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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Admits Coronavirus Crisis Will Probably Get Worse Before it Gets Better, But Fails to Lay Out a Plan to Fix it; President Trump Resumes Coronavirus Briefing But Without Top Doctors; Dr. Fauci: "I was not Invited"; CDC Study Finds Actual Number of Coronavirus Cases in U.S. May be up to 24 Times Higher in Some Places; Trump Suggests He Could Expand Funding for Testing as Major Lab Reports Two-Week Delay for Some Results. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 21, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Trump admitting the coronavirus pandemic will get worse before it gets better, as the number of cases in the U.S. is now just shy of 4 million.
Plus, alarming new data coming from the CDC, the agency now saying there are likely many more people infected with coronavirus than is reported. Up to 24 times more in some places.
And 18 days, that's how long one man had to wait to find out he tested positive for COVID. Why the delay? CNN investigates. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. The President admitting the coronavirus pandemic is about to get a lot worse in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better. Something I don't like saying about things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Which is all the more surprising because as we all well know, when the President doesn't like something, he just ignores it as he's been doing with the pandemic. And now the President no longer able to ignore the reality. On the ground, more than 3.8 million cases in the United States. In fact, in the past 17 days, the U.S. reported more than 1 million new cases, astonishing.
The death toll now more than 141,000 people killed, 19 states in fact reporting an increase in their death rates. At least 27 states have paused or now rolling back their plans to reopen. It is a growing crisis in this country very clearly and today the President held what was billed as a coronavirus briefing, his first since April. Only there were no doctors, and no experts and no plans as to what he is going to do now to slow the spread that we are still seeing and increasing.
Instead, the President tried to convince us to now believe to not believe our eyes, not believe our ears and not believe our recent memory, because he's now suggesting that he's always been in support of wearing masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have the mask right here. I carry it and I will use it gladly, no problem with it. And I've said that and I say if you can use the mask when you can use the mask, if you're close to each other, if you're in a group, I would put it on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Look, that is legitimately a good message. That is the message that experts across the country have been calling for since April. Yet this is now for the President a do as I say not as I do situation, because the President said that today, which you just saw, but did not wear a mask when he was here with a group of people at the Trump Hotel last night while others were wearing masks and he has made no secret that he does not like masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The masks, it's going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it.
I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, it's somehow - I don't see it for myself.
They've learned about face masks, the good and the bad. By the way, it's not a one sided thing, believe it or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But for today, you apparently can count Trump as pro mask.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House for us. Kaitlan, what else do you hear from the President in this first briefing back?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, he said that his administration has had this relentless focus on the pandemic. Though the President himself certainly has it, because that was the first time he's taken questions on COVID-19 from reporters in that room since the month of April. The same month which is the last month that he attended a coronavirus task force meeting.
But what you did see from the President today is an acknowledgment that he has not made recently. And that's that this is going to get worse before it gets better he said, unfortunately. And he encouraged Americans to wear masks when they're outside of their home, though just moments later, he was forced to defend that video that you just showed where he was at Trump Hotel last night and he was near people where he was not wearing a mask and it's not clear that those people had been tested.
Though today he defended it by saying he was socially distance from those people. You can't really tell in the video. You may have noticed that he was appearing by himself in the briefing room today. The only person who joined him was the Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and no members of the task force appeared as we'd reported this morning we're not expected.
The President was asked why those members, the health experts of his administration were not there to answer questions with him about what's going on, he said Dr. Birx was just right outside. Though we should note that Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN at four o'clock that he had not been invited to this briefing.
So some people may remark on the President's shift in tone because he is actually acknowledging the pandemics, something he has not done in the last few weeks. But we should note that he also did repeat some of the false claims he's made in recent weeks that the U.S. has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, which is not true, and also that he believes that the coronavirus is just going to disappear one day, also something that he's been standing by.
And I do want to note one thing he contradicted the Press Secretary on earlier she said that sometimes he's tested multiple times a day. Kate, he said he cannot recall a time when he has gotten more than one test in a day.
BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT with me now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and also Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at George Washington University Hospital. He's advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush. Gentlemen, it's good to see you again.
Sanjay, one of the things we know because of reporting people I've spoken to have said this as well is the thing that changed the tone change made this decision to have this briefing is polling. So that is one thing that we do know. I mean, this was a press conference, more a press conference than a task force briefing, I think we could say. None of the task force members were there.
Dr. Fauci told CNN, as Kaitlan said, he wasn't even invited. The strangest thing was that Dr. Birx was right outside. I don't even understand that. But was this what you were looking for and to hear tonight?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's one of these things where I think it's good that there is some sort of acknowledgement from the President about this. I mean, where I live, Kate, there's still a population of people who still thinks this is pretty much a hoax, this whole thing. So the fact that the President is out there talking about it and
saying, as Kaitlan, just mentioned, it's going to get worse before it gets better may at least acknowledge that there's a problem here. But, look, you're absolutely right, I mean, I want to hear from the scientists, the doctors about a plan moving forward. We're still in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our lifetime.
I mean, sometimes people forget that and we need to hear what the plan is going forward. I want to hear about testing. I want to hear about schools, but I just want to have a national plan. Here's the plan. Here's what we need to do. Containment means less than one in a million new infections per day.
That's 350 people total per day would be getting infected. That would be the definition containment. That's the goal of how do we get there, that's what we need to be hearing from the President right now in the middle of this crisis.
BOLDUAN: I only chuckled because it almost seems impossible like we would get to that point.
BOLDUAN: Considering the numbers we're looking at right now, Sanjay. I mean, that's how far off of containment we are, folks.
Dr. Reiner, the President did make that admission this evening that everyone is paying attention to, it's probably he said going to get worse before it gets better. And he also said something, we played a little bit of it before, I want to play it again, something that you have been calling for, for quite some time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And we're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. We're instead asking Americans to use masks, socially distance and employ vigorous hygiene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Are you satisfied, Dr. Reiner?
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm happy to see the President say this pretty much unequivocally. But we've set the bar pretty low when we're congratulating the President on promoting the use of masks during a respiratory pandemic and he is doing it 109 days after the CDC recommended it. A period during which an additional 134,000 Americans die.
But here we are and I'm glad the President said it. But I want to echo some of the things that Sanjay said. Now, going forward, now that we have an unequivocal statement about face masks, let's hear the rest of it. Let's hear the President promote careful reopening of states or even more importantly a prudent closed closing of states where the pandemic is out of control. Let's have the President talk about only opening schools where it's feasible. Let's have the President start to talk about the flu season and promoting universal flu vaccination in the United States in preparation for when we are fortunate enough to have a COVID vaccine. Let's start paving the way. Let's start taking all these positive steps.
I'm happy to President did this today. We have a long way to go.
BOLDUAN: Yes. That's not an unreasonable thing to ask for and it's also can we just say it really plainly, it's also completely schizophrenia what we're hearing tonight, because we heard him say masks have an impact. We heard him basically read a statement that you both would have written that you should wear masks, you should wear masks, you should wear masks, but the President in an interview with Chris Wallace, as we've talked about last night, said masks can also cause problems. Masks can also be bad.
I mean, it's just completely schizophrenic. I fear what we're going to hear from him tomorrow. I mean, one thing he did talk about, Sanjay, was he was very optimistic about a vaccine. Let me play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The vaccines are coming and they're coming a lot sooner than anyone thought possible by years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A vaccine is much needed, no question, especially in light of this new study, finding that people are losing antibodies, losing immunity within a few weeks after getting COVID. Can you lay out, this is something that I know you've looked deeply into, what do we know right now about immunity? What does this mean for the race for a vaccine?
GUPTA: Yes. I'll preface by saying, I think, journalists and doctors are by nature skeptical of things. So when we hear the idea that the pace at which this vaccine development is happening is very quick, I dug into this, I talked to sources every day about this, Kate. And what I would say is that I think optimism is still warranted here.
We're still in early days and nothing will be proven until we can actually show this vaccine is safe and it's effective and we still have some time to get there. But I think the drumbeat of evidence so far has been encouraging for sure.
I think with regard to antibodies waning over time, they say that you may lose half your antibodies every 70 or so days according to a new study. I think that that's something that certainly vaccinologists, people who are really focused on this, are paying attention to. But there's all sorts of different ways to measure immunity.
As I, myself, am starting to recognize talking to these researchers, antibodies is an easy way to measure it. But the way that the body responds to an infection, through something known as T-cells and even something known as B-cells to some extent also play a significant role. And so just two things to keep in mind, one is that the antibodies alone may not be the only measure of immunity, people may still have immunity, even if their antibody levels wane.
And two is, Kate, just more anecdotally, we haven't seen a lot of reinfections in this country. If people's antibodies really waned after a few weeks, you would think that we would started to see some clusters of reinfections. We haven't as of yet and I hope we don't, so that's another clue that there should be some protection as well.
BOLDUAN: Well, that is interesting. That's a good way of putting it.
And Dr. Reiner, something else happened today that I want to ask you about. Republican Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, she was verbally attacked by some of her fellow Republicans for her support of Dr. Anthony Fauci. You're former Vice President Dick Cheney's longtime cardiologist, you know the Congresswoman quite well. What do you say to that, supporting the top infectious disease expert in the country is now as politically sensitive as wearing a mask?
REINER: Yes. I know Congresswoman Cheney quite well. I wrote a book with Liz and the Vice President several years ago and I have enormous respect for her. Representative gets on the other hand is the congressman who mocked the pandemic several months ago by wearing a gas mask on the floor of the House, he's also the guy who brought a holocaust denier to the State of the Union and I have no respect for him.
Look, there are members of the Republican caucus who have become the truth tellers, people like Liz Cheney and Gov. Hogan of my state and Sen. Romney. Those are the people who are telling the truth. The pandemic has become politicized and it has to stop. We have to focus on the facts and I applaud Liz for defending scientists like Tony Fauci. All of our politicians should do that.
BOLDUAN: If you know anything about Liz Cheney, getting verbally attacked by those members of Congress isn't going to stop her. That's for sure.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see both of you. Thank you so much.
OUTFRONT next, the CDC is now suggesting that the number of people infected with coronavirus could be much more than the official count that we have right now. We're talking 24 times higher in some areas.
Plus, massive testing delays. One of the top labs in the U.S. now admitting that it could take up to two weeks to get back results. Why? Drew Griffin investigates.
And as cases surge in Texas, we're going to take you to one hospital where doctors are struggling with a surge of new patients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's overwhelming. It's a tsunami what we're seeing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Tonight, new CDC data suggests the number of people infected with coronavirus could be up to 24 times higher in some places than what is publicly reported. Take South Florida, for example, the new CDC data says infections are underreported by at least 11 times. This as the state just saw its highest daily increase in new hospitals. Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Encouraging signs, the tally of new daily coronavirus cases nationwide falling below 60,000 for the first time in about a week and the positivity rate dipping under 8 percent for the first time since July 5th. And new cases now steady in 20 states and falling in five, still trouble spots abound in the South, the Midwest and the West with nine states and Puerto Rico seeing their highest seven-day average for new daily cases and hospitalizations continuing to climb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: This is why it's so important to get the message out. We're still at the beginning of this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES(voice over): This as a new CDC analysis reveals the number of actual COVID cases is likely much higher than the official tally, depending on the region, the number of people infected was sometimes six to 24 times the number of reported cases. More than 50 ICUs in Florida have reached capacity and 39 hospitals have asked the state for additional medical staff. Dozens of nurses have tested positive for the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA BAKER, RN, PRESIDENT, SEIU LOCAL 1991: We're running out of beds, and nurses, and caregivers and the trend is in the wrong direction. We're barely I'd say dancing on the head of a pin right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES(voice over): The surge in cases in many states supercharging the back to school debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: And the most important thing is what we do outside of schools before we reopen to lower the transmission rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES(voice over): One pediatrician arguing that while only a small proportion of children suffer serious complications from COVID, one child's hospitalization or death is one too many.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PEDIATRICIAN: Children deserve better than this. Now is the time to invest in the infrastructure to get kids back to school safely.
FEDRICK INGRAM, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: The startling statistic that you all need to know is that we have 23,000 children that have been tested positive for COVID-19 here in the State of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES(voice over): Florida's teachers union now suing to block Gov. Ron DeSantis' order to reopen schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAM: We simply cannot be reckless with our public school. That's not fair to our students and our teachers who want to get back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES(voice over): in fact, just this morning, Miami's Mayor announced summer camps there will be closed after at least three children tested positive for the virus.
JONES: And we just got some new numbers out of Florida where hospitalizations have risen 37 percent in just the 12 days since the states started releasing daily hospitalization data. And even though more than 50 hospitals in the state say their ICU have reached capacity, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a roundtable today, we're turning this thing back in a good direction, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Athena, thank you.
OUTFRONT for some more perspective, OUTFRONT with me now, Dr. Aileen Marty. She's a Professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International University. She's an advisor to the Mayor of Miami-Dade County. Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Marty, I really appreciate it.
I want to ask you about, first, about this alarming data from the CDC that there's likely many more cases of COVID out there than we know about right now, six to 24 times of the reported cases, depending on where you are, we were thinking about it just to paint a little picture for everyone back in early April in South Florida, there were 10,500 reported cases. But as the CDC suggests, in South Florida, it's likely at least 11 times worse than that, that would mean something like - more like 117,000 infections. I mean, what does that tell you? What do you do with that?
DR. AILEEN MARTY, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, FIU: Well, first of all, there's a lot of things we have to consider. And when you look at the CDC study, the CDC is conducting a number of different serological studies. The one you're referring to has a particular set of limitations that are very important for people to recognize.
Number one is it's a study that's based on blood that's coming from a number of different places in the United States and going to two labs and then go into the CDC. And it's from people who are hospitalized or going to the hospital for routine checkups. So it's not the general population that's being looked at and that's an important thing to know.
The second thing is the ELISA test that was used to do that study also has a look little bit of an ability to detect some ordinary coronaviruses. So there's a tiny bit of problem from that as well. But even with all of that, that I'm just telling you, it's still an incredibly important study and very significant in terms of the total population of people that have been infected with this virus, but it's still way below the total numbers. That would be significant if we wanted to talk about herd immunity, which is not something I'm even sure we can ever have with the SARS2 virus.
BOLDUAN: Yes. It's almost like you would hope that there'd be a silver lining with it and everything we're hearing is very unlikely that it would get to that herd immunity level at all when we think of this virus. Florida set a new record today for the for the number of people requiring hospital care for COVID. As Athena Jones was saying, in just 12 days, hospitalizations have risen 37 percent and 11 hospitals in Miami-Dade County alone are out of ICU beds. But I want to play with that in mind what the Governor said today, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: We've got a health system that's working. We've seen obviously the hospital censuses really stabilize in most parts of the State, some of them have even declined, which is a good sign as well. So I think that we're going to get through it. I think we are on the right course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: From your perspective right now, is the state on the right course?
MARTY: From my perspective right now, we are in a desperate situation. Here in Miami-Dade, the number of admissions per day continues to go up. And as you mentioned, our use of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators, is at critical levels and we are bringing in respiratory therapists, physicians, nurses, nursing assistants to try and get these patients taken care of, but it's extremely challenging.
BOLDUAN: Every day it's just another day. It almost compounds. Doctor, thank you for what you do. Thanks for coming on.
OUTFRONT for us next, testing results taking up to two weeks to come back. How these delays are undermining the effort to contain the virus. Drew Griffin investigates.
And the man suspected of killing the son of a federal judge, he may be linked to the death of another person in California.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump suggesting he's now open to putting more money towards coronavirus testing. This comes after it was revealed the White House was pushing back on ramping up funding for testing, tracing and the CDC. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think that we are doing tremendous amount of testing, but if the doctors and the professionals feel that even though we're at a level that nobody ever dreamt possible that they would like to do more, I'm OK with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now, one major testing lab company says some people may have to wait up to two weeks to get results back as they struggle to keep up with all of the testing demand. Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT. Drew, what's behind these really incredible delays we're talking about now six months into the pandemic?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, we are behind in testing. We remain behind in testing and talking about ramping up now means we're going to continue to be behind in testing. The numbers don't lie. We're doing incredible amounts of testing. The President is right, 50 million tests in the United States, hundreds of thousands a day.
The problem, though, is we need more of it. So many people are testing positive, Kate, that it's just increasing demand for even more testing. In fact, labs tell us it's an infinite demand and they just can't catch up. They don't have the capacity even as they have continually increased capacity. You'll lead to things like Quest Diagnostics, which released its turnaround times yesterday. Turnaround time of about two weeks or up to two weeks.
That means for an average person, it's going to take two weeks from the time your swab or your spit in a cup until you find out whether or not you actually have this COVID disease. This is really unacceptable in any way, shape or form in trying to contain this.
And not only do we have a lack of testing that's not keeping up with the demand, the old problem of supplies has come back. Mayo Clinic telling us that supplies are an issue, reagent supplies. And as they said, any little hiccup in the supply chain, it creates a ripple down the way leading to ever more delays on this testing.
So, we remain very much behind. And, Kate, they're looking ahead, they're looking to school starting, they're looking to all that pressure for even more testing as kids go back to school and we're just not prepared for it.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And, Drew, with the waits this long, especially when you're talking about reopening society, like bringing kids back to school, doesn't that make trying to contain the virus difficult but almost impossible when it comes to contact tracing?
GRIFFIN: Yeah. I mean, the idea of testing was -- right -- you test somebody on a micro level, you determine that they are sick, you isolate that person, and you go find everybody that person was in contact with. Well, if you're waiting two weeks to find out if that person's sick, it means finding everybody that person has been in contact with almost impossible.
The bigger issue though, as Dr. Sanjay Gupta was talking about today is the virus now is so -- it's fast-spreading, Kate. It's beyond testing. You can't get enough contact tracing going on to try to contain it at this point. The virus load has to come down before it's even possible.
BOLDUAN: Drew, thank you so much.
Joining me right now is Tanner Melvin. His story gets directly at this problem with these delays in testing. He had to wait 18 days to get his COVID test results back to learn that he had the virus the whole time.
Tanner, thank you very much for being here. You were tested at the very end of June. You finally received your results this weekend, 18 days later.
I mean, first off, how are you feeling now?
TANNER MELVIN, SAYS IT TOOK 18 DAYS TO GET CORONAVIRUS TEST RESULTS: I'm feeling a lot better. Thank you for asking, Kate. I appreciate it.
My wife and I both are doing a lot better. She's about four or five days behind me in symptoms, but we're both doing a lot better. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Eighteen days is --
MELVIN: Yeah. BOLDUAN: -- on the extreme end of waiting. But it is ridiculous still
how long you would have to -- how long you had to wait. I mean, what was it like waiting 18 days to find out?
MELVIN: Definitely like a roller coaster. You know, the first -- when it got to 7 days, I knew something was wrong. And then by the 15th day, we actually made a statement about it. And it was just very unnerving and very frustrating. We know that a lot of people doing a lot worse off and we got to a point where we realized that we were doing OK but we still didn't really know what was going on.
BOLDUAN: Yes, and that's the thing. It can get worse -- it can get bad really fast. And that's something that scares a lot of people. I'm sure you've thought about this. What -- what would it have -- how would it have been different if you had received your results in let's say what should be a turn around time of a day or two days? What would have been different for you?
MELVIN: For us, in particular, I don't think a whole lot. So, that's kind of why we wanted to start talking about it, because we're very fortunate. We were very fortunate in our symptoms and how fast it actually went through our household, the disease did, or COVID.
But, you know, there are a lot of people out there that aren't as lucky. They don't have the support systems that my wife Erin and I have. And that's why we wanted to discuss it publicly within our friend group and now here with you.
I don't know if anything would have changed. We would have known. We would have had peace of mind, but we continued to do our isolation, our self-quarantine and cleaning.
You know, we had a system down. We continued that. We continue that to this day, but we're a little bit more open now.
BOLDUAN: And you told my producers that you and your wife, you were very vigilant. You were wearing masks, you were social distancing, you were really taking precautions. Do you know how you got infected?
MELVIN: Absolutely not. I wish we did just so that we could have some type of tracing. But we really looked back at individuals, groups, any type of interaction on that level. I even made a call to some friends that I had seen back home weeks before this actually happened just in case.
One of my best friend's mother and father, I had actually seen, so I checked in with them. Everybody's great. Everybody's happy and healthy.
And so, we're really just not sure about where we did get it.
BOLDUAN: That's the really -- that's the scary part. I hear that from so many people. You know, a lot of people I don't think get it how important getting a test result that quickly is for an entire -- not just your friend group or your family group but for your community.
What do you say to someone who might -- who isn't concerned about how long it's going to get this -- to turn around these results?
MELVIN: Well, try not to limit yourself. Try to understand that there are people out there that really do need these results in an extremely quick manner. Maybe it's job related. Maybe it is health related.
It's very difficult at this time. And I just want people to think and to understand that masks, whatever, you know, stuff that's going on, this type of tracing and these test results, getting this back in a timely manner is a matter of life and death for some people.
BURNETT: No kidding. Tanner, thank you. So glad that you're doing okay. My best to your wife. Thank you so much.
MELVIN: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT for us next, Texas surpassing 4,000 deaths now. We're going to take you to one hospital where the situation is growing more dire by the day.
And the mayors of six major cities telling the Trump administration they do not want federal officers on their streets. What's the administration's response? Kansas City's mayor is my guest.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news, Texas reporting a record number of hospitalizations with nearly 11,000 coronavirus patients now. One of the hardest hit counties in the state is now declaring a shelter-in- place order to try to slow this down.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the daily routine for Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. When he gets dressed, it looks like he's getting ready to be launched into another world. That's exactly what it's like to work in the COVID-19 unit of a South Texas hospital.
DR. FEDERICO VALLEJO, CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: It's overwhelming. It's a tsunami, what we're seeing right now.
LAVANDERA: Coronavirus patients have filled the hospital where Dr. Vallejo works. On most days, Dr. Vallejo says he's treating about 70 different patients, four to five times more than he usually sees in a single day.
VALLEJO: I have never had to sign as many death certificates that I have been signing the last couple of weeks. Talking to these families has been very, very difficult. LAVANDERA (on camera): Can you describe the suffering that you've seen
among these patients?
VALLEJO: This a disease that affects the lung, and they would have trouble with the breathing.
And when it happens, it's heartbreaking. It is so difficult to watch them say good-bye to their relatives by picking up a phone saying , I'm having more trouble, I'm having more trouble, I don't know what's going to happen next.
I see nurses crying all the time. I see doctors breaking down all the time. But then again, that is what we do.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): South Texas is the COVID-19 hot spot inside the Texas hot spot. Hospital officials are warning that hospital bed and ICU space are running out, nursing and doctor teams are stretched to the limit.
(on camera): Do you feel when you walk into these COVID units, that it's like a parallel universe?
DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: It's definitely a parallel universe. If they only knew what lurked behind those walls, if they can only have x-ray vision and see the pain and the suffering.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dr. Ivan Melendez is the Hidalgo County health authority based in McAllen, Texas.
He says the COVID units are filled with the sound of patients gasping for air. Many needing ventilators and gut-wrenching conversations.
MELENDEZ: So, you have people telling you, you know, Doc, please don't put me on that, don't put me on that. And you struggle because that's what they need. And, finally, they just give up and they say go ahead. But, you know, you may be the last person I ever talk to, so please tell my family, tell my parents, tell my kids that I love them and that I fought hard.
LAVANDERA: Jessica Ortiz says her twin brother Jubal Ortiz fought the virus for almost two weeks. The 27-year-old worked as a security guard at a jewelry store.
JESSICA ORTIZ, SISTER OF JUBAL ORTZ: It hurts. (INAUDIBLE) someone, I was here for you. Sorry.
LAVANDERA: Jubal died on July 3rd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fought long and hard. We all know you.
LAVANDERA: At the funeral, friends and family paid respects through a plastic shield over the casket. There was a fear his body might still be contagious.
ORTIZ: He meant the world. I just wish it wasn't him. I wish I had him with me because he didn't live his life yet. LAVANDERA: Jessica is left with this last image of her brother, a
screen recording of one of their last conversations, Jubal Ortiz waving good-bye.
LAVANDERA: And, Kate, you know, one of the things that everyone that we talked to is really struggling with is feelings of anger and frustration. The doctors say they need more hospital bed space, equipment, relief for the overwhelmed nursing staff and technicians. Jessica Ortiz is wondering if her brother would still be alive had politicians not rushed to reopen the economy and he hadn't had to go back to work -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: That is heartbreaking and so important to continue bringing light and bringing a spotlight to their stories because it is a real -- it's just heartbreaking.
Thank you, Ed. My God, my God.
LAVANDERA: You bet.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us -- OUTFRONT for us next, six city mayors are trying to stop the administration from sending federal forces to their cities, but do they have the power to stop the president? The mayor of Kansas City is next.
Plus, the clues that could link the suspect in the fatal shooting at a federal judge's home to another deadly shooting in California.
BOLDUAN: New tonight, stay out. Mayors of six large cities across the country are demanding that federal law enforcement agents be kept out of their cities. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, they write this in part: I'll read part of it. It is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes, the president and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder.
This after we've seen ongoing clashes between protesters and officers in Portland, Oregon, amid calls for racial justice.
OUTFRONT with me now, the Democratic mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Quinton Lucas. He's one of the mayors who signed on to this letter.
Mayor, thank you for being here.
Why did you sign on to this letter? And have you heard anything back?
MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D), KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: We have not heard anything back. I think the reason that I signed on and the other mayors signed on was because we've had great concern. When you look at what's happening in Portland, that I think the federal involvement is pouring fuel on the fire.
We have a lot of issues going on right now in American cities. What we don't need is actually further conflagration relating to having any number of unmarked officers that are coming in and, frankly, scaring the public more than I think is necessary when we already have local police departments that can address a number of the issues.
So, that's why we sent the letter. We wanted to make it clear that we want only support when asked, not necessarily just folks intervening.
BOLDUAN: And that's what I want to ask you about because protesters this weekend in Kansas City, they all sort of coming after you in part, saying that you're supporting what's called Operation Legend, which is a federal law enforcement surge program that was announced this month to send federal agents to your city. So, are you still supporting this program while also signing on to this letter?
LUCAS: I think the short answer is yes. I think there is a way you can say we still have -- we like having support from federal law enforcement to do things like investigations of unsolved murders, investigation of ballistics, those sorts of things that are distinct, where our police department is still leading. That's the situation with federal involvement here.
And every one of our cities, we have FBI agents, ATF agents, et cetera. What I have concerns with, and what I think most mayors will have concerns with is not your local FBI branch helping you out with unsolved homicides, particularly unsolved homicides of young people. It's instead, folks coming in to arrest protesters, folks coming in who aren't either to your local police department or talking to, or communicating with mayors and frankly, our cities being used as political battle grounds, I think the president's advantage.
BOLDUAN: Look, if the president wants to send in a Portland-style deployment, I guess I can put it that way, to Kansas City -- what will you do? What can you do to stop them?
LUCAS: Well, I think step one -- you know, hope springs eternal, that the president will listen to leaders in every one of these jurisdictions around the country. We know our communities. We know their challenges, but we also know the assets that we have here to address any number of issues.
So, that's why you have the letter sent first.
I've also reached out to my congressional delegation. I have two Republican senators, a number of Congress people around this area who also have, I think, helped push forward that message. But ultimately, I think in the same way that you are seeing people on the streets making noise, we need to as elected officials continue to make it clear to the White House, to the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, that we're not interested in just an outside occupying force that is actually supplanting our police. I mean, this is the interesting part. At the time people are
complaining about police who may not know communities, bringing in law enforcement agents from a thousand miles away is not the cure necessarily, particularly when it's dealing with protest activity.
BOLDUAN: Look -- and you've not been quiet, that's for sure. You've been outspoken and critical to some of the people that are turning out to the protest. You said -- I was reading one tweet, you said, I'll be dammed if I let fake-primarily non-black-allies like those coming out tonight claim some high moral ground.
What's going on?
LUCAS: You know, what's going on there is very simply this. I actually saw an interview with Mayor London Breed of San Francisco that said several things. There are a lot of people that I think are using the language, the narrative or Black Lives Matter movement but don't seem to give a damn an about black people want back in our communities.
And so, look, here's the deal, right? We do have clear issues with violent crime in Kansas City. We have issues where we want to solve more crimes. Those are important steps. And they're not unimportant.
We also want to make sure that yeah, as we're looking at what are the cures and solutions, we're actually hearing from the people most impacted, not people who are coming from nearby college towns, which is one of our arrestees from this weekend, not people that are coming to I think distract and distort what the movement is. You know, I have talked to lots of people who've been protesting, lots of younger black folks protesting, and I think they said they want to make sure their voices are heard, not just taken over by other forces.
BOLDUAN: I'm looking to hear if you get a response from Bill Barr to at least this letter. Mayor, thank you for coming in.
LUCAS: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, could the suspect of the deadly shooting of a federal judge's home be linked to another deadly shooting?
BOLDUAN: He was full of rage. That's what a former long-time associate is saying about Roy Den Hollander, the suspect in the attack of a New Jersey federal judge's family. Investigators are now looking whether he's connected to a similar incident in California.
Alexandra Field is OUTFRONT.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new questions about the suspected killer who appeared to be dressed in a FedEx uniform to carry out a deadly shooting at a New Jersey home of Federal Judge Esther Salas. Roy Den Hollander, a self-described men's right attorney, was found dead in apparent suicide the day after the shootings that killed Salas' 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl and left her husband Mark Anderl badly injured.
He's seen here on "The Colbert Report" in 2011.
ROY DEN HOLLANDER, SUSPECTED KILLER: I'm going to fight the feminist until my last dollar, my last breath, and if there's anything after death, I will fight them for eternity.
FIELD: Investigators are now looking at whether Den Hollander is connected to another deadly shooting in California. On July 11th, a gunman also reportedly dressed in a FedEx uniform killed Marc Angelucci, another self-described men's rights activist. Both Angelucci and Den Hollander had once been part of the same group, protesting what's described as legal discrimination against men.
Investigators are also looking into evidence that could suggest Den Hollander had a broader plan, a search of his belongings turned up a FedEx package addressed to Judge Salas, as well as the name and photo of New York state's chief judge, Janet DiFiore, who is under state police protection.
An extensive hate-filled, racist and sexist writings, Den Hollander who describes himself as an anti-feminist denigrates Salas. In 2015, he argued a case in front of Salas.
ESTHER SALAS, FEDERAL JUDGE: I took an oath and I stand by that oath.
FIELD: New Jersey's first Latina federal judge appointed by President Obama.
The same writings are littered with attacks against Obama and other judicial appointees, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Den Hollander claims to have volunteered for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, saying he hated, quote, PC-feminism more than I hate America.
A spokesman for Trump's 2020 campaign says: We don't know anything about him but the crimes he's accused of are horrific.
Alexandra Field, CNN, New York.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"AC360" with John Berman starts now.