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Pressure Grows To Shut Down Again As States See Surge; California Rolls Back Reopening As Cases Skyrocket In State; Capitol Hill Fight On Aid Escalates As Families Face Financial Crisis. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 14, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hoping to get the policy reversed.
That's going to start -- that court hearing takes place at 3:00. So we'll hear the arguments. Judges not expected to rule today. But no doubt this is expected to go on for quite sometime.
The other thing, just quickly, Jim and Poppy, other states, L.A., New York, all different school systems, have now joined this lawsuit in support of getting this policy reversed.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: I think you're right, this is going to go through a few court systems. Shimon, thanks a lot.
Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.
This morning, sadly, part of the U.S. shutting down again, and pressure is mounting for more as the virus spreads out of control in some places across the country. California is rolling back its reopening plans. The governor ordering indoor businesses such as restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters and museums to close again, gyms, churches and hair salons also shutting down, this in the state's 30 hardest hit counties.
Los Angeles and San Diego school districts, they have just announced they will start the year with online only classes.
HARLOW: In Florida, 48 hospitals across the state have not a single ICU bed available. In the state's largest public health system, that is Jackson Health, 200 employees have reported out sick with COVID-19. The state is reporting its second highest day of new cases that came just on Monday.
And sources tell CNN this morning that Dr. Anthony Fauci is staying on the coronavirus task force, that is despite recent White House efforts to discredit him, putting out a list of things they say he got wrong.
Still this morning, he's offering up a dose of reality on where this country stands in the pandemic.
(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)
HARLOW: Let's go straight to Stephanie Elam. She joins us again this hour in Los Angeles. Talk about what seemed to be at least from this vantage point, Stephanie, really sweeping changes across the state.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for sure, Poppy. We're rolling back to looking a bit like March. Remember, this was the first state to go into a stay-at-home order. And all along, Governor Gavin Newsom has said, we can always toggle back if we need to, and that's exactly what is happening now.
And taking a look statewide, statewide, he's saying all counties now are going to have to make some changes, and that would include the restaurants, family entertainment, any indoor dining, all of that has to go down to zero, wineries, tasting rooms all of that shut down.
But then for those 30 counties that have been on this county monitoring list, he's saying that there needs to be a step further on what happens there. And so he's saying fitness centers, houses of worship also need to be closed down now, and that has happened. That was immediate as of yesterday, personal care services, hair salons, barbershops, all of those closing back down here.
And when you take a listen to Los Angeles and the mayor here, Eric Garcetti, talking about what the situation looks like here, it makes it very clear that this is not where we want to be. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LOS ANGELES, CA): The City of Los Angeles COVID-19 level remains at orange, we are on the border of going to red.
Red is when it's -- everything shuts down again, everything, to our strictest level. And so I do want to warn people that we're close to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And that is concerning. And then things have started to feel a little bit like normal. Well, they are contracting here now.
It's also noteworthy, I talked to a couple of hospitals here, one very large one, like Cedars Sinai and a smaller community hospital, Sentinella Hospital, which is in Inglewood, and they are both seeing an uptick in patients.
But what is also interesting to note though is that they're younger patients, and the issue also is getting all of those things that you need, Jim and Poppy, as far as reagents and testing utensils that they need. That is where the difficulty is. Again, it's like we've gone back in time.
HARLOW: You said it exactly right, like we've gone back in time. Stephanie, thank you so much.
This just crossing from the City of Philadelphia, they are cancelling all large public events through February 28th, 2021. This applies to public property, so things like parades and festivals outside. It does not at least yet apply to private property, which would include sports stadiums and concert venues.
Well, in Florida 48 hospitals report they have no more ICU beds, not a single one in 48 hospitals. This is as COVID cases surge across the state. Four of those hospitals that are completely full in the ICU are in the Tampa area. This is the state where it reports its second highest day of new COVID cases.
With me is Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. Mayor Castor, thank you so much for being there.
And it's tragic to see what's happening across Florida. Looking just at your county at Hillsborough County, where Tampa is, hospitalizations there have doubled in the last few weeks.
How much more of this can your city handle and give people the best care possible?
MAYOR JANE CASTOR (D) TAMPA, FL: Right. Well, they have made a great deal of advances in the medical care, and we've had a lot of individuals. We've had a tremendous surge in the positive cases among our younger population from 25 to 34, actually 21 to about 30, We've seen a huge surge. And that corresponded with the opening of bars, which have been shut back down, thankfully, by the governor, but they have made advances in the medical care.
And so while those numbers of the ICU beds are up, less people on respirators, a lot of people presenting to the emergency departments that are sent home and monitored electronically. But certainly this is a position we're in right now that we have not seen in the past.
HARLOW: Yes. So what does this mean in terms of if you might reverse course? Of course, Governor DeSantis has been adamant. Florida is not shutting down. But you just heard Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, yesterday say he is in favor of a two-week sort of rollback and shutdown. Are you considering the same?
CASTOR: Yes. Everything is on table for us here in the Tampa Bay area. And, really, it has been at the local level where these decisions have been made, our stay-at-home order, our mask order. This will be the third week that our mask order is in place for the City of Tampa, and the actual county, Hillsborough County, our emergency policy group, made the decision a week later, so it's been two weeks for that, and we're starting to see this flattening out.
You know, everything changes day-to-day and literally minute by minute. Coming from law enforcement, I spent 31 years there. We make all of our decisions on data, but that data has to be timely and accurate. And we're getting these batch reports on positive tests, seven, ten days after the fact. So it's difficult to make those decisions, but we really feel that this mask order is being taken seriously by our residents and that that is starting to show dividends in flattening out that curve for us.
HARLOW: Mayor, I want to talk about schools. Listen to this from Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, just yesterday as the Florida Board of Education meets in person tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The science on it, I think, is pretty clear about kids being extremely low risk when it comes to this virus. And not only that, but they are not considered vectors of transmission. And that's been shown in Sweden, in Switzerland, Iceland did a study. I mean, they are all coming out the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Okay. While the science, in fact, is not clear, it's actually the opposite of it. There's very little science and very little research on how children act as vectors of this disease. We know that they are strong vectors of transmission for just about every other form of virus.
Given that, are you concerned that it doesn't appear that the governor of you state is fully aware of how much is unknown about how children can transmit this?
CASTOR: Right. Again, you know, those decisions are going to be made hopefully on the local level. The governor has --
HARLOW: Yes, I hear you, but, I mean, it matters -- I hear you, and forgive me for interrupting, but doesn't it matter when you have the governor of your state saying something that's patently just not based in science and you've got all of these kids that are supposed to be back physically in school in less than a month?
CASTOR: Yes, of course it matters. But look at all the misinformation that's going on nationally with this pandemic and how it's been turned into a political hot potato. We need to get back to making decisions that are based on the data.
And when it comes to opening up our schools, those decisions will be made on the science. I can't see anyone forcing classrooms full of 30 children that as, you know, the science indicates, are definitely transmitters of a number of different viruses.
HARLOW: Okay. All right, we'll see if that happens on the local level because the education commissioner of the state has ordered that brick and mortar schools be opened. We appreciate your time very much, Mayor, and good luck to you.
CASTOR: Thank you very much.
HARLOW: Of course. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, to Texas now, another state seeing spikes in cases and now Houston's mayor has just propose that had city shut down for two weeks as cases surge, and this is crucial as hospitals fill up. Ed Lavandera joins us now with more.
Can the mayor of Houston do that independent of state officials?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, at this point they can't. And this has been a point of contention for some time here in Texas as the Texas Governor Greg Abbott has made clear that local officials don't have the authority to issue these shutdowns by themselves.
And that is coming to the great consternation of the mayor of Houston, the county judge there in Harris County as well who have been arguing that the state economy here opened up too soon. And among other things, kind of led to this dramatic rise in the number of coronavirus cases here in this state, which has continued to set records.
In fact, the governor of Texas was saying towards the end of last week that he expects this week to be much worse than last week as the numbers continue to pour in.
Here is a little bit more from the county judge in Harris County, who is also pushing for an economic shutdown to get the virus under control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Look, that's on him. That's why I've been pleading with him to either give me back the authority to do this or to do it himself. Because, frankly, this is hurting our community, it's leading to unnecessary deaths and it hurts the economy in the long haul. The longer we keep this going, pretending like these incrementalist restrictions are going to fix the problem, the longer it's going to take to recover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: But, Jim and Poppy, it doesn't appear that the governor is open to this idea. We've reached out to him directly and have not heard back. But he told a local affiliate last night that he believes the mask order should be enough to control the virus and that he believes that even if the shutdown were to be put in place, he didn't think it would be enforceable and that people and the residents of Texas would comply with it.
HARLOW: Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.
Let's go to Evan McMorris-Santoro now. He's in Tucson, Arizona.
Health officials there are using something, frankly, Evan, I just did not think of, but they say it's an effective way to track the spread of COVID, and the news is not good.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right, Poppy. The big question everywhere is how much you can reopen and still control the spread of the virus. Scientists here at the University of Arizona's WEST Center say that they found one way to track it by using wastewater. They take sewage samples from the Tucson wastewater treatment plant, which is right behind me, as well as from other facilities across the country, and they test them for coronavirus RNA. And what they are finding right now is here in Tucson, the RNA level is the highest that it's ever been.
I talked to Dr. Ian Pepper, who is the Director of the WEST Center about his research.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What is the wastewater of Arizona telling you about what Arizona should do right now?
DR. IAN PEPPER, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA WEST CENTER: Right now, I think we should be very careful about reopening fully, eating indoors, going to bars. That really seems to cause spikes from what we've seen nationally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, the big question here in Arizona, just like everywhere else, but in Arizona specifically, the debate is about how to reopen, keeping the state relatively reopened, and in some cases, even the debate about basic social distancing rules. There are people that you meet here who just don't think this is that big a deal. But Dr. Pepper says poop doesn't lie. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Evan McMorris-Santoro, you deserve hazard pay for that assignment. Thanks very much.
With unemployment benefits set to expire and housing payments just a couple of weeks away, is more help coming for those struggling financially amid this pandemic? That might include many of you watching today. We're going to ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the prospects of another round of stimulus relief.
HARLOW: Also, a new study shows antibodies that protect you from COVID may actually not last very long at all. What does this mean for progress towards a vaccine?
And the bubble burst, the NBA's re-launch in Florida now facing several setbacks.
[10:15:00] SCIUTTO: The most populous state in the country, California, is shutting down for the second time. Why? Because COVID cases are soaring again. That means movie theaters, indoor bars and restaurants closing down once again.
HARLOW: And children in Los Angeles and San Diego, and those two big school systems, they will be all virtual learning, at least for the beginning of the fall.
Joining us now, Dr. Seema Yasmin, is a former disease detective at the CDC and Coronavirus Analyst Tomas Pueyo. It's nice to have you both.
Tomas, let me begin with you, because you, back in March, predicted this, right, and you became famous for what we deemed the hammer and dance situation that we would see, right, a lockdown and then some relative freedom and then all out freedom of moving around for some folks and then more COVID cases. So you've got to not be surprised that we are where we are.
THOMAS PUEYO, CORONAVIRUS ANALYST: Yes. What we did really well was, especially in Europe and in some states in the U.S., to apply the hammer really heavily. The problem is we never really learned to dance. And so in the case of California, cases kept going up and up and up, they never went down.
So the hammer was applied maybe not aggressively in office, especially Southern California where the cases really never went down. But then everything else that we needed to do, testing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantines, all these things we didn't really well.
Masking is a good example, but isolations and quarantine are another one. If you don't take the people who are infected and you put them at home isolated and you don't enforce that, then the virus is going to keep spreading. And so everything we do is going to be worthless.
SCIUTTO: Dr. Yasmin, a key question now is opening of schools. In fact, those other countries that have been through waves of the virus but notably have gotten it under control, they are reopening schools. I mean, on the data, are children vectors for this? Does age matter? How should parents and communities approach this?
DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, Jim, it's been very frustrating to hear politicians talk in very certain and clear terms, as if we've fully understand the role of children in this pandemic. We've heard state governors say that children are not vectors, and that's simply not true. We know that children can transmit the virus to others. But there's a lot that remains to be studied.
Right now, the NIH is doing this large study of children and COVID-19 called a Heroes Study. And so we still need to understand why is it that fewer children get very sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, but also that when some children do get infected, they wind up in the ICU with very, very serious manifestations of COVID-19.
So it is frustrating to me that you hear politicians talk in these certain terms that they know exactly what's happening with children and then you hear scientists talk very truthfully in more uncertain terms because we just don't fully understand the role of kids in this pandemic. And learning that will be critical to making educated decisions about when kids should go back to school.
HARLOW: Well, to your point, here is the assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Admiral Brett Giroir, talking about what we need to see as a country, Tomas, to get children back in school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We all know that kids need to be back in school physically for all the reasons we talk about, social and emotional health, nutrition, eye screening, discovery of child abuse, all the things those that are very important.
But we have to get the virus under control. And if we get the virus under better control, clearly, kids can get back into the school safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: What I don't hear there, Tomas, though are specifics. Like if you see X, Y and Z, then kids in your district can go back to school. If you don't, then they can't. And that seems to be a major thing lacking from any sort of national plan here.
PUEYO: I think that's right. But even there's a small detail There in what he mentioned around when this is under control.
We had examples of countries that have opened schools, Denmark, for example, and Scandinavia, and they haven't had too many problems. Except that in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, outside of Sweden, the prevalence is maybe 100 times lower than in the U.S. So if there's a little bit of virus running around, that's fine. But if there's so much as in the U.S., then it's when it becomes really, really, really concerning. We can't open up with all prevalence that we have right now.
SCIUTTO: I believe we have a graphic that shows the comparison of the U.S. to Europe. As Europe, the E.U. countries have gotten it under the control and the U.S. cases are going in the opposite direction. Just the pink line there being Europe bringing it down like a ski slope and you'll see the U.S. in green here and the direction.
As we watch that, Dr. Yasmin, I mean, look at that, straight up, what's the hope now, because there is no national strategy, right? There is no national testing plan, no national standard for schools, et cetera. What's the hope now to bring that down?
YASMIN: Wow. Hope is a tricky thing to talk about right now in the context of more and more Americans dying every day and are smashing these records. It's so frustrating to look back to March and April to see when we were seeing roughly the same spike that Europe and other parts of the world were seeing, that those places after that spike saw that decline and we're going in exactly the opposite direction, smashing records, 70,000 cases a day.
And bearing in mind that for every one American who is testing positive, there are probably ten more who are infected but are just not getting tested, which means we're really undercounting the magnitude of this pandemic.
The hope though remains -- because I think hope is important -- that we will get it together to have a federal cohesive national strategy that gives states some autonomy to respond to their particular epidemic in the context of their own state.
We need to give schools resources, make sure healthcare workers don't keep dying. We've lost about 800 healthcare workers to COVID-19 in the last few months and about 85,000 doctors and nurses have become infected. The hope is that PPE increases, testing increases, very basic things that the rest of the world has managed to do that the U.S. hasn't, now is the time to fix that.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Months in, it hasn't happened. Tomas Pueyo, Dr. Seema Yasmin, thanks to both of you.
YASMIN: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: As we say, you saw that graphic there, cases are climbing throughout this country. The debate is escalating and, of course, the key question of schools reopening.
Millions are worried as well if they are going to be able to pay their rent or mortgages at the end of this month. We're going to get to all of this with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. That's right after this break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
As Congress left for the July 4th break, 1.3 million Americans were filing for first-time unemployment benefits. In all now, nearly 50 million Americans have filed since the start of this pandemic.
And now this, growing fears of an eviction and homelessness crisis as that extra $600 benefit from the government.