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U.S. Sets Another Record for New Cases as 38 States See Spike; Florida Nears 300,000 Cases as Hospital Struggle to Keep Up; Texas Sees Record Number of New Cases Tuesday; California Reports Record Hospitalizations and ICU Admission; Navarro Slams Fauci After Administration Denies Effort to Attack Him; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized; Trump Defends Confederate Flag, Calls It Freedom of Speech. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 15, 2020 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:29]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Once again, this country has hit a record-breaking number of new infections for a single day. That number more than 67,000 and the head of the CDC says that America must brace itself for a worse yet to come. He says this fall and winter could be, quote, "one of the most difficult times that we've experienced in American public health."

Just a stunning warning coming, we should note, from inside the Trump administration. And an updated model now shows an even more devastating projection. 224,000 people in the U.S. could die from this virus by November.

HARLOW: But so much of that could be mitigated if people would just wear masks. That also coming from the head of the CDC right now. 38 states are seeing a spike in cases, 27 states have now either paused or rolled back their planned reopenings.

But some potentially good news in the fight for this vaccine. Moderna is now reporting that its vaccine induced immune responses in the volunteers who received it. The question ahead that we'll get into is what does that mean for all of us?

Our team is tracking the impact of the virus coast to coast. Let's begin in Florida where the state is zeroing in on 300,000 COVID cases. Our Rosa Flores joins us this morning.

Good morning, Rosa. You're in Miami-Dade County where the positivity rate is now above 30 percent?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, and the mayor of the city of Miami saying that they really have one to four weeks to turn this around and says that in one to two weeks that they might need to shut down. But as we look around the country, other states also having issues and the United States now reporting that they have broken another record. More than 67,000 cases in just one day.

Florida also broke a record with the most deaths in a span of 24 hours. 132. That's 132 families now mourning their loved ones. As for hospitalizations across the country, nearly 12 states are reporting an increase in or record-breaking hospitalizations. And as experts around the country say that the future could be grim.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (voice-over): As the coronavirus sends many states into crisis mode, the director of the CDC warns the worst could be on the horizon.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we have experienced in American public health.

Keeping the health care system from being overstretched as we get through is going to be important.

FLORES: With at least 38 states experiencing the rise in new cases over the past week, many hospitals are already overstretched.

DR. QUINN SNYDER, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN IN ARIZONA: We just had some request for refrigerated trucks to come into our state to house dead bodies because our morgues are beginning to run out of space. We could end up in a position where we're going to have to start making decisions like who gets a ventilator and who doesn't.

FLORES: Florida experienced a grim new milestone in coronavirus related deaths and added over 9200 new infections over the past day. Nearly a quarter of the Sunshine State's cases are in Miami-Dade County. Now considered by one expert to be the epicenter of the pandemic.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: The situation is dire as you mentioned. You know, our hospitalizations are an all-time high. Our ICU beds are double what they were in April but if things don't improve dramatically over the next week, we could be forced to take very dramatic measures like reinstituting a stay-at-home order.

FLORES: In a meeting with Miami area leaders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noting an uptick in positive tests in young people.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Right now in Florida the number one demographic by far that has tested positive is 25 to 34. Now, obviously that demographic is just less risky, but at the same time, you know, it spreads quickly there and then it can spread to other people.

FLORES: But Dr. Anthony Fauci says the increase in infections within that age group could be attributed to Florida's quick reopening. The CDC director disagrees, instead pointing to travel to southern states during the Memorial Day week. REDFIELD: I don't think the reopening is what's driving the current

southern expansion right now. It's independent of whether you reopen, you didn't reopen. You know, when you reopen, so we're of the view that there was something else that was the driver.

[09:05:01]

FLORES: Either way, Fauci says if trends continue the lives lost could be tremendous.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you look at the magnitude of the 1918 pandemic where anywhere from 50 to 75 to 100 million people globally died, I mean that was the -- you know, the mother of all pandemics and truly historic. I hope we don't even approach that with this, but it does have the makings for the possibility of being, you know, approaching that in seriousness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: Now here's the reality on the ground in Miami-Dade County. The positivity rate yesterday according to the county, 31 percent.

And Jim, Jackson Health reporting a 226 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in the past month -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Folks, watch the data. Rosa Flores, thank you.

We should note this network has asked Governor DeSantis repeatedly to come on for interviews. He has so far refused.

Another state suffering here, Texas reporting a record-breaking 10,745 new cases yesterday. CNN's Ed Lavandera is following the latest there.

So, Ed, cases go up typically hospitalizations follow. Are hospitals there able to handle the surge?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've seen another uptick reported yesterday in the number of people hospitalized across the state and we do keep hearing there is that intense pressure on these hospital systems to keep up with all of the cases pouring in to these hospitals. In fact, military medical personnel are being brought into Houston and Dallas, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley and in El Paso as well to help take the -- alleviate the stress on these hospital staffs that are dealing with these overwhelming numbers across the state.

And what is really troubling now is that we're also seeing in terms of the more than 10,700 cases that were announced yesterday the positive infection rate is now very close to 17 percent. And as I've mentioned, it was just at the end of May where it was at 4.2 percent so it's more than quadrupled in just the last month and a half and that is a troubling sign of where things stand right now in Texas.

And you're starting to see the effects of that as a number of school districts across the state are beginning to announce that they will begin the school year online, not with in-person classes. We anticipate more of these types of announcements here in the days and weeks ahead -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Ed, thanks very much for that reporting.

Let's go now to our colleague Stephanie Elam. She joins us from Los Angeles.

The county is fueling a record number of COVID hospitalizations across California, right?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've got the county and the state, Poppy, both putting in record numbers that nobody wants to see. Let's start off with the state of California which does say that they have a record number of hospitalizations. Talking about 346,211 cases is where we stand right now, and the deaths standing there at 7,250.

That is statewide. But the hospitalizations, this new record of over 6700. We also see ICU admissions at more than almost 2,000. It's at 1886 right now. So you look at these numbers all together and from the day previously, all of these numbers are going up. The hospitalizations, the ICU patients as well as the new cases. The positivity rate is at 7.1 percent over the last 14 days so it's staying around 7 percent most of all in this last week or so we've seen that.

But most of these hospitalizations are in Los Angeles County. And that is where we saw another new record of the highest record of cases more than 4200 cases there. The hospitalizations above 2100 but when you listen to the officials here, they're saying that people are just not following the guidelines. Same thing with businesses as well. And that's why we had to go back to these steep rollbacks, and instituting that people can't eat inside restaurants, no gyms, no salons, no barbershop. All of those things very much a part of what they're trying to do here as these continue to rise and going in the wrong direction -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Again, follow the data. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

Let's bring in now Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital.

Dr. Kraft, always good to have you on.

Dr. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Likewise.

SCIUTTO: Just for folks watching at home, because they're used to, probably tired of competing claims about where this country stands coming from politicians versus what the data shows. So when the country has 67,000 new cases in a single day as the U.S. did and the death toll now predicted to go above 200,000 by November, does this country have a handle on this outbreak or not?

KRAFT: We do not have a handle on this outbreak and I'm not really sure at this point, Jim, what to say differently except that we may be more at a toddler status, where we have to sort of learn ourselves by putting our hand over a fire to actually learn that there's a problem. I don't know what else besides, you know, online schooling, and, you know, all these other things that are happens.

[09:10:06]

Sports being canceled. Different things that are going to be happening as a result of our inability to wear a mask, social distance and wash our hands.

HARLOW: It was --

SCIUTTO: Goodness.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, it's such a good way to put it because you're right. That's exactly what so many people have done, not believing what the data say and then trying it themselves.

To your mask point, Dr. Redfield, the CDC director has an op-ed out today, talking about, basically pleading with everyone to wear a mask and saying that we could bring down -- like get a handle on this within six to eight weeks. But then he also said this about why he thinks there has been really this outbreak especially across the south. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REDFIELD: We're of the view that there was something else that was the driver. Maybe the Memorial Day, not the weekend, but the Memorial Day week, where a lot of north landers decided to go south for vacations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He didn't give data to back that up or evidence, but he said he doesn't basically think that it's just states reopening. What do you think?

KRAFT: I think it's behavioral. So we did see a lag, Poppy, when we had the states reopen. We didn't see a huge spike because I think people were still trying to figure out what they were going to do. You know, businesses weren't reopening right away because it sort of came quicker than they thought, And so I think it's as people got more comfortable and honestly as people got more and more impatient about being in shelter-in-place, about not getting to do the things that they want.

We actually -- you know, then we started seeing, to me, the rise when the behaviors started changing. Unfortunately it didn't just change sort of like slowly where people were sort of being less and less careful. You know, increasing their coronavirus circles, thinking about their own risk mitigation strategies. It was very binary. It was shelter in place and then back to normal. There was no like living with COVID sort of, you know, strategy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Dr. Kraft, I want to talk about schools for a moment here because this is top of many parent's minds right now, communities, et cetera. There is some data, is there not, for instance in pediatrics journal, that kids don't transmit this a lot. Between themselves, but also to adults. If that community has a low rate of community transmission at the time.

Just your best reading of the data as to whether schools should be looked at as potential hot spots if they were to reopen in the fall and how parents and communities should judge this.

KRAFT: Yes. So I think that the key part of what you just said, Jim, was the fact that it's in a low transmission or a low prevalence area. It really doesn't matter who is spreading it or not spreading it at that point. I guess I'm of the firm belief maybe because I have three pediatric children in my house and in general that schools are going to be hotspots. Kids are vector for viruses.

I'm not sure that corona is, you know, so different from the other coronaviruses, from flu itself. If you remember a pandemic, h1n1 in 2009, as soon as schools reopened there was a huge spike. And so I think that it's -- it would be a good thing if kids weren't transmitting but we do know that kids don't -- it's hard for them to follow social distancing and so whether or not they themselves shed a lot of virus, they don't have the practices to actually stop the spread.

And so I do think that we really need to be thinking in our school systems how we're going to mitigate that and we need to take -- you know, figure out how to do that. Even if it's just mainly protecting the teachers who are usually going to be the most vulnerable in that setting.

HARLOW: Yes. For sure. Very briefly, the baby that was infected in the womb you have the study and the reporting out of France. This child developed after the child was born a neurological complications including irregular muscle contractions.

Does this change the way we view how susceptible, you know, the baby -- the fetus in the womb may be?

KRAFT: I think it's something that is unusual with this virus. We do, you know, encourage for instance flu vaccine in pregnant women because of the baby. And so I think that this virus has proven over and over again that it does some surprising things, that it isn't more invasive than we thought. And remember, none of our population is really immune to it. So some of the complications we're seeing are a lot of what happens when you introduce a new pandemic virus into a completely nonimmune population. It should be scary for all of us.

HARLOW: Dr. Colleen Kraft, thank you for all of the straight answers. We need them these days.

Still to come, the top White House trade adviser, very close to the president, Peter Navarro, you've seen him on this program many times. Well, he's out with a new op-ed this morning completely undermining and discrediting Dr. Anthony Fauci. The White House insists there is no effort to undermine the nation's top doctor, but clearly there is from Navarro. [09:15:00]

Plus, the struggle to get kids back to school in the Fall has turned partisan. The president says schools are making a terrible decision if they don't reopen. But key, how can they do it safely?

SCIUTTO: And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized. We're going to bring you the latest on her condition just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Well, overnight again, the White House clearly ramping up their attacks on the nation's top infectious disease doctor, that is of course, Dr. Anthony Fauci. This is just a day after the administration at least publicly tried to insist there's been no effort to discredit him.

Clearly, there has. The top White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro wrote a pretty stunning op-ed today in "USA Today". And part of what he writes is "Dr. Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he's been wrong about everything I've interacted with him on. When you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci's advice, my answer is only with skepticism and caution."

[09:20:00]

SCIUTTO: Keep in mind, Peter Navarro is a trade adviser, Dr. Fauci, decades of work in responding to epidemic outbreaks, HIV, Ebola, et cetera. Let's speak now to CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and Toluse Olorunnipa; White House -- Toluse Olorunnipa; White House reporter for "The Washington Post".

John Harwood, a skeptical observer of this White House might wonder if the administration is trying to have it both ways this morning by claiming that this op-ed did not go through the regular vetting process while one of the president's closest and most trusted advisors is openly attacking Dr. Fauci here. What's going on? Is it trying to have it both ways?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, Jim, what's going on is, this is a chaotic White House, has been throughout the president's term. That operates from moment to moment. A bunch of players acting individually, and it says something broader, that it goes beyond President Trump. It's not surprising that a president so unsuited and uninterested in governance would have a weak White House staff.

Look at the picture, last two White House Chiefs of Staff have both been far right extremists from the House of Representatives. The current Press Secretary walks into the briefing room and just delivers nonsense for a few minutes and then leaves.

The social media director comes out of Donald Trump's golf club and sends out ludicrous social media posts, cartoons about Anthony Fauci. And now Peter Navarro, who is considered a fringe figure within his own profession of economics is attacking Anthony Fauci who is considered the leading figure in his field of public health. Attacking him on public health.

He's on Fauci's turf here. He simply doesn't have the credibility, and of course, we're seeing the results from this administration of a --

HARLOW: Yes --

HARWOOD: Of the kind of people who are running it.

HARLOW: Well, we know Toluse, that Peter Navarro is happy to do interviews. He does a lot of them, he's often on this program. He was supposed to be on Wolf Blitzer's show this afternoon, but the White House apparently just canceled that. You know, he has a lot of questions to answer here. There's a lot, Toluse, that is left out of his op-ed where he's criticizing Dr. Fauci for, you know, many things including hydroxychloroquine, et cetera.

There are some really important facts that are not included, and I think there are just many questions that Navarro needs to answer, no?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I thought it was important to break down the op-ed. And part of it, Peter Navarro essentially says that Dr. Anthony Fauci was telling the media, don't worry about this disease in late February. But if you look at what President Trump was saying in late February, he was saying to the media that, you know, this is one person coming in from China. It's going to be fine. We have it very well under control.

Later, even after the virus began community spread, he said that it was just a few cases and it was going to be going down to zero. He said it was all going to go away once the weather got warm in April. He said multiple things that were not true.

That were much more sort of solid and stubborn after the evidence started to come out. One thing about Dr. Fauci is that once evidence started to come out about wearing masks, about asymptomatic spread, he did change his tune, and he did adjust based on the science. President Trump has only doubled-down, and that's part of the reason why some of these --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

OLORUNNIPA: Complaints about the doctor are ringing hollow.

SCIUTTO: Yes, based on the science, the key phrase there. Other issue notable, that the president in an interview with "CBS" yesterday made really just a startling comparison between the Confederate flag and Black Lives Matter and equivalency here. Have a listen quickly if I can, I want to get both of your reactions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you understand why the flag is a painful symbol for many people because it's a reminder of slavery. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STAES: Well, people love it and

I don't view -- I know people that like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery. I look at NASCAR, you go to NASCAR, you had those flags all over the place, they stopped it. I just think it's freedom of speech. Whether it's Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about, it's freedom of speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Toluse, just quickly, and maybe John, your reaction?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, the president has a selective view of freedom of speech when various cities decided to write Black Lives Matter on their city streets, he lashed out against that. He didn't say this was a matter of freedom of speech or city governance.

He said that this was horrible and this was anti-police and he called the entire movement a symbol of hate. So if the president can and has shown a willingness to express his views very clearly when it comes to things like the Confederate flag, it seems like he's much more hesitant to put in a public view, and I think that speaks volumes.

HARLOW: Well, all right, except --

HARWOOD: Well, and I would just add to what -- I will just add to what Toluse said. The president does not have a healthy moral sense first of all, and second of all, he doesn't understand the country that he is leading. He has got a mental framework about who is in charge and who ought to be in charge and what the country is that stuck way in the past.

[09:25:00]

The country has changed, he has not changed with it.

HARLOW: And remember in 2015, he was running, and he said you should put the Confederate flag in a museum.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: So things have changed. Thanks, John, thanks, Toluse, we appreciate it. Let's talk about schools, school safety concerns are growing by the day. One district is now installing giant misters like these used on NFL sidelines to try to spray disinfectant. We'll take you inside that classroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Cases and hospitalizations have been spiking for weeks now in Arizona, and now school is set to start there in just weeks.