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Nikki Fried (D), Florida Commissioner Of Agriculture And Consumer Services, Discusses Discontent With Florida Governor DeSantis' Response To Coronavirus; Former White House Chief Of Staff Sounds Coronavirus Test Warning Only When He's Personally Impacted; U.S.-Canada Border To Remain Closed Another Month; First Lady Pushes Masks After Trump's Months-Long Aversion; Update On Coronavirus Responses Around The Country. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 13:30   ET



NIKKI FRIED (D), FLORIDA COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES: But the problem is the governor continues to downplay the seriousness

of what's happening here in Florida, which means that he is not taking active plans on how to make sure that we are not seeing an increase in deaths and not seeing an increase in numbers of positivity.

The hospital beds at capacity and all he keeps talking about is what's happening at the White House or what's happening in our hospitals. How about working together to try to prevent people from getting sick and being in the hospital to begin with?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: What does Florida need to do?

FRIED: A couple of things. I called for a statewide mask ordinance a couple of weeks ago. The governor refused to do it. We know that wearing a mask doesn't stop the spread but slows the spread.

We need to look at which parts of the state should be shut down again at different capacities, whether restaurants back at 25 percent capacity, other different types of things like fitness centers and other types of establishments that require more people to congregate. We need to continue enforcing social distancing.

And we have a huge mess on the hands coming to reopening up the K-12 and higher education.

We need to take a slower approach. We need to make sure we're enforcing the ones opened. We need to be able to look at the establishments, say, should you have been opening, are you following the CDC recommendations and guideline.

If not, then take a pause and not seeing us move forward to opening back up more parts of our state. We need to take a step backwards. And making sure that the governor steps up and shows how serious this is.

The problem is that the governor has lost the faith and the trust from the people of our state. They no longer count on the data coming out. They don't believe that he has a plan for the future. And they believe he's never cared for them. There's no empathy shown by the governor and no humility.

When we did flat the curve, he went on the national circuit across the entire state claiming mission accomplished. So everybody let down their guard and believed that this was behind us.

He continues to carry that message that this is a blip and not emphasizing the severity of what is happening here Florida.

KEILAR: Commissioner, we are all watching Florida, a place in Florida in particular, which is Disney World, because, Disney Land, Hong Kong, they're closing with a surge there. And Disney World in Orlando just reopened even as Florida's numbers rise.

Is the park putting lives as risk doing this?

FRIED: You know, look, Disney World and a lot of big amusement parks here in the state are good actors. We have constant communication with them. They have put in a lot of parameters like restrictions on the amount of people to attend the rides. Not all the rides are open.

However, it was the governor who allowed them to submit a plan and to actually reopen.

And reopening our theme parks is not only -- should not be out priority right now but sends the message that we are OK and that we can keep opening up. And that's not the message to be sending to the citizens of the state.

And unless we get the pandemic under control in the state, people aren't going to want to travel here. The economy will never bounce back if we don't have the parameters in place.

And so just like I've been saying about Disney and other establishments, just because they're open doesn't mean you should attend them or be going.

So I believe that we do have good actors that are across the state of Florida but this should not be a priority. It should be the health and wellness of the citizens of the state.

Because if we don't get this under control, people won't travel here and the economy will not come back to where it was before the pandemic.

KEILAR: Commissioner Fried, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it. You're very much in the thick of things and it's so important to have your voice.

FRIED: Thank you.

KEILAR: It's been the summer of COVID, a summer of protests, and now we're experiencing a summer surge in crimes. What happens in American when the police and people come under fire? Don Lemon hosts a special edition of "CNN TONIGHT" with an in-depth look at crime, policing and your safety. That's at 10:00 Eastern.

First lady, Melania Trump, sends a noteworthy message about masks, considering her husband's feelings on them.


Plus, just in, officials say the U.S./Canada border will remain closed for some time longer. We'll talk about that significant development ahead.


KEILAR: As the president hails the nation's testing system as the best in the world -- it is not -- and says it's responsible for the huge coronavirus case numbers that we are seeing -- it is not -- his former chief of staff is blasting the nation's testing system in a new op-ed.

Mick Mulvaney, who served as the White House chief of staff into the spring, calls it simply inexcusable there's no national strategy by now. He also calls for congressional spending to address the crisis.

Why is he feeling the urgency? He says his son had to wait five to seven days for test results. And his daughter wanted to get tested before visiting her grandparents but was told she didn't qualify to get tested.


Well, Mick, the month of march called and it wants its op-ed back. Yes, March, when Mick Mulvaney was still part of the administration's early response when testing was already off to a disastrous start.

It's wonderful that Mick Mulvaney now realizes testing is a problem now that it comes to his own family. But when it was about other people's sons and daughters and moms and dads dying from COVID-19 at the very end of February, he unloaded this gem of a take on coronavirus.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The press was covering their hopes of the day because they thought it would bring down the president.

The reason you see so much attention to it today is that they think that this is what brings down the president. That's what this is all about.

This is not Ebola or SARS or MERS. This is something we deal with. This is something we know how to deal with.

We are the best country in the world prepared to do this. We have been preparing for this for years.

Will you see some schools shut down? Probably. May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure. But we do this. We know how to handle this.

So that's one of the things -- that's the message we're trying to get out. There are professionals who know how to handle this. Professionals are handling it. We will do the very best that we can.


KEILAR: He is right about one thing. It is not SARS, Ebola or MERS. It is worse. The number of people diagnosed in the United States with those diseases in the single digits and for coronavirus 3.3 million and counting. Almost 136,000 Americans dead now.

And now Mick Mulvaney decides to say that testing is a problem. It's just a shame that he couldn't stand up and tell the truth months ago when his opinion might have actually meant something.

Still ahead, one family's warning after a 21-year-old son gave the whole family COVID-19 after a night out. The father is still on a ventilator and his wife will join me to discuss the terrifying ordeal.

Plus, an alert goes out after three Delta passengers test positive for coronavirus.



KEILAR: First lady, Melania Trump, sending out what would normally be an obvious common-sense message in the middle of a pandemic, quote, "Please remember to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The more precaution we take now can mean a healthier and safer country in the fall."

Well, we'll see if her husband has notifications on his phone when she tweets.

Kaitlan Collins, our CNN White House Correspondent, joining me now at the White House.

I mean, she is saying that the common-sense thing that actually most administration officials are starting to say now. Of course, he does not say this. This is mixed messaging coming from the Trumps.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's been like this for months, even internally. Aides know there's a split and that if the first lady is going to be at something, she is much more vigilant about mask wearing than President Trump has.

Even once going to be on Air Force One and they told everyone on Air Force One they were going to have to wear a mask, something that breaks with what, of course, the president had been doing. And their justification that because the people around Trump are tested, they do not need to wear a mask, is what they claim.

This comes as there are still mixed messages whether or not to wear mask coming from the administration, though health experts say you should.

And instead, the focus internally lately, over the last few days, has been on this spat that you have seen with Dr. Anthony Fauci after the White House anonymously circulated this list criticizing him and questioning his judgment saying that they feel that he is too praised in the media. And the president himself had been irritated by Fauci's good approval ratings.

Now we are learning that really has backfired. The White House seems to have come to the conclusion and backing off of it, saying it wasn't opposition research that they were putting out on Dr. Fauci.

But some of the president's allies, like Senator Lindsey Graham are questioning why the White House is picking a fight with Dr. Fauci when there's a national surge of cases going on. And people want answers of going back to work, school, all of that.

And I want to note something, Brianna, that we just found out. The president, over the last few weeks, has been very hesitant about taking questions from the White House press corps. He took a few yesterday. I believe it was one of the lengthiest back-and-forths he's had in some time.

And the White House just announced that the president is going to hold a press conference, they say, at 5:00 p.m. today. But it's to be determined if he takes questions at that. Because often they have called it a press conference where he doesn't take questions and he just reads a statement.

We'll see if he takes our questions today.

KEILAR: That, a press conference does not make. A very important thing you'll be looking into there.

Kaitlan, thank you so much.

So 43 cases tied to a house party in Washington State and now dozens more are exposed.


Plus, one county's board of education defying the rest of the state that it's in, voting to reopen schools without social distancing, without masks.


KEILAR: Just in, the U.S./Canada border will remain close for another month. And sources tell CNN there will be stepped-up enforcement at the border in coming weeks.

CNN's Paula Newton is in Ottawa with all the details.

This is a big development, Paula. Tell us about what you're learning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a big one, Brianna. Especially since, at this point in time, when the pandemic started, when the border was first closed in March, everyone expected, Brianna, by this point in time they could start to loosen restrictions.

Instead, here in Canada, health officials putting more personnel at the border. Why? Because it is open to essential traffic and Canadians returning back home. They want to make sure COVID does not spread here in Canada.

They are putting hundreds of personnel at the border crossings to do that kind of surveillance.


I have to tell you, this border closure is by mutual agreement between the United States and Canada.

But, again, Canadian officials being very, very concerned that the outbreak that's currently ongoing in the United States could somehow travel here. That's why they have the stepped-up enforcement.

Remember, Brianna, no one has more at stake in the U.S. spike in cases than Canada in terms of personnel and economic relationships. No one is happy to be seeing this happen in the United States.

We had about 350 cases in Canada yesterday, back of the envelope calculation. That would mean, to being in the same position. the U.S. should have 3,500 cases a day, not in excess of 50,000.

And many Canadian -- the Ontario premiere said a few minutes ago, I love Americans, but I don't want to see them up here right now.

KEILAR: No. It's understandable when you look at the numbers, as you spell them out.

Paula Newton, thank you for that report from Ottawa.

The Texas Republican Party will hold its state convention online this week after losing its battle to host the gathering in person and indoors. The group planned to meet in Houston. The city's mayor canceled the event, citing the pandemic. The party sued for breach of contract but lost.

Texas is seeing an increase of coronavirus cases in Harris County, where the convention would have been held, and leads the state in coronavirus cases.

More now from my CNN colleagues across the country.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Tom Foreman, in Washington. Authorities are looking into 43 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed from a large house party in Michigan. Officials say the party took place in the early days of July, and those affected are generally between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. But they are looking far beyond the party at dozens of other people

who came into contact with the people at that party. Some of them in the immediate area, some even states away.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Muntean, in Washington. Delta Airlines is scrapping plans to add flights. It was going to fly 1,000 flights in August, now only 500.

Demand for flying has leveled off as coronavirus cases have surged across the country. And passengers are understandably jittery.

After a Delta flight last week, three passengers tested positive for coronavirus. Health officials in Upstate New York now say those passengers were health care workers.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Cristina Alesci, in New York. Walmart CEO is floating the idea of a national mask mandate for all of its stores in the U.S.

Right now, the company only requires masks in the 3,700 locations where state and local governments mandate them. The change, if enacted, would apply to 1,000 additional stores in the U.S.

Of course, the U.S. still does not have a federal mask policy. That is forcing businesses to decide between doing what's right for employees and customers and wading into a highly politicized issue.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta, where a mega church that has seven campuses here in the area is canceling in-person worship services for the remainder of the year.

North Point Ministries, where more than 30,000 people worship every Sunday morning, said that they simply couldn't put forth the same kind of quality with social distancing.

And also said, in addition to concerns about people getting sick, the church would be responsible for contact tracing if somebody attended a service and later tested positive.

The senior pastor said that it doesn't mean that the worshippers will never be able to get together this year. Right now, they're working on a limited strategy for some kind of physical gatherings.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro, at the wastewater treatment plant in Tucson. Leaders say they can keep this state relatively open and keep the virus in check.

But scientists at the University of Arizona's West Center are testing wastewater for coronavirus RNA. Here in Tucson, they found the highest levels of RNA since the pandemic began.

Leaders can debate whether or not the state can open but scientists say poop doesn't lie.


KEILAR: Hour two. I am Brianna Keilar.

President Trump's push to open the U.S. economy, despite a surge in coronavirus, is hitting a major roadblock with the nation's governors and mayors. And 37 states are posting double-digit increases in new infections.

The governor of the most populous state, California, ordering the closure of all in-door activities after hospitalizations jumped nearly 30 percent in recent weeks.

And just days after setting a national record for new cases in a single day, Florida is breaking a state record for single-day deaths. The Florida governor getting heckled publicly over his actions.

The mayor of Miami Beach vows to do what he can to keep his citizens safe.



DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH MAYOR: I suspect, within a week or two, if this has not changed in any way, that we're all going to do it.