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Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan Criticizes President Trump's Handling of Coronavirus Pandemic; Hospitalizations in U.S. Reach Previous Peak Due to Coronavirus Spread; President Trump Fires Campaign Manager Brad Parscale; Trump Demotes Campaign Manager Amid Sinking Polls; Millions of Americans Unemployed with Benefits Set to Expire. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 16, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Alabama will now enforce a mask mandate. But high risk states like Georgia, Florida, and Arizona continue to resist any mask mandate.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, it's really way beyond resist in Georgia. The governor there just signed an order preventing cities from issuing mandatory mask orders. In some cases, this reverses orders in place. Why? Georgia is seeing record hospitalizations.

As for the nation, 137,000 deaths in America. And how does the president use his political capital to address this? Here it is -- beans. Beans and a smile with 137,000 Americans dead. Now, there are signs that that is not enough for America this morning, beans and a smile. New polls show the president's standing is plummeting. He did fire his campaign manager, more on that coming up.

This morning, we are seeing signs, too, that beans and a smile are not enough for mayors and governors around the country, including Republicans. Listen to what Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, writes this morning. He says, "I'd watched as the president downplayed the outbreak severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or life-saving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. 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." And this morning we've heard from federal experts on this show who say it's time to just move beyond the federal government.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that, John. Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, great to see you. As we say every morning, things are not getting better, they're getting worse, unfortunately. So we just talked to Beth Cameron and Dr. Reiner, both of whom had been involved in past White Houses. Beth was on the Obama pandemic task force. And what they both suggested was we're in a dire situation. It's time to stop waiting for any lifeline or help from the White House, from President Trump. It's time for governors, like Larry Hogan who John just quoted there, to band together, call their own conference, and come up with some sort of unified plan. Your thoughts?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. First of all, you can't believe that we'd have to be in this position. I have covered over pandemics, H1N1, covered zika, covered Ebola, things like that. There was always a national plan. So this did not have to be this way.

I think that right now you're running into the situation where so many of these states are red lining. They're having to figure it out for themselves. And you saw a little bit of what happened in the northeast earlier on where you did have this banding together, at least regionally, to try and address this, recognizing that it's very hard to keep any of these states in a particular bubble. So as good a job as you may be doing, there aren't many examples of that anymore. But as good a job as you may be doing, unless there is at least a regional, hopefully a national plan, you're still vulnerable.

What strikes me, and I obviously live here in Georgia, is that, as you mentioned, you have these clashes between state and local leaderships. So we have seen the clashes between state and national. But also, the city of Atlanta versus the state of Georgia where the governor is saying now you can't even enforce this mask ordinance that Mayor Bottoms has tried to do here in Atlanta. Saw the same thing in Texas. Saw the same thing in Arizona. And then they finally came around.

The fact is that we know how this story ends. We know where this story goes. It's just a question of how long is it going to take to get there. And what is the price you're willing to pay to get there. In Georgia we are seeing the numbers continue to go up. School districts are now saying the same thing here as they're saying in California, which is that we're not going to go to in-person learning. And what's it going to take? Ultimately, this is almost a philosophical question, what is it going to take for people to actually act in these situations?

Clearly, the governor here in Georgia is just in some ways doing -- is carrying the water for the president. The president visited here yesterday. The president wasn't wearing a mask. Technically, according to the ordinance in Atlanta, that was something that could have even received a fine. And instead, the Georgia governor comes out and says the mask ordinances cannot be enforced. So that's the situation we're in here.

BERMAN: It's time to do less is an odd policy when you have record hospitalizations in your state. It's an odd time to say we must do less here in Georgia, which is effectively banning cities from instituting mandatory mask orders if they want. It's effectively what the governor just did there.

On hospitalizations, Sanjay, because this was the chart that struck me as the most ominous this morning, when you're talking about national hospitalizations from coronavirus, we're right back up where we were nationally, at the worst of it.

[08:05:05] This isn't tests. This is people sick enough to be in the hospital around the country right now. And you can see we are right back there.

GUPTA: The constant in all of this, as we have said now for several months, is the virus. We know exactly how the virus is going to behave. It's a contagious virus. As people become increasingly mobile, as they're not wearing their masks, we know more and more people will become infected. We can predict, as we have been, that's going to lead to hospitalizations within two to three weeks, and we can predict, sadly, that a few weeks after that it's going to lead to an increase in deaths.

There's a couple things that are I think worth reminding people of, is that the virus itself is deadly. We know that. We still don't have an exact fatality rate on this because what is influencing the death rate here in the United States, as you do the math on the right side of the screen, has more to do with totally preventable things. So if you surge hospitals, hospitals are redlining, they can't take care of all the patients that they would normally be able to take care of. That was the whole flatten the curve model. If you can't take care of all the patients you normally take care of, you will start to have preventable deaths, and that will drive up the fatality ratio.

The virus is a problem itself, but what we're seeing to be an exponentially larger problem now is the response to this, or the inadequate response to this. That's what driving the death rate perhaps 20, 30 times higher than it needs to be here in a place like United States, which is catastrophic. So we can predict where this is going to go over time.

And I should point out that, again, there's countries around the world that haven't had significant deaths. And I want to put up a couple of examples. I don't know if we have this graphic to show. Countries around the world that over a period of time, take Finland, Greece, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand. Since middle of May, early June, whenever it may be, they've had zero deaths in these places. What does that reflect? That reflects a trajectory over the last four weeks prior to that where they were able to get case counts down. They were able to get hospitalizations down. And now they are seeing the positive ramifications of that, no deaths. They don't have a magic vaccine. They don't have a magic vaccine a magic therapeutic that we don't have. They have the exact same things we have. Yes, they are smaller countries, but if you start to do the math, entire regions of the world have been able to do this, and we're still very much heading in the wrong direction.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, that is such an important point, and I'm so glad that you're emphasizing it, as you always do. And Governor Larry Hogan, who has this op-ed out this morning, talked about that very same thing. I'll read you this quote. He says "While other countries were racing ahead with well-coordinated testing regimes, the Trump administration bungled the effort. Meanwhile, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans." You can just hear how frustrated Governor Hogan of Maryland is. And I guess the point is, what you're saying is that there's so much that is mysterious about this virus, but how to keep it in check is not mysterious. We have other successful models that we could have used.

GUPTA: I completely share his frustration here. And you know that it's been frustrating. We've had these conversations for so many days on this program for so many months. I completely share his frustration. I was up late into the night last night talking to various institutions that are still trying to figure out testing. They call me because they see me on television, and they say, hey, look, we are trying to get these people tested over here. We're hearing we can't get tests, and if we do get tests, it could take up to a week to get the results back. That doesn't sound right. What gives? And I'm like, that is the situation right now still in the United States of America, that the vast majority of people in most places in this country can't get tested, and if they do get a test it takes forever to get those test results back.

Two-and-a-half months ago we talked about the fact that we needed significant breakthroughs in testing. There are the testing machines that are going out under the emergency use authorization. Health care providers are calling me, saying, hey, look, are these things accurate? Do they work? How does this actually all come together? This was a simple problem to fix.

You're right, Alisyn, the virus, this novel virus, we're still learning about it. There are mysteries about it. But the basics of how to have handled this were pretty clear, and they were pretty clear from the start. The testing I said was the original sin, but if you go back even a step further is that we never took this seriously, and now we're wasting time with this cannibalistic practice of people eating each other up within the White House, within the executive branch, instead of dealing with testing, talking about masks, having a national strategy.

These numbers are just going to continue to get worst. We used to say 60,000 people may die by August 4st, and all of us on this program were shaking our heads, can you believe it, by August 4th, 60,000 people may die.


It's the middle of July and we're more than double that, and the numbers are -- the pace at which these numbers are increasing is very concerning. We've got to do something. I share the governor's frustration. I share, frankly, most of America's frustration at this point.

BERMAN: It didn't have to be this way. It didn't have to be this way, and it's not this way in other countries around the world. We have uniquely bungled this. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for being with us this morning. And be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a CNN town hall tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.

So you can see the political impact of all of this on the president. You see Republicans like Larry Hogan speaking out against the president. You can see the results in the polls with the president trailing badly, and now the president has fired his campaign manager. I'm not sure the polls are reflecting failures on the campaign manager's part. That's next.


BERMAN: Breaking news, a major shakeup in the Trump campaign overnight. Brad Parscale is out as the president's campaign manager, demoted as the president's poll numbers plummet and the president's rating as to his handling of the pandemic, simply overwhelming disapproval.

Joining us now, CNN Political Director David Chalian, and CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.


David, I'm going to start with you. We're going to talk about Brad Parscale getting demoted in a second. But that's a symptom of a larger political illness, shall we say, that is illustrated in two national polls which say very much the same thing that came out in the last 24 hours.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah. You can't demote the candidate and that's where the problem is right now. Look at these double digit leads for Joe Biden.

In the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, John, 51 percent to 40 percent, again a national poll among registered voters and at Quinnipiac University, another national poll out yesterday, an even bigger Biden lead, 52 percent to 37 percent.

This is a low point in the horserace for Donald Trump. These double digit leads are bigger than what these polls have shown just a month or so ago. So, it's not heading in the right direction for the president right now.

BERMAN: And there's often some mystery about what is driving poll numbers to go a certain direction here. There's no mystery this morning. It is the handling of the pandemic, his ratings, very poor here.

CHALIAN: Yeah. It's everything. I mean, look at this, 37 percent approval in the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 59 percent disapprove. I think the approval numbers even are a bit lower in the Quinnipiac poll.

And what you're seeing also, especially in that Quinnipiac poll, you're seeing the approval of the coronavirus and the overall job approval is sort of -- you see that 35 percent there. It's very close to his overall job approval.

To your point, John, it is his handling or mishandling as what the American people are saying in these polls of the coronavirus pandemic that is driving down his numbers and we're seeing it, not just with swing voters, not just Democrats. We're seeing it with some core groups of his base as well. BERMAN: All right. John Harwood at the White House is going to join

this discussion now. John Harwood, Brad Parscale, he's not handling the coronavirus pandemic for the president. It's not Parscale's fault that the president has handled the pandemic as he is.

Nevertheless, give us the headlines on the palace intrigue there. Parscale out, Bill Stepien in.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, throughout the spring, as the president has trailed Joe Biden and now that deficit has been getting worse, there have been rumblings that the president is unhappy with Brad Parscale. He thinks he makes too much money. That he's calling into campaign meetings from his pool in Florida. He drives a Ferrari, that sort of thing.

You know, the president when things go bad typically looks for somebody else to blame. I think if we step back and I think David would agree with me on this, in any circumstance, a presidential campaign staff has limited effect on the course a campaign. It's too high profile. The American people see it.

And with the incumbent president, it has particularly minimal impact because the president has been in everyone's living rooms for four years and this president has singularly been in the faces of Americans. His problem and this was true even before the coronavirus is that people have gotten tired of what he's -- his behavior and how he has handled the office of the presidency.

Now they see significant real-world consequences from the handling of this coronavirus and take the issue that is right on the table at this moment. What do we do about schools in the fall? All parents are worried about it, businesses are worried about it because that's the key to people coming back. The president says, just open up the schools.

Right now, in the Quinnipiac poll, 61 percent of the American people don't approve of the way he's handling it and by 2-1, Americans say they think it's unsafe to send children back to school.

The president's on the wrong side of that issue. Bill Stepien can't do all that much about that unless you get the president to change his approach. If you're a Republican looking for good news here, it is that Brad Parscale was not an experienced campaign manager. He came of it the 2016 campaign which was unique and idiosyncratic and the conduct of the candidate and the way the campaign was run.

Bill Stepien is coming out of the more conventional Republican politics, Chris Christie, and before that, the George W. Bush campaign. Maybe a more conventional approach can persuade the president to behave differently, but I don't think anybody is holding their breath on that.

BERMAN: David Chalian, the poll also shows some slippage for the president. You talked about approval on his handling of coronavirus among his core supports, rural voters and white voters without a college degree, but just his approval rating among Republicans in general, he's suffering a little bit.

CHALIAN: Yeah. So in the approval I think we see that down to 84 percent among Republicans. Obviously still most Republicans are with the president, John. But it's this little slippage that is actually significant.

In the horse race, in the Biden versus Trump match-up he gets 84 percent of Republican support. Joe Biden is in the 90s. So there's a little bit of erosion from key constituencies here, his fellow Republicans.


And just a little bit of an erosion in your base when your entire strategy for 3-1/2 years has been all about jazzing up that base, not about trying to win the middle, the middle is gone for Donald Trump right now. But now, we're seeing because of his handling of the virus, this little bit of chipping away at the core supporters as well, and that is a problem given the way he's built his entire approach for the last 3-1/2 years.

BERMAN: It's interesting, Larry Hogan, not a Donald Trump fan. Never has been. The Republican governor of Maryland has been on his own path as a Republican governor.

Nevertheless, I haven't heard him quite as unrestrained as he is this morning as he's releasing parts of his new book. And let me read one more part of this that we haven't read yet in terms of how Hogan thinks he has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

An undertaking as large as a national testing program required Washington help. We expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader. Trump soon disabused us of that expectation.

John Harwood, that's not subtle at all. This is a Republican and I wonder if that gets to the issue again of larger Republican support for the president.

HARWOOD: Absolutely it does. And remember, Larry Hogan was considering the idea, flirting publicly with the idea of a primary challenge to President Trump long before anyone ever heard of the coronavirus. He ultimately backed away, decided it would be a kamikaze mission not worth doing.

Now, we're in a situation where his state and many other states have been struggling with this pandemic for some time. He's been frustrated by the federal response and the president's standing in the country and even within certain segments of the Republican Party has declined. Larry Hogan has been trying to get the president and Republicans in Congress to agree to provide billions and billions of dollars in state and local aid to states like Maryland that have seen the bottom fall out on their revenues in coronavirus.

So this is that frustration talking, as well as the political opening that is presented by the fact that the president has been moving backwards.

BERMAN: John Harwood, thanks for being with us. David Chalian, thank you as well. Appreciate both of your time this morning.

In just minutes, we're going to see if the unemployment crisis is getting worse. We have new numbers coming out in minutes. That's ahead.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: More countries are rolling back their reopenings and reinstating restrictions amid a surge in new cases.

CNN's reporters are covering the developments around the globe for you.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Vedika Sud in New Delhi.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India is just over 30,000 cases short of reaching a million confirmed cases of COVID-19. Over 400 million people across three states in India are re- entering lockdown conditions after witnessing a spike in the COVID-19 numbers.

On Wednesday, more than 32,000 new infections have been reported. This is the highest jump in daily numbers that India has seen.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bill Weir in Brazil where the most famous COVID-19 patient in all of the land, President Jair Bolsonaro, confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time in as many weeks.

He remains in semi-isolation at the presidential palace, but says quarantine is horrible. He doesn't have any symptoms and is itching to get back to work. There have been 51 separate requests for the lower house of Brazil's congress for impeachment of this president, more in the recent days since the mismanagement of this pandemic. But the politicians there say the last thing they need in this crisis is more politics.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Angus Watson, in Sydney, Australia.

Victoria has suffered its worst day of the coronavirus crisis as authorities try to stamp out a second wave in its largest city, Melbourne. The coronavirus curve is shooting upwards despite residents being on lockdown for over two weeks now. The state has been completely cut off from the rest of the country in an effort to try to stop the spread.

The Australian economy is shrinking because of the pandemic. Over 900,000 people here without jobs now, the worst figures in over two decades. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Our thanks to our reporters all around the world.

Millions of Americans remain out of work as the pandemic worsens. Now, they face losing a key lifeline, the enhanced unemployment benefits they have been receiving are set to expire.

Vanessa Yurkevich with much more on this.

This was so crucial to a lot of people, really kept them afloat for months and months, but folks are about to lose it now.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. It's really happening at the worst time. In just two weeks, Americans who are unemployed are going to be losing the extra $600 a week as part of this federal stimulus package, and this is happening at the same time that COVID cases are surging around the country. States are rolling back their reopenings and people are seeing themselves filing for unemployment for a second time.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Delena Sanders took a leap of faith. She quit her job, picked up her life and moved to Atlanta in January. She wanted to make a difference.

DELENA SANDERS, UNEMPLOYED DOULA: The reason I became a doula is because I wanted to make a difference and I figured this is a good area to do that.

It's a celebration of pregnancy.

YURKEVICH: Her hopes of getting the business off the ground, gone. She's one of millions of Americans now without a job, on unemployment.

SANDERS: COVID seems to be getting worse and not better, so at least here in the city of Atlanta, we're in the process of going back to phase one. So I may not be able to go into the delivery rooms any time soon.

YURKEVICH: And it's about to get worse. In two weeks, the extra $600 a week in unemployment that's helped Americans like Sanders to pay their bills, put food on the table, and stay in their homes will expire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be a total economic devastation.