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Federal Judge in New Jersey Shot and Killed; Assistant Secretary at Health and Human Services Admiral Brett Giroir Interviewed on Testing Capacity for COVID-19 in U.S.; Rep. Jim Clyburn Remembers Civil Rights Icon John Lewis. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Georgia and North Carolina hitting new highs in their single day case counts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This virus preys on our division. It preys when we get exhausted. We have to be as vigilant right now as we were the first day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. And we do have breaking news overnight. A gunman opened fire at the front door of a federal judge's home in New Jersey, killing her 20-year-old son and critically injuring her husband. A source tells CNN that the gunman appeared to be wearing a FedEx uniform. Judge Esther Salas has presided over several high-profile cases, and we'll bring you the latest details.

Also breaking overnight, police firing tear gas at protesters in Portland, Oregon, and those protesters want answers about who these unidentified federal officers are. So do Democrats in Congress. The House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is going to join us in minutes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And 61,000 new cases of coronavirus reported overnight in the United States, 61,000 new cases. The death toll now tops 140,000 Americans. More than 12,000 new cases reported in Florida where dozens of hospital ICUs are at capacity. Arizona is reporting a record death toll as well. And the president, listen to this, he's bored with it. That's a remarkable quote in the "New York Times" this morning from a Republican political strategist. The report says that some in the White House, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows want to avoid drawing attention to the pandemic, as if people might not notice.

We're going to begin our coverage with Brynn Gingras who is live in North Brunswick, New Jersey, the scene of the deadly shooting at this federal judge's home. What are you learning this morning, Brynn? BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, this is a community right now that is in disbelief. We've been talking to many neighbors. What we know that it is a massive manhunt right now for one person, led by the FBI and the U.S. Marshal service. From initial reports, what we have learned is it happened in this house here behind me, the house of Judge Esther Salas, and her family, her husband and her son. Initial reports says the two of them, her husband and son, came to the door, and a gunman wearing a FedEx uniform -- it's unclear if he actually worked for FedEx or was in a disguise -- opened fire, killing the judge's 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl. Her husband, Mark, was brought to the hospital, and we're not clear about his condition at this point.

But there's still a lot of questions, exactly what went down here, the timeline of how this all happened. We're learning from neighbors it was quick. But really the motive, who would do such a thing, and that's what investigators are looking into, including looking into this history of the cases that not only the judge but also her husband handled. When we talk about the judge, she was a U.S. district federal judge here in New Jersey, and she handled some very high-profile case including the fraud case and sentencing of the "Real Housewives" Joe and Teresa Giudice. A couple years ago she was involved in the sentencing of a very notorious gang member in Newark, New Jersey, and really just a few months ago she was put on the civil class action suit against Deutsche Bank, which is looking into in part sort of its monitoring of the high-risk clients, including sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. So there's a lot of cases there. And then as I mentioned, her husband is a criminal defense attorney.

So a lot of questions. As I said, this is a community that is in disbelief. One neighbor talking about that 20-year-old son, Daniel, who is a college student at Catholic university, saying that he loved baseball. He loved to play basketball with his dad, and saying that really this is a family and a community that is heartbroken since this was their only child. Guys?

CAMEROTA: Brynn, thank you very much. So many questions about that horrible story. Thank you.

Now to coronavirus cases. They are continuing to surge in the U.S., and the turnaround time for COVID tests is woefully slow in some places. But President Trump does not acknowledge the surge in serious cases or the slowness of testing.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Cases are up. When cases are up, many of those cases shouldn't even be cases. Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world, and we have the most testing. No country has ever done what we've done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now to talk about all this is Admiral Brett Giroir. He's the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He is also the White House Coronavirus Task Force official in charge of testing. So Admiral, you're the perfect person for us to talk to this morning. Thank you for being here.

President Trump repeatedly said yesterday that the U.S. doesn't have more cases, it just has better testing than other countries. But let me just put up the graph for everyone to see. This is from Johns Hopkins University. You can see on this graph, the United States does have more cases than China and the European Union and Brazil and Russia and the U.K. So is this really about more testing, or are we having a surge along our southern tier of this country?


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ASSISTANT SECRETARY: So thank you for having me on. And yes, we are having increase in cases predominantly in the sun belt. We do know we are having more cases now than we did a week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, four weeks ago. That is very clear.

What I would like to point out, though, is that compared to where we were in April, we probably are having really less cases, slightly less cases than in April because of more testing, but there is no question that we're having a surge right now. We are approaching this with extreme seriousness. We have CDC teams in every single state. We visited 19 sites with surge teams. We're having surge testing. We're sending medical professionals. So it really is all hands on deck. This is serious, but we know how to stop this, and I'm sure you'll be asking me that. But indoor bars, indoor restaurants, mask face coverings, incredibly important, physical distancing and handwashing.

CAMEROTA: And we will get to all of that. But first, just about testing specifically. Quest Diagnostics said last week that their average turnaround time for someone to get the results of a coronavirus test is seven days, meaning sometimes less, sometimes more. Anecdotally I'm sure you've heard many people say they wait seven to 10 days to get their coronavirus test results back. How does a seven-day wait stop the spread of COVID-19?

GIROIR: So we're all working to decrease the turnaround times, but let me put this into context. About half the testing in the country is either point-of-care, meaning 15 minutes or less, or at a local hospital, which is usually within one shift or certainly 24 hours. The big commercial labs of which Quest is one of them, he follow the turnarounds every day. And as of yesterday, over the last seven days, one state was at five days average, seven states between four and five days, 18 states were between two and three days, and the rest were between three and four days. That is not optimum. We want to reduce that. It will be reduced. Even Quest you talked about, received their emergency use authorization for pooling on Friday. That means they can put several samples into one, so that's one approach. And we're also really surging point of care testing. As we announced every single nursing home will get point of care test to support the protection of our vulnerable but also ease the burden on the major labs like Quest and LabCorp. CAMEROTA: One of the things that labs say they have shortages still

of swabs and chemical reagents. Is there anything that the Trump administration, the federal government can do to help with those supplies? I mean the Defense Production Act, something like that?

GIROIR: So we have a whole team that deals with this every single day, and if you ask a lab here or there, there may be talk about shortages or not getting what they want as a preference. But right now because we used the Defense Production Act and because we've mobilized the industry, the federal government procures and distributes swabs and transport media to every state in the quantities they need. So basically, they place their order, we distribute them, and then the states distribute them to all the subcomponents.

In terms of lab reagents, it is tight. There are certain lab reagents that everybody wants and not everybody can get. So we match the allocation to every state to make sure they meet their state testing goals. And remember, in June, the states really crushed their testing goals of over 16 million tests, and now we're routinely doing 750,000 to 800,000 tests per day. On Friday I think our number was almost 850,000. So we are increasing. But this is a constant battle. That's why my team is working 24/7, including all weekend to make sure we match those supplies.

CAMEROTA: But just help us -- look, we know you're working hard and we know that you're working around the clock, but just help us understand why five months into this, labs say they're still struggling with the supplies, and the testing at least in some places is still seven to 10 days. How can we still be in this position?

GIROIR: So we're in this position because we're increasing our testing maximally. You have a situation where there is almost an infinite demand. When we started out, we had trouble making 1,000 or 2,000 tests a day. Then we had a plateau at 300,000 and 500,000, and now we're really going to be pushing 1 million tests a day. So we will do as many tests as possibly that we can.

Right now we need to make sure we prioritize those, and that's one thing we're importantly doing, number one, hospitalize the vulnerable, and we really do need to improve our turnaround times primarily in areas and counties of outbreaks. I know you were just talking to the Miami or Hialeah mayor, that's one area we're going to surge. We will have a surge site in Miami this week that hasn't been previously announced. We worked on that with Florida this weekend. We did Jacksonville a couple weeks ago. We're going to do Miami this week.

CAMEROTA: That's really good to know. One last question, Admiral, before I let you go. I know that you want to stop retesting people who test positive.


So, in other words, you believe, I think, that if someone is symptom free for three days, they no longer need to be tested because we're trying to, obviously, save tests, because there is, as we've discussed this, shortage in this delay time. But what does that mean? If somebody tests once positive, then how are they going to know when they can come out of quarantine and be safe to be around people again?

GIROIR: So it has always been a CDC guideline that if you are 10 days or more since the onset of your symptoms and you're three days or more symptom free, you do not need to be retested. There was an alternate strategy that said, OK, you can also have a strategy where you're tested twice with negative 24 hours apart. And I was back there. This is when we were repatriating people and putting them into military bases. That is no longer necessary. We have lots of data now that shows that after eight or nine days you cannot transmit the virus. The virus is gone.

So what we are seeing now is people getting retested four, five, six, eight times. And that's completely unnecessary. And we also know that the PCR tests can be positive but you're not infectious. And so it's actually keeping people out of the workplace, out of schools, when they really don't need to be. So it wastes resources, it clogs up the system, and it's unnecessary.

Now, the exception is if you're in the hospital or very sick or immunocompromised, you can shed virus for much longer. That's a different situation. So you do not need to be retested if you follow those clinical guidelines.

CAMEROTA: Admiral Brett Giroir, we really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for giving us the status report on testing.

GIROIR: Thank you. Thank you.


BERMAN: Joining us now is Dr. Richard Besser. He's the former acting director of the CDC and now the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Rich, it's interesting to hear the admiral say that testing is basically OK and the delays rally aren't as bad as we're hearing when Francis Collins, who is director of the NIH inside the government, Anthony Fauci's boss, went on TV yesterday and said the average test delay is too long and that really undercuts the value of testing.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: I think Admiral Giroir is living in an alternate universe when it comes to testing. There's absolutely no way to be able to contain community transmission if you can't get that turnaround time down to two to three days maximum. And what we're hearing from around the country are the statistics that you were quoting, average turnaround times of a week and even longer.

And with that, there's no way to know whether the people who have had contact with a true case have the information they need to know they need to go into quarantine, whether they've been provided the material they need to go into quarantine, and whether you're able to get the transmission under control. It's even worse than that, though, because we're not seeing data in any of these communities, broken down by zip code, broken down by race and ethnicity. And as we know, this pandemic so far has been hitting communities of color much harder than other areas, and we don't know there's been any change in that in the pandemic to date.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Besser, what I heard Admiral Giroir saying there is that they're light years away from where they began. So they've made progress, they have more tests now than we did five months ago. They're surging supplies and capacity to the places that need it. That's what I hear him saying, but it still doesn't square with what we need. Should we have been able to ramp up in these past five months somehow?

BESSER: Well, there are more tests available than there were, and if you are in a strategy where everyone was still staying at home, it wouldn't matter as much, whether the turnaround time was two days, three days, or five days. But as you're trying to reopen the economy and get people back to work and get children back to school, your strategy switches, and you need to be able to identify every case very quickly, even asymptomatic cases because they can spread. You have to be able to then identify their contacts and then provide what people need for isolation and quarantine. So this transition from an everyone under lockdown to opening up is what makes this turnaround time so critically important.

BERMAN: Also, to compare the response now to what it was at the beginning when there was a catastrophic testing failure, I'm not sure that that's the best measurement they should be doing.

Dr. Besser, I do want to get your take on the study out of South Korea involving children because this seems to really get to the questions about whether or not it's safe to open schools. This was a big study of a lot of kids looking backwards during the pandemic when it was at its worst in South Korea, and it found that children 10 years old and older, middle school basically and older, spread the virus just the same as adults. And kids younger than 10 not nearly as much, but still not zero, about half as much or 40 percent as much. How should this study -- first of all, how do we determine this study versus other things we've heard? And how should this inform whether or not we should open schools?

BESSER: I think it's one more piece of evidence. And when it comes to the role children play in transmission and communities, the data is still coming in.


But the higher-level question is whether or not you can open schools while there's still widespread community transmission. And when you look across Europe, when you look across countries that have successfully opened schools, none of them have tried to do it while the pandemic was raging in their community, and I don't think that there's any way that can be successful here. You need to make sure that all schools have the resources they need to prepare and then that you have it under control in the community. There's some states that have done that, and they should be moving towards reopening but only if every school, schools in low-income communities as well wealthy communities, have been able to retrofit and hire staff and prepare so that they can bring children in safely.

And it's not just about the kids. You know, we're not talking enough about teachers and staff, those who may be at much higher risk.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, NEW DAY HOST: Dr. Richard Besser, great to have your expertise. Thank you very much.

BESSER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Stimulus talks resume today as millions of unemployed Americans need more help. Can Congress come to an agreement? The House Majority Whip is going to join us next.


JOHN BERMAN, NEW DAY HOST: Here this morning, House Democrats are demanding an investigation into the federal law enforcement actions against protestors in Portland, Oregon. They say the Trump administration's actions abused emergency authorities and violates constitutional rights. Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn. He's the House Majority Whip. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us.


And I do want to say we are going to speak at length about the death of your close friend and really American icon, Congressman John Lewis, in a moment, and I am sorry for that loss.

First, the news of the day, the Democrats calling for an investigation into what's happening in Portland. What do you want to know?

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC) MAJORITY WHIP: I really would like to know who ordered those people to be there. The way I understand things it seems that somebody had to be deputized by the attorney general or some order from him to do what they were doing. And so, I believe that law enforcement of that nature should be left up to local communities, and these communities if they want help they will then summon the federal government to intercede. That's the way it's been done for as long as I have been following this sort of thing. For all of a sudden these people to go in there, nothing from the governor, nothing from local law enforcement, just show up with their faces covered in unmarked cars. This commercial that we are now hearing, this ad from the Lincoln Project is exactly what we're about to experience in this country. That is the beginning of the ending of this democracy. That kind of activity is the activity of a police state, and this president and this attorney general seem to be doing everything they possibly can to impose Gestapo activities in local communities, and that is what I have been warning about for a long time. I do believe that this election is all about the preservation of the greatest democracy that this country has ever known.

BERMAN: Congressman John Lewis passed away over the weekend. You have known him I lost track for how many years but since 1960 or '61. A long time he's been a friend of yours, and I am very sorry for you personal loss here. I want to play some of Congressman Lewis so our viewers can hear his voice again.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): Never give up. Never give in. Stand up. Speak up when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just. You have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet.


BERMAN: What is it going to be like to go back to work in Washington, in Congress without him for you?

CLYBURN: It's going to be tough. John and I first met in October 1960 when we were on the campus of Morehouse College giving organizational advice (ph) to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. And John and I really came up through that effort having met our spouses in this movement. They became fast friends. Lillian, his wife, was a librarian, and so was Emily, my wife. And you know, when you come together like that and then your families begin to meld, it's kind of hard when you get here. For 27 years we sat on the floor of the House together, and often we would sit and talk, reflecting on those days back in 1960.

And John was so anxious and so was I about this current Black Lives Matter movement. The breakthrough that this movement has had and the success that has had diversified its ranks, making itself a body of what this country's all about. And we often talked about how we lost control back in the 60s when John was ousted (ph) as Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNICC as people called us. He was very concerned about that and we did not want to see this happen this time.

And so, we talked about that, and that's why I spoke out so forcefully. I heard people yelling defund the police. It reminded me of burn, baby, burn back in the 60s. That's what destroyed our movement. We want to make sure that Black Lives Matter has the kind of success that we did not have back in the 1960s, and we can do that. And we really were concerned, and I said to John - I talked to John the Saturday before he passed. We expressed our love for each other, and - but I knew then I was probably talking to him for the last time.


BERMAN: What do you want to do in his memory? There are a couple of concrete things you want to see happen. Number one, a voting rights act in his name and also renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after him. Talk to me about that.

CLYBURN: Well, you know, when the Supreme Court made its decision in that now infamous case of Shelby v. Holder seven years ago, it took away the formula that had been carefully constructed in Section 4 of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

That formula needed to be updated according to the Roberts decision. So Congress -- the House of Representatives went about developing that data in a bipartisan way. And we have now passed an updated version of this Civil Rights Act -- a voting rights law of 1965. We believe that it would be fitting and proper for the Senate to take that bill that we have already sent to them, H.R. 4, rename it the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 and send it back to us here in the House with that amendment. We will pass it forthright and I really believe that that would be a fitting and proper way to honor the life and the legacy of John Robert Lewis.

Now, as for the local community, I know there are some people who think that the Edmund Pettus Bridge need to be there as a constant reminder. Well, that's why we have museums, that's why we have parks. You can have an Edmund Pettus Memorial Park if you want to.

I just believe it would be fitting for the people of Selma, the people of Alabama to demonstrate that there is a new day in Alabama if it were to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named after a guy who was the grand wizard of Alabama Ku Klux Klan. Come on. What fitting -- what better way to show the transition in this country than to take his name off that bridge?

Now, I'm don't believe in destroying property. Take a picture of it. Put the picture in a museum someplace. Take his name off, repaint it. I never liked that bridge; it's so drab and dreary. Even when I was marching across it with John Lewis there was something about that bridge that just seemed morbid to me. They need to liven that bridge up with a new name and I really believe that would be fitting for the local community.

BERMAN: Well, his name would certainly liven it up, as you say.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, again, we are sorry for your loss. Thank you very much for being with us this morning.

CLYBURN: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, the president, again, made the claim the coronavirus will just disappear. New reporting on what some of his closest advisors now believe next.