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U.S. Reports 66,000 More Coronavirus Infections; Nueces County, Texas Limits Beach Traffic Due To Virus Spread; CVS, Target Join Stores Requiring Customers To Wear Mask; Poll: Majority Of Voters Say They Would Elect Biden; President Donald Trump Shakes Up Team As His Poll Standing Sinks. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. President Trump says the country will soon be back to normal and he insists his polls will rebound.

But the Coronavirus reality when you look at the facts it's far, far different. The case counts on the way up in 39 of the 50 United States that map a picture of national failure and a warning of potential crisis ahead hospitalizations trending up the death curve no longer trending down.

In Florida a new record for deaths in a single day 156, the number of deaths nationally on Wednesday 941 the number of new confirmed Coronavirus cases 66,000 adding now to what a sum total is now 3.5 million cases here in the United States.

The pandemic death toll here now stands at 137,000. Another staggering number 1.3 million that's how many more Americans filed for unemployment benefits just last week. President sometimes says the Coronavirus numbers are fake.

And he says his polls are fake as well but his polls do show - the polls do show us right now that Americans at least at this moment 110 days in the election appear ready for change. More than 7 in 10 of you say the country right now is on the wrong track. More than 6 in 10 give the president failing grades on race relations and 6 in 10 say the President is failing the test of this coronavirus crisis.

Part of that frustration is a lack of a consistent message from the President about your safety, about wearing a mask. Last hour Pennsylvania's Democratic Lieutenant Governor says he doesn't get it why is this part of the politics?


LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN, (D-PA): The thing about it that I find most dismaying is they were arguing about masking. I don't know why it has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do about keeping his businesses open, keeping each other safe. We're respecting our frontline workers. The fact that we are arguing about masking I don't understand that in the middle of pandemic.


KING: 39 states heading in the wrong direction if you look at the national trend map now that means the case count this week higher than last week. Several states jump out it's the hottest of the hot spots. Let's take a look - a closer look at some of those.

And if you look here Texas, California, Florida and Arizona they have been in the trouble zone if you will in recent days. And again, you go back to March and April this is where you want to be. Early May you see it going up right here Arizona appears to be flattening at the moment.

The numbers in Arizona in recent days getting a little bit better, let's hope so. You look up here this is California. Texas is green and Arizona is blue down here but Florida, Texas and California still up here 8000 to 10000 in the ball park there or more. You see Florida passing 10, 12,000 cases a day there.

And if you look at this as well just a sad number, this is a 7-day moving average of new deaths. And you see California, you see Texas, you see Florida and Arizona all heading up at the moment. More hospitalizations after more cases more deaths tend to follow that. Let's hope it flattens out.

In Texas you look at the timeline and track it along with the reopening, you have the reopening back in here. On June 26th the Governor said things are starting to spike up a bit. We're going to close the bars down. On July 3rd the Governor said we need to put a mask mandate in effect.

It has continued to climb, the 7-day average in Texas you do see in the last few days that line flattening out a little bit. Let's hope that it stays that way, you have to watch it - you watch a day to day and then average it out over 7 days a little uptick there let's hope that stays flat.

One of the challenges is the positivity rate as states do more testing can you get the positivity right down? That says you're stopping the community spread. Again, you have the time line of the reopening back there than the closing the bars in the mask mandate.

Texas still about 15 percent when it comes to the test coming back positive in the 7-day moving average. We'll see if that number can get pushed down that is critical? And if you just take a look at the map of Texas by city and by county, the color code tells you the deeper the red the highest of the case count in deaths.

In all of those places there are confirmed cases per 1000 residents you see Corpus Christi down here red and pink around this part of the state. The Mayor of Corpus Christi speaking out saying we have to get this under control.


MAYOR JOE MCCOMB, (R) CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS: I think we let our guard down public debt and started going out a little too much. But right now, be patient and this is a good patience learning experience because I know patients are growing pretty thin for a lot of people. And it's a frustrating time because you're fighting an invisible battle and our own enemy. And so, let's - but we're doing the best we can.


KING: Let's stay right there in - county and talk to the Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and she's the Chief Judge there. Judge thank you for your time today. Let's just focus on your area and what you're seeing? So Texas starts to reopen, then the Governor sees some alarming numbers and he closes the bars.


KING: And then he puts in a mask mandate, are you still heading in the wrong direction or you seeing any evidence that those measures are enough for the helping?

JUDGE BARBARA CANALES (D-TX), NUECES COUNTY: Well, I feel like I'm an expert in my backyard John. In what we see here is everything bad. We have a record number of hospitalizations, record number of positive cases. In fact we're number one in the entire State of Texas for our rate per capita on gross.

So we personally are not going in the right direction. And the worst part for me is that every day is a sad day because we're also number two in the state per capita on deaths. So where we were doing fantastic at the end of May, we have just absolutely sky rocketed after Memorial Day.

KING: And you mention Memorial Day, what is it? Is it people deciding it's time to go to the beach? Is it people deciding I've been at this for 4.5 months 5 months I'm done? Is there any one thing or is it a number of things?

CANALES: Well, I think it's a number of things. I think it's almost like a perfect storm and we know lots about storms here on the Gulf Coast. It was very much I want to get out. It was the beginning of summer. It was graduation time. It was reopening Texas.

And let's face it everybody loves our Gulf Coast beaches. Our greatest asset has become our Achilles heel. And it's not the beach per se, the beach is wonderful. But it's the idea of putting tens of thousands of people in gatherings at getting to and from the beach that was the problem.

And this is something that we have cell data on. It is something that we have tickers on highways on and so it's something that we can empirically show to be true.

KING: And I want you to listen a bit to the Governor here. He does now say wear a mask, but he also is trying to say I do not want to shut the state down again. The economy is open, listen the Governor he says it should stay that way.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): People are panicking thinking I'm about to shut down Texas again. The answer is no that is not the goal. What I want to do is to make sure that everyone begins to wear a mask so that we will be able to get COVID-19 under control. So that we will not have to shut Texas back down.


KING: Do you believe that that's realistic? Do you believe if everybody listens to you and listen to the Governor and wears a mask that you do not have to retreat if you will when it comes to the economic reopening or do you think that's inevitable?

CANALES: I think we need to let the data drive the decisions. I think that's something the Governor has always preach and I preach that right along with him. So if the data doesn't show that we're doing well then he'll have to make a decision based upon that data.

There's no question in my mind, the mask order is incredibly helpful. We know this can be an airborne transmission. We know that masks greatly reduced that transmission. And we know that people were not wearing masks here. So I think this is incredibly a good thing but what I'm concerned about is how we have we just skyrocketed out of control?

We have lost control here in Nueces County so much so that we're not even able to have the resources to call back the positives. There's just so many. So we're having to be as proactive as we can to get control of the numbers. Test as many people try to isolate as many people and try to warn as many people. We tell everybody every day stay informed because information is your friend at this moment.

KING: Judge Barbara Canales, it is grateful for your time and your insights. We'll keep in touch with you as this plays out and we wish you the best of luck in the Nueces County and across Texas. Thank you.

CANALES: Thank you.

KING: Thank you very much, I know you're busy appreciate your time. Some breaking news related to the Coronavirus. CVS Pharmacy in target now the latest stories to say they will require customers to wear masks. This is Georgia's Governor banning cities in his state from passing their own mask mandates.

Our Politics & Business Correspondent Cristina Alesci has this news. More companies saying you want to come in the store you got to wear a mask.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Rising COVID cases around the country are forcing retailers to do something. They initially did not want to do and implement these across the country mandates to wear masks when entering their stores.

Again this is because of the rising number of cases and the reluctance of these retailers to do it initially really is rooted in the fact that they - which these companies did not want to, wade into a political debate. Masks have become so unnecessarily controversial they were hesitant to do that.

In addition enforcing these mandates in the store has been complicated for these companies because employees have to essentially ask people to put their masks on and that has led in some instances to some violence and unwelcoming counters.

In fact CVS when it made its announcement today addressed it in the press release saying we're not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcing. What we're asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear face covering.


ALESCI: Target putting out the several other steps that it's taking like having disposable masks at the ready for anyone who doesn't have one who's entering and constant signage and reminders for people to wear the masks inside John.

KING: Cristina Alesci, I appreciate the breaking news there. Corporate actors stepping in where sometimes governments won't. Christina thank you so much. Up next for us President Trump making a change at the top of his campaign staff as his poll numbers continue to slide.


KING: President making a big change at the top of his campaign team. Brad Parscale the Manager demoted Bill Stepien now the new Campaign Manager but the change at the top of the structure ignores some fundamental problems for the campaign.

Americans think the problem is the President not the team around him. Now the President does say things will get better and soon. His 2020 election chances and in the Coronavirus fight. You see the tweets up right there for us.

That's a far different assessment than what we see in the current polls yes, 110 days to go but right now overwhelming disapproval of the President's job performance overall and on the Coronavirus and race relations.


KING: An overwhelming number of Americans who say the President is part of the problem and the country is on the wrong track. Let's get to our White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, the changing of the guard happened today at the campaign. Does the President realize that is not the Campaign Manager though or maybe that might be a small piece of it but it's mostly him? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President may not realize him but people around him certainly do and that's really what they've been talking about because the writing seem to be on the wall that some change was coming after the fall out from what happened at that rally in Tulsa but also what you saw was the President's reaction in this moves to those poll numbers.

Some of them that have him down double digits to Joe Biden and has become an increasing concern for the President even though he is downplayed them and doesn't believe them and thinks they're inaccurate. This is a sign that he does and he is concerned.

So he is trying to make some kind of a change the question is whether or not it changes anything actually going forward when it comes to his campaign strategy because, of course, Donald Trump is still the President and Donald Trump is still going to be the candidate and that's what so many people around the President think has been one of his biggest roadblocks is himself in this strategy over the last several weeks.

When not only the way he dealt with the Coronavirus pandemic but race relations in the country and several other fights that he's picked that they do not view as helpful on their road to re-election including this week's feud with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

So the question of whether or not it changes anything remains to be seen but they did have that handover today at the campaign headquarters with Brad Parscale passing the baton essentially on to Bill Stepien. And it is notable we should say that Brad Parscale is not being pushed out of the campaign entirely, he is just going to be senior adviser and going to be a much more diminished role than what he had of course as Campaign Manager.

But he still pretty intertwined with the family. So important to see how that all shakes out because the President doesn't like to push the bladder out of the circle, he fears they'll say negative things about him and that seems to be the case with Brad Parscale, as well.

KING: We'll see how that dynamic plays out? Demoted but still on board. We'll see sometimes that causes trouble sometimes not. Kaitlan Collins, thank so much for the reporting. Let's take a closer look at some of the numbers at this juncture the President shaking up the campaign staff. And let's do it in the context of this.

This is the electoral map from 2016. President Trump lost the popular vote but he did win the Electoral College 360-232. Let's just come down and take a couple of quick looks at what happening right now?

One of the reasons the President is in trouble is because we're in the middle of a pandemic that is what dominating people's lives right now. How's Trump handling the Coronavirus? This flipped actually 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of how the President is handling the coronavirus?

Little mistake in the graphic there my apologies. Disapproval of the President is high when it comes to the Coronavirus when it comes to race relations, as well. You look at the choice right now, national poll 51 percent for Biden 40 percent for Trump.

Now it is national poll, Hillary Clinton led in the national polls that what a lot of Republicans are going to tell you. He's above 50, the Democrats. That's where you want to be President Trump at 40 11- point national gap and it is bigger in some other national polls tells you at the moment, this is not a competitive race.

Doesn't mean it won't be in 110 days, but if you look at the state polls as well and the context of this map, right, remember right now all the polls tell us Joe Biden is leading in Wisconsin. If he flips that blue you see the numbers start to change. Joe Biden is leading right now in Michigan. If he flips that, you see the numbers change.

Those two states President Trump still above 270, he is at 280. Pennsylvania, you flip that one, Joe Biden's President of the United States. If he flips just those three states and guess what at the moment there are polls that show you the Democrats at least competitive if not leading in Arizona.

The Democrat is competitive if not leading in Florida. The Democrat is competitive if not leading in North Carolina, no one's telling you the race will be like that but if you're the Trump Campaign at the moment you are looking at something bleak like that.

Kaitlan Collins is still with us also joining us is Alex Burns of "The New York Times" and CNN's MJ Lee. Alex, 110 days is a long time. We all lived through 2016. But is a Campaign Manager change what the Trump Campaign needs or is a campaign message change from the candidate himself what this campaign needs?

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know John, in all the conversation over the last day about the changing Campaign Manager, I was just reminded that it was only a couple weeks ago that in an interview with me and several of my colleagues, Jared Kushner made the point that the President is really his own campaign manager, said it on the record that the campaign was like a custom suit designed organizationally to fit one man who at the end of the day runs his own political operation.

And I think that is as true today as it has ever been. There may be some significant differences in organizational culture or in the way that the campaign interacts with other parts if the Republican Party, I think there are folks on the Hill who view Bill Stepien as basically a team player, somebody who there can do business with and so that's probably reassuring to them.

But as far as the fundamentals of the race, 110 days is a while, but it is not a very long time when the fundamentals of the campaign are as challenging as for an incumbent President.


BURNS: And when as Kaitlan said, the President, the candidate is so resistant to change that might move his numbers in the right direction. KING: It is a giant point you make a very important point there. It's hard to change the direction of a campaign. 110 days does give you time but it's hard to fight a pandemic. We have 39 states heading in the wrong direction there's not a clear field if you will, a clear opening of the President to do that without the facts that Americans are dealing with every day.

So let me flip the coin MJ. You're Joe Biden, you're looking at these numbers whether it's a national poll or whether it's a battleground state poll and you could not be happier. However, as you all know a lot of Democrats have 2016 deja vu and they're like whoa.

He's heading into this moment of huge decisions. He has to pick a running mate. He has to orchestrate a convention. He has to decide you know you need to keep the Bernie Sanders and the liberal voters on board. He needs to try to get African Americans to turn out in November. You're obviously happy to see these numbers but there's always a but.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is but you know in the big picture if you have listened to Joe Biden talk in the last couple of weeks and you talk to his allies and people close to his campaign. They basically feel like Donald Trump is giving them political ammunition every single day.

It is not a mistake that in recent campaign events we have heard Joe Biden specifically quote Donald Trump on things that he had said about the Coronavirus, a big example being when President Trump recently said he would like his administration to slow down COVID-19 testing that of course is not the advice that we have gotten from experts and public health officials.

And also, Joe Biden is also pointing to the actions and behavior of President Trump including his refusal for a long time to wear a mask in public. And also, his decision to hold an indoor rally they basically feel like this is the kind of behavior and speech that is coming from their competition that is helping to write sort of the perfect attack ad for Joe Biden.

You know and the public is not out with Donald Trump when it comes to the Coronavirus. We know that recent polling has shown that his approval on the handling of the pandemic has been falling. We also know that he is in a precarious position when it comes to his positioning on the economy.

And just one point that I'll make about the economy is that if you rewind to maybe 5 months ago. The one thing about the Trump Campaign really, really wanted to be able to count on it was a robot economic message that there were certainly going to be some people who said look President Trump is somebody who is seeing favor things. I don't necessarily agree with him on everything, but the economy is basically working out fine for me.

The trouble with the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic is that there is no uncoupling and separating the Coronavirus pandemic and economy. So this is what should be the most troubling for the Trump Campaign aside from obviously the public health issues is that if the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic is not good for the President that is bad news for the economy and that is just a world of bad news for the Trump Campaign.

KING: Then it would be bad news for Republicans down ballot to which is where you see. The President says the polls are fakes. The President says Coronavirus is under control. Even many of his allies are saying sir you have to stop the polls are real and the virus is not under control.

Among those allies traditionally Kaitlan the editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" which writes this. This is a mess and if it continues Republicans will be routed in November, leaning into a culture war against experts won't win undecided voters. Americans want a realistic assessment.

Today President Trump's opponents can depict the White House has resigned, lacking direction and more eager to disparage medical authorities then rally them to implement the administration's strategy. Time is running out to change that perception.

Again, the question is does the President get it and will he actually consistently do anything about it?

COLLINS: And we so often say well, it's the President, it's the President who's doing this. You know people often point back to that his own staff but you see how pervasive his thoughts can be this week in this argument with Dr. Fauci where you not only had his top Trade Adviser who is known to go rogue publishing this op-ed, criticizing Fauci.

But you have the White House press shop distributing this memo anonymously criticizing Dr. Fauci questioning his judgment as well. And the reason those two things happened is because clearly something that the President himself is that and that's why officials feel comfortable doing it.

So, the question is you know does it really change anything when it comes to campaigning and the strategy there? Because we've seen the concern from Republicans and I think the thing to watch is maybe if other Republicans start to speak out against the President's response like we saw the Maryland Governor, a Republican do today in that op-ed criticizing the President.

And the question does that then signal for other leaders to also do similar? Because there are concerns them around Republicans if they are too close to the President and they're in a state where people don't think he's handled it well. And it's going to hurt them potentially on the ballot in November.

KING: That's a great point to watch if the polls stay this bad to Republicans. Already you don't see Presidents showing up in Republican ads as much anymore so do they start moving away in other ways?

[12:25:00] KING: Kaitlan, Alex and MJ thanks so much for the insights today. Again, a bad day for the Present we'll see if he can fix it. Coming up for us the CDC expected to unveil some new guidance says the administration continues to push reopen schools in the fall.