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U.S. Case Trends: 38 States Rise, 9 Steady, 2 See Decline; Florida Reports 13,000+ New Infections in a Single Day; Dr. Tom Inglesby Discusses Florida's Rising Cases, Fauci Saying Time to Push Reset Button, Team Trump-Fauci Friction; Trump Shuffles Campaign Team as He Struggles in Polls; Poll: Majority of Voters Say They Would Vote for Biden. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 11:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John King, in Washington. Thanks so much for sharing this day with us.

Discouraging numbers everywhere you look. The coronavirus case count on the way up in 39 of the 50 states.

Also word today another 1.3 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week.

More than seven in 10 of you say the country is on the wrong track. Six in 10 say President Trump is failing the test of the coronavirus crisis. And more than six in 10 give him failing grades on handling race relations.

The president's response, blame and demote his campaign manager. The candidate is the problem, but don't try to tell him that.

News last hour, the president did finally speak with his top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after more than a month of silence between the two men.

Fauci says we need to hit the reset button on the pandemic response. The president keeps saying the coronavirus is under control and that full-speed ahead is the only choice for opening schools and keeping the economy open.

But the numbers, meaning the facts, tell us the country needs to be having a much more complicated, a much more nuanced conversation.

Just Wednesday, the new number of confirmed coronavirus cases 66,000. More troubling, the death curve no longer trending down. The number of new deaths across the country yesterday 941. The sum total of infections, 3.5 million. The pandemic death toll here in the United States, a sad 137,000 and counting.

Now the president is right to say it is misleading to just focus on the rising case count. But he is wrong, dead wrong, when he scoffs at the doctors and the scientists and tells you the virus is under control.

Let's take a closer look at the numbers. And this map is just bleak. I don't know a better word for it. It's stunning, it's bad, it's bleak.

And 39 states, right now, 39 states heading in the wrong direction. A higher case count, coronavirus new case count this week than last week. And 39 states, orange. The red are the worst. The case count this week running 50 percent higher or more than last week. Only nine states holding steady. Only two states heading down, Maine and Delaware here.

And 39 states, case count higher this week than last week. That's not a virus that is under control.

If you want to look at the trend, since July 1st, the first two weeks of this month, cases up 30 percent. That's a troubling number, right? Take a look at this one. In the last month, the cases are up 65 percent across the United States of America. That is trouble for you right there.

This number here, if there was some silver lining, it was that the death toll was coming down.

Younger people are getting more infected now. Younger people tend to recover. But we are seeing in the seven-day moving average, an uptick, a bit of a down, up again. We'll keep an eye on that. Hopefully, it flattens and comes down. But now, again, the death toll something we need to keep an eye on.

Hospitalizations, again, you go back to April, we started to come down the hill. That was encouraging. Going back up the hill in hospitalizations. That's not a second wave. We're still in the first wave. This is the second hill of hospitalizations in the first wave of the coronavirus.

And as the states deal with this, these 39 states going up, these are the hardest hit. The positivity rate. Yes, there's more testing. In South Carolina, more than 18 percent coming back positive. In Florida, it's close to 19 percent. And 17 percent in Alabama.

Texas at 16 percent. That's actually an improvement. The numbers starting to trickle down. And so is that 24 percent, that stunning number in Arizona, 24 percent positivity. But that number actually slowly trickling down. And let's hope it continues to go there.

Florida, as I mentioned, 19 percent positivity. And local leaders are stressing they will run out of hospital space and ventilators as the state deals with this crisis right now. The new numbers come out every day.

Let's check in with Rosa Flores live in Miami.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Florida's Department of Health just releasing their numbers, nearly 14,000 new cases. The city of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez just wrapping a press

conference and announcing that Miami hospitals are at 95 capacity and that the surge of cases are being driven by 18 to 34-year-olds.

Now, this, as we learned yesterday from Dr. Aileen Marty, from FIU, that hospitals here in Miami-Dade County were converting regular beds into ICU beds.

Here are the facts. Yesterday, Miami-Dade County, there when 405 ICU beds available, but there were 431 ICU patients.

Now, according to the county mayor's office, they have more than 400 beds that they can convert into ICU beds. Definitely not a good situation for them.

Here is how Miami Mayor Francis Suarez described the situation.


FRANCIS SUAREZ, (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: We're at highest level of ventilators that we've seen through this pandemic, which is obviously worrisome because that's an indication of the death rate that will increase most likely over the next couple of weeks.



FLORES: Now, to give you a better picture of what's going on inside hospitals, here's a statement we received 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" -- John?

KING: Rosa Flores on the ground for us again. Stunning numbers and a sad situation in Florida. Rosa, appreciate the live update.

Let's get some insight from Dr. Tom Inglesby. He's the director of the Center for Health Security for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Inglesby, thanks for being with us again today.

You hear Rosa go through the numbers. We're in a second hill of the first wave.

And when you hear about ICU units at 90 percent-plus capacity, 13,000 new cases in a day, the hospitalization rate heading up, where are we? Florida is just one of 39 states heading in the wrong direction. Where is the country right now?

DR. TOM INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, I think in many parts of the country this is a very, very worrisome month. We've had a real acceleration of the pandemic across the country in many places.

And I think that's time to get very serious about what we're saying about the epidemic. I think at the White House and state capitals we should be calling it like it is.

Things are getting worse. We know what we should be doing and we should do it.

KING: You say we know what we should be doing and we should be doing it. We had -- I guess it's encouraging word, I'm not sure that's the right word -- that the president of the United States finally took time to meet with the country's top infectious disease expert. It had been more than a month. I think closing in on two months since the two had spoken. We don't know many of the details.

But I want you to listen -- this is quick -- but I want you to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci saying -- he sees these numbers, too, 39 states heading up, and this is what he thinks is necessary.




KING: What is the reset button? Many governors understandably, understandably, say, you know, we've reopened, we're not going back to a total lockdown. Governors and local school districts have to deal with -- we're about to move from July to August and the school year is just ahead.

What's the appropriate reset button?

INGLESBY: It starts with the basics that people have been putting in place around the world, which is universal masking. It's -- it's acknowledging the importance of social distancing and recognizing how important that is.

It's -- it's limiting or ending these large gatherings that we're having socially. And in businesses, where -- where the business requires an indoor large gathering, we need to suspend those in places which are hot spots.

We have to get control of the epidemic again. Right now, it's being driven by individual choices and some kinds of businesses and activities that are just very high risk.

KING: You mentioned getting it under control and you mentioned the global response. I just want to show you a graphic that jumps out. It's stunning. This in the United States versus the European Union.

Now, our system is different. But if you add up the European Union, you get roughly the same population. You're talking about different countries that have their own approach in the European Union. We have 50 states here doing their own thing.

Look at this. The European Union and the United States went up the hill at the same time. The European Union came down the hill and has kept the curve flat. They have a flat line now. You look at the green line, is the United States. Dr. Inglesby, that's just stunning and sad.

How is it that the European Union has had success corralling the coronavirus and the United States, right now, is having such an abject failure?

INGLESBY: Well, in general, if you look at how countries are treating it in Europe, there's much more unity of message and much less division about the interventions that's been recommended. There's much more close interaction between political leadership and science and public health leadership. And it's basically being treated as a problem that society can solve together.

I think, in the United States, for reasons that are really completely unnecessary, there's been too much controversy, too much politics around particular interventions.

And I think in this reset that Dr. Fauci called for, we need to get rid of that and go back to what we're seeing work around the world.

KING: And 110 days from an election also. I hope you're right that we could get away from that and have an adult conversation and work things out. But that tells me, 110 days from the election, that's unlikely to happen.

I want your perspective. You advise Governor Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland sometimes. Obviously, your hospital is located in Maryland.

We're watching this right now. Maryland was among the states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic that went through this early. New York, New England, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia, and then they pushed things down. You're starting to see, in Maryland, a slight uptick again in new cases.

Is this cyclical, in the sense that is this, you know, the states that knocked it down, can they keep it down in the United States of America if their neighbors are reopening, or is this, as you see Maryland, start to trickle back up, is it inevitable?


INGLESBY: No, I don't think it's inevitable. And you're right, it's complicated when it's a patchwork of governor's choices and different policies in place.

But for states, we have a lot of data. We can see where numbers go up and we can see when hospitalizations trend up or when diagnostic test positivity starts to go up. And I think that that's when people should be acting. If you look back in Florida, Texas, Arizona, there's been signs for

six weeks now that things were heading in the wrong direction and other states that are beginning to see signs that are worrisome.

We shouldn't wait for weeks and weeks to be able to make changes. We should start to make changes early to try and avoid the problems that some of our southern states are having to go through now.

KING: Take us inside how those conversations work with you and the governor of Maryland, if you will.

And I ask in the context of this had. I just mentioned Dr. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert of the United States of America, had not, until yesterday, spoken to the president of the United States for weeks in the middle of a pandemic, which, forgive me, is just reckless behavior on the part of the president, in my view.

But it's pretty tough, Dr. Fauci says in an interview that was published in "In Style," "walking a tight rope while trying to get your message out and people are trying to pitch you against the president.

Dr. Fauci hasn't spent time with the president until yesterday. The president's own team and the president himself trying to undermine Dr. Fauci.

How do you work that instead of doing it that way?

INGLESBY: Well, I think the governor has had a scientific advisory team from the beginning in Maryland and has been consulting them since March. We had a meeting this week. He seeks the input of the advisers that he's gathered. And he's certainly free to reach out to his team in between meetings.

I think it's -- I mean, we have different jobs. He has to kind of manage all the various interest in the state. And the public health and science team he's gathered tells him what we think is going on and what the facts are, and he's been, I think, responsive to that.

KING: Dr. Inglesby, as always, appreciate your insight, sir. Thank you so much for your time.

INGLESBY: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

This programming reminder. Don't forget, especially at this moment, watch the new CNN global town hall tonight. Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta the special guest and the former CDC director, Tom Frieden. "CORONAVIRUS, FACTS AND FEARS." That airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Up next, the president orders a big campaign shake-up as Joe Biden opens up a double-digit lead in national polls.


KING: The president likes to call the 2020 polls fake, but there's fresh proof today he very much knows these numbers are very real. And for him at the moment, very, very bleak.

The president demoting his campaign manager and telling allies new leadership on Team Trump will fix the problem. But a new campaign manager, that alone, is not going to fix it.

Think of an incumbent president like your car. If it keeps letting you down, you get a new one. And odds are, you won't pick the same model.

The 2020 numbers at the moment tell us a lot of Americans are in the mood for something different, a double-digit lead for Joe Biden nationally in a campaign shaped by the coronavirus and the president's response to it.

Again, we showed you this map at the top of the show in the context of the virus. It the matters politically, too. And 39 states at the moment heading in the wrong direction. A higher case count this week than the week before.

These are the 30 states -- highlighted in white there -- those are the 30 states President Trump carried back in 2016. And 30 states he won, 26 of them in orange or red. Meaning 26 of those states a higher case count this week than the week before.

Here's another way to look at it. These are the states -- the pink line here -- Donald Trump won in 2016. Look at the coronavirus case trend, up the hill. That's not the where you want to be going.

These are the states we watch in 2020 -- the green line -- the tossup states. Was flat for a while and heading back up the hill as well.

Here's another way at that. These are the six tossup states we'll be watching the most. You see Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona. Five of the six heading in the wrong direction when it comes to the virus.

Now, everybody is right to tell you, don't focus on any one national poll. You should never do that. But we'll look at national polls in a second.

Look at this state poll in the biggest of the tossups. Joe Biden not only with a healthy lead, he's above 50, 53-40, 13 points in this new Monmouth poll in the state of Pennsylvania. That's just one.

More numbers in a moment.

But one big question with the campaign shake-up: Will Team Trump mix up its campaign ads, too? This is what you're seeing right now.


AD NARRATOR: The radical left-wing mob's agenda? Take over our cities, defund the police, pressure more towns to follow. And Joe Biden stands with them. Violent crime exploding. Innocent children fatally shot. Who will be there to answer the call when your children aren't safe?


KING: With us now to share their expertise and their insights, the Republican pollster, Neil Newhouse, and a Democratic pollster, Margie Omero.

Neil, I want to start with you.

The president is a Republican incumbent. When had you look at the numbers -- pick your poll, but here the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. One of your colleagues is involved in that great poll.

He's the incumbent president. You're judging what you've got in November. Do I like it and want four more years?

On race relations, 63 percent of Americans disapprove of President Trump's handling at the moment the country is going through a racial reckoning.

And 59 percent disapprove of how he's handling the coronavirus pandemic, which, right now, 39 states heading in the wrong direction.

The only good number for the president in the "Wall Street Journal" -- NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll is the economy. He's above water. And other polls show that one a little tighter.

As the incumbent president in the race, 110 days out, those numbers are miserable, right?

NEIL NEWHOUSE, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, you know, they are not preferable.


NEWHOUSE: John, I --


KING: Ever the diplomat.


NEWHOUSE: I heard your car analogy earlier. But I think the actions of this campaign indicate that they kind of put on the emergency blinkers this week. And I think that's a good thing. I think they have hit bottom to some extent.

What President Trump's actions indicate that this campaign is not in denial, that they are looking to -- to turn things around. There's a sense of urgency. There's 110 days left.

I think that Parscale put in place what is the structure of a terrific campaign, a very strong campaign. And trusting it to Bill Stepien is a good move. Stepien is an old friend and will do the right thing.

There's still time to make a change here. But you don't narrow the gap in a short period of time. It just -- it takes weeks to do it.


NEWHOUSE: So I think it hit bottom and, hopefully, it will be moving in the right direction.

KING: I don't dispute you on there's time to change this. Without a doubt, there's time to change this. And 2016 tells us that and 2016 tells us be careful about the polls.

Margie, come into the conversation.

A good campaign manager, Bill Stepien, worked a lot in New Jersey, knows the suburbs. That's a problem for Donald Trump. A good campaign manager can help. And a good pollster, like the two of you, can help. But only if the candidate gets it close. That's up to the candidate.

So I want you to look at another set of numbers. Things in the nation are headed in the right direction or on the wrong track? And 72 percent in this NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll say things are going on the wrong track. Only 19 percent say the country is going in the right direction. You see the increase in wrong track since March.

Neil doesn't like my car analysis. Maybe there's a better one. But if you have an incumbent, and seven in 10 voters, that means a lot of Republicans think the country is headed in a wrong direction. That's a pretty tough headwind.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: No matter how you look at these numbers, they are trouble for the president across polling outlets and beneath the surface. It's not just about the head-to-head.

The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll asks whether you think the president is honest, has the right leadership. He's the president. And most people say no. Does he care about people like you? Most people say no.

And -- and I -- I don't doubt that a strong manager who can help operate and manage a team and a large budget, which is what a manager does, can be an improvement.

Yet, we're talking about a president who has record-high turnover in his White House. And so is this really about new staffers? Is this really about the candidate?

To go back to your car analogy, I think you have a lot of people in the country that say we need to get on a highway and have a wobbly Razor scooter. We need a solid car.

And the president is just not providing leadership, whether it's on schools or race relations, the economy, coronavirus, you name it. People feel dissatisfied.

KING: I asked -- I think I teed that one up asking for the security analogy.

Neil, for a lot of people watching, we lived through this. And I'm a broken record when I say national polls are helpful but we elect presidents state by state. So be very careful to rely on the national polls.

And Hillary Clinton was ahead and the fact, she won the popular vote. The national polls weren't wrong really at the end of 2016. She won the popular vote. She just lost state by state.

But when you see in the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 52 right now, 50 percent for Biden, 40 percent for the president of the United States. The incumbent president at 40 percent.

And you see this play out overtime. In March, Biden was at 52, then down to 49 in April, 49 in June, and he's at 51. The president has dropped from 43 in March to 40.

A three-point, five-point national race, Trump could be down in November three to five points in the national polls and win the Electoral College. You can't be done 10 points or more in the national polls and still win, right?

NEWHOUSE: But you're exactly right. I was hoping you're going to raise the issue of national polls. I mean, they are a dime a dozen, and that's not how we decide elections.

We came out of the field -- our firm and our own dime, came out the other day with a survey showing the president down nine or 10 points. But among the target states, he's down by six.

If he's within spitting distance in these target states by maybe three or four points come October, then this -- this race is actually in play.

And -- and it needs to be engaged. We need an engaged campaign where you're hearing from both Trump and Biden. Right now, all we hear from is President Trump.

And the Rose Garden strategy of Joe Biden, you know, is working but it's -- I think voters are beginning to tire of it.

I'll give you one stat on this, John. We asked voters in these target states: Has what you've seen, read or heard regarding Joe Biden over the last, you know, couple weeks given you a more favorable or less favorable impression of him? And 33 more favorable and 53 less favorable.

I'm beginning to wonder whether his Rose Garden strategy is tiring people out.

KING: Margie, let me give you the last word quickly. In that context, Joe Biden has the lead. But Neil says there's warning signs. What does he need to do to take advantage of the great opportunity that he has today? OMERO: I think it's to continue to talk to -- you know, to roll out

policy, to talk about a strategy for getting America back on its feet, to demonstrate that he has the empathy and understanding of what people are going through.


That is unique to Joe Biden. Certainly, in incredible contrast with what we have now out of the White House.

KING: Margie and Neil, great to see you both. We'll continue the conversation. It's 110 days.


KING: But we've got to look at --


OMERO: Thank you.

KING: Thanks to the both of you.

Coming up for us, as some states step up efforts to contain the coronavirus, Georgia's governor says wear a mask, but he forbids local leaders from mandating masks.