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Global Deaths Surpass 600,000 As Trump Continues To Downplay U.S. Surge; Teachers Call On Trump Administration For Additional Resources; LA Mayor Says They Are On The Brink OF Reissuing Stay-At- Home Order. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 19, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:53]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with an escalating battle between the President and the facts. Right now, there are more than 600,000 coronavirus deaths globally, a new grim milestone; 140,000 of those happening right here in the U.S.

The startling spikes happening in two states in particular that have become the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic, yet the President of the United States downplaying the extent of the crisis.

Well, here are the facts. First, Florida reporting another 12,478 new cases today. This, as the state says hospitalizations have risen dramatically in recent days, more than 9,300 are now being treated.

In Texas, new cases and deaths have seen a dramatic rise. The capital of Austin says a third of the city's coronavirus deaths have happened in just the last two weeks, and the U.S. Navy is now going to South Texas to help fight in the spread of the disease.

Projections from the C.D.C. say 150,000 Americans will have died from the virus by August 8th.

But even as cases and deaths continue to rise, President Trump is downplaying the data, arguing in an interview on Fox News this morning that the numbers are being skewed, citing European C.D.C. models rather than official Johns Hopkins University data.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: We have the seventh highest mortality rate in the world. Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it's higher than Russia and the European Union has us on a travel ban.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think what we'll do -- well, we have them on the travel ban too, Chris, I closed them off. If you remember, I was the one that did the European Union very early.

But when you talk about mortality rates, I think it's the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

WALLACE: That's not true, sir. We have --

TRUMP: Well, we're going to take a look --

WALLACE: We had 900 deaths on a single day, this week.

TRUMP: Ready?

WALLACE: You can check it out.

TRUMP: Will you please get me the mortality rate? Kayleigh is right here.

WALLACE: Yes.

TRUMP: I heard we have one of the lowest -- maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world. You have the numbers, please? Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This feed some of the other countries as Dr. Birx points out and this is --

TRUMP: Number one low mortality rate. I hope you show the scenario because it shows what fake news is all about.

WALLACE: I don't think I'm fake news. But we will put our --

TRUMP: Yes, you were.

WALLACE: We will put our stats on.

TRUMP: You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world and we have the best.

WALLACE: I said you had --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, we've got reporters covering all the coronavirus hotspots across the country. But let's get started with Randi Kaye in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Randi, the state is reporting more than 12,000 new cases today and hospitalizations are also going up.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, Fred. Everything seems to be going in the wrong direction here. We had 10,300 cases the day before and now we have 12,478 new cases; 89 deaths bringing the grand total to 4,982 deaths here in the State of Florida, and more than 350,000 cases, certainly not what Floridians want to see.

This is also the fourth time since the pandemic started that we've seen a daily case number above 12,000, and that's all been in the month of July. The state positivity rate is about 18.2 percent and we have 9,300 people hospitalized here in the State of Florida. But if you look at Miami-Dade, the hardest hit county, their ICU

capacity is well above where it should be. They have run out of ICU beds. They're at 127 percent capacity in Miami-Dade County and they have to 2,008 people hospitalized there.

As I said they're out of ICU beds, 507 people with COVID needing ICU beds and they only have 398.

So the Governor here is doing what he can. He is certainly trying to say that we are moving in the right direction, but local leaders are frustrated and they are asking why there isn't more help coming from the Federal government. Listen to what one local mayor had to say.

[15:05:01]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: I even urge the Governor to issue a mask in public rule for the state and for the nation. There is a segment of our population, of our city that will only listen to them.

And I think it's important that they lead in moments like this. This is an opportunity for the President in an election year to basically, you know, lean into this crisis and show leadership.

It would be great if we had a uniformity of message all the way up and down from an urban city like ours, all the way through to, you know, to the President, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: And Mayor Suarez certainly isn't the only local official saying that. Many of the mayor say the problem really has been with the messaging and once again, the President today saying no mask mandate. He is not going to tell people to wear a mask in public and the governor here saying the same thing over the weekend, still no mask mandate, despite the rising numbers here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. And that is pretty striking for the Republican Mayor to say looking for a unifying message that stretches from the State of Florida led by a Republican Governor all the way to the White House led by the Republican President.

Pretty striking. Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

Let's go to Texas now as the number of deaths from the virus grows a grim reality, the need for refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Fort Worth, and as we mentioned, the U.S. Navy is deploying teams in Texas and what will be their role -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are coming in to help alleviate the pressure on the hospitals in many corners of this state as the pandemic continues to worsen here in Texas.

The Governor announcing this afternoon that five U.S. Navy medical teams will be deployed to four different South Texas cities in Del Rio, Texas, Rio Grande City, Harlingen and all those areas there in South Texas where there has just been an onslaught of these cases, if you will, the South Texas area has been a hotspot within the Texas hotspot and that is where medical professionals have been sounding the alarm of just how dire the need is and just how much pressure there is on the hospital systems in that region because of the growing and skyrocketing number of coronavirus cases that we're seeing here in this state.

So this is already on top of a large number of other military personnel teams that have been brought into the area to help hospitals in other cities like San Antonio and Houston as well.

WHITFIELD: Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

So despite the skyrocketing case count across the country, President Trump continues to downplay the coronavirus pandemic.

In a combative interview, the President dismisses the rising surge in cases and deaths unfolding across this country, once again, promising the outbreak will disappear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Do you still talk about it as, quote, "burning embers," but I want to put up a chart that shows where we are with the illness over the last four months? As you can seem, we hit a peak here in April, 36,000 cases --

TRUMP: Cases.

WALLACE: A day case.

TRUMP: Yes. Cases.

WALLACE: Then then it went down. And now since June, it has gone up more than double. One day this week, 75,000 new cases, more than double --

TRUMP: Chris, that's because we have great testing, because we have the best testing in the world. If we didn't test, you wouldn't be able to show that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.

WALLACE: But this isn't burning ember, sir. This is a forest fire.

TRUMP: No, no. But I don't say -- I say flames, we will put out the flames. And we'll put out in some cases just burning embers. We also have burning embers, we have embers and we do have flames.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: For more on this, let's bring in Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Jeremy, the President continuing to falsely, you know, blame testing for this nationwide rise in cases as opposed to looking at the fact that the rise in cases means you've got a rising problem. Tell us what more is being said by the President and the White House

overall.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Fredricka, it is is remarkable because we are more than a month now into the second surge of coronavirus cases, and yet, it seems that the President still isn't on the same page with the health experts and with, frankly, the rest of us who are looking at the facts of the situation here.

Once again, we heard the President in his interview pointing, deflecting blame at several points, and one of the things that he keeps on raising is this notion that testing in the United States is responsible for this rise in cases rather than this surge, which is real and which we are seeing. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Cases are up. Many of those cases shouldn't even be cases. Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world and we have the most testing.

No country has ever done what we've done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world, they call and they say, the most incredible job anybody has done is our job on testing, because we're going to very shortly -- we're up to 50 million tests.

You look at other countries, they don't even do test. They do test if somebody walks into the hospital, they're sick, they're really sick. They test them then or they'll test them in a doctor's office, but they don't go around and have massive areas of testing and we do. And I'm glad we do, but it really skews the numbers.

[15:10:10]

DIAMOND: And now the President was actually fact checked in real time there by Chris Wallace, who pointed out that while testing is up 37 percent, cases in the United States are up 194 percent. And the numbers are, frankly, worse when you look at some of these hotspots like Florida and Arizona and Texas.

So once again, Fredricka, this is becoming a tired talking point from the President, but again, it just goes against the reality of what we're seeing across the country.

WHITFIELD: All right. So Jeremy, the President in that interview was also asked about his relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci, you know, the leading infectious disease doctor and scientist and what did the President have to say about him?

DIAMOND: Well, it's interesting, the President tried to dismiss this notion that was raised in the interview that there is a White House campaign to undermine the credibility of Dr. Fauci.

The President saying that -- pointing to the op-ed by Peter Navarro suggesting that it was just one man ignoring the fact that the White House press shop had actually put out talking points aiming to discredit Dr. Fauci shortly before that, but listen to how the President talked about this even as he was dismissing this notion that there is a White House campaign, the President went on himself to point out what he called mistakes that Dr. Fauci has made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci has made some mistakes, but I have a very good -- I spoke to him yesterday at length, and I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.

WALLACE: But, sir, this week -- this weekend, your White House put out a series of statements, so-called mistakes that Dr. Fauci had made.

One of your closest aides, one of your right hand men, Daniel Scavino put out this, have you seen this -- this picture. Dr. Fawcett, it shows him as a leaker and an alarmist.

TRUMP: I don't know that he is --

WALLACE: Why would he do that?

TRUMP: He's a little bit of an alarmist. That's okay. A little bit of an alarmist.

WALLACE: He is a bit of an alarmist?

TRUMP: A little bit of an alarmist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: Here's the bigger point though, Fredricka. This goes beyond the President and Dr. Fauci. This is about the President versus the science and we saw that repeatedly not only with that repeated false claim about testing, but also in the way that he talks about the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Robert Redfield.

The President also disagreed with Dr. Redfield's assessment that this virus is going to be worse in the fall, also disagreeing with the notion that if everyone wore masks, the United States could get this under control -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Right. It's just the latest microcosm of the President's fight with the truth. Period. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

All right. In the Fox News interview, President Trump also mentioned some new claims about coronavirus disappearing. We will fact check his statements coming up.

Plus, a major new study finds older children spread the coronavirus just as much as adults. Teachers Union President, Randi Weingarten joins me live to discuss that and her new editorial.

And then later, the Mayor of Los Angeles says his city on the brink of a new stay-at-home order. Are other cities considering a new order as well? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:14]

WHITFIELD: Teachers across the country say it's not a matter of if they want to return to the classroom, it's a matter of how they can do so safely.

In a new "USA Today" op-ed, the President of the American Federation of Teachers writes, and I'm quoting now, "Unless we have the resources to reopen, it won't happen. If there were ever a moment for the Federal government to step up to ensure equity and safety and health to the nearly 90 percent of children who attend public schools, this is it."

And this is the author right here, Randi Weingarten. She joins me so good to see you. So who, you know --

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: It sure is, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes. You know, this is -- this is a tough reality check for a lot of families across the country, you know, and teachers in the classroom. People have lots of questions.

But you know, the White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows said today that $70 billion of the next stimulus package has been directed by the President to go to schools. So how confident are you that money will help teachers and districts get the resources they need to return to the classroom safely?

WEINGARTEN: Well, $70 billion is better than what we've gotten thus far, which is essentially we've been begging since the middle of May to $116 billion.

And so we need to see what they actually put into the package. I know that they're not negotiating with either Speaker Pelosi or with Leader Schumer, so I'm a little concerned about that.

But you know, I've been with you for the last several Sundays and four Saturdays and I been very -- I'm more concerned today than I was four weeks ago because of the surge --

WHITFIELD: Why?

WEINGARTEN: Because of the surge. Because what's happened is, you know, you have this huge surge of cases in California and Arizona and in Florida and Georgia. You have districts who have been trying to make plans. That's part of the reason why everybody now here is about hybrid masks, all of these things that are precautions, but you have no resources.

And so for the White House to say that today, as opposed to four weeks ago, when districts were really starting to plan, you know, it's almost like they're setting us up for failure. So, it's great. Let's see what they come up with this week. But we need to eradicate the virus, reduce the spread. We need to

actually have the safeguards and we need to have resources.

And let me say one more thing, which is what DeVos and Trump did a couple of weeks ago was unconscionable. So they took what had been a really big process to try to take this unprecedented virus and see how we could make it safe in schools knowing full well that kids as well as teachers actually transmit the virus.

[15:20:13]

WEINGARTEN: And they threw a monkey wrench into that planning by fearing so many people and throughout the country now, we have parents and teachers who are scared because they think that Trump won't make the schools safe. And frankly, in Florida, he is allowing the schools to reopen unsafely.

WHITFIELD: And so with that, and even with the Chief of Staff making promise that money is on the way, there are some school districts that are about to, if doors were to open, it would happen in a matter of weeks, in a matter of three weeks, four weeks, because early August, you know, many schools are scheduled to open.

WEINGARTEN: Right.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe that flood of money can get to any of those school districts in time to try and assure safety if those schools were to open up?

WEINGARTEN: Look, if we can get the resources that we have been fighting for, for months, and can make the safeguards work, I think in places that are not surging virus, we could probably open up.

The issue is how do we make sure that we have this staggered scheduling? We have the masks and the physical distancing, the cleaning and the ventilation? Districts will try to do what others have not been able to do. But we need the money, the planning, and that's in places where we don't have a surge.

I think in places where there is a surge --

WHITFIELD: Yes, got you. Oh, no, we did not lose that signal. Oh, man. Okay, well, I hope we can try and get it back. And hopefully, some of the information she was able to impart might be instructive to a lot of families who are ready very worried, very concerned, still have a lot of unanswered questions about how to best prepare for the start of a school year whether it is remote learning, in school or hybrid.

Randi Weingarten. We always -- oh, wait, see, I thought if I keep talking long enough, she'd come back and there you are.

OK, so Randi --

WEINGARTEN: This is what happens with technology. You know? We have just gotten a test of it. WHITFIELD: That's right. I know. It's spotty. That's right. Sometimes

it really works when we want it to and then sometimes we kind of just be patient.

OK, so talk to me about something else you have, you know, espoused. You've been saying that this upcoming school year could be a bridge year. What does that mean?

WEINGARTEN: Right. Well, and you know, I want to actually raise up because my members and my leaders have been really trying to figure out how we meet the needs of students -- their emotional needs, as well as their learning needs.

And the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers and Boston Teachers Union have come up with a fabulous plan for that. Every kid is going to be really different right now, because every kid has been -- has dealt with the virus, the pandemic in very different ways.

And so when I say it's a bridge here, we need to meet kids' instructional needs as well as their emotional needs. So September, whether we're on remote, or whether we're in person in a hybrid way, we're going to have to assess where our kids are and then in some ways, what we're doing is we're going to have to group kids differently to actually meet their needs, and that's what I mean by a bridge year.

This is not going to be a year like any other because of what has happened last year and this year.

WHITFIELD: Right. And that's where dedicating the resources in the right direction, and that's going to be critical. So let me ask you this, because there are a lot of parents who are going to fear that this potential school year is going to be a potential setback, because, you know, some of their kids may not be able to make the adjustments. They may not be able to get the kind of education because, you know, if it's going to be remote or hybrid, and they're worried.

WEINGARTEN: Well look, I think we're all worried, and if parents and teachers can stay together, in terms of us really getting to know our kids this year, and also having -- and "The New York Times" had a great editorial about this, I'm glad somebody is finally seeing that connectivity, as well as devices are absolutely imperative, regardless of whether we have hybrid or not.

We need the devices for kids. We need the connectivity for their homes. We need to make sure we're still continuing grab and go, and then I think we're going to actually have to do a lot of small group instruction for kids and we are going to have to get to know our kids really well in August and September, regardless of whether we're hybrid or remote.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Great advice. Clear your schedule, Randi. I want you back a lot more.

WEINGARTEN: Anytime, Fredricka, because you are doing such an amazing service for parents and for teachers by really talking about the real issues. I really appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. Well, we appreciate you and I'm one of those parents who's really, really concerned, too.

All right, I love all of our kids. Randi Weingarten, thank you so much.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

[15:25:08]

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it. All right, the Director of the National Institutes of Health sounding off on the mask debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, N.I.H. DIRECTOR: Well, it is bizarre that we have turned the mask wearing into something political.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Plus, a couple reunited after more than a hundred days apart, and it's because of dirty dishes -- how one woman is trying to keep other families together during the pandemic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:30:01]

WHITFIELD: With coronavirus cases across the country setting several daily records over the past week, today, the President is once again downplaying the pandemic, even as the death toll passes the 140,000 mark and the case count approaches four million.

CNN's Daniel Dale joins us now for a fact check of some of the claims the President made in a new interview. Daniel, let's listen to what the President said about the U.S. having the lowest mortality rate in the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I heard we have one of the lowest -- maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world. You have the numbers, please? Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This feed some of the other countries as Dr. Birx points out and this is --

TRUMP: Number one low mortality rate.

I hope you show this in here because it shows what fake news is all about.

WALLACE: Okay. I don't think I'm fake news. We'll put it --

TRUMP: Yes, you are. WALLACE: We are going to put our stats on --

TRUMP: You said, we had the worst mortality rate in the world. We have the best.

WALLACE: I said you had --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, Daniel. So set it straight. I think the President say he credited you know, Dr. Birx as saying that, so what's the truth?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Right. So there's just no evidence in the currently available data that the U.S. has the world's best mortality rate.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the U.S. has been right around four percent mortality. That is substantially higher than success stories like South Korea.

Now, there's an important caveat here, we have to be cautious because mortality rates in the middle of a pandemic aren't the same as what they're going to be in the end. Basically, we don't know exactly how many cases there have been in the U.S. or elsewhere.

So in the end, mortality rates may end up being substantially lower. With that said, though, they're going to be lower likely in the U.S. and elsewhere. So again, based on what we know now, there's no evidence that the U.S. is the best in the world.

WHITFIELD: Daniel, the President also falsely blamed the rising cases -- we've heard him say it before -- to an increase in testing. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But we have more tests by far than any country in the world.

WALLACE: But sir, testing is up 37 percent.

TRUMP: Well, that's good.

WALLACE: Sir, I understand. Cases are up 194 percent. It isn't just the testing that has gone up, it is that the virus has spread. The positivity rate has increased. The virus is worse than it was.

TRUMP: Many of those cases -- many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, Daniel, what's the deal there?

DALE: Chris Wallace was right, and the President was wrong. So number one, the number of cases is not up simply because we're doing more testing. As Wallace said, the pace at which the number of cases is rising, is exceeding the pace at which the testing is rising.

And number two, it's not as the President said, just you know, people with mild symptoms, you know, kids with the sniffles, like he keeps saying who are testing positive and we know this because hospitalizations are also up. Deaths are ticking up again after a lull in May in June. In July, they're rising again.

So, you know, it's not just, you know, a bunch of successful testing efforts finding kids who are recovering in a day or two. This is serious stuff. People are getting seriously ill and it's not just testing.

WHITFIELD: The President also repeated a claim that he's been, you know, making for months that the virus will simply disappear. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: You said at one point --

TRUMP: It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's going to be just fine.

When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point, that's going to sort of just disappear. I hope.

I'll be right eventually. I will be right eventually.

WALLACE: I understand.

TRUMP: You know, I said it's going to disappear. I'll say it again, it is going to disappear, and I'll be right.

WALLACE: But does that -- does that discredit you?

TRUMP: I don't think so.

WALLACE: Why?

TRUMP: I don't think so. You know why it doesn't discredit me? Because I've been right, probably more than anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Reality check.

DALE: The President has been wrong throughout this pandemic and he continues to be wrong. It's not just those early comments we've talked a lot about, like February remark that we have 15 cases, and we're going to be down to zero.

He is saying in June, just a few weeks ago that it's going to go away. It is going to disappear. It's dying out, even as it was spiking, even as it was getting worse. Even if the virus does eventually go away at some point, that won't

make the President's claim in February that it was going to go away right away before, you know 138,000 plus deaths. Correct. He will have been wrong then and he'll have been wrong again in June.

WHITFIELD: Daniel Dale, thank you so much for setting it straight. Appreciate it.

DALE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me now to discuss is Dr. Michael Saag, also here to set a straight and Associate Dean for Global Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a medical professor in the school's division of infectious diseases.

Dr. Saag, good to see you again.

DR. MICHAEL SAAG, ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY, ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Nice to see you.

WHITFIELD: So you had given the national response to the coronavirus and F a while ago. I asked you to you know, give us the grade. Alabama is one of 32 states across the nation where new cases are trending upward. How dire is a situation there?

[15:35:18]

SAAG: Well, it's really stressing our healthcare systems. I mean, every time we see the numbers, we tend to get numb by them and if we break it down, every person, each number of patient, they have a family, they're suffering, but the healthcare workers are really suffering as well.

We saw that in New York in April, but right now, that's happening here in Alabama. A colleague of mine working over this weekend rounded on 78 critically ill patients in Montgomery. Normally this time of year, it's about 30. So he is being stressed out.

The system, the nurses are all being stressed out and each time they see a patient, remember, the family can't be with the patient. So in addition to providing care, those healthcare workers have got to be the communication vehicle between the patient and the family and that's extra stress.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then also, you know, trying to give their emotional support as best they can when they're not in a position to relay information between patient and family.

So you've got 27 states now that have rolled back reopening plans in response to a spike in new cases, hospitalizations, coronavirus, deaths, et cetera, and the President claims that there is no reason for renewed lockdowns and that decisions to roll back reopening plans are actually politically motivated.

So as cases continue to rise in so many sectors, is science making shutting down orders, you know, becoming more inevitable? SAAG: It could be. I hope we don't have to shut down, but the analogy

we used last time when we were together was a fire -- a brush fire in the wilderness and we have to do what we have to do to bring it under control.

If we let it continue to rage and it's coming towards our house, we want to do something, whatever it takes. Masks, we believe, are a critical thing if everyone would use them. It's only though as strong as its weakest link. If people don't wear them, then it's futile. And if people don't wear them, we're going to be left with other approaches, which I'm afraid maybe returning to shelter at home. I hope we don't have to do that. That's a pretty hard hit for all of us.

WHITFIELD: It must be frustrating to have to keep saying over and over again about the value of masks.

SAAG: It is frustrating enough. I'm a little bewildered at how often we've come before the public and say the same thing over and over and I'm sure the public is tired of it. I'm certainly tired of saying it.

And the puzzling thing to me, Fredricka is, I can't understand why the message is being blocked. I don't understand why it is not coming through. And perhaps it's because people have grown fatigued of hearing healthcare experts come to them through their living room on TV saying masks are important.

I think we need our leadership to do that. I think we need, out of the Federal level only, but at the state level and the community level, we're starting to see that now.

WHITFIELD: Some uniformity in the messaging. So listen to what Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, said this morning about masks becoming political.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Well, it is bizarre that we have turned mask wearing into something political. Imagine you were an alien coming to the Planet Earth and looking around, looking at the scientific data of going from place to place and looking to see who is wearing masks.

You would be totally astounded, puzzled, amazed. You'd wonder, what is going on here? How could it be that something as basic as a public health action that we have very strong evidence can help seems to attach to people's political party?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So we did at least see, you know, publicly the President finally put on a mask, you know, and walking down the hall with a contingent of others with the mask and perhaps that empowered, right, the importance of the mask debate. Do you see that it has at least made a difference in the short time that he put on the mask publicly, and today?

SAAG: I think it's given a green light to certain states to move forward. In our State of Alabama, for example, just this week, our Governor issued a mask ordinance. We need that.

It's not that the public doesn't know to use it. But when you have it as an ordinance that helps in two ways. One, it tells everyone that this is a uniform policy that we're going to adopt, and two, for the businesses that are left trying to refuse people entry. This gives them some backup.

So they can say no shirt, no shoes, no service. No mask, no service. You put those things together, and now you have some clout.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Mike Saag. Thank you so much. Be well.

SAAG: Thank you, You, too.

WHITFIELD: And this programming note, join CNN's Fareed Zakaria as he investigates why the President believes in conspiracy theories. This new CNN special report, "Donald Trump's Conspiracy Theories" airs tomorrow night at nine.

And we'll be right back.

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[15:44:18]

WHITFIELD: California was the first state to issue a stay at home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic back in March, but with new cases now surging there, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says his state reopened too quickly and may soon have no choice but to issue a new stay-at-home order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: How much worse does it have to get in Los Angeles before you feel compelled to issue another stay-at-home order?

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Sure. Well, I think we're on the brink of that. But as I've told people over the last week, the discipline -- and I think a lot of people don't understand -- mayors often have no control over what opens up and doesn't. That's either at a state or county level.

And I do agree that those things happened too quickly. But we are smarter, Jake, about this. It's not just what's opened and closed. It's also about what we do individually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:45:09]

WHITFIELD: CNN's Paul Vercammen joining me now from Los Angeles. So Paul, what more are you learning about this possibility?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, heading into the weekend, Fred, the mayor had said in talking about being on the brink of this closure, he wanted to look at the numbers over the next couple of weeks.

And one of the numbers that concerned him involved hospitalizations. So let's take a look at those. This weekend, right now, almost 2,200 confirmed cases in the hospital here in LA County. The three-day hospital average is rising and 28 percent of those patients in the hospital are in ICUs.

But the Mayor also clarifying a number that he did like, he said the positivity rate, not maybe like, but that he was comfortable with was 8.7 percent. He said it has been worse. It has been better.

Now the mayor would get support for a further shutdown from Herb Wesson of the City Council here. He has stated repeatedly that he thinks there might be a need for some sort of firmer lockdown in this area because nothing he has seen in his history has been more serious than this coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERB WESSON, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, LOS ANGELES CITY: This is one of the most vexing viruses that I've seen in my lifetime and I'm over 60 years old. This is not a seasonal virus. It exists when it's hot. It lives when it's cold, when it's wet, when it's dry. It's in 200 different countries. We have to take this serious. We have to be driven by science.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And Herb Wesson also saying he understands the need to get people back to work, especially in his predominantly Latino and black district. He just wants to make sure that this return to work for everybody is done safely -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Lots of concerns to consider. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much in Los Angeles.

All right, coming up, protecting patients while visiting loved ones. One woman got creative to see her husband getting a job as a dishwasher at his nursing home, and now, she is on a mission to help other families in the same situation.

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[15:51:42]

WHITFIELD: Senior care homes have been some of the hardest hit facilities in the country by the coronavirus pandemic and to protect vulnerable residents, many states and facilities restrict visitors from stopping by to see their loved ones.

Those limits prompted Mary Daniel to get creative to visit her husband, Steve, who suffers from Alzheimer's. After being separated for more than 100 days, the Jacksonville, Florida woman took a job as a dishwasher at her husband's memory care facility so that she could see him. And Mary Daniel is with me now to share her inspiring story. Mary,

this is so touching and sweet. And I mean, first off, how is your husband, Steve doing?

MARY DANIEL, TOOK JOB AS A DISHWASHER AT CARE FACILITY TO VISIT HUSBAND: He is doing very well. He has settled down in his real comfortable with me being back with him.

WHITFIELD: Oh, so how did this come about? Where did you get this? It's a brilliant idea. Where did you get this idea of like, wait a minute, okay, restrictions? I'm going to work here so that I can see him.

DANIEL: I had originally asked in the beginning of March -- March 10, to be exact, I actually called the Memory Care Center and I said, what can I do? There's got to be a way for me to get in. Can I volunteer? Can I get a job? And they sort of said let's kind of see what's happening here. We're all kind of hopeful this isn't going to last very long.

And as I started -- time going by, and I started getting a little bit more vocal about, we need to do something. This is a really, really horrible situation. Out of the blue, they called me.

So I'm incredibly blessed to have Rose Castle be supportive and actually say, would you like to have a job? We've got a part time job available.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's fantastic. Congratulations on your perseverance on that. And then give me an idea of, you know, that the kind of attention and care you felt like your husband would be missing out on by you not being there to visit him. Why it was so important for you to take this job so that you can, you know, be inside the walls to see him?

DANIEL: Dementia patients need touch. They need emotional care, they need connection, and if they don't have that connection, then their brain just really slowly dies.

And actually, slowly isn't the right word. That's what normally happens. When they're in this situation, it rapidly increases the speed of that and so my concern was that he is not getting touched. He is not getting hugged. He is not getting the connections, which is really the reason that I placed him there was for the social aspect of it.

Steve was always incredibly social, and he needs to be around people, and he needs to have that connection. And when it's not there, it's going to kill these patients, including him.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then you took it further, you also started a group on Facebook, I understand for people looking for some kind of compromise between family caregivers, and you know, the Governor's current policy restricting visitors.

So tell us more about this group, what you set up and how it's been going?

DANIEL: Let me say we understand the reasons and the intentions behind this, but there are so many people like me, tens of thousands of them, hundreds of thousands of them across the United States that are so frustrated and so we needed a place to go to talk about what was happening to our loved ones.

So I started a Facebook group called Caregivers for Compromise, because isolation kills two and it has been absolutely amazing. We have 5,500 members in the first week and the stories are absolutely heartbreaking, truly heartbreaking.

[15:55:06]

DANIEL: We have separated and isolated these people to save them, but this isolation is killing them. And so, we, as a group have now split off. We have 50 different state groups now, so that each state we're going to provide blueprints of what to take to your governor and what you can do, but each state will then be on their own because everyone is different to be able to lobby to their own officials to say, there has to be a better way.

WHITFIELD: Yes, that's a serious rock and a hard place. I mean, the value of separating, but at the same time, the detriment of separating.

Mary Daniel, we wish you the best. Thank you so much for what you're doing and sharing your story and our hearts are also going out to your husband, Steve and wishing him the best. Thank you so much.

DANIEL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

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