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States Post Record Deaths And Hospitalizations As Crisis Grows; 56 Florida Hospitals At ICU Capacity As Pandemic Worsens. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Please keep us posted when you learn anything more about this massive hack.

All right, New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And this morning, new signs that states across the country are straining to meet the reality of the coronavirus pandemic and no signs that the crisis is being addressed seriously at the national level. At least 12 states in Puerto Rico reporting record hospitalizations, and there were states, by the way, including Texas, Florida, Ohio, near records here. A state like Ohio, we haven't talked about in a while. This is a national issue.

Florida's Miami-Dade County ran out of ICU beds yesterday. They're converting other beds now to meet the needs. Texas and two other states reporting their single highest day death tolls. This morning, cases increasing in 39 states. Look at all the red on this map. That is where cases are going up almost everywhere.

School districts in Houston and San Francisco announced they will begin the new school year online. Alabama will now enforce a mask mandate. 36 states now have some kind of face recovering requirement.

But remarkably, some states taking the complete opposite approach.

CAMEROTA: Case in point, John.

Georgia, Georgia's governor banning cities from issuing their own mandatory mask orders. Why? The pandemic is raging. More than 137,000 Americans have died from coronavirus.

What is the president's plan this morning? Well, his first priority was to post this photo of himself, promoting a brand of beans, while sitting at the resolute desk in the Oval Office. He was smiling about the beans, but not apparently his new poll numbers that show overwhelming disapproval of his coronavirus response. The polls show him trailing Joe Biden by double digits.

Now there's a big campaign shake up, the president pushing out his campaign manager.

But, first, let's get to the state of the country this morning. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Rosa Flores. She is live in Miami. What's the situation there, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. The situation not getting better. Yesterday, another record-breaking day in the U.S. with nearly 12 states reporting record hospitalizations. Here in the State of Florida, the total case count now exceeds 300,000. This as the hospital system in Miami-Dade County gets pushed to the limit.


FLORES: In Florida, it's becoming more difficult to find a hospital bed for those who may need one, as the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus here keeps growing.

CARLOS MIGOYA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: As we're weaning out of the elective surgeries, we're moving in COVID patients, extremely stressful.

FLORES: Miami-Dade County has already run out of intensive care unit beds and is quickly converting other beds for use. Healthcare workers asking Floridians to change their behavior.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Once we start running out of things, we -- you know, if we keep going on this trend, when we no longer have beds we can convert to ICU beds, that's very critical for each individual that needs that kind of care.

FLORES: With the surge, a massive demand for testing and a serious backlog, Governor Ron DeSantis pushing labs to provide results in two days.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you have somebody go through one of the sites and then they get a result back ten days later, that is not really going to be very helpful.

FLORES: Florida, Texas and California surpassing 10,000 new infections Wednesday.

BARBARA FERRER, DIRECTOR, LOS ANGELES 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.

FLORES: Texas also recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic. Many hospitals are becoming strained and medical military personnel deployed to help care for the sick. The governor says he's not planning to shut down the economy again.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): All we need is for people to wear masks. If everyone wears a mask, nothing will be locked down.


FLORES: Nearly 600 nurses will head to Arizona from out of state to assist hospitals overloaded with patients. With new weekly coronavirus cases rising in at least 39 states this morning, some residents being warned they could be in the next hotspots.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): The tragedy that we see playing out on our television screens every day in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California may well be our reality in just a matter of weeks.

The good news is that this nightmare does not have to be our future.

FLORES: The nation's top infectious disease expert says it's time to press reset on handling the crisis.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So you can't think that you're operating in a vacuum. You've got to accept the societal responsibility that if we want to stop this, everybody has got to contribute. You can't say, I don't care.


FLORES: Now, here is the reality on the ground here in Miami-Dade County. The positivity rate yesterday, according to the county, was 29 percent. The number of hospitalizations in the past 13 days have increased 48 percent, ICUs, 53 percent, ventilators, 75 percent.

now, we learned from Dr. Aileen Marty yesterday that Miami-Dade County was converting regular hospital beds into ICU beds. We learned from Miami-Dade County's mayor's office that they have about 400 hospital beds that they can convert into ICUs.

And to give you a clearer picture of what's going on inside hospitals, here is this statement from Jackson Health saying, quote, Jackson Health System has continued increasing ICU capacity by converting beds and equipment and deploying staff.

We are also not admitting new cases if their medical needs can wait. Our focus right now is on caring for COVID patients who require hospitalization and those patients with true emergencies. John?

BERMAN: So important. Rosa Flores for us in Miami. I just want people to know, Rosa is up before dawn every day pressing to get these numbers and statistics from all over the State of Florida. And it's so important to hear the situation. We appreciate the work you're doing.

Joining us now, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, he's a Professor of Medicine at George Washington University and a cardiologist for former Vice President Dick Cheney. Also with us, Beth Cameron, she's the former Senior Director for Global Security and Biodefense in the White House National Security Council under President Obama, and now Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Dr. Reiner, the chart that I woke up to that alarmed me the most was the national hospitalization chart. You can see this graph. This is the people in the hospital. This isn't tests. This is people in beds in hospitals around the country. And you can see, we are right back where we were at the worst of it.

And in a state like Ohio, we heard from Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio is not a state we've been talking about lately. Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, went on T.V. last night to warn the people in the state, we might be in trouble again. Why? Because hospitalizations there, even in Ohio, back near that record number.

So what does that mean, Dr. Reiner? When we're talking about hospitals filling up, when we're talking about Miami-Dade County now having to add ICU capacity, because they're at the limit, what does that mean?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: well, it's proof that the rise in the number of cases is just not an art fact of testing. So the explosive rise in test positivity over the last month with a predictable lag corresponds with an increase in hospitalization.

The horrifying next step is a substantial rise in mortality, and that will come. And we're already starting to see that, so positive tests equals more hospitalizations, more sick people, which then sadly translates into more deaths. It doesn't have to be this way.

There are straightforward things. It requires leadership, but there are straight forward things we could do. The hottest spots in the United States must shut down. There's no other way about it. We need a national mandate on wearing masks.

Those two initiatives, closing down the hottest parts of the United States and a national mandate for wearing masks will go a long way to put this fire out. But there are no shortcuts now. And as Dr. Fauci said, everyone has skin in this game. Everyone needs to contribute.

CAMEROTA: And, Dr. Reiner, just to put a finer point on what you're saying, how many states do you think need to shut down today?

REINER: Well, I think, you know, certainly, large parts of Florida must shut down. You know, Florida yesterday had -- and Texas, for that matter, each had more new positive cases than the entire European Union.


Just to give you an example, so Florida had about 10,000 new cases yesterday. Germany, the country of Germany had 482, right? France had just a little bit under 400.

So we're seeing a massive number of new cases, and yet, you know, you hear the governor of Texas saying, you know, we don't want to shut down. We hear the governor of Florida, not only saying that he refuses to shut down, but that it's full speed ahead with schools.

And what I would urge the people in those states to understand is that our quickest way back to a more normal life, a life that includes having open schools, is to mask up now and let's take the pain now, let's shut down the hottest parts of the United States. Let's get Congress to give economic support to businesses in these communities and all around the country that have to shutdown, let's do it now. Let's do the hard work now.

And we need -- I don't think we're going to see national leadership to do this. We need the governors to stand up.

In Ohio, Governor DeWine, who is telling the public how dire circumstances are, still hasn't issued a statewide mask mandate.

BERMAN: Beth Cameron, we just put up a map on the screen, and this is a group out of Harvard that's issuing guidelines for which states it thinks are in a position where they need to shut down. I think you're actually associated with this. I think you can see the ten states, I think it's up to 11 now. They may have added Ohio. It's not on this -- Idaho, it's not on that map for states that should be under mandatory shutdowns now.

I have a little bit of a different way of asking this to you, Beth, because you watch this every day. What are we doing at the national level to address this and address all of these concerns that Dr. Reiner just brought up?

BETH CAMERON, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Yes, it's a great question. I totally agree with everything that Dr. Reiner just said. And I would like to add that testing and testing turnaround time is a huge issue that should be being handled at the national level.

So what's happening at the national level is not enough. We ran an experiment over the last four months where we looked at how states -- state by state by state could manage this crisis. And they can't do it. They can't do it individually. And what we see is governors making different decisions about reopening and closing that have led us to this point.

So what the federal government should be doing is they should be putting in place a unified plan. They're not doing that.

And I've started really focusing as well on the governors and on state and local leaders. So that map, what it's showing you in red are the places in America where there are an incidence rate for COVID-19 of more than 25 cases out of 100,000 population. And that's an indication that you can't control the spread of the disease.

And so the recommendation is that if you're in a location with that kind of incidence rate, that you should consider stay-at-home orders, to press that reset button.

this morning in The New York Times, my colleagues, Jonathan Zittrain and Margaret Bordeaux at Harvard, put out a call for the governors to actually hold a summit, to come together to develop a unified plan, specifically to surge testing capability, to get rid of this seven to eight to ten day lag in testing time and really to agree on how to share resources, how to put in place more production capacity. If the federal government isn't going to implement and fully use the Defense Production Act, the governors need to figure out how to produce reagents and share testing capacity. They have to agree on metrics, they have to agree on when stay-at-homes go in place. And they have to do it really urgently.

CAMEROTA: Beth, that is a really fascinating plan. I mean, given the vacuum of leadership or any plan from the White House and the president, today is the day for governors to all band together and act.

But I just want to stick with you for a second, because you were in the White House in a different administration. I mean, yesterday we saw the picture of the president posing with cans of beans at the resolute desk. That was his priority yesterday. But how hard would it be to do just what you're talking about, which is for the federal government, for the White House, to fill in the gaps that we see in testing and the delays of the results of testing? So how hard would that be for the White House to play that role?

CAMERON: Honestly, it's what the White House should have been doing in April. Right now, in order to understand all of the gaps, we need to have a really comprehensive understanding of the barrier from each governor.

So, an example, right before the Zika crisis got worse in the Obama administration, the White House worked with the National Governors' Association, worked with the CDC to bring governors together in a summit in order to address the Zika crisis and to put together plans for how to get prepared, how to make sure that we had testing in place, how to make sure that people understood what the risks were and what kinds of things they could do to protect themselves from that virus.

So it wouldn't be hard at all for the White House to do this. And it would have been much easier for them to fill the gaps in national testing capacity to make sure we had enough reagents back in March when we knew from the American Microbiology Association that we were going to run out back then.

So they absolutely have tools at their disposal. If we have excess capacity in one state, it can be shared with another. But at this point, in order to overcome those delays, we need to act even more quickly. We should have been asking four months ago.

BERMAN: Dr. Reiner, I want to ask you about the strain this puts on hospitals and healthcare workers, specifically. But, first, to someone who has been in the White House and in the West Wing, walked the halls there, I just want your quick reaction to the picture of the president with the beans, smiling yesterday with 137,000 deaths in America.

REINER: I think the perfect response to that was something that Jake Tapper tweeted yesterday. He tweeted a Yiddish word. It's bubkes. Bubkes literally means beans, but it's usually used to mean nothing, right? What was done? Bubkes, nothing, beans. So the president is literally showing us bubkes. Look, the number one priority in the United States should be extinguishing this once in a century, maybe once in a millennium pandemic. Yet the number one priority in the White House is getting the president re-elected and it's an irresolvable conflict, which is why I completely agree that we need the governors to come together and do this.

Not only would I completely agree on a conference with the governors, I think the governors should convene a shadow task force with national experts to move us forward. It's time to take this out of the federal hands because we're getting no leadership from the White House.

BERMAN: Wow, go around the back, basically, of the federal government, you both say, because they're simply not doing the job. It's an interesting discussion, a medical call to arms this morning.

Dr. Reiner and Beth Cameron, thank you both for being with us this morning.

Wow. All right, Miami Dade County appears to be at a breaking appoint. Hospitals, they ran out of ICU beds yesterday. They are now trying to add capacity. The mayor of Miami joins us next.



BERMAN: So this morning, fresh numbers in. 56 hospitals in Florida are at their ICU capacity this morning. The situation in Miami-Dade County, they ran out of ICU beds yesterday in Miami-Dade, so hospitals are now converting regular beds to add to their ICU capacity.

Joining me now is the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez. Mayor Suarez, we do appreciate you being with us. We know how much you have on your plate this morning. We did get that report over the last 24 hours that the normal capacity for ICU beds in Miami-Dade has been met, no more beds, so now trying to add capacity somehow in other ways. What's the current strain you're seeing on the system?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI, FL): That's exactly right. I've been speaking every day to the CEO of Jackson Hospital, Carlos Migoya, the CEO of U.M.'s Hospital. And what they're doing now is they're shifting regular beds and converting them into ICU beds by not taking elective surgeries. So what they're essentially shifting the census.

And they have what they've told me, they've estimated somewhere between two to four more weeks of capacity if everything goes well, and if, obviously, things continue at this trajectory, everything goes well, meaning in their ability to shift, and if things continue in this trajectory in terms of hospitalizations.

They're managing a census of 91 to 92 percent capacity overall, which is not completely unusual. What they're just seeing is that a larger percentage of the capacity obviously is COVID patients. We're at double the number of COVID patients that we were in March/April. We're at the highest level of hospitalization that we've seen throughout this pandemic. We're at the highest level of ventilators that we've seen throughout this pandemic, which obviously is worrisome, because that's an indication of the death rate that will increase most likely over the next couple of weeks.

So those are the statistics that we're looking at every single day to make decisions.

BERMAN: So, I spoke to you earlier this week and you said that you were approaching the time when you might need stay-at-home orders again. A week or two away, you had told

me. You told Governor DeSantis two days ago that you're getting a lot of pressure to institute stay-at-home orders in the City of Miami. How much closer are you to that moment this morning?

SUAREZ: Every day we get closer if things don't get better. We've instituted some remedial measures. Obviously, we had a mask in public rule that we instituted about a week ago. They've closed indoor dining. There's a curfew. And so all of those remedial measures have a lag time in terms of seeing results and flattening.

We are seeing some flattening our rate of increase at its high point was 125 new cases per day. We're down and it's -- I say down, but it's not really a huge decrease, but we're down to about 60 new cases per day, which is about half the growth rate, which indicates some level of flattening, but we have to continue to flatten at a significant rate to avoid the unavoidable, which may be implementing a stay-at- home order if things don't improve dramatically soon.

BERMAN: So you're not going to rule out a stay-at-home order at all, even though your governor doesn't want to seem to touch that?

SUAREZ: No, I've never ruled out a stay-at-home order. You cannot rule out a stay-at-home order. You cannot allow your hospital system to get overwhelmed, because then what will happen is what happened, unfortunately in New York, where people were literally dying in the hallways.

And, I think what's interesting is that, obviously, New York is in a better place right now. And I think part of the reason why it's in a better place is because, unfortunately, they got to a level where people are very afraid of seeing a repeat of what happened during their peak.

That sort of didn't happen in Miami because we shut down very, very quickly. We were at a level of incidence about 533 cases a day.


On a good day, now we're seeing five times that amount of cases. The data tomorrow, we had 533 new cases, I would be thrilled, because that would be one fifth of the cases we're seeing on a sustained level for the last couple of weeks.

BERMAN: Look, New York is in a better place now, but it took tens of thousands of lives to get there. Let's pray that you don't have to go through that to get to a better place. Mayor, I know you were listening to our discussion with Dr. Reiner and Beth Cameron in the last segment, where they said -- and Dr. Reiner -- and they both have years of experience in this, they said, we can't count on the federal government anymore. They have failed us. It's time to go beyond them, go around their backs. The governors, the mayors have to get together and do this themselves, because the federal government has failed us. What do you make of that?

SUAREZ: Well, look, there's something called the Center for Disease Control. And their objective and their purpose and their mission is to control diseases, epidemics, outbreaks just like this. We're not getting much guidance right now in terms of what we need to do or how we should do it from the CDC, which I think is the predominant organization that should be guiding this process in a unified federal voice.

So we've had to do that very thing. We've had to cobble together our own experts. I have sometimes three meetings a day with hospital experts, with epidemiologists, with biostatistician, just so we can get to a point where we can make good decisions. And so that's not happening.

We did have a meeting, which I thought was very productive with the governor, with all the major mayors in the major cities and the county mayor together. So we can start speaking with one voice at least in Miami-Dade County. But certainly, there needs to be a unified policy, I think, statewide, and certainly federally and guidance, because they're the ones that have the experts that should be guiding this crisis.

BERMAN: Why don't you think you're getting that at the federal level?

SUAREZ: You know, I don't know. I really don't know. And, obviously, this is a pandemic that is -- as one of your prior guests said, it's sort of a once in a generation pandemic. But, I mean, really, there's no excuse. I mean, that is what they're created for. If there's an outbreak, if there's a pandemic, if there's an epidemic, the CDC should be the organization that is stepping up and guiding us throughout this.

So, you know, look, as a mayor, you don't have an option. We have to make difficult decisions, we have to get the guidance that we need. We can't make excuses. The buck stops with us and this has been pushed down to our level, so we're the once that are going to have to make those tough choices.

BERMAN: Do you feel like a scapegoat here? Do you feel like the federal government is trying to push off the responsibility and the blame on you?

SUAREZ: I'm not sure that's the objective, but that's what's happening, in effect, is that we're being left without guidance. There was guidance in terms of reopening, in terms of the gating criteria, but there wasn't any guidance in terms of what happens if there's a second spike, like we're seeing right now, or how do you go backwards, what are the metrics? And so we're struggling every single day, talking to our experts, talking to hospital administrators to create that guidance.

Because, remember, not only -- it's not -- we're not dealing in the abstract, we have to sell it to our community, which right now if we shut down, there's not going to be the same federal aid in unemployment that there was, at least there's no indication that there will be. There's not going to be another round of PPE. At least there's no indication that there will be. So the other issue that we're having is there's no economic support for another shutdown. And that's extremely worrisome to the residents of our city as well.

BERMAN: I've got to say, you are not dealing in the abstract, not when ICU beds are at capacity in Miami-Dade County. Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami, we appreciate your time and we'll let you get back to work. Thank you.

SUAREZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, news overnight that President Trump is replacing his campaign manager what little more than a hundred days until Election Day. This news came after glaring new polls showing the president trailing Joe Biden and showing overwhelming disapproval for his handling of the pandemic. That's next.