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Trump to Hold First Coronavirus Briefing in Nearly Three Months; L.A. Mayor Concedes California Opened Too Soon as Virus Surges. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

Breaking overnight, it was all a dream, a fleeting, apparently meaningless dream, an about-face on the about-face on masks from the president. It only took a few hours from when the president finally endorsed masks as patriotic for the president to engage in actions he might define as unpatriotic.

No mask at a fundraiser at the Trump Hotel overnight. No mask on him, Lindsey Graham not wearing a mask, Mark Meadows not wearing a mask. And not only that, he seems to be in violation of Washington, D.C.'s reopening orders, which require staff and guests to wear masks at hotels.

So, what does that portend for the briefing later today? The president told us he's bringing back the briefings on the pandemic. But sources tell CNN they won't be focused exclusively on the issues that have killed nearly 141,000 Americans and the coronavirus task force might not even participate. The deaths were not even the reason the president focused on when he made the announcement, not deaths, but ratings.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We had very successful briefings. I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching. In the history of cable television, television, there's never been anything like it.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: This morning, deaths are rising in 19 states, at least eight states and Puerto Rico recording record hospitalizations. Overnight in Texas, a judge in Hidalgo County issued an emergency order for people to stay at home. But the governor is blocking the enforcement of that order.

Also overnight, the country's leading diagnostic lab now says that turnaround times on tests could take up to two weeks. And listen to this, the White House is trying to block funding for testing and tracing in the next stimulus bill, money that Republicans are calling for.

BERMAN: All right, let's bring in CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And Sanjay, I understand you have some breaking news on whether or not Dr. Fauci will be at this briefing later today. What have you learned?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, what we've learned is that we don't know if he's going to be at the briefing. We don't know if Ambassador Birx is going to be at the briefing. And the news is that they don't know yet, as of this morning, whether or not -- they haven't heard anything. You know, the two most critical members of the coronavirus task force, arguably, have not been told whether or not they're going to be at this briefing as of this morning.

So, that gives you a little bit of an insight, even though we've been hearing about the briefings, they've been planned for a long time. You just mentioned that these briefings are not going to solely focus on coronavirus. I think we're starting to get an idea of exactly what these briefings might look like, and they may not involve, I think, people that the country really wants to hear from.

CAMEROTA: Then what good will the briefings be, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes. That's the question, right? I mean, we don't know exactly what's going to be discussed, how these are going to be laid out. Whether this is going to be mainly the president just talking about this, I think the idea of having Dr. Fauci there is very important, obviously, because if there's things that are said that are incorrect, then they need to be fact-checked, you know, by people like Dr. Fauci and others.

But that's a tough position, I think, for anybody to be in. I think that's another part of this. I mean, on one hand, you'd just like to hear from the scientists. On the other hand, if the scientists are being brought in to constantly contradict and fact-check the president, it's a tough position to be in.

What's the utility? I don't know. I think that there may be some utility in the sense that it may be a reminder to the country that this is happening, that this is important, that there's a gravity to this. But I think that there's real concern if we're not hearing from the people that we should most definitely be hearing from.

BERMAN: Sanjay, I had a chance to speak with you last night, and you said, on balance, you were encouraged that the president yesterday tweeted the photo of himself wearing a mask, saying it's patriotic to wear a mask. Well, then overnight, we saw what the president was actually doing and his behavior at a fundraiser at the Trump Hotel not wearing a mask.

As a matter of public health, what is the effect of the mixed messaging here?

GUPTA: What else did I tell you last night, John? I said, look, I mean, I'm a medical reporter, I think, for the last several months, it's been impossible to disentangle politics from all this.


You know, I think the reason that it may have benefit is because, you know, I live in a state like Georgia, where the governor is suing the mayor over masks. It's unbelievable, right, in the middle of a pandemic, that that's what's attracting all the attention.

And I think the idea that you have governors around the country who are clearly taking their cues from the president, when he tweeted out a picture of himself wearing a mask, sort of giving cover, I thought that that maybe would ease the pressure off this backlash against masks.

I don't know what this sort of does, this new sort of information from last night. I hope that it doesn't, you know, necessarily change possibly the positive momentum toward wearing masks. I was talking to somebody yesterday about this, a dean of a public health school, and they reminded me that, look, for the most part, the virus sort of is in people's bodies for around three weeks.

If you can start to get people to wear masks within the next three to six weeks, you could see a significant decline overall in the trajectory of these increasing cases just from wearing the masks. It's not a panacea, but it can make a huge difference in terms of turning these curves around.

So, I don't know what the mixed messaging is going to do. I think that we, you know, in public health, people have been pretty unified in the voice on this, wear a mask, it can make a huge difference.

CAMEROTA: You either need to wear a mask or you need to get testing and tracing into place, which is how places like South Korea, et cetera, have brought down their numbers to a livable, functioning number. And so, Sanjay, that leads us to how even Republicans on Capitol Hill in the Senate are pressing to include more money for testing and tracing in the next round of stimulus bill.

And, apparently, the White House is fighting it. CNN has reporting that the White House doesn't want to include more money for that and says that the money that had been allocated for it back in a different round of stimulus -- excuse me -- they haven't even allowed HHS to disburse. Do you have any thoughts on that?

GUPTA: Well, it's obviously ridiculous when this is obviously an important tool towards controlling this pandemic and everybody knows this.

I think what is striking is everyone keeps saying, hey, look, we've done more testing than every other country in the world. Part of the reason -- that's true. Part of the reason that's been necessary is because we lost time, critical time where this virus continued to spread, you know, throughout the country pretty unbridled. I'm talking about February and even into early March.

As a result, you have much more infection here than in other places around the world. And in order to be able to control that widespread infection, you need to do more testing, you need to do the masks and other things as well, but you need to do more testing.

When you talk about the numbers, those don't necessarily mean the number of individuals that have been tested in this country. It means the number of tests that have been performed. There are people who have had many tests that have been performed in hospitals, in nursing homes, in clinics and things like that.

So we still don't have a very clear idea in this country of how widespread the infection is. And as far as the tracing goes, I mean, you can't -- with numbers this high, with the new infection rate this high, it would be impossible, really, on any given day to then go back and trace people.

The way it should work is that you get tested, and at the time you get the test, you get a result, even before you leave. And if you're positive, at that point, you're told you're going to be isolated, and they start the process of contact tracing right then and there.

Given that it's taking at least five days, and as you guys reported, Quest now saying it could take up to two weeks to get results back, it almost doesn't have any value anymore. People are continuing to spread it during that time period, and the contact tracing becomes that much harder. The idea that you would strip away funding from that process, it just doesn't make any sense.

BERMAN: Vaccine news, Sanjay. The report out of the U.K. that the Oxford study, that the vaccine that they're testing does produce an immune response and does not have serious side effects. And the other thing that's interesting here is what some people are calling the double defense, produces an immune response and antibodies, perhaps, but also T-cells. What's the significance there?

GUPTA: Yes. Yes, so, people have focused a lot on antibodies, rightly. Antibodies are measurable cells in the body that help fight the virus. T-cells are really the core of what we call the adaptive immunity response. They can remember. So, even if you -- if someone has T-cell reactivity, what that basically means is if you measure their antibodies, maybe they don't have much antibodies or maybe they have none.

But if you expose them to the virus, the T-cells remember this virus and can quickly ramp up an immune response. They can go after the virus. They can start making -- they can stimulate the body to start making antibodies quickly. So that T-cell reactivity I think is really critical.

We've been following these trials very closely.


We've talked a lot about the Moderna one, which is a messenger RNA vaccine. These new ones out of Oxford and China as well are adenovirus-based vaccines. These are well-known virus platforms. And if they work, they are sort of a gold standard. They have typically have long durability, they last a long time.

And as Peter talked about earlier in the program and others have said, we've just get to figure out how strong that immune response is. If it's also strong and lasts a long time, that could be key. And, you know, they're talking about the fact that they could produce a billion doses by the end of the year. We'll see. we'll see.

But, look, I haven't heard anything that has made me sort of say, okay, I've lost my enthusiasm for this. There's been a lot of optimism, and I think it remains.

CAMEROTA: That's a great note to end on, Sanjay Gupta. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: You got it.

CAMEROTA: At the start of the pandemic, California was a model for doing everything right, but how did it go so wrong now? We'll explore.


CAMEROTA: This morning, hospitalizations are spiking in California.


The state reported nearly 11,000 new cases yesterday. Now, leaders are weighing additional rollbacks and stay-at-home orders.

In the early days of the pandemic, California was a model for crushing the curve. So, what went wrong?

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Los Angeles with more. What have you learned, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, you know, in May, there was so much hope. We were back in phase one of reopening. Now, by July, California is back in coronavirus crisis mode. And even the county that is the most populous, Los Angeles County, may have to completely shut down all over again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're sleeping, you're on your belly? Okay, good.

SIDNER: The staff at this California hospital is nearing exhaustion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every breathing minute, I think about COVID-19.

SIDNER: In a video diary from inside Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, Nurse Catherine Davis says she's used to seeing one death a year in her unit. With 700 COVID patients treated here so far, she's now seen 40 deaths.

CATHERINE DAVIS, COVID UNIT NURSING DIRECTOR: We would ensure that a patient did not die alone. So, you know, we would take turns spending time with them and holding their hand and talking to them.

SIDNER: Doctors knew they had the beds to treat the surge but not the staff.

DR. ANIL PERUMBETI, PULMONOLOGIST: When we heard that the next, you know, wave of relief might come in, in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, you know, that's when things become a little bit desperate.

SIDNER: They asked the federal government from help, and it arrived, an Air Force medical team of about 20 helped shoulder the unending load. The stress here repeated all over California.

So, how did we get here? The state was the first to announce a stay- at-home order. That was March 19th.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This is a moment we need to make tough decisions.

SIDNER: Seven weeks later, the governor reopened the state on May 8th.

NEWSOM: You have bent the curve.

SIDNER: But that wasn't to be. By early June, the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus cases was more than 2,600. By July 11th, it peaked at more than 9,400, more than a 250 percent increase.

Anne Rimoin, you are a renowned epidemiologist. What went wrong in California?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA EPIDEMIOLOGIST: We opened up too soon. We didn't have the virus totally under control.

SIDNER: Experts agree, residents and local governments got complacent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to be back on the field now.

SIDNER: Case in point, three suburban counties near L.A., all lifted their mask requirements under heavy pressure from angry residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None of this is based on science, but rather, a nefarious political agenda to silence the people and strip freedoms from hard-working Americans.

SIDNER: Now, hard-working Americans in all three counties are seeing a COVID surge. And hospital beds are filling up.

DAVIS: And that's frightening, because where do we go from there?

SIDNER: Are patients telling you how they might have gotten it?

DAVIS: Yes. Well, some of them are partiers. Some of them have gone out and gone to parties, no masks.

SIDNER: But Los Angeles County did and still does have strict mask requirements. Tickets are even being issued if you don't comply, and yet, it's still the epicenter of the California surge.

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?

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LOS ANGELES, CA): Well, I think we're on the brink of that.

RIMOIN: People are not following the rules. They're not wearing masks. They're not social distancing.

SIDNER: Among them, California's 40 and under, who make up more than half of the state's new cases.

Also hard hit, the Latino community, which makes up a third of the state's population, but more than half of COVID infections.

DAVIS: Sometimes it's mom and dad's work experience that has brought them into contact with it, and then it goes through the whole family.

SIDNER: $experts say fixing all this comes only one way.

RIMOIN: You have to just shut down for now. I think that that is our only way out.


SIDNER: And when you talk to the pulmonologists there, Dr. Perumbeti and Nurse Davis, they're saying they're seeing a trend that really disturbs them. They're seeing young people in their 20s, in their 30s, showing up regularly with coronavirus, having to be hospitalized, so sick that they can't even turn themselves over or take a sip of water without devastating pain. They say, please, if you don't do it for yourself, do it for your family or your healthcare providers. Wear a mask. John?

BERMAN: Wear a mask. Sara Sidner, it's such an important story with major developments in California on this. We really appreciate your work on this.

Joining me now is California Congressman Raul Ruiz. He is also a medical doctor who worked at Eisenhower Health, one of the hospitals featured in Sara's piece there.

Congressman, we've had you on just about every week, and we've talked about things that could maybe make things better in California. Close the bars. Everyone wear masks. Institute mask mandates. Well, all that's happened, and it's not getting better. Why?

REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): Well, one, some counties have yet to instill their own local mask mandates.


It's important because the state has to deal with the entire state with varying levels of transmission and deaths in different counties. You have rural counties that haven't been as hard hit, and then you have large, urban counties that have been hit.

So, we need to make sure that every county starts to have local ordinances, that they believe in the ordinance of wearing a mask and that they educate through public health outreach and PSAs the communities to wear a mask and have local enforcement mechanisms.

We don't have that in Riverside County, where Eisenhower Health resides, which you just saw that they're being overburdened.

BERMAN: Mayor Garcetti in Los Angeles has said that he is close, perhaps, to issuing new stay-at-home orders. I know that's different than Riverside County. But how much longer? How much longer can you wait?

RUIZ: Well, Los Angeles County is not too far ahead of Riverside County. Riverside County is also one of the hardest hit. But, yes, we are at the brink of issuing more stay-at-home orders or dimming down the light, as Governor Newsom likes to say, in terms of rolling back some of the phases that they're in.

And I think that you're going to start to see more of that this week if we don't start to see improvement in the hospitalizations and ICU use.

BERMAN: So, this week. We're talking days at this point.

RUIZ: Yes.

BERMAN: As part of your day job, or one of your day jobs, in Congress, you will soon get to vote on some kind of a stimulus measure. Now, many members of Congress, including Republicans, want there to be new funding for testing and tracing. This is something that the White House, CNN is reporting, is pushing back on. They don't want this new funding for testing and tracing. Where do you stand on this?

RUIZ: Well, you know, look, they have no analysis or clue of the lessons learned from this initial wave and why we've lost all the benefits from the initial stay-at-home order. We opened too soon, too early, too aggressively, without the safeguards.

The safeguards that you need in place are enough contact tracers, enough testing, to quickly identify new cases, quickly do the tracing and quickly help them isolate or quarantine from their home. And having contact tracers and the funding for that is going to be very important.

We're in surge intervention now, so we need to do what we can aggressively to stop the surge. And while we're doing that, we have to beef up our containment phase apparatus. The counties opened up too early without having enough contact tracers, without having an efficient system and methodology of testing and tracing in order to isolate and keep people safe, away from their loved ones, away from the community, where they can infect others.

And if the president is going to stop the funds for contact tracing, he's only going to make it worse, and he's shooting himself in the foot because it's going to hurt the economy even more.

BERMAN: I see you holding a mask in your hand there.

RUIZ: I am. I am.

BERMAN: The president yesterday put out a picture of himself wearing a mask and said, it's patriotic to do so. Last time I had you on, you actually said the president should man up and wear a mask.

RUIZ: I did.

BERMAN: Those were your words. So, has he satisfied your call?

RUIZ: You know, I think he needs to be more forceful, because he has started a path of conspiracy theory believers who now believe that wearing a mask is some way of mind control. And so, he needs to be more repetitive. He needs to be more consistent. He needs to really own up to the fact that wearing a mask saves lives and it's going to help stop the surge.

BERMAN: He was not wearing a mask last night. He went to a fundraiser at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., and was not wearing a mask there. We have a picture up on the screen. I don't know if you can see it. Is this the type of consistency you're calling for?

RUIZ: No, sir. He needs to wear a mask at all times when he's around other people, when he's close to individuals. He needs to set the example. Look, you can clearly contrast his methods and his inconsistencies and his misinformation and disinformation with Vice President Joe Biden, who consistently, compassionately, empathetically is really urging people to wear a mask. And when you see them in public or around other people, he wears a mask.

This should not be controversial. We should simply wear a cloth mask when we're around other individuals so that we prevent the air droplets from a person's mouth getting into the air, which is the most common form of transmission from person to person.

Look, this is a big warning that I'm going to give the American public right now. If our hospitals are requiring backup and our physicians and nurses are fatigued and exhausted, and we're in the summer months, without the flu season hitting us hard.

Imagine 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 ten-fold than what we're seeing right now in California, Arizona, and Florida.

So, this is the time to really take this virus seriously. Start wearing your mask to give our frontline workers that break, because our rate-limiting factor is not going to be the amount of ventilators or the amount of beds we can convert to ICU. It's going to be the amount of nurses and doctors we still have standing to take care of patients.

BERMAN: You know, it's the same message we're hearing from CDC Director Robert Redfield. Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, a pleasure to have you on. Thanks so much for being with us.

RUIZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay. John, we want to remember now some of the nearly 141,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

Houston Fire Captain Leroy Lucio died yesterday of coronavirus. Mayor Sylvester Turner says his death leaves a void in the department and in the hearts of the men and women he mentored during his 30-year career.

Reverend Vickey Gibbs was a beloved associate pastor at Houston's Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church. She was a member of the LGBT-friendly congregation for nearly 40 years as a choir organizer and board member before being ordained in 2014. Her wife tells CNN that Gibbs is passionate about social justice and adored their grandson.

45-year-old Samantha Hickey loved her job as a pediatric nurse in Caldwell, Idaho. Her family says she had an amazing list of hobbies, including dancing, aerobics, restoring antiques, camping, and training for Spartan races. She died this month of a virus-related heart attack.

We'll be right back.