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CNN NEWSROOM

Georgia Sets Record for New Daily Cases Over Weekend; Arizona's Death Toll Hits New Daily Record; Miami to Fine First-Time Offenders for Not Wearing Masks in Public; Trump Insists He's Right on Virus As Cases Surge in the U.S.; Some States Hit Record New Infections as U.S. Nears 4 Million Cases; Son of a Federal Judge Gunned Down at the Family Home in New Jersey. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:25]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. Hope you had a nice weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim Sciutto has the day off.

And just again states shattering records for new cases of coronavirus and the leaders of some of the hardest-hit cities this morning mulling another stay-at-home order. 31 states seeing cases on the rise. You see it on the map there. In Florida, dozens of hospitals are now out of ICU beds. In Arizona, 87 doctors are pleading with the governor to push back reopening schools until at least October.

And a growing number of major retailers mandating customers wear masks in their stores nationwide. Walmart really leading the way, enforcing the policy starting today. Also, Delta Airlines is starting another screening process for passengers who cannot wear a mask on board for health reasons. They're even asking those passengers to consider not traveling at all.

As for the president, he is not just standing by his response. As more than 140,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, he is once again, in a new interview, downplaying the severity of the pandemic.

We'll get to that in a moment. Let's begin, though, in the state of Georgia which saw a weekend of record cases. Dianne Gallagher joins us from Atlanta.

Good morning, Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. And look, things are going in the wrong direction all across the country right now. 31 states are seeing an increase in their new cases of COVID-19, and the U.S. passed the 140,000 mark when it comes to deaths since the start of this pandemic.

Now, Vice President Mike Pence is holding a close call with U.S. governors to talk about COVID-19 this afternoon. We're seeing cases in states just like Georgia that are hitting record numbers of new cases in some of these states from just this weekend -- Poppy. HARLOW: The governor Brian Kemp there is seeking a restraining order,

so not only -- just to remind people -- he sued Atlanta's mayor last week for mandating masks in Atlanta, although he hasn't sued other mayors of other cities in Georgia like Athens who we'll have later on in the program, for doing the same. But now he's trying to essentially muzzle her, right? Get an injunction from the court so that she can't speak about this and speak freely to the press? Is that right?

GALLAGHER: Yes. No mask mandates but definitely an injunction to muzzle the mayor it looks like here. The governor's office says that this is essentially because they view her comments and her comments to the press and press releases as confusing for business owners. Essentially this emergency injunction requests that they prevent the mayor of Atlanta from speaking to the press or issuing any press releases about her COVID-19 restrictions because they go above what the governor has put out in his public health emergency executive order.

That's essentially the root of that lawsuit that he filed against her as well, but of course this takes it a step further, essentially saying that they want to make it to where she can't speak about it at all. Now the mayor has said that's not going to happen. She's going to continue talking about it and continue telling people to listen to the science so they can stay safe. There hasn't been a court date yet set in this lawsuit -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Dianne, wow, how this has escalated. Thank you very much.

Let's go to Miguel Marquez, my colleague, he is in Arizona for us this morning.

Good morning, Miguel. That is a state that I think it's sort of a mix of some positive news and a lot of bad news. What is the state of Arizona experiencing right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The state is at a real crossroads. The case numbers here, that rate of positivity is through the roof. It leads the nation, about 24 percent, 24.5 percent of all people tested here, whether an emergency test site that's been popped up for the next 12 days or so. About a quarter of the people being tested here are positive. Over the weekend, they shattered the number of deaths recorded in a single day, 147 deaths on Saturday.

But the rate of transmission is down slightly, so if I have it, the rate at which I spread it to others that's down slightly. The rates of hospitalizations, those using hospital beds across the entire state, that is down slightly, but we speak to health care professional after health care professional. We spoke to one doctor who says they are overwhelmed. They have been going at it nonstop. And right now some health care professionals are starting to get sick.

[09:05:09]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FRANK LOVECCHIO, EMERGENCY CARE PHYSICIAN: So if people are sick, the nurses are sick. And when this started, I'm a researcher. I wanted to save the world. I had all these ideas to solve this. My colleagues, we had all of these ideas to solve it. I just want to make out of this alive. You know, that's it. That's my goal. I'm in the age that can die and I don't want to get it, so I'm worried. I'm worried about the winter. I'm worried that a lot of people are being naive about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Well, Arizona is looking at the fall, which will bring people back to this part of the country, and that may spur even more virus spread. They have so much virus out there right now that it's going to be very difficult to pull it all back in.

Remember, in mid-May, Arizona opened up the state very aggressively. They went from zero to 100 basically. They didn't have sort of the stages and steps like you have in New York and other places. And it shows. You watch the numbers just climbed exponentially. Now they have just tons of virus out there in the community.

The big question now facing the governor and lawmakers here is how do they stick to the plan to open schools in August? They're supposed to open August 1st, the governor has pushed that back to a hopeful date of August 17th -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And, you know, 87 doctors there, right, pleading with the governor to push it back even more. I just wonder what the response has been to that, what you're hearing anecdotally from parents and folks, I mean, because, Miguel, to hear that doctors say I just want to make it out of this alive just says so much.

MARQUEZ: Yes, so the governor has said this week, next week, they're going to make that decision about when schools will reopen. He has basically hedged his bet and said August 17th is an aspirational date. We'll see. This group of doctors now wants it pushed back to at least October, if not farther.

The issue is, can kids spread it? And if they can, is it going to sicken kids? Well, the research is not perfect out there. There is indications that yes, no matter the age of the children, they can spread it around. The older the child, the more possibly they can spread it to other adults. Does it make some kids as sick? Not necessarily but there are some diseases as we've seen in some places that can completely devastate children.

So it's a very, very tough question, and how you get back to normal now with all this virus out there, you know, look, you get this thing from work, from community spread, which they're both seeing in Arizona right now because they opened so rapidly, and the third place, schools. So if they open up the schools as well, amid all of this virus out there, they're going to have a very tough time.

When Arizona shut down in March, there were a thousand cases a week. Last week there were 26,000 cases in the state. That's the decision that they're wrestling with right now.

HARLOW: And no mask mandate across the state, right? I know cities can decide but no statewide mandate?

MARQUEZ: No mask mandate across the state. Most -- no mask mandate across the state. The governor won't do it. Most big cities, most counties have put one into effect so effectively much of the state is but the governor has not mandated a mask. He wears one in public. He's not anti-mask.

HARLOW: Right.

MARQUEZ: But there was a period where he didn't engage fully in that. He opened up the state very quickly, completely aggressively, and now this is what we're seeing -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Miguel, thank you for that reporting on the ground. We appreciate it very, very much.

MARQUEZ: You bet.

HARLOW: There are no more warnings for not wearing a mask in Miami. Starting today, people caught without a face covering will start facing fines immediately starting at $50. This as at least 49 hospitals and health care facilities across Florida are completely out of ICU beds. So far, more than 350,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida. If the state were its own country it would have the seventh most cases in the world.

I'm joined now by Carlos Migoya, he's president and CEO of Jackson Health, Miami-Dade County's public hospital system.

It's very good to have you. Thank you for being here, and not only how many people you're treating, but you have 13,000 employees that work across your health care system. The increase in COVID-19 patients, Carlos, in the last month, 226 percent. You said a few days ago we have plans B, C and D as to how we convert our recovery beds and how we convert other things to ICU beds. We're not at that point at this time. How close are you?

CARLOS MIGOYA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: So we continue to teeter every day. Good morning, Poppy, and thank you very much. Jackson Memorial, our main hospital, is used to that because we have a lot of complex surgeries between transplant, neurosurgery, open heart, and we teeter a lot with the ICU beds. We're building 100 new ICU beds but unfortunately they're not going to be around until the end of the year.

So really every day it's a matter of a challenge of how we make sure we do that. But that's with the current ICU beds. We do have as you said plan B and C.

HARLOW: Yes.

[09:10:08]

MIGOYA: On how to have additional beds and even though we've seen a little bit of a flattening out and we've only seen a growth of 60 percent in the last 14 days and specifically ICU only 18 percent, we expect those numbers to grow a little higher and for that reason we may be putting plans B and C into place.

HARLOW: Wow. You know, we talk so much about available ICU beds or ICU beds not being available. I think it's important to also focus on the, I mean, the staff. You have so many, you have 13,000, and how exhausted they're getting and how sick some are getting? Last week it was more than 150 of your staff were out with COVID. I wonder what that number is now and also your response to some of the doctors there.

I mean, ER Dr. Mark Supino said it's not just about having available beds for the patients. We need the support staff, the nurses, the techs to take care of them, and they've been hiring many more nurses he says to help out. What is the strain like on your team right now?

MIGOYA: Well, we're going to -- we are in the fifth month already of this infection here in south Florida. So obviously that's a huge challenge, the anxiety, the kind of work that these people are doing, and the fear goes with it, it's really amazing and frankly, when you look at the health care workers, it's extremely important the kind of work they're doing and the challenge that they're under is extremely difficult.

But I will say this. Today we have right at 200 employees that are out with positive COVID. Of those, only 37 are nurses. We have 4,000 nurses. So from a percentage standpoint it's not a big number. I will say that the state, Governor DeSantis has helped us out quite a bit by providing an extra 200 nurses to us at this point in time and actually been extremely important for us.

We've also hired another 90, 100 nurses but all of that is influx at this point in time. It's a big challenge and a lot of anxiety for everyone.

HARLOW: Speaking about your employees, a union that represents 5,000 of your health care workers, they are asking for hazard pay, and they say our workers are being worked past their limits. We lost lives from this pandemic. We face a real risk of losing more before it's over.

Are you able to and open to paying them increased wages for being on the front lines? I know you are in quite a financial precarious position yourself as a hospital system right now.

MIGOYA: We brought this point up originally ourselves to the unions, and frankly, at this point in time we've lost in excess of over $80 million and we have not been able to catch up with the federal support but we have not gotten any funding from HHS for the last three payments that they've done, specifically to the safety of the hospitals and hot zone hospitals of which we qualified for both and did not get any on either of those things.

So we are financially challenged from my standpoint and I know at one point there was a bill that looked at -- for hazard pay. We would love to be able to do something like that but financially we can't do it and frankly, no other hospital in the country is doing that at this point in time. Not that we're looking at just other hospitals but financially we couldn't do it either. HARLOW: OK. Thank you, Carlos, very much for your time this morning.

Good luck to you, guys.

MIGOYA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, as the cases are going up, the president's poll numbers especially on handling COVID are going down. Still he is standing firm on his strategy or lack of an actual plan in the pandemic. The question politically is why. We'll talk about that.

Also, it was another violent night in Portland, Oregon. Federal forces using tear gas to disperse protesters. We'll take you live there.

And the search is on for a gunman reportedly dressed as a FedEx driver who opened fire at the home of a federal judge in New Jersey. The judge's son was killed, her husband was shot. Just a tragedy. We'll have a live report from there as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

HARLOW: President Trump continues to say that his relationship with Dr. Fauci is quote, "very good". The question is, if that is the case, why does he still continue to criticize him in public? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: One of your closest aides, one of your right-hand men, Daniel Scavino put out this, have you seen this?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well --

WALLACE: Dr. Faucet, which shows him as a leaker and an alarmist.

TRUMP: Oh, I don't know that he's a leaker --

WALLACE: Why would he do that?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Our John Harwood joins me at the White House this morning. Good morning, John, glad you're with us. It was -- it was remarkable. I mean, he almost said it in passing, but it means a lot to say that "he's a little bit of an alarmist".

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does, and it's something that doesn't make sense to the vast majority of Americans who consider Anthony Fauci a trusted source of information. But it makes sense within the mind of Donald Trump because Donald Trump cannot accept that things are not going well. You know, one of the things that Mary Trump, his niece wrote about in her book that a legacy of the damaging environment in which the president was raised was what she called toxic positivity. That is to say the compulsion to view things as going well in any

setting, to protect your ego and your image. The president gave abundant evidence in that interview with Chris Wallace that he is psychologically incapable of accepting the gravity of this situation. So what -- when you talk about rising case counts, he says well, that's because our testing is so great. And then when you talk about, well, what about the rise in case counts?

He says, well, 99 percent of those cases are harmless. The president -- when he was challenged by Chris Wallace, who said we have this Johns Hopkins show, we have the seventh highest mortality rate, he says, well, no, we have the -- we have the lowest mortality rate.

[09:20:00]

He cannot process and synthesize bad news. It's not comforting for Americans who are looking for a realistic portrayal of the situation from their commander-in-chief, but it's why you see Americans in very large numbers, now saying they don't trust what he says about the crisis. They disapprove of his handling of the crisis, and they favor Joe Biden in November by substantial margins.

HARLOW: The -- and John, I mean, you're pointing to the polls that Chris Wallace pressed him on also over and over in that interview, that he is at least writing off every single one of the polls, writing off the methodology, you know, pointing to 2016, even though a lot of the methodology, you know, has changed since then. What about his team? Are they worried about that? Because it is across the board that Fauci has trusted more than the president by a wide margin on COVID.

So you know, are they worried about the fact that he just does not think clearly? He doesn't think it's the case and all he does is call the polls all fake?

HARWOOD: Sure, they're worried. And you know, you noticed he replaced his campaign manager last week, but that dismissing the polls as fake is part of that same toxic positivity. He said, well, I have polls that show me leading in all the battleground states. Nobody has good polls that show the president leading in the battleground states --

HARLOW: Yes --

HARWOOD: But he feels compelled to say that. Now, one -- part of the evidence that his team is taking it more seriously is the interview that Admiral Giroir did with Alisyn in the previous hour where he said we're taking this as a very grave situation. So, there are people within the government, within the administration who are acting to try to contain the pandemic. It's just that the president cannot acknowledge or embrace what they're doing or lead that effort himself.

HARLOW: John Harwood at the White House for us this morning, thank you for the reporting. Let's talk about the health side of all of this now and the health implications of not taking it very seriously. With me is Dr. Amesh Adalja; infectious disease expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for health security. It's very good to have you, and I don't want to make you wade into

politics, I just wonder if you could talk from a health perspective about the health implications for the American people of the president just -- you know, this week, calling Dr. Fauci, alarmist.

AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: It's very damaging. It's been something that has been a constant part of this pandemic response, trying to separate what the president says from what actually needs to be done, and this kind of unreality that we see some of the highest leaders in our country living it in this evasion that has made it so much harder to do the right thing. We have been making the same mistake over and over again since January.

And I think it's important to remember, we didn't have to have this experience in the United States. It could have been like Taiwan. If we would have had the leadership that have actually taken the plans that had been made time and time again, during different administrations and actually implemented them doing testing, tracing, isolating, but we have not done that in the beginning of the pandemic and we're not doing it now.

HARLOW: Doctor, you bring up the example of New Zealand, which I think is fascinating, just talking about what it shows as a nation can do to prevent even the need for -- there's all this political controversy over masks now which I just don't understand. But explain the point you're making and what lesson can be learned from how New Zealand has handled this?

ADALJA: The reason why we have to think why we're worried about going outside, why we're worried about public places because we have no idea who is infected and who is not. That was like the situation back in March in New York.

But that's clearly the situation now, places in Florida and Arizona, and if you don't know who is infected and who is not, you need to wear some kind of face-covering because there are people out there that are spreading this infection that don't know they're contagious or they're kind of hiding their symptoms or blowing off their symptoms.

And that's what's leading to this spread. And I think if you did this appropriately, if you have the ability to test people very quickly and they get a result, not in seven days, but in a day. You would know who to tell to stay home and who not to stay home.

So, you have much more confidence going out in public. So, it's just this whole cascading amount of failures that has led to the situation where we have politicization of everything, where we have people fighting over masks, where we -- where we don't know what's safe and what's unsafe to do.

And I think that it's so important to remember that this is not in anybody's playbook. This isn't how you handle an infectious disease emergency. It's the exact wrong way to handle an infectious disease emergency.

HARLOW: We have a little bit more data which is helpful about kids as vectors and how kids spread this. This is a study, I know, you've taken a look out of South Korea and researchers there found that older children -- so those between the ages of 10 and 19 essentially spread the virus like adults, whereas children, you know, 9 years old and younger spread it at much lower rates. I believe 5.3 percent rate versus an almost 19 percent rate for kids above 10 years old.

What -- how conclusive is this study or is it not, and how should it inform decisions for opening back up schools?

[09:25:00]

ADALJA: It's an interesting study and it gives us a lot of information that we've been looking for. A couple of things to say about it, one, this was in household types of transmission, which is not the same thing as schools. So, you can't necessarily extrapolate what goes on in the household with the intimate --

HARLOW: Yes --

ADALJA: Contacts to go --

HARLOW: Yes --

ADALJA: There, to what happens in a school. And secondly, they were following symptomatic cases. So, these are kids that were sick, and that we've always known that if you're sick, you're likely to spread it. Just the kids are less likely to even have symptoms. So that's an important thing -- and when we think about schools, it's really -- the clear message is that we cannot allow sick kids to be going to school. So, we have to have a screening process when you go into school, maybe they're doing fever screening or symptom screening.

And parents should not send their kids to school if they're sick. Actually, nobody should be doing anything if they're actually sick because that's the whole problem that we have in this country.

HARLOW: Dr. Amesh Adalja, thank you so much.

ADALJA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, a very tragic story to report. The son and the husband of a federal judge were shot at their home in New Jersey last night. The search is on for the gunman who was apparently dressed as a package delivery driver.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)