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1st Randomized Clinical Trial: Hydroxychloroquine No More Effective in Early COVID-19 Treatment Than Placebo; Texas Bars Protest Governor's Restrictions: "It's Discrimination"; Update on Coronavirus Responses Across the Country; Actress, Author and Advocate, Holly Robinson Peete, Discusses the Raging Debate over Wearing Masks; Fact- Checking Florida Governor's Reason for Rising Cases. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It is worth noting, just to remind people, this is the drug that the president took and that he and many in his administration touted.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: That's correct. It's also important, currently, there's no approved treatment yet. We are still learning more and more about COVID. And there are several studies and trials under way to really find what is the best treatment here.

But again, this study in patients with mild symptoms shows no benefit with Hydroxychloroquine.

KEILAR: No. Thank you for that, Jacqueline Howard. We appreciate it.

Defying the governor and public health guidance, one Texas bars opened their doors, holding a mostly maskless gathering as part of the protests called Texas Bars Fight Back Rally. And this will not be the last.

Governor Abbott paused reopening in Texas as cases surge, ordering bars with more than 51 percent of the gross receipts from alcohol sales to close again after a brief period of reopening.

We need to be clear here. This is an outbreak that is real and deadly and going on right now. Currently, there are nearly 300,000 cases and more than 3,500 deaths in the state.

Hard-hit Texas counties are having to bring in refrigerator trucks because the morgues are filling up. And hospitals are straining under the surge.

I'm joined by James Kopeck, the co-owner of the Pasadena bar that hosted this weekend gathering. I should note that the bar has not reopened for regular business.

James, tell us if you have any concerns that your event could lead to coronavirus cases and maybe even deaths. And tell us why -- you know, tell us your position on this. JAMES KOPECK, CO-OWNER, CHUTERS DANCE HALL AND SALOON: Yes. Our

position on this is we had a rally on Sunday in support of the bars in Texas that the governor closed down that sold 51 percent alcohol. We don't serve food. And the bars that serve 51 percent food, he allowed them to stay open.

So our fight on this is the discrimination of the ones that sell the alcohol. There's no difference between us and the ones that sell the food in their bars.

KEILAR: So you feel that it's a fairness issue and that the gathering in bars poses no higher of a risk than gathering in restaurants>

KOPECK: That's correct. That's correct. Because when he opened us up back on May 22, he gave us the guidelines. Distance. So we had the tables set up, groups of six or 10. We had every other -- the tables separated out.

People came in with masks. They didn't have to wear the mask when they were at the table. We didn't make them wear masks. If they wanted to, they could.

As far as the dance floor, our dance floor is 1,000 square feet so there's plenty of room and distance in between. And the people danced with who they came with and didn't go looking at strangers and dancing with them.

So our distancing was there. Everything was there. We had all the safety precautions in effect. We sanitize and clean our bars. And the bars around do the same thing.

KEILAR: And so, what's your set-up at the actual bar?

KOPECK: Our set-up at the bar, we have our tables separated there with the groups. Because everybody comes in in groups.


KEILAR: Yes. No, I mean the physical -- the physical bar part, not the table part of the restaurant bar.

KOPECK: The bar is 10,000 square feet. We have 10,000 square feet of venue and so we have plenty of room for social distancing.


KOPECK: Our dance floor is almost --


KEILAR: OK. Sorry. I think I was trying to make a distinction between where people sit at the bar. You are referring to the bar at the entire establishment.

But I want to ask you because, look, we have seen -- you have probably seen this, too. There are a lot of bars -- and we have heard from Governor Abbott wishing that he shut down bars sooner -- there are a lot of bars and establishments primarily drinking where people have not distanced, where there's been clear violations of recommendations behavior.

Do you feel like that has negatively impacted you? Are you feeling like you do everything as correctly as you can and keeping conditions just like restaurants that maybe aren't being affected the way you are?

KOPECK: Yes. We are doing everything we can. Yes, there are a few bars. I wouldn't say a lot of bars that are not going by the guideline that is - guidelines that the governor set up when he opened us up back in May.

But there's a few bars that didn't set up the guideline. And that's the ones maybe he should go after and shut them down.

But as far as all the other bars, the bars I know around me in our area, have followed the guidelines. And the guidelines that he set out we followed. And we can follow the lines.


If he was to open us up, give us a set of guidelines, we can follow the guidelines. But don't discriminate because we sell more alcohol than food.

KEILAR: James, thank you for coming on. So many business owners are facing these difficult situations like you are. We know that it is a huge economic struggle for your establishment and employees. And we certainly appreciate your perspective. You're really in the middle of this.

Thank you.

KOPECK: Yes, we just want to open up to pay our bills and so our employees can pay their bills.

KEILAR: James, thank you.

As more and more Americans are heading to beaches, one state hitting a new record with infections in the middle of vacation season.

Plus, California warns it does not have enough contact tracers to handle the onslaught of cases they're seeing.

And the president shakes up his campaign as more polls show a bleak picture. Who is out, who is in, and why it may not matter at all.



KEILAR: New today, American Airlines is planning to warn 25,000 employees about potential furloughs because of the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The possible furloughs are set for October 1st. And this would include

10,000 flight attendants and 2,500 pilots. According to an American Airlines memo, the company hopes to reduce the actual number of furloughs significantly through enhanced leave and early retirement programs.

And more now from my CNN colleagues across the country.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles. While California did meet its goal of creating a contact tracing army of 10,000 people, it's become evident that the state still needs more.

One epidemiologist said we don't need the same number of contact tracers in each county but rather need to have more contact tracers where we are seeing larger surges in cases.

That said, he also said it would help if there's more done throughout the state around skilled nursing facilities, which account for about half of the deaths in the state so far.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro in Arizona. Two new grim figures show that the pandemic is too big for the state to handle.

In the largest country in the state, Maricopa County, the morgue is at capacity. So officials are calling in four refrigerator trucks to add capacity for 60 more bodies.

The hospitals statewide are struggling. That's why the state Health Department has called in 600 nurses from around the country to help to alleviate the pressure.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen, in Greenville, South Carolina, where the state reported more than 1,800 new COVID cases on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Governor Henry McMaster called for school districts to submit plans for an option to send children back into the classroom setting this fall if they should choose to do so.

This has garnered strong criticism from educators across the state as well as Congressman Joe Cunningham, who said say the last thing to do is overrule teachers and health professionals.


KEILAR: Our thanks to the reporters across the nation.

Every day, thousands of families are learning that their loved ones either have contracted coronavirus or that they have succumbed to this deadly pandemic. Cases are exploding across the U.S. as the debate rages over whether or not wearing a mask saves lives.

Actress, author and advocate, Holly Robinson Peete, is speaking out about this. She recently lost her cousin-in-law to coronavirus and that relative's mother is also hospitalized in an Arizona intensive care unit.

Holly Robinson Peete is joining me now.

Holly, thank you so much for being with us and putting a face to this.

A lot of people know your face so I think it helps when they see that you are going through this, even though I know this is so terrible.

Tell us first about your cousin-in-law and her mother.

HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE, ACTRESS, AUTHOR & ADVOCATE: Her name was Porsche Livingston. She was 35. So her mother is currently in the hospital in Arizona. I just heard on your reporting things are not looking good there and it broke my heart.

And I think just that the fact that we are not all on the same page about the basic idea and concept of masking, it breaks my heart.

And the other day, I ran out, and after I heard the terrible news, I ran out to the drugstore to get something and a woman walked past me, no mask, got too close to me and looked at me sideways like, you know, because I was wearing a mask that that was somehow a bad thing.

And I just can't understand why we all can't get on the same page about this. These numbers are real people and real actual families, like my husband's, and it's just really breaks my heart.

KEILAR: And so right now, you're looking at Arizona because you're looking to see about your husband's cousin's mom. And you have serious concerns there.

And you have four children and this includes two teenagers, right, both in high school in the L.A. Unified School District and a daughter that just graduated from NYU last month, and an adult son, as well.


LASD says it will continue online instruction in the fall. How do you feel about schools and colleges that plan to reopen classrooms?

ROBINSON PEETE: As a mom of four and having been a lockdown with these four kids for the last five months, I definitely want them to be in school but not if they're not safe.

So I was very proud that they came out, set the tone and said, all right, we are not having classes in the fall and we can plan around that.

What frustrated me is to see Orange County recommending that kids go back to school with no distancing, no masking. I don't think they'll do that but just the fact to say that that was frustrating to me.

I don't, again, understand why, as a mom who wants to keep their kids safe, we are not doing what we are supposed to do, listening to the professionals, the scientists.

We would be further along. I have a lot of friends in British Columbia, where I do a lot of shooting for television. And there's a doctor up there, and when, in March, when they had like 85 cases, they just turned to her and said, what do we do, you are the expert.

Now, of course, here we are in July. They flattened the curve, smashed it. And guess who can't get into Canada? We can't.

KEILAR: That's right.

ROBINSON PEETE: It is real frustrating. And we have to get on the same page.

KEILAR: Yes. It is like two different worlds.

Holly, thank you so much for coming on. Holly Robinson Peete. We really appreciate seeing you.

ROBINSON PEETE: Thank you. Great to see you.

KEILAR: Good to see you.

We have more on our breaking news. A new CDC study showing the U.S. travel bans, they actually came too late for New York City as the virus was spreading much earlier than known.

Plus, we're fact-checking Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis who falsely claims the media stopped asking him questions about the pandemic. Really? No, not really. We have the receipts.



KEILAR: Florida is the new epicenter of the coronavirus, despite the governor calling the surge a blip.

But he's also playing a new blame game when it comes to the state's response. DeSantis says the media stopped covering the pandemic in May, that he was never asked about the coronavirus, and because of that, the public grew complacent.


RON DESANTIS, (R), FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Now I think this is back in the news, I think people understand. Look, it was natural. It wasn't much -- I would do press events in May, I would never be asked about coronavirus.


KEILAR: Well, that is not even remotely true.

While the protests calling for social justice were majorly focused on by America in late May, the virus never went away and neither did the questions about the virus to the governor.

After comprehensive research by "PolitiFact's," Amy Sherman in Florida, these are just some of the questions he was asked by reporters in, yes, may.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How is the DDE addressing the thousands of applicants who say they meet all the requirements but still being deemed ineligible?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the subject of antibody testing, what company did you all source from? And has your administration been concerned at all about reports that some of those tests are only 90 percent or so accurate?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, you spoke a little bit about the different things that the state is doing to try and protect people in the nursing homes, but is there else that you think the state could do or that they're working on because we're continuing to see people in nursing homes dying.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about the antibodies in the person?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it's safe to lump Palm Beach County with Miami-Dade and Broward? And should we have gone to phase one in Palm Beach County when the rest of the state did?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The rejection of unemployment claims is 32.5 percent for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. They're advising people to reapply if that happens for federal benefits. Why aren't they just being considered for those federal CARES Act benefits on the initial applications?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Question about modeling. The Division of Emergency Management said that one of the models they're looking at, the University of Washington model.

RON DESANTIS, (R), FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Has that been accurate so far? Have any of the models been accurate so far?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Long-term care facilities will have all their staff tested in the next few weeks. The White House, Monday, made that recommendation. Why is Florida not pursuing that same recommendation?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Summer camps, should parents send kids, get them ready for summer camp this summer?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On lifting of restrictions, do you see this -- first off, is it statewide that the restrictions will be lifted? And will there be protocols in place? Are you going to required organized sports players to wear masks, anything of that nature?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I've heard from literally hundreds who say their unemployment claims are still pending. You said 97.6 percent of people have been paid. But that's people with complete applications. How many of those people's claims are still pending?


KEILAR: So, yes, he was asked the questions because it's 2020 and the video there exists to show that he was.

And by the way, if the governor thinks the public grew complacent, perhaps it was because they were listening to him.

This is Governor DeSantis also in May.


DESANTIS: You've got a lot of people in your profession who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. Wait two weeks, Florida is going to be next, just like Italy. Wait two weeks. Well, hell, we're eight weeks away and it hasn't happened.


Not only do we have a lower death rate -- well, we have way lower deaths generally -- we have a lower death rate than D.C., everyone up there. We have a lower death rate than the Midwest, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio. But even in our region, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. Florida has the lower death rate.

And I was the number-one landing spot from tens of thousands of people leaving the number-one hot zone in the world to come to my state.

So, we succeeded. And I think people don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption. So, they have to try to find a boogie man.


KEILAR: Florida is now the number-one hot zone. It's the epicenter of the global pandemic.

And I want to mention that the governor is invited on this network to address the crisis that's gripping his state. And, so far, he has declined all of CNN's requests for him to appear.

More states are mandating the use of face coverings. So are big-box retail stores, like Target, joining Walmart and others.

Plus, it's the drug that President Trump took and touted, despite medical warnings. And the results of the first significant clinical trial of Hydroxychloroquine are in. We'll have that next.