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California Orders Indoor Businesses to Close Amid Coronavirus Cases Surge; Florida Reports Second Highest Day of New Virus Cases; Houston Mayor Proposes 2-Week Shutdown as Cases Surge in Texas; Arizona Tracks Spread of COVID-19 Through Sewage System; President Trump Claims to Have a Good Relationship with Dr. Fauci Despite Their Differences in Opinion; U.S. States Roll Back Openings As Coronavirus Rages Across the U.S.; Brazil Reports a Quarter Million New Cases of Coronavirus in One Week. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:13]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

This morning, pressure is building on more states to shut down. Basically reverse course again as coronavirus surges in so many places across the nation and California, of course the most populous state in the country, well, they just ordered indoor businesses, restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters, museums to close as the cases surge there. Gyms, churches, hair salons shutting down in the state's 30 hardest hit counties.

In Florida today 48 hospitals have no ICU bed availability. The state is reporting that its second highest day of new cases was just on Monday. One infectious disease expert now calls Miami the new epicenter of this pandemic and for perspective here, only nine entire countries, right, in the world, Jim, have more cases than the state of Florida.

SCIUTTO: Yes. That's a remarkable statistic. In Texas, another state suffering right now, potentially major reset for its largest city. The mayor of Houston is now proposing a two-week shutdown as hospitals there also becoming overwhelmed. And the nation's top -- nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is signaling that the country may not pull out of these spikes any time soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: He's following the data. All this amid a fierce nationwide debate over schools reopening this fall as the president demands that students go back to class. Some of the nation's largest school districts, however, are announcing different plans. Los Angeles, San Diego, and Atlanta schools say they will start the year with online classes only.

We're covering all the angles this morning from around the country. Let's begin with CNN's Stephanie Elam. She is in Los Angeles.

Stephanie, it's quite a big decision. Hundreds of thousands of students affected, school closings there. How are people on the ground reacting to the larger closings now, businesses, et cetera?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to be honest with you, Jim. For the most part, for the last week as we saw these numbers creep up, people here have been talking about whether or not we would go back into a lockdown mode here.

And keep in mind, California was the first state to go into a stay-at- home order and now with these new measures implemented by the governor of California, it's beginning to look a lot like March.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM (voice-over): This morning, Los Angeles on high alert and on the verge of a complete shutdown.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: We've never had as many people infected or infectious. We've never had as many recorded positive cases each day. And we've never had as many people in the hospital.

ELAM: Los Angeles County reported nearly 2,600 new coronavirus cases Monday. As California added more than 8,300 new infections the same day. Governor Gavin Newsom taking action, closing indoor businesses like dine-in restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums and zoos statewide.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We were able to suppress the spread of this virus. We were going to knock down the growth of this in the beginning. We're going to do that again.

ELAM: And in 30 of the hardest hit counties, venues like gyms, places of worship, indoor malls, barbershops and hair salons are no longer open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the most heart-wrenching because this is our livelihood and so many hairdressers, they live paycheck to paycheck.

ELAM: For California's small business owners, closing again will be tough. But many like Tyler Emery who owns a gym in Burbank say it's necessary to follow the rules.

TYLER EMERY, OWNER, TYLER'S GYM: We can adapt, we can improvise, we can come together. And ultimately that's the only option we all have. ELAM: Newsom's move after Los Angeles and San Diego school districts

announced classes will be held online this fall.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: And Governor Newsom in his last press conference saying that when it comes to education and children's health, it's not or it's and. We have to look at both of those options here in the state. And he actually teased that he might have more guidance for school districts across the state coming up along in this week. This after of course announcing these new measures yesterday that are taking us back. So hopefully keeping people distant and also bringing down the virus spread here in California -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Stephanie Elam, thank you for that reporting very much.

Let's go to Florida now where currently there are 48 hospitals across the state that are completely out of available ICU beds. Rosa Flores joins us again this morning with more.

Good morning, Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, good morning. The situation here in Florida, not getting any better.

[09:05:02]

Florida reporting more than 12,600 cases yesterday and all new this morning, we're learning about a big issue that has been lurking under the radar. And that is the need for medical staff. According to Jackson Health this morning, they have about 200 employees who are out with COVID-19. That means they're going to be out for about 10 to 12 days, and the positivity rate of all the employees that they tested is 23 percent.

That's why it doesn't come by surprise that Governor Ron DeSantis announced from here yesterday that he is upping the number of medical staff that he's deploying across the state to 3,000.

Now, the reality here on the ground is grim. Dr. Lilian Abbo yesterday called it, compared it to Wuhan. The positivity rate here in Miami- Dade County which is the epicenter of this crisis is 28 percent. As for hospitalizations in the past 13 days, those are up 68 percent, ICUs 69 percent, and ventilators 109 percent.

Just think about this. More than 200 people right now are using a ventilator here in Miami-Dade County. At last check, 48 ICU hospitals across the state are at zero capacity including eight right here in Miami-Dade County.

And process this for just a moment. If Florida were a country, it would be ranked 10th for the number of coronavirus cases, and Poppy, we've been talking about education, you and I have been reporting how the state of Florida is not backing down. Still requiring schools to reopen for in-person instruction in just a few weeks. Well, the governor of course has said and maintained that it's a

parent's choice to send their children to a school or not. But I pressed him yesterday on this, Poppy, because remember what the Orange County teachers were saying that they were working on their wills. He would not -- he would not answer my question, Poppy and Jim. But I was pressing him on that particular issue because it's important. Not just that parents feel comfortable taking their students to school.

HARLOW: Of course.

FLORES: But teachers, having to go to school during a pandemic.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, watching those hospitalization rates is key, right? Because that's the whole idea of flattening the curve, is you don't want to overwhelm health care facilities.

Rosa Flores, thanks so much.

To Texas now, another state suffering under this. Houston's mayor has just proposed that the city shut down for two weeks as cases surge and hospitals, again, that's key, fill up there.

Ed Lavandera joins us now from Dallas with more. Is that state -- is that step being seriously considered now?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, this has been a struggle between local officials in places like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, and the governor's office over the last few months.

As you mentioned, Jim, the mayor of Houston calling for a two-week shutdown. He basically is saying that the coronavirus is running out of control in the state. He'd like to see a two-week economic shutdown to help get it under control.

We have reached out to the governor's office, have not heard directly from them. But the governor did tell a local affiliate here in Dallas last night that he doesn't seem to have much of an appetite for an economic shutdown once again. He is basically saying that the masked mandate should be enough to help get the virus under control here.

And he also went on to say that he doesn't think because of people's frustration with the pandemic that he doesn't really think that people would comply with any kind of economic shutdown. And he doesn't feel like -- or get the sense in the hearing what he told the local affiliate that there's not much appetite for wanting to kind of create this kind of tension where these kinds of shutdown rules would have to be enforced.

So real questions there from the governor as to how all of this is going to continue to play out as we're starting to see the struggle from city leaders here in Texas and the governor's office.

HARLOW: OK. Ed, thanks very much for that.

Let's go to Evan McMorris-Santoro, he joins us in Tucson, Arizona. Good morning, Evan. You have health officials there using sewage

systems. Is that right? To try to track the spread of COVID?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. The amount of genetic material of the coronavirus in the Tucson sewage is the highest that it's ever been. That's according to researchers here at Arizona -- at the University of Arizona West Center which is a lab adjacent to the Tucson sewage treatment plant right behind me here.

The lab's director, Dr. Ian Pepper, actually looks at water treatment samples from across the entire country and he told me that what we flush can tell us a lot about how we're managing the coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN PEPPER, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA WEST CENTER: Poop doesn't lie. When the shutdown or the stay-at-home order was imposed, we saw levels of the virus in the sewage decrease. And then when we reopened, we saw the levels increasing. And right now the levels are very high as are the case counts here in Tucson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:10:11]

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Now, look, Poppy and Jim, the debate here in Arizona is the same debate everywhere in the country. How much can you open up and still keep the virus in check? The governor says closing down movie theaters, bars and gyms, and reducing restaurant capacity to 50 percent is enough. All Dr. Pepper knows is that the coronavirus in the sewage here in Tucson is the highest it's ever been -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Well, folks got to follow the data. Right? I mean, we have loads of countries have been through this before and you get a sense of what you need to do.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thanks very much.

Still to come this hour, serious delays in testing has even former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney concerned, calling the current testing capabilities in this country -- his words, simply inexcusable.

HARLOW: Yes. What happened when he tried to get his kids tested?

Also, how long could the body be immune from COVID after you're already infected with it? There are new details about the life of coronavirus antibodies.

And a new spike in cases among U.S. troops overseas, we'll bring you that as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] SCIUTTO: Despite an ongoing White House campaign to undermine the

credibility of one of the world's most respected epidemiologists, infectious diseases experts, President Trump says he gets along with Dr. Anthony Fauci very well, though, he admits he doesn't always agree with him.

HARLOW: The comments follow recent moves by the White House to discredit Dr. Fauci, downplay his warnings about coronavirus, take them out of context, make them misleading. Speaking in a podcast yesterday, Dr. Fauci said he can't get distracted by the politics of this pandemic. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDUL EL-SAYED, MEDICAL DOCTOR: Have you ever just at some point wanted to throw your hands up and walk away, and just say, you know what? At this point, like I'm done with this?

FAUCI: Because I think that if the issue at hand is so important, then I think walking away from it is not the solution. I think that would just make things worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Let's bring in White House correspondent, he's here, John Harwood with more. Good morning, John. What is the real relationship? Because the president keeps saying, oh, he's a nice guy, he's this or that. That doesn't matter. What matters is are they on the same page and does the president have full faith in him. I know he's not really able to fire him, but when he's undercutting him, it's a disservice to the American people.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the problem, Poppy is that, Anthony Fauci is saying things that are inconvenient for the president who wants to talk his way past the virus, pretend it's not really there. And that bite you just played from Anthony Fauci illustrates one of the reasons why he is dangerous for the White House.

By saying, he's going to stick it out, despite the jump that he's taken from the White House, he is displaying his public spiritedness. The realization that the nation needs his expertise, he's someone with integrity. That's what makes him dangerous for the president because this is a White House that doesn't particularly value those qualities. And so when he says something that is at odds with the president, the public tends to believe Anthony Fauci.

Therefore, his aides want to go undermine the very virtues that Fauci has. That's why they mock him and say, well, he's seeing Anthony and we're getting questions about St. Anthony, so we have to correct the record.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, listen, they say there's no disagreement there. There's deliberate effort here, you see it, Dan Gavino's (ph) tweet yesterday talking about all this. So you know, believe what's before your eyes, don't believe what you hear from there. So you have four former --

HARWOOD: Exactly --

SCIUTTO: Directors of the CDC today. These are folks who served both Republican and Democratic administrations, coming out in defense, imagine that of science and medicine here. What are they saying, John Harwood?

HARWOOD: Well, it's a different version of what Anthony Fauci is saying. They're saying we need to follow the science, we can't politicize everything as the administration tries to do from mask- wearing to testing, to case counts and all that sort of thing.

They understand that this is a dangerous pandemic, that people's lives are on the line. That the U.S. economy is on the line, and as much as everyone wants to reopen the economy, everyone wants to put people back in schools, if you don't get control of the virus, you can't do either of those things on a sustainable basis.

And we clearly do not have control of the virus at this point. They're trying to step up for the people who understand what it takes to get control of the virus.

SCIUTTO: Listen to the doctors, John Harwood, thanks very much. Joining us now is a doctor, Dr. Jay Varkey; he's an associate professor of medicine at Emory University, Atlanta. Dr. Varkey, great to have you on this morning.

You know, from the beginning, folks like you, infectious diseases experts have said, to get a handle on this, you've got to test far and wide, isolate, contact-trace, et cetera. And not only folks in this country, every other country has got a handle on this, has done that early and often and it's worked.

So here we are, months into this, Quest Diagnostics says the demand in the midst of all these spikes is so high, it's taken now seven days to get results, which is too long, right? Because people could be infected, others in the meantime. Is this country ever going to get a handle on the testing that it needs? I mean, is it too late even?

JAY VARKEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Jim, it's a great question, and I think -- I think you hit on the key point that Mick Mulvaney; the former White House Chief of Staff said yesterday was that, we still have a testing problem in this country. And the reality is that, it's simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic to be where we are with testing.

There's real implications for the delays that people are experiencing. And again, if you just take home the cause of it -- so that's why you've got soaring numbers of people who are feeling sick. That's massively increasing the demand for testing and slowing the turnaround time for obtaining results.

[09:20:00]

So why is that important? In order to interrupt transmission and really start making a dent in this pandemic, contact-tracers need to contact with confirmed cases quickly enough to prevent spread to their contacts. The take-home message I think for the general public is until we actually fix the testing issue, and the first step of fixing is recognizing that it's an ongoing problem. People with COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate at the onset of symptoms until the results are available.

HARLOW: You bring up, Dr. Mick Mulvaney, I would note, it's unfortunate that it has -- you know, he's experiencing this, what so many of us have experienced, trying to get his 5 and 7-year-old tested and get some results so that they can visit their grandparents. I would just note that if people had been more focused on the importance of testing and rapid results early on, namely like when he was in the White House, this could be very different.

Remember back in February, he called it a hoax. He talked about Democrats focusing on it because they just want to bring the president down. You know, there's a lot that didn't happen then that would have changed the reality now for all of us.

VARKEY: I couldn't disagree with you more -- I couldn't agree with you more, Poppy. The reality of it is that as we've learned time and time again through this pandemic, this virus doesn't follow borders. That's national borders and state borders. And in communities that have actually been particularly hit hard and are continuing to be hit hard, that the focus and the need in terms of having accessible testing for all with rapid turnaround results is going to be critical moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Varkey, let's talk about schools for a moment. As you're aware, there's a national debate here, Dr. Fauci has told us on this broadcast that there's no one size fits all. It depends on the district. You know, if your district has it under control, it makes sense, if it doesn't have the outbreak under control, it doesn't make sense.

And there are by the way, guidelines for this, 14 days of declining cases. I mean, is that what it comes down to here? If -- should a local school district be able to make a decision to reopen if it meets certain guidelines and others who haven't, it wouldn't be smart then to reopen. I mean, is that really the way folks at home should be looking at this?

VARKEY: Yes and no, Jim, because I actually think it's even more complicated than that. And I say this not just as an infectious diseases doctor, but also as the parents of two school age children. So certainly, local transmission within your community is a key metric that any school district needs to follow. But we can't put school districts on an island to make these decisions by themselves. We as a society need to prioritize and recognize the fact that reopening schools is a fundamental priority for our society.

And to that end, it's incumbent on all of us within society to take the measures needed to decrease community transmission. The more community transmission that's occurring within that community, the more difficult it will be if not impossible to actually restart in- person learning. The other thing that again, I don't think that schools should be put on the hook for in terms of coming up with these elaborate plans is the contingency plan when a student, teacher or a staff member gets sick.

I want to emphasize that. Not if, but when a student, teacher or a staff member becomes ill. What does that mean in terms of the classroom? What does that mean in terms of who's quarantined? What's the trigger in terms of going to online learning? Who tests? Who contact-trace? Who actually provides medical care? All of those decisions need to actually be laid out, and it's way too broad to actually expect an individual school district to do so.

I will add to that, an individual community, all players, not just parents, need to be involved. And that's part of the reason why we need to pare back in terms of what's happening in the community with in-restaurant dining, going out to bars and going out to clubs and doing kind of party, social gathering that doesn't follow social distancing guidelines.

HARLOW: So true. So true. Dr. Jay Varkey, thanks a lot for being with us this morning.

VARKEY: Sure, my pleasure.

HARLOW: Well, another quarter million cases of coronavirus have been reported in just one week in Brazil, and there are no signs of an end to this surge in the world's number two hotspot.

SCIUTTO: Another country where the leader there denied the seriousness of the outbreak. And we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Corporate earnings season now underway because of the pandemic. Some of the world's biggest companies could see second quarter profits plunging to levels not seen since the Great Recession, 2008-2009.

This morning, JPMorgan Chase reports its profits fell 51 percent, Delta Airlines had its worst quarter in more than a decade. We're going to have more on Delta in particular right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

HARLOW: Welcome back. New this morning, America has overtaken the United States -- Latin America has overtaken the United States and Canada combined in the total number of deaths from COVID directly.

SCIUTTO: The region has now reported more than 3 million cases since the pandemic started. Brazil alone has seen more than 250,000 new infections in just the past week. Among them of course, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro who announced he tested positive last Tuesday. Bill Weir, he's live in Brazil with more on these staggering numbers.

Of course, Bolsonaro is someone who like President Trump denied the extent of this outbreak early on. Has his own infection changed his view of this?