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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Exceeds 135,000; President Trump And Education Secretary Pushing For School Reopening; Florida Governor Holds News Conference After State Shatters U.S. Record For New Infections In A Day; CA Governor Orders Sweeping Rollback Of State's Reopening; Global Coronavirus Cases Surpass 13 Million; Washington, D.C. Sees Four Consecutive Days With No COVID Deaths. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And his family said he had no known pre- existing health conditions. May his memory be a blessing? Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. we're following breaking news.

The U.S. Coronavirus death toll now topping 135,000, as nearly one in every 100 Americans has now been infected. Right now, 35 states are heading in the wrong direction, including California where the governor has just announced a sweeping rollback of the state's re- opening.

And the state's two largest school districts Los Angeles and San Diego, nearly a million students, they've announced that the students will not be returning to their campuses when classes resume next month.

And Florida's governor will be speaking very soon one day after a state set the nation's record for the most new cases in a single day. Amid all of this, the White House is stepping up efforts to discredit the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, even as President Trump claims he gets along well with him.

Let's get some more on the breaking pandemic news. First CNN's Erica Hill is joining us from New York. Erica, California's governor is now sharply rolling back the state's re-opening.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That he is. And you remember, California was the first state to shut down. And so, Governor Newsom had been monitoring things county by county. But he said today, Wolf, as you said at the top of the hour that effective immediately this order is for the entire state of California.

And this shuts down indoor operations at activities at restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, every single county in California which has a number of people looking at this state and wondering what it could mean for the 49 others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (voice-over): California shutting down again as cases skyrocket.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We are now effectively -- rather, effective today, requiring all counties to close their indoor activities, their indoor operations in the following sectors, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, and the shuttering of all bars. This is in every county in the state of California.

HILL (voice-over): Miami's mayor warning his city could be next. Florida reporting more than 15,000 new cases on Sunday. More than any state in a single day since the pandemic began.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: We have to get control of these numbers. These numbers are out of control.

HILL (voice-over): It's not just Florida and California, the majority of the country moving in the wrong direction.

MAYOR STEVEN ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: I think the lesson to be learned in Texas is you cannot open up the economy in ways that looked like the economy was open before.

HILL (voice-over): Nineteen states posting their highest seven-day average for new cases on Sunday. Hospitalizations are up. ICU beds a growing concern.

LEAH CARPENTER, MEMORIAL HOSPITAL WEST, PEMBROKE PINES, FLORIDA: We're at a ICU capacity of 103 percent. And then if you just carve out the COVID ICU, it's at 180 percent. That's a 26 percent increase from last Monday.

HILL (voice-over): Atlanta now moving back to phase one, which includes a stay-at-home order. The mayor joining New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: You told us very clearly that if we didn't do things differently in our cities and states, we would find ourselves in the same situation that New York was facing. And, unfortunately, you were correct.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There are things you can do now, physical distance, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, washing hands. Those things as simple as they are can turn it around.

HILL (voice-over): The administration continues to push for schools to reopen, while refusing to offer a plan or endorse CDC guidance.

JON LADNER, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, DENTON, TEXAS: Right now teachers are scared. Teachers are going out there writing their wills. One in five teachers in Texas right now is considering leaving the profession.

HILL (voice-over): Los Angeles and San Diego announcing on Monday they will not hold in-person classes this fall.

MICHAEL BRYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We can't turn schools into yet another political football in this game. It's not fair to our children.

HILL (voice-over): Well, then the nation's former epicenter, there is one bright spot. For the first time in months New York City did not have a single COVID-19 related death.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: It's something that should make us hopeful, but it's very hard to take a victory lap because we know we have so much more ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL (on camera): And in terms of what's ahead, Mayor Bill de Blasio specifically singled out young people, especially 20-year-olds, 20 to 29-year-olds saying he's really concerned about young people, that the city is going to be mounting more public information campaigns.

[17:05:00]

Working through social media to get the message out that the virus is still here, it is spreading and it is incumbent upon everyone to do their part to stop that spread, Wolf.

BLITZER: And globally, Erica, I see now that the world has just crossed 13 million -- 13 million confirmed cases globally. That's a huge, huge number. And who knows how many more are not officially confirmed. Erica Hill reporting from New York. Thanks very much.

Let's go to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, the White House clearly doesn't like the science and the facts that Dr. Fauci is trying to get out to the American public amid this horrific pandemic.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. White House officials appear to be backing off after taking some jabs at Dr. Anthony Fauci over his comments regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and other officials are now saying on the record that Mr. Trump and Dr. Fauci have a good working relationship. That is notable given the fact that some aides to the president have been spending the last couple of days trashing Fauci anonymously to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): After spending days railing against Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Trump and his top aides seem to be pulling back from what appear to be a campaign to undermine one of the nation's most trusted health experts.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I've had for a long time right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him. I get along with him very well. I like him.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even though his access to the president is all but cut off and his T.V. appearances have been blocked by White House officials, it's Fauci who is still offering Americans a dose of reality, warning the coronavirus pandemic remains a danger to the public.

FAUCI: We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet. But until you get it completely under control, it's still going to be a threat.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Even as coronavirus cases reach record numbers in multiple states over the last few days White House aides have blasted Fauci anonymously, telling reporters several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.

Why not have the guts to trash Dr. Fauci with your own names?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, President Trump -- I'll refer you back, there is no opposition research being dumped to reporters. The notion that there's opposition research and that there's Fauci versus the president couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a good working relationship.

ACOSTA (voice-over): While sometimes questioning the expertise of Fauci who was once awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Mr. Trump appears to be putting his faith in people who aren't scientists, re-tweeting this tweet from former game show host Chuck Woolery who claims, "The most outrageous lies are the ones about COVID-19. Everyone is lying, the CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust."

Even though he's just recently embraced wearing a mask and is still downplaying the threat posed by the virus.

TRUMP: We're at about 135,000 and we'll be at somewhat higher than that by the time it ends.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump is offering up a new conspiracy that unnamed forces are working in cahoots to keep schools closed to damage his re-election chances.

TRUMP: We have to open the schools. We have to get them open and I think there's a lot of politics going along. I think they think they'll do better if they can keep the schools closed in the election. I don't think it's going to help them, frankly. But I think they feel that by keeping schools closed, that's a bad thing for the country and therefore that's a good thing for them.

ACOSTA (voice-over): That came a day after Education Secretary Betsy Devos falsely claimed there is no health risk in sending children back to school. When it's likely some students will pass the virus on to teachers.

BETSY DEVOS, U.S. 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.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is acknowledging there have been problems with the administration's response, writing in an op-ed on CNBC's website, "I know it isn't popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country."

As for his decision to commute the sentence of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, the president is standing by the controversial move that was opposed by some top officials in his own administration.

TRUMP: I'm getting rave reviews for what I did for Roger Stone.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Attorney General William Barr who said he approved of the Stone prosecution is now praising the president.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: First, let me say what an honor it is for me to serve under a president who is such a strong supporter of law enforcement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (on camera): Now, as for Fauci, the last time he spoke with the president was on June 2nd, more than a month ago. White House officials concede it would be difficult to fire Fauci.

And I'm told Fauci believes the best thing he can do at this point is to continue to tell the truth about the virus to the American people and that he has accepted the fact that he cannot do much to stem this criticism coming from the White House.

Fauci has served presidents from both parties over the years. Besides his experience in infectious diseases, he also appears to understand how to survive in Washington, Wolf.

[17:09:58]

BLITZER: He served six American presidents, as you point out, Democrats and Republicans. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you very much. Let's get some more on all of this.

Dr. Boris Lushniak is joining us. He's the former acting surgeon general of the United States. He's the dean of the University Of Maryland School Of Public Health. Thanks so much Dr. Lushniak for joining us.

The California governor, you just heard, Gavin Newsom, he just shut down all indoor activities throughout the entire state. Do you think that was a necessary step to contain this outbreak?

BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER ACTING SURGEON GENERAL: Without a doubt it was necessary, Wolf. You know, we have to really realize that we have to react to what the information is telling us. And actually I'm going to tell you that this is actually on the White

House.gov site under opening up America again where it talks about the plans and talks about, and I'll quote here directly.

"Monitor conditions and immediately take steps to limit and mitigate any rebounds or outbreaks by restarting a phase or returning to an earlier phase, depending on the severity."

And Governor Newsom is taking the right step, which is there is a problem in California right now, so let's back off a little bit. Unpopular, but critical for the public's health.

BLITZER: Is it something you think that other governors in various hot spots and there are plenty of them around the country, need to consider at this point?

LUSHNIAK: Yes. I mean, they have to react to the reality of the situation in their own jurisdictions. And so when you talk about the number of states right now that are increasing in terms of number of cases and soon undoubtedly number of deaths, ICUs, hospitals being overrun with patients who have COVID-19, that proves that the disease is rampant in the community.

The only way you can stop this is by backing off and making sure that community takes care of itself.

BLITZER: As you know, Florida just set the highest single-day case count for any state since the beginning of the pandemic back in January and February. Would a similar order in Florida even be enough to contain the surge in that state right now?

LUSHNIAK: Well, it's going to be a combination of things. You know, you go back to the idea what Tony Fauci had said earlier on this broadcast. And the idea is we go back to the basics, right. And we've been talking about this since day one with modifications as we learn more about this.

But the whole idea is put on the masks, wash your hands, stay away from others, and ultimately the large group gatherings is really what's causing a major problem. So Florida, it would be important for Florida to look at the information that's coming in and to back off.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci says we don't necessarily need to shut down entirely the entire country. Just pull back a bit he says. Do you think pulling back a bit is going to be enough to contain the current surge?

LUSHNIAK: I think there are several things. Yes, pulling it back a bit in the hot areas are going to be very important for us to achieve our goals. Overall though as a nation we have to look at the idea that it's in our communities. If it's in our communities, our obligation as people are to protect others from ourselves.

So the whole idea of wearing the mask is still going to be critical. And the whole idea of being wise with large group gatherings. I think this is part of a formula, right. I'm an optimist in all this. Part of a formula that we are going to be successful at, but getting there is much too painful right now. We could have done this months ago.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to the effort inside the White House right now to discredit Dr. Fauci. And you know him. I'm sure you worked with him when you were the acting surgeon general of the United States under President Obama.

Would you ever have imagined the administration launching a campaign to try to undermine their own top infectious disease expert right in the middle of a pandemic?

LUSHNIAK: You know, I use the terms last week on another thing that came from the White House. I'm going to use two terms here, ridiculous and dangerous. This is absolutely horrendous that this is going on at this critical point of a pandemic.

What we have to do is speak with one voice, telling people this is real and telling them how we can prevent the spread of this further in our society. And to spend all this effort of finger-pointing, to spend all this effort of undermining someone with the reputation of Dr. Fauci is absolutely ridiculous and dangerous.

BLITZER: Dr. Lushniak, thanks so much for joining us.

LUSHNIAK: Thank you so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, we'll have more on the worsening coronavirus crisis out in California and in Florida. I'll speak to the mayor of Miami Beach who says hospitals in that area are reaching capacity right now.

Plus, White House efforts to discredit Dr. Fauci. How dangerous are those efforts to public health? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

BLITZER: Today, President Trump re-tweeted a baseless claim by a game show TV host Chuck Woolery that everyone is lying about the coronavirus including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Let's discuss the medical and the political consequences. Joining us our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Gloria, over the past 72 hours, the president has commuted the sentence of his longtime friend, convicted felon Roger Stone, his White House has tried to discredit Dr. Fauci, and he's re-tweeted this claim by that 1980s game show host claiming the CDC is lying for political gain to help the Democrats win the election. So what does that tell you about where his priorities, the president's priorities, are right now?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, this president sees everything through a political lens. And as far as he's concerned, the pandemic should be seen that way as well. [17:20:00]

And the Trump world view is binary, which is there are the loyalists and there is everyone else who would be his enemies. Roger Stone has been a loyalist and so he was rewarded with this commutation of his sentence.

And Dr. Fauci, who has spoken out truthfully about the extent of the pandemic, is now considered on the enemies list, although of course Kayleigh McEnany said today, you know, the president and Dr. Fauci get along just fine, even though they were giving reporters instances of where Dr. Fauci was wrong over the last couple of weeks.

One thing I would say about Dr. Fauci and the president of the United States, if you look at recent polling, Wolf, two-thirds of Americans trust Dr. Fauci to give them the correct information on the pandemic and only one-quarter, 25 percent, say the president would.

BLITZER: Yes, those are big numbers indeed. You know, Sanjay, working to discredit the nation's top infectious disease expert and for that matter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, how dangerous is that from a public health perspective?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think there's a lot of whiplash in the country already, Wolf, right. I mean, there's this back and forth about basic public health measures and people still believing this whole thing isn't even real, despite seeing the numbers there on the right side of the screen.

So, I think it makes it really challenging, and the irony, if you will, of the whole thing is that some of these basic public health measures are not that hard to implement and have been shown now with real-time evidence around the world and within the United States to be effective.

So, I think it's very frustrating and I've talked to a lot of my sources that are close to the task force, that are on the task force. I think that's probably the biggest thing. It's frustrating. It's dispiriting.

Because, you know, you have an idea of what needs to be done. And then you keep getting -- you keep having to stutter start, because as soon as you get going, something like this happens and it makes it harder to gain some momentum in the right direction.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Gloria, the former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who once called the virus, by the way, a hoax, wrote an op-ed for CNBC that appeared this morning which he says among other things, "I know it isn't popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country.

My son was tested recently. We had to wait five to seven days for results. My daughter wanted to get tested before visiting her grandparents, but was told she didn't qualify. That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic." Give us your analysis of this, Gloria.

BORGER: You know, just months ago, Mick Mulvaney was, as you pointed out, calling this a hoax, making excuses for the president on the handling of the pandemic, blamed it all on the Democrats. Then you fast forward to now where his own family has had problems getting tests. And suddenly he's calling testing inexcusable?

You know, the president of the United States today and Kayleigh McEnany, his press secretary, said, you know, we do more testing, we have the best testing ever in the world. And now his former acting chief of staff is saying the testing process is inexcusable. So, Wolf, now that he's out of the White House, suddenly he's able to speak truth. I find that interesting.

BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. Sanjay, the White House also is making a major push to return children to the classroom this fall, all of us want the kids to be in the classroom, but there are problems. But listen to the Education Secretary Betsy Devos brushing off concerns over re-opening schools during an interview she had with Dana Bash. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEVOS: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Let me get your reaction to that. Shouldn't the person, parents and teachers are looking to for guides, namely, the secretary of education, have a better answer than that?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it really did not have any definition. I mean, everybody wants their kids back in school. I certainly do. I've got a 10th, 8th, and 6th grader that should be starting in the fall. But there is a couple of issues. It is true that kids are less likely to get ill from this.

That data seems to have held up in the early data we first saw coming out of Wuhan, you know, several months ago. So that is true. What we are still sort of figuring out is that kids can be transmitters of this virus and they may have many more contacts when they're in a school environment.

They will come in contact with teachers, obviously, some of whom may be in the vulnerable population or have preexisting conditions. So, it is that issue as well. I think the biggest thing is this, Wolf.

[17:24:56]

If you start to look at all the various components of what's going to help curb this pandemic, shutting down bars, stadium events, schools, things like that, some studies would suggest that schools maybe, you know, make up 4 percent of the impact on actually slowing down this pandemic. Well, if you're at a very low number of cases, them 4 percent, you

think, well that's worth it, you know. I'm willing to get kids back in school because 4 percent of a small number won't be that big a number. The problem is, like where I live here in Georgia, the numbers continue to go up.

In many states they continue to go up. So, all of a sudden you're doing everything you can to curb this pandemic. Over the weekend, Wolf, I talked to sources close to the Coronavirus Task Force and I said put some more definition on this for me. What would you actually advise school districts and can show you basically what they said was that there's no hard and fast rules, every community is going to have to look at this a little bit differently.

But basically if you start to see a five-day sustained increase in community spread, that's an indicator that you're definitely going in the wrong direction, you're probably going to have to phase back in terms of the overall plans and either slow down school re-opening or not reopen for the time being.

So, at least you have some clarity. We know six feet apart, we know masks, we know hand hygiene, we know all those things are going to be important. We also know they're difficult to enforce in many school districts. But look at what's happening in your community overall to get a better sense of, you know, what should happen.

BLITZER: That's an important point. Gloria, thank you. Sanjay, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, we'll focus in on Florida which shattered the nation's record for new coronavirus cases. I'll speak with the mayor of Miami Beach who said his hospitals there are now reaching full capacity.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:33]

BLITZER: Breaking news, the day after the state shattered the U.S. record for new coronavirus infections in a state in a single day, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis now holding a news conference. And just moments ago, the Governor who has pushed aggressively to reopen Florida businesses, he was heckled by someone in the crowd. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: So I think the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are an embarrassment. We are getting record- breaking cases every day and you are doing nothing.

DESANTIS: So I think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are falsifying information and you are misleading the public. Over 4,000 people have died and you are blaming the protesters. You guys have no plan and you are doing nothing. Shame on you.

DESANTIS: So at that time when we had the --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's get the latest from CNN's Randi Kaye, she's down in Florida for us. So Randi, what else are you hearing? What are you seeing?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's -- a lot of people here echoing what that protester said. They want to know what the plan is to try and keep people here in Florida safe, Wolf, but you heard the Governor during that press conference saying that the percentage of people who come in and test positive has stabilized, he said. He said the fatality rate is now about 1.5 percent here in the state of Florida, which he says is much lower than other states. He also says he's sending nurses and beds to Miami-Dade which is the hardest hit and he said that we're going to get through this OK.

But let me share some of the hospitalization numbers with you because we are finally getting those from the state after pressing them for weeks. Hardest hit Miami-Dade 1,800 hospitalized, here in Palm Beach County 622 and in Orange County where Orlando is and where Disney World just opened up over the weekend, they have about 560.

The Miami Mayor, Wolf, saying that they are at 91 percent to 92 percent capacity in the city of Miami in the hospitals. He's hoping to increase that up to about 50 percent.

In the next couple of weeks, he said the biggest issue is not beds, it's actually staff. And the Miami Mayor saying that he hasn't taken a new stay-at-home order off the table just yet.

Also, Wolf, just quickly, the statewide positivity rate is now 18.6 percent. That's well above the 10 percent that they would like to see still hitting young people mostly 25 to 34, 20 percent of the cases. And Wolf, I will just leave you with one stunning fact. Florida, the state of Florida now reporting more new cases than the entire European Union combined.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an awful, awful statistic indeed. All right, Randi, thank you very, very much.

Joining us now, the Mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber. Mayor Gelber, thanks so much for joining us. Earlier today we heard the mayor of Atlanta issuing a stay-at-home order, and now the mayor of Houston just said his city needs a two-week shutdown to get the virus under control, they obviously hope. Is that something you think Miami Beach needs to do as well?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, I consider my city's efforts and my commission does along with the county as a whole. And today on a call with a couple dozen mayors, including the county mayor, nobody was saying, let's rush into that because they're trying to do everything we can until we get to that point. So we have a 10:00 p.m. curfew, we've closed into our restaurants, if we need an earlier curfew. We've stopped liquor sales after a certain time we will.

But if we don't get a handle on this, then I think we all agree that that's where this is going to end up. And right now we're in a pretty serious territory of seemingly unconstrained spikes up where did all the bad metrics.

BLITZER: Yes, the numbers are terrible. The California Governor Gavin Newsom just ordered the closure of all indoor activity throughout the entire state that affects 40 million people in California. Should Florida Governor Ron DeSantis do the same thing right now?

[17:35:07]

GELBER: He hasn't even said you have to wear a mask, which is doesn't even impact the economy. I mean, you know, one of the problems we're having is just sort of the leadership and telling people what they have to do. Because I think right now, you heard the heckler a moment ago, yelling at the Governor, this has become a political thing. And that's sort of crazy that it's become a political thing.

There's nothing political about this. It's a health care issue like any other natural challenge, not -- this is not manmade, it's a natural challenge. So we got to deal with it as that. And I don't know why he hasn't just said to the entire state, everybody has to wear a mask, because that's how we're going to keep our economy a little bit open and that's how we're going to get out of this.

BLITZER: Earlier today, an infectious disease experts from the Jackson Health System down in Miami said that what Miami is seeing now is, quote, and I'm quoting this expert, what we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago. That's an astounding statement. Do you agree with that assessment?

GELBER: Well, I think from the -- clearly from the metrics, I mean, we have over 400 people in intensive care, 215 residents on ventilators, our census of COVID patients is now near 1,200. Those are way higher than anything previously. And the problem is they keep going up larger and larger numbers. And of course, we're getting the positives now. We haven't even felt yet the true impact on an intensive care and ventilators and deaths because that's usually two to three weeks later.

So I think it's not an unfair comparison. But frankly, at least now we have better therapies so that we can deal with some of the folks in the hospital better, we have a much better mortality rate on ventilators, but that provides very little solace. Because all of these things are terrible in the community and we've got to stop it sooner than later.

BLITZER: We've spoken several times and you've complained, Mayor, about the lack of contact tracing in Florida right now, Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach. Obviously, Miami-Dade County just received an additional 250 contact tracers. Do you think that's enough? Will that help?

GELBER: Well, it's going to help if we get the numbers down. The problem is now we have 3,000 positives today, 3,000 in just our county. So contact tracing that, obviously, we're not going to get even -- we're not even going to be able to call those people.

So we need a lot more. We need them to be doing their job well, and we need to get some transparency as to what they're doing because we really have no idea whether what's going on is working, which the CDC says it's supposed to do, which is by controlling the disease.

I don't know whether they're being called, whether they're being isolated, but there's -- like in New York, they're being brought groceries, which is what they do in New York. I mean, we have to do a better job or we're going to just keep this constant cycle of disease down, disease up and our economy forever shot.

BLITZER: Yes, those numbers in Florida keep going up and up. So, Mayor, if the test results are taking, what, five, six, seven days, sometimes 10 days --

GELBER: Yes.

BLITZER: -- to come back, are more contact tracers going to do any good? Isn't it simply too late if it takes that long to get the result from a test?

GELBER: Well, we obviously have a huge testing problem. But we can't just walk away from the contact tracing as something that's going to help because we're not, you know, we're managing this crisis. So anything we can do to cabin the disease, to control it to limited spread, we should do.

We should avail ourselves of that remedy, because it's easy to really stop it by simply telling everybody to go home and not go out. But that has an incredible destructive impact on the economy.

So if we want to not do that, we've got to wear masks, we've got to have a good contact tracing, we've got to exercise social distancing. And we've got to stop politicizing this thing and make it as if it's about which party you belong to where who you support. It's about your health and the health of your loved ones.

BLITZER: Yes, certainly is. Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, thank you so much for joining us.

GELBER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, update on the situation overseas. Some schools in Asia already reopened and now they're once again closing because of new coronavirus outbreaks. Plus, a milestone in New York City, at last, a day goes by without any, any coronavirus deaths. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:44:01]

BLITZER: In global coronavirus headlines, the total number of cases just surpassed 13 million. And as of this weekend, just two countries, the United States and Brazil are accounting for half of all new daily cases worldwide. CNN's Bill Weir is in Brazil for us. Bill, tell us more.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in Brazil, that COVID curve continues to go in the wrong direction at a horrifying pace. They're expected to pass 2 million infections anytime now. And now there's a real tug of war between mayors and governors and the federal government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed this disease even now as he suffers from it.

Police in Rio de Janeiro writing tickets to people without masks. We're seeing almost universal mask wearing here in the geographic center of the country, and especially difficult challenges treating the thousands of indigenous Brazilians who are already compromised by a different immune system from the modern world. Diabetes pandemics and also their tight social circles, their traditions which make social distancing really difficult.

[17:45:08]

The mayor of this town is imploring the government to set up emergency field hospitals for the indigenous Brazilians. Truly some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

BLITZER: Bill Weir reporting for us. In Japan, meanwhile, there's a new lockdown affecting thousands of U.S. Marines and their families. CNN's Ivan Watson is monitoring the situation from Hong Kong. So what's the latest?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more than 35,000 U.S. Marines and their family members are currently on lockdown on a network of U.S. bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa. This after at least 94 U.S. personnel tested positive for coronavirus. And it came after Okinawa enjoyed more than two months without a single case of confirmed COVID-19.

And that's not prompted the governor of the Japanese island to say he's shocked and he's expressing doubt right now about the infection- protection methods that the U.S. is currently employing against the pandemic. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting, thank you.

As U.S. school districts are struggling with whether they're reopened in the fall, it's worth looking at the situation in Asia right now. Schools there, they reopened and some now are closing after an uptick in coronavirus cases. Let's go to CNN's Will Ripley. He's in Hong Kong for us. So Will, what are you seeing?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in Asia, we're getting a taste of just how difficult it is to keep students in the classroom. Even if you're in a community that thought it had COVID-19 contained. Here in Hong Kong, there's now what's considered a third wave of the virus, just dozens of cases being reported every day, but that's been enough to close schools for the rest of the year after they reopened more than a month ago.

In South Korea, schools, some are closed, some are open. Students are learning at home, students are going into the classroom when they can. It all depends on how many positive cases are being detected in the individual school district.

And while other countries like Thailand are opening up, they also know that they might have to close down again if there's a resurgence of the virus. Because the number one rule for communities bringing kids back is to make sure that the virus is contained. In the minute it's not, school is back out. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Will, thank you. Will Ripley reporting.

Coming up, Washington, D.C. reports a fourth straight day with no coronavirus deaths. But a very different story in California where the Governor has just announced a sweeping rollback of the state's reopen.

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[17:52:34]

BLITZER: As the coronavirus crisis worsens in large portions of the country, there is some encouraging news here in the nation's capital. Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, a positive trend here in Washington, D.C. at least right now.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, you know, we've been eager to report some positive trending in this pandemic today. We finally get a chance to do that. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announcing an important milestone just a short time ago today regarding cases and deaths in the city. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: That we have had four days where we report no loss of life related to COVID. You might remember that it was on March 20th, that we reported the first D.C. resident who lost life to the virus and this is the first time since then that we have gone for days with no lives lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And since March 20th, that date that Mayor Bowser mentioned, 528 people in the District of Columbia have died of COVID-19. D.C., of course, still not out of the woods yet today, they reported 59 new cases, but the trend is going downward.

Well, they have now had five straight days, consecutive days of decreased numbers of cases. They've got to get to 14 straight days of decreased cases in order to start phase 3 of D.C.'s plan reopening, Wolf, but these trends in D.C. now trending very positively.

BLITZER: And New York City also, Brian, reporting a milestone, right?

TODD: That's right, Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier today saying that for the first time in a month, they've had a 24-hour period where no one in New York City died of COVID-19. The quote from Mayor de Blasio is that is, quote, so striking and so moving.

He said this because of all the hard work of the first responders of the medical personnel in the city, but also, he says it's very positive that more people now in New York City are going back to work. He said more people are now using the subway and using it safely.

But again, New York, not out of the woods, either. The Mayor did say that one thing he's very concerned about, Wolf, is that the infection rates among young people ages 20 to 29, they have seen a slight rise in the infection rates of young people. So both D.C. and New York, certainly not out of the woods yet. But look, any positive news in this pandemics been hard to come by. We have that now for New York and Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: We'll take it where we can get it. All right, Brian --

TODD: Yes.

BLITZER: -- Todd reporting. Thank you.

There's breaking news coming up next here in "The Situation Room" as the U.S. coronavirus death toll now tops 135,000 people.

[17:55:06]

Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning and I'm quoting him now, we haven't even begun to see the end of the pendant.

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BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room". We're following breaking news on the sweeping rollback of California's reopening as the coronavirus surges in that state and across much of the country.

Governor Gavin Newsom is again shutting down indoor operations including restaurants and bars.