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Texas Swing State in 2020 Election; Military Sees Jump in Coronavirus Cases; Texas ICU Nurse Hospitalized with Coronavirus; Alabama GOP Senate Runoff. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 06:30   ET



DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Versus what people see from Donald Trump every day.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And, by the way, there are a couple of shots in there of him hugging people, which, of course, is, you know, Biden-esque, except that they're not wearing masks and they should, I assume that's archival --

CHALIAN: Yes, throwback Tuesday, perhaps? Yes, I --

CAMEROTA: Yes, I guess. That's throwback Thursday, but they should put up a little date, 2015, or something like that, like they do on talk shows right now.

But the fact that the campaign is spending $15 million, right? Is that how much this ad buy was?

CHALIAN: Right, this is -- this is part of a large buy that's across several states digitally. But the fact that they're putting up these mid-six figures on television in Texas, Alisyn, is key.

Now, listen, I'm a -- I'm a Texas skeptic when it comes to thinking that it is a true battleground. I know that the polling in the last six weeks has shown a competitive race in Texas. And it may be that come November it is still truly competitive.

But the amount of resources it would take for Joe Biden to actually compete there, Democrats would have to surely pour a ton of money in there, meaning less money to go to places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that they do need in their corner for Joe Biden to be elected president to me is still a pretty big gamble with a finite world of resources.

That being said, it has never looked this attractive to Democrats to play there, not just at the presidential level, but what's going on in the Senate and the House races there as well in -- in decades than it does right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One note on the pandemic. Criticism from an unlikely source, maybe, David, for the president. Mick Mulvaney, the former chief of staff, until just a short time ago, wrote an op-ed for CNBC where he's very critical of the testing situation in the United States. He says it is simply inexcusable. He also basically says that you're not going to fix the economy without fixing the pandemic, which is also something that the White House never leans into.

How much does this sting in the West Wing this morning?

CHALIAN: Yes, I know he said, it's not popular in some Republican circles to talk about testing, but it's least popular in that oval room in the building in which Mulvaney used to work.

But I think your second point, John, is really critical. The whole premise of the Mulvaney op-ed, not just criticizing the testing, but leaning into that the path back economically, the path back to a society that is whole again is through managing and dealing with the pandemic. That's also, I -- you know, the path back for Donald Trump's political success, but he seems unwilling to accept that reality because, as Alisyn was saying just earlier in the program, his strategy seems to be more of one of wishing it away and ignoring it and hoping that that is the way to deal with it. Mick Mulvaney, his former chief of staff, saying quite clearly, no, got to solve these issues in the pandemic, and then other things like the economy will start to repair themselves.

BERMAN: Yes, it was surprising.

CAMEROTA: I mean, yes, of course he doesn't address it to President Trump. He doesn't say, Mr. President, you must do this. He just sort of puts it out there and hopes that, you know, it wafts over -- the message wafts over to the White House somehow, magically.

David Chalian, thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: So, this morning, the U.S. military reporting a big spike in cases. Some American bases in Japan now under lockdown. We have new details, next.



BERMAN: Breaking news.

The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the execution of federal prisoners for the first time in 17 years. Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist who killed a family of three, was scheduled to die by lethal injection yesterday afternoon, but a court order blocked the execution. Overnight, the court voted 5-4 to lift that order. The four liberal justices dissented. Two more executions are scheduled for this week.

CAMEROTA: Also developing overnight, the U.S. military reporting a 60 percent jump in new coronavirus cases in the first few weeks of July. In Japan alone, nearly 100 military personnel and their families have been diagnosed in just the past week. CNN's Ivan Watson is live for us in Hong Kong with more.

What have you learned, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, more than 35,000 U.S. Marines and their family members are under virtual lockdown on a network of U.S. bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa. And this is after the outbreak that you just mentioned across Japan, within the U.S. military and among dependents. Around 99 cases right now. And the outbreak is mostly centered on the island of Okinawa. And it's dramatic because for more than two months, all of May and June, Okinawa didn't see a single confirmed case of coronavirus, up until July 7th, and then this explosion within the ranks of the U.S. Marines. And that has prompted the governor, the Japanese governor of Okinawa, to express shock and some real doubts about what he says are U.S. preventive measures against the spread of the infection.

The U.S. has a large military footprint across Asia. It's not just in Japan that it's struggling with the coronavirus. There were 11 cases involving U.S. military personnel arriving on July 7th and 8th in Korea that are being dealt with.

And we've been following this. The U.S. military is taking this very seriously. On the Marine bases in Okinawa, a Marine spokesman just told me it is all masks all the time. You have to wear those masks all the time. And I spoke last week to the admirals of two -- in charge of two aircraft carrier strike groups that just conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea. They were taking the threat of an outbreak so seriously that they had brought microbiologists onboard their ships, they were spacing out meal times, they were wearing masks all the time. They hadn't had an outbreak aboard those ships, but they said they were constantly vigilant about the threat of this virus. And they know firsthand, because last spring an entire U.S. aircraft carrier was paralyzed off the coast of Guam. More than 1,000 of its crew members came down with the virus.



CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, if you're on a confined space, like a ship, of course they have to take it seriously, and that's really interesting to hear how they were trying to tackle it, Ivan. Thank you very much.

So hospitals in Texas are being pushed to the brink as health care workers contract the virus. Up next, we're going to speak to an ICU nurse who got sick.


BERMAN: Developing this morning, hospitalizations in Texas up more than 121 percent in the past 14 days. The mayor of Houston is now calling for the state to shut down.

Our next guest, Heather Valentine, is an ICU nurse at a hospital in Houston. She spent weeks caring for coronavirus patients before getting the virus herself. She joins us now from the hospital where she has been for days.

Heather, thank you so much for being with us this morning from your hospital bed.

First off, how are you feeling this morning?

HEATHER VALENTINE, TEXAS ICU NURSE GETS CORONAVIRUS AFTER TESTING NEGATIVE: I'm feeling a lot better than when I first came in, definitely.

BERMAN: What landed you in that hospital bed?

VALENTINE: I mean, it's just so crazy to think about, you know, like being young, it's just like, it's never going to be me, it's never going to happen, and working with Covid patients. I mean, anybody's at risk and everybody's at risk and, you know, I'm not sure where exactly I picked it up, but somewhere I did, and here I am.

BERMAN: What were the symptoms?


What did you start feeling like and when?

VALENTINE: Well, I worked three shifts in a row. So, you know, the day after I'm normally pretty exhausted, so I just thought, you know, maybe it's just -- I just need some rest. I'm just really tired. And progressively throughout that day after those three shifts, I just got worsening body aches and I just started to feel bad.

And I checked my temperature. I had a little bit of a fever. And I started with a little bit of a cough. And I was like, you know, maybe it will pass. It's just something random. Who knows? And then it continued for four days after that, the fever and the cough.

BERMAN: And you did get tested, at least antibody tested first, and then ultimately diagnostic test, and both initially turned up negative, correct?


BERMAN: But, luckily, Dr. Veron (ph), who we've had on this show a number of times, said, you know what, something's fishy here. Let me take a look. And he took a chest x-ray. What did he find?

VALENTINE: Yes, so he actually did a CT scan and he immediately called me. I was waiting in my car, you know, waiting for the results. And he immediately called me and said, we're going to admit you. You know, it's pretty extensive. It looks pretty bad. And I was just shocked. I mean I was like, you know, I don't feel that horrible. And he just kept saying like, you know, your CT looks way worse than you do. And I was just blown away. I mean I was really surprised.

BERMAN: What did he say would have happened to you had you not had that CT scan and been admitted? VALENTINE: I mean, he told me worst-case scenario, it's possible I

could have required intubation if I would have waited a couple days more, which I -- it's so crazy to hear as an ICU nurse.

BERMAN: You're breathing. You did have some issues with breathing. Tell me what that was like.

VALENTINE: So, you know, laying down, I didn't have to take so much deep breaths. But whenever I would get up and kind of walk around and required to, you know, take deeper breaths. It -- I would just have to cough, like, I couldn't walk

around and do everything I needed to do throughout the day just without coughing and taking deep breaths. And I would get a sharp pain in one area, and that's where they said it's mainly localized in my lungs.

BERMAN: So, here's the thing -- and, again, you brought this up in the beginning -- you're 24. You're in a hospital bed right now. I thought this wasn't supposed to happen to 24-year-olds.


BERMAN: What have you learned?

VALENTINE: I mean, it's crazy. I feel like, you know, as a younger person, and everyone thinks, you know, we're invincible and I'm, you know, a fairly healthy person, and you just never think it's going to happen to you, and you just have to take all of the precautions, everybody, no matter how young or old you are. It's so important.

BERMAN: What's it been like for you prior to getting it yourself? The last few weeks, what has it been like as an ICU nurse in the hospital?

VALENTINE: It's been hard. I mean, you know, I think all the frontline workers out there are -- are getting tired and putting out their, you know, their best effort to help all the patients that we can.

BERMAN: What's going it slow this down, do you think?

VALENTINE: Oh, man, that's a hard question. I just think everybody has to work together and really, you know, respect each other and respect that, you know, you may not have symptoms, like, you know, my test came back negative, and that's no guarantee that you don't have it. So I think just taking every precaution, if you have any kind of symptom, just stay home, get checked out, you know, don't wait until you can't breathe to go get help.

BERMAN: Before it happened to you, did you believe it? Did you believe -- even though you're a nurse, did you really believe it?

VALENTINE: Oh, I mean, I completely believe in Covid. I've seen it for myself, you know, all the patients that are so sick and taking so long to recover. I 100 percent believed it. But I just never thought that I would be here.

BERMAN: Have you been in contact with, or has someone been in contact with all the people in your life that you may have been close to over the last few days or before you were admitted when you might have been symptomatic?

VALENTINE: Yes. I mean I've, you know, reached out to, you know, my health care -- you know, other people I work with and friends and everything and let them know that I'm here with it.

BERMAN: If there's one message you want to send to people like you, people in their 20s, or people in Texas or in the country who are watching this, this morning, what is that?

VALENTINE: You know, no matter how healthy you are, no matter how young you are, you have to be careful. I mean these are crazy times, and you never think it's going to happen to you, but I'm a perfect example. Just take every precaution. Wear a mask. Don't go out if you don't have to. It's not worth it.

BERMAN: It is not worth it.

Heather Valentine, listen, thanks for being with us this morning.

VALENTINE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you for all the work you've been doing to battle this virus. And thanks for the message you're sending this morning. And we wish you the best of health and a speedy recovery. And we know you hope to be back soon treating patients again. Thanks so much.

VALENTINE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Twenty-four years old. Even an ICU nurse, Alisyn, she didn't think this was really supposed to happen to her.

CAMEROTA: Well, it's not. I mean it's not supposed to happen to somebody in their 20s where she -- you get the crushed glass lungs.


I mean like you can see, as you said, on an x-ray. And she -- this is what is so mystifying and pernicious about this disease is that she looks great. She -- even though she's in her hospital bed, she looks rosy-cheeked, she looks healthy and she looks great. And only because they saw that x-ray do they know the havoc that this disease is -- this virus is wreaking in her lungs. I mean with -- who knows how long that damage will last. That's what is so frightening for -- for so many people.

BERMAN: Well, she looks great now. Dr. Veron (ph) said had they not caught it and got her in the hospital, she could be on a ventilator right now.

And I also will say that being in a hospital at all for a 24-year-old is a pretty extreme thing. And, of course, the more 20-year-olds that are in the hospital, these hospitals fill up, it taxes the capacity. And out of Florida this morning, even more alarming, they're saying that the number of older people, the number of seniors has jumped over the last two weeks as well.

CAMEROTA: As they predicted. As they predicted. That's what -- when 20-somethings get sick, then their grandparents do get sick as well.

BERMAN: All right, you know what President Trump is watching this morning? There's an election in America today, and he has a huge vested interest. His former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama. The president, he is all in, in this race. He wants Sessions to go down. A preview, next.



BERMAN: It is election day in America, at least part of it. Jeff Sessions in the fight of his political life this morning. The president's first attorney general is squaring off against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican Senate runoff in Alabama. The president has endorsed Tuberville and continues to just berate Sessions without mercy.

Our Jeff Zeleny has been covering this race.

And, Jeff, to say the president is endorsing Tuberville is a gross understatement.


It would be an understatement. In fact, as we know, Alabama voters have sent Jeff Sessions to the Senate four times before, often without opposition. But the headwinds he's facing now are because of President Trump, but the primary today will determine if the president has turned Alabama against Senator Sessions.


ZELENY (voice over): Jeff Sessions has never lost a political race.

JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: What I'm saying to the people of Alabama is, I can represent you best.

ZELENY: Yet in the fight to get his old job back as senator from Alabama, he's the clear underdog. A Republican primary against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville would be hard enough.

TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Jeff Sessions quit on the president, and he failed Alabama.

ZELENY: But it's made even harder when the real enemy is President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general.

Good luck. ZELENY: The president still carries a grudge against Sessions for

recusing himself from the Russian probe. He's been obsessively tweeting about the Senate race, including this weekend missive (ph) with the president fuming, we don't want him back in Washington.

The Alabama Senate race is all about Trump.

SESSIONS: And I'll keep fighting for President Trump and his agenda.

TUBERVILLE: God sent us Donald Trump because God knew we were in trouble.

ZELENY: In deep red Alabama, loyalty to Trump is paramount.

SESSIONS: Donald, welcome to my hometown.

ZELENY: And Sessions reminds voters that five years ago he was one of the only U.S. senators to take seriously Trump's White House bid.

But through more than $1 million in TV ads, Tuberville is blasting Sessions for being exiled from the administration and, in a bit of towel-snapping locker room talk, for being weak.

TUBERVILLE: You're either strong or you're not. And Jeff Sessions, he's not. He wasn't man enough to stand with President Trump when things got tough.

ZELENY: Sessions has returned fire.

SESSIONS: This is no fresh face. This is a 65-year-old former football coach who finished 4-8 at Cincinnati and was terminated. This person does not have a record of political conviction.

ZELENY: Watching it all is Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who narrowly won in a 2017 special election. In November, it's still an uphill battle for Democrats to hold the seat.

The Republican runoff will test Trump's ability to influence a race or show whether old loyalties hold more value.

SESSIONS: Donald Trump is not on the ballot this time. Tommy Tuberville is. The choice is between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville.


ZELENY: Now, the president wanted to fly to Alabama to hold a rally over the weekend. He was urged by the state's Republican governor not to because of the rising cases of coronavirus.

So, John, in a voting primary, in a pandemic during a summer runoff, unclear how many voters are actually going to turn out. But Jeff Sessions said, the people of Alabama will decide this race, not those in Washington. We'll see.

BERMAN: And a huge scandal in Alabama standards, Jeff, the president repeatedly referring to Alabama coach Nick Saban as Lou Saban yesterday, correct?

ZELENY: He did that on a call last night with Tuberville supporters, saying Lou Saban. Of course, Nick Saban, roll tide Alabama coach. And that's another subset here. What do Alabama fans do? Do they go for the old Auburn coach or do they not? We'll see.

BERMAN: All right, Jeff Zeleny for us covering this. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ZELENY: You got it.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California shutting down again, as cases skyrocket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get control of these numbers. These numbers are out of control.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: It's no secret why we can't get to the other side of this pandemic. We're failing with testing and we're failing with contact tracing.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no opposition research being dumped to reporters. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are certainly freezing him out. They've sidelined him.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really worrisome. It's harmful. We're not going in the right direction.


We know that. We see the numbers. This makes it even worse.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone.