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THE SITUATION ROOM
Fauci Suggests A Reset On Virus Response; U.S. Sets Another One-Day Case Record As Virus Rages; COVID Hospital Data Will Be Sent To Trump Admin Instead Of CDC; Trump: Navarro Shouldn't Have Published Op-Ed Critical Of Fauci; Texas Reports New Single-Day Record Number Of Deaths; Brazilian President Says He Tested Positive Again; Sources: Canadian-U.S. Border Will Remain Closed To Non-Essential Travel. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 15, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sara Murray, thank you so much for that.
Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching. We'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following breaking news. The coronavirus death toll in the United States is now nearing 137,000 people and cases are rising right now in 38 states. And that includes California, which has just reported its second highest one day increase in new cases, more than 11,000 as well as 140 new deaths.
President Trump just left another hotspot, Georgia, where he was talking about infrastructure, not about the pandemic. And he once again was not wearing a mask when he arrived even though most people around him were.
The President's trip comes as the rift between the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci grows with new efforts by the Trump team to try to discredit the nation's top infectious disease expert. Dr. Fauci calls the administration's campaign against him bizarre and says he just wants to do his job and plans to keep doing it. We all hope he does. The country needs him.
Let's begin this hour with CNN's, Erica Hill, who's joining us from New York.
Eric, as we look around the country, very disturbing new numbers from dozens of states.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's true, Wolf. And we're just getting some new numbers in from California, the state posting its second highest single day increase of new cases on Wednesday reporting more than 11,000 new cases 140 deaths. Hospitalizations, and ICU admissions, also hitting an all-time high in the state. And this comes on the heels of some new comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci. He talked about the reopening across the country, noticed the pictures he saw, people in bars and in crowds without masks and said when he saw that the inevitable then happened in terms of arising cases knowing the baseline, every opening was about 20,000 cases a day. Well, this country is now averaging more than 60,000 new cases being added every day. Dr. Fauci, saying that is untenable, this needs to be turned around and that is the reality that many states are facing today.
HILL (voice-over): Confirmed cases in Florida have now topped 300,000. In Miami Dade County where the positivity rate just hit 31 percent, the number of COVID-19 patients in one hospital system has jumped 226 percent in the past month.
CARLOS MIGOYA, PRES & CEO, JACKSON MEMORIAL HEALTH: We're preparing for even more patients over the next several weeks.
HILL: Florida is one of 14 states reporting record hospitalizations. Eleven of those states are also seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We've got to almost reset this and say OK, let's stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now if you are going to open. We got to get everybody on the same team.
HILL: California, one of the states hitting a reset button is also setting new records.
DR. BARBARA FERRER, L.A. COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: These alarming trends reflect behaviors from three weeks ago, and it will take several weeks to see if our behavior now, including the rollback of previously opened sectors, slows the spread of the virus.
HILL: Oklahoma reporting a new daily high Wednesday. Among those testing positive Governor Kevin Stitt who attended President Trump's Tulsa campaign rally last month.
GOV. KEVIN STITT, (R) OKLAHOMA: I don't think there was any way it was at the President's rally. It's too long ago.
HILL: The governor says he has no plan for a mask mandate in his state, though 36 states do have a requirement. The latest to add one Alabama.
Walmart customers nationwide can't shop without one starting Monday. In Charlestown, bars and restaurants can now refuse service to anyone without a face covering.
MAYOR JOHN TECKLENBURG, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: We got to take this seriously. It matters to all of our citizens and it matters to our economy going forward. HILL: New cases in Washington state are holding steady but the governor is bracing, pausing reopening for at least another two weeks.
GOV. JAY INSLEE, (D) WASHINGTON: You can drown with the tide coming in if you don't move even though it's really slow just as much as you can as a big incident wave and that's the situation we're looking at as incoming tide in my view.
HILL: Increasing concern about summer travel fueling the spread. And it's not just the Northeast requiring visitors to quarantine, Chicago has a 14-day quarantine in place for travelers from 17 states.
Canada will keep the border closed through late August.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not have a handle on this outbreak.
HILL: A new school year is just weeks away, one district in Arizona using these misters to disinfect classrooms. San Francisco will begin the year online. South Carolina's governor encouraging in person learning in Texas is up to the district.
LATONYA GOFFREY, SUPERINTENDENT, ALDINE, TEXAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Our priority was going as fast as we could but as slow as we must. And with all the spikes we have to go slowly.
HILL: Spiked not just in Texas, but in 38 states as the virus continues to spread.
HILL: And a little more news out of California this afternoon the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day, it will not happen in 2021. Citing a desire to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the parade has been canceled.
As for the Rose Bowl game, well, they are hopeful that they'll be able to hold that. Of course there is still a lot up in the air when it comes to the college football season, Wolf. So only time will tell.
BLITZER: Yes, sadly, a lot is not going to happen in the coming months. All right, Erica Hill reporting from New York, thank you.
From New York, let's head over to the White House. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is with us.
Jim, President Trump and his team, they've been attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci for days. Now he's speaking out about it. What's the latest?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. After days of attacks from White House officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci has had enough and he is firing back. Fauci is describing the attacks on him as a, "major mistake on the part of the White House."
And White House officials are jumping into damage control mode, insisting that aides across the West Wing are not happy with Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, saying he violated instructions from Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who would warn staffers to stop going after Fauci.
ACOSTA (voice-over): After waging a campaign to discredit one of the nation's most trusted experts on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House appears to be waving the white flag, at least for now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- Dr. Fauci, we have a very good relationship.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK with the op-ed Peter Navarro wrote?
TRUMP: Well, that's Peter Navarro. But I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.
ACOSTA: President Trump and his top aides are now backing off of their attacks on Fauci but only after White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, blasted Fauci in a USA Today, op-ed writing, "Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I've interacted with him on.
Asked about that, the President all but accused Navarro of going rogue.
TRUMP: Well, he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that. No, I have a very good relationship with Anthony.
ACOSTA: After biting his tongue for weeks, Fauci is now defending himself.
FAUCI: I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that. But I mean, I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do because it's only reflecting negatively on them.
I can't explain Peter Navarro. He's in a world by himself. So I don't even want to go there.
ACOSTA: Navarro's op-ed came after anonymous White House official sent unflattering talking points about Fauci to reporters. Fauci said that was unwise too.
FAUCI: If you talk to reasonable people in the White House they realize that was a major mistake on their part because it doesn't do anything but reflect poorly on them.
ACOSTA: Now White House officials are trying to distance themselves from Navarro with one top aide saying in a tweet, "The Peter Navarro op-ed didn't go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. The President values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his administration."
One White House official went further saying Navarro had been told by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to deescalate the situation with Fauci but that he violated those instructions by writing the op-ed anyway. Top Republican lawmakers appear to be on team Fauci from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your level of confidence in Dr. Fauci at this point?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: A total.
ACOSTA: To Senator Lindsey Graham, both are battling for reelection.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem. We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly.
ACOSTA: But the White House is still showing some hostility to public health officials calling on hospitals around the U.S. to send their data on the virus directly to the administration in Washington, bypassing the Centers for Disease Control. One top administration officials said the CDC will simply no longer control the data.
On the issue of using masks, former White House doctor, Ronnie Jackson, who's running for Congress with the President support downplay the importance of wearing them.
DR. RONNY JACKSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DOCTOR: But I think wearing a mask is a personal choice. And I don't I don't particularly want my government telling me that I have to wear mask. And so I think that's a choice that I can make. I don't wear a mask all that often to be honest with you.
ACOSTA: As for Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert says he does not want to step down. Telling the Atlantic earlier today that he just wants to do his job.
And after attacking Fauci for days, the President and his team seem to be following the doctor's advice, at least for now. Fauci was at the White House for a meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force earlier this afternoon.
And check this out, Wolf, Vice President Mike Pence, just a couple of hours ago tweeted out this picture of himself with, yes, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Pence told reporters in a conference call later on that Fauci is a valuable member of the White House team on the virus, a lot of sudden love for Dr. Fauci, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting. Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks very much. I should point out that Peter Navarro was booked to join me this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM. But earlier this morning, all of a sudden the White House told us he was no longer available.
Let's get some more on all of this. So the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Dr. Ashish Jha is joining us. So Dr. Jha, as usual, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, the United States hit a record number of new cases yesterday, more than 67,000 cases in a single day, 900 Americans died yesterday. Dr. Fauci says we need to hit the reset button to get all of that down. What should that look like?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, well, thanks for having me on. And just to remind everybody that it was a couple of weeks ago in congressional testimony when we were around 40,000 that Dr. Fauci said, if we don't get our act together, we're going to go up and we're going to eventually hit 100,000. So he's been completely right so far. We're in the 60s now.
And if we don't do a substantial reset, we're going to be in the 70s and 80s. And it's going to keep going because that's how the virus works. So we absolutely need mandates on mass squaring.
I believe that in the southern states where the outbreaks are bad, you cannot have any indoor gatherings of any meaningful size, no restaurants, no bars, no nightclubs, none of that stuff. And then we really do need the federal government to help states because they are now hitting testing capacity numbers where tests are coming back seven or 10 days later essentially useless. We need those states to really get the help they need to get testing back up and running in a more efficient way.
BLITZER: The President and some others have argued that more cases won't necessarily lead to more deaths. But the respected IHMA, University of Washington Medical School model projects that the death toll will actually reach 224,000 Americans by November. So, what does that tell you?
JHA: Yes. You know, Wolf, we've been talking about this. And if you remember a few weeks back, we talked about 200,000 sometime in September that IHME model predicts that others models also are predicting that.
Look, it's pretty clear the way this works is people get infected, they get sick, then they get hospitalized, then they unfortunately some proportion of them die. And we have just been in denial about that clinical pathway and thinking that somehow we're going to get a lot of people infected and no one's going to die from it.
What we're seeing now is deaths are going up. And I worry that that IHME model may be under estimating things especially if we don't get our act together and really start getting these large outbreaks under control.
BLITZER: The increased death toll, Dr. Jha, is based on the situation in some other states that might actually be going under the radar. Dr. Fauci says the priority needs to be making sure those states don't become the next Florida or California. So how do they do that?
JHA: Yes, it's a great point. So you know, I've been saying that about a third of the states are about neck deep. Those are the Florida's and Texas as an Arizona's, about a third of the states are waist deep. And those states like Ohio and Kansas, and there's a bunch of them, they have an opportunity here, they can avoid becoming that next hotspot. They've got to ratchet back. They got to do the same stuff we've been talking about.
I think at this point we've got very good evidence that indoor gatherings are what's really killing us. And we've really got to figure out how to reduce indoor gatherings. I think all those states have to ratchet back if they want to stop, if they want to avoid becoming a hotspot in the country.
BLITZER: Dr. Fauci also said today, he was not involved in the decision to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send coronavirus data directly to Washington. There's room for improvement, certainly within the CDC. But do you fear this move will lead to less transparency on this critically important data?
JHA: So, you know, I certainly agree that we need a clearinghouse for all the data and CDC has always been that clearinghouse. And I think we all agree that the performance of the CDC has not been as good as it should be. I think partly because of political meddling, and CDC is more than capable.
I would have preferred strongly that if the CDC wasn't doing what the administration or the American people need, then let's fix the CDC. Building a whole new apparatus for this data. It should only be used as a last resort.
And it's absolutely critical. Wolf, you alluded to this, that the American people are paying for this data. American people need full and complete access to the data. I haven't heard that assurance from the White House and from HHS, and we need to hear that assurance.
BLITZER: We certainly do.
When it comes to schools, Dr. Jha, the school is preparing to reopen next month, Dr. Fauci says the default should be to open up but he warns that you can't treat all schools the same when different parts of the country are experiencing different levels of outbreaks. Do you see enough guidance right now enough resources to help schools navigate what is clearly a life and death decision for people out there?
JHA: Yes. You know, Wolf, I feel -- to be perfectly honest, I feel a little heartbroken about this.
I so desperately want kids to go back to school this fall. I think it's so necessary, especially younger children. There's a great report out from the National Academy of Medicine today about this.
But the bottom line is that in places with very large outbreaks, it can be very, very difficult for schools to open up and stay open. And schools need detailed guidance, not general advice, detailed guidance about how to do this. This is why we usually have a CDC that's very engaged.
And we need to find ways of getting kids back to school. It's going to be really important for kids, but we got to do it safely. And I'm worried that we're missing the window here to act in a way that allows our kids to get back to school this fall safely.
BLITZER: All right, Dr. Ashish Jha, as usual, thank you so much for joining us.
JHA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next that Dr. Anthony Fauci, firing back after the latest White House attacks on him, calling it a major mistake.
Plus, Brazil's President who has downplayed the coronavirus test positive coronavirus for the second time.
BLITZER: The Trump White House scrambling right now to try to tamp down attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci. Even though those attacks are coming from top White House officials. Dr. Fauci is calling the whole thing bizarre.
Let's discuss this truly extraordinary spectacle with our Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.
You know, Gloria, the President says Peter Navarro, the Trade Representative shouldn't have written the scathing op-ed in USA Today attacking Dr. Fauci, but wasn't Navarro just following the example of the President, Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, and others in the White House have been -- who have been going after Dr. Fauci now over the past several days and weeks?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, of course, Wolf. and are we supposed to believe that Peter Navarro who attaches himself at the hip to the President wrote this completely on his own, without winking at the President and saying, you know what, I think I'm going to send something into USA Today.
Are we supposed to believe that nobody knew about this? That Navarro didn't tell the President he might do it? I have no doubt the President probably didn't read it. But are we supposed to believe that this White House is so disorganized and doesn't pay enough fealty to this President, that Navarro would do this on his own?
I do not believe that a Navarro would have done this on his own. I believe the person who is most scathed by this, inside the White House is the new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who met with Tony Fauci for quite some time the other day. And it's very clear to me reading between the lines that perhaps what he wanted to do was call a truce, and that he was the one who was blindsided by this, and probably had no idea that Navarro was going to do this in USA Today. And he's probably furious, not the President.
BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're right.
You know, Sanjay, Dr. Fauci is the expert who has guided the country through health crises under six presidents, Democrats and Republicans. He's now 79 years old. He knows this issue better than anyone.
Peter Navarro has no medical or scientific expertise on this. He's an intelligent guy, no doubt about that. But he's not a scientist. He's not a doctor.
By trying to discredit Dr. Fauci, is the White House making its job even more difficult?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think absolutely. Here we are talking about this, right? I mean, the White House has an incredible lead difficult job right now. The whole world does in terms of trying to curb this pandemic. And we should be talking about national testing strategy, what to do to curb these significant outbreaks in several states around the country.
Schools are going to be opening in a few weeks. There's no national guidance on that. And instead, we're talking about these, you know, these cannibalistic practices that seem to be happening, you know, within, you know, the executive branch. It's really frustrating.
And, you know, Dr. Fauci who's, you know, you know him well, I know him well. He's a mild mannered guy. He came out and said, it was a huge mistake, what Peter Navarro did. For Dr. Fauci to say something like that, that's a big deal. He's very measured now.
He speaks but he's frustrated because he can't get he can't get stuff done. You know, he's -- I mean, the bright spot is some of the therapeutics and vaccine research which goes on and something he helps oversee as well.
But most of what's the crisis mode right now he doesn't get to address because he's always dealing with this other stuff.
BLITZER: Yes, the other stuff is unfortunately happening.
You know, Gloria. None of this infighting is doing anything to address the crisis the country is in right now. Hundreds of Americans, as I say, they're dying every single day. And Dr. Fauci is calling for what he says should be a reset on the country's response to this virus. But the President doesn't seem to have much of an appetite for that.
BORGER: No. The President wants to go full steam ahead. And how many times have we said this? Going back to Easter weekend when the President decided he wanted to reopen the country and have everybody go back to church.
This is a president who's looking towards the election in November, and he wants to convince the American public that the economy is going to go great, even most people in this country believe that it's headed in the wrong direction. He wants people to have faith in him even though two thirds of the people in this country trust Tony Fauci and less than a quarter trust him to deal with the pandemic.
He's trying to convince the public it'll all go away. And it'll all be fine. And I'm going to lead us out of this, out of this mess. The problem is, every time he tries to take a turn, Wolf, he heads into the pandemic. And those are very strong headwinds. And he doesn't know how to deal with it.
You know, he knows how to punch back, but he doesn't know how to punch at the virus. And he can't figure out that in order to deal with it he has to listen to the science and that perhaps the public will feel more comfortable with his leadership if the public believes that he is on the same page as Tony Fauci and that he is on the same page as the scientist because those are the people they trust.
BLITZER: Gloria Borger, thanks very much. Sanjay, you're going to be back later in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks to you, as well.
There's more breaking news. We're following Texas now reporting a record number of deaths as cases in Texas are surging. I'll speak to a top Houston official about the state's clearly worsening crisis. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: There's breaking news out of Texas. Right now, the state reporting a record 110 coronavirus deaths in a single day bringing us total to almost 3,500 people. Those numbers clearly impacting the decision on whether to open schools. Let's get some more from Lina Hidalgo, the judge for Harris County which includes Houston. She's the leader of Harris County.
Thanks so much, Judge, for joining us. The Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas as you know is planning to start the school year only online but then we'll move into in- person classes in mid-October. Based on the way your county, Harris County, is trending right now, do you think there's any guarantee that classrooms will be safe in October?
JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: At this point, Wolf, we cannot offer a guarantee and the one thing that I appreciate about the statement the school district has made, as they've said that mid- October at the earliest. And I think it's very, very important to explain to the community. Right now, I don't have a date for school districts because our numbers continue to look very, very challenging.
Just a couple of hours ago, I received the news that in Harris County, the reports that come to us from outside the city of Houston. So the other 33 cities, we have the largest single day case count we've ever seen, we were beginning to see an actually a small, very small drop in the ICU population for a few days. So we thought maybe it's a glimmer of hope. And then yesterday, we saw a 50-patient increase in our ICU population, which is huge. It's much larger than what we'd been seeing even the past few weeks. And so we're at a point where I don't want to be giving people any false hope. I think the only worst thing than bad news is false hope and we're not at a place for we can put a definitive deadline on schools and pretend the virus is going to abide by it.
But it's good that at least now the state has given back the authority to the localities to be able to tell the school districts you can't start. You know, initially they were going to force them to go back in person, August 19th, or risk losing their state funding, and thankfully the state has just backtracked on that today this morning.
BLITZER: Yes, August 19th, that's what a month or so away. So what is this mean, Judge, for working parents out there who are trying to juggle their jobs and their activities and their kids going back at some point to school, but staying home, at least for the time being?
HIDALGO: It's a very difficult situation. We all need these kids to be able to learn to not forget what they've learned before. We need these parents to be able to take care of everything else that they do. And so that anxiety is terrible.
But we also have to remember that right now, we are right at the edge of capacity in our hospitals. We're bumping into going through to surge capacity. And if we open schools with that, we're going to open the door to a raging wildfire and we can't do that. And so, if we want to open schools in an intelligent way that sustainable for the long term, we have to fight right now, work together to not only flatten the curve, but crush it. Bring it to a very low level 20 percent of peak, 30 percent of peak and then open things carefully open a little bit, see what happens. Same with the schools.
And so, you know, for not just schools, but for the success of the economy and our hospital system and so much more than that, it's time to really work together. I have to remind you, Wolf, today still, restaurants are open. Indoor events are open no matter the size. Waterparks are open. So I've been telling my community stay home, please stay home and I'm hoping that we'll do something.
But I still need that that ability to issue a stay home order from the governor for him to do it. And I've been pleading with him on that so that we can -- you know, I don't have that authority anymore. But it's very, very important, especially if we want to put our schools back on track. And right now, I would venture to say, I just don't see how this comes down that low by October without taking very serious action. The sooner the better, the quicker we'll get back to some semblance of normalcy.
BLITZER: Why do you think Governor Abbott won't give you the leader in Harris County, including Houston? Why do you think he won't give you the authority to impose a stay-at-home order, which clearly is critical right now? HIDALGO: Look, I understand a lot of folks are facing very, very strong pressure from people who are not looking at the data, who are not looking at how other communities have been able to learn to coexist with this. And that's very strong pressure. But, right now, we have to listen to the plight of folks who are going to be continued to be without a job, if we don't get this under control, who are not going to do better if we just proclaim victory and pretend like that's going to make the virus go away, these families who need schools to be in a sustainable position.
So that's what I'm really asking for is that we put politics aside. And we recognize that now is the time for action. And it's hard. Nobody wants to be the one to tell people, you know, to shut things down. But frankly, we wouldn't be here if we hadn't reopened so quickly back in March. So we have a chance to do it right this time, and it's incumbent on us to learn those lessons and to just go forward.
BLITZER: Good luck, Judge Lina Hidalgo, the leader in Harris County, including Houston. Thanks so much for joining us. I know Texas is going through an awful situation right now. Appreciate it very much.
HIDALGO: Thank you.
Coming up, Brazil's President disclosed last week he tested positive for the coronavirus. Now he's been retested. We'll have the results for you, that's coming back.
Also ahead, new studies showing the coronavirus might be able to infect people more than once. New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: In global coronavirus headlines late this afternoon, Brazil's President told our sister network CNN Brazil, he has taken a second coronavirus test and it came back positive. CNN's Bill Weir is outside the presidential palace for us. Bill, tell us more?
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as the COVID-19 numbers in Brazil reach around 2 million infected and 75,000 lives lost, President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed today that he tested positive for a second time. In as many weeks, he remains in some isolation here in the presidential palace and says it's horrible. He's itching to get up and out and back to work, has no symptoms of fever or loss of taste or smell.
This is a man who famously said he'd rather has son's die in a car crash than come out as gay. That the military dictatorship of years past in this country didn't go far enough and murdering dissidents. So he already has a fierce opposition in this country. The question is whether his pandemic management will erode his base about 30 percent, 35 percent of the country. There have been 51 separate formal requests for his impeachment to the lower House of Congress. But the folks there, the politicians say that's all political. And the last thing they need in the middle of a pandemic is more politics. Wolf?
BLITZER: Bill Weir, reporting from Brasilia. Thank you. The British government now plans to require mask to be worn in stores and shops but not in offices. Let's go to CNN's Max Foster. Max, tell us more.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the British government pushing back on calls to make masks mandatory in offices after they made them compulsory in shops and on the public transport system. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said they looked at the idea, but then rejected it. The thinking is that masks might help when you're in front of someone for a short amount of time, but they don't necessarily help if you're next to someone all day.
There are certain exemptions for people that don't have to wear masks, but smokers aren't amongst them, despite complaints from many smokers that they find masks uncomfortable. Interestingly, a government study found that a million people had actually given up smoking since the pandemic hit the U.K. and more than 400,000 had try to give up particularly young people. It seems they've heated efficient advice, which says that smokers suffer more severe symptoms than others when the virus hits. Wolf.
BLITZER: Max Foster reporting, thank you.
CNN, meanwhile, has learned the U.S. Canadian border will remain close to nonessential travel for at least another month. CNN's Paula Newton is in Ottawa for us. Paula, what are your sources telling you?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the spiking coronavirus cases in the United States has been unnerving here in Canada as well, and for that reason, Canadian government sources tell CNN that by mutual agreement, the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed until at least August 21. Now, right now is open to only essential traffic. And key here is that Canadian public health officials tell me that they will be placing additional personnel at those land border crossings to make sure that people with symptoms of COVID aren't getting into the country.
Remember, there are exemptions for health care workers, truck drivers, flight crews, but also to make sure that anyone entering Canada is adhering by that strict 14-day quarantine. And it's not hard to see why there is a concern. I want you to take a look at the numbers here. If you look But also to make sure that anyone entering Canada is adhering by that strict 14 day quarantine.
And it's not hard to see why there is a concern. I want you to take a look at the numbers here. If you look at the United States and Canada, New positive cases, they couldn't be diverging more. Canada has less than 400 new cases each and every day. The United States, of course, upwards of 50,000 or 60,000 each and every day for the last few weeks.
You know, that means that in just two days in the United States, they are seeing more cases than Canada has seen in the entire pandemic. And that's why it's not hard to see that in one recent poll, 80 percent of Canadians say they want to see that border closed for quite some time. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, not a surprise. All right, Paula Newton, thank you very much.
In Hong Kong, experts say a new wave of coronavirus cases probably is linked to the easing of social distancing restrictions. So guess what, the restrictions are now coming back. Let's go to CNN's Will Ripley, he's on the scene for us. What's the latest, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in Hong Kong, public health experts are warning. This third wave of COVID-19 could be by far the most devastating this city has seen since the start of this pandemic. The reason is that the cases are no longer coming in from the outside. They're being spread within the community and more and more cases being reported every day.
When just two weeks ago, they were not -- they're not exactly sure how this happened. But I spoke with three infectious disease specialists who say the numbers started ticking up like clockwork as social distancing measures were eased. So now the city is reimposing even stricter social distancing measures, and they're shutting down a lot of businesses that had just started to get back into the swing of things, gyms and bars, schools, Hong Kong Disneyland and restaurants during dinnertime.
The hope is that they can try to find as many people who have this and get them out of the community before the numbers really skyrocket because experts are also warning that the virus is mutating, which could make it more contagious. Wolf?
BLITZER: Will Ripley in Hong Kong, thank you.
Coming up, how long do antibodies from coronavirus actually provided unity? The answer could be key to fighting the pandemic. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Amid some promising news on the coronavirus vaccine front, there's also some new evidence that immunity from the virus may not necessarily last very long. CNN's Brian Todd is looking into this for us. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've often heard that if you get coronavirus and you recover that you either cannot get it again or your chances of that are very slim. Well tonight, two new studies are raising the serious possibility of reinfection.
TODD ((voice-over): Adam Stadler and his doctor in Houston believe Stadler has been infected with coronavirus twice. They say Stadler first got infected in the spring, battled through it for weeks then they say he tested negative twice.
ADAM STADLER, FORMER CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: And then bam, my wife got it. You know, she started having symptoms. Three days later, it just flat kicked my butt. This go around. This section of it has been 100 times worse than the first time.
TODD (voice-over): Dr. Clay Ackerly, an internist in Washington, D.C. believes he had a very similar patient who had the virus, cleared it, he says then tested negative twice.
DR. CLAY ACKERLY, INTERNIST: Then in mid-June, had a family member who caught coronavirus again came into the home and caught it a second time from that family member.
TODD (voice-over): Did those patients really get coronavirus a second time? Two new studies out of Britain and Spain say that after people are infected with COVID-19, their natural immunity could diminish within months. Meaning, antibodies, your immune systems memory of the virus that could help fight it off again could decrease after a month or two.
WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL & HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Your body forgets they ever were infected. And they come back and get you again every year. You can be reinfected by the same cold virus every year and get the same cold.
TODD (voice-over): But William Haseltine and other experts point out we don't know for sure that people can get reinfected with coronavirus.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: If it were true that the antibodies and protection were only lasting 20 to 30 days, I think we would have started to see some significant amounts of reinfection we haven't. Experts say traces of coronavirus can linger in patience for up to six to eight weeks. Meaning, people could falsely believe they've gotten the virus twice, when in fact it could be one long drawn out case.
And those negative test results which Stadler and the other patient got after they thought they'd cleared the virus might not mean anything either. CNN has covered several cases of false negative tests that later proved to be positive. And experts say, even if your antibodies diminish --
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Antibodies are not the only part of the immune system that fights off infection. There are many parts of the immune system and in the case of coronavirus, antibodies may not be the most important immune response.
TODD (voice-over): But if our immunity does diminish, and if we can get this virus more than once, experts say that has big implications for a potential vaccine.
GOUNDER: You may need to be revaccinated every year, two years or three years. We just don't know what that interval would be yet.
TODD: Now experts say if, in fact, immunity does not last long, if you can get reinfected, that's going to make it more difficult for the public to reach a critical mass of people who are immune. So called herd immunity, where enough people have immunity that it stops the spread of the virus. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.
Coming up, a White House attack and Dr. Anthony Fauci as the nation's top infectious disease expert now fighting back.
WILLIAMS: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news on the worsening coronavirus crisis here in the United States.