Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Kellyanne Conway: Trump's Poll Numbers Were Higher When He Was Giving Daily Coronavirus Briefings; Florida Reports More Than 11,000 New Cases in Single Day; Unpublished White House Task Force Reports Says 18 States in Coronavirus "Red Zone" Should Roll Back Reopenings; Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over City's Mask Mandate; Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D-Colorado) Discusses His Decision to Reverse Course and Mandates Masks. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2020 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:03]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Hope you're having a good Friday. I'm John King, in Washington. Thank you for sharing this day with us.

Another staggering coronavirus record. More than 77,000 new cases were reported yesterday. That is the ninth daily record of new cases in just the last month.

Our state-by-state trend map, well, it's sobering. You see it right there as are the numbers behind it. And 38 states currently moving in the wrong direction. That means more new cases this week than last week. Hospitalizations also trending up as are deaths in many states.

The White House, we now know, knows how bad this is, but the president still refuses to take charge. His last official event about the coronavirus was July 7th, 10 days ago.

A document prepared for his Coronavirus Task Force says 18 states -- you see them right now -- are in so much trouble they should roll back their reopenings.

But that document has not been published or have its recommendations been published publicly by Coronavirus Task Force perhaps because they run counter to the president's demands for full speed ahead on reopening.

It's clear though that you at home across America don't like what you're seeing in our president. Look at these new numbers. Six in 10 Americans disapprove of how the president is handling the coronavirus. That's up 20 points from march.

This novel thought today from the presidential adviser who coined the phrase "alternative facts:" Solve the president's polling problems but bringing back the White House coronavirus briefings. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: My own view, which is different than some people here, is three things. One, the president's numbers were much higher when he was out there briefing everybody on a day-by-day basis about the coronavirus, just giving people the information.

I think the president should be doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A silent president at a moment of national crisis leaves governors and mayors on their own. And sometimes, as you see they, disagree.

Georgia's governor says wear a mask but he won't mandate it. And he is suing the mayor of Atlanta because she is ignoring the governor and requiring masks to be worn in public places.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Mayor Bottoms' mask mandate cannot be enforced. But her decision to shutter businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating. I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, calls the governor's take propaganda. And she says, Governor, we'll see you in court.

Georgia is heading in the wrong direction. It has way too much company on our map.

Let's take a look at the latest trends. Again 38 states, the orange and the red, heading in the wrong direction. That means more cases this week than last week. And 38 states, you can see them pretty much across the country.

Eight states -- that's the beige yellowish-looking color -- holding steady. And four states heading down. Just four states heading down.

We're five-plus months into this. And 38 states heading up, as you see the summer coronavirus surge going from coast to coast.

Let's take a closer look. Sadly, the death count also going up. This is a new map for us here. You can see 25 states, 25 states, 17 of them 50 percent more deaths this week than last week. But 25 states in all reporting more deaths this week than they did last week.

You get the case count and then you get hospitalizations. Deaths usually a lagging indicator. This is a sad map to look at today. And 25 states, and 12 states holding steady, 13 states, a lower death count than last week. Remember, we knew it was inevitable, as the economy reopened, that

there would be more cases but the question was would that overstress the hospital system. Some evidence in some states that's starting to happen.

This was the hospitalizations. It was dropping as we went through may into June. But now hospitalizations approaching 60,000. That's where they were at peak back in the middle of April.

We'll watch this as it plays out. That's not the trend that you want. Hospitalizations now going up as you go through the summer surge.

Again, some people say, well, it is what it is. No, it's not what it has to be.

Look at this. We've used this a lot but we want you to see the comparison. European Union, the United States is green. Up the coronavirus hill about the same time, back in late March, early April.

But look at difference. Look at the difference. The European Union comes down and stays down. The United States flattens, drops a little bit. And now the summer spike, the summer surge going back up. A different way to handle. A different way. You can see what's happening here.

And let's just take a look at just the state of Florida, which is the hottest of the hot spots.

Florida, the green line, early on, as other states, New York and New England, were going through this, Florida was down here. But now it is experiencing the summer surge. You can see the European Union spiked in March and has stayed down here.

Florida alone now reporting more cases on a daily basis than the entire European Union. It keeps breaking the records this week for the number of new cases and the number of people dying reported in a single day.

CNN's Rosa Flores, as she does many days, starts us live with the latest from Miami -- Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the Florida Department of Health just release the new numbers. Those numbers are nearly 12,000, 12,000 new more cases in just the past 24 hours.

[11:04:59]

All this as we learn that 12 employees from the Florida EOC, the Office of Emergency Management, have tested positive for COVID-19. This is an office in Tallahassee. They have been testing these employees. Four of them tested positive just yesterday. This triggered the closure of the main office of the EOC.

Of course, all of this from the communications director in the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who also says that the COVID response has not stopped because all of these employees, of course, are still working from home here.

Here in Miami-Dade County, the 14-day average positivity rate is at 27 percent. ICUs are functioning at 107 percent. That's according to data released by Miami-Dade County.

The good news is that the county has more than 400 beds that they can convert to ICUs. But here's the deal. The main goal, the official goal from the county was to operate at 70 percent. Well, now they are at 107 percent.

Now, of course, what does all this data mean and what are politicians and leaders doing with it depends on who you ask. Just yesterday, city of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez telling CNN that this meant that there were a few days or perhaps a few weeks away from shutting down.

I just asked Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez in a virtual press conference what this data means to him, how close is he. He says, under these numbers, he still has more room. It can still sustain the county for a while.

So these, John, are two mayors looking at the same data coming out with two paths forward and just days having a meeting, a roundtable with Governor Ron DeSantis about the need for one unified message -- John?

KING: Disagreement makes a complicated situation all the more so.

Rosa Flores, grateful for your live reporting from the state of Florida, the hottest of the hot spots in Florida.

As we noted as the top of the program, among 18 states described as a red zone in a document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. You can see the 18 states there.

That document was obtained by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity. And it recommends those 18 states roll back their reopenings until they get the virus under control.

Florida is also one of 11 states on a second list. Rosa just talked about the numbers. Florida in the red zone on that second list for high positivity rates in the coronavirus test results.

The document though is not public and its recommendations, we know, run counter to the president's wishes.

Joining me now our CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, I want to start there. You just heard Rosa talk about the Florida governor and some of the mayors disagree. You live in Georgia. The governor disagrees with the mayor of Atlanta and some of the other mayors.

At a sometime when we have a summer surge in cases, the president has not had a public event specifically designated to the coronavirus in 10 days. We know this document exists. They get it. They get it. Now we know

what they're going to say. We get lots of documents and lots of recommendations. But they have documents saying 18 states should roll back their reopening because we have a problem. Where's the president?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the president is absent on this. And I think that the problem has been that there's a desire to minimize this problem. That has been the problem since the very start.

I think what strikes me about this document now that the Center for Public Integrity sort of was able to get their hands on is that it is reflective in many ways of the gating criteria that were put out from the White House itself about how states should reopen.

And as part of those gating criteria, they did include these triggers for when states should go back into an earlier phase.

So, for example, you needed 14 days of downward numbers to graduate, if you will, to the next phase, as part of one criteria. But if you had five days of increasing numbers of community spread, you might have to go back to an earlier phase. There were a few different triggers there, John, but those are sort of the basic ones.

So that the broad strokes of that not only were they out there, but they came from the White House itself. It was publicly announced, you know, at a press briefing. So generally speaking, it's out there.

The other thing, John, as you listen to Rosa Flores describe what's happening in Florida, we tend to think of these things linearly. We're seeing a two-dimensional graph and numbers go up day after day.

What a lot of public health officials -- and I got off the phone with one of them earlier this morning -- what they look at is the pace these numbers are growing, not just that they are growing but the pace.

Think of it lying a big steamship moving through the ocean. As it gains more and more speed, it's going to be harder and harder to stop. You can hit the brakes now, but that thing is going to keep moving for a while. It's harder to steer and harder to stop.

That's the analogy a lot of people are thinking about, and that's why you've got to act now. You've got to hit the brakes now if you want this thing to stop a few weeks from now.

KING: We'll watch as that plays out.

Sanjay, another dominant conversation around the country is parents thinking about can my kids go back to school and, if they go back to school, how is it safe.

[11:10:00]

We're learning more about how the virus behaves in kids. Tell us what we know and connect is to the school conversation. GUPTA: Yes, John, as you might imagine, I mean, this is topic number

one in my household. I've got a tenth, eight and sixth graders in my house. It's all we talk about.

Here's what we can say. And I spend a lot of time reading the data and talking to authors of recent journal articles that have come out.

First of all, I think we can reasonably and reliable to say at this point kids are less likely to get sick.

Let me show the numbers. This data held up from Wuhan. If you look at the percentage of kids that are actually representing cases in the United States, about 6.5 percent roughly are in kids 17 and under. But 1 percent only of hospitalizations, so smaller. And then going to deaths, .3 percent.

That's encouraging, right? It does suggest that these young people are far less likely to die, certainly, and even less likely to get infected than the general population and that's been consistent data.

What we still don't know clearly, John, and as a major question is, how much are they likely to spread the virus. We know they can contain the virus in their mouth and noses at the same similar levels as adults but it doesn't mean they will spread it as much.

It's hard to study, John. I've looked at large data trials, thousands of patients, and sometimes they only include 40 or 50 kids. Why? Because kids have mostly been at home since mid-March in this country so they have been harder to study.

But let me show you one cautionary tale that came out of Israel. Israel, you know, they sort of had a significant downward trajectory of cases. May 17th, schools fully reopened. And look what happened. The case numbers went significantly higher.

I think the bottom line is this, John. I think kids are probably likely to be lower spreaders than adult. But if you're living in a community where the virus is already spreading rapidly, going back to that steamship analogy, opening the schools is going to add more speed to that ship instead of slowing it down.

KING: Dr. Gupta, one of the many conversations we'll continue to have as we go through this summer surge.

Sanjay, appreciate your insights on that very important data. That and the facts should drive this, not the politics.

Sanjay, thanks.

Up next for us, the legal showdown in Georgia over the big question of wearing a mask and should it be a mandate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:37] KING: An escalating feud between the governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta over coronavirus restrictions, specifically over wearing masks now heading to court.

Right now, 39 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have some type of mask requirement in place. Georgia, you see, does not.

Its governor, Brian Kemp, does wear a mask and he repeated urges residents to do so. But he refused to mandate masks and is forbidding Georgia's cities to do so to the point of filing suit to stop Atlanta's mask policy.

The governor says a mandate is not enforceable and, in his view, not necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEMP: I'm confident that Georgians don't need a mandate to do the right thing.

Instead of issuing mandates that are confusing and unenforceable, I'm asking all local leaders to enforce the current executive order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Dianne Gallagher live for us in Atlanta.

Dianne, Georgia's case count is going up. In the middle of that, you have a fight over government power and masks between the governor and the mayor of the largest city.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what this is, John. It's a fight over government power and language, and just how far the local smaller governments can go to, in their eyes, to protect their own citizens.

Now, according to the governor, this is sort of a two-pronged lawsuit that is against, individually, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the members of the city council, so not against the city of Atlanta here. And there's a mask mandate portion of it, which we'll get to in just a second.

But it's also the fact that the mayor wanted to roll back the reopening efforts in Atlanta back to phase up. That's what the governor has focused on repeatedly when asked about this lawsuit, saying that they have to focus on lives but also livelihoods.

He claims that businesses just cannot survive shutting down again in what they would need to do to go back to phase one.

But the mask mandate is in there explicitly. And Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the city of Atlanta are not the only places where masks are mandated in the state of Georgia.

There's about a dozen different smaller communities, including like the city of Athens and Savannah. Their mayors have said we're going to keep our mandates for masks because we think that that's the best thing to do.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says this seems political and maybe the governor should be focused on other more pressing matters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: The people in our state are dying. And perhaps the governor doesn't know anyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19. I do.

I talked with a widow yesterday, one of our city employees, who lost her husband to COVID-19. Perhaps he's not had to make those telephone calls as I've had to make.

I would hope that if he has done that that he would have a different perspective on this disease and what it's doing to our communities, and he would better understand why mayors across this state are asking and mandating that masks be worn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Now, again, Governor Brian Kemp, not an anti-masker, John. He just says that the mayors and other leaders in the state of Georgia need to follow the executive order and the language as it is in his order instead of trying to pass their own.

KING: We'll watch the court fight play out and the political back and forth.

Dianne Gallagher, appreciate the live reporting in Atlanta.

Let's move on to Colorado now. An important change of heart when it comes to masks there. The state now mandating mask if you're in a public indoor space and cannot keep a safe distance from others.

[11:20:08]

Joining us now is the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, who for weeks has implored citizens to wear a mask.

But, Governor, you resisted a mandate until now because he had doubts that it could be easily enforced.

I want to be clear to your viewers, you've talked about selfish bastards who won't wear a mask. You've told people they should wear a mask.

But why did you decide, after being reticent, I'm going to go for a mandate?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): We had had about 60 percent of our state, including Denver, Boulder County, Larimer County, some of our biggest countries, that had municipal or mandatory mask mandates for several weeks and some for several months now.

What we found and what really changed my opinion, very clear, the areas that had mask requirements had 15 percent to 20 percent more people that wore masks. And even more importantly, they had substantially reduced spread of the virus in the areas where the mask requirements were.

So I decided, it's pretty obvious, you know, what the other 40 percent of our state needs that level of protection, too. We care about our economy. We care about savings lives. We need to learn from our cities and counties that led the way and mask-wearing requirements.

KING: So you saw data and you changed your mind. Shocking.

(LAUGHTER)

POLIS: It's all too rare these days but I try to be data driven.

KING: It is -- well, it's rare in some places. I shouldn't say it's rare everywhere, but it's rare in some places.

I just want to put the case count up in Colorado because we're watching this. This is 38 states now with more cases this week than last week. It's not just cases. We shouldn't obsess about cases.

The question is: How much is the growth and can your hospitals handle it and the like? But you see the Colorado case count, the seven-day moving average starting to go up there.

What's happening? If you look at the middle of June, a month ago, you were down into a better place, and now you're heading back up. What do you see is at main causes here?

POLIS: So the modeling, which is certainly getting better by the week -- there's better modeling of this disease now than there were several months ago -- show that if Coloradoans didn't change their behavior, we would risk overwhelming our hospitals in early September.

So we have this brief moment of opportunity. We need to not just wear masks, by the way. Wearing masks isn't enough. That's part of it. Also reinforce the need for social distancing.

Coloradoans and Americans, we need -- Colorado is on a better trajectory. We need to like we were living in May. Everything was open. The people were more careful about social distancing and avoiding large groups.

We need to go back to that way of living if we care about keeping our businesses open and savings living.

KING: And we're watching this 50-state experiment playing out. I'm talking to you after we had the conversation about what's happening in Georgia, where the governor, to his credit, wears a mask and tells people to wear masks. But he says -- he's a conservative Republican -- says, I'm not going to mandate it. I don't think it's enforceable or necessary.

He's in a court fight with the mayor there. So you have -- you're listening to mayors following what's happening in your city. We learned today, because of this reporting from the Center of Public

Integrity, there's a White House Coronavirus Task Force that lists 18 states in a red zone and says they need to roll back their reopenings because of the rising case count. That document has not been made public.

The president of the United States has not had an official coronavirus event in 10 days. What does that tell you?

POLIS: Well, it -- what I know, as governor, is that we have not been able to rely on the federal government to rise to the occasion battling this pandemic.

Every country that's battled this successfully -- and I do say successfully -- European nations have been successful. Other nations have been successful.

America has the highest case count and highest per capita death count of all. And this is pathetic because we're a wealthy industrialized nation.

The reason for that is clear. We've lacked a coordinated national response. National testing is still in disarray. And I understand -- it was in disarray in May and maybe took us unaware. They should have fixed it by now.

We're doing everything we can at the state level, Republican and Democratic governors. But at the end of the day, we're a nation and we need to work better together so that our country can get through this quickly.

KING: And you -- you were reticent about the mask mandate because you thought it would be difficult to enforce. And, you know, you've got a lot to do right now. Professional health officials are busy. Law enforcement professionals are business.

But you say you watched these other cities and you see that it's working and you've decided to mandate it.

Talk through the enforcement part.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Does the business have to call for help, does a citizen have to call for help if someone is wandering around without a mask?

POLIS: Yes. The enforcement is not a big factor in the increased mask- wearing. Cities have had this for a couple of months. And a couple of counties have had this for a couple of months. They have had negligible enforcement. Maybe a couple of tickets here or there.

KING: Right.

General mask orders lead to more mask wearing. It's moral clarity, it's messaging clarity rather than bickering over the legal words of what's mandatory where. You just say wear a mask. It's a much clearer message.

When the articles are about, why isn't mandatory here or there, I think people get a mixed message. We're seeing it's the opinion of public officials.

In our state, I was joined by the Republican mayor, Democratic mayor, saying this is for this mandate. It's broad bipartisan support. Some of the counties that have it have Republican majorities on the county commissions. Others are Democratic.

[11:25:12]

It's not a partisan thing. It's a science thing. This virus doesn't care about ideology. This virus doesn't care about party. Masks absolutely help stop the spread of the virus. And this is a simple thing we can do to increase people wearing masks in public.

KING: It is just a fact. Masks do help stop the spread.

Governor Jared Polis, appreciate your time and your candor today. Best of luck, sir, in the days ahead.

POLIS: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

Up next for us, very important news out of the Pentagon, putting out new guidance on whether the Confederate flag can fly on military installations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)