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California Rolls Back Reopening Plans; Interview With Former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy; Texas Tops 264,000 Cases With More Than 3,200 Deaths; Urgent Calls For Trump Administration To Produce More Masks, Protective Equipment Amid Dire Shortages; Washington's NFL Team Dropping Redskins Name. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Governor Gavin Newsom is again shutting down indoor operations, including restaurants and bars, this as the state's two largest school districts, they have now announced they won't reopen next month.

There's growing pressure for action, as new cases are on the rise in 35 states right now. The U.S. coronavirus death toll now exceeds 135,000, and nearly one out of every 100 Americans has been infected.

But, tonight, the president is again fueling conspiracy theories and denying facts. The White House is defending his retweet of a game show host's totally baseless claim that the CDC is lying about the virus in order to help Democrats win in November.

And the administration is denying an attempt to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite a memo that clearly tried to do just that.

Let's go to California first.

CNN's Nick Watt is on the scene for us.

Nick, the state is taking a huge new step to try to get the virus under control.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A massive step, because the governor says this virus is still spreading. It was really interesting listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci today.

He said that, as a country, we never entirely shut down. That's why we plateaued at a low of above 20,000 new cases every day. Then we reopened. We're now up to about 60,000 cases. And now we are seeing spikes in places like Texas, Florida, and here in California.

You mentioned, Wolf, one in 100 Americans have now been infected. Here in Los Angeles, it's one in 75.


WATT (voice-over): California is closing down again. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Effective today, requiring all counties to

close their indoor activities, restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, card rooms, and the shuttering of all bars.

WATT: For counties like Los Angeles on the governor's watch list of the worst, there's even more shuttering.

NEWSOM: Fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services -- that includes hair salons, barbershops -- and indoor malls.

WATT: Meanwhile, Florida is smashing records, more than 15,000 new COVID cases Sunday, the most logged in any state, any day, ever.

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

WATT: Disney World just opened two parks, but if you don't wear a mask, you won't get the photo from your ride. Seriously, that's part of the enforcement.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: We can turn this thing around in two to three weeks if we can get a critical mass of people wearing face coverings.

WATT: But there's no federal mandate. Meanwhile, in Texas, the average daily death toll just doubled in a week. Harvard researchers say these eight states should also roll back reopening.

FAUCI: You don't necessarily need to shut down again, but pull back a bit.

WATT: Dr. Fauci says in large part because:

FAUCI: People in some states who went from shutdown to complete throwing caution to the wind.

WATT: Atlanta already rolled back to phase one, the mayor and her family recovering.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: We are a textbook example of how quickly this virus spreads. We had one child in the house who was asymptomatic. I was also asymptomatic, and my husband doesn't have any underlying health conditions, and this has hit him really hard.

WATT: Internal CDC documents uncovered by "The New York Times" suggest fully opening K-12 schools and colleges would be the highest-risk option, and that's what Trump administration wants.

MERCEDES SCHNEIDER, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: It is a political roll of the dice for us, and we are the dice, the teachers in the classrooms.

WATT: Los Angeles' second largest district in the nation just said school will start back in August, online only. There is a way out of all of this. New York City opened slowly,

mandated masks, and just reported no deaths from COVID-19 in a day, zero.


WATT: Now, worldwide, Wolf, we have just passed 30 million COVID-19 cases. Nearly a quarter of them are here in the United States, in this country, where we have the biggest economy on Earth, plenty of money, many great minds, but we are doing something or many things very, very wrong -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think it's fair to say there's been a major, major failure in all of this, given the numbers that we're seeing right now.

Nick Watt, thank you very much.

Let's go to the White House, where the administration has been taking direct aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, as the renowned infectious disease expert has been publicly disagreeing with President Trump.

Our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, we saw evidence of a campaign to try to discredit, to undermine Dr. Fauci. Now the president says there's nothing to see here.



White House officials appear to be backing off after taking some jabs at Dr. Anthony Fauci over his comments about 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's notable, given the fact that some aides to the president have been spending the last couple of days trashing Fauci, even sending out opposition research about the doctor anonymously to reporters.


ACOSTA (voice-over): After spending days railing against Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Trump and his top aides seem to be pulling back from what appeared 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 have had for a long time, right from the very beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him. No, I get along with him very well. I like him.

ACOSTA: Even though his access to the president is all but cut off and his TV appearance has been blocked by White House officials, it is 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: 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.'

(on camera): Why not have the guts to trash Dr. Fauci with your own names?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, President Trump -- I will refer you back. There's no opposition research being dumped to reporters. The notion that there's opposition research and that there's Fauci vs. the president couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very 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, retweeting 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 has 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 will be at somewhat higher than that by the time it ends.

ACOSTA: ... Mr. Trump is offering up a new conspiracy that unnamed forces are working in cahoots to keep schools closed to damage his reelection chances.

TRUMP: Yes. 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 will 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: 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 no -- 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: 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 Web site: "I know it isn't popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country."

MCENANY: My reaction is that we have tested -- we lead the world in testing.

ACOSTA: 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: Attorney General 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.


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

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 occasionally coming from the White House.

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

BLITZER: Yes, Dr. Fauci has served six presidents, Democrats and Republicans.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Now let's bring in two leading medical experts. Dr. Vivek Murthy is the former U.S. surgeon general. And Dr. Peter Hotez is a professor and dean at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Murthy, California now taking a very big step backwards, shutting down all activities statewide. You're in Florida right now. You're down in Miami, which just set the record for the highest number of new cases reported in a single day by any state so far over these past five months or so.


Do other hot spots, do you believe, Dr. Murthy, need to follow California's example right now?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, thank you, Wolf. It's good to be with you tonight.

The measures that California took to pull back on indoor gatherings and -- these are exactly the right measures that need to be taken in many places.

What we have seen and learned over the last several months with this pandemic is that half-measures do not work. And unless we do everything we can now, we are only going to prolong this pandemic and prolong the loss of lives and the suffering that we have already sustained.

What that means is that states that are experiencing major outbreaks, which include Florida and Texas and Arizona, parts of California and South Carolina, these states need to, one, require that masks be used in public, and, two, they need to pull back on allowing bars and restaurants and other indoor activity to take place, because this is what we know facilitates the spread of the virus.

The truth is, even if we did that, that would just buy us time. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, how do we use that time to prepare once we start to relax restrictions, once caseloads come down?

That means we have got to invest in expanding testing, in contact tracing capacity. This is the same playbook that we knew we had to execute in the earlier part of the year in March and April. But, as a country, we failed to do that.

And so we have another opportunity to do that, but it's going territory us getting the caseloads down. It's not going to be easy, but it's what we have to do at this moment.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Dr. Hotez.

Dr. Fauci says -- and I'm quoting him now -- "We don't necessarily need to shut down again." But he also says, 'We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet."

What's your perspective from Houston? That's another hot spot right now.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, if you look, Wolf, at the trend and the line going up, it's still accelerating rapidly. We were at 40,000 cases a couple of weeks ago, 50,000 new cases per day. Now we're at 60,000 cases.

That number is still climbing. So there is no end in sight. This doesn't go away by itself, Wolf. This requires intervention. And it's going to require a federal plan. These are -- you know, I know people use the word hot spots.

These are not hot spots. This is a massive resurgence of our COVID-19 epidemic sweeping across the Southern half of the United States. We're out of control right now. And until there's this federal plan that lays out a strategy for all of the states and looks at what we have to do to get close to containment mode, we will continue along this terrible path. It's not even conceivable that we could open schools right now in most

of these Southern states, because, the minute we do that, teachers are going to start to get sick, bus drivers will start to get sick, hospital cafeteria -- sorry -- school cafeteria workers will start to get sick, and it will happen within a couple of weeks.

And then the whole thing shuts down again anyway. So, there is no plan, there is no -- there is not even an attempt to really be frank with the American people about the problem. You heard with the press conference today there was no admission that this was a huge public health threat to the American people.

There were attempts to obfuscate the deaths and other things. We're not even in the position to admit that there's an issue.

BLITZER: Yes, I look at the numbers of Americans, not necessarily just confirmed cases or hospitalizations, but deaths. Hundreds, hundreds of Americans are dying every single day. And that's been going on and on, with no end in sight right now.

Dr. Murthy, the White House press secretary called the U.S. response to this pandemic historic, saying the United States is beating the rest of the world on key metrics, including testing.

Give us your reaction when you hear a boast, a claim like that.

MURTHY: Well, Wolf, I would respectfully disagree with that assessment.

I think that our response strategy, as a country, has been, frankly, embarrassing. We have the capacity, the knowledge, the resources to mount the kind of response that a pandemic like this merits. And, instead, we're behaving like a failed state. We're not communicating truthfully with the public. We're not executing in a manner that we can and that the American people deserve.

We said months and months ago that we would provide and build a capacity for adequate testing in this country, that we would provide the contact tracers needed to help contain infections. We didn't do that. And we're now, unlike many other countries, which were able to get levels of virus down, we're suffering through another resurgence.

And because of that, we are not able to open schools. Because we failed to execute properly, we are not able to open up our economy. One of the hallmarks of pandemic leadership is that you have to step up and fill the gaps. You have to take responsibility for actions, and you have also got to make sure that you are getting resources to people on the front lines.


It's not too late to turn this around, but without better leadership, we are in for a long, long struggle with the coronavirus.

BLITZER: And many, many thousands more Americans are going to be dead as a result of what's going on right now. Dr. Murthy, thank you. Dr. Hotez, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, we will have much more on the president's motives for trying to undermine Dr. Fauci, even as the White House tries to act as though it isn't even happening.

And we have new numbers in just now in the pandemic's very dangerous surge in Texas. We will go there live. We will speak with the Houston mayor about his call for a two-week shutdown.

We will be right back.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on the coronavirus crisis, as the pandemic spreads with new vigor here in the United States, impacting more and more Americans.

Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and our White House correspondent, John Harwood.

John, what, 135,000 Americans now confirmed dead, but in the last 72 hours, President Trump has commuted the sentence of his longtime friend, the convicted felon Roger Stone. He's also, the White House, undermine -- trying to undermine Dr. Fauci.

He retweeted a 1980s TV game show host spinning this wild conspiracy theory that the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is lying about the virus simply in order to help Democrats win the election in November.

What does all of this say about the president's priorities right now?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, plainly, Wolf, his priority is not getting a grip on the coronavirus coronavirus.

And what we have seen from Donald Trump Donald Trump throughout his protest is his priorities are self-gratification, self-glorification, self-protection. So that's why he's tried to manipulate the criminal justice system to shield his friends who've been protecting him and to assail his enemies, calling for prosecution and jail time for various people.

On the coronavirus, the facts have made pretty clear right now, especially when you compare us, the United States, with other countries that have succeeded in crushing the virus, facts make pretty clear his mismanagement and lack of leadership have lit the country on fire.

Therefore, the president is compelled to go to war against the facts, go to war against the people delivering the facts. That's the CDC and Tony Fauci.

And the irony of this, of course, is that what his priority has been in a public policy sense has been to reenergize the economy. But it was predictable and predicted that if you tried to reopen the economy prematurely, without getting a handle on the coronavirus, you were going to have a very short-lived burst.

And that's what we're seeing right now, as the recovery is slowing down because of what's happening all across the Sunbelt.

BLITZER: You know, Sanjay, the White House is clearly trying to undermine, to discredit Dr. Fauci, but do these attacks have any basis in truth at all?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think you concede this point, that nobody knew everything there was to know about a brand-new virus, a novel coronavirus from the very start.

The world has learned together to some extent about this. I think what has been striking to me, Wolf, having followed this now for several months, the briefings went away, and then there was a sort of -- you know, sort of stance of out of sight, out of mind when it came to Dr. Fauci.

They weren't necessarily mad at him, but they didn't want to see him because he reminded them of the pandemic. And now it's more of this discrediting, and sort of in a way that's not fair at all. There was these interviews where they go back, they look at these interviews and they say, look, Dr. Fauci said this.

But then they edit the interview in a way that's not fair at all. Let me give you an example, quickly, if we can, from February 29. This is one of the interviews that's been put out there recently.


FAUCI: You know, right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you're doing on a day-by-day basis.


GUPTA: All right, there's the -- that's what they have put out. No need to change anything. Make it sounds like Dr. Fauci was minimizing the problem at that point, again, February 29. But then listen to the next sentence.


FAUCI: Right now, the risk is still low, but this could change. I have said that many times, even on this program. You have 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.


GUPTA: So, if you listen there, Wolf, he's basically saying, here's the thing we're looking out for, evidence of community spread. When it starts to spread human-to-human in the community, that's going to change things.

That wasn't the case when he gave that interview, but he's sort of -- he's giving you this thing to look out for. Just -- again, nobody knew everything about this virus from the very start, but I think the idea of saying he was wrong, he was maybe even intentionally wrong, I think that's very unfair, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they totally distort, take out of context what he was saying, because if you give the entire statement, there's deep perspective there.

You know, John, the president said today that he has a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci, but, behind the scenes, the White House has put out what's essentially opposition research on Dr. Fauci.

How much of this feud is about the president's ego and his fear of being overshadowed by Dr. Fauci? And Dr. Fauci himself pointed out the other day in that interview in "The Financial Times" he hasn't even spoken with the president since June 2.

HARWOOD: Well, Wolf, first of all, I think, in all of these situations -- and Fauci is the latest one -- the word feud doesn't really apply. This is a one-way thing.


It's not -- Anthony Fauci is not in a feud with President Trump. This is the president lashing out. And with the president, we have seen, you can never separate this president's actions from the compulsions, the demands of his psyche and his ego.

He needs to portray himself at all times as fabulously successful and admired. Well, in Anthony Fauci, he's got someone who knows what he's talking about on coronavirus -- the president doesn't -- someone who's very well-respected, much more so than the president of the United States, much more credible than the United States, and, therefore, the president has to lash out, try to bring him down.

BLITZER: All right, John Harwood, thank you. Sanjay Gupta, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, Houston officials, they fear the city is starting to look like New York City once did, as the coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are spiking.

I will speak with the mayor of Houston.

And a CNN investigation into dire shortages of personal protective equipment and what health care workers are doing in a very, very desperate effort to try to stay safe and alive.



BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on the coronavirus crisis in Texas right now. The state is now reporting more than 264,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths.

Our National Correspondent, Ed Lavandera, is joining us from Dallas. Ed, Texas saw a record number of new cases and hospitalizations over the weekend. What's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those are just troubling numbers. And remember, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has said that this week will be worse than last week, which is not welcome news across virtually every corner of this state that has seen dramatic rises in the number of coronavirus cases, which is prompting the mayor of Houston to call for a two-week economic shutdown to help get this virus back under control.

We've reached out to the governor's office about this idea and this plan. We have not heard back. But it's important to remember, Wolf, that Texas was one of the first states to begin reopening the economy toward the end of April and early May. And the governor has said that local officials do not have the authority to issue these shutdowns in and of themselves. So we'll see how this continues to play out, as these numbers dramatically increase.

More medical -- military medical personnel is also -- are also on their way to Texas to help out in various hotspots, like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, as well. And remember, this is one of the medical stats that state officials here were looking at to reopen the economy was the positive infection rate of the cases and the tests that were coming out. The positive infection rate now is close to 17 percent. It was at 4.2 percent, Wolf, just at the end of May.

BLITZER: Wow. All right, Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us.

Let's go from Dallas to Houston, where the city just surpassed 30,000 coronavirus cases. We're joined by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.

As you probably heard, California is now rolling back its reopening even more, shutting down all indoor activities statewide. You're experiencing a similar crisis in Houston right now. And as we just heard from Ed, you're proposing a two-week shutdown, but you don't have the authority, the power to do that.

Do you have any hope that the Texas governor, Abbott, will follow California's lead or allow you to do so?

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TX: Well, Wolf, you know, certainly, I made the request. You know, I appreciate the governor for requiring people to wear their masks. That will be helpful. But it's going to take time for that to really take meaningful effect and appreciate the fact that he's given local authorities the ability to place restrictions on any crowds greater than ten.

But those measures alone, I don't think, will stop this forest fire that is taking place. Today, we reported over 1,500 new cases today and eight more deaths. And so those numbers keep growing. The numbers of hospitalizations keep going. We just need to take this collective effort, maybe a two- week stay home work safe order, reset to cool things off and then gradually move forward again.

BLITZER: Yes. I understand you've said that Governor Abbott is certainly aware of your requests for this shutdown, but is it true that the two of you haven't even spoken yet? And if not, why not?

TURNER: Yes. We haven't spoken recently, but I've been in communication with some of his people. And so those conversations have taken place.

Look, I think it is important for us all to be on the same page. I do appreciate the steps that he took two weeks ago with the statewide requirement to wear masks. I think that was a significant step in the right direction.

Look, no one wants to slow down this economy or to put in place a stay-home order. But the reality is, when you look at what's happening on the ground, when we look at the fact that there are more cases showing up at the hospital, more people testing positively, just like Ed Lavandera, just said, the positivity rate is now about 17 percent, in some cases, can be up to 20 percent.

We have to slow down the progression of this virus, especially as we start looking at people, kid returning to school in August and and the fall.


We have to get on top of the situation right now.

BLITZER: Given the awful situation that is emerging right now, even if you had the authority, Mayor, to establish a two-week shutdown, would that be really enough to get the situation under control?

TURNER: Well, I'm just -- you have to take one thing -- first steps one at a time. And what it is, I think, we have to reset. I think it's important to reset. We have to slow down this virus. And what we know is that when we take the energy, when we separate, then you take the energy away from this virus and it gives us an opportunity to try to get ahead of this virus rather than chasing.

Right now, we're all chasing this virus. The virus is in control. And the only way we can reverse course is that we have to separate and then we have to continue to put on our masks and engage in the social distancing. So that's the hope. And then we can gradually move forward again.

But when we're looking at what's taking place now, you're reporting about the numbers in Texas on a daily basis, the trajectory is going up, so we're moving in the wrong direction. And so this is an opportunity where we have to kind of -- we have to reassess and recognize that we just need to hit the reset button.

BLITZER: Mayor Turner, good luck you, good luck to everyone in Houston. We appreciate as always you joining us.

TURNER: Thanks. Be safe there.

BLITZER: Just ahead, as healthcare workers across the United States face a dire shortage of protective equipment, is the Trump administration doing enough to help?

Plus, the NFL's Washington Redskins team makes a major announcement about the future of its name.



BLITZER: As coronavirus cases surge across the country, doctors and nurses are telling CNN there's still a dire shortage of protective equipment, especially masks. Critics say the Trump administration isn't properly using a law that could help alleviate the shortage.

Our Senior Investigative Correspondent, Drew Griffin, is digging into all of this for us. So, Drew, what are you learning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was a problem early on in the pandemic that apparently never got solved. Now that the virus is coming back in force, so are the shortages in protective gear.


This is a face mask Nurse Judith LaGuerre will use in a Massachusetts hospital this week, dirty, reuse, one of three, she has to recycle, disinfect on her dashboard.

JUDITH LAGUERRE, NURSE: And on the sun will hit the mask and we will leave them there for a few days and then use them again.

GRIFFIN: Hardly sanitary, but health workers say there just aren't enough masks. Out on Cape Cod, Michelle Brum says, it's one re-cleaned mask a shift.

MICHELLE BRUM, NURSE: They want you to reuse that mask multiple times and they send it for cleaning.

GRIFFIN: Then how often are you reusing the same mask?

BRUM: They do this process five times.

GRIFFIN: Across the country, nurses, doctors, some state health officials contacted by CNN say the lack of personal protective equipment or PPE is their most dangerous challenge with N95 masks the toughest to find.

PATRICE HARRIS, FORMER AMA PRESIDENT: This is something that we were talking about four months ago.

GRIFFIN: The American Medical Association has been begging the federal government to direct the manufacture, acquisition and distribution of PPE.

DR. LEANA WEN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's a national shame that we ran out of masks and other PPE to protect our healthcare workers. There was no excuse in March and even less of an excuse now.

GRIFFIN: This month, a Democratic Congressional House Oversight Committee concluded lack of leadership from the Trump administration is forcing state and local governments, hospitals and others to compete for scarce supplies. The National Nurses United Union just endorsed Joe Biden because of what it calls Trump's abandonment of public health and safety.

JEAN ROSS, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED PRESIDENT: It's not just N95, it's everything. We really need the president to fully invoke the Defense Production Act so we can mass produce the things that will keep us safe. And to this point, he has refused to do so.

GRIFFIN: The Department of Health and Human Services disputes that account, telling CNN it has moved with deliberate and determine speed to ensure we secured supplies and equipment needed by frontline U.S. healthcare workers. HHS listed 19 companies that have received orders under the Defense Production Act or DPA to acquire emergency supplies, including 600 million N95 masks.

But experts say it's not enough and it started far too late. Only half of the masks ordered will be delivered by the end of this year.

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FMR. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is going to be a really serious, serious and persistent challenge for the United States, you know, for several months, if not,longer.

GRIFFIN: Kelly Magsamen, a former Pentagon Official under the Obama administration says the Trump administration hasn't used the full power of the Defense Production Act.

MAGSAMEN: The administration listened a little bit too much to corporate interests early on in the crisis. The DPA was not used early enough nor aggressively enough to put us in a position to get the kind of equipment and PPE we need in time.

GRIFFIN: Some major hospitals tell CNN they are making their own deals to buy ever-scarcer supplies, some even stockpiling PPE. But smaller hospitals, nursing homes and doctor's office are left out of the supply chain, jeopardizing even routine medical care, according to the AMA.

DR. SHIKHA GUPTA, GETUSPPE.ORG: A few months ago, we're in this really dire emergent situation.

And our hope was that that situation would change and improve.


And it's really unfortunate that here we are, in the middle of July, and things look more or less the same as they did in mid-March. GRIFFIN (voice-over): Early on in the pandemic, Dr. Shikha Gupta

helped start an organization to do what the federal government has not, trying to fill shortages of PPE where health care workers were going without.

Today, she says her group has 13,000 requests. They can fill just 10 percent.

GUPTA: It shouldn't be seen in the United States. We had the opportunity to do a better job of preparing ourselves and preparing the people that were trusting to care for COVID patients and we didn't do that. We really fell short, as a country.


GRIFFIN: Wolf, I wish I had better news, but it looks like this is going to get worse before it gets better. A medical supply chain expert says, expect fiercely competitive battles for this protective equipment in the coming weeks and months, especially as school systems enter the market for some of this protective gear -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Hard to believe here in the United States of America, after all of these months, there are these shortages.

Drew Griffin, excellent reporting. Thank you very much.

We'll have much more ahead on the growing coronavirus crisis. Also, after years of controversy, the NFL's Washington franchise will soon have a new team name. That's coming up.

Sports announcing legend Bob Costas, there you see him. He's standing by live. We'll discuss.



BLITZER: After mounting pressure and years of controversy, the NFL's Washington Redskins announced today they are dropping the team name and logo which so many people considered offensive to Native Americans.

For more, let's bring in Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas. He's now a CNN contributor.

Bob, how significant is it that after all of these years of pressure, the Redskins finally deciding to drop the name?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I think it is significant. I wish they had done it of their own accord instead of under all of this pressure from FedEx and Nike, Pepsi, and other entities. But I think they'll wind up in a very good place, Wolf.

Ron Rivera who had been the long time coach of the Carolina Panthers is the new head coach of the Washington franchise and apparently even before FedEx and Nike and the others weighed in, he had made it clear to owner Daniel Schneider that he thought rebranding the team would be a good idea, and the best guess now, Wolf, is that the name they intend to use going forward is Red Tails.

The reason we included that is that while they haven't announced the name yet Ron Rivera was quoted as saying we want to be sure it is something respectful to both Native American and the military. Red Tails as you know was the nickname of one of the units of the Tuskegee Airmen, the fabled World War II fighter pilots, African-Americans during a time when the military was still segregated and they painted the tails of their fighter planes red. They were nicknamed the red tails.

So, this accomplishes a number of things. It rebrands the team. They can also keep their essential color scheme. It ties in with social justice at an appropriate time.

I just wish they had come to this conclusion earlier.

BLITZER: How long do you think it will be before we see the new name, the new logo, we see it on jerseys and all that?

COSTAS: If they play in 2020 and that is a big if because of the implications of the pandemic but if they play in 2020, I think we'll see it then.

BLITZER: And how do you think it's going to be received by the players? So many have been advocating as we all know for racial justice in our country. Do they believe there's more that still needs to be done?

COSTAS: Well, of course they believe there is more work to be done overall, but I think among the players there will be significant approval of this change among long time Washington fans. I think there would be more acceptance than there was a few years ago but there will still be many, many hold outs whose only view of this, they can't see any of the other implications, they only see, this is my team. I root for my team.

This has always been the name. I am not a racist. Don't insult me by saying so. I root for this team and leave me alone and leave the name alone. It is going to take a while before those people are convinced.

BLITZER: And does this put -- does this put added pressure, you know, Bob, on other teams, the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, to start considering changing their names as well?

COSTAS: You know, we talked about this last night, Wolf. I think that each of these has to be taken on a case by case basis. In some cases, in college sports, for example, the Florida State Seminoles have an arrangement with the Seminole Tribe. The Ute Tribe in Utah same thing, they approved of the symbols and the use of the name.

So, I think we have to go case by case and as I said to you previously, the Redskins were always in a different category. Dictionary defined insult and slur. They were separate and apart from everything else and that name should have been gone a long time ago. BLITZER: It's gone right now and we'll see what the new name is. Good

reporting as usual, Bob Costas. Always appreciate you joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


We'll have more news, more coronavirus news just ahead.


BLITZER: Finally, our nightly tribute to some of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

John Breier of California was 64 years old. He lived with multiple sclerosis for 25 years, finding joy in teaching his son about sports, inspiring him to be a phys ed teacher. He also leaves behind a daughter and three beloved grandchildren.

Carolann Christine Gann of Washington State was 75 and a career nurse. Her daughter is grateful to another nurse who was at Carolann's side in the final hours to use her own cell phone to be sure they could FaceTime their goodbyes because relatives weren't allowed to visit.

May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.