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Fauci Calls Discredit Bizarre; Georgia's Governor Is interviewed about the Lawsuit from Atlanta's Mayor; Mask Mandates make a Difference; Racial Reckoning in America. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 17, 2020 - 08:30   ET



DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER AND FRIEND OF DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: The lack of the whole of government response and engagement of all of the expertise and, of course, working with the private sector as well in a coordinated way. We were slow to get started and we've never really hit our rhythm. But it is not too late.

But, sadly, it may be that we're going to have to continue to cobble together with leadership from all of the 50 states our response. But, you know, my hope is that we will be able to learn from our mistakes.


HAMBURG: That we will be able to apply the best science. And we will be able to have people like Tony Fauci and others in our country that understand science and how to harness it for the good of society, that we will be able to do better. We must do better. And I do think we can.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Let's hope so. I appreciate your expertise, Margaret Hamburg, and also your hope as well.

HAMBURG: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, Georgia's governor is speaking right now at a press conference. This after we just mentioned suing Atlanta's mayor over taking a step of mandating masks, something that the scientists has showed helps himmen (ph) this outbreak. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, she's going to join us live, next.




GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): And I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate. And while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I'm confident that Georgians don't need a mandate to do the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was Georgia Governor Brian Kemp just seconds ago talking about why he is fighting mask mandates. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is firing back after Georgia's governor filed a lawsuit against her and city council members to stop them from mandating that face masks be worn in public.

Georgia continues to experience a big surge in coronavirus cases.

Joining us now is Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Mayor, the governor has this sort of impromptu press conference that we've been following along, and he just said, Georgians don't need a mandate to do the right thing.

Your response?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: This is all very bizarre, quite frankly. The city of Savannah enacted a mask mandate July 1st. His hometown of Athens, Georgia, enacted a mask mandate on July 8th. And then the city of Atlanta followed. And -- and I don't think it was happenstance that this lawsuit was filed the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta. And I pointed out that he did not have on a mask at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and that was in violation of state law. And so what I -- what I see happening is that the governor is putting politics over people.

We all know the CDC is in our own backyard. The CDC has said that wearing a mask will stop the spread -- help stop the spread of this virus. Overwhelmingly, people in Atlanta support a mask mandate. And so it's just - it's a waste of taxpayer money. And we are spending time fighting each other when -- when this virus doesn't understand politics and doesn't respect that it's a state or it's a city. It's impacting us all. And I'm personally impacted as I sit here, a Covid- 19 positive in quarantine.

CAMEROTA: So you're saying that the governor did not take the same action. He did not sue Savannah or Athens for their mask mandate. Only you and your city council. And so you think it is personal retaliation?

BOTTOMS: I do believe it's personal retaliation. And he sued us personally. He did not sue the city of Atlanta. He filed suit against myself and our city council personally. And this was one day after the president's visit to our city. And, again, it is a complete waste of time and money to file suit against the capital city of this state in which he is supposed to lead. It is -- as we are struggling with testing, we don't have proper contact tracing. It took me eight days to get my test results back. When I was tested, one person in my house was asymptomatic and positive. By the time I got my results back, two other people, my husband and I, were positive. That's a better use of our money, not on silly lawsuits.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I have just been told that he just brought you up specifically. I've not heard it yet. I know you haven't. So let's listen to what Governor Kemp just said.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Mayor Bottoms' mask mandate cannot be enforced, but her decision to shut her businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating. Atlanta businesses are hurting. Violent crime is up, and families are rightfully worried.

Just like sending in the National Guard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.


CAMEROTA: Mayor, you response.

BOTTOMS: Propaganda. It is completely inaccurate. The city of Atlanta convened an advisory committee to issue voluntary recommendations for how we would move forward in various phases as it relates to this virus. There are voluntary advisory recommendations by the metrics and the data and the science. Those guidelines require that we go back to phase one of the reopening plan. That was not a subjective decision. And, again, voluntary guidance for businesses.

And so for him to say that we are closing businesses in the city of the Atlanta and costing people money is a blatant lie.


These are voluntary recommendations. We've not closed any businesses. And it's unfortunate that in the midst of this pandemic, that the governor of our state, who didn't know that this virus could be spread by asymptomatic means, is continuing to spread misinformation.

CAMEROTA: As you point out, he is suing you personally. And you believe it's political retribution because when President Trump landed in Atlanta, you told him that by not wearing a mask - he wasn't wearing a face covering - he was violating city law.

What did President Trump say to you at that point?

BOTTOMS: Well, I have not heard personally from the White House, but I do know that Brian Kemp does the bidding of President Trump. And it is - it's unfortunate because meanwhile over 130,000 people in our state have tested positive for Covid-19. Over 3,100 people have lost their lives. And instead of speaking on the same accord about how we can stop the spread of this virus, this governor is taking taxpayer money to sue me personally. And the irony is that I am now infected with Covid-19 and he is suing the Atlanta City Council, and our city by and large supports a mask mandate. So it is all very strange, and we'll just add this to the list of strange things that are happening in 2020.

But, meanwhile, people are dying in our state. And this is how we're spending money? He spent over $20 million to expand hospital beds in our state only to take the hospital beds down and now he has to put them back up again because he was reckless in reopening our state and our hospitals are almost at capacity. And this is how he chooses to spend our time and taxpayer money.

CAMEROTA: We just had the Lieutenant Governor on our air. I don't know if you heard the interview. But basically he said over and over how he encourages all Georgians to wear masks. He feels very strongly that they should wear masks. And yet he doesn't believe in a mask mandate. One of his rationales was that it would be too challenging for police to enforce.

What do you think about that logic?

BOTTOMS: Well, it's very interesting because these are the same people who often speak of the need for local control in government. And so the Atlanta Police Department reports to me as mayor. The same with the city of Savannah and any number of other cities across our state. And so, as leaders, we are empowered to make decisions on behalf of the people who live in our respective cities. And let us figure out how we endorse this mandate. We don't need guidance from the governor as to how our police respond to mask mandates. He is going against the will of the people of Georgia, going against the mayors of some of the largest cities in the state, and it is -- it is -- it is unbelievable that we are dealing with this when people are continuing to die and be infected at record numbers in our state.

CAMEROTA: Because you're in touch with the police force all the time, are they having a hard time? Is it too onerous for them to enforce a mask mandate? Are they running around after people, having to give them tickets, et cetera?

BOTTOMS: Absolutely not. The governor has not had a discussion with me. No one's had a discussion about whether or not our police department is overburdened with this mask mandate. My police chief has not even elevated that as a concern.

And, again, it is - it is inexplicable that the city of Atlanta will now have to defend a lawsuit based upon voluntary business recommendations. And -- and these recommendations were put together by a group of business leaders and small business owners and healthcare professionals in our city. And for the governor to sue us on a mask mandate, when the CDC has told us that it helps saves lives, really speaks to his lack of leadership.

CAMEROTA: How is your family doing? You just brought up that you had tested positive. We talked to you right after that happened. I know your husband was ill. How is everyone today?

BOTTOMS: Thankfully, by husband is doing so much better, and I'm so grateful. And as I see so many stories of so many people who are losing this battle, people like my husband, who are in great health, I'm just very grateful that he's doing better.


I'm doing better. And my child, who tested positive, as well. We're all doing much better. Thank you for asking.

CAMEROTA: We're really happy to hear that. What do you want to - as we speak, Governor Kemp is still speaking. I

think he's taking some questions. What do you want to say to him before you see him in court?

BOTTOMS: Follow the science. The CDC is a part of the city of Atlanta. Emory University, who has some of the leading infectious disease experts in the country, Dr. Carlos del Rio (ph) was a part of our advisory committee. Follow the science. I'm not making this up. I had no desire for the city of Atlanta to recommend that we go back to phase one, but the data and metrics called upon us to do that.

This is - we -- we are creating issues that shouldn't have to be in the middle of fighting a pandemic. And it is a waste of money. I'd much rather see that money go towards helping our healthcare professionals and go towards making sure that people have the care that they need, rather than us spending time and energy in court.

CAMEROTA: What you are doing in Atlanta seems to comport with what the White House Task Force itself is recommending. We got our hands on this 359 page task force report that has not been made public, but the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group, was able to get it. And here's what it says for Georgia. Mandate state-wide use of masks. In all counties with positivity greater than 10 percent, close the bars. Require strict social distancing at restaurants. Close gyms. Limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Allow local jurisdictions to implement more restrictive policies. This is the White House's own task force that is suggesting you do the very steps that you have taken, and yet this hadn't been made public. Have you heard from them, the White House Task Force?

BOTTOMS: I had not heard from them, but I -- again, the people I'm listening to are the scientists and the healthcare professionals. The - our healthcare professionals who are telling us that our hospitals are beyond capacity, that they are getting overwhelmed. And you have to remember, at the beginning of these pandemic, back in the first part of the ,year people were staying at home. We didn't have as many people out having car accidents and all of these things that send people into our emergency rooms.

So when Georgia opened back up, cell phone data was very clear that people flocked to our state because we were opened up for business as usual. So now on top of the everyday things that send people into our trauma centers, we now have people also going in with Covid-19. And it is - it is beyond my comprehension that we can't follow the science on this. This is not a political stance. This is about the lives of people.

And the people in my city are dying. The people in our state are dying. And perhaps the governor doesn't know anyone who's lost a loved one to Covid-19. I do. I talk 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.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you for your time today. We'll obviously be watching what happens in Georgia.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is with us now.

Sanjay, you were hearing that. I mean, notable, and the mayor makes the point, that the governor is suing her personally, right, you know, not -- but set the politics aside for a second, just as a doctor here, you know, the -- how a mask mandate helps control the outbreak. Let's talk about what works. Let's forget the politics for a moment. In other countries that have successfully gotten a handle on this, unlike the U.S., have mask mandates made a difference in terms of saving lives and keeping down infections?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: One hundred percent, no question at all. We see that in terms of looking at large populations of people in these other places. They don't have some magic pill that we don't have here in the United States. They wore masks. They've been doing it. And it's made a huge difference. There's now scientific evidence in terms of how much of a difference.


It can decrease transmission five to six fold, you know, with -- with these masks in terms of actually decreasing the likelihood of virus spreading from somebody.

And, Jim, you say that -- you know, put aside the politics for a second. Frankly, you know, what we're seeing unfold here is purely a political story. I mean just to be clear, this idea that the -- the governor is saying we'll extend the emergency declaration, but not put a mask mandate in place, which has been recommended directly to him by the coronavirus task force. We know that that's the case. The evidence is very clear. And we also know what is happening here in Georgia. The very people who don't want to shut down the state again, which nobody wants to shut down the state again, aren't doing the things to prevent that from happening. And masks are a major part of that. I mean that's just -- that's just the truth.


GUPTA: Scientifically, politically, however you want to frame it, it -- that's just the truth.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, it's just so crazy. I mean sometimes I just have to step back and look at this conversation that we're having. It's the easiest thing in the world. Putting on a mask is just the easiest thing in the world.

SCIUTTO: Yes. CAMEROTA: Is it a minor inconvenience? Yes, OK. But as we have pointed out, so is wearing a ventilator. So is going to the hospital. So is getting somebody you know sick. It's just -- the idea that this has become this heated political football where the governors have -- suing somebody and having press conferences and all of this --


CAMEROTA: It -- I -- it's astonishing.

GUPTA: It's totally ridiculous and it is going to be one of the worst legacies of this entire thing. I mean Mayor Bottoms just said it's politics over people. It's 100 percent politics over people.

The president came here to Atlanta, was not wearing a mask when he came despite the fact that there was an ordinance in place. The governor, instead of responding to that in some way said, hey, look, I'm going to now sue the mayor of Atlanta for having put this ordinance in place. I mean, there is -- there is just one person that the -- our governor, sadly, is -- is trying to appeal to here --


GUPTA: And it's really disturbing.

My work in the hospital system here, as I mentioned last hour, we are going to run into a situation again now in our hospital system where we may not be able to take care of the patients who need care outside of -- aside from Covid patients because there's going to be such a demand on the hospital system that they're going to turn into Covid hospitals again, primarily. So it's -- it's really ridiculous.

And the idea that, again, something as simple as a mask, something that has worked in other countries around the world, we're not making this up. This has worked in other countries around the world. There's scientific evidence. Go inform yourself about this and recognize the difference it can make. We want -- everybody wants to get out of this mess. We want to open up schools, open up businesses. The more that we do now in terms of things like masks and testing as well, but masks is the discussion topic right now, the further we're going to go along in terms of achieving these objectives.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you. Thank you very much. We really appreciate all the information every morning.

GUPTA: You got it.

CAMEROTA: OK, it has been almost two months since George Floyd's killing sparked these worldwide protests against deadly police encounters. Our next guest has a unique look on where things stand with institutional racism in America. And he shares the lesson he learned as a child that stuck with him today.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANET BELL, W. KAMAU BELL'S MOTHER: I was very conscious about that and I remember when you were a little guy, you know, six, seven years old, and there was a drugstore near us that we would shop in. And as soon as we walked in the door, the store detective would follow us. I said, be really careful, and I pointed out the store detective because we're always being watched.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": And I remember that lesson and it sticks with me today, so much so that I'm aware of when I'm in stores, even now as a fully grown adult, where my hands are. And then, you know, as a kid, I was aware of it because I didn't want to be arrested. And then now, as an adult, I've become aware of it because I don't want to be killed.

J. BELL: Yes.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is the host and executive producer of CNN's "United Shades of America," W. Kamau Bell.

Kamau, great to see you.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": Good to see you. I wish I was there, but we can't do that now.

CAMEROTA: I look forward to the day that we can see each other in person.

So tell us about what you've been -- I mean, it's a perfect time for your show because you have long been looking at all of these issues of racism and systemic racism and white supremacy. So where are you now?

BELL: I mean I think this, in many ways, is a sequel to the very first episode of "United Shades" where I met with the KKK. And we sort of thought, even before Covid-19 and before the civil unrest that we should look again at white supremacy, but take a much deeper look and really get more instructive about what white supremacy is because a lot of times we get caught up in white supremacists who are the, you know, neo-Nazis and the KKK.


But we want to talk about the structure and system of white supremacy, which means that like 44 out of 45 presidents have been white men in the land that was originally 100 percent Native American.

SCIUTTO: Kamau, you and I have talked a lot about how racism -- it's not just about the folks in the white suits, right? That you have it just below the surface, or not even that far below the surface.

I want to play some comments from President Trump yesterday regarding the Fair Housing Act, because this struck me as one of those not dog whistle moments but bullhorn moments. Have a listen to his comments and I want to get your thoughts.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Abolish in the suburbs -- you're going to abolish the suburbs (ph) with this. They want low income built in a neighborhood. Well, I'm ending that rule. I'm taking that out.


SCIUTTO: What exactly is he saying there to suburban residents, in your view?

BELL: I mean, as I understand it, the suburbs were created for white flight. It was created when the cities got too black and brown and white people who had some money were like, we have to go to a place that is not so black and brown. And the suburbs were built for those people.

So when he says abolish the suburbs, even though lots of black and brown people at this point live in the suburbs, he is dog whistling, or, as you say, bullhorning to white folks that the blacks and the browns are coming and they're coming for your -- they're coming for your nice manicured lawn and your picket fence in the house that you probably can't afford because your mortgage is under water.

CAMEROTA: And so, I mean, Kamau, when you say that you're beginning to look at what every American needs to know about white supremacy, where do you begin with something like that?

BELL: I mean I think we -- with the show, we understand that we have to actually define the terms for the viewer in ways that we're going to be using them through the episodes. In a very early episode, we define, as Jim was referring to, what white supremacy is and how we see it. I think a lot of people believe white supremacy -- white supremacy is just when a white person doesn't like a black person. But that's just prejudice.

In America, white supremacy is a system that promotes whiteness and white maleness specifically and white Christian maleness specifically over everyone else. And so we really want to talk about like it's -- it's -- it's block busting, it's red lining, but it's also just people who feel like they have no responsibility for racism in this country because they never personally owned slaves. So we try to go -- we have a list early in the episode that goes through the entire -- not the entire thing, but multiple levels of white supremacy. So we can understand, it's not just a feeling, it's actually a measurable force in America.

SCIUTTO: As you look at this, I wonder, Kamau, in your conversation, but also in watching the news, when you see public attitudes toward racism change, and a greater public recognition, right? The vast majorities of Americans see it now. Black Lives Matter, which for -- for some time was a fringe motto, if you want to call it, of a movement. Now -- now has a majority of Americans who believe there is something there.

In doing this, did you find the conversation changing in this country in a positive direction?

BELL: I mean, you know, I live out here in Oakland, in the bay area, where Lisa Garza (ph), one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter lives. And so out here it never felt fringe. It felt like the country is coming to Oakland, basically. Is that the conversation that we have been having out here for years. I mean the Black Panthers are from Oakland. It's now being more mainstream.

But none of it matters if we don't actually get to the systems and structures in this country. So I think if we drop the -- if we stop protesting and we stop the conversation, what we need is systemic and structural change because it's about mass incarceration. It's about, right now, the president ordering our kids to go back to schools and the -- and black and brown kids systematically have the worst educations in schools, so that -- so being sent back to schools is going to affect them more than it affects others. And so I think that it's -- we have to talk about systems in the same way that the squad came through to change Congress, we need lots more versions of that, of more people running for office who are representing different groups of people than just the interests of white folks in America.

CAMEROTA: Kamau, it was great to see your mom. It was great to see you talking to your mom Janet there. And, you know, I mean, since George Floyd's death, you know, all -- I think all of our eyes have been more opened and we've become more attuned to the struggle that moms, like yours, have always had with their black sons of even going into the department store. I knew that moms always had to warn their black sons about, don't get pulled over. If you do, be extremely respectful. But the drugstore was just another eye-opening moment of how you have to be so much more at a heightened state -- a state of sort of heightened awareness going in.

BELL: Yes, we're talking about at like the age of six, the time that, you know, you might walk in there by yourself -- if I'd walk in there by myself to buy a magazine or buy some candy, and literally what she said is, don't touch anything unless you plan to buy it. And that's a lot to put on a little kid when you just -- when you just want to go out there and enjoy yourselves. So, yes, it starts at the very beginning.


Well, thank you, Kamau.


And to all of you, be sure to watch the all-new season of "United Shades of America." It's going to premier Sunday night, 10:00 Eastern Time and Pacific, only on CNN.