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President Trump Continues to Insist Coronavirus Will Just Go Away; FBI Investigating Shooting Death of a Federal Judge's Son; Coronavirus Cases on the Rise in California. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, after more than 140,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus the U.S. president again insists the virus will eventually just disappear. But the reality is that COVID-19 is still spreading at an alarming rate, as medical facilities in many U.S. states are struggling to cope.

And the FBI is investigating after a gunman opens fire at the home of a federal judge in New Jersey, killing her son and injuring her husband.

Good to have you with us.

Well, despite surging coronavirus numbers across the United States, President Donald Trump is playing down the pandemic while playing up his own performance. Just take a look at these numbers.

Here you can see that steep climb in the seven day moving average of new cases since mid June. Johns Hopkins University is reporting more than 3.7 million total cases in the U.S. and 140,000 deaths.

This as Los Angeles reports its highest number of hospitalizations in a single day since the outbreak began. And there are no ICU beds available at 48 Florida hospitals.

But in an interview broadcast Sunday President Donald Trump defending his handling of the pandemic, including his early claim that the virus would disappear completely.


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


TRUMP: It's going to disappear.

WALLACE: Does that discredit you?

TRUMP: And I'll be right. I don't think so.


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


CHURCH: CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more details from President Trump's interview.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well coronavirus cases have been surging once again in the Unites States over the last month, month and a half and yet President Trump seems to still be denying the reality of the situation, the reality that case are indeed surging, that new records are being broken in terms of new case numbers every week, sometimes multiple times a week.

President Trump in an interview on Sunday instead focused much more on defending his administration, his handling of this pandemic, deflecting blame, and once again making false claims including the repeatedly debunked claim that the rise in coronavirus cases is related to increased testing in the United States.


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 see we hit a peak here in April, 36,000 cases --

TRUMP: It's cases.

WALLACE: -- a day. Yes.

TRUMP: Cases.

WALLACE: Then -- then it went down and now since June it has gone up more than double, one day this week 75,000 --

TRUMP: That's right.

WALLACE: -- 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 -- but, this isn't burning embers, sir, this is a forest fire. TRUMP: No, no, but I don't say -- I say flames, we'll 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.


DIAMOND: Now, the reality of the situation is that while testing has been up about 37 percent, cases of coronavirus in the United States are up 194 percent and the gap in those two rates of increase is even more startling when you look at some of the hotspots like Florida and Arizona and Texas.

And yet President Trump, it seems, continues to make this false claim. It was just one of several from this president in this interview. He also tried to favorably compare the United States mortality rate to other countries.

He also tried to compare the situation in the United States more favorably to what's happening in the European Union, which has not seen this most recent surge of coronavirus cases like the United States.

President Trump was also busy trying to downplay the advice of some of the government's four most public health experts.

The president, once again, undermining the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, even as he insisted that there is no campaign to undermine Fauci, but really it's about something broader, because the president was also disagreeing repeatedly with CDC, disagreeing with the notion put forward by the CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield that masks, if every American wore masks for the next four to eight weeks coronavirus could be in much better shape in the United States.

The president rejecting that advice out of hand, and again, just the latest instance of the president butting heads with the science.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And Florida is the new epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States. The state reported more than 12,000 new cases on Sunday.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more now from West Palm Beach.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More trouble in terms of numbers and coronavirus here in the state of Florida. In the last 24 hours another 12,478 new cases here in the state, now more than 350,000 cases statewide. Also, another 87 deaths, bringing the total now to just 5,000 deaths across the state.

Also, this is the fourth day this month that we've seen more than 12,000 cases in a single day reported of coronavirus here in the state of Florida. Statewide more than 9,000 people hospitalized, those numbers do seem to be holding steady. And in Miami-Dade in southern Florida, one of the hardest hit

counties, still trouble with those ICU beds, now at 127 percent capacity, so they have no ICU beds left to give.

In fact, in Miami-Dade more than 2,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 507 patients in the ICU and 286 patients on ventilators. Also, dozens of hospitals, close to 50 hospitals across the state are also without any ICU beds, so this is certainly a problem here in the state of Florida.

On a bright note, the governor has secured about 30,000 vials of Remdesivir, which we know is a proven treatment for COVID-19. Those should be arriving just hours from now. Those supplies will go directly to the hospital. He went to the White House seeking that supply and apparently it will be coming here in just the next few hours or days ahead.

All right, back to you.

CHURCH: Thanks for that report. And California was thought to be an early example of success in containing the virus, but not now. Positive test rates and hospitalizations are on the rise in Los Angeles County and the rest of the state.

The Los Angeles mayor is thinking carefully about what he needs to do now.

Paul Vercammen has our report.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the numbers Mayor Garcetti is most concerned with are the hospitalizations, they are now at a record in Los Angeles County, jumping to 2,216 this weekend.

What he has said is, he's going to track these numbers for about two weeks and if things do not improve he will go ahead and issue more stay-at-home or closure orders.


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

ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: 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 country level. And I do agree that those things happen 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.


VERCAMMEN: Now about this notion of being on the brink of this, again, he wants to marinate on the numbers over a couple of weeks and he's also said he doesn't want to take a clever to everything in Los Angeles, more so a surgical strike, for example, if he saw a nursing home or let's say a construction site or an apparel factory that he thinks needs to be shut down, he'll go after it.

He says he well recognizes the need for people in Los Angeles to get back to work, but again, he wants to see some of these numbers start to take a turn downward. One number he's more comfortable with, the positivity rate after testing for COVID-19, that now stands at 10 percent.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen.

CHURCH: Joining me now from Los Angeles, Dr. Armand Dorian, the Chief Medical Officer at the University of Southern California's Verdugo Hills Hospital. Thank you Doctor and for all that you do.


CHURCH: Now President Trump is still repeating his false claim that an increase in testing is what's causing the spike in cases across this country. In fact, testing is up 37 percent but cases are up 194 percent. So, the president is very wrong on that issue. What do you believe is behind this surge in cases and can this trend be turned around before we hit the flu season?

DORIAN: Well look, I have to always start by being positive, because there's absolutely no point in being negative as a physician and as a Chief Medical Officer. In my position we have to believe that we can turn the train around, but it's very obvious why this is occurring, is people are unmasked and they are socializing, not social distancing and spreading the virus.


The number of tests you're taking does increase the number of positives, but that's not what we're talking about. Please, it's very simple, it's the percents that are positive is going up. If I shoot a ball 10 times and I make five shots and now I shoot 100 shots the same percentage would be 50, but that's not the case. The percent is going up.

We are now turning the 50 into 70, 80, 90 and this is truly a disaster.

CHURCH: That is really sobering. And Doctor, President Trump also falsely claims that other nations with fewer cases don't do enough testing, that's his reasoning there, and says the U.S. is the envy of the world due to its testing levels.

But right now, unfortunately, the U.S. only leads the world in it's death toll and its cases, and all this as the president calls this country's most trusted doctor, Anthony Fauci, a bit of an alarmist, even as coronvirus cases are spiking everywhere and hospitalizations are surging.

Should we all be alarmed by what's happening in this country? Are you alarmed?

DORIAN: Yes. Plain and simple. I'm not panicking, I'm not acting irrationally, but I'm alarmed. If I see something that is going to happen, that is going to provide a negative outcome I have to react. I have to have an alarm that goes off. So, if I see a train that's going to crash into a house I would be alarmed.

Look, closing your eyes to this doesn't mean it goes away. This problem is only growing. I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of people have to die before we really wake up.

The number of people are -- that are getting infected is increasing, and yes, a small percentage died, but what is one life, what is 10 lives, what are 100 lives. Usually, for most, they would be human to the fact that they would feel when somebody is saying that they're dying. But, what if it's your family member, will that make the difference?

Come on, we really need to wake up here and we've got stop the charades.

CHURCH: And Doctor, what are seeing in our hospital, because you are treating COVID-19 patients there? What is their main reason for -- for getting infected? And talk to us about what you deal with day to day.

DORIAN: Well the reason people are getting infected is because they are now not stay at home and they're out. And in the process of getting out we could have done it the right way, and unfortunately many people politicized it to the point wearing a mask became a right and it because something that was not protected.

We're telling you to wear a mask not because of the political party you're in, we're asking you to wear a mask because it's the right thing to do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

And what has happened is, because of the many reasons people got out and socialized, they did not distance themselves physically from others, they did not mask, they did not sanitize, they got infected and continued to spread.

Remember, one person will infect 1,000 people in one month. Here's an alarming -- just an alarming statistic. Let's just step back, the first week of February was the first positive case, the first death in the U.S., February.

We're only a few months away from that day and look at the state that we're in. Where do we think this is headed? The vaccine is not going to be around any time soon, so if we're not going to come together and do the right thing we're headed for disaster.

CHURCH: Dr. Armand Dorian, thank you so much and for all that you do. We appreciate it.

Well, U.S. Marshalls and the FBI are searching for a gunman who opened fire at the home of U.S. Federal Judge Esther Salas. Investigators say the gunman wore what appeared to be a Fedex uniform as he approached Salas' home in New Jersey.

The judge's son and husband were shot when they opened the door. The son, who was 20, was killed.

Law enforcement officers say they don't know the motive and aren't aware of any threats against the judge who was unharmed.

Well Russia says it's close to a breakthrough on a coronavirus vaccine, but that bold claim is raising questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you explain that extraordinary speed? I mean, other countries are working flat out (ph). Why would Russia be so far ahead? I mean, there are allegations, there are concerns that this country's been cutting corners.

CHURCH: And we will take you inside Russia's vaccine lab in an exclusive report. That's next.




CHURCH: Well, the U.K. will get early access to a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The British government announced a new partnership that has secured early access to more than 90 million doses. They will also get antibody treatments that neutralized COVID-19.

The deal follows a global licensing agreement between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. It's meant to research, develop and manufacture a vaccine for the public.

And Russia is facing a terrible toll from the pandemic. The country has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the world. Researchers there say they are on the brink of success when it comes to a vaccine. But their rapid progress is raising questions.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance joins us now live from Moscow with an exclusive report. Good to see you Matthew. So, how did Russia move so swiftly with this potential vaccine?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it's a good question, I mean, and they say that the reason for that is that they've used as the bases for their vaccine a previous vaccine for a -- for a couple of other diseases as a sort of a platform, which they then just slightly change, which meant that a whole lot of work that was done in early developments has already been kind of approved. And so, they've worked from a sort of head start position.

What they say now Rosemary, is that they are at the forefront of the global effort to try and find a coronavirus vaccine with rapid progress because of the reason I've just discussed in human trials.

Russian officials now telling CNN that the vaccine produced in Russia could be ready for approval as early as next month, that's possibly before anyone else in the world can get there.


Well, these claims of extraordinary vaccine success coming from one particular secretive lab here in the center of the Russian capital at Moscow. For the first time now we can give you images of the kind of sensitive work taking place inside.

For Russia the search for a coronavirus vaccine is a global race. And it's at this research lab in Moscow where it hopes to win.

Access to the Gamaleya Institute is tightly controlled. No CNN cameras were allowed through these doors, but they did give us exclusive footage of the sensitive scientific work taking place inside. A unique glimpse of Russia's rapid push for a coronavirus vaccine.

They even sent recorded comments from their director who controversially injected himself before human trials officially began.

ALEXANDER GINSBURG, DIRECTOR GAMALEYA INSTITUTE (through translator): It has become a task of unprecedented complexity. In a very short time we have to create a vaccine against this disease.

CHANCE: But that need for speed in Russia means corners may have been cut. Russian soldiers all volunteers according to the Defense Ministry, were used in the first phase of human trials. And now, allegations denied by the Kremlin that Russian spies have been hacking U.S., British and Canadian labs to steal their coronavirus secrets.

Allegations also rejected by the head of the organization funding much of Russia's coronavirus research.

Russian desperately needs to develop and wants to develop a vaccine. Isn't that one reason why the Kremlin would try and get ahead by stealing other nation's vaccine secrets?

KIRILL DMITRIEV, CEO RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: Well first of all Matthew we are very surprised by timing of this, because basically it happens the next day after we announce that we expect approval of our vaccine in August.

CHANCE: Sure, but how do you explain that extraordinary speed? I mean other countries are working flat out, why would Russia be so far ahead? I mean, there are allegations or concerns that this country's been cutting corners when it comes to its research.

DMITRIEV: Our vaccine is based on approval vaccine platform. It was a vaccine against Ebola, it was vaccine again MRSA and now scientists just substituted Ebola and MRSA codes with a spike of the current virus.

CHANCE: Adjusting an old vaccine to work with the new coronavirus instead. Details remain sketchy, but it's that clinical strategy, not hacking, officials say, giving this Russian lab the edge. Right Rosemary, well as a country with one of the highest numbers of

coronavirus infections in the world, Russia is, of course, highly motivated to get there first in terms of a vaccine.

We just had the latest figures come to us, over the past 24 hours there have been more than 6,000 people recorded as infected with the virus. That's been a figure that's been pretty consistent for several weeks now.

It brings to just over 770,000 people according to official figures that have been -- been diagnosed with COVID-19. Obviously the real figure, the people who haven't been diagnosed could be much, much higher than that.

Rosemary, back to you.

CHURCH: Indeed. Matthew, many thanks. Extraordinary and exclusive report on that vaccine, that potential vaccine from Russia. Many thanks.

Well, Hong Kong is tightening social distancing measures further after recording its highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 100 new infections were confirmed Sunday.

The surge is prompting city authorities to expand the mandatory use of face masks to include all enclosed public places and all non-essential civil workers are being told to work from home for the coming week.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Hong Kong. He joins us now live. Good to see you Will.

So, how are people in Hong Kong responding to these stricter social distancing measures?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, when I was out a couple of hours ago Rosemary shooting in central Hong Kong I didn't see a single person not wearing a face mask. So, at least in terms of that step, people in Hong Kong are listening and they're doing it.

And a lot of that has been happening throughout this pandemic because people remember the SARS outbreak in 2003 and all of the hundreds of people here in Hong Kong who died and the many more who got sick.

And this city was determined not to have a repeat of that, which is why they shut down the borders early and they -- and they've been, you know, consistently testing people who come in from airport.

Now they're testing more people in the community. They've upped the capacity to around 10,000 tests per day and as they test more people they're finding more cases.

The numbers just over the weekend crossed the 100 mark per day for the first time in this pandemic and this week will likely cross the 2,000 mark in terms of total cases.

The numbers are really small when you compare them to most other places in the world that are dealing with COVID-19, but they're big numbers here in Hong Kong and they're a big concern for Chief Executive Carrie Lam who spoke about this and, in fact, we're expecting to hear from her again in the next few minutes.


But here's what she had to say earlier.


CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): The situation is really critical and there is no sign the situation is being brought under control, that's why this morning I have called a high meeting level to consider our response and we know that later on today with these latest figures we've announced by the Center for Health Protection there would be more than 100 confirmed cases.

That is a single-day high since the start of the epidemic and we believe the public will be very much concerned and worried.


RIPLEY: Another thing that Hong Kong is doing right now, Rosemary, is trying to expand the capacity of its COVID-19 wards, because even with the numbers that we're seeing right now the wards are at close to 75 percent capacity.

The concern is, is that if more people become sick, because obviously there are people who are walking around Hong Kong who have the virus who probably don't know it and may be spreading it to others, the number of sick people could go up, particularly because a lot of these clusters are focused on elderly care centers.

And people who are older are more vulnerable in many cases and that -- the recent deaths that we've seen just in the last week and a half or so have all been senior citizens.

So, there is concern here and people are following the precautions, hoping it will be enough before this thing really takes off here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is fascinating to compare how different parts of the world respond to this, and there in Hong Kong only 2,000 cases, here in the United States nearly 4 million.

CNN's Will Ripley joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Well the coronavirus is surging in the U.S. south and a political fight over masks and other rules in Georgia has restaurants caught in the middle.

Plus, millions of Americans are set to loose some of the unemployment benefits at the end of the month. Ahead, what U.S. lawmakers may do to put a band-aid on that situation.

We're back with that and more in just a moment. [04:27:00]