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California Closing Down Some Businesses Due to Coronavirus Spread; Former CDC Directors Write Op-Ed Defending Public Health Community; President Trump Continues to Push Schools to Reopen in Falll Miami Beach Mayor on Worsening Crisis in Florida; Los Angeles & San Diego Schools To Be Online-Only in the Fall. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: After an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, the most populated state in the country, California, is putting the breaks in indoor dining, movie theaters, and bars. Much of the state also closing down hair salons, gyms, and churches. Three of the nation's largest school districts, that's Los Angeles, San Diego, and Atlanta, announcing that students will not be back in the classrooms this fall despite threats from President Trump that he would withhold money.

Here's where we are as a country this morning -- 37 states reporting increases in new cases, nearly one in every 100 Americans has now tested positive for coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. is going in the wrong direction.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES 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.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And new this morning, we're getting our first look at an op-ed from four former directors of the CDC speaking out in support of government guidelines and criticizing those seeking to undermine that guidance. They write in "The Washington Post" this morning, quote, "Unfortunately, their sound silence is being challenged with partisan potshots, sowing confusion and mistrust at a time when the American people need leadership, expertise, and clarity. Public servants have been harassed, threatened, and forced to resign when we need them the most. This is unconscionable and dangerous."

CAMEROTA: Joining us now we have CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean of Stanford Medicine. He interviewed Dr. Fauci yesterday. So Dr. Minor, I want to start with you about that, because, obviously, Dr. Fauci has not been as available on TV shows, but he has been more available on sorts of these teleconferences and Zoom calls. So what were the headlines, what did he tell you? DR. LLOYD B. MINOR, DEAN OF STANFORD MEDICINE: Well, Dr. Fauci spoke

about the importance of community engagement, the importance of observing the guidelines that had been announced and that we know to be effective, and that is wearing a mask, social distancing. We're seeing a spike -- maybe we'll talk about Florida in just a moment. We saw a spike initially in young people, and I think that's true across the nation. Now we're seeing older people becoming infected too. Younger people may have very minimal symptoms from this disease, but because of their interactions with older people, with people with medical conditions, those people are getting infected, and oftentimes their illnesses is much more serious. So those are among the things that Dr. Fauci spoke about in his discussion with us yesterday.

BERMAN: It's interesting to see, Sanjay, we just read from that op- ed, the former directors of the CDC. That's a powerful statement, basically saying stop, stop trying to undermine science, which is something that Dr. Fauci has spoken about a lot recently.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And you're hearing that from so many different corners, I think, of medicine. The National Academy of Medicine, various academies have been sort of beating the drum on this for some time. I think if there's any positive thing in this is that there's not a lot of division, I think, within the public health community in terms of what needs to be done going forward, in terms of possible vehicles forward. The masking, there was back and forth on this obviously at the beginning because of the concern about health care workers not having enough masks, and also the idea it wasn't clear at that point early on, asymptomatic spread. When those things became clear, masking recommendations became much more widely accepted in the public health community. Testing, something that you were talking about with Andy Slavitt, it's still the original sin here. We still haven't gotten around testing.

So yes, it is interesting to hear former CDC folks and other significant leaders in medicine sharing the voice.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Minor, we're not going forward in the country, we are going in reverse, and California is exhibit A right now. The governor there putting the brakes on all sorts of businesses that are vital to the economy, meaning bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, hair salons. And so that was necessary because of the spikes that you're seeing, and it was getting really hard to control what was happening in California. So, a, do you think that that will work? And do you think as goes California, what will we see next, Florida, Texas?

MINOR: Well, I think Governor Newsom has described the process of reopening as being like a dimmer switch rather than an on/off switch, and I think that's an appropriate analogy. Things did open here. We are seeing a spike in cases, more in the southern part of the state than the northern part of the state, but all around the state. And so there are these measures being put in place that you just described to close indoor restaurants and other things that we know are going to reduce the transmission of the virus.

[08:05:07] We're going to have to have measures like this and gradually bring things back online, but always being cognizant that things back online. And I think that's what the governor and local health officials have done, and I think it was a very wise action to take.

BERMAN: Sanjay, when we see what's happening in L.A. County and San Diego with the schools making the decision not to reopen or have in- person classes, should large parts of the rest of the country assume it's coming our way next?

GUPTA: Well, I think that we have seen California be ahead of the curve a bit on some of these things. And, yes, it's interesting, John. I think that overall if you start to see, hey, look, what's the impact of various things in terms of the impact on curbing this pandemic? You were just mentioned bars and restaurants, indoor gatherings with lots of people we know are particularly problematic.

There was a study that came out a couple of months ago saying with regard to schools specifically, perhaps they have about a four percent impact on this pandemic. Now, these are arbitrary numbers, they're not exact, obviously. But four percent of a very small number of absolute new cases every day, you think, well, look, it's a risk-reward proposition, but it makes sense to go ahead and open up the schools. Everybody wants schools open, absolutely.

But if you're in a place where you have significant viral spread, this should come as no surprise to anybody, four percent then becomes a much larger number, and the idea that staff, people who are helping make the school function as well are going to be much more likely to come into contact with people who have the virus is absolutely true.

So it could be coming in many other places. We're seeing it here in Atlanta where I live. We're seeing it in other school districts as well where they're saying at least for the foreseeable first few months, we will be mostly online learning, and then we'll see what happens after that. Hopefully we can really bring the case counts down in that intervening period.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I want to stick with you for a second because I want to talk about Florida and what's happening. Rosa Flores has reported for us this morning that 23 percent -- there's a 23 percent positivity rate among health care workers, hospital workers in that state. What does that tell you?

GUPTA: Well, this is something that we learn from New York as well is that we talk a lot about the resources in order to take care of the patients we know are coming to the hospitals. We know this is happening. Obviously, there's so many intensive care units that are already at capacity.

When you start having that many health care workers, that sort of positivity, what it signals is that there is another very precious resource in all this, which obviously the personnel -- nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists who actually make the ICU -- the breathing machines, are actually manning the ventilators, all of that sort of stuff. Those become the rate limiting step, being able to have people to actually take care of the patients.

So it's a real issue, I think, and, again, a predictable issue. We know that health care workers are obviously exposed to more virus. We know that they're more diligent about face coverings, masks, things like that, but still these types of exposures are really concerning and foreboding in terms of what comes next in terms of taking care of patients.

GUPTA: Dr. Minor, Admiral Giroir, who is in charge of the testing is doing interviews this morning, and he's saying interesting things about where they think they are in this pandemic. And we have heard similar things from Ron DeSantis in Florida over the last few days. He's saying we're seeing early indicators that are pointing to early light at the end of this tunnel. I'm not 100 percent sure what he's talking about, but what light at the end of the tunnel do you see as we sit here this morning?

MINOR: Well, I think it's going to be a very long tunnel. I am optimistic. We are seeing progress in therapeutics. As has been reported, monoclonal antibody therapies are now entering clinical trials as well as other antivirals, and a lot of progress is being made on the vaccine front. So I'm optimistic that in the fall to winter we will have some therapeutics available that will be effective at shortening the duration of infection. Many of these can be used on an outpatient basis, as well as that we'll see advancing trials for a vaccine and hopefully a vaccine actually available in the winter months, or multiple vaccines.

I do think there's progress on both the therapeutics and the vaccine front. But we're still going to have observe social distancing, we're still going to have to wear a mask. We're going to have to be more careful than we have been up to this point in a lot of different parts of the country.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Minor, when you interviewed Dr. Fauci yesterday he also sounded an optimistic note at the end. He said that he was confident that the U.S. could get a handle on this situation. How?


MINOR: Well, I think it's through a number of different measures. The therapeutics and vaccine front are very important, and I think are making excellent progress. But that -- the earliest they're going to be available is fall to winter. Now we're going to have to step back a bit as has been announced in California. We're going to have to go to more social distancing, close businesses that bring people together in close confines, and observe the measures that we know reduce the spread of this virus. That is what has to be done now, and it needs to be done well so that we don't overwhelm health care delivery systems.

As Sanjay mentioned just a minute ago, the tragedy in New York and in other places, when hospitals become overwhelmed, when you have 2,300 patients in a 1,600 bed hospital, that's when massive deaths occur, and that's when health care workers become infected, and the delivery system really does break down at that point. We don't want that to happen again. In order to prevent it from happening, we have to keep the cases at a level that people can be treated and kept healthy both in and outside of the hospital.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Lloyd Minor at Stanford, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you both very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: President Trump is still pushing to open schools this fall despite now a vast majority of parents in a new poll saying that they have serious reservations. CNN's John Harwood is live at the White House with more. John, what is the latest on the feeling about schools now?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can see that parents have a lot of apprehension. On the other hand, everyone with a parent with school age children in their family understands the anguish that parents are feeling right now as they try to balance their own work lives, the education of their children and how to make the families work. It's an extremely difficult problem.

The issue is, for the Trump administration, is they're not realistically engaging with the data. And what the president keeps saying is, well, schools need to reopen. His CDC issues guidelines, then his administration in effect tells school districts don't worry about the guidelines, just reopen. And the president then says, well, we have got a lot of cases, but that's because of testing and 99 percent of them are harmless. Everyone knows that that is not a realistic way to engage with the situation. It's what's fueling the attacks from the administration on Anthony Fauci, and it's not putting us in a good place as we get within a month in many states of the time when schools need to make a decision, what's in person, what's online.

CAMEROTA: By making that blanket statement, schools must reopen in the fall, in-person classes, we're doing this, this is what's important, it's best for kids. I think -- you know better in terms of the politics of this, the president was trying to take a strong position and trying to have himself represent success, I guess, in terms of schools. But then he didn't offer any plan. And so it kind of quickly fell apart when local municipalities said how, with what money?

HARWOOD: Exactly. And Alisyn at every stage of this pandemic, the president has chosen a course of short-term gratification, the path of least resistance. In the beginning, said it wasn't a serious problem. The economy is good, look at the stock market, tried to talk up the stock market. Then when the situation became unavoidably bad, they shut down for a short time.

We started to have some success there. He immediately grabbed on to the success, pushed the states to reopen and even though public health authorities, one, said it was too fast, and two, set out particular guidelines for reopening. His own -- President Trump's own government set out guidelines for reopening, and then he urged the states to disregard them, and they did. And now we're back in the soup again.

And so the president has not wanted to do the hard work necessary to use federal authority in ways that are necessary to plan and make a strategy in ways that are necessary to get a grip on the virus, which is the underlying problem of all of this. And of course, the irony is that the fact that he has failed to do that means that the economic reopening that he urged, that he celebrated for a while, is now in jeopardy because the virus is on fire in much of the country.

CAMEROTA: John Harwood, thank you very much for explaining all of that for us. Great to see you.

All right, what's happening in Florida this morning, it is a crisis. We have the mayor of Miami Beach to join us next.




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

HECKLER: There are record breaking cases every day, and you are doing nothing!

DESANTIS: So, I think --

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis heckled by a protester in Miami for the coronavirus response there. This morning, we just learned that eight hospitals in Miami-Dade County have reached ICU capacity and have zero beds available.

Joining me now is Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.

I want to talk about ICU capacity in just a moment, but another statistic that jumped out to me this morning that is very concerning and this has to do with the elderly in Miami-Dade County.

Jackson Health reports that the number of people 80 years old and older who have been admitted over the last two weeks has basically doubled. That's a 100 percent increase in over just two weeks, and yes, this recent surge fueled by young people but it does appear that now, we are seeing an impact on the elderly.

What are your concerns here?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, it's pretty obvious what's happening and that is that people aren't respecting this virus, especially younger people. They're going out, they're having parties. They're not exercising social distancing and, of course, they have family members who are older.

And, you know, we just have too much virus in our community. We had over 3,000 cases in one day earlier this week, which is enormous in just our county. So we just have too much virus. The positivity percentage is something like 25 percent.


So, there's too much in too many places and you cannot protect the people who need to be protected. And that's what you're seeing in our hospitals right now.

BERMAN: Yes, because early on, a few weeks ago what we're hearing from Ron DeSantis and others are, it's just young people. It's young people, and the implication there was they're not going to get as sick, this isn't as big of a concern.

I'm not so sure that's as operative this morning.

GELBER: Well, the problem is if you step back, there has been this constant attempt to downplay all of these issues as they present themselves. I mean, we had -- I mean, for crying out loud, we had the vice president here last week telling us that our -- we're in a much better place. And then immediately, as if the virus had a heightened sense of irony and karma, we had the worst couple days in the history of the pandemic anywhere in the world, literally, in Florida.

So, you know, you can't keep telling people that everything is just fine and not to worry because this is not a virus that responds to political speaking points. It's a virus that's going to do what it wants to and we have to -- we have to do what we need to.

BERMAN: So, let's talk about hospital capacity, 48 ICU hospitals in the entire state at capacity this morning, zero beds. Eight in Miami- Dade County.

What are your concerns there?

GELBER: Well, the problem is -- there's two problems. The first is we can -- we can shift beds from, you know, non-ICU to ICU, but it requires so much staffing, but we have to get the staffing. And I know the governor is trying to move professional health care staffing into Dade County so they -- and other places, so that they can really staff those beds.

But, of course, the other problem is as you increase the census of COVID patients overall, we have over 2,000 in Miami-Dade alone right now. You know, hospitals when COVID wasn't around were doing pretty important things in the community. So how do they do those things for all of the non-COVID care, much of which is important and vital when your hospitals are filled with patients that need intensive care as well as just patients that are in the hospital which, you know, we hospitalize, you got to be pretty sick.

BERMAN: What would it take for you to call for new stay at home orders in Miami Beach? What would the situation be and how far is it from where you are right now?

GELBER: Well, I have been working with the county, as a lot of the mayors have. And we could -- we did -- we were the first city in the state to actually impose a shelter at home order in my city.

But what's happening now is we now have closed indoor dining. We have a 10:00 p.m. curfew. Our city has done a couple of other limitations, and we're trying to see if that can affect the curve because we really -- we really want to try to not have to shelter in place because of the economic activity problems.

But what's going to happen is if we cannot deliver health care to people, not simply COVID patients but non-COVID, if all hospitals are incapable of providing care to the community, that's a hard stop for everybody.

So, I suspect in a week of or two, this is not changed in any way, then we're all going to do it. And whether or not the governor wants us to or not, we'll do it. The county will do it. Lots of cities will do it.

It will just be a shelter in place again, but people can stop that, I believe, if they -- if they stop listening to people telling them that everything is fine and they start treating this seriously, wearing their masks and doing all of the other things that all the doctors tell them to.

BERMAN: About a week or two away if things don't get better, you think they're going to have to do this.

Listen the Clevelander Hotel, which is somewhere where many of us have enjoyed a drink or two or more, over -- over the years, they closed in Miami Beach. They say they just can't keep open in this scenario. They can't keep everyone safe.

What message do you think that sends?

GELBER: Well, listen, it's -- we're a hospitality town. So we're sort of not built for social distancing. It's very hard for us to navigate this.

I -- I feel terrible for all of the really good folks that run these places -- the operators, the people that work there. They're all facing severe economic distress right now. But we have to get our house in order in terms of dealing with this virus. We have to get well as a community.

And the way we're -- the only way to do that if we -- is if we all get on the same page. When the hurricane comes, you know, nobody tries to send out political points and say, you don't have to leave your home if the hurricane's coming. Everybody knows what to do.

We've got to have the same approach now. We've got to be on the same page. And the federal and state government have to stop sending us mixed messages that everything is fine, there's nothing to see here. We're all going to be fine tomorrow. That's just not helpful right now.

BERMAN: Mayor Dan Gelber, we do appreciate your time. We wish you the best of luck. Let us know how we can help.

GELBER: Thank you. Thank you.

BERMAN: California's two largest school districts going online only in the fall. Will other states follow their lead?



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: California's two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announced they will not have in- person classes at the start of this new school year. They're opting instead for only online.

California is dialing back its reopening plans -- as cases their soar. Excuse me.

Joining us now is Cindy Marten. She's the superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District.

Superintendent Marten, thank you for being here.

How hard of a decision was this to make?


You know, I'm a life long educator. I'm in my 31st year as an educator, and school is my entire career. And these are very difficult decisions that we're making in very difficult times.

And many, many years serving in the inner city schools as both a teacher and as a principal, I know how important school is for our young people, especially students that are at risk, are low income students.

I served ten years in the inner city school here in San Diego before becoming superintendent. These decisions waive heavy on us as superintendents. I speak to all of my superintendent colleagues across the country as we make the toughest decision, the biggest adaptive challenge in the history of public education.

This is an important time for us to make smart decisions for our students and for our communities. We've got to make smart plans.