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NFL to Require Fans to Wear Face Coverings at Games; Trump Attempts Coronavirus Reset As Poll Numbers Drop; Dem Mayors to Trump Admin: No Federal Forces in Our Cities. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin, of course, with the health lead.

The number of coronavirus deaths in one day in the United States surpassed 1,000 yesterday, for the first time in two weeks, bringing the nation's death toll to more than 142,000.

And as the virus ravages the West and the South of the United States, California has now surpassed New York as the state with the highest number of confirmed cases during this entire pandemic. More than 400,000 people have been infected in each state alone.

The number of global cases has just surpassed 15 million this afternoon. And the U.S. as close to marking four million infections. The U.S. with about 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for a quarter of all infections globally, the same phenomenon tragically playing out with deaths, the U.S. also accounts for a quarter of those who have been killed by the disease, according to official numbers worldwide.

Now, after months of downplaying and dismissing the virus, President Trump is acknowledging that it will get worse before it gets better, although the president also inexplicably continues to say that the virus will disappear, an anti-scientific comment.

This afternoon, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah offered a rare Republican Senate acknowledgement of the failure of our government to protect us, arguing the empirical reality, that the U.S. is simply not a great example for the rest of the world on this matter.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I just feel it's taken us a long, long, long time to get to a point where we have rapid testing, which we don't have yet, ample testing, which we don't have. Look at other nations. Look at Germany, the E.U. They had some tough times, as we did, but they came out of them, and we're still struggling, in part because of lack of effective oversight of this process.


TAPPER: No doubt Romney will be attacked for stating those facts.

As the president says the virus will disappear, Dr. Anthony Fauci today warned that we may never eradicate this coronavirus, but he said we may be able to control it with a vaccine and other measures to identify and isolate the virus, measures that President Trump continues to not push the way health officials say he needs to, steps he will not take, despite the continued loss of American lives and livelihoods and the empirical evidence that the Trump administration is failing to protect the citizens of this country, as they deserve to be protected, frankly, a catastrophic failure.

The hope seems to be that a vaccine will solve the problem.

And, as CNN's Athena Jones reports for us now, today, the Trump administration signed a nearly $2 billion vaccine deal with the drugmaker Pfizer.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the nation battles to get coronavirus under control, signs of progress on the vaccine front, the federal government reaching what's being called a historic deal to buy tens of millions of vaccines from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, if it's approved.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We can acquire 100 million doses of this vaccine as early as December of 2019 -- of 2020, and have the option to buy an additional 500 million doses.

JONES: Pfizer, in partnership with German firm BioNTech, just the latest vaccine maker in recent days to issue a promising report.

JOHN BURKHARDT, PFIZER: Preliminary data from the study shows a good immune response from patients vaccinated, and we plan to start the large-scale clinical trial before the end of July involving 20,000 to 30,000 patients.

JONES: Meanwhile, at the rate the virus is spreading, officials say, if you don't already know someone who's been infected, that's likely to change in the coming weeks.

California now surpassing New York in total confirmed cases, many in hard hit-Los Angeles county driven by young people, infection and hospitalization rates painting a bleak picture in the South.

With hospitals overwhelmed in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott now backing a curfew in the Rio Grande Valley, while stopping short of support a shelter-in-place order issued by a county judge. JUDGE RICHARD CORTEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS: What I have told him and others, if I can even simply get 10 percent of our people to follow it, I'm 10 percent better than I am today.

JONES: Hospitals also under pressure in Florida, where more than 50 ICUs have reached capacity and health officials say just 15 percent of ICU beds remain available statewide.

ICU capacity in the state's hot spot, Miami-Dade County, now tops 132 percent. Still, the governor projecting optimism.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think we are on the right -- right course. I think we will continue to see improvements.

JONES: Even as experts warn of a long road ahead for the U.S.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I think we ultimately will get control of it. I don't really see us eradicating it.

JONES: But officials say getting it under control will require people to follow basic public health guidelines.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: We're not defenseless. We have powerful tools. Probably the most powerful tool that we have is a simple face mask.


JONES: And one more thing about that situation in California.


Governor Gavin Newsom announcing the state has set a new record for daily coronavirus infections, adding more than 12,800 new cases in one day. Now, the positivity rate when it comes to testing, it remains steady at 7.4 percent. But that's still too high, the governor saying every decimal point causes some concern -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Athena Jones in New York, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, a director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Marrazzo, thanks for joining us.

You heard the news of this deal with Pfizer to deliver 100 million doses, with the possibility of an additional half-a-billion doses down the road. Pfizer still needs, of course, to complete large-scale human trials.

But tell us, how significant do you think this is?

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: I think it's very significant, Jake. I mean, what this says is that there is confidence in the ability of

this company and also several other companies to deliver on what looks to be a promising vaccine. And that's now been clear from at least two studies that have shown that that vaccine does elicit the kind of responses in people that suggest it will induce immunity.

There are some really important caveats, though. These are phase one studies, as I know you know. And that means all they are looking for is safety and correlates of protection. They are taking the plasma or the blood from the vaccinated people and studying it in the lab to see if it can neutralize the virus.

It doesn't tell you whether those people have developed immunity that will truly protect them from reinfection. For that, we need the very, very big trials that are going to be under way very soon, and some have even started already.

TAPPER: And, as you note, there are other vaccine candidates, five promising vaccine candidates specifically that are now moving to phase three trials that are being developed using the full power of the U.S. government.

Is it possible that all of them could be effective or that none of them could be effective?

MARRAZZO: It would be an amazing dream, a home run if all of them were effective, because -- for a couple of reasons.

First of all, you know, what we want to see for these vaccines, in addition to efficacy, are safety and scalability. And scalability gets to the heart of, how are we really going to ramp up vaccine manufacturing in a way that's affordable for all of the countries that are going to need this vaccine?

So, that's a really important point. These vaccines use different platforms. You may know that the AstraZeneca vaccine, for example, uses an adenovirus, as do a couple of other companies, which is a common cold virus that usually is harmless, and that's altered to express a protein from the coronavirus.

In contrast, the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, they use genetic approaches to inject people with really gene fragments that get you to make an antibody to the virus.

So it's quite possible that, with different methodologies, we might not only see different responses in the bodies. Who knows. Maybe at some point, there will be ways to combine these things. And it's also possible that, with some competition and also some different platforms to make the vaccine, we might be able to scale this up and get this to people urgently and faster and affordably, which is really, really critical.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about scaling that up.

Take a listen to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AZAR: We're not concerned about supply chain and its domestic manufacturing across the portfolio that we're investing in. We will ensure that any vaccine that we're involved in sponsoring is either free to the American people or is affordable.


TAPPER: I mean, from his mouth to God's ears, I guess.

Let's assume that there is a vaccine that passes the phase three trial and is approved by the FDA for use. Are you confident that everyone who needs a vaccine, particularly the elderly or front-line health care workers, they will be able to get it soon, quickly?

MARRAZZO: There are so many steps in operationalizing that plan, that I think, if I said I was confident, I would be cautious.

I am cautiously optimistic that, with the investment that's being made, and with the groups that are rallying around to make this happen -- I mean, you do have CDC, you have state and local health departments, you have academics, who are really, really putting their skin in the game here. You have public health agencies.

So, I think that if we build on the legacy of other vaccine trial networks that have succeeded in enrolling people in very large studies and getting vaccines off the ground, yes, I think we can do it.

It's going to take a massive effort. And the other thing we're going to have to confront and embrace is vaccine hesitancy, right? You we know that there's a huge groundswell of people who are hesitant to get vaccines.


How are we going to work with them -- and I do mean work with them, not argue against them -- to really talk about the fact that this vaccine is probably our only hope for getting out of the mess that we're in?

TAPPER: That's right. We have seen outbreaks of diseases we thought that had been eradicated a long time ago...

MARRAZZO: Sure, measles, yes.

TAPPER: ... in different parts of the country -- yes, conservative parts, liberal parts, because of non-factual, nonscientific information being given about vaccines.

Let's talk about that, because Dr. Fauci has also expressed concern that perhaps a large percentage of Americans will not go and get the vaccine. New polling shows half to two-thirds of Americans say they would get the vaccine when it's available.

That means a third to a half of the American people won't. That must concern you.


It does concern me. But I also want to know more about those data. So, again, when you hear a story that concerns me, just as you, as an investigative journalist do, you really want to dig down and find out, who did they ask and what do those people know about what a coronavirus vaccine study or campaign might look like?

Are these young people who are really frustrated because they can't get together and experience critical milestone events in their life because of this darn quarantine situation? Or are they people who have known family members or friends who've suffered or died, indeed, from this virus?

You know we passed, as you said, 1,000 deaths yesterday in the United States. The number of people who are going to be personally affected by this virus is going to go up exponentially in the next several weeks.

We're now talking, right, if we keep on this trajectory, I read a statistic today that said someone could die of COVID every two minutes in the United States. When that starts to happen, and it really starts to hit home, it becomes harder for people to be cavalier about the possibility of not participating in a study or participating in a vaccine campaign.

So, what you check off on a survey really reflects your mood at the moment. Maybe you're feeling really confident. Maybe you don't know anybody who's had the infection. But I think it's going to get harder and harder for people not to really look deep inside themselves and say, wow, what can I do to help us get out of this, not just to protect myself, but protect my family and my community and society?

That's my optimistic take.

TAPPER: And let's just hope -- yes, let's just hope that there is a uniform message, a scientific message, based in data and facts, coming from all of the leaders political, cultural, et cetera, across the country, when and if a viable and efficacious vaccine is ready.


TAPPER: Dr. Marrazzo, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

MARRAZZO: The messaging, yes.

Thank you. Really appreciate it.

TAPPER: President Trump set to hold another news conference next hour, as he now admits the pandemic will only likely get worse in the U.S. before it gets better.

What's behind this change in things he is saying? That's next. Plus: It could mean more money in your pocket, but there's a

stalemate over another stimulus. I'm going to talk to Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer ahead.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have some breaking news now. The NFL now says that fans who attend games in person this fall will be required to wear face coverings, though it's not clear how many teams will even host fans this season. The season is set to kick off on September 10th, at least as of right now.

In our politics lead, President Trump will be back in front of the podium today after acknowledging yesterday the coronavirus will likely get worse before it gets better. And as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, this new strategy of taking to the podium and trying to sound concerned comes as yet another poll shows the president is trailing Joe Biden, this time by eight percentage points.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After attempts to ignore the pandemic didn't work, President Trump acknowledged the grim reality facing the country in his first COVID-19 briefing in months.

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. But that's the way it is.

COLLINS: The shift was a political calculus by a president worried about his sinking poll numbers. But it was notable given what he told Fox News just days ago.

TRUMP: I said it's going to disappear. I'll say it again, it's going to disappear.

COLLINS: Raising questions about mixed messages, Trump urged Americans to wear a mask as he wrongly claimed that he never resisted doing so.

TRUMP: I have no problem. I carry it. I wear it. You saw me wearing it a number of times and I'll continue.

COLLINS: Days earlier, he made this claim about masks without citing any evidence.

TRUMP: All of a sudden, everybody's got to wear a mask, and as you know, masks cause problems too.

COLLINS: The president's return to the briefing room came after several polls showed his reaction to COVID-19 had badly damaged his standing with voters ahead of the November election. Though aides denied that was the driving factor.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: This is a change. The briefing stopped but the work hasn't stopped. He's briefed regularly.

COLLINS: Kellyanne Conway said the briefings returned because some states reopened too fast.

CONWAY: Some of these states blew through our gating criteria, blew through our phases, and they opened up some of the industries a little too quickly, like bars.

COLLINS: With the clock ticking, the White House is still negotiating with its own party over what they want in the next coronavirus relief bill as Senate Republicans remain sharply divided.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): As it's written right now I'm not only a no, I'm a hell no.

COLLINS: The GOP is split over the price tag whether to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and if they should scrap Trump's demand for a payroll tax cut.

TRUMP: I think it's a very important thing, it's very good.

COLLINS: Republicans are now more confident the White House will get behind more funding for testing and contact tracing in states after initially opposing the idea.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No one is blocking any money from testing.

COLLINS: A person in the room for the Republican lunch yesterday said Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy rhetorically asked if he was on acid when he heard that the White House was against more funding for testing in the middle of a pandemic.


COLLINS: Now, Jake, there is also growing Republican pushback to this White House idea of tying federal funding to the re-opening of schools, with several Republicans telling CNN today that is just not an idea that they think they are going to get behind. So that makes three pretty big issues where the White House and Republicans are still not on the same page about what they want to see in this next bill.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thank you so much.

We have some breaking news for you. Just moments ago, President Trump announced he's sending more federal agents to at least one American city. He has threatened to do the same in Seattle. The mayor of Seattle will join me next to react. That's live and it's next.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our national lead today. President Trump charging into more controversy, announcing just moments ago that despite protests from mayors and governors, he is going to send even more federal law enforcement agents into an American city, this time Chicago where last night 15 people were shot at a funeral.

The president also says he will soon send even more agents to other cities to deal with the recent surge in violence, making good on a threat that he's been making for weeks, even after disturbing allegations that these masked camouflaged federal agents initially not identified detained protesters in unmarked cars or even used violence against them in Portland, where the mayor and governor clearly told the president those agents were only inflaming tensions.

A court filing released today shows that the federal government sent 114 of these officers to Portland.

More than a dozen mayors have written a letter to President Trump demanding the withdrawal of federal agents from their cities.

Joining me now is one of them, the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan.

Mayor Durkan, thanks so much for joining us.

Have you heard anything back from the administration regarding your letter?

MAYOR JENNY DURKAN (D), SEATTLE, WA: No, Jake. We have not heard anything back.

And I have to tell you, it's so unsettling the president continues down this path. Weeks ago, he threatened to send federal forces into Seattle. The city attorney and I rebuked him and said we would go to court to stop what would be clearly an illegal scheme. He then threatened to send in federal forces. He didn't do that.

But we've seen what happened in Portland. It has escalated the violence there, and it really undermines the ability for federal law enforcement to work together with local law enforcement to keep all communities safer where they need to.

TAPPER: So President Trump obviously argues that the violence in various cities is out of control. For example, in Seattle, protesters vandalized businesses and a police precinct over the weekend. There were windows shattered. At least one police officer was taken to the hospital.

Are you saying that you don't want federal help or you just don't want federal help forced upon you?

DURKAN: First of all, we do need federal help in a lot of areas that the president has resisted. Let's start with COVID. You know, we need testing. We need unemployment. We need support for our small businesses.

On law enforcement, we can -- we have -- I was the United States attorney here and worked as a chief federal law enforcement officer with every local law enforcement jurisdiction in western Washington. Those kind of partnerships are critical to things from human trafficking to anti-violence. But those task force cannot succeed without the cooperation of local law enforcement and never succeed if they're trying to come in over the objections of local law enforcement.

So, his pattern is not only unprecedented, but it really will do just the opposite of what people would hope. And I think it's unfortunate, again, the president is using federal law enforcement as a political tool. That is so dangerous for America.

TAPPER: So you don't think that there's anything in here -- I mean, there is violence in cities, and obviously with the protests and escalated tensions because -- stemming from a lot of things including George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer. We have seen acts of vandalism.

But you're saying the president, in your view, isn't actually concerned about any of that, he's doing this just to inflame matters more, to win votes? Is that what you think?

DURKAN: I think absolutely. And I think, look, federal law enforcement works in partnership with local law enforcement. But you have to work together. You can't just dictate what's happened or interfere in local law enforcement.

And, you know, everyone believes we need to do more on gun violence. If the president wants to stop gun violence, let's have a uniform background check. Let's make sure we don't have assault weapons in cities like Chicago. There's a whole range of things that he could do today that would actually save lives.

But sending in federal agents won't change what happens on the ground if they're not working with and there at the request of local law enforcement.