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COVID-19 Cases Continue Rising Across U.S.; Data Indicates Previous Exposure to Different Forms of Coronavirus May Help Prevent Symptoms in Those Exposed to COVID-19; Georgia Governor Suing Atlanta Mayor to Prevent Mask-Wearing Mandate; Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan Interview on Impromptu Press Conference Called by Georgia Governor; Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over City's Mask Mandate; Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan is Interviewed About Georgia's Governor Suing Atlanta Mayor Over Mask. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Takes a week for a test to come back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mask mandates now in at least 39 states, but not Georgia, where the governor just banned local municipalities from making them mandator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was furious. I was absolutely lost for words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is dire. The death rate will continue to go up if we don't take more dramatic measures.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto is here. Great to have you. It's a very busy day, Jim, and we begin with these alarming numbers in the pandemic. The United States again shattering its single day record for new coronavirus cases, with more than 77,000 cases on Thursday. That is more than triple the number of cases from just one month ago. That's when Vice President Pence declared that they were, quote, winning the fight against the coronavirus.

America's staggering new case total is more than all of the countries in the European combined. In fact, it is 13 times more than the new cases in the European Union. Florida, Texas, and South Carolina all reporting record deaths. Ten states and Puerto Rico hitting report hospitalization levels as well.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Folks, follow the numbers. They're telling a similar story here. While "The Washington Post" has obtained an unpublished report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that suggests nearly 20 hard-hit states need to take action immediately to require face coverings and other steps. Arkansas and Colorado are the latest states to impose mask mandates. Georgia's a different story. The governor there is suing Atlanta's mayor to stop her city from mandating masks. This as new cases soar in that city, in that state. Well, Governor Brian Kemp, he's about to speak at a news conference. We're going to speak with the state's lieutenant governor and the Atlanta mayor in just minutes to discussion this ongoing debate.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, great to have you back. We started this week in very bad shape as a country in terms of cases and hospitalizations and deaths, and we're ending it worse. We're ending it worse. Every day the numbers have gone up. And Sanjay, we talk about it all the time. I know that you don't like to be the voice of desperation or doom or anything, but today feels desperate. What's happening in Florida and Georgia and elsewhere and Texas is bad.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is bad. And I like to be the voice of some sort of solution, because I think that's what we still ultimately need. But you're right. There's no way to sugarcoat what's going on right now. We see those numbers rise, and I'm here in Georgia, and I'm following earnestly what's going to happen throughout the day here today with some of this back and forth between the governor and the mayor.

But as you follow these numbers as they have gone up, we know, and the virus have been consistent on this, that the number of hospitalizations are going to go up in a couple of weeks, and sadly the number of deaths will go up a few weeks after that. I work in the hospitals here at the Emery University system. We went into COVID mode for a couple of months essentially where the hospitals essentially are a COVID hospital. Elective operations were getting delayed. It was very hard to take care of other patients. There was some light where we were going back to some normalcy of schedule again, and now we're hearing that it's going back to a day by day basis, that we're going to have to evaluate things on a day by day basis to see if we can continue to take care of patients other than COVID patients because there's so many patients anticipated to be coming into the hospitals.

So it's very hard to get ahead of this if these are the numbers that we're dealing with. And at some point, the idea of containing this feels more and more like a dream. By the way, what is containment? That means one case per million a day. That would be 350 cases a day in the country, and as you point out, we have 77,000. So we're nowhere even close to the idea of containment. We're just trying to slow this down, if possible, at this point.

SCIUTTO: OK, so if we're not even close to containment here, and that's an alarming assessment, what does that tell you about the judgment regarding reopening schools? Because a lot of communities, they're getting close to it. They're just a few weeks away as we get into August here. What does the data tell us?

GUPTA: Well, I think the data that kids aren't as likely to get sick was true looking at the early data out of Wuhan and has remained true. We can show some of that data in terms of what it means. Kids can get this virus, they can get infected, but they're far less likely to get hospitalized and far less likely to die. So that's the good news.

The thing that we don't know yet still is just how much can kids transmit, spread this virus? Part of this is because there's just really no large studies on this yet. Mostly kids have been at home since mid-March, getting out and about a little bit, so it makes it very hard to know this.


What we can say, to your question, is that the countries around the world that have safely opened schools, they were close to containment mode. One out of a million cases per day. Again, we're nowhere close to that. If you look at places where they reopened too early, you started to see significant spread again. Schools played an impact here. Show this graph from Israel for a second. Israel was doing a great job. Their overall numbers are a lot lower than ours. But take a look here, May 17th, schools fully reopened. And pretty clear that was the controlling factor here that led to the significant increase in cases.

So overall I think you could probably say at this point children -- we don't know exactly how much children spread this, but they probably spread it less than adults. But if you're living in a place where there is significant spread or if spread has been going up consistently for the last several days, it's probably not time to reopen schools because you're going to just magnify that problems.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, do you have any insight into this White House Coronavirus Task Force report, these 359 pages where, clearly, they have gathered the data on individual states. They have done the work. They have done all of the homework, and they have come up with recommendations tailored to each state. But it hasn't been released publicly. We only know about it courtesy of the Center for Public Integrity. Do you know if governors are getting this report, or is it gathering dust, or what's the status?

GUPTA: I'm not sure exactly how this information was transmitted to governors. When we asked about some of these individual state reports at the Coronavirus Task Force level and I talked to the members of the task force regularly, we are told that they're constantly creating these guidelines. They're updating these guidelines. They're using new evidence, and they release them at the time that they think that they should be released.

So I don't know what the status was here, if they felt like they weren't ready for full release or not. I can also tell you that we had Dr. Tom Frieden on our town hall last night, he's the former head of the CDC, and he tells me that on Tuesday his nonprofit organization now outside of government is going to release detailed plans on what all 50 states need to do, my guess is probably borrowing heavily from these guidelines that, you know, never really made it to the public.

SCIUTTO: All right, let's talk about some good news here, because we are learning more about this. Progress being made, for instance, on vaccines, but another hopeful headline you want to share with us regards immunity, and that is that other coronaviruses might give some protection against COVID-19. Explain what we know.

GUPTA: Yes. It's good to give a little good news, right? The idea has been for some time, and we have been looking into this almost since the beginning, why do some people, a majority of people, frankly, not develop significant symptoms to the virus, or just minimal symptoms to the virus. We don't really still know the answer to this, but what they have been finding now, there's a new paper that came out of "Nature," a scientific journal, basically showing that there's a certain large percentage of the country, 20 to 50 percent of people, who having never been exposed to this virus, to this new coronavirus, still seem to have some reactivity to the virus in the form of what is known as T cells. So these are not antibodies, but these are sort of the memory cells in your body that can help fight an infection.

Why would you already have some reactivity to a brand-new virus like this that could possibly provide you protection? The answer is, as you point out, that there are other coronaviruses out there. Many of them, most of which cause pretty mild things like the common cold. So could exposure to common cold coronaviruses in the past possibly provide you some protection to the novel coronavirus now? That's a question. It's still unresolved. I don't want to overstate this, but the fact that 20 to 50 percent of the population in some of these studies did already have reactivity to this coronavirus, this new coronavirus, I think is very encouraging.

We have always been asking, why do some people get very sick and others don't seem to get that sick at all, if they show any symptoms? And this may provide one answer, and it's something that scientists are going to dig into. If it's true, we may have a lot more protection out there circulating than we realized.

SCIUTTO: That would be good news, no question. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, so good to have you on as always.

GUPTA: You got it. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Join CNN's Jake Tapper. He's going to investigate what really happened in the beginning of the U.S. fight against the coronavirus and what could happen next. CNN's special report, "The Pandemic and the President," will air tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m., only on CNN.

Georgia's governor is suing Atlanta's mayor for taking the step that many scientists recommend of mandating masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. Why?


The state's lieutenant governor and Atlanta's mayor will join us live next.


CAMEROTA: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city's mask mandate. The governor is about to speak at a press conference which we are monitoring. But joining us now conveniently, we have Georgia's Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan. Lieutenant Governor, thanks for being here. We didn't know that the governor would be having a press conference when we booked you to come on. So can you give us a preview of what he's about to announce when he takes the podium?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GEOFF DUNCAN, (R) GEORGIA: Well, good morning, Alisyn, great to be with you again. And I'm not certain of his comments. We're here at the studio here this morning.

CAMEROTA: So meaning it's that sudden, that he has announced a press conference that we didn't know about, and you're saying you didn't know about it either?

DUNCAN: Well, certainly as lieutenant governor, my job is to multifold on the presence of the Senate and also look for every opportunity to encourage our folks around the state to be safe, practice social distancing, put on their masks. Certainly, that is a top priority of ours here, and also work with local businesses to try to find ways to keep themselves going here in the tough economy.

CAMEROTA: So is it possible that he's going to announce some sort of shutdown or some sort of update on the mask battle that he's having with the mayor of Atlanta?

DUNCAN: I'm certain we all watch. I've had a great working relationship with the mayor over the years and look forward to continuing to have a good working relationship with her and her staff.

CAMEROTA: So Lieutenant Governor, I know you're in a tough position about masks, but you say it's a top priority to get everybody to wear masks.


Why is Governor Kemp then suing Mayor Bottoms about this?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R), GEORGIA: Well, I would point you to the governor and the attorney general in the suit that they filed yesterday. You know, it's my job as lieutenant governor, I'm using this platform to really encourage everybody to wear masks, you know?

Selfishly, I'm wearing a mask, you know, because I want to be able to go to my kids' graduation in a couple on weeks. I want to watch my middle son play high school football. I want my investments to be able to -- to not struggle through a tough economy. I'm encouraged by the millions of Georgians wearing masks.

And, you know, last week, we talked about my trip to the grocery store and everybody wore a mask. I went again last night to get dinner, everybody but one person had a mask on. And it was a young employee and as soon as he walked in the door, I watched the manager walk up to him and tell him to put the mask on.

I think we continue to watch retailers and businesses all over the country mandate masks because they believe it's in the best interest of their customers. CAMEROTA: That's not selfish, Lieutenant Governor, of you. That is

actually considerate of you to wear a mask. The medical community says it's the one thing that we can all do that will keep deaths down.

Why is your governor fighting this?

DUNCAN: So, you know, I think it's so important to really look into this. So, last week, we talked about the mandate on masks at the local levels.

You know, the challenges that we face -- look, I think everybody would agree with this. It's so hard to enforce masks -- are you wearing it correctly, are you not wearing it correctly? Are you able to social distance? Are we diverting law enforcement's attention to kind of hand out citations and warnings?

But, at the end of my day, my appeal here is for everybody in Georgia, everybody in the country, when you leave your home, go put a mask on. Go be considerate.

Let's get through this hump, let's let this be a defining moment of this -- of this society, of this country to get through this and to be able to see the backside of this crisis because, Alisyn, we're in the middle of the crisis. I mean, any -- until we find a vaccine that we can distribute here globally --


DUNCAN: -- we're in the middle of a crisis and it's not going away.

CAMEROTA: But your governor is suing the Atlanta mayor for saying the very same thing. She's saying to keep everybody safe, it's her city. She knows what's happening on the ground there, she is mandating masks. He's suing her because of it.

Just explain the logic.

DUNCAN: So, once again, look, the masks are so important for us to wear. I think once again, as I mentioned last week, this whole conversation is a distraction to the health and well-being of everybody in our state. I think it's important for us to take on this big notion of personal responsibility. We can mandate all we want but I think it really comes down to personal responsibility.

And, certainly, once again, I'll point you back to the governor and to the attorney general and to the exact details of their suit. My concern is that we get through this here in Georgia, that we try to find the balance between health and economic well-being of so many businesses and so many communities.


DUNCAN: You know, this is -- this is a tough time for everybody.


DUNCAN: And certainly, this distraction is not helping us get through this.

CAMEROTA: Agreed. We all believe in personal responsibility, but we also have laws about drunk driving because sometimes people are not personally responsible. Are you saying that you disagree with the governor's lawsuit?

DUNCAN: I absolutely see his intentions around the hard -- the inability to enforce people, you know, are you going to walk up to somebody -- as a law enforcement officer, going to walk to somebody and say, well, you didn't it have over your nose, so here's the citation.

CAMEROTA: Is that really happening, Lieutenant Governor?

DUNCAN: And the end of the day, we've got to make sure --


CAMEROTA: But let's be practical. Is that really happening? A mask mandate is saying, please do this, please try your best. I mean, is it really happening that you think police in Atlanta are harassing people about whether they have their mask over their nose? I mean, practically speaking, what's the harm in mandating the mask --

DUNCAN: Certainly, and we don't want that to be the case. So, at the end of the day, my appeal here as Georgia's lieutenant governor is to make sure I let everybody know how important wearing a mask is right now for us to get through this, to flatten the curve.

Until we have a vaccine, we're going to have this right here, front and center. We have an opportunity here to do the right thing and I want everybody in Georgia to do the right thing.

CAMEROTA: Do you think it's possible that people in Georgia are getting a mixed message between the Atlanta mayor, your message, and the governor?

DUNCAN: I hope that -- you know, I hope we move past it. I think the whole conversation about the mandate doesn't absolute -- doesn't help us get through this. It becomes a distraction on the health and well- being of 11 million Georgians.

You know, here's another part, Alisyn. You know, in a boardroom, I never walked around the boardroom and asked for good ideas and then the next question was, are you a Democrat or a Republican? I simply listen to good ideas.

So, as we move forward, I want us to work together as much as humanly possible here in Georgia and as a country to get through this. This is -- these are some tough times. There's some tough conversations happening around people's kitchen tables, around people's boardrooms.

There's people's lives at stake here, and I want us to put our best foot forward.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Bottoms says she's doing this mask mandate to save lives.


Do you think that she's not telling the truth about that?

DUNCAN: I believe she to be genuine and honest with that. Certainly, we're going to continue to move forward here in Georgia. We're going to continue to encourage every single person to wear a mask.

I've got my 9-year-old in the studio here and he's got a mask on. It's hard to tell him every single time we walk into the restaurant or walk out in public why he's wearing a mask but it's important, because as we know, kids are conduits. They may not see the same effects and they may a healthier, stronger immune system, but even kids are conduits.

You know, we have tough conversations, you know, around education and school coming back and all kinds of things. I want us to make sure we're focused in on the big tough issues.

CAMEROTA: Right. And so, last, do you think a lawsuit that blocks the mask mandate is helpful?

DUNCAN: Look, I think the whole conversation is a difficult one that we're having right now, and my hope is that the governor and the mayor work together here to get through this and we flatten the curve and get ourselves back to a productive, strong economy here in Georgia and continue to look for opportunities to lead on the big issues.

CAMEROTA: Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, we really appreciate your time. We will be watching along with you as to whatever it is that Governor Brian Kemp is about to announce. We really appreciate you coming on.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.

So, what does Atlanta's mayor think of all of this and of these messages and the lawsuit? She's going to join us live, next.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Some young people and we have ample examples of that who are young and otherwise healthy can bet seriously ill. I mean, really seriously ill, or can be knocked out on their back and brought to their knees pretty quickly.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: That's Dr. Anthony Fauci there appealing directly to young people not to take the coronavirus lightly, in a new interview, this was with the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Sources tell CNN that Dr. Fauci and President Trump talked for the

first time in more than a month this week -- imagine that -- after attempts by the White House to publicly discredit Fauci.

Joining us now, Dr. Margaret Hamburg who served as FDA commissioner under President Obama. She was a special assistant to Dr. Fauci. They've been friends and colleagues for over 30 years. Good to have you on here.

You know him very well. I have had the opportunity to speak with him a number of times. The White House is deliberately muffling his voice. They're preventing him from come on this network and others.

Tell us about his frustration I imagine with that. Because I know he just wants to get the best information out there.

DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is really a tragic situation. Here we have, you know, probably the world's most renowned infectious disease specialist who is working night and day to try to help our country and the world solve this devastating global pandemic and he's not being allowed to do what he does best. You know, he can help to advance the science, our understanding of this virus, how it causes disease and how best to control it. He can help to apply the best scientific evidence to the policies and programs that are needed and he's terrific at communicating to policymakers, to the public, talking with the media and we need all of that desperately now.

SCIUTTO: And the polls show that people believe him, I mean, by far greater percentages, multiples in fact of the credibility of President Trump on this. You worked with him. You've known for decades. He has decades of experience in responding to exactly health challenges like this one -- pandemics, Ebola, HIV, et cetera. We could list it.

Tell us about the professional view when you have an administration in the midst of a pandemic deliberately undermining the credibility of someone with his role and his background.

HAMBURG: Well, it doesn't make any sense. Of course, when you're in the role like Dr. Fauci is now, you're always walking a bit of a tight rope. You know, we talk about the perilous intersection of science and medicine and public health and politics. He has to navigate carefully.

But he has so much to offer, such an important message and the only way that we're going to get out of the terrible situation we're in with, you know, resurgence of disease, rising cases, hospitals being overwhelmed, deaths increasing in so many places now in our country. The only way we'll get out to -- out of this situation is to have people like him helping to lead us through, helping us to bring public health and science to the problems.

And there is a path forward. It isn't going to be impossible for us to do everything that we want to do to open up and return to various kinds of activities, but we have to do it in a systemic, thoughtful, data-driven way and he knows that and he can help to lead the charge. SCIUTTO: Systemic, thoughtful data-driven, that is not the way this

administration is making decisions and that has been the advice for months now and the president appears to be going in the opposite direction on this. He's talking about showers and bathtubs for some reason and not this virus and still talking the data.

Can a country given that sad reality with a patch work of responses, some states doing it aggressively, other states, you know, suing a mayor as we see in Georgia, opposes the mayor over a mask restriction, can a country with that dissolute, dispirit contradictory response successfully response to a the pandemic or are we condemned to really a disastrous here when this plays out?

HAMBURG: Well, there's no doubt that we have been hindered by the lack of a national plan, the lack of a whole of government response and engagement of all the expertise.