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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Fauci: "We Do Have a Serious Situation Right Now"; Fauci: Public Health Measures are a "Gateway" to Opening The Country Again, Not An Obstacle; Gov. Larry Hogan (D-MD) Discusses About President Trump Leadership in Response to the Pandemic; CDC Study: Trump's Travel Bans Came Too Late for NYC; Texas Reports Record Number of Deaths & 10,000+ New Cases; Scientists Call for "Challenge Trials" of Coronavirus Vaccine; Another 1.3 Million Americans File for First-Time Unemployment. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 16, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He was a World War II veteran who was nationally recognized for his leadership in the Greek American community. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the U.S. on track to break another record tonight in new coronavirus cases as the President holds a campaign style event at the White House. The Republican Governor of Maryland with a scathing rebuke of the President. He is OUTFRONT.
Plus, mask war is getting uglier. Anti-mask protesters storming a local meeting, forcing the meeting to actually come to an end. We're going to talk to the county commissioner who was at the helm.
And more than 100 experts and Nobel laureates now calling for volunteers to be infected with the coronavirus on purpose to speed up vaccine trials. One of the scientists spearheading that effort is OUTFRONT. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the U.S. on track tonight to break another record, another single day record in new coronavirus cases across this country as the death toll sets one day records in both Texas and Florida, 138,000 Americans have now died from the virus. And as we speak, 39 states are now seeing an increase in the number of cases.
And these new records have Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking out today, calling this a serious situation that needs to be addressed. Yet, what did we hear from the President today? Another campaign style speech on the South Lawn repeatedly slamming Obama and Biden. He didn't mention any plan to stop the virus. And, in fact, this is the thing, when it comes to the virus, Trump
likes to make big statements and then leave out any details of how to actually get anything done. Take for example, reopening schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Schools should be open. These kids want to go to school.
Children and parents are dying from that trauma too. They're dying because they can't do what they're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So if Americans are dying because schools are closed and Trump wants them open, what is he doing to make it happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would strongly say they should open. It's up to the Governors. It's the governors' choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump passing the buck. Just like he has on testing, for months the President, as we all know, has been patting himself on the back on testing, congratulating himself for a job well done on testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have the best and certainly the biggest, by far the biggest testing program anywhere in the world.
Our testing is far superior to anybody's.
We have great testing. The best in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The best testing in the world. Of course, the only problem is that it is not. The facts don't add up on that as we all know at this point. We don't test enough people. People are waiting in lines. People are waiting over a week for results, rendering them useless. In fact, listen to both Republican and Democratic governors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We also understand there's a need for faster results. They are backed up.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): This is a challenge. We need additional help from the federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They need help from the federal government. That means help from President Trump. But he is not offering any help on testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Don't take responsibility at all.
The governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Doesn't take responsibility at all for any failures, passing the buck. In fact, even when it comes to masks, 40,000 lives could be saved by November 1st if the U.S. had a mask mandate according to one model. Again on this one, the President likes to say big things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it's a great thing to wear a mask. I've never been against masks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, that is not true. He has explicitly said masks are not for him. He has mocked others repeatedly for wearing masks, even Joe Biden. And his actions speak very loudly on this, much louder than his words. He himself has only been seen wearing a mask once in public and said he wouldn't give the press the pleasure of seeing him in one. Even yesterday when he arrived in Atlanta where they have a mandate on masks, he did not wear one.
For weeks, states, cities and even company, in fact, had to muddle through the President's masks debacle. Just today, CVS, the pharmacy chain, and Target joined a long list of retailers that are now requiring customers to wear masks coast to coast. Really, the truth is we should not be in this position where retailers like Target and Wal- Mart are the ones actually making the decisions on public health while the President of the United States says it's up to the governors, I take no responsibility.
Retailers like Wal-Mart are being forced to step up because the man in charge has not. Just listen to the Republican Governor of Maryland in a scathing editorial today writing, "Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the President to run the nation's response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we'd be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death." Now, Gov. Larry Hogan who wrote that will be my guest in just a moment.
And I want to be clear on one thing here, to those who think that this call, our call for the President to step up with specifics and plans is a call for big government. It is not. It is a call for leadership from the person at the top in a war when the states look to the federal government.
That's what it's for is for things like wars, because America is at war. Something President Trump has said himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ... now war against the virus.
In the war against the virus.
In our all out war against the virus.
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, NBC NEWS: Is the United States losing the war against COVID?
TRUMP: No. We're winning the war and we have areas that flamed up and they're going to be fine over a period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All out war would involve a federal government with some kind of a plan, for example, to open schools or help with testing or tell people to wear masks or I could go on and on. And the truth is, is winning the war is not defined by 10s, and 10s, and 10s and thousands of needless deaths. Winning the war would mean our curve would not look like that green line on the top, it would look like all those lines jammed onto the bottom.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, yet again today the President's focus when he did speak it was campaign style, not on the pandemic.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He barely mentioned it out on the South Lawn at that one event today and instead had the Vice President do most of the talking about the coronavirus. Of course, he is the head of the task force. But it does send a message when the President doesn't talk about it, doesn't tweet about it, doesn't seem to be focusing on it.
Though when the White House is asked today about where is his level of focus on this, they insisted that he is talking about it, but then he's also dealing with several other topics as well, Erin. And they said he's going to be more focused on it next week. Though, they didn't go into detail about what exactly that means.
Because if you look at his schedule this week, there were no events that were on the public schedule, at least, dedicated to Coronavirus, which is notable given how many records you saw set this week about cases, these emerging hotspots and what was going forward. This is a president who very often shows you where his priorities are be there via his tweets or his own thoughts that he gives in several interviews this week.
And so it's not just that, but I think there are also questions being raised about the relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who we should note we did report today that the two of them have finally spoken after last week. Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times he not spoken and briefed the President in person since June the second. So now they are speaking after this week of attacks from White House officials on him. But another question is about the data. You saw how the White House
instructed the hospitals this week to send their coronavirus data straight to the White House to the Washington, so it can go on a national database, which they say would streamline things. But instead of it going to the CDC there were questions about whether or not it would be politicized.
We should note some data did disappear from the CDC website this week. But after we inquired about it, they said that HHS has told them to put it back up.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And, of course, real questions, I know the New York Times has reported that data that Kaitlan is talking about if it goes to the White House would then not even be public and the way the CDC has put it out there. All right. Kaitlan, thank you so very much.
And I want to go now to the Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, also the author of a new book titled Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots and the Toxic Politics that Divide America. And Governor, look, I really appreciate your time. I read moments ago from your op-ed today an excerpt from your book, your recollections of the early days in the pandemic, is a pretty powerful op-ed.
You said just to quote you in part, sir, "Waiting around for the President to run the nation's response was hopeless." How bad has this leadership been?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, just keep in mind, Erin, that this was an excerpt from a book that was talking about the early stages of the response. So the passages are part of a 300 some page book that appeared in The Post today. And I was really talking about the first few months when some of the real mistakes were made and when things were - they have eventually gotten a lot more done and the rest of the team has been working harder to fix some of these problems.
But I was just talking about in the early stages when there was no national testing strategy, when there was no cohesive message when the President - all of the public health experts in the federal government and the team that were advising the President were all on top of things and were providing the information and had things that could have gotten done, but the President seemed to not be taking it seriously and his messages kept changing.
And the frustrating thing was that governors were out there scrambling around trying to figure out how to solve this crisis when we did need more leadership on a number of these major issues. And so it wasn't just all pointed criticism, I've given them credit and thank them when they have stepped up and gotten some things done, but there certainly were failures, there's no question about it.
BURNETT: There certainly were and, I mean, and even now on schools, I mean, look, I'm originally from your state, I'm now in New York. Some real national leadership could make a real difference here or this could end up a huge mess. You took matters into your own hands on testing early on. I remember
talking to you about this. You were securing 500,000 testing kits. You actually went to your wife's home country of South Korea where they were obviously so excellent at testing. We still have massive testing problems across the country, even here in New York, you can wait seven days to get results from a test, so it's so then a worthless result essentially. Do you think the President has learned anything from his early mistakes?
HOGAN: Well, I'm not sure. I haven't talked to the President about whether he feels like he learned anything or not. I can say that on some things, the federal government's response has improved. On testing, we're still now back kind of where we started.
We have had advances in testing and states got things under control on their own with some help from the federal government on things like assistance with swabs and reagents and transport mediums and things. But for the most part, we were out competing with one another, all 50 states and the federal government. It was mass chaos and a constrained market when we desperately needed this help.
We then kind of caught up, but with the flare ups in some of these states all across the country where the numbers are skyrocketing. We're now running into testing shortages once again and we're running into as you pointed out, you say New York, it's a maybe a seven-day wait. There are states with 10 days to two weeks wait on testing results.
Now, we're not in that position here in Maryland, because we built our own lab and we acquired our own tests from South Korea and we're turning those around in 24 to 48 hours. But many of the private labs are overwhelmed with tests from Florida, and Texas, and Arizona, and California and places like that and it's slowing down the whole country's ability to test and find out what's going on with this virus.
BURNETT: So you kind of referenced in something you said earlier, you're aware of the White House's criticism of you today. The press secretary was asked about your op-ed and here's part of what she said about you, Governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is revisionist history by Gov. Hogan. And what is so striking to me about reading that op-ed is Gov. Hogan begins with this dramatic April 18th scene where South Korea delivered test. But just the day prior, he said something entirely different. He in fact, thank the President for the progress we've seen in federal and state coordination in recent weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So we kind of looked to see what we think she's talking about and we found this. This was you on April 17th, Gov. Hogan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN: I thank the President for the progress that we have seen on the federal and state coordination issues in recent weeks with regard to some of the top needs of the states, including ventilators, testing capabilities and the availability of PPE and supplies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So what is your response, sir?
HOGAN: Well, so I have from the very beginning of this been very upfront and straightforward. I'm not one of these folks. And you know, because I've been on your network and on your show talking about this. When I think progress has been made, I give them credit. I have praised them repeatedly for the outreach and the communication that they've had with the governors. I've led all of those Governors' calls.
HOGAN: I've praised the Vice President, the coronavirus task force, and I've pushed back and said, no, they have gotten this done. We worked with them to get the ventilators produced and utilize the Defense Production Act. As I just mentioned now, in which I said yesterday and the day before, I've said good things and positive things like when we have the call with all of the governors, I thank them because they were finally getting up to speed on swabs and on getting some supplies on PPE out to the States.
But that was not to say that we had test kits available for all of the people in the States.
HOGAN: And so you could take a piece of a conversation. This is a 300 some page book that they took an excerpt out of. I can tell you, I've always been right up front when the President and his team are doing something right, I praise them. And when they're doing something wrong, I'm not afraid to say so.
BURNETT: So let me ask you, in a new poll from Quinnipiac, voters today were asked if they trust the information that President Trump is providing about coronavirus, 67 percent of voters do not. And, Governor, that breaks down in a pretty stunning way into a couple of groups that the President sees as his base, 52 percent of rural voters do not trust him, 55 percent of whites without a college degree do not trust him.
The President, of course, has just tweeted that his poll numbers are rising fast. That's his quote. It certainly is not true from these polls that we've been looking at. When you look at these numbers, Gov. Hogan, do you think the President is going to win a second term?
HOGAN: Well, that's it's going to be a really tough road to hoe, I'll tell you that. Look, I have talked about this and I talk about it in my book and I've talked about it repeatedly. One of the things that most concerns me is that people do not trust what the President's telling them and these are mistakes of his own making.
For example, Anthony Fauci and some of the people some of the public health experts in the administration who are working hard and doing a great job who I've been praising and thanking for their efforts who have been telling it straight and giving us the facts. When they come on TV, people listen and they follow that advice.
And then the President will come on either later that same day or the next day and say the complete opposite of what they said. And so it's one of my concerns. It's not so much about the entire administration failing.
It's about the President who bounces from one message to the other and sometimes says the exact opposite of what the experts in his administration say. And I think that at a time of a crisis like this, one of the most important things you can possibly do is communicate honestly and directly with the people to tell them the facts. And I think people are confused as to what the message is and what the facts really are.
BURNETT: Governor, quickly, do you have any idea why he does that? Why he says the opposite? Why he doesn't wear a mask? Why?
HOGAN: I really, obviously, can't get into his mind. But I think he really ought to focus on the crisis. Listen to the experts and communicate as directly and honestly as he can and stop worrying so much about the campaign and what he says on Twitter, because I think it's not helpful to the entire effort to fight this virus. And we've all got to work together at the federal, state and local level to beat this thing.
BURNETT: Gov. Larry Hogan, I really appreciate your appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
HOGAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, Sen. Rand Paul, a medical doctor weighing in on scientists who advocate for a vaccine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): These people believe in the idea that they are so right and that their cause is so righteous, that they can inflict it on others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, morgues running out of room, refrigerated trucks at the ready. It's not New York in April, it's now Texas tonight.
And the call to infect volunteers with coronavirus in an effort try to get a vaccine more quickly is now gaining stream. I'm going to talk to one doctor spearheading this sort of unprecedented effort.
BURNETT: New tonight, too little too late. A CDC study revealing that the travel bans President Trump has repeatedly claimed were effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus were most likely not effective at all. This is what the President has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This country is very lucky and I'm very lucky that I put the ban on China as you know very early on.
We acted very early. We acted extremely early in keeping China out of our country.
My administration acted very early to ban travel from China, from Europe, saving all of these lives, credible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. The facts, look at the calendar. The China ban, February 2nd, was the effective date, March 13th for Europe, but the CDC analysis, this is the CDC, found that by March 8th, a full week before the Europe ban even went into effect, the virus was already out and about, fully circulating in New York City which remains the earliest and hardest hit city in this country.
And the virus that was spreading likely came from Europe and not China, the European travel ban hadn't even started.
OUTFRONT now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, former White House Medical Adviser under President George W. Bush.
So Sanjay, look, you just have to go through the calendar here. It looks like China banned it and make a difference. The virus version in the U.S. was the European version and the virus was fully circulating before the European ban even took effect.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And then we lost a month, because all of this stuff is happening and we didn't really act. And there was plenty of evidence at that point, especially based on the data coming out of China. They were doing some screenings at airports, but there's still a lot of people coming in and we didn't do anything about it.
I mean, we didn't start testing. We didn't start thinking about lockdowns, proposals for lockdowns in certain areas were made in February, but largely ignored by the White House. So I think it was that month, we go back and look at this, Erin, most of February, a little bit of March where we just lost that time. It wasn't until middle of March where they finally started to talk about stay-at-home orders in earnest in some way. So lack of testing, lack of action for those four or five weeks were really important.
BURNETT: And still paying the price now here, 138,000 deaths and climbing, a number which seemed incomprehensible at that time.
Dr. Reiner, today when we look at the future, a vaccine, Republican Senator, Rand Paul, a medical doctor, who by the way also had coronavirus, talked about a possible vaccine today. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I'm kind of pro vaccine, but I'm also pro freedom. And basically, that higher risk people will make a choice and a lot of them will get it, and then we'll study that over six months, a year, two years. But the other thing is, look, there's millions of us like me now who are immune. They're going to hold me down and stick a needle in my arm. They probably will because these people believe in the idea that they are so right and that their cause is so righteous that they can inflict it on others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dr. Reiner, just to be clear, we have no idea whether the fact that he's had the coronavirus means he's immune. He may in fact no longer even have antibodies to it, we just don't know. We have several studies now indicating that it may mean absolutely nothing, so I don't know what he's talking about with that.
But what does this say to you? You have a medical doctor, a senator saying I'm kind of pro vaccine, but pro freedom as if those two things are in conflict.
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. I'll remind you that Sen. Paul went for a swim in the senate pool while he was waiting for his COVID-19 results to come back. So I think he has a unique perspective on personal freedom and not so much of regard for how that affects others.
Look, we've been talking about, with great anticipation, the arrival of one or more vaccines by the end of the year, but we're going to have to face the fact that this country is riddled with a very, very active anti-vax group. Sen. Paul has actually belonged to a physicians group kind of a fringe physicians group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a small group that has a long history of anti-vax activity.
And as we move closer to a vaccine, we're going to have to try and convince as many people in this country as possible to accept the vaccine so that we can have full herd immunity. I'll remind you that during our best influence season, we only vaccinate about 60 percent of the American population.
And when I see patients in clinic, every single week I talk to patients about vaccines and there's a lot of distrust. So hearing a United States Senator, a physician at that doubt the importance of vaccines is incredibly troubling and really dangerous. BURNETT: Sanjay, it always makes me think, I don't understand the
anti-vax thing and how do you break through, because it just is such an emotional thing for people. It's not rooted in reality at all. You think about all of the children who were paralyzed from polio and the lines that people lined up to get that vaccine, because vaccines save lives, it's what they do, that's why they're there.
What do you say to the fact that there's a medical doctor, an elected senator who would say what Senator Paul said?
GUPTA: Yes. And he refers to these people, I guess, Jonathan, that means you and I were these people to Sen. Paul.
GUPTA: I mean, he's had a long history of this. I mean, when he was running for president, I remember him bringing up the very issues that Jonathan is talking about sort of dancing around this idea that vaccines can cause autism. I mean, he knows. I think that's the thing maybe you're driving at, Erin, is that he knows the truth, I would presume, because there are studies. I mean, we're not making this up. There's huge meta analyses where you actually look at more than a million kids who have received vaccines, compare them to kids who have not received vaccines throughout the years and you don't see the increase in autism, you don't see some of the deleterious effects that Rand Paul is talking about.
We need to prove that this vaccine is safe. Don't get me wrong. It's very early days when it comes to this coronavirus vaccine and there's been some safety data already accrued which will make us pay attention. But this is a problem. A third of the country right now says that they would have vaccine hesitancy when it comes to this coronavirus.
Jonathan just mentioned we need to get to 70 percent roughly to get to herd immunity. I mean, we could have a vaccine and if people aren't taking it, we may still not get to that herd immunity.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. And I want everyone to know Sanjay is going to be back in just a few minutes for our global coronavirus town hall starting at eight o'clock Eastern.
And next, anger erupting at a Utah County Commission meeting over masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks and so ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'm going to be to speak to the commissioner chairing that meeting. Plus, more than 100 scientists and health experts are now calling for
volunteers to be infected with coronavirus. One of the scientists spearheading the effort is my guest.
BURNETT: Breaking news, Texas reporting a record number of deaths and a third straight day of more than 10,000 new cases. The hardest hit cases in that state relying on refrigerating trucks as morgues reach capacity.
Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Texas now, six months into this pandemic, refrigerated trailers deployed to store the dead in Dallas, San Antonio, and down near the border. Morgues are filling up.
JUDGE EDDIE TREVINO JR., CAMERON COUNTY, TEXAS: I'm pleading with everybody here in our neck of the woods, our community. I need everybody to help us and do their part.
WATT: And in Corpus Christi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were doing fantastic at the end of May. We have just absolutely skyrocketed after Memorial Day.
WATT: Mid-May, the county was logging maybe a handful of new cases every day. Yesterday, more than 1,000.
Similar situation over in Miami where hospitals are now at 95 percent capacity.
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-FL), MIAMI: We're at the highest level of ventilators that we've seen through this pandemic.
WATT: Thirty-nine states are now heading in the wrong direction with average case counts rising. Today, Target, CVS, and Publix joined the growing list of retailers that will require masks in stores.
Arkansas' governor just reversed course, now requiring masks in public. Mask mandates now in at least 39 states, but not Georgia, where the governor just banned local municipalities from making them mandatory. He's now suing Atlanta's mayor whose order is still in place.
MAYOR VAN JOHNSON (D-GA), SAVANNAH: I was furious. I was lot for words. It made no sense to me at a time when corporate giants are mandating masks, where the state of Alabama is mandating masks, where the state of Florida 120 miles south of us is the hot spot of the nation --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact we are arguing about masking, I don't understand that in the middle of a pandemic.
WATT: Example, this Utah County Commission meeting got into masks and schools and abruptly ended.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks and so --
WATT: The president kind of agrees with those boos.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to be putting a lot of pressure on open your schools in the fall.
WATT: Not one of the 20 largest districts in the country has committed to in-person teaching. But the state of Florida says it's ready, even as Miami's mayor pleads for federal guidance.
SUAREZ: There was guidance in terms of reopening, in terms of the gating criteria. But there wasn't criteria in terms of what happens if there's a second spike, like we're seeing right now. How do you go backwards? What are the metrics? And so, we're struggling.
WATT: And the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has reacted to being sued. Remember, she herself has tested positive. She tweeted 3,104 Georgians have died. Meanwhile, I have been sued by Governor Kemp for a mask mandate. A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand tracing and contact tracing.
Yes, Erin, six months into this pandemic we are still arguing about masks.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you.
And, you know, Nick just mentioned that fiery meeting in Utah on mask mandates in schools. Here's more on what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks. We have a motion and a second to continue this meeting to a second date. All in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The meeting is adjourned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT right now, Tanner Ainge, the chairman of the Utah County Commission. You just saw him there chairing that meeting.
So, Tanner, obviously right before you start speaking there, you look at that room and you kind of cringe just because my kids would say, mommy, that was before coronavirus, right? Well, no, obviously, they wanted to make a point. It was a regularly scheduled meeting. Mask policy itself was actually a last-minute add to the agenda.
When did it become clear to you that you had to shut it down, that it had just become too ugly and rancorous?
TANNER AINGE, UTAH COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Really right when I walked in the meeting and I saw this group that had come from a rally that was organized by one of the other commissioners, it became clear this wasn't going to be safe -- it wasn't going to be safe. It wasn't going to work.
BURNETT: So, after you ended the meeting, I know protesters went up to the podium one by one for more than two hours to air their grievances about face masks.
And according to "The Salt Lake Tribune" and I quote them, one of the moms grabbed a face mask and spit her gum out into it. It's garbage, she shrugged, wadding it up. It doesn't work anyway, not for me and not for my kids.
What else happened and why do you think this is causing such emotional responses?
AINGE: Well, Erin, I can't come on your show and let this be the introduction to the county of Utah County. I wish what would have gone viral was what would have happened two weeks ago when we had two fires and thousands of our citizens were evacuated and I went to the command center and then I went to the temporary station that the Red Cross was managing and they pulled me aside and they said, hey, we need your help getting the word out or something.
I said, what is it? Do you need supplies? And they said, no, that's it, we need you to tell people to stop donating, because people in the first night had donated more food and water than they could handle.
And we have two major universities here. We have a thriving economy and population.
BURNETT: I've been to your town. I've been to your town. I've been -- yes, I know what you're talking about. I want to be clear, what you're seeing in terms of that ugly meeting is happening in a lot of other places across this country that would say it doesn't define them. So I understand what you're saying.
But I'm just trying to get from you why you think it is causing such emotion?
AINGE: Well, I think I really want to look at the political leaders. That's at least who I know and who I can hold accountable.
You know, this meeting -- my approach in this, when I see a political leader, I don't care if they're Democrat or Republican, if they're following common sense and following medical research, I'm slow to criticize and quick to follow, and try to -- we need to come together and solve these problems. But some -- and we had one on our commission who they see these as opportunities to pit even more of us against each other.
And so there was a group -- so, he really called for this rally, and I think he really pulled that group that had some frustration into this room and really fanned the flames of a fire that shouldn't have been burning in the first place because this really wasn't an issue our commission should have been addressing.
BURNETT: So, anti-mask protesters also said, again, I'm quoting "Salt Lake Tribune" here. It's an act of submission to wear a mask. Jesus gives us a choice, and mandates are against freedom.
What do you say to get them to change their mind?
AINGE: Well, again, this is -- this is a vast minority. I think that most of our residents, the overwhelming majority are following. We need to do better. So far, we have -- we've done pretty well. We've been open and functioning, but we've also had low utilization of our ICU beds in our hospitals.
But like other Western states that you've been profiling, we are seeing that post-memorial day surge. And so, our governor has been out there trying to mask up. Our hospital administrators are doing the same. And I think for the most part, it's working. Again, this was 100 people out of our 650,000 in our county that were at this meeting the other day.
BURNETT: Well, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Tanner.
AINGE: Good to be with you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, there is a growing call for healthy volunteers to be exposed to the coronavirus to see whether a vaccine will work. It's not how vaccine testing is done though. It's a big deal, right? Infecting someone with something to which there's no cure. One of the researchers leading that charge is OUTFRONT.
Plus, the pandemic forcing more and more business owners to make gut wrenching decisions.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We couldn't sustain the business anymore. We have to shut it down.
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BURNETT: Tonight, more than 100 scientists, Nobel laureates, experts and academics are calling for volunteers to be deliberately exposed to coronavirus to speed up vaccine development. This is a really risky and it's a controversial process and it's known as human challenge trials because you literally challenge the human body with the disease to see if the vaccine works. That's how the name comes about.
The group is urging the U.S. government to move ahead with the trials as soon as possible.
OUTFRONT now, one of the scientists spearheading this effort, Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
And, Professor, it's great to have you back with me.
And, you know, I just kind of explained the human challenge trial. They have been done before, right? Smallpox, yellow fever, malaria, it's not an unprecedented thing. But it is -- it causes a lot of people to immediately say this is really risky, you're infecting someone on purpose with a virus that does not have a cure or a sure thing as a treatment. It's already killed more than 138,000 Americans and half a million people worldwide.
So, why do you think a human challenge trial is worth the risk right now?
MARC LIPSITCH, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Erin, it's important to see that -- to realize that yesterday, 5,000 -- more than 5,000 people around the world died of confirmed COVID, probably a lot more than that. The day before that, 5,000, the day before that, 5,000.
The toll that this virus is taking on the world is incredible, and it's not just how many people died but it's the disruption to our lives, it's the disruption to our social fabric as your -- as your previous segment showed. This is a global challenge that we need to have every possible tool to fight. We have not called for an immediate start to human challenge trials.
What we've called for is to immediately start planning for the possibility and setting up the -- what would be needed in terms of plans, protocols, growing the virus, getting facilities ready so that we can have this as one possible tool to speed up the arrival of a vaccine.
LIPSITCH: This is the best hope we have.
BURNETT: So, basically, I know there are trials going on, right, in Brazil right now and other places. And if those trials do not yield the perfect vaccine that's going to work everywhere, you've got to -- you're saying that is when you would need to do this because it's going to be the only way.
LIPSITCH: It may be the only way. I mean, we are not -- we are not calling for this to happen immediately because we want a fast answer about an effective vaccine. We do not want to do human challenge trials for the sake of it. We want to have every possible tool.
And as you say, it is possible that the trials that are going on right now will not yield a clear result because there may not be enough cases or that they will yield a clear result and that the vaccines will be okay or not great or not as good as we'd like. And we're going to continue to need to test vaccines for some period of time. And hopefully, we will get the virus under control before we have all the vaccine.
BURNETT: So, in a challenge trial, you know, you -- if a vaccine doesn't work, right, somebody could die. I mean, that's the definition of the thing, right? Someone could get the virus and someone could die.
The NIH vaccine working group wrote in the "New England Journal of Medicine", I know you saw this. It's from early July. But for our viewers, they say currently we lack sufficient knowledge of coronavirus pathogenesis to inform inclusion and exclusion criteria for a challenge trial. A single death or severe illness in an otherwise healthy volunteer would be unconscionable and would halt progress.
How do you -- how do you get over the moral hurdle here because in any situation, that possibility would exist?
LIPSITCH: I think that's -- there's a grain of truth in what's said there in that we do not know all the answers. We cannot tell someone there's a 0.01 percent chance or some precise number that anything bad will happen to you or even a precise number for their risk of dying.
What we can do is we can give them -- we can select volunteer who is first are at the lowest possible risk because of their age and health conditions, lack of other health conditions, and we can have a serious discussion with potential volunteers. 30,000 plus people have said they would like to do this. Of those, when they understand what they're offering to do, some will say, no, I didn't realize, and those people will not be in the challenge trial.
So, it's important -- it's important to minimize the risk and to maximize the understanding. But it's also important to realize that every time we do a medical experiment and every time someone decides to Climb Mount Everest or to join the military or to join the police force, they are taking a risk that they cannot be promised exactly what it is. That is human life.
BURNETT: Well, that's an interesting point. I appreciate your time as always, Professor Lipsitch.
LIPSITCH: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, small businesses crushed by coronavirus, a record number now closing down and more saying they won't hang on much longer.
BURNETT: Tonight, another 1.3 million Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits. This brings the total to more than 51 million claims since the pandemic began in mid-March.
Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
AYESHAH ABUELHIGA, CEO, MASON DIXIE FOODS: We saw that every day.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Ayesha Abuelhiga left her corporate job to launch Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., she couldn't have dreamed of how big of a hit it was going to be.
ABUELHIGA: We had lines all the way down to the Costco. It was probably two miles long. It was like as if that opening day lasted a month and a half.
MATTINGLY: A first generation American who grew up in public housing and worked a half dozen jobs just to get through college, the comfort food pop-up was the ultimate success story, and the accolades, permanent brick and mortar location and most importantly customer loyalty followed in spades.
ABUELHIGA: It was really important for us at the time to be part of a neighborhood and a community and not just be in downtown.
MATTINGLY: Then came the pandemic.
ABUELHIGA: The first week or two was basically no traffic. I think we were making $100 a day, so like it went to nothing.
MATTINGLY: The business never returned above 50 percent of its past sales leading to this gut wrenching decision.
ABUELHIGA: We couldn't sustain the business anymore. We should shut it down.
MATTINGLY: Abuelhiga writing the letter taped in the window of her restaurant, the letter no owner of a thriving business could ever imagine putting together.
ABUELHIGA: It was the last thing I wanted to do, and I avoided it at all costs. What do you say to your team members, what do you say to their families, right? What do you say to customers that feel like they've been there for you the whole time?
MATTINGLY: Small businesses are a central driver of U.S. economic activity, with more than 30 million in the country representing nearly 50 percent of all U.S. jobs, but as the crisis has continued unabated, thousands of brick and mortar small businesses have taken the same route of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., and closed their doors with nearly 66,000 businesses closing their doors for good since March 1st, according to data from Yelp. And some researchers pegging the total number at north of 100,000. Even more are on the precipice with 23 percent and a recent survey saying they could only survive for no more than since months in current conditions.
Even some that received crucial federal paycheck loans are closing their doors altogether, like Mason Dixie Biscuits.
Yet, in a sign of the very resiliency that defines what small business owners represent, a second business, run Abuelhiga, a frozen biscuit business once driven by customer loyalty to the restaurant itself has taken off.
ABUELHIGA: Never in a million years could we have planned that it was going to be as crazy as it was.
The demand surge for us was upwards of 200 percent month over month.
MATTINGLY: Abuelhiga isn't closing the door to giving another restaurant a shot post pandemic.
ABUELHIGA: There isn't a bone in my body that doesn't want to try this again.
MATTINGLY: But as small businesses around the country fight for survival, she strikes a chord, many facing this once in a century pandemic are clinging to each day.
ABUELHIGA: I can't say that you should feel like it's failure. It's really just closure on a chapter, but it forces you to think, what's the next step? What's the next move?
MATTINGLY: And, Erin, it's stories like that from around the country that really underscore just how high the stakes are here on Capitol Hill, where starting next week, negotiations will kick off over the next stimulus proposal. Now, Democrats and Republicans could not be further apart on where they currently stand, but the reality is, with money getting sucked out of the economy, small businesses closing across the country, something needs to get done, and, Erin, something needs to get done fast.
BURNETT: Yes. All right, thank you very much, Phil.
And thanks very much for joining us, CNN's global town hall "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper starts right after this.