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Hospitalizations And Coronavirus Case Numbers In U.S. Breaking Records Across Many States; Twenty-Five Million Americans Expected To Lose Critical Government Help By Next Week; No Coordinated U.S. National Plan To Control The Virus. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 13:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: But here is the terrible part. You have sometimes 30-40 percent of the American public believing this. That's the real danger.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It is a danger. And everyone should watch tonight that special report airing tonight, 9:00 Eastern and Pacific here on CNN.

Fareed, grateful for that. I'm grateful for you for joining us today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

Hospitalizations and case numbers are breaking records across many states, deaths also on the rise. But there's been one constant during the U.S. pandemic and that is no coordinated national plan to control the virus. And now President Trump is digging in, denying facts and actually getting in the way, blocking some latest attempts by Congress to bring legislative relief.

Twenty-five million Americans are expected to lose critical government help by next week if Congress does not act. In the latest daily case count, another 60,000 people in the United States were infected, capping a week that saw the highest seven-day average for new cases this country has seen so far in this pandemic.

On average, the United States is experiencing more than 66,000 new cases a day over the past week. Los Angeles is seeing its highest number of people in the hospital, Georgia and North Carolina each reporting the largest number of new cases in a day, and Arizona confirming that it's had its highest daily death toll.

Today, the governor of New York saying people are fleeing to his state to get away from the virus elsewhere. Adding the states in trouble now should not have listened to the president.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The federal government has been in denial on this situation.

President Trump says you should reopen the economy. I said if I reopen the economy recklessly, all it's going to do is increase the virus. And if the virus goes up, the economy is going to have to close back down, no, no, no, which is exactly what happened to these other states.

The other mistake was they listened to the president.


KEILAR: But today, there may be a sign of hope as the world races to discover a vaccine. The medical journal, The Lancet, is reporting a vaccine being worked on at Oxford University may give people protection against the coronavirus. In human trials, the vaccine stimulated the body to produce what's called a double defense response, so this is antibodies, and also these so-called killer T- cells that attack the virus.

Let's bring in Dr. Peter Hotez, who is a Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He is in the middle of this vaccine race himself.

Tell us more about how this would work, this so-called double defense.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, sort of double defense seems to be a new term. There's two arms to the immune response. You need a vaccine to induce what are called T-cells and you need a vaccine to induce what are called virus-neutralizing antibody in order to achieve protection against the virus.

And the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was shown in non-human primates to do both but the level of neutralizing antibodies was not very high so the vaccine was partially protective, meaning it protected the monkeys from getting very sick but they're still shedding virus so it did not interrupt transmission. So the question is whether that was going to be the same in human trials.

And it looks as though as the single dose, it doesn't do what you want, but at two doses, in the ten patients they gave the two doses, they seem to see levels of neutralizing antibody that are roughly the same as someone who gets the virus and then recovers from it.

So, potentially good news, there's also T-cell responses, but ten patients, it's hard to say too much. My takeaway is it's definitely a vaccine to study in phase three trials but the caveat that like some of the other Operation Warp Speed vaccines, this may be partially protective, meaning they'll protect you against getting sick, which is, of course, important but they may not stop virus shedding.

And that means that even after the vaccines are released next year, we may still have to continue using masks and social distancing and contact tracing and all that sort of thing. Other vaccines will come along later. But this is going to be not a quick process or a miracle solution and we need some better communication around those points. KEILAR: I think you're exactly right about that. Because, look, when people think about a vaccine they think, I take a vaccine, I never have to worry about coronavirus again, right? And it seems like what we're learning is that with kind of every shred of good of news when it comes to the vaccine, this really is something that is incremental in these steps towards progress.

You have been, I will say, pessimistic or maybe you might argue realistic when it comes to the timeline about a vaccine, about whether actually we can see something here at the New Year.


It sounds like, as you explain that this is something that could help but isn't necessarily the end all, be all that perhaps you still -- you see similarly on that timeline now.

HOTEZ: Yes. I mean, I think these vaccines will be welcomed technologies, as well as some of the monoclonal antibodies for treatment, but we are still going to need to solve this problem through public health. And, you know, the numbers are still spiraling out of control across the Southern United States, which now accounts for a quarter of the world's cases in this pandemic, and that's very troubling, with no end in sight. So the idea that we're just going to let it burn until a vaccine comes along is fanciful thinking.

We need to get this virus under control now and we have the means to do it if there were political will and leadership in the White House, which there is not, and the vaccines are not going to come any time in the immediate future. They'll start to roll out assuming that we can show that they're both safe and effective sometime in the middle or the third quarter of next year.

And we've got to come up with a realistic public health plan for the nation and a communications plan because there's a lot of misinformation and there's a lot of hyping thrown out there and it's misleading the public and it's getting me very concerned.

KEILAR: Understandably. Dr. Hotez, great to see you, thank you.

Florida is now the epicenter of the pandemic. It has at least 49 hospitals that have no ICU beds left, and that is just one of the hotspots where hospitalizations are skyrocketing.

Let's turn now to CNN's Tom Foreman looking at all of this for us from Washington. Tom, give us the big picture here on the increase that is really stressing medical staff.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What's happening right now, Brianna, is a completely predictable and predicted collision, like two trains heading toward each other on the same track. Hospitalizations, they're going through the roof. Take a look at this chart and it will give you an idea of what we're talking about here.

You see where they started dipping down there, steadily moving down, steadily moving down. Guess what happened right before it headed up. Everyone tried to reopen despite all the warnings and people sort of throwing those warnings aside, very little masking in many places and so hospitalizations up.

This is not about testing. It's not about testing. You don't go to the hospital just because you have a positive COVID test. It's going up because people are desperately ill. That's why you wind up in the hospital.

You combine that -- if that's the first train, you combine it with the second one, which is a fact that the nation, coast to coast, look at all the cases going up, as you go state by state. More than half the states have a rising case count. Only five of them are in any way getting better. The rest are holding steady. So you see that this is all pushing in the wrong direction. We more and more cases, more and more hospitalizations.

So if you look in the final chart I want to show you here, which is deaths, you can see that the death count was also steadily declining at one point.

Now, you might look and say, we'll it's turning up a little bit at the bottom but, gee, that's generally been getting better. It has been getting better in part because the protocols for treating people have been experimented with and improved somewhat, because more younger people are getting sick who aren't as likely to wind up in dire circumstances, although they certainly can, but also because this is a lagging indicator. People don't get COVID generally and die immediately. It takes a little bit of time.

So, look at where we are right now, Brianna, these colliding forces and ask where we're going to be in a week or two weeks. I think that little turn-up you see at the end of the death rate there, I have the feeling that's going to go steadily up again and we'll have to watch this tragedy just repeat over and over until we get a handle on this.

KEILAR: Yes. Tom Foreman, thank you for taking us through that.

And just moments ago, Republican leaders wrapped up a meeting with President Trump and members of his administration in the Oval Office. They were discussing the details of a new GOP stimulus package. Today kicks off a critical three weeks for lawmakers to agree on a new round of coronavirus aid. Several roadblocks stand in the way. This includes giving the CDC more money for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Let's bring in Phil Mattingly for us. He is live from Capitol Hill. Phil, tell us what you are learning about this meeting and the, I guess, possibility of this new COVID aid package moving forward.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I think lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and both chambers acknowledge that something needs to move forward, at the leadership level. I think you can kind of characterize this today's meeting as kind of a get everybody on the same page meeting, right?

There were no Democrats in the room. This was Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the president, the president's economic team, his chief of staff. And Leader McCarthy, just a short while ago, told reporters that he believes everybody is on the same page.

But that's important because over the course of the last several days, we have seen Senate Republicans who are drafting their proposal right now, started to get crosswise with some White House officials in terms of, as you noted, CDC money, NIH money, money for testing and tracing in terms of state grants that Republicans wanted to boost up.


The White House sent back a counterproposal, zeroing it out, essentially getting rid of it entirely. That raised a lot of concerns inside the Senate Republican conference with some key members.

What they're trying to do right now is get everybody on the same page because, for Republicans, keep in mind, Democrats, Brianna, have had their proposal, a $3 trillion proposal that the House already passed, Republicans want to stay as unified as possible as they enter those negotiations.

So the timeline is essentially this. Tomorrow, Senate Republicans will meet in their weekly closed-door policy lunch. Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, are expected to come up. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, is going to walk through kind of the basic tenets of where the Republican proposal is right now. At some point later in the week, we expect to see that proposal and then negotiations will kick off for real.

The one key point here that I think needs to be made is the urgency. You mentioned at the of the show the enhanced federal unemployment benefits, those technically run out at the end of the month, they essentially run out at the end of this week because of the way the system works. The Paycheck Protection Program, a lot of the small businesses that were able to benefit from that, they need more money now. The program isn't long enough.

There are several different issues here that need to be addressed immediately, particularly as the virus resurges in various parts of the country. That's what lawmakers are facing as they address this. As you noted, a lot of hurdles, seems like in a lot of places, both sides are diametrically opposed at the moment, but there is an impetus to get something done. It's just a matter of what it actually is and when, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Phil, thank you so much. We'll be keeping our eyes open. This is going to be moving here in the coming days.

A new study suggesting older children transmit coronavirus just as easily as adults.

Plus, doctors in Arizona beg the governor to not open schools next month and one of them will join us.

And the president continues to deny the severity of this virus as the federal response falters in America. This is CNN special live coverage.



KEILAR: We are in the middle of a pandemic that has collided with a failure in leadership. In the U.S., coronavirus is also a man-made disaster, the likes of which might be hard to truly come comprehend if you don't work in a hospital, a morgue or a nursing home or if you personally been touched by the tragedy of losing a loved one.

But make no mistake, we will all likely be touched by that tragedy because the pandemic is young yet. Experts tell us that coronavirus is just getting started with us. And as other nations are putting up a good fight and seeing results, the U.S. is flailing. The U.S. is a cautionary tale.

The federal response here is faltering as the death toll surpasses 140,000 Americans, 140,000 people. That is enough to fill the rose bowl 1.5 times and the president is still denying reality and ignoring the magnitude of the outbreak.

And in his Fox News interview this week, it is clear that denial has crossed threshold to negligence. He can't even be honest about how deadly the virus is here.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you talk about mortality rates, I think it's the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That's not true, sir.

TRUMP: Can you get me the mortality rate? Kayleigh is right here. I heard we have one of the lowest -- maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world.


KEILAR: Now, as Chris Wallace noted, it is not. Of the 20 hardest hit countries today, the U.S. is 10th in mortality rate. Bolivia, Colombia, the Philippines, Chile, India, Pakistan, Argentina, all among those doing better than the U.S. But go on.


TRUMP: Do you have the numbers, please?

Number one low in mortality rate.


KEILAR: OK. He's even lying about the lie there because the chart that he decided to use from the European CDC, not his own, still doesn't show the U.S. with the lowest mortality rate.


TRUMP: You look at other countries, they don't do tests.

They don't have massive areas of testing and we do.


KEILAR: False. Of course, other countries test. The difference? Many of the successful ones have a cohesive national strategy. They test, then trace and their citizens wear masks.


WALLACE: Why on earth would your administration be involved in a campaign at this point to discredit Dr. Fauci, who is the nation's top infectious disease expert?

TRUMP: Because we are not.

He is a little bit of an alarmist.


KEILAR: So Trump denies that his administration is attacking Anthony Fauci before he goes right on ahead there and undermines Anthony Fauci. The attacks are real and they're right out there. They are verifiable. The top trade adviser wrote an op-ed. The social media director pushed a cartoon out on social media. And the White House anonymously pushed out a list of opposition research on Dr. Fauci.


TRUMP: Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles.


KEILAR: All right. I have interviewed young people who survived weeks on a ventilator. I've interviewed young people who are still battling symptoms months later. They're so-called long-haulers. And next hour right here, we're going to be talking with a mother who lost her 20- year-old son and 23-year-old daughter in a span of 11 days.

So give us a break. This isn't just the sniffles. And then this interview moved on to other topics like the military.


TRUMP: We got soldiers, the biggest pay raises in the history of our military.

WALLACE: Understood.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: No, he actually did not.


Well, a pay raise is always welcome. The military got bigger ones in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Next?


TRUMP: We won two world wars, two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible.


KEILAR: Vicious and horrible, yes. Beautiful? No. War is hell and he knew that well enough to get five draft deferments and make sure that he never saw war. Millions and millions of people were killed in those world wars.

Then Trump responded here to the Pentagon possibly considering changing the names of bases named after confederate generals.


WALALCE: Military says they're --

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. I don't care what the military says. I'm supposed to make the decision.


KEILAR: Now, the military trying to do its part to ensure a cohesive environment for service men and women blocked by the commander in chief, who is hailing American traitors, and then he said this.


WALLACE: Can you give them a direct answer? You will accept the election?

TRUMP: I have to see. Look, I have to see.


KEILAR: That is a president there undermining the institution of American democracy.

Next, President Trump talked about Joe Biden.


WALLACE: He says nothing about defunding --

TRUMP: Really? It says, abolish. It's says -- let's go.

WALLACE: All right. But -- TRUMP: Get me the chart, please?


KEILAR: Okay, it didn't say abolish. It did not say abolish. It does not say defund. Next?


TRUMP: Religion will be gone, okay? Life, you could forget about that, the whole question of life. Supreme Court --

WALLACE: When you say life, you mean abortion?

TRUMP: Absolutely.

WALLACE: You say religion is going to be gone. What does that mean?

TRUMP: Look at what they're doing to the churches. They won't let the churches even open if they want to stand in a field six feet apart.


KEILAR: All right. So, who is they? Well, at the state level, there are officials from both parties who are putting limits on large gatherings not to ban religion but to save lives. But go on.


TRUMP: We've had churches that wanted to stand in fields six feet apart. There has never been an administration that's done so much as I have, from tax cuts to regulation cuts, to rebuilding the military, to getting choice for the vets. Nobody has done the things I have done.


KEILAR: Actually, they have because it was President Obama actually who signed the veterans choice program into law in 2014, not President Trump. That was nearly three years before President Trump moved into the Oval Office.


TRUMP: I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.


KEILAR: All right. That's just false. There is zero evidence of widespread fraud. Studies also show mail-in voting has not benefited one party over the other. Also, the president along with many of his advisers have voted by mail for years.

Then, as the president tries to make mental acuity an issue in this election, he brags about the cognitive test that he took.


TRUMP: So the first few questions are easy. But I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I bet you couldn't. They get very hard.


KEILAR: Okay. So the last questions on that test, what day is it and what city are you in?


WALLACE: You answered the questions?

TRUMP: Let Biden sit through an interview like this, he'll be crying on the ground crying for mommy. He'd say mommy, mommy, please take me home.


KEILAR: All right, we'll just leave it there.

Doctors in one state are begging the governor to not reopen schools as we learn older children can transmit the virus as easily as adults. What will that mean?

Plus, new signs of the return of the NFL, signs that may be in jeopardy, as players are voicing their concerns about health risks.

And the suspected gunman in the death of a judge's son at her home is dead. We'll bring you the breaking news ahead.



KEILAR: Coronavirus is overwhelming the State of Arizona. Its rate of positivity is leading the nation right now. Its case count is ten times higher now than it was in May and its record for deaths in a single day was shattered on Saturday, 147 deaths recorded.

Now, 87 doctors have signed a letter to Governor Ducey urging him not to reopen schools until at least October. And in it, they write this.

We're a group of healthcare providers from across the great State of Arizona. Many of us are also parents of school-aged children and share a common concern that the tremendous pressure to return to in-person schooling in August is ill-advised and dangerous given the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Dr. Stephen Kessler is one of the physician who signed the letter and he's joining us now to talk about this. Thank you so much for being with us today. Tell us why you signed this letter.

DR. STEPHEN KESSLER, WROTE LETTER ASKING ARIZONA GOVERNOR TO DELAY REOPENING SCHOOLS: Well, thanks for having me. This letter came out of concern that the current research as to the spread of this disease by children, specifically the chances they get infected or spread it to others is really evolving.


And there's some evolving data that you touched on just a few moments ago.