officials are that probably should be done at the federal and state level.

BERMAN: Mayor Frances Suarez, we appreciate your time this morning. And honestly, we wish you the best of luck going forward. Please keep us posted and let us know how we can help.

SUAREZ: Will do. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: John, we want to remember some of the more than 135,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

Lorenza Lori Guerrero was a proud employee at McAllen Medical Center in Texas for more than 49 years. She was a nurse treating victims of sexual assault. She's described as one who would always lend a helping hand, put her own needs last and never looked for recognition. She was 72 years old.

Billy Joe Driver had been mayor of Clanton, Alabama since 1984. He had plans to retire in January. Driver had a long tenure in public service. He served on the fire department before joining the Clanton City Council in 1972. His daughter, Kim, says he spent the best years of his life dedicated to the city that he loved. He was 84 years old. Kimberly Chavez Lopez Byrd was a schoolteacher in Arizona. She and two other teachers contracted the coronavirus after sharing a classroom. They thought they have taken all the proper safety precautions. Byrd worked at the Hayden-Winkelman School District for 38 years, so long that she started teaching the children of her former students. Byrd had previously retired, but she missed the classroom so much that she eventually returned to teach first grade. She was 61 years old.

We'll be right back.

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