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Fauci Pushes Back on "Bizarre Behavior" By White House to Discredit Him; Rising Cases in Washington Threaten State's Progress After First Outbreak; Officials Push to Issue New Restrictions As U.S. Nears 3.5 Million Cases; Officials Rush to Issue New Restrictions as U.S. Nears 3.5 Million Coronavirus Cases; Interview with Mayor Joe McComb (R) About Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Corpus Christi, Texas; Georgia Governor Bans Cities, Counties from Mandating Masks. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


This morning, the rush in this country for new restrictions as the virus rages across the U.S. Local leaders, major retailers they're doing something that the president and many state governors do not. That is mandating masks to try and stop the spread and clearly, taking the lead. They have little choice as the nation is closing in on 3.5 million coronavirus cases. 39 states are now battling an increase in cases.

Just look at that map there. Florida, Texas and California all reported more than 10,000 new cases in one single day yesterday alone. 12 states in Puerto Rico are also seeing record hospitalizations. Those hospitalizations they typically follow the infections as people get sick. Miami-Dade County is out of hospital beds now forcing hospitals there to convert beds for the overflow of patients.

HARLOW: And in Arizona and Texas, hard-hit counties are bringing in refrigerated trucks as their morgues are filling up. Arizona is also bringing in hundreds of nurses from outside of the state just to help cope with the volume of patients.

And how is this for a juxtaposition? Two states side by side on the same day. Alabama issues a statewide mask order. Georgia's governor is stopping cities from even enacting their own mask requirements.

Let me remind you it has been exactly one month since the vice president wrote this. Quote, "There is no second wave of coronavirus. Panic is overblown and the U.S. is winning the fight against the virus."

Our team is following the latest developments across the country. Let's begin this hour with Rosa Flores. She joins us in Miami. Out of ICU beds completely there.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, it's just not getting any better here and let's start with the numbers because the positivity rate yesterday here in Miami-Dade County was 29 percent. This is according to county data. In the past 13 days the hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have increased by 48 percent, ICU beds by 53 percent and ventilators by 75 percent.

We learned yesterday from Dr. Eileen Marty that regular hospital beds were getting converted into ICU beds. Now here are the facts, according to the county yesterday, the county had 405 ICU beds and they had 431 patients. Now according to the county, they have about 400 beds that they can convert into ICUs.

This morning on "NEW DAY," city of Miami Mayor Frances Suarez said that he's been talking to hospital CEOs about the situation and here's what they tell him. Take a listen.


MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: And what they're doing now is they're shifting regular beds and converting them into ICU beds by not taking elective surgery. So what they're doing is they're essentially shifting the census and they have what they've told me they've estimated somewhere between two to four more weeks of capacity if everything goes well.


FLORES: Now, Suarez also says that these hospitals are managing at 91 percent to 92 percent capacity. Now to give you a clearer picture of what's going on inside these hospitals, here's a statement from Jackson Health. It says, quote, "Jackson Health System has continued increasing ICU capacity by converting beds and equipment and deploying staff. We are also not admitting new cases if their medical needs can wait. Our focus right now is on caring for COVID patients who require hospitalization and those patients with true emergencies." Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: None of this should be surprising. We've seen it in every other country, every other community that has experienced this without taking the necessary steps.

Rosa Flores, thanks very much.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro. He's in Tombstone, Arizona, a city where mask wearing not required but in another county northwest where you are, Maricopa, officials now bringing in refrigerated trucks because the morgues are full.

Evan, tell us about how officials are measuring the dire situation there.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it's a very important question and one that we're seeing play out differently across the country and in different places throughout Arizona. I mean, you mentioned the top of the show, some states adding mask requirements. In Arizona there is no statewide mask requirement.

And these counties are left to their own devices to decide whether or not to require masks and here in Tombstone, which is a real town in addition to being a tourist attraction, masks are not required.


Now other counties like Maricopa where Phoenix is, they do require masks and that's one of the hardest hit places by this pandemic. And that's where we're seeing some of these horrible, horrible numbers that we've been talking about.

The morgue capacity in Maricopa County is 150 bodies. Yesterday they reported 156. Now they have a surge capacity that goes up to 209. But they're going ahead and ordering four refrigerated trucks. They will add 60 additional bodies to their capacity. That's in addition to the 600 nurses that the state is bringing in to help to deal with the overwhelmed hospital system. So here things are just very, very tough -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Incredibly. Evan, you know, we're seeing what happened in New York, bringing in the freezer trucks and the morgues were filling up. The exact same thing is now happening down there. Thanks for the reporting.

Well, this morning, Corpus Christi has requested those trucks as well. One month ago today, June 16th, that city had a total of just 329 coronavirus cases. Today more than 7500. Corpus Christi is a big tourist destination and local leaders there are asking people just to stop coming and to stay home. The mayor ordering a curfew for beaches, closing them off to all vehicle traffic.

I'm glad we have Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb with us this morning.

And let me just preface this by saying, I'm really sorry, because you guys, you know, it was just a month ago or so when you had several days in a row of zero new cases. Now, yesterday, 500 new cases. Why did this happen?

MAYOR JOE MCCOMB (R), CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS: Well, I think it's a combination of things. We were going along like you said very well, very pleased with what we were -- we were having our problems but I think it's a combination down here of we allowed -- we closed the beaches on Easter, but we allowed them open on Memorial Day.

And the traffic out there, we took traffic counts for Memorial Day weekend and we were having 25,000 to 35,000 cars a day going out to the beach and each one of those cars has, you know, anywhere from two to five people in it.

And so we were having, you know, 100,000 people on our beach. And you combine that with all of the high school and college graduations that were going on and our comfortableness of how well we were doing relatively speaking to the rest of the country, I think we let our guard down as the public did and started going out a little too much. Going to the bars. HARLOW: Yes.

MCCOMB: And it just started spreading. You know, one of the things --

HARLOW: And --

MCCOMB: Excuse me. Go ahead.

HARLOW: We should tell people, you closed the bars. You know, you -- you did. You asked people to wear masks, you know, you've mandated it. But this -- you know, with defiance from some, they were still going, et cetera. And I know a lot there was a big -- cell phone data shows a big influx of people from major cities across Texas coming to the beaches.

MCCOMB: Right.

HARLOW: Because they're beautiful beaches.

MCCOMB: Right.

HARLOW: I just wonder at this point, is it time, do you believe, Mayor, for a stay-at-home order across your state?

MCCOMB: Well, I don't know about the state. That's up to the governor that has going to have to deal with. But --

HARLOW: But would it help you?

MCCOMB: It possibly would. We're -- we have ordered the beaches to be closed again to vehicular traffic and the bars have been reduced down to 50 percent and the masks -- we don't mandate the masks but we require them. Now, in our local businesses, to go into the businesses they have to have signs posted and have masks required to go in by the businesses, but it's not a local government requirement. We require the businesses to require the masks to go into their location.

HARLOW: Why not? Why not? If we know how effective masks are. There's actually no debate in that at all. The science is just there. Why not mandate masks?

MCCOMB: Well --

HARLOW: The governor lets you.

MCCOMB: The mandate is no better than the ability to enforce it. And --

HARLOW: Well, but why not try? I mean, I hear you. I hear you, but I think, you know, leadership is so important and if you think it's so important, why not mandate it?

MCCOMB: Well, because I think if you say something you want to mandate, then you've got to be able to enforce it. And from a monetary standpoint and financial standpoint, we just don't have the manpower to follow everybody around. We're hoping that people's good nature and their common sense and their consideration of others really would fill up the plate.

And I think probably 95 percent of our folks here in the community are doing that. We do have some that just will not do it. But I think the reality is coming home to them that masks, whether they like them or not. I don't like wearing them, but they're -- in my opinion, they do work. And it's not necessary for me. It's for my wife and my grandchildren and my children.


MCCOMB: And our neighbors. And so I'm wearing them. But it's -- unfortunately you've got some that just -- they won't abide but I think they're going to pay a price.

HARLOW: The president doesn't always wear one as we saw in Atlanta yesterday. Finally on children, you mentioned your grandchildren, you have 11 of them. You also have five children and --

MCCOMB: Right.

HARLOW: -- unfortunately in the last week, an infant, a little boy less than 6 months old just died from COVID related complications in Corpus Christi. What's your message to parents?


MCCOMB: Well, my message now is take care of yourself and your children and your family. I mean, when we were young, our mothers always taught us, you know, wash your hands, don't put your hands in your mouth and your face. If there's somebody sick stay away from them. If you're sick, stay away from them. And so just good common sense and courtesy to other people. But really don't take it -- anything for granted.

You've really got to be careful. Keep your house clean. Know who you've talked to. Stay in communication with your friends. But right now, be patient. This is a good patience learning experience because I know patience are growing pretty thin for a lot of people and it's a frustrating time because you're fighting an invisible battle or an enemy.

And so it's -- but we're doing the best we can and we think we're -- one thing we have proved that early in the discussion as I recall and the discussion was that well, the heat and the humidity will kill the virus, but we've proved that's absolutely not true.


MCCOMB: We've got a lot of heat and a lot of humidity and it's just blossoming.

HARLOW: If anywhere has proven that it is the state of Texas.

Mayor Joe McComb of Corpus Christi, we wish you luck. Thanks for your time this morning.

MCCOMB: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: In a stunning move overnight Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, issued an executive order banning cities and counties from mandating masks. Some of those communities had.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now from Atlanta.

So, Dianne, notable as the state of Georgia faces record new cases and also crucially hospitalizations, and hours after the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called out President Trump saying that he broke the city's law by not wearing a mask. Do you see politics behind the governor's move here?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Jim, it's kind of hard not to. So this new language is something that was inserted when he extended his coronavirus decree essentially. He said initially for months now they have banned these municipalities, cities and counties from enacting any sort of restrictions that supersede what the state restrictions are.

But this language preventing any city or county from enacting a mask or a face covering mandate was brand-new last night. And look, he's had a pretty public back and forth with the mayor of Atlanta even before President Trump touched down here saying that her mask mandate was unenforceable. So this language does seem pretty targeted here.

Now Atlanta is not the only. There's about a dozen cities and counties that have mask mandates in Georgia. The city of Savannah was one of the first to enact one and its mayor went on Twitter last night, Mayor Van Johnson, saying, "It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself or herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can." Adding, "In Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available."

Of course, Jim, you mentioned those hospitalization numbers on Wednesday. They were double the new hospitalizations that they were on Tuesday. We are continuing to see new cases and deaths go up here in Georgia.

SCIUTTO: Yes, George Will had a good line on the editorial the other day saying when you mix politics and science, you get politics.

Dianne Gallagher, thanks very much.

HARLOW: No truer words.

All right, still to come amid the ongoing pandemic, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, responds to the attacks on his credibility that have come from within the White House. He calls it all bizarre.

SCIUTTO: And three New York City police officers injured after a clash with protesters yesterday on the Brooklyn Bridge. This comes amid a startling rise in violent crime in the city. I'm going to speak with the commissioner of the NYPD about that in just a few moments. Also, the historic Rose Parade will not take place next January for

the first time since World War II. One of the many big changes cities across the country making as a result of the outbreak. Stay with us.



HARLOW: Well, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci is calling the attacks on him from inside the White House bizarre.

SCIUTTO: This comes after the White House trade adviser -- that's right, the trade adviser, Peter Navarro, apparently broke protocol, at least, the White House claims that and published an opinion article trashing Fauci's credentials. CNN White House correspondent John Harwood joins us now. Listen, the track record of this White House for describing things like this factually is not great.

To the best of your reporting, what actually happened here, and do we believe that Navarro had if not the White House press team's OK here, that he had the president's OK to take this attack?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that he had the president's assent in a certain way because he was repeating things that the president has said about Anthony Fauci. And we -- you know, the real question about what is protocol exactly in the White House when the president retweets, say, a game show host, saying that the CDC -- the leading infectious disease agency of the government is lying about the coronavirus.

Obviously, the president is frustrated by the resurgence of a pandemic. He'd hoped to get past it, hoped to get the economy reopened, hoped to get people back to school. The virus is not permitting that to happen the way the president wants to -- Anthony Fauci has been pointing those things out, and the president lashed out at him and his aides have on behalf of the president have also lashed out at him.

But in the end of course, they can't do without Anthony Fauci. Getting rid of Anthony Fauci or sustaining this fight would only make their problems worse. We saw that in the Quinnipiac poll yesterday, same poll that showed him down 15 points to Joe Biden, show that by 2-1 Americans do not believe what President Trump says about the coronavirus.


By 2-1, they do believe what Anthony Fauci says. This is why this dispute is going to come to a close and Vice President Pence yesterday tweeted out a picture of Anthony Fauci at a coronavirus taskforce meeting.

HARLOW: John Harwood, thanks so much for that reporting. New fears this morning that the nation's first epicenter --


HARLOW: Could become a hot spot again.

SCIUTTO: When Washington state saw its peak in early April -- look at that graph there on the left, nearly 800 cases were added in one day. This week, the state so far has seen two days with more than 1,100 new cases reported. With us now, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips; she's CNN medical analyst and chief clinical officer of Providence Health System in Seattle. Dr. Compton-Phillips, thanks so much for coming on this morning.

Similar experience it seems to California, right? Early onset of this outbreak, early effort to shut down, and then as they reopen, relax things, they see a return of this. What does this tell us? What are we learning about Washington -- from Washington state about how to continue to keep the outbreak under control?

AMY COMPTON-PHILLIPS, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It tells us that we can't get complacent. It is really easy to go from 0 to 100 in no time at all if we take our eye off the ball. And so doing all the things that we know we need to do, but people are tired of doing. Staying socially-distant, wearing that mask everywhere you go. It's hard. It's really tough to do.

But if we don't do it, the virus is continuously there lurking in the background and ready to rear its head again if we -- if we don't keep doing the hard things.


HARLOW: Do you know why the spike again in Washington state and your state because Jim showed the chart in early April, it was 800 cases a day and now, we've seen the last two days with over a 1,000 cases. I think the central question is why? Because it seems -- it's a state where a lot of people are wearing masks, no?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It is a state where a lot of people are wearing masks, particularly in the urban areas. And so if I walk around Seattle, I'm seeing virtually everybody wearing a mask. It is become part of the norm here. But there's a few things. One is, it's migrated not only from the urban areas into other areas, and so we had a big outbreak in a more rural area in Yakima, where a lot of migrant workers in dormitories lived where they're picking fruit.

And so that was a really tough population. There's another population of an immigrant community from the Marshall Islands that they live in multi-generational -- multi-generational households where people live in close contact with each other. And again, it got into that community. And so it's -- it is -- I would say brushfires rather than ubiquitous across the entire state, but popping up in individual spots where it's much more densely populated and easier to spread.

SCIUTTO: So Dr. Compton Phillips, what does this teach us when we look at a place like Washington state, but also Texas for instance, that you have the governor in Texas at least saying yes, wear a mask, but I'm not going to shut down the economy. And we all get the importance of the economic pressure there. But when you talk about not getting complacent, what does that mean for other states around the country? What do you have to keep close and what do you have to wait for until you reopen things?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It -- one of the big things is, it's not a switch on and off with the economy. But rather a dial. Rather a slowly ratcheting up and turning slightly back when you start to reopen things. It was a really interesting study done by JPMorgan Chase, looking at people's behavior, and that the biggest change in incidents came with reopening bars and restaurants. And so as we think about reopening and how do we pace things and how do we slowly turn that dial, well, maybe it's OK to open things where people interact one-on- one like in a single chair hairdressers or nail salon.

There's lower risk because you need to put the mask on, right? But a bar and a restaurant where you inherently have to take your mask off and have conversations with other people, that's a lot riskier. And so maybe that's something we put further down on the dial or only allow it outside.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, and it's sustained, right? You're there for a period of time. Dr. Amy Compton Phillips, thanks so much, always good to have you on.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Well, a wave of violent crime has been engulfing New York City in recent weeks with more than 50 shootings just over the past weekend alone. The NYPD Commissioner Durban Shea, he'll join me right after this break.

HARLOW: We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. This morning, we are learning another 1.3 million Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits last week alone. It is a staggeringly high number. Yes, it's down from week-to-week, but it is so high. There is one good sign for the global economy that is China's economy, the second largest in the world is growing again, avoiding a technical recession, seeing growth up 3.2 percent compared to a year ago.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back. This morning, the New York Police Department says that three of its officers and its top chief were injured following a violent clash with protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, Wednesday. That is their most senior uniformed officer. This follows an alarming wave of violent crime across the city.