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Trump Pulls Back on Criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci; Trump Pressuring Governors to Reopen Schools; Florida Has More COVID-19 Cases Than Most Countries; U.S. States Hit Pause on Reopening Businesses; U.K. Study Suggests Antibody Immunity May Last Only Months; Texas Sees Dramatic Surge in New COVID-19 Cases; CDC Director Urges Use of Face Masks in Public; U.K. To Make Masks Mandatory in English Shops; Personal Protective Equipment Shortages Still a Problem. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, California, Florida, Texas, coronavirus hot spots across the United States look to roll back their reopenings in the face of surging case numbers.

Plus, health officials say facemasks can save lives. So why have some people on both sides of the Atlantic been reluctant to wear them? We are live in London this hour. Him

And a growing epidemic of gun violence. We will look at why shootings are on the rise in the U.S. and how the very youngest are too often caught in the line of fire.

Thanks for joining us. Well, the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed a somber milestone. More than 13.1 million people globally have been infected with COVID-19 and more than half a million have died from the virus. That is according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Him

Many of those cases are right here in the United States. Nearly 1 out of every 100 Americans has tested positive for the virus. 35 states reported a growing number of infections this past week compared to the previous week. A top laboratory says the surge in cases is causing delays in providing test results. With infections soaring California is one of three states reinstating restrictions on indoor activities. It's a major setback for the state and we will have more on that in just a moment.

The White House is downplaying any friction with the nation's top infectious disease expert. CNN's Jim Acosta is in Washington with more on President Donald Trump's evolving relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

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

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I've had for a long time right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him. 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 appearances have been blocked by White House officials, it's Fauci who is still offering Americans a dose of reality, warning the coronavirus pandemic remains a danger to the public.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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.

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

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

ACOSTA: While sometimes questioning the expertise of Fauci who was once awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Mr. Trump appears to be putting his faith in people who aren't scientists.

Re-tweeting this tweet from former game show host Chuck Woolery who claims, the most outrageous lies are the ones about COVID-19. Everyone is lying, the CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.

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

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

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

TRUMP: We have to open the schools. We have to get them open and I think there's a lot of politics going along. I think they think they'll do better if they can keep the schools closed in the election. I don't think it's going to help them, frankly.


But I think they feel that by keeping schools closed, that's a bad thing for the country and therefore that's a good thing for them.

ACOSTA: 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 OF SECRETARY: There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school is dangerous to them. And, in fact, it's more a matter of their health and well-being that they be back in school.

ACOSTA: Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is acknowledging there have been problems with the administration's response.

Writing in an op-ed on CNBC's website, I know it isn't popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country.

MCENANY: Our reactions is that we 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 William Barr who said he approved of the Stone prosecution is now praising the President.

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

ACOSTA (on camera): As for Fauci, the last time he spoke with the President was on June 2nd, more than a month ago. White House officials concede it would be difficult to fire Fauci and until Fauci believes the best thing he can do is 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 the criticism coming from the White House.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Florida Governor Ron DeSanctis says parents should have the option to send their children back to school or use virtual learning in the coming school year. His comments come as Florida continues to report high case numbers and infectious diseases experts label Miami the new epicenter of the pandemic. CNN's Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the governor's most recent press conference here in Florida, he announced that the percentage of people who are coming in and testing positive has actually stabilized, which he says is good news. He also said that the fatality rate here in the state of Florida is at 1.5 percent. He said that's well below what we're seeing in other states. He also said that they're sending nurses and beds to some of the hardest hit counties and he said that we are going to get through this OK.

Meanwhile, the hospitals really tell a different story. Here in the state of Florida, hospitalizations are way up. In Miami-Dade County, the hardest hit county, we're seeing about 1,800 people hospitalized here in Palm Beach County where I am, well over 600 people. And in Orlando, in Orange County where Disney World is now open, they're seeing well over 560 people in the hospital.

The mayor of Miami says that hospitals there are operating at 91 to 92 percent capacity. So they need beds. He said that he's hoping to increase that up to 50 percent capacity in the next couple of weeks. He said the problem is really staffing. That's a big issue for them. The mayor of Miami also saying that a stay at home order, another one, isn't really off the table.

The average positivity rate here in the state of Florida also spells trouble, 18.6 percent. Well above the 10 percent that the state would like to see. And young people still really getting hit hard. 25 to 34- year-olds now making up 20 percent of the cases although the fatality rate is much lower. But I will leave you with this stunning fact. The state of Florida now reporting more new cases than the entire European Union combined.

Randi Kaye reporting on Singer Island, Florida, back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that. Well, California's governor has ordered a statewide closure of public indoor activities. Hospitalizations in the state have increased by 28 percent over the last two weeks and continue to climb. On Monday, the governor noted what businesses would be impacted.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA: Effective today requiring all counties to close their indoor activities, their indoor operations in the following sectors, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, card rooms and the shuttering of all bars. This is in every county in the state of California.


CHURCH: And California's two largest school districts will not go back to campuses in the coming school year. The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts will return to campuses as soon as conditions allow. The superintendent of the Los Angeles school district says they can't compromise on the health of the community.


So let's talk now with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, an internal medicine and viral specialist joining us from California. Always good to talk with you.



CHURCH: So California is shutting down some indoor businesses due to soaring COVID-19 cases and we are seeing surges across other states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Should they be considering shutting down as well?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely, they should have probably, in my opinion, been shut down already because their cases are much higher than California. Their deaths are much higher than California. Now it's kind of morbid to start comparing who's doing worse, but the truth is, what California is doing I think is very smart right now. They're seeing an uptake in the number of people being hospitalized. It's increased by 28 or 30 percent, the number of people that are testing positive. So it is better to do it now than before that snowball has just gotten too large.

CHURCH: Right. And, of course, the White House, as we know, has been trying to discredit America's top doctor, Anthony Fauci, but he's still giving out his expert advice based in science, not politics. And on Monday he said the U.S. hasn't even begun to see the end of COVID- 19 yet. But he also said we don't necessarily need to shut down again. He said if we all physically distance, wear masks, avoid crowds and wash our hands, those four simple things could turn this all around. So if it's as simple as that, why not mandate masks and turn this around? Why is that not happening if we can avoid shutdowns?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, you're singing my song. That's exactly what I've been saying for a while. Listen, this is a huge country. And there are no boarders between California and Nevada where Las Vegas is or Arizona and Phoenix. So I'd agree with you. That's because things aren't happening because we don't have clear and concise leadership that is saying this is what we need to do.

Japan, for example, huge country, their cases are so much less than ours because they do social distancing. They do have better hand hygiene and they always wore masks. We need clear leadership, period.

CHURCH: Right, and I want to ask you about a new study from the U.K. because it shows if a person is infected with COVID-19, antibodies begin to decline after 20 to 30 days. Now that is not what any of us want to hear. What does that mean in terms of reinfection and maybe, more importantly, in terms of a possible vaccine? RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all, this is a study that hasn't been peer

reviewed yet. It hasn't appeared in a journal but it's by a very credible group of people, both the King's College in London and also, they worked with the NHS in the U.K. We know that coronaviruses, as other ones, are very difficult to maintain their antibody status after people get infected. That's why we have sometimes so many colds that are caused by a different type of coronavirus.

What it means is, A, people that have gotten COVID-19 do not need to feel comfortable. They can't let their guard down because these antibodies may, indeed, disappear after a few months. But what's good is we are learning that some people do maintain antibodies, and this is essential for us to see how to make a vaccine. So getting it doesn't mean you're going to be cured because most people lost their antibodies within three months of the infection.


CHURCH: Talking there with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, internal medicine and viral specialist. Many thanks.

Well in Texas, the mayor of Houston is proposing a two-week shutdown to help slow the rate of coronavirus infections surging in his city. New confirmed cases are rising across the state and Houston is one of the hardest hit cities. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The mayor of Houston, Texas, says coronavirus is running out of control in his city and that is why he is proposing a two-week economic shutdown to help get the virus under control. It is not clear though, however, at this point whether or not that can or will happen. We'll have to see here in the coming days.

The governor of Texas has been reluctant to give local officials that kind of authority, to issue those shutdown mandates across the state. Remember, Texas was one of the first states in the country to reopen the economy back in late April and early May. But the numbers have increased dramatically and the governor says that this week those medical numbers could be much worse than what we saw last week, which was already a record-breaking week.

Over the weekend Texas set a record number of hospitalizations and a number of new coronavirus cases being reported on a single day. And that has prompted more medical -- military medical personnel to be sent into the state to help alleviate the pressure on hospitals and local communities. Those military personnel are being sent to cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley on the border with Mexico, as well as El Paso. And this in a state where the numbers have just been daunting and frightening.


One number in particular, and this is the number that state officials have used to argue for a reopening of the economy, and that is the positive infection rate of the new coronavirus cases being reported at the end of May. That number was at just 4.2 percent. That number now stands at nearly 17 percent.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas, Texas.


CHURCH: And coming up, the debate over mask wearing has been front and center here in the United States, and now that debate has traveled overseas. The latest from London where new rules about face coverings have just been announced.


CHURCH: Well the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says wearing a mask in public is one of the most powerful weapons in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Robert Redfield is urging all-Americans to embrace the wearing of masks.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: The most important aspect of that I try to remind people, that we are not defenseless against this virus. We actually have some of the most powerful weapons you could ask to have.


And the most powerful weapon that we have that I know of is wearing face coverings when you're in public. So we ask the American public to all fully embrace the use of face coverings when they're in public.


CHURCH: And Dr. Redfield's comments come a few days after President Trump was seen wearing a mask in public for the first time.

Now the U.K. is set to make wearing masks mandatory in English shops beginning July 24th. Prime Minister Boris Johnson seen wearing one here affirmed his support for face coverings Monday. The new regulations will indicate that those who fail to wear a mask can face a fine. Masks are already required in shops in Scotland.

So let's go live to CNN's Anna Stewart. She joins us from London. Good to see you, Anna. So how will mask wearing be enforced? How can they make sure people do this? Was that mention of a possible fine and how are the English coping with the idea of wearing face coverings?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, there has been a very slow take-up on wearing face coverings so far in the U.K. and here in England. Just on the weekend, traveling through London, even though it is mandatory on public transport and has been since mid-June, plenty of people don't wear masks. So it'll be interesting to see how much it is enforced in shops on July 24 and onwards in England. There is a fine that has been mentioned, up to $125. That will be policed by the police themselves, not by people working in shops, which is some relief I have to say for the business owners.

But this is the big question. A, why has it taken this long for England to adopt this new law? It's been a lot of back and forth in the government, a lot of mixed messaging on civil liberties I think as to whether people should just wear them out of common sense or whether they should actually be forced to wear them.

And also on the science itself, Rosemary, right back in March, very early on in the pandemic, the chief medical advisor, actually the deputy chief medical advisor, had a press conference and she said that the wearing of face coverings could help spread the virus by encouraging people to touch their face. Now the science has changed or people are interpreting it differently now. The W.H.O. updated their guidance last week, but it will be interesting to see whether this new law actually gets adopted by and large by the public, whether they really take heart wearing face coverings. Because so far in England it's much lower than in other countries -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, that sounds like a very similar reluctance to what we witness here in the United States. Although various mayors are starting to pick up on it and the fact that Donald Trump is wearing a mask may signal, we're going in a new direction here. But we'll keep a close eye on it. Anna Stewart joining us from London. Many thanks.

While masks remain controversial among some politicians, for health care workers they're a matter of life and death. And in the U.S. doctors and nurses tell CNN there is still a dire shortage of personal protective equipment, especially masks. CNN's Drew Griffin reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a facemask nurse Judith Laguerre will use it a Massachusetts hospital this week, dirty, reused. One of three she has to recycle, disinfect on her dashboard.

JUDITH LAGUERRE, NURSE: And under 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 reclaimed mask a shift.

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

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Then how often are you reusing the same mask?

BRUM: They do this process five times.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): 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 PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: 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 manufacturer acquisition and distribution of PPE.

DR. LEANA WEN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's a national shame that we ran out of mask and other PPE to protect our health care 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, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: It's not just N95, it's everything. We really need the President to fully invoke the Defense Production Act, so he can mass produce the things that will keep us safe. Which at 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 determined 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, FORMER 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 or 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 emergency 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: 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 healthcare 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 (on camera): And according to a medical supply chain expert, it is only going to get worse in the weeks and months to come as school systems enter the market trying to get protective gear so they can reopen.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Virus restrictions are back in Israel after a surge in new cases, and all of these people are now very frustrated with their government. We'll explain on the other side of the break. Stay with us.