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Trump Coronavirus Spin Clashes with Grim Reality; U.S. Adds Nearly 500,000 new Cases in Single Day; Dr. Rochelle Walensky Discusses COVID-19 Cases Rising in 31 States, Oxford Vaccine Showing Promise, Trump Opposing National Mask Mandate; Gunman Kills Son, Wounds Husband of NJ Federal Judge; Dr. Alison Haddock Discusses Rising Coronavirus Cases Pushing Hospitals to Breaking Point. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 11:00   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: So with some of the other leagues that are looking at the potential for a full season it becomes much more expensive and difficult to execute.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see what happens.

Carolyn, great reporting. Thanks so much.

And thanks to all of you for reporting today. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

"NEWSROOM" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John King, in Washington. Thanks so much for sharing this day for us.

It's an important day because it opens a workweek critical to slow the coronavirus summer surge. And it's an important day that we're reminded yet again the country cannot trust the words of its president in this important fight.

In a weekend interview, the president again got the facts wrong about coronavirus testing it and about the coronavirus death toll. He did say he'll someday be right and that the virus, he told us, would disappear back in April after just a few cases. He says, well, it will be eventually be gone.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll be right eventually. I will be right eventually. I said it's going to disappear. I'll say it again.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Does that discredit you?

TRUMP: And I'll be right.


KING: Right here in the here and now, the numbers are simply staggering. The United States will hit 3.8 million coronavirus cases by the end of this day. The country added nearly 500,000 cases in the last week alone.

The virus has killed more than 140,000 Americans. Deaths trending up in 20 states this morning. The map tells us the south is speeding towards a crisis point as hospital bed crunch there continues to grow worse.

In addition to the rising case counts and crowded hospitals, there are testing delays again and supply shortages. The president's deputies say they are on it.


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are approaching this extreme seriousness. It really is all hands-on deck. This is serious but we know how to stop this.


KING: One proven way to slow the spread is to wear a mask. The president opposes a national mask mandate saying it restricts vital freedoms. His surgeon general agrees with the president on the mandate part but adds this urgent appeal for help.


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: If you're going to have a mandate, those work best at the local and state levels.

I'm pleading with your viewers, I'm begging you, please understand that we're not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering. We're not trying to take away your ability to go out when we see keep restaurant capacity under 50 percent.

We're saying, if we do these things, we can actually open and stay open.


KING: Let's look at the numbers now and look ahead to see whether this could be a week to perhaps slow the surge. And let's just start with the national trends. And 50 states with 50 plans. And 31 of them -- it was as high as 38 this week -- 38 states trending in the wrong direction reporting more and more new cases right now than we did a week ago.

Most of this is orange. Only two states in red. That's an alarming increase in cases, the red. But you still have 31 states heading in the wrong direction. And 14 states, that's the yellow or the beige spread across the country, including California, which had been up.

Five states heading down, meaning fewer cases this week than last week. That's the direction you want to be going.

Let's just remind you. June 1st, thought we were making progress, 19 states heading up. On June 1st, 19 states steady and 24 states going down. On June 1st, you have a lot of green and beige. And come back today there's more red. The case count in more states heading up at the moment. That is the summer surge that we try to deal with this week.

Here's what it looks like if you average out seven-day moving average of new cases. Thursday of last week was an all-time high. We'll see if we can get this down. You see it trending up. Starts to flatten a little bit. The challenge in this week ahead, can you flatten that out and start to come down?

Three states leading the summer surge, Florida, California and Texas. You see June, the end of June into July, going up, again. Here's what you look for, the seven-day moving average. Are they starting to come down? It's Monday. Let's watch those through this week.

Dangerously high. Can you start to push it down? That would be key right here.

Because of this, and another state as well, because of that first map, 27 states at the moment doing something the president does not want them to do, rolling back at least some of the reopening, imposing new restrictions, going back to stay at home or doing some things to get people to stop gathering in large groups. And 27 states at least as we begin this workweek.

This tells you we have a problem. So does this, if you look at the map.

But listen to the president of the United States. He says the country's top experts is too quick to put alarm.


TRUMP: Dr. Fauci has made some mistakes.


TRUMP: He's a little bit of an alarmist, that's OK. A little bit of alarmist.


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


TRUMP: No country has ever done what we've done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [11:04:58]

KING: Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctor, it's good to see you.

Is the United States the envy of the world as the president says?


No, I would say we're in deep trouble. I think that you can see our precipitous rise in case counts. Certainly, we're not permitted to travel in many places around the world. I've gotten e-mails from many other places around the world asking if there's anything people can do to help.

I don't think we're the envy of the world in terms of COVID right now.

KING: Let me ask you about something potentially encouraging news. "The Lancet" has an article about the University of Oxford vaccine candidate in the U.K. It says you get an antibody response within 28 days and a T-cell response within 14 days.

More than a thousand people in this trial. Participants were 18 to 55 who had no COVID history. Tested across five U.K. hospitals.

The people behind the study say they need more research but they do believe they have something positive. One questions they cannot answer is, yes, they are seeing a triggering. The question is they don't know how long it's going to last.

What's your take on this?

WALENSKY: This is fresh out in the last hour or so. Only about 500 people in that trial actually got the COVID vaccine. And indeed, the results are encouraging.

As you know, they only enrolled people 18 to 55 so that's not the high-risk people we worry the most about in terms of poor outcomes with COVID.

After 56 days, 90 percent people show they have neutralizing antibody in the cohort of 500 people. There were also side effects, generally mild, malaise, fatigue, headaches and some sight reactions.

So I think, yes, we're super excited that we may go into the next phase of trials. The next phase will start enrolling the next month or so. And 30,000 people is my understanding for a large-scale phase three trial. This will be one of three I know of that will start in this summer and early fall for large-scale vaccine trials.

So caution optimism. Again, certainly, this would be wonderful news. But we still have a lot of reasons to -- to be cautious, both with regard to the side effects but also with regard to the durability of this protection and then to ensure that this protection will actually be the same in people who need it the most.

KING: So as we wait, the challenge especially here in the United States, as Florida is above 10,000 cases a day in that ballpark and California in the eights and Texas in the eights, is how do you stop. How do you stop this surge because the numbers when they get that high on a daily basis, math kicks in and, exponentially, you keep having more and more and more and then stress on hospitalization?

The president says he opposes a national mask mandate and that it restricts some freedoms. I want you to listen to his explanation.


TRUMP: No, I want people to have a certain freedom. And I don't believe in that, no. And I don't agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears. Well, all of a sudden, everybody has to wear a mask. And as you know, masks cause problems, too.

With that being said, I'm a believer in masks. I think masks are good.


KING: I want to ask you about this part of it. We can have a debate about whether there should be a national mandate or, in this republic we have, it should be state by state. This part right here, the president of the United States saying, as you know masks cause problems, too.

Is there any evidence masks cause problems?

WALENSKY: I think, as you look at the big picture -- I mean, there are a lot of things that cause problems. The biggest problem right now is we have hundreds of people, thousands of people dying every day. Thousands and thousands of people, tens of thousands of people being hospitalized for COVID.

And I think when you look at the big picture of the problems that masks cause versus the problems that COVID causes, COVID is winning a lot.

I want to just look at the numbers now. When you look at states, Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, that you said were the states that were beginning the surges in June, what we're starting to see, as we expected four weeks later, as of July 1, mid-July, now those places are all seeing surges in deaths.

So we see now deaths in a lot of those places. Huge limitations in hospital capacity. When we were limited in hospital capacity in New York and Boston, we had the country behind us. Everybody was staying at home.

These folks who are on the frontlines in these places, they just haven't turned off the faucet yet. There are more and more people coming in. And the only way to stop that is masks, stay home, and do everything

in your power to prevent this. We are all in this together. They are taking care of all of our loved ones.

KING: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, we appreciate your time especially at this busy time. Thank you so much.

WALENSKY: Thank you so much.

KING: Let's carry on the conversation with John Harwood covering the White House.

John, the president is meeting on a call with governors today behind closed doors.


If you listen to the interview that the president did with Chris Wallace, and he said so many things that simply don't match up with the facts. It's either deliberate misleading or the president not doing his homework.

This is the part of the Chris Wallace interview that I don't get. We know the president cares about himself. We know the election is 15 weeks from tomorrow it.

I'm going to put up a map here that shows the ten states that are considered most at risk for COVID right now. They are all Trump states when you look at these 10 states.

Another way to look at it, John, if you look at the coronavirus pandemic, the seven-day moving average of new cases, the green line you're going to see here are states that voted for the president in 2016 going up the highest here.

If you can't get him to study the science or speak factually about testing it and the death toll, can no one on his staff get his attention about the politics here?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, I think this is about Donald Trump's psychological compulsions.

We heard from Mary Trump in her book the other day that one of the consequences that she was describing -- and she is a psychologist -- of the damaging upbringing the president had, was what she called "toxic positivity," that the president, for protection of his ego and his image, cannot acknowledge bad news.

That's what we saw with Chris Wallace. He could not acknowledge the mortality rate and could not acknowledge the seriousness of the spread and resurgence of the infection. He's got to say, I'm doing a good job. And if the facts are negative towards that, he pushes them aside.

The president has done this consistently on testing. Take a listen to this montage. A way that he's dismissed the importance of testing as the situation has gotten worse. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I do think it's important that not everybody be tested.

Not everybody believes we should do so much testing. We don't need so much.

We're going to open up very big. And I call it a transition to greatness. That's what it is.

I have done a phenomenal job.

Testing is a double-edged sword.

I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.


HARWOOD: Right, he wants to slow the testing down because in his mind testing reveals more cases and reveals more cases, reflects badly on him. And now that we are awash in cases, especially in the Sunbelt, what the president says is, well, that is a reflection of how great our testing regime is.

Not acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, the seriousness of the situation in saying that 99 percent of the cases are harmless which, of course, we know that that's not true.

KING: We're having here late in July, conversations about testing backlogs and supply chain problems on top of everything else. A little deja vu that we do not need.

John Harwood, appreciate the reporting from the White House.

Up next for us, a return to a bizarre case. A gunman opening fire at the home of a federal judge.



KING: A brazen crime in New Jersey at the home of a federal judge. The FBI now searching for a gunman who killed the son of a local judge and wounded her husband of U.S. district judge, Esther Salas. Her son, Daniel Anderl, opened the door. His father, Mark, was standing behind him. Authorities say a lone gunman opened fire and then fled. The judge was not harmed.

Our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is with me now.

Evan, a brazen crime. Certainly looks like an assassination attempt. What do we know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, it does look like that. But at this point, authorities are searching for a motive. They don't know exactly, who was the target of this gunman. Here's what happened. Quiet Sunday afternoon in northern New Jersey.

The judge is in the basement. There's a knock on the door and the -- and the son, Daniel Anderl, answers the door with his father nearby, Mark Anderl. The gunman opens fire immediately. Daniel apparently is killed in the gunfire. His father is seriously injured. The gunman gets away.

And right now, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals are investigating and trying to figure out exactly why this crime occurred. They are also trying to figure out where this person would have gone.

Now, one of the first things that you -- obviously, when you're doing this investigation, one of the first things you look for is whether there's anything that the judge was handling, any cases that would perhaps explain some of this.

And we'll show you some of the cases that she's been handling more recently.

There was a class-action lawsuit filed against Deutsche Bank about monitoring its high-risk customers, including Jeffrey Epstein. And a while back she handled the financial fraud cases involving "A Real Housewives of New Jersey" character. None of this immediately points to something controversial that a judge was handling.

Now, Mark Anderl, the husband, is a defense attorney so authorities are also looking at that.

Esther Salas, John, is the first Latina on the federal bench in New Jersey.

Obviously, this is raising a lot of concern for judges not only in the New York and New Jersey area but around the country. And the U.S. Marshals, which is responsible for the judge's security, is taking a look at everything to make sure that people are safe.

KING: Evan Perez, appreciate the reporting. Stay on top of it. Come back to us when you get more.

And with more on the investigation, let's bring in retired FBI supervisory special agent, James Gagliano.

James, I want to start with the brazen nature of this. A knock on the door, door opens, guy opens fire. It plays out like something you would see on "The Sopranos."

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, 100 percent right, John. You used two "B"s, bizarre and brazen. Look, in the last 41 years, there were three federal judges targeted and killed, assassinated, essentially.


It's not a -- it doesn't happen often but I want to bring this into you. Last year alone, the United States Marshal Service, which conducts the investigations here, they had about 4,500 threats or inappropriate communications with federal judges. So this is a real concern. They are working with the FBI.

And, John, one of the things that I learned from working a murder investigation throughout my 25-year FBI career, it always comes down to four "L"s, love, lust, luker, which is money, or loathing.

Now, investigators have to be careful. They have to follow evidence where it takes them. There's a lot of leads here that they can go after. But this is a bizarre one -- John?

KING: So you're hoping -- this is a residential neighborhood where this happened. You're hoping whether somebody has whether it's a doorbell video or some street video of a vehicle or something to get you started.

But even went through the high-profile cases. And the first assumption was the judge was the target. You don't know that. Her husband is a high-profile defense attorney.

You go through that and you look at the cases. Did anything jump out to you there, high-profile financial fraud case with one of "The Real Housewives," a street gang leader, a federal racketeering sentencing related to Jeffrey Epstein, and then the Deutsche Bank case.

Any one of those you can look at to the loathing part that somebody is mad or worried but that's where you start. That doesn't tell you anything.

GAGLIANO: That's all fair. And those are all concrete leads and things that need to be run down as we say.

Now, we know it was a white male. He was wearing a face covering. He was dressed in a FedEx uniform but left in a vehicle, a sedan, was not in a FedEx vehicle. So the FBI and Marshal Service are working with FedEx on this.

John, there's a lot going down. You have to look at all of her cases. She's been threatened before. She's been on the federal bench for a while and received a lot of threats.

John, interesting side note. Her husband is a defense attorney. And you could look at this as a perspective could have be an angry neighbor or case of road rage from weeks before?

Now, it seems a little bizarre the level that this person went to show up unassuming in a FedEx uniform. But the FBI and Marshal Service have to run down all the leads. If there was a pistol used, there should be shell cases, maybe fingerprints, things like that.

They have to use forensic evidence and, John, they have to go out and start asking questions, knocking on doors, and conducting interviews.

KING: It is a bizarre case and important case. We will keep our reporters on top.

James Gagliano, appreciate your important insights.

GAGLIANO: Thank you.

KING: We'll come back when we know a little more about this as this goes forward.

Up next for us, we head to the front lines of the coronavirus fight with an emergency room doctor in Texas.



Bringing you up to speed on a couple of things we're waiting for, expected moments away. One, the House of Representatives, when it comes in today, will have a moment of silence for the late civil rights legend, John Lewis, who died Friday night. We'll take you to Capitol Hill when that happens.

And at the White House, right now, the president of the United States meeting with the vice president and the Republican congressional leaders, Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy. They're talking about the next round of potential economic coronavirus stimulus.

The president invited reporters into that meeting. We'll bring you that as soon we get out of that meeting.

And meantime, coronavirus hospitalizations now close to record highs, which is one of the reasons this week will be watched so closely.

On the right there, you see the national numbers. Right now, rivaling the peak back in April.

And here's a closer look at Texas. A rise in cases and hospitalizations. Most of those patients first seek help at an emergency room.

Dr. Alison Haddock is an E.R. doctor and assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Thank you so much for being with us today.

It's sad, from my perspective in the chair from asking many of the questions I was asking emergency room doctors in March and in April. But I know that you had hoped to keep below is 15 percent occupancy of ICU beds, and that is way out the window, right?

DR. ALISON HADDOCK, E.R. PHYSICIAN & ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Way out the window. That had been our goal in the Texas Medical Center. That the was a number we felt would be sustainable and allow us to continue to provide the care that other patients needed as well.

But, unfortunately, with a surge in cases that we're seeing, our ICU beds are now 50 percent full with COVID patients.

KING: Help us. We've put up the graphs and map and the numbers. You've seen the people. You live in one of the fastest-growing areas of the United States. You live in one of the most diverse areas of the United States. Who, who is being hurt here?

HADDOCK: Everyone is being hurt here. COVID is not an illness that respects nationality or age. Everyone at all ages is getting sick.

Older people are more often getting sicker, but we're seeing younger people who are very sick as well.

And some of the folks that I'm the most worried about are the ones that don't have insurance because I'm worried that the lack of access to care will make their road to recovery even harder.

KING: So as this plays out, the Texas governor -- I don't want you to get into the politics it. The governor was the earliest ones to reopen and did scale things back and now you're in the mess that our in now as you try to deal with this.


What are you seeing? Is this large groups, is this clusters, or is this widespread community spread, which makes it a whole lot harder to track and stop?