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Johns Hopkins Says U.S. Cases Near 3.5 Million; Florida Cases Top 300,000, More Than Most Countries; At Least 36 U.S. States Mandate Face Masks in Public; Moderna Vaccine Prepares for Phase 3 Trial; Fauci Defends Himself From White House Attacks; Spain Holds Ceremony Honoring COVID-19 Victims; U.S. Military COVID-19 Cases Rising in Japan. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, America struggles to cope. Hospitals in part of the country are now running out of beds as tens of thousands more people contract COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he's walking a tight rope as people try to pit him against President Trump.

And Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Elon Musk just some of the prominent people targeted by what Twitter is calling a coordinated social engineering attack.

Good to have you with us. COVID-19 cases in the United States have now averaged a staggering 60,000 people per day over the past week. Three times what it was a month ago. Ever since many governors rushed to reopen even though the virus is exploded in all but a handful of states, and hospitals and many hot spots are quickly getting overwhelmed.

Florida now has more confirmed cases than the U.K. at 300,000. More than 50 hospitals in the state say they are out of beds and yet some famous theme parks plan to reopen.

Texas recorded nearly 11,000 new cases on Wednesday. A local hotel in the border town of Laredo will be turned into a COVID hospital as medical facilities there reach capacity.

And facemasks now becoming more common across the United States. Alabama and Montana on Wednesday joined three dozen other states in requiring face coverings in public. But even as the crisis deepens, the Trump administration continues to push for schools to reopen. CNN's Erica Hill has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Confirmed cases in Florida have now topped 300,000. In Miami Dade County where the positivity rate just hit 31 percent, the number of COVID-19 patients in one hospital system has jumped 226 percent in the past month.

CARLOS MIGOYA, PRES & CEO, JACKSON MEMORIAL HEALTH: We're preparing for even more patients over the next several weeks.

HILL: Florida is one of 14 states reporting record hospitalizations. In eleven of those states are also seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.

DR. BARBARA FERRER, L.A. COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: These alarming trends reflect behaviors from three weeks ago, and it will take several weeks to see if our behavior now, including the rollback of previously opened sectors, slows the spread of the virus.

HILL: Texas reporting a record number of deaths and new cases on Wednesday.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Hundreds and thousands of people are dying in America today because we are distracted by issues that are not the central ones to controlling this virus. We got to get our act together.

HILL: At least 36 states now require a face covering in public. The latest to add a mandate, Alabama. Nationwide customers at Walmart and Kohl's can't shop without one starting Monday. In Charleston, bars and restaurants can now refuse service to anyone without a face covering.

MAYOR JOHN TECKLENBURG (D), CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: We've got to take this seriously. It matters to all of our citizens and it matters to our economy going forward.

HILL: Increasing concern about summer travel fueling the spread. And it's not just the northeast requiring visitors to quarantine. Chicago has a 14-day quarantine in place for travelers from 17 states. Canada will keep the border closed through late August.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not have a handle on this outbreak.

HILL: A new school year is just weeks away. One district in Arizona using these misters to disinfect classrooms. Philadelphia would use a hybrid model this fall. San Francisco will begin the year online. Houston schools will, too.

GRENITA LATHAN, HOUSTON ISD, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT: I've had many sleepless nights, even up until this morning, wrestling with this decision. Given the threat of COVID-19, we will not put the health and safety of our students and staff at risk.

HILL: Local decisions gaining national attention as uncertainty grows about just what lies ahead.

(on camera): In terms of that decision-making, a senior CDC official tells CNN that new guidelines on school reopenings could come as soon as Friday. New guidelines from the CDC will feature the most up-to- date science we are told and will focus on safely reopening. Noting that in areas of high transmission that may not be feasible.


A second set of guidelines geared toward parents will be coming from a White House workgroup that was requested by Dr. Birx. Members of that group include officials from Health and Human Services, the Domestic Policy Council and also the Department of Education. In New York, I'm Erica Hill, CNN.


CHURCH: A promising vaccine for the coronavirus is about to begin a phased three trial with 30,000 test subjects. Drug maker Moderna says an earlier limited trial with 45 patients resulted in everyone developing antibodies without harmful side effects. Now those results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The company's chief medical officer spoke with CNN about what happens next.


DR. TAL ZAKS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA: We believe that the chances of this working are pretty good. And the reasons are that the neutralizing antibodies to mediate the right immune response I think has been demonstrated for other similar viruses and in preclinical models. We've shown now that this vaccine can induce levels of those antibodies and these levels that can even exceed what you see with natural infection. And so on balance we're both cautiously optimistic but fully dedicated to seeing this through.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Dr. Mark Supino, emergency medical system at Jackson Health System in Florida. Thank you for being with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So intensive care units in 54 Florida hospitals are now full. The whole of Miami-Dade County has run out of ICU beds. So 26 patients will now have to be moved to converted ICUs and ventilator use is up 92 percent. It is a COVID hot spot. And you're working on the front line there in Miami. What is happening at your hospital? What are you seeing?

SUPINO: We are full. I don't have many other words to describe the situation. We are wall to wall filled with patients. We have a lot of COVID patients, of course. We have a lot of patients who come in with other illnesses, and in some of those patients with other illnesses we discover that they have COVID as well, they just happen to be asymptomatic carriers. Because of the hospital being full, a lot of those patients do stay in the emergency department waiting for beds and that does include patients that are waiting for ICU beds as well.

CHURCH: And how worried are you where this is going? SUPINO: You know, if there's anything that we've learned in 2020, it's

that it's difficult to predict. And so I think my immediate thoughts are day to day and just to not necessarily know what to expect when we walk into the hospital on a daily basis. You know, I think about what to expect, it's really a great unknown. I think right now we are just trying to keep our heads above water and it's either sink or swim and we're all trying to swim. And we're really unsure about what to expect in the next few weeks to months.

CHURCH: Doctor, Moderna's chief medical officer was on CNN earlier, and he talked about the published evidence of antibodies and all 45 participants in phase 1 trials of biotech company's vaccine. And he said that stage three human trials will get underway this month. They don't yet know how long those antibodies will last, but how much hope does this give you?

SUPINO: Incredible amount of hope. I think that that's been kind of what we've all been looking forward to and not knowing when that vaccine will be available. So having read about that myself, I feel extremely hopeful. I'm hoping that even if we can get a vaccine that gets us through the next six months or six to 12 months, kind of similar to a flu vaccine, that that gets us over this hump. That gets us through this terrible period we're enduring. And then gives us sort of a new future to look towards and really makes me feel that -- I really feel hopeful. I really do feel hopeful.

CHURCH: And doctor, I did want to ask you this, too, because we learned Wednesday that hospital data will now be sent directly to the Trump administration instead of the CDC. What's your reaction to that decision to divert COVID-19 hospital numbers to Washington?

SUPINO: Yes, I read that myself. I'm a little unclear as to what that means, what the intention behind that is. I think in the face of something like this it's really important for us to know numbers and to know how many people are sick, how many people are getting sick and how many people have recovered.


Whatever method is available to have those numbers available to those of us who are on the front lines, to the people behind the scenes, to the people working towards the solutions, those numbers matter and those numbers are important. I can't really speak towards the thought process behind the information we learned today. I'm just hopeful that we continue to think of this as an everyone issue, and we all continue to be in this together.

CHURCH: Dr. Supino, thank you for talking with us and again, for everything you do, appreciate it.

SUPINO: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: America's leading expert on infectious diseases is pushing back against White House officials after multiple efforts to discredit him. Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn't like conflict and is walking a tight rope as people try to pit him against the President. CNN's Jim Acosta has more now from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After waging a campaign to discredit one of the nation's most trusted experts on the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House appears to be waving the white flag, at least for now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a very good relationship. Well, that's Peter Navarro. But I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.

ACOSTA: President Trump and his top aides are now backing off of their attacks on Fauci, but only after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro blasted Fauci in a "USA Today" op-ed, writing --

Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.

Asked about that, the president all but accused Navarro of going rogue.

TRUMP: Well, he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that. No, I have a very good relationship with Anthony.

ACOSTA: After biting his tongue for weeks, Fauci is now defending himself.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that, but, I mean, I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it's only reflecting negatively on them.

I can't explain Peter Navarro. He is in a world by himself. So, I don't even want to go there.

ACOSTA: Navarro's op-ed came after anonymous White House officials sent unflattering talking points about Fauci to reporters. Fauci said that was unwise, too.

FAUCI: If you talk to reasonable people in the White House, they realize that was a major mistake on their part, because it doesn't do anything but reflect poorly on them.

ACOSTA: Now White House officials are trying to distance themselves from Navarro, with one top aide saying in a tweet: The Peter Navarro op-ed didn't go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. The President values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his administration.

One White House official went further, saying Navarro had been told by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to de-escalate the situation with Fauci, but that he violated those instructions by writing the op-ed anyway.

Top Republican lawmakers appear to be on team Fauci, from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your level of confidence in Dr. Fauci at this point?


ACOSTA: To Senator Lindsey Graham. Both are battling for reelection.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem. We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci. I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly.

ACOSTA: But the White House is still showing some hostility to public health officials, calling on hospitals around the U.S. to send their data on the virus directly to the administration in Washington, bypassing the Centers for Disease Control.

One top administration official said the CDC will simply no longer control the data. On the issue of using masks, former White House Dr. Ronny Jackson, who is running for Congress, with the president's support, downplayed the importance of wearing them.

RONNY JACKSON (R), TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think wearing a mask is a personal choice, and I don't particularly want my government telling me that I have to wear a mask. And so I think that is a choice that I can make. I don't wear a mask all that often, to be honest with you.

ACOSTA (on camera): As for Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert says he does not want to step down telling the "Atlantic" earlier in the day that he just wants to do his job.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: A major shakeup in U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign. Mr. Trump announced he is promoting Bill Stepien as his new campaign manager. While demoting Brad Pascale who had been serving in that role. Pascale's future had been up in the air after Mr. Trump's much hyped return to the campaign trail fell flat. Pascale predicted massive crowds for a Tulsa, Oklahoma rally last month but only about 6,000 plus supporters turned up.

Well, the campaign manager shakeup comes on the same day a new poll shows President Trump trailing his political rival Joe Biden by double digits. Quinnipiac University's survey show the presumptive Democratic nominee with a 15-point lead. The poll also finds growing dissatisfaction with Mr. Trump's job performance. Only 44 percent of voters approve of his handling of the economy.


Well up next, a day of remembrance in Spain as the King honors the victims of the pandemic and thanks the frontline workers trying to fight it.


CHURCH: Spain has honored the more than 28,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in that country. King Philippe has just finished leading a public remembrance ceremony in Madrid. Many high level European and world health officials were there. The pandemic is far from over. A Spanish island is having to rethink its reopening plans. Tourists ignoring social distancing have forced Mallorca to shut down its main party strip. Journalist Al Goodman joins me now live from Madrid. So, Al, what all was said at this ceremony honoring COVID-19 victims across the country and what's the latest on the Mallorca shutdown?


AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Rosemary. The ceremony wrapping up a short while ago. It was to honor the 28,000 Spaniards who have died from the coronavirus but also to thank the doctors, nurses, police officers and other essential workers who kept the country going during a pandemic.

There were only three short speeches. One by a brother of a journalist who died from COVID-19, who I know, was a friend. This man, Jose Maria Pillai (ph). Another Speaker was a frontline nurse at a major hospital in Barcelona. She basically was reminding the crowd and the nation that was watching this on live television to respect the norms to wear a mask. I'm not wearing one right now because I'm up at high at this perch but down in the public you're supposed to wear a mask. And the King is trying to give a national sense to this whole event.

But clearly there's concern because even though the nationwide state of emergency had been lifted last month after more than three months in place, officials are grappling with a series of outbreaks. And this is what has probably led the Balearic's regional government, the Island of Mallorca, to crack down on a famous district Magaluf. A street called Punta Ballena which is filled with bars where social media video has emerged of mainly young British tourists dancing even on top of cars not respecting the social distancing, no mask wearing. The authorities there scolding the tourists and also the operators of these bars who are now trying to enforce some sort of rules that are going on.

So they've shut down that entire street of bars and in a different part of the island closer to the capital city, Palma Mallorca on a street called Calle de la Cerveza, the beer street, they've shut that down which is German young tourists there.

So not just in the Balearics but across the nation most of the Spanish regions now require that mask use is mandatory in public at all times. Even if you have social distancing, you still have to wear a mask. They see this as a very effective way to try to keep this from becoming a full scale nationwide second wave -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a reminder to these young people how to behave. Al Goodman, many thanks to you. Joining us live from Madrid, appreciate it. Well, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tell CNN, Brazil, he has

again tested positive for COVID-19. The President though says he is feeling well and anxious to get back to work. Mr. Bolsonaro continues to take the controversial antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine. He posted a video to Facebook about his experience with the drug but he acknowledges there's no scientific evidence that proves it's effective in treating COVID-19.

In Japan, a rise in COVID-19 cases on U.S. military bases is straining ties in an already troubled relationship between the two countries. Kaori Enjoji spoke exclusively with Okinawa's governor about the increased tensions.


KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST (VOICE-OVER): Mistrust is mounting in Japan as more U.S. service members in the country test positive for the coronavirus. The majority of the cases are in Okinawa with more than half of U.S. troops in Japan are stationed. In an exclusive interview with CNN, the governor said he flew to Tokyo with this plea.

DENNY TAMAKI, GOVERNOR OF OKINAWA (through translator): First of all, please stop people from the U.S. mainland from coming to Okinawa. I would like the alert level to be raised to the highest level at Futenma and Camp Hansen in order to put those two facilities into lockdown. Honestly, I have doubts about whether adequate precautions are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading.

ENJOJI: It's the latest strain in a troubled relationship. The presence of U.S. bases in Japan dates to the end of World War II and is the bedrock of Japan's security policy. Complaints about noise, accidents and crime have tested the bond over the decades.

TOBIAS HARRIS, POLITICAL ANALYST, TENEO: There's a long history of distrust between Okinawans and the U.S. military and of course, the base that is at the heart of this outbreak, is also the base where locals have wanted move for a long time.

ENJOJI: In unusually terse terms Japan's defense minister called it an extremely serious situation as fears grow that military personnel could be spreading the virus at the very moment that Japan is grappling with a second wave.

KOICHI NAKANO, PROFESSOR, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: It really highlights the special status that is given to the U.S. military personnel when the -- there is a general traffic restriction even outside of the base. They behave and come across and are arrogant and you know, like behaving like colonial masters of a sovereign nation.

ENJOJI (on camera): Japan has a travel ban with more than 100 countries and America is on that list. But an agreement dating back to 1960 exempts U.S. military personnel raising questions about how effective Japan's border controls really are. Kaori Enjoji, for CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [04:25:00]

CHURCH: The United States Marine Corps just released a video to military personnel in Okinawa with guidance on how to protect bases and the surrounding area from COVID-19.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've identified and isolated those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and separated those who have come into --


CHURCH: The video is intended to educate military personnel and show the local community that the U.S. is serious about preventing the virus from spreading.

Well, the surge in coronavirus cases across the U.S. is overwhelming laboratories and causing serious delays in delivering test results. CNN's Victor Blackwell says he's still waiting for his results 12 days after he got tested here in the state of Georgia. Now compare that to Germany where our Fred Pleitgen said he got his results the very same day. They spoke to Brianna Keilar about their very different experiences.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it started back on June 30th when I was experiencing some shortness of breath, nothing dramatic, no other symptoms so I thought it would make sense in this environment to get a coronavirus test. I couldn't find anything through the emetic clinic, CVS circuit near my home. I was going to be near Augusta for the fourth of July so I got one 150 miles away, July 2nd, 10:30 in the morning. By the time that came I was no longer having the shortness of breath but I got the test anyway.

I was told I would have results in two to four days. Well that went by. I went and checked the portal where the results were supposed to have been posted. And there's an alert that says, because of backlog it'll be six to ten days. Well yesterday, on day 12 I called the toll- free number and it took several attempts to be able to get through the automated system. And after I did, I waited on hold for 30 minutes and it dropped my call. So I don't know if they lost my results or if they are coming but results two weeks after the test, they were no good to me or anyone else.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: yes, but results, Fred, the same day. I mean, that's great.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is great. And it's been really easy. I mean, I've gotten two corona tests also, I think pretty much in the same time period that Victor is actually still waiting for his results. Because I got this second test at the local city hall here. I basically walked up. They had a mobile truck there. They took the swabs for the PCR test and then I had the results I think it was about 11 hours later. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And health experts warn quick testing is the key to contact tracing and controlling the spread of this pandemic.

Well one of the biggest security attacks ever on Twitter. More on the hack that took control of some of the platform's most popular accounts. We'll have that on the other side of the break. Stay with us.