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NFL Set to Begin Training Camps; Trump Set to Hold Coronavirus Task Force Briefing; Coronavirus Surging in California, Florida. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So, thank you so much for breaking it down for us and letting us know it's effective, what so many people have been adding to their daily routines.

Jacqueline Howard, thank you.

CNN's special coverage continues with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We will take it from here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Tuesday. You're watching CNN.

Let's dive on in.

And let me tell you the breaking news on the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the number of Americans who've been infected could be as many as six to 24 times higher than the total number of reported cases. That is according to the Centers for Disease Control, which analyzed results from 10 different cities and states between March and early May.

And the startling statistic comes as the U.S. inches closer and closer to four million confirmed cases. And while half of the nation is holding steady or showing a downward trend on new infections, the other half is still seeing an explosion; 27 states have now paused or rolled back their reopenings.

Hospitals nationwide continue to be pushed to their limits. We're now just 1,000 patients away from the peak that we reached in April. Think about that. And when it comes to testing, one major lab says Americans could be waiting as long as two weeks to learn their results.

All of this is happening as President Trump steps before the media in just a couple of hours for his first White House briefing on the pandemic since late April. In the months that followed, the U.S. added nearly three million cases and 90,000 deaths.

And while Dr. Deborah Birx was present for Trump's last appearance, the coordinator of the Coronavirus Task Force may not be there today. That is according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who tells CNN neither he nor Birx have even been told if they should be there in a couple of hours.

We will get back to that.

But let me start you off in Florida, where the state is reporting more than 9,400 new cases today. That is a slight drop from yesterday, but new data shows the number of available ICU beds continues to decline, with dozens of hospitals now asking the state for nursing help to handle the spike in COVID patients.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Miami.

And, Rosa, how are these hospitals coping right now?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, right now, it's not so much the need for equipment or for hospital beds, because, right now, a lot of these hospitals are converting regular beds into ICU beds.

What they need right now are human beings that can provide the medical care. As you mentioned, we're learning from the state that 43 hospitals from across the state are asking the state of Florida for nurses. They need nurses, case in point, right here in Jackson, where I am.

The state deployed 125 nurses recently. Well, now we're learning from Jackson that they have requested an additional 275 medical professionals, so they can meet demand. And here's why. More than 100 of their employees are out with COVID-19. They contracted COVID in the past 10 days.

And when we look at Miami-Dade County, ICUs have been operating at more than 100 percent for the past six days. And when we look at the state, more than 50, more than 50 ICU hospitals are operating at capacity.

Now, today, during a press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis said that, based on the data that he's looking at, his state is on the right track. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We're going to get through it. I think we are on the right -- right course. I think we will continue to see improvements. We just got to continue to keep doing, particularly the Floridians who are just doing the basic things that really make a difference. We appreciate what you're doing.


FLORES: Now, teachers don't think he's on the right track either when it comes to schools. They're suing the state to try to stop the state from forcing districts from reopening for in-person instruction starting in just a few weeks, Brooke.

This is a legal battle. Teachers have filed lawsuit arguing that reopening schools for in-person instruction is reckless, that it is unsafe for children, that it is unconstitutional. Governor Ron DeSantis has said that it is a parent's choice.

And his education commissioner has called the lawsuit frivolous -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I was talking to a teacher yesterday who said, as a teacher, you prepare for hurricanes in Florida, you prepare for, heaven forbid, school shootings. She's prepared to take a bullet for students. But in terms of going to these classes, she says she doesn't want to take a bullet home to her family.

Rosa Flores, thank you so much in Miami for all of that.

Want to take you now to California, the first state to issue a stay- at-home order. The numbers were headed in the right direction. But since reopening, the state is seeing a major spike in cases and in hospitalizations. The -- Los Angeles County -- that's the state's hardest-hit county -- just broke its record for daily hospitalizations for the fourth time in one week.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is back at it for us today in Los Angeles.

And so, Stephanie, the fourth time. What is happening in L.A.?


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the sixth day in a row that we have been above 2,100 for that number as well, Brooke.

So, obviously, these numbers are not what people want to see. And this is the epicenter of the outbreak in California, when you do look at those numbers. That is part of the concern here, also the positivity rate being aware it is here in the county.

But the California numbers just came out too for the previous day, and so I can give you an update there as well. We just surpassed 400,000 cases in California now. The cases that just came -- announced in a day, more than 9,000 were announced in a day.

The positivity rate is still trending higher at 7.5 percent over the last 14 days. That's still below the state's goal of keeping it below 8 percent. But, obviously, it is getting closer and closer, as we have seen hospitalizations up 2.5 percent over the day before and ICU hospital patients up more than 3 percent as well.

Now, when you look at what this is doing and how this is -- the fact that it looks like we're back in the spring again with these numbers, there is concerned that, when we get to the fall, what it's going to look like if we can't get control of it now.

Take a listen to Representative and Dr. Raul Ruiz. He represents a part of Riverside County, the eastern part of it, to the southeast of where we are. Listen to what he had to say.


REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): If our hospitals are requiring backup and our physicians nurses are in -- are fatigued and exhausted, and we're in the summer months, without the flu season hitting us hard, imagine where -- when -- we're going to be when we have the coronavirus, when we have bronchitis, when we have pneumonias, when we have the seasonal flu, on top of the coronavirus, that's weakening our immune system.

We're going to overburden the hospitals tenfold.


ELAM: And this is why, hearing what he's talking about there, the fear of this, the fact that people have become complacent and want to live normal lives and act like nothing is happening and there's not a pandemic, some of the jurisdictions around here are now requiring that people have on their masks full-time.

And they are out patrolling. And if you don't have them on, you can get a fine. That's happening here now -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: It's happening in places all across the country. That is the length they have to go to get people to mask up.

Stephanie Elam, thank you in Los Angeles.

Now to the race to the vaccine. A big pharmaceutical company is making a major prediction this afternoon. Listen to this. A top official at AstraZeneca telling Congress that it could have a vaccine ready by this September. That is if all goes well in clinical trials.

That is less than two months away.

So, let's start there with Dr. Celine Gounder, CNN medical analyst and former New York City assistant health commissioner.

And, Dr. Gounder, everything I have read about vaccines is like, the science has never moved this quickly. Do you think it is realistic that AstraZeneca could really make a vaccine available in September?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Brooke, I think this would be record time by far for producing a vaccine.

I think the real question is, how will people feel about taking a vaccine where we don't have long-term safety data yet? And we may not have the kinds of data we're used to having in terms of effectiveness and how long the immunity from a vaccine lasts.

So, this will still be what I would call an experimental vaccine, and I think most likely will be available to front-line health care workers and other high-risk populations in the beginning, because they're the ones that stand to benefit the most, despite some of those early risks.

BALDWIN: At that same hearing up on Capitol Hill, the CEO of Merck warned that this pandemic won't be the last or worst one that we face.

It took me a minute when I first -- when I first heard that myself to think, my goodness, I mean, do you agree with him? GOUNDER: Well, if anything, over the last two decades, we have seen

epidemics, pandemics emerge more and more quickly.

And this is a reflection of a number of different factors, whether that's population size, deforestation, climate change. All of these things make it more likely that a new infectious disease is going to emerge.

And so, yes, absolutely, I think that is quite right. We are right now concerned about the possible emergence of another pandemic flu, hopefully not this season, but we're definitely keeping our tabs on that.

And there are any number of other infectious diseases, viruses in particular, that we are worried could spread out of animal populations into humans at some point.

BALDWIN: OK. And even if it's not some super terrible flu this fall, I think we have all talked about the potential double whammy we will all be facing, right, with COVID and the flu.

I want to turn your attention to this new analysis from the CDC. It shows that many more Americans have had COVID than what's actually being indicated in the official number. So, in some cases, the number of people who've been infected is actually six to 24 times more than what has been reported.

Dr. Gounder, why is that, and then what does that mean for us moving forward?

GOUNDER: Well, we have been saying for some time, Brooke, that many of these infections are asymptomatic, meaning people do not have symptoms, are not even aware that they're infected.


And yet they can be spreading to others. And so we think about 40 percent of these infections are without symptoms. I think another thing to hammer home here, though, is, although many more people have been infected than we might have previously thought, we are nowhere near -- quote, unquote -- "herd immunity."

Herd immunity is when so many people are exposed and immune that the virus really has nowhere to move from one person to another. We're nowhere near that, and we don't -- we still don't know if infection yields immunity.

BALDWIN: Dr. Celine Gounder, got lots to talk about. I'm sure we will talk again. Thank you very, very much for just all of that.

Here's hoping -- well, we will see what happens with vaccines this fall.

The president, meantime, is sending more mixed messages ahead of his first coronavirus briefing in months. First, he appears without a mask just hours after saying that they are -- his word -- patriotic. And then his press secretary claims that he is getting tested multiple times a day, even though he continues to downplay the need for more testing.

And while many, many suffer miserable delays to get a test result, the NFL says it's going to test all of its players every single day. Let's talk about that with a former player who is also an M.D.

And an inside look at a Texas hospital that is overwhelmed with COVID- 19 patients.

Stay with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And you're watching CNN.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Here's a quote: "not worth the time and effort." That was President Trump's reason for scrapping his daily coronavirus briefings back in April, shortly after he was widely criticized for saying this:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?



Well, now, with cases surging and his poll numbers tumbling over his COVID response, the president has decided that today is a good time to be back in front of the cameras.

But there is one key question. Will two of the top doctors from his task force, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, actually be with him?

Kaitlan Collins is our CNN White House correspondent. She's up live for us, as is Dana Bash, our CNN chief political correspondent.

Ladies, welcome.

Kaitlan, first, just to you.

This morning, Dr. Fauci told CNN that neither he nor Dr. Birx have even been told if they should attend this briefing this afternoon. Do you have any updates on if in fact they will be there? And why would the White House even consider holding a briefing on a pandemic without doctors?


And still no update from the White House, because when they were asked about our reporting that none of the task force officials were expected to join the president, they just said, you will have to tune in, really just teasing people, instead of just telling people whether or not the health experts are going to be joining the president today.

And it comes after just not what Dr. Fauci told CNN earlier, but also Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, expressed similar confusion this morning on CBS, saying that they were still working out whether or not they were going to be joining the president or who, if anyone, would be joining him.

So, it will be notable if these briefings are returning without the health experts there, , of course, that's what created such a contrast in the earlier months, where the president would often say something, and a health official would give a very different analysis of what the president had said, though it's a good question, because, on the schedule that the White House put out last night, they did not call it a Coronavirus Task Force briefing, as they did in the month prior.

Instead, they just called it a news conference with President Trump himself. So, we are still going to be waiting to at 5:00 exactly what happens and who comes out to answer the nation's questions with the president.

BALDWIN: OK, so stay tuned, to your point on that.

Dana, let's talk about the president and how he tweeted out this photo of himself in a mask during his recent trip to Walter Reed, saying that wearing masks is patriotic.

But then flash forward a couple of hours, where he was at this fund- raiser not wearing one. He can't even stay on message for a couple of hours.


I mean, look, the tweet that he sent out was an attempt to get off the island that he is on with regard to masks, a real island. There are a few governors out there who might still be in that, I guess, now old Trump position that masks are unnecessary, but he was clearly losing ground on the mask issue and everything else.

And I was told point blank by a source familiar with his thinking that it is the polls. I mean, it sounds pretty obvious, knowing the way this president operates now. But it just is. I mean, he is underwater so badly when it comes to his prospects for reelection, and that is because of how he has handled or not handled the coronavirus.

And masks are across the board now being more and more mandated because the medical community believe that it is the -- one of the most important things to mitigate this.

So, that's -- the answer to your first question is why he couldn't stay on message.


BASH: I mean, how much time do you got?


BALDWIN: I mean, I know, I know, I know.

And speaking of him trying to get off of this island, you add to this that Kayleigh McEnany stood there at the White House earlier saying that the president is tested multiple times a day for COVID.

Yet, as we all know, he continuously downplays testing for everyone else.


BASH: Yes. No, it's true. And Kaitlan can speak to -- apparently, she tried to clean it up a little bit saying maybe only a couple days a week that he gets tested multiple times a day.


But when I saw that, the first thing I thought of was my friend Amanda, who is here in Washington, where the cases are not incredibly high right now, who is still waiting after two weeks to get her results of a test.

And that is happening across the country.


BASH: Never mind the physical time that you have to wait to get the test.

And so you have that contrast with the president who's just taking tests all day long. At least, that's the way that the White House press secretary made it sound, in order to not wear a mask. I mean, that contrast is so stark. And it really is impeding people getting back to normal, the way that he wants them to.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, you want to jump in on that?

COLLINS: Well, I think the one thing to note is, this comes as, in that same briefing, McEnany denied that the White House is trying to block a Republican priority in this next funding bill, which is to get more testing for grants to go to states, so they can increase testing--

BALDWIN: Exactly.

COLLINS: -- but also $10 billion for the CDC.

They actually had pushed to zero that out in a draft proposal over the weekend, which infuriated Republicans. And so it does seem to show a dichotomy in what's important here and what the priorities are with the White House and with the Senate Republicans. And they are still not on the same page about that when it comes to testing.

BALDWIN: Yes, speaking of being on an island, there you go.

Dana, Kaitlan, thank you both so much for all that great reporting out of Washington.

How about this? NFL players are set to get daily coronavirus tests, while much of the nation sees major delays in getting a test and their test results, to Dana's point a second ago.

A former NFL player who's now a doctor treating COVID patients joins me next with his opinion.



BALDWIN: NFL owners and the players union have reached a deal on coronavirus testing.

That agreement would mean daily tests for all players and certain team personnel during the first two weeks of training camp, which open this week for some teams.

And that is as much of the country suffers from widespread testing delays and severe wait times for the results of those tests.

So, joining me now, someone profoundly, uniquely qualified to talk about all of this, Dr. Myron Rolle. He is a neurosurgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a former NFL safety for the Tennessee Titans. And he also runs the Myron L. Rolle Foundation.

So, Dr. Rolle, a pleasure, sir. Welcome.

DR. MYRON ROLLE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Thanks for having me, Ms. Baldwin.

It's been an honor to watch you for many (AUDIO GAP) years.

BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness.

ROLLE: And to be on you now is (AUDIO GAP)

BALDWIN: Thank you. Don't Ms. Baldwin me, because it makes me feel like I'm 80 years old. So just call me Brooke, all right?


BALDWIN: You -- let's get to you.

You are seeing the effect of COVID every day. So the story out there is that so many people out in the country, regular folks, it's hard enough for them to get a test. When you finally do get your hands on a test, it's taking up to two weeks in some cases to get the result.

And, meantime, you have the NFL, administering and will be administering these daily tests. And I get the people love their football. But is that fair to everyone else? What do you think? ROLLE: I don't think it's fair, honestly.

We, at Mass General Hospital in Boston, have done a pretty good job of trying to curb the pandemic as best we can, being very proactive with all of our decisions, making sure that we had the right capacity to take care of these influx of patients. And we have seen our numbers go down.

And the NFL is sort of working in a silo in and of itself. It's separate and apart from the American team, the American fabric. I mean, you have to think about the whole community, in and of itself. People are still suffering. Numbers are still high. Hospitalizations are increasing, as we're seeing down in the South, maybe not so much where I am in Boston, but certainly in other parts of the country.

I think the NFL has a responsibility to the whole country to say, you know what, we have to be a part of this whole scheme or this whole push to try to curb this pandemic as best we can. Maybe doing all these tests is not the most appropriate thing at this particular time.

BALDWIN: I'm curious. Let me ask you this. I'm going to put you on the spot, and please don't name names, but I'm sure you're in touch with former players, current players, former players.

How do they -- have they shared with you -- do they share your same concern, is what I'm what I'm getting at?

ROLLE: Yes, they do, certainly.

A couple players who I'm still friends with, guys who I played with who are now coaches, scouts in the league, they are certainly concerned for their own safety, concerned for their family's safety. Whenever you play football, everyone thinks it's pretty much a neck down thing. You have to run fast, hit hard, throw the ball, catch the ball, do all these things, these physical attributes, your athletic prowess in your muscle down below.

But it's a really high cerebral thinking game, where you need to pattern recognize, you need to have memory recall, you need to be able to think through things very quickly.

And if you're thinking about, am I safe playing this game, am I going to transmit this virus that's very infectious, as we know, back to my family, back to my kids, back to my mother, my mother-in-law, people who are staying with me, am I going to be giving the best product on the field when I'm out there, it's probably not.

So, a lot of guys are very concerned about their own safety, their family's safety.