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Record Hospitalizations And 28.1 Percent Positivity In Miami- Dade County; Texas Governor Says, Spike In Cases Could Lead To Another Lockdown; White House Denies Attacking Fauci Despite Memos Against Him. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to New Day.

Major changes across the country this morning and new signs, perhaps, of what is to come and new trends that raise serious concerns.

California is banning indoor dining, closing movie theaters and bars because of a spike in coronavirus cases there. Much of the state is also closing down hair salons, gyms and churches. Three of the nation's largest school districts, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, they announced that students will not be back in physical classrooms this fall, that despite threats from President Trump to withhold federal dollars.

This morning, 37 states are reporting increases in new cases.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: And if you've tried to get a test for COVID, chances are, it was harder than it should be. The president's former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, tried for his kids, and even he, one of the most connected people in Washington, could not get results quickly. He's now calling the testing situation simply inexcusable.

There's also a shortage of protective equipment, again. A former Defense Department official tells CNN the Trump administration is months behind because they failed to act aggressively enough.

And in Florida, first young people got sick, now it's the elderly again. Miami Herald reports that one of the major hospital systems has seen a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of patients they're treating 80 years old in just the last two weeks.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Miami with our top story. What's happening there this morning, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, good morning. It is not getting better here in the State of Florida. Florida reporting yesterday more than 6,000 new cases, and new this morning, we're learning about a big issue that's been lurking under the radar, and that is the need for medical personnel.

We just learned this morning from Jackson Health that 200 of their medical personnel are out with COVID-19. The positivity rate for all of the employees that they tested was 23 percent. That's why it's no surprise that Governor Ron DeSantis announced yesterday that he's upping the number of nurses that he's deploying across the state to 3,000.

Here is the reality on the ground in Miami-Dade County. The positivity rate here is 28 percent. When it comes to hospitalizations, the number of hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 is 2,000. When you look at that number, the percentage increase in the past 13 days, it's up 68 percent, the number of ICUs needed, 69 percent, the number of ventilators needed, 109 percent.

Right now, there are 200 people on ventilators in Miami-Dade County. I just checked the number of ICU hospitals across the state that are at capacity with zero hospital ICU beds available is 48. Eight of them are right here in Miami-Dade County.

Now, as leaders refuse to roll back any of their reopening plans, the frustration from residents is boiling over. I was at a Governor Ron DeSantis press conference yesterday when Tomas Kennedy (ph) interrupted the governor with this. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, I think the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Record-breaking cases every day and you are doing nothing.

DESANTIS: So, I think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're falsifying information and you are misleading the public. Over 4,000 people have died and you are blaming the protesters. You guys have no plans and you're doing nothing. Shame on you.


FLORES: Now, I talked to Kennedy after he was escorted by security. And, Alisyn, he said he was frustrated, that he wanted his voice to be heard, that he's tired of the failed leadership, and that one simple thing that Governor Ron DeSantis could start doing is mandating masks statewide. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Rosa, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And, Sanjay, let's start with Florida, because some of the news and information we're just getting from Rosa out of Florida is alarming. She says 48 ICU hospitals are now at capacity. That number was 35 yesterday when she reported it.

The Miami Herald this morning reporting something that really got my attention, which is that the Jackson Health System, which is one of the biggest health systems in the state, says that they've seen a 100 percent increase in the number of patients 80 years old and older. So, it is now beginning to affect seniors, this surge there. How concerned are you about Florida this morning?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very concerning, and sadly, very predictable. We have seen this for some time. You can predict how this virus is going to behave. It did seem to affect this younger demographic, and I think we took some solace in the fact that younger people are less likely to get ill, and that remains true.

I will say that we have learned a few things with regard to taking care of critically ill patients over the last several months. Ventilators aren't the panacea that we thought they were initially.


Simple things like proning patients, putting them in different positions can make a big difference. There are certain medications, like steroids, which can help. But, you know, it's very concerning, because if you look overall at the death rates, who are the most vulnerable patients, and even go back to that early data coming out of Wuhan several months ago now, this has held up to be the same, that we know that the elderly patients are going to be more vulnerable. We also know that people who have certain pre-existing conditions are going to be more vulnerable, and that's what we're seeing in the intensive care units.

I talked to Rosa for a while yesterday. I talked to a couple of public health officials in Florida as well. The other thing that I think is concerning -- and you guys mentioned this earlier in the show -- but, you know, when we talk about hospital resources, one of the things that we think about oftentimes is just basically square footage and beds and stuff, like ventilators.

But when you start to have a significant number of personnel who are affected by this -- respiratory therapists, for example -- it becomes one of the rate-limiting steps here. How do you take care of the patients if the hospital personnel, the health personnel themselves either are getting sick or you just don't have enough? That's part of the surge capacity as well, and that could be a real limiting factor in Florida, in Texas and other places as well.

CAMEROTA: That's when things got really alarming here in the tri- state area, when back in march, when all of the hospital workers started getting sick, that's when it was like, how are we going to get out of this? I mean, when colleagues are caring for each other.

And, you know, Sanjay, as you point out, I guess we should just brace ourselves for the death rate to begin spiking because we were in the respite where, okay, I guess it's just younger people now getting sick, I guess it's just 20-something-year-olds, but now they're infecting their grandparents. And so does that mean that we should prepare ourselves for a spike in the mortality rate?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, sadly, Alisyn. And, you know, as I've said so many times on this show, you know, I get no joy in talking about this. I mean, these are terrible things, but sadly, very predictable as well. Let me show you something that we shared on this program back in March. This goes back to 1918. And there are lessons to be learned throughout our lives, and certainly, throughout history. If we look at what happened in 1918, if we have that graph, we know there was this first wave of infections, and subsequently, deaths. But it was really the second wave that ended up being so problematic.

Where are we right now, if you look at this graph? Where are we in the course of this pandemic? Well, we're still sort of in that first wave over there, to the far left of the screen. We haven't really had a second wave. We haven't had the luxury of a second wave because we never really got out of the first wave. We're still spiking in this first wave.

But the concern, Alisyn, exactlyto your point, and, again, very predictable, unless we do something about this, is that the second wave, because you have not only more virus now in the community, far more than we had in February and March, but it's predictably going to start affecting older people. And the hospital capacity, ultimately, is what really changes that mortality rate.

The virus itself -- if someone were to ask, look, you put 100 people in a room, they're all exposed to the virus, what is the mortality rate here? The reality is, we still have a hard time answering that question because it's so affected by how likely someone is to be able to get hospital care, what kind of care they're going to get, all of that. Some people said, look, it's around 1 percent. 1 percent of people who get infected will die from this.

But if you don't have enough hospital capacity, you're going to have preventable deaths, and that starts to drive up the mortality rate. If you do the calculations on the right side of the screen, it's somewhere between 3 percent and 5 percent, much higher than it should be.

BERMAN: It's interesting, Sanjay, that California stepped up and is beginning to close down some of the things that they had opened. They also announced the schools in San Diego and Los Angeles, counties will not be reopening physically in the fall.

California is in a little bit of a different place than Texas and Arizona and Georgia and Florida. It's still bad there, but their positivity rate is actually only half of what those other states are. So in some ways, they're doing this before, or in a place that is better off than Texas or Florida right now.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know, it's interesting, John, because it's all the context, right? I mean, I think Florida was earlier in terms of when they started talking about shutdowns previously, and I think a lot of the country was thinking, really? You're going to think about shutting things down? Is that really necessary? And then it became obvious, abundantly necessary and abundantly clear that it needed to be done. I think we're sort of seeing the same thing here as well.

I do worry that even though they are ahead of this, compared to places like Texas, you know, if you don't get ahead of the curve very quickly with this virus, you're behind it. And I worry about that even in Florida.

I will say that, you know, we can identify the biggest sort of contributors to spread, and there's no question that indoor gatherings that are unmasked because people are eating and drinking, such as restaurants and bars, closely clustered together, those are going to be the biggest source of super-spreading events.


There's no question about that.

I think the question now for California and for, you know, several states now around the country, is can you do these sort of surgical strikes or these minimally invasive procedures as opposed to going into a more full shutdown mode? Nobody wants to go into a full shutdown mode. I get that. But is that sort of aggressive therapy going to be what's necessary over the next several weeks, in order to really stop the transmission of this virus, to sort of just stamp it out for a period of time so that we can get our arms around it again?

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I feel like we could ask you about antibody tests, or research, I guess, every single day, because it seems that every single day we get new, different, conflicting information about whether you develop antibodies, whether they protect you from the virus, how long they last.

So, the latest research says, what, something like 20 to 30 days they start dissipating?

GUPTA: Right. And I will tell you this, we have some reporting that we've been doing a lot of reporting in this area. We have some more that's going to come out this week. We saw these studies that basically said that they were measuring the antibodies in people who had been exposed to the virus and did see dissipation, even disappearance of the antibodies after 20 to 30 days.

I think the real question is, so, what does that mean, right? What does that really mean for the average individual?

A couple things to just keep in the mind, one is that, you know, the United States, we've been keeping a close eye on this, we haven't really seen stories, examples, of re-infections, right? There was some anecdotal reports out of south Korea. But in the United States, if it were true that you simply lost protection 20 to 30 days after exposure, I think by this point we would have seen definitive re- infection rates, and we really haven't seen that. So that's something to keep in the back of the mind.

Also, I think more subjectively, if you were someone who's been exposed to the virus and you recovered, even if your antibodies have dissipated, you've already demonstrated now that you've been exposed to the virus and recovered. That's a good thing, that you've now demonstrated that, at least as an individual that you can recover from this virus. So that's psychologically some confidence.

I think the bigger question, ultimately, is, even if you've been exposed and you don't have antibodies, your body still has the capacity to really fire up antibodies again after an exposure. So maybe they're not -- you're not seeing the antibodies when you measure it in people's blood. But clearly, upon a re-exposure, they're able to mount a response and not get sick again. So, I think that's good.

I still have a lot of faith in the antibodies. I think they're going to be a source of therapies. We're hearing about people actually taking serum from people who have recovered, using it to treat or protect other people and even creating these antibodies in a lab to give to people.

And these could be a sort of bridge to the vaccine. We talk a lot about the vaccine. But as far as therapeutics go, this could be a big one. There's a lot of enthusiasm around it, and I don't think the study diminishes that.

BERMAN: No. And, look, these discussions about antibodies, still one of the most important questions out there, Sanjay. So, I'm so glad that you're weighing in this morning to help us get a better understanding.

So, this morning, hospitalizations in Texas way, way up. One of the major questions, will Texas impose any new shutdown orders the way that California has?

Our next guest, who is a very important leader in Texas, says it is time to do so. That's next.



CAMEROTA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is warning that the worst is yet to come. In the past two weeks, hospitalizations in the state have skyrocketed more than 121 percent.

Some Houston officials now calling on the governor to re-impose stay- at-home orders. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is one of those officials and she joins us now. Judge Hidalgo, thanks for taking the time.

California's governor just announced this, he is shutting, once again, major -- I mean, across the state, restaurants, bars, gyms, hair salons. Is Texas about to do that?

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Look, I can speak for my community, Harris County. We've got Houston and 33 other cities. And we've been seeing an increase in the ICU population. We see our hospitals right hovering at their surge capacity, having to import doctors and nurses, folks having to wait in the emergency room for an ICU bed for many hours.

And we've known all along what we have to do, because we did it back in March, and that was impose a stay-home order. Initially, I had the ability to do that, the authority to do that. And once the state started reopening, I was stripped of that authority. So, for a few weeks now, I've been urging residents to stay home, and that's what's really sad is, in the meantime, these hospitalizations, these deaths have continued to climb. And we need to make sure that we not only bring that under control, but bring it down, really crush that curve so we don't make the same mistake that we made back in March, which is essentially give up early, you know, hope that by saying -- claiming victory, that we are simply going to be victorious, as opposed to having to do the work and work until that curve really came down.

CAMEROTA: So, that's what you think happened, you opened too early?

HIDALGO: That's right. It's very clear that the communities that opened later, once their curve had come down to, you know, 20 percent of peak, perhaps 30 percent of peak, and that opened fewer things at each stage, those are the communities that are seeing this more sustainable reopening.

Now, it's a new normal. They're not going back to 100 percent open bars. They're being very, very careful about the schools, not just in this country but around the world, and that's what we have to learn from. There's a lot we don't know about the disease. But there's something we do know, and we know how to deal with it and get ourselves in a sustainable situation.

And I understand folks are always in the race to spike that football, to say, we won, we're done here, you know, nothing else to see, let's go back to normal.


That's kind of what we're seeing with the Texas Education Agency saying schools are supposed to be back in session here in just over a month, August 19th, when we have our hospitals at full base capacity.

So, we've got to look at this straight in the face and look at the evidence and go with that instead of the politics.

CAMEROTA: So, is Governor Abbott going to re-impose stay-at-home orders?

HIDALGO: 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 death and it hurts the economy in the long haul. The longer we keep this going, pretending like these incremental restrictions are going to fix the problem, the longer it's going to take to recover.

And unless we do something like that, the curve is going to -- if it ever flattens soon, it will come down very, very slowly. It's going to take us even longer to get the economy back on track.

And so, we have to do that from a public health standpoint, from a moral standpoint, from an economic standpoint. Right now, I'm using every tool at my disposal to explain to the community, we need to stay home. I hope, you know, folks are listening, but it's not as effective as if we have an order.

And it's time to get real. It's well pastime to get real. And we can't pick an arbitrary deadline. We have to say, when the curve comes down, then we set ourselves on a path for success, based on what's happened in other places.

CAMEROTA: Are the messages that you're getting through your channels, are they that the governor is inclined to do that?

I mean, back on July 10th, he said, with the increased death rate, we are seeing in the State of Texas the next step would have to be a lockdown.

HIDALGO: Look, frankly, I don't know what we're waiting for. The strategy at some point seemed to be, let's wait for the hospital beds to fill. And what we're seeing is, it's not an adequate strategy. Because even before they get entirely full, it's not a perfectly efficient system. You can't just perfectly, efficiently transfer patients from one hospital to the next.

And so, you know, people are really suffering. Our Hispanic population, we're seeing hospitalization rates 50 percent, 60 percent, 65 percent, when they're only 44 percent of the population. We're seeing these impacts on our community. We can't possibly open schools, teachers, administrators up in arms, families up in arms about this idea that we can reopen schools when we have so many people sick. These kids go back to school with things like they are, they'll infect themselves, they'll infect everybody from the bus driver to the administrator.

And so, we have to get -- we have to be honest with ourselves. I've had to make the toughest decision since I've been in office. And in the time I've been here, I've had to deal with many disasters. But, look, we can't have politics in our head right now. That shouldn't be consideration. And it's tough to tell people, look, we have to stay home, but it's better and it's more honest than false hope. And that's what we have to do to put the economy itself also in a position to succeed for the long-term.

So, I continue to ask for that, and I continue to ask my community, let's do this together, let's try to stay home, and I'm not going to promise that's it's going to be over in this many days or weeks, because nobody can say that. We have to bring that curve down.

And the more we buckle down, the faster it will come down, the faster we'll be able to drop our kids off at school, to ask them about their day, to get on with our economy, not fully open until there's a cure or a vaccine, but a new normal. We've got to stop hampering ourselves in this way as Texans, as folks from Harris County. We've got to work together based on the facts.

CAMEROTA: About the school opening, since Governor Abbott has said that a month from now, virtually a month from now, he wants all schools reopened with in-person classes. You're saying that shouldn't -- that can't happen right now with this hospitalization and positivity rate. So, who is going to stop the governor from doing that?

HIDALGO: We're seeing around 1,000 new cases per day here in Harris County or about a quarter of the cases in the State of Texas, and these hospitalizations right at the edge of surge capacity. So, you open, this will spread like wildfire.

Some school districts are trying to say, well, we're going to push the reopening. A county in El Paso, they've said they're going to ask that the reopening be later. We're watching that to see what the courts do, what the governor does, and learn from that.

But, look, they've been threatened. These school districts have been threatened with losing their state funding, which is very important for them, if they don't reopen in person a month from now. And it's just an untenable situation.

So, we're all trying to see what to do. Teachers are resigning, right, who have these health challenges, who are most at risk.


Parents so concerned. I get those calls in my office. And so, we also can't give an arbitrary deadline for that. We can't say, okay, schools must reopen by this day and expect that the virus is going to follow that deadline.

And so, we've got to learn. There's plenty of examples around the country and the world. Let's say when the curve comes down to this, you know, then when we have this hospitalization rate and actually follow that, then we open schools and we take these precautions and we watch and we open slowly, and we see what happens.

There's a smart way to do it. We can't pretend it's a mystery. And we can't put our community through this kind of heartache, worry, and, frankly, set them up for failure when it comes to the future of our economy and of our education system.

CAMEROTA: Judge Lina Hidalgo, we really appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

HIDALGO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: The White House may be backing off the efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci. Why? What's the latest? What happened at his meetings? That's next.



KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 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.


CAMEROTA: Okay. The White House appears to be.