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Trump Vows to Develop Strategy After 142,000 Americans Die; California Surpasses New York as State with Most Cases; Republicans and White House Divided on Stimulus Proposal. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better. We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No real recognition of this massive surge and no indication that he's feeling any urgency to make a plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the first time in weeks, the daily death toll here in the United States has passed 1,000 people.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He recognized the mistakes that he has made, and clearly it is the Trump virus.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: California has surpassed New York as the U.S. state with the highest number of infections.



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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, July 22, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And the breaking news, more than 1,000 new deaths reported overnight from coronavirus. You can see from the chart there, except for a few days of data anomalies, this is a place the U.S. has not been since the beginning of June, and it's the wrong place to be.

More than 142,000 Americans have now died. This morning, we're at near record hospitalizations. Again, the wrong place to be.

It comes as the president acknowledged the situation in America will get worse before it gets better. And the numbers tell us it is worse, now. Some have noted the president spoke different words out loud than he has about coronavirus, with a direct appeal to wear masks, but he also made a stunning admission about where the administration is in formulating a strategy to fight the pandemic.


TRUMP: We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful.


BERMAN: In the process of finding a strategy that's going to be very powerful. Wasn't the time for that several thousand -- several tens of thousands of deaths ago?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And John, Vice President Pence is refusing to say whether he would have done anything differently during the course of this pandemic. He says his focus is solely on the future.

And this morning, that future looks challenging, because California has surpassed New York as the state with the most cases. In south Texas, one doctor says it's been a tsunami, with medical staff stretched to the limit and starting to break down emotionally. We'll take you inside one south Texas hospital later this hour.

In Arizona, doctors are rationing testing equipment, even as the Trump administration sits on billions of dollars in unused money that Congress had designated for testing and tracing.

So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He is live at the White House this morning -- Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, over the last month and a half, we have watched as cases have surged of coronavirus across the United States.

President Trump, during that time, has been missing in leadership as these cases have surged. Instead, when he has addressed the pandemic, he has sought to downplay it or make false claims, falsely claiming, for example, that testing is only -- solely responsible for the increase in cases.

But yesterday, we saw a bit of a change from the president. He was on script after a lot of political pressure to address this situation. And the president, for the first time in a while, acknowledging that things will get worse before they get better.


DIAMOND (voice-over): President Trump held his first coronavirus briefing since April, a move that one senior campaign adviser says could help the president politically and save lives amid surging case numbers.

TRUMP: Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well. 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. DIAMOND: Trump appeared at the podium alone, without any of the

nation's top health officials from the coronavirus task force.

FAUCI: I was not invited up to this point.

TRUMP: Dr. Birx is right outside.

DIAMOND: But he did bring this new message about masks, after months of refusing to wear one in public.

TRUMP: 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. They'll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.

DIAMOND: For some, the president's apparent change of heart is far too late.

PELOSI: If he had said months ago, Let's wear masks, let's not -- let's socially distance, instead of having rallies and political whatever-they-were, then more people would have followed his lead. He's the president of the United States.

DIAMOND: And with coronavirus cases surging in at least 26 states, hospitalization rates moving close to what they were at the peak of the pandemic in April, and the U.S. recording over 1,000 deaths in a single day for the second time this month, Trump once again making this claim.

TRUMP: The virus will disappear. It will disappear. I think that -- I always like to say as, you know, either way, when you look at it.

DIAMOND: But health experts say that's just not true.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's unlikely to go away until we develop a significant amount of immunity on the planet. That's going to take years. Even with the vaccine, that's still going to take a long time to get to that point.

DIAMOND: Dr. Anthony Fauci says there are some strategies people can use to help slow the spread of the virus.

FAUCI: Things like universal wearing of masks, close the bars, stay physically distant, outdoors better than indoors, wash your hands. The really fundamental things. It's not rocket science.

DIAMOND: The nation's top infectious disease expert also responding to this comment made by the president on Sunday.


TRUMP: He's a little bit of an alarmist. That's OK. A little bit of an alarmist.

FAUCI: I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist, but you know, people do have their opinions other than that. I have always thought of myself as a realist when it comes to this.


DIAMOND: And in an interview yesterday with a local South Carolina TV station, Vice President Mike was asked repeatedly whether he would do anything different in terms of this administration's response to the pandemic. Three times he was asked that question, and he refused to offer an answer, saying instead that his focus is completely on today and going forward -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Jeremy, thank you very much for that report from the White House.

Also, developing overnight, California surpassing New York, becoming the state with the most coronavirus cases. The outbreak is so bad there that Los Angeles County is on the verge of shutting down again.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in L.A. with the latest. What's the scene on the ground there, Stephanie?


When you take a look at the positivity rate in the entire state of California, it is at about 7.5 percent. And it has been ticking higher. And it looks like it's going to continue to move higher, where it stands right now over this 14-day period.

The state wanting to keep that number below 8 percent. But when you look at the number of cases here, the health secretary for the state saying that there is such an infusion of the infection going around, that it's being very difficult for them to contact trace and reach out to all of the people who may have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive.

When you look at that number and the fact that we are at this point where hospitalizations are at a record number, above 8,600 hospitalizations in the state right now, ICU patients, those numbers continue to tick up incrementally.

And also, 28 out of the last 30 days, we've seen an increase in that number of hospitalizations in California.

Now, here in Los Angeles County, which accounts for about 40 percent of all of what we're seeing in the state, these numbers continue to go up, as well. The cases here announced yesterday were 2,741 announced here.

What's interesting about this, though, is that they're saying 57 percent of the cases in Los Angeles County have been from people 41 years of age or younger. The positivity rate here, 9.6 percent.

And also, hospitalizations, third day in a row with them being above 2,200.

They're making it very clear, the reason why this virus is spreading is because of the behavior of younger people. The problem with that, though is it's driving infections for people over 65. They're 11 percent of all of the cases, but they're 75 percent of the deaths here in Los Angeles County.

This is why it's been very clear from the mayor of Los Angeles that we are on the brink of another shutdown when you look at these numbers.

Now, just to put in perspective the idea of California versus New York and the fact that California has overtaken that sad record there that we saw in New York, keep in mind, that California has twice the number of residents as New York state does. And their death rate, as far as how many people have died in New York state, has been over 32,000. Here in California, it's closer to the 8,000 mark. So just to put that all into perspective, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful context. Thank you very much, Stephanie.

So with more than 142,000 Americans killed by coronavirus, how is there still no federal plan? President Trump, yesterday, said he's in the process of developing a strategy. When will we hear what that is? That's next.



BERMAN: All right. Developing overnight, the wrong place to be. The daily death toll in the United States from coronavirus surpassed 1,000 for the first time in weeks. Hospitalizations are near an all-time high. Basically, right back where they were in April. And hospitalizations, data that just can't be construed any other way than a real problem.

Now, the president delivered a news conference yesterday, his first on coronavirus in some time. Listen to what he says his plan is.


TRUMP: We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful.


BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN political analyst David Gregory and William Haseltine. He's the chair and president of Access Health International and a former Harvard Medical School professor.

Professor Haseltine, I want to start with you. Yes, the president used different words than he has before on the status of the pandemic, saying it's going to get worse before it gets better. Yes, he used his least ambiguous language yet on masks, and that's a good thing.

But the admission you just heard there that the administration is in the process of formulating a strategy, and it's going to be great. Why the wait? WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR/PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Well,

we know what the strategy has been. It's been to, in his own words, ride the sucker through. It's a dramatic underestimate of the power of this virus.

And to wait for a vaccine, and for a drug. We know that that's not going to come soon enough for schools opening and soon enough for a lot of people.

We've heard a lot of the vaccine experts yesterday talk about maybe in September. Well, Ken Frazier, the head of Merck, has called that irresponsible. That is not what people should be talking about, because they're underestimating, in my opinion, this virus. We cannot underestimate it.

There are many things that we can do that are strategies that other people have done all over the world, and even in New York, to control this infection. We have strategies that work. We just aren't yet implementing them here. Actually, almost to the contrary.

CAMEROTA: And I do want to get to those strategies in a second.

But first, David, let's just talk a little bit more about this White House briefing, because it is so striking to see such a different President Trump. So here's somebody who is sober. He's reading off notes. He's staying on message. He's not veering off into strange lands of suggesting that people inject themselves with detergent or whatever it was, disinfectant.


And so what do you think of the effect of -- I mean, obviously, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, Dr. Redfield weren't there.


CAMEROTA: What do you think the effect of these new White House briefings will be?

GREGORY: Well, I think, unfortunately, in the president's mind, and so often in our evaluation of it, it's performance art. It's, well, how did he do? How did he seem? What was his tone like? You know, the bar is so low that he speaks a little bit more forcefully about wearing masks and we say, Oh, well, that's a good thing. That's a real sign of progress.

I think it's an admission on the part of the White House and the federal government led by the president that, indeed, things will get worse before they get better. And the why they will get worse is what we've been scrutinizing over the many weeks now.

So, you know, again, I'd love to see the public health experts out in front, without the president calling dr. Fauci an alarmist, because the remedies, we know what they are. We know what the strategy should be. It takes collective action. And I still think it's striking that there's so much we don't know or

can't get our arms around with regard to the virus. And I think the president has got to be the one to lead that. He can't leave it to the states where there's a patchwork. He's still got to lead.

BERMAN: That's right. It's not about tone; it's about results. It's about plans. It's about what are you doing?

And to that end, Professor Haseltine, after I spoke to you last night, I spoke to an emergency room doctor in Arizona who told me they are rationing tests in emergency rooms in Arizona. They do not have enough tests to give to everybody, so they've got to pick and choose who gets the tests. And people who are dying who almost definitely have coronavirus, who are never being tested.

There are billions of dollars in unspent funds, already appropriated, for testing, that haven't been used yet. So what does that tell you?

HASELTINE: Well, it tells you that we aren't coordinated, and we haven't been from the very beginning.

In any epidemic, you need leadership. You need governance, and you need social solidarity. And the U.S. has been sorely lacking on all three.

I hope that what's happening now is a clarion call to repair the damage. It isn't going to be soon enough to save these lives, but it could be soon enough to save another 100,000 or several hundred thousand lives. We need to start acting now.

CAMEROTA: And so on that note, Professor Haseltine, since President Trump says they're now -- now working on a strategy, can you just give us the top three things that they could do today to turn this around?

HASELTINE: Well, the first thing that they can do is have a leadership that talks about this in realistic terms. And it's something that is showing that each person has to do their own part.

The second is a centralized federal program to provide the assistance, the education, and the money and tools necessary to the local public health services to make sure that this happens. That is really what we need. And it's been clear all along that that's what we need.

All the while, supporting research to the max to make sure that, if there is a chance for great drugs and great vaccines, we're making the best use of that chance.

BERMAN: David, you had something you wanted to say?

GREGORY: Just -- Yes, I mean, it just seems so obvious, too, that we, as a country, we have to be wearing masks. We have to find a way to live with this virus. At a time when we're balancing reopening carefully, and much more carefully than we've done in certain parts of the country that are seeing this resurgence.

Also, what was lacking yesterday was a kind of centralized federal plan to assist states who are going to make local decisions about how and when to reopen schools. This is coming up for families, very quickly, within weeks, and there's no plan.

Coercion is not a plan. You know, forcing schools to reopen is not a plan. I encourage, you know, pushing schools to try to reopen in as safe a way as possible, because I think the need is so great. But there aren't the resources there. There's not the coordination. As the professor says, that's what's vitally necessary right now.

BERMAN: So David, there was a stunning moment that had nothing to do with the pandemic at this news conference yesterday, when the president was asked about the case involving Ghislaine Maxwell, the friend of Jeffrey Epstein, who is charged, in a federal court, charged with assisting his sex-trafficking ring. I want you to listen to what the president said about this accused felon.


TRUMP: I just wish her well, frankly. I've met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach. And I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.


BERMAN: "I wish her well." Wow, David.


GREGORY: You know, I mean, how many times is it -- would it be a much better idea not to comment? I mean, we have covered presidents who say, You know, really not appropriate for me to comment on a case that's being investigated, a lurid, disgusting set of crimes that she's accused of. She's entitled to a fair process.

But for the president of the United States to comment at all, including wish her well, I'm sure his advisers wish he hadn't. There's so many areas where a president should say, Just not appropriate for me to weigh in and cause news on this. I don't think the president has ever grasped or cared to grasp that what the president of the United States says reverberates much more widely that average people.

BERMAN: Yes, look, it has legal implications. You know, will she take it as a message from the president of the United States, who has pardon power, among other things.

GREGORY: Right. Right. And who has a track record now of -- of intervening in cases where he -- you know, he has personal favor.

BERMAN: David Gregory, Professor William Haseltine, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HASELTINE: You're welcome. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. There are serious rifts brewing on Capitol Hill between the White House and Republicans over money for testing and money to get in people's pockets. And then there's infighting even beyond that among Republicans. So what's going on up there? Next.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We'll see where this ends up. We still don't know the details of this initial proposal, but as it's written right now, I'm not only a "no," I'm a "hell no."


BERMAN: That's Republican Senator Ted Cruz on the Republican discussions for a new stimulus proposal to put money in people's pockets in the midst of this pandemic. You can see how divided Republicans are as millions of Americans wait for help.

Joining us now, CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju. This is in an interesting place, Manu. Republicans can't figure out where they want to be on unemployment benefits, on the payroll tax cut, on testing and tracing. There's infighting.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this has actually been going on behind closed doors for weeks. One of the reasons why Republicans did not advance their own proposal weeks ago is because of the fact that their conference is just simply not on the same page.

You have people like Ted Cruz and also Rand Paul, who believe that they're spending way too much money. Rand Paul emerged from that lunch yesterday and said that he thought that -- that what the White House and what Senate Republicans were talking about was similar to a, quote, "Bernie brothers meeting." He said they're trying to, quote, "ruin the country."

And then you have people who are up for re-election in difficult races like a Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, who want to deal with more government intervention here to stimulate the economy.

And on top of that, you have clear division between the White House and Senate Republicans over some of the central planks, particularly things that the White House is pushing, like the president's call for a payroll tax break, which actually has virtually no support or very little support among Senate Republicans, including top Republicans like John Cornyn of Texas, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who don't believe that a payroll tax cut is the way to go.

And then the White House has been skeptical about spending more money on testing because of money that still exists from the March stimulus. Several billion dollars has not been spent. The Republicans want more money to be spent on testing.

And then also pushback about whether or not to make money for schools contingent on schools reopening. That's been a big push from the White House in the last several days, but several Republicans have told me that they simply will not be on board with that.

And Mitt Romney told me yesterday that he does not expect that that will be ultimately in the Republican plan, which is about to have about $105 billion worth of money for schools.

Overall, the Republican package is expected to be about a trillion dollars. They'll have to reckon that with Democrats, who have a $3 trillion package and much more -- much different on the details.

So they're just worried about getting the Republicans on the same page. Then they actually have to try to cut a deal with Democrats and get it through both chambers, get it signed by the president in the middle of this election year.

So it just shows you how difficult things are. And we're in the early stages, and Republicans are still trying to get on the same page.

CAMEROTA: And things are getting testy. People -- it seems like tempers are flaring. There was this flare-up yesterday between Congressman Ted Yoho and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where you -- her -- a colleague of yours from "The Hill" heard him use a profanity about her.

And here's her tweet: "I never spoke to Congressman Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation's Capitol yesterday. Believe it or not, I usually get along fine with my Republican colleagues. We know how to check out" -- sorry -- "check our legislative sparring at the committee door. But, hey, blanks get it done," which is just half of what he allegedly called her.

Any insight into all of this, Manu?

RAJU: It -- it was a pretty remarkable exchange that Mike Lillis, the reporter for "The Hill" newspaper, who was standing outside of the Capitol and just apparently was in the right place at the right time for a reporter, because he witnessed this rather testy exchange, as they were voting in the House.

Yoho went up to her and said, "You're out of your freaking mind" and called her, quote, "disgusting."

She responded by saying that he was being rude.

It was in reference to past remarks that she had made regarding the unemployment situation, the rise of the coronavirus pandemic in her -- in her district.

And then as he walked away, that's when he dropped a profanity that I won't repeat here on air, but it was certainly not a nice thing to say.

She apparently did not hear him say that, but the reporter heard her -- heard him say those words.