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CNN NEWSROOM

Kansas Delays School Start Until After Labor Day; Wichita Mayor Warns City's Hospitals Close to Capacity; Trump Shuffles Campaign Team as Polls Show Pandemic Issues; Louisiana Official Says Virus Testing Is an American Failure; White House Says Science Should Not Stand in Way Of Opening Schools; NFL Players Association Says 72 Players Test Positive. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00]

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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Facing spiking numbers the governor of Kansas has announced that they are pushing back the start of school by three weeks. This as the Midwestern state is reporting more than 20,000 people have been infected there, and hospitals in Wichita, the state's largest city, are now concerned about their capacity.

Brandon Whipple is the mayor of Wichita. He's joining me right now. Mayor, thank you for being here. I saw your tweets that the hospitals have told you they could hit capacity in two to three weeks. What are you hearing from them today? What are they up against?

BRANDON WHIPPLE, MAYOR OF WICHITA, KANSAS: Well, really, we're on the phone with the hospitals about once a week. Since this whole pandemic started and getting constant updates. Right now, it's not just about capacity when it comes to beds, it's also, you know, about staff, it's about making sure that we have enough medication. It's a whole picture of stuff.

So we're doing well here in Wichita at the moment, but we need people to have their masks on to be looking out for one another so we can do what we can to stop the spread so our hospitals don't wind up in the situation that some other hospitals have wound up throughout the country.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, you've seen so many states and what's happened and I'm sure you're terrified of it, is really the coming your way, because I wonder what is happening in Kansas? Because the governor has been relatively aggressive with mitigation measures. I mean she put in place a state-wide mask mandate and other measures. What's happened?

WHIPPLE: So really in Kansas, I'm proud of our governor and really proud of the city of Wichita. Our governor came out and was one of the first governors to call off school back when this was just starting up. And here in Wichita, we're one the first cities to stop public events. I remember myself and another council member started to see the pattern that was happening with COVID going to our staff saying, hey, tonight we have this incredible park opening and we really probably shouldn't hold it.

And getting ahead of this is really what we want to do here in Wichita and make sure that not only we're doing this as a city with our city resources but getting that good information out, that scientific information out to the people of Wichita. Because one of the things about Wichita is folks know what should be done, they will do it. And not only will they do it for themselves, but they'll make sure, tell their neighbors as well.

BOLDUAN: Well, clearly not everyone. Because you've got this that you're up against. Let me read what one Wichita resident told a local news very recently.

She said, I don't have a mask on because I'm not afraid. We can't walk in fear. If we do, we're just done for.

If that's where people's heads are in Wichita, what are you going to do to get this thing under control?

WHIPPLE: So -- this is a global pandemic that happens once in 100 years. There are folks out there who I think choose to feel that this is not as big a deal as what our hospital community says. And that's OK. The overwhelming majority of Wichitans have really shown through their action that they take this seriously.

Wichita was projected to have, you know, over a 100 people perish on that very first wave and because Wichitans got the information they needed, made sure they looked out for themselves and their neighbors we didn't see those type of numbers.

[15:35:00]

Sadly, I mean it is sad that about almost 30 people during that time perished which is sad. We didn't see the 100 to 200-person spike.

So, I get that Twitter -- folks get on Twitter and they say their opinions. Here in Wichita it's more about action and what we're seeing is people coming together, people doing what needs to be done to protect ourselves, protect our neighbors. Because we want our kids to get back in schools this fall. We want to make sure that we don't want to have to pay that price, that economic price, that Wichita and other cities our size paid early on when we had to shut down the economy.

So, you're right. There are some folks who are loud on Twitter, I get some of that. I think I got over 100 folks posting on my Facebook right now, about 4 of them are the ones who just can't comprehend the science of this yet, but the rest of the people I think are, hey, what can we do? What can we do to help us get through this?

BOLDUAN: Well, and let's hope science reigns supreme and that they are listening. Mayor, thanks for coming in. I appreciate your time.

WHIPPLE: Of course. Thanks a lot.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, new polls out show the American people have a very strong opinion about whether the President of the United States is helping or hurting to slow the spread of the virus.

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BOLDUAN: With just over 100 days to the election, President Trump is shaking up his campaign. Demoting campaign manager Brad Parscale, replacing him with Parscale's deputy Bill Stepien. A move that you don't hear about for a campaign that is happy with what they are seeing, especially three and a half months out from the election. On that note, two new national polls are just out showing President Trump in trouble. Trailing Joe Biden by double digits.

The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll Biden leads by 11. In the Quinnipiac poll, Biden's up by 15. Joining me now, CNN political director David Chalian, there always, David, are a lot of numbers that we can and do dissect in these polls. There are two that really jumped out to me. Both having to do with the response to the pandemic.

First in the Q poll, they asked, is the President helping or hurting efforts against COVID? 62 percent said the President of the United States is making matters worse. And then the NBC poll, asked, what they want candidates to be focusing on more. 57 percent said they wanted more of a focus on the virus, not the economy and reopening businesses. What do you see here?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, in those two findings I think you see why Joe Biden's up double digits nationally, where you started, Kate.

I mean that issue of whether or not reopening the economy should be the priority or not, Donald Trump is just out of step with where the American people are. And then when you noted the 62 percent who say what he is doing is actually hurting efforts to slow the spread?

BOLDUAN: That's crazy to me.

CHALIAN: Not only is he out of step where the American people are. What they see him doing, they think has an actual negative impact on the battle to quell this pandemic.

So -- both of those numbers I think you're right to highlight. I think that is precisely what the President's issue is. Not necessarily how his campaign is being run by his former campaign manager.

BOLDUAN: Right, exactly. So, this is, you know, a national poll, but inside of this, especially on this 62 percent. I just -- I can't get past it, he's not just ignoring it, he's not not helping. He's hurting the effort to beat the virus. What do some of the President's key -- where do some of the President's key voters land on this one?

CHALIAN: Kate, when I first saw this Quinnipiac poll come out, this crosstab, this group looking at that question broken down by different groups fascinated me.

Take a look among white non-college educated voters on this question. And what do you see? 48 percent -- this is part of Donald Trump's base -- say his efforts are hurting attempts to slow the spread.

Look at rural voters, another part of his base, 44 percent say his efforts are hurting. So, granted, I'm not trying to say rural voters and white non-college voters are now Biden voters. We know they're not. But they're still with the President. I get that.

But when you look at that split in that group, those are key parts of his constituency, his base, and for a President whose entire strategy for three and a half years has been jazzing your base, not -- the middle is gone right now for Donald Trump. Right?

So, the whole approach here, and the whole strategy has been just turbo charging that support from base voters. And what you see there is on the issue of coronavirus, they have questions about Donald Trump's leadership as well.

BOLDUAN: Well, and simple fact that there is more and more evidence that a good, bold federal response is good politics. We've seen so many examples of, I mean, just take, like, on a small microscopic scale, David, of a bungled response to a snowstorm is what is the, you know, the -- the death sentence for many a mayor. This is that in no way compares to a bungled response to a global pandemic.

CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, we've watched Donald Trump defy all the norms of politics.

BOLDUAN: I just saw some donors saying like he's resisting it. If good response is good politics.

CHALIAN: Yes, well, I think that's the, you know, trillion-dollar question. Kate, I really do.

[15:45:00]

My sense is that he believes that either, if he were to lean into all things coronavirus it would lead to longer tying of shutdown of the economy not coming back, kids not being in school. Life would not be normal, and he thinks that would hurt him politically.

But I think all the evidence here, Kate, is, the path to political rehabilitation for Donald Trump is actually through getting his hands around and managing the coronavirus pandemic.

BOLDUAN: You cannot press release your way out of a global pandemic. It's not going to work. It's not. It's good to see you. I feel like it's been forever. It's good to see you, David.

CHALIAN: You too.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next for us, the doctor who called coronavirus testing, quote, an American failure. I'm going to ask him if it's too late to fix it.

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[15:50:00] BOLDUAN: This is an American failure. We're five months into this epidemic, and we can't figure it out. This isn't me talking actually here, even though any reasonable person should actually agree. This is from one of the top health officials in Louisiana. Dr. Joseph Kanter.

You will remember that Louisiana was one of the early coronavirus hot spots back in March and April. Now it looks like it's facing the threat of another surge.

The reason? Testing backlogs, delays and more. Dr. Joseph Kanter joins me right now. Thank you so much for joining me. Just tell me, what are you seeing in Louisiana that's concerning you?

DR. JOSEPH KANTER, ASSISTANT STATE HEALTH OFFICER, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Well, we're seeing similar trends to our neighboring states like Texas and Arizona, and Florida. Cases are going up considerably. And we're working as hard as we can to meet that challenge.

As you mentioned, Kate, testing has been a choke hold. You know, we're doing a really good job on testing. We actually surpassed a million tests a couple days ago for the state. But there are some domestic supply chain issues that cause choke holds for us here and makes the problem that much more acute.

BOLDUAN: This is something that confounds me and I think a lot of people, that the supply chain is still all messed up this many months in, when we know that adequate and widespread testing is the only way to actually get your arms around this crisis.

You call it an American failure. From your view, on the ground in Louisiana, where is the break in the chain?

KANTER: Yes, that was a hot take, based on some frustration. But it is -- it's frustrating to be --

BOLDUAN: And that's OK.

KANTER: -- thanks. You know, we're five, going on six months into this, and it's frustrating not to have a better capacity right now. We've had a couple challenges here. Some of the in-state labs have had restrictions in how much reagent they can get from the national suppliers to run their platforms. And some other testing operations that send the tests out of state, they're the big commercial labs have had some really long turnaround times, sometimes, up to one or even two weeks, we've seen 14-day turnaround times.

And it makes the utility of testing that much less. It complicates the contact tracing, and it makes it feel like we're continuously behind the 8-ball. We're chasing things that happened a week or two ago. And it's hard to keep up with the growing outbreak when we're handicapped like that.

BOLDUAN: And the way it's been described to me, is a 14-day turnaround something like that makes the testing almost useless and it makes contact tracing impossible at that point. That's why the turnaround is so important to your efforts.

And testing is key in getting back to normal life or the new normal, including getting schools open once again. I want to play for you something that the President's spokesperson, the White House Press Secretary just said about opening schools. Because I would like your take. Listen.

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KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Where he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: She's actually looking down at prepared remarks when she's saying that. What do you do if the White House position is now don't let the science get in the way of opening up?

KANTER: Yes, in Louisiana, we're focused on our issues here. We view science as the tool that will allow us to open up, whenever it is safe to do so. Testing is a part of that. Masking is a big part of that as well. We want students and faculty to be as safe as possible and science is how we're going to do that.

BOLDUAN: Plain and simply. Dr. Kanter thank you for coming.

KANTER: Thank you, Kate. My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, the NFL Players Association just revealed how many players have really tested positive for the coronavirus. You're going to want to hear this, next.

[15:55:00]

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BOLDUAN: This just in, 72 NFL players have tested positive for coronavirus as of last week. That's according to the league's Players Association. The Players Association database does not specify, however, how many players have actually been tested, overall.

It's an effort to keep players and personnel updated on the spread of the virus within the league. And despite the numbers, NFL training camps are scheduled to begin before the end of the month. And the NFL insists as of now the regular season will begin as planned in September.

There's also this, as scientists across the country race to develop a vaccine and put an end to this pandemic, they have a new challenge that they are up against. Russian hackers. If you can even believe it. Yes, even Russian hackers getting involved in this. According to U.S., U.K. and Canadian security officials, Russian hackers are targeting researchers and organizations involved in COVID vaccine development. The group believed to be behind these attacks has links to Russian intelligence. The Kremlin, however, denies any involvement. There's this is a programming note for all of you, a new season of

"United Shades of America" premieres this weekend. My good friend W. Kamau Bell is taking on injustice and inequality across the farms of Oklahoma to the beaches of Miami. That starts this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Only on CNN.

Thank you all so much for being with me. I'm Kate Bolduan. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts now.