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President Trump States Administration in Process of Developing National Strategy to Deal with Coronavirus Pandemic; Arizona Rationing Tests for Coronavirus; CDC Director Says He's Comfortable with His Grandchildren Going Back to School. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But second of all, that was so illuminating, Sanjay, really helpful to hear from doctors, because every time you hear one of these seeming slips, mental slips, it is cause for concern. But then to hear the doctors say that it could be dehydration, it could be exhaustion, it could be bad sleep, that's just very helpful to keep all that in context. So Sanjay, stay with us, we have many more questions for you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: NEW DAY continues right now.

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

BERMAN: All right, good morning, again, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. More than 1,000 new deaths reported overnight in the United States from coronavirus. You can see on this chart right here the trend, we are in the wrong place in this trend. More than 142,000 Americans have now died in total. Look at this chart. Hospitalizations, people so sick they're in the hospital, at a level nearing the peak in April. California, we should note, just passed New York as the state with the most COVID cases, although there were surely cases not counted in New York back in April. It comes as the president acknowledged the situation in America will get worse before it gets better. It is worse. We just saw it on that chart. The president did make a direct appeal to wear masks after dodging wearing one himself for months. He even ridiculed in the past those who did wear masks.

CAMEROTA: The president also made a stunning admission about where the administration is in terms of formulating a national strategy to fight the pandemic.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In the process? Why five months after our first case? Would a better time have been before 142,000 Americans died? Vice President Pence is refusing to say whether he would have done anything differently during the course of this pandemic. He said his focus is solely now on the future. And this morning, that future looks challenging.

In south Texas, one doctor said it has been a, quote, tsunami, with medical staff stretched to the limit and breaking down emotionally. In Arizona, doctors are rationing testing equipment even as the Trump administration sits on billions of dollars in unused funding that Congress designated for testing and tracing.

So joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, things have gotten worse. We say that every week, but 1,000 deaths. That's -- we're not going in the right direction. We haven't seen that since probably early June. So what's happening?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is sadly the predictable trajectory when you have an increase in the number of people who become exposed to this this virus and you can actually get them tested. We saw those numbers starting to go up. We know that it was a younger population this time around if you looked at this wave of cases as compared to April. And we do know that we've had better strategies in terms of taking care of people in the hospital, better use of ventilators, understanding a few medications that could be helpful. But still, you're going to see a predictable rise in hospitalizations after these exposures, and now a predictable rise in deaths. So that's what we're seeing.

I think the thing that has also been true since the beginning is if you were to ask somebody right now, what is likelihood just across the board, how likely is this virus to be deadly to somebody, we still don't have a clear answer to that question. We know it's quite deadly. Flu, for example is 0.1 percent. This is closer to one or two percent. But the reason you start to see these increasing death rates, Alisyn, I think a lot has to do with the strain on the medical system overall. You saw that in northern Italy. You even say that in China initially. And you see that in United States in New York a few months ago, now we're starting to see it in places around the country.

What really determines the death rate in the middle of the pandemic ultimately is how quickly you can take care of people who need to be cared for. That was the whole flattening the curve model, and we're starting to see some real strain on that in places, and that can be driving up the death rate as well.

BERMAN: It's a strain on the system, Sanjay, and one of the things that we try to do is talk to people on the front lines of this battle. And what they're telling is horrifying. We heard from the doctors in Ed Lavandera's piece saying they've never signed so many death certificates in their lives. We spoke to a judge in Hidalgo County, Texas, last hour, who told us he doesn't have what he needs in terms of testing, and he said a neighboring county told him they've run out of money for new testing. They've run out of money for new testing. They're rationing tests in Arizona, yet, the federal government, we know, is sitting on billions of dollars of unspent money for testing. And I know you have had your own experiences here.


GUPTA: Yes. This is -- it's hard to believe at this point. This was a moonshot, in a way, when it came to testing, and it was very achievable. The idea that two-and-a-half months ago now, maybe closer to three months ago we heard from Ambassador Birx saying what we need here is some big breakthroughs on testing. And I guess that maybe should have been a galvanizing call to industry, to academia, to everybody, saying, look, let's get figure out a few ways to get some really rapid, easily deployable, accurate tests out to the populations so people can start to really have some idea whether or not they have the coronavirus or not, maybe even one day in people's homes, maybe through a telehealth visit, whatever it might be.

But the idea that hospitals still don't have testing, as I mentioned to you last hour, that we don't have adequate testing to be confident that when we're taking a patient to the operating room that they are definitely COVID negative, and if they are not COVID negative, all the ripple effects that has. We all have to wear personal protective equipment, which is also hard to get, by the way. We've given one N95 mask and told to use it until it's basically no longer usable.

And so everybody has to do that. I have to do that, the anesthesiologist, the residents, all the nurses. You see the impact of simply not being able to get a nasal swab test back on somebody in some quick fashion, it affects everything. We can do brain surgery, we can check coagulations, we can do ultrasounds of people's hearts, we can do all of these really sophisticated advanced testing, but the idea of simply getting this test back -- I don't want to overly simplify, because I realize there is a sequence of events that needs to take place to get these tests back, but this many months into this we should have had this nailed, and we should have been leading the world in this. And instead we're pretty much near the bottom.

CAMEROTA: That's why it was so interesting yesterday, Sanjay, to hear President Trump say for the first time that they are in the process of, it sounded like, creating some sort of national strategy rather than delegating it to the states. He wasn't -- he didn't give specifics. We don't know what that means and we were looking forward to having the chief of staff for the vice president, who of course is the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, Marc Short on just a few moments ago, and he canceled just a little while ago. We hope it's not any sort of emergency, and we certainly not it's that they didn't want to come on and explain what that so-called strategy is. So obviously we're still waiting to hear from him. Do you understand what the president was talking about yesterday?

GUPTA: No, there was no -- there was no detail around that. That's the thing. It's exactly as you said. And we have been listening very closely and I have been talking to a lot of my sources, both close to and on the Coronavirus Task Force, and I think even they were sort of wondering, well, what exactly is he going to say? Because as you know, I've pointed out, they weren't invited to this meeting. We know Dr. Fauci did not brief the president before this meeting. So exactly where he was getting his knowledge -- the comments that he was going to make, who was providing that for him, it's unclear to me.

But the idea of what to do I think is less unclear. I think that's pretty clear. You need to basically galvanize the country and say, hey, look, we're all in this together. Everybody has a role to play. Do it for the next several weeks. We're going to be in a very different position come fall.

Number two is the mask wearing. We know that mask wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing have basically controlled this pandemic in many, many countries around the world. They didn't have a magic drug or vaccine or therapeutic. They had the same things we have. Just got to do it for a few weeks to really start bringing these numbers down.

And finally, testing. This one really does boggle the mind. I experienced this personally within the hospital, I experienced this personally within my own family. It is very hard to get tests still this many months into things. If we could have rapid tests -- and again, it does require an investment to basically develop some of these new antigen type tests that are reliable, easily deployable, people can count on the accuracy of these tests. But it's not inconceivable at all. We could do this, and we need to do it at this point. So those are the three things I would focus on, and that's what I expected to hear from the president with the backing of the scientists, really much a united front. And unfortunately, we're still not hearing that.

GUPTA: So Sanjay, I know that I am personally waiting to hear what is going to happen with school for my own 13-year-old rising eighth graders. I don't know if they're going back to school physically yet. I would like to know. Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the CDC, made some comments, I understand, just a few moments ago on what he sees as the possibilities. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you be comfortable with your school aged grandchildren going back to school in the fall?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Absolutely. Absolutely. The only one that there may be some reservation is my grandson with cystic fibrosis, depending on how he can be accommodated in the school that he is in. But my other 10 grandchildren, of those, eight of them are school age. I'm 100 percent that they can get back to school.



BERMAN: I guess I don't know where they live, Sanjay, and that would be the real question, right? Because if they live in Florida or Texas or California or Arizona, different story.

GUPTA: The CDC released guidelines on this, and it was actually part of those initial gating criteria which everyone has probably forgotten, although they should remember, because even in there they talk about the different phases. And one of the phases initially did have comments about schools. And here's the basic gist of it. If you're living in a community where your numbers have gone down 14 days in a row, you're probably in a pretty good place. If your numbers in your community have gone up five days in a row, it's probably not time to send your kids back to school.

I hate saying that. I have got three school age girls as well. But if you're living in that kind of community, that probably means a likelihood of you coming in contact with somebody who has the virus is much higher. A quarter of faculty and teachers and staff are vulnerable in some way. And then there was the data coming out of South Korea, as you remember, that says kids between the ages of 10 and 18 are probably just as easily spreading the virus as adults are. We really don't know about children younger than that. I think that's still an open question mark. They have been largely been home since the middle of March, so it's harder to study them. But most kids are spreading this virus as well. So if you're living in a community where you already have significant spread, I think it's hard to make the case to send kids back to school in those communities.

CAMEROTA: Here comes our daily vaccine question. Where are we today?

GUPTA: You did hear from some of these companies I thought something that I thought was even a bit audacious in terms of saying that perhaps we'd have vaccines available even by this fall, by September. I think that as encouraged as I've been by some of the results that we've seen from these phase one trials, I think that that's too early, and I think that's a benchmark that might be unrealistic.

But I think that you have several companies now that are saying look, by the end of this year, by early next year, we're likely to have data that shows that the vaccine is effective, and manufacturing capabilities are already under way.

So, you know, Alisyn, I love ending on this note, because if there's a bright spot in the U.S. response and the world response, really, it's been around vaccines and therapeutics. We don't have it yet, so I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but it's been really remarkable to see the pace of medical innovation with regard to this. And I think the pace of medical innovation will forever be favorably changed as a result of what's happened over the last several months. Hopefully it leads to a vaccine within the next several months as well. I remain optimistic about that.

CAMEROTA: And so impressive to see the brain trust from around the world coming together to try to fix this one problem that we all need. So Sanjay, thank you, as always. Thanks for all of your information.

GUPTA: You got it.

CAMEROTA: All right, coming up, there are new questions this morning about President Trump's ethics. What he reportedly asked an ambassador to do to help his Scottish golf resort. That's next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some areas of our country a 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. It's the way -- it's what we have.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump with a much less rosy outlook on coronavirus than his usual take.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence refusing to say whether he would have done anything differently to stop this outbreak.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I must tell you that the fact that before there was a single case of community transmission in this country, the fact that President Trump suspended all travel from China was of enormous importance.

REPORTER: So, you wouldn't have changed a thing?

PENCE: I must tell you that I'm proud of our administration's response.

REPORTER: So not one thing would be changed -- just to clarify, if you could, not one thing would be changed? Just to clarify.

PENCE: My focus is completely on today and going forward.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

John, they really hang their hat on the banning of flights from China. That was in January. Why don't they talk about anything since that time that they would have or they could have done?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, because their response has turned out to be extremely unsuccessful and we're in crisis right now as a result of that. And President Trump never likes to acknowledge mistakes. Even in the news conference yesterday, you saw -- you heard him say even though I don't like to say this about things, it's going to get worse before it gets better. That was difficult. He was forced by terrible poll numbers to do that.

And if you're Mike Pence throughout the administration his top priority has been to flatter the president and to remain on the president's good side. So, of course, Mike Pence is going to avoid acknowledging any mistakes because if he acknowledges mistakes, that is implicitly criticizing the president and that's the one thing that Mike Pence will not do.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John, I want to ask you about another story that came out in "The New York Times" that under different circumstances might be getting a lot more attention. And that's that "The Times" reports that President Trump personally pressured the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Woody Johnson, to get involved to try to get the Brits to move the British Open, the golf tournament to a Trump resort in Scotland at Turnberry.

Again, like I said, under normal circumstances, that would be months of hearings on Capitol Hill, the president using ambassadors to drum up business at his own resorts.

What do we know about what went on here and is the White House responding at all?

HARWOOD: Well, we know that the administration has denied the story, and said that the president did not seek this favor. "New York Times" is reporting this based on things that woody Johnson told associates of his. So the denial is out there.


On the other hand, it is entirely unsurprising the idea that the president who views the federal government in effect as an extension of his business would do this. Remember, the president in multiple ways has monetized his office by having events at his hotels, by renting office space to his re-election campaign, various ways in which the president has tried to use the office to support his business.

And that's true in other dimensions as well. He has talked about his attorney general as his personal lawyer, his Roy Cohn. Bill Barr seems to be doing that right now. He is right now deploying federal agents to cities in what appears to be a dramatization of his re-election campaign themes of law and order.

These are agents who are being sent into cities against the wishes of state and local authorities. Again, the president views the U.S. government that he leads as his instrument personally, and he is behaving accordingly.

So, we'll see what the further evidence reveals about this particular case, but the pattern is very clear.

CAMEROTA: There was an interesting moment yesterday during the so- called coronavirus White House press briefing where the issue of Jeffrey Epstein came up and his accused accomplice in the sex trafficking ring of underage girls, Ghislaine Maxwell, is her name, and the president had a curious response. Here it is.


TRUMP: I just wish her well, frankly. I 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Was that a pardon precursor or what was that?

HARWOOD: Well, you certainly have to wonder that. Remember, the president views issues of right and wrong not the way you and I would view them in terms of morality, but views issues of right and wrong in terms of his personal interests, who he knows, whether it's good for him.

So, as he said in discussing Ghislaine Maxwell, he talked about knowing her from palm beach and meeting her numerous times and therefore, I wish her well. Now, nobody knows if there's anything -- of course, we have seen a bunch of pictures of the president with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, if there's anything more to it than that. But just the fact of the personal connection with the person disregarding the horrendous crimes that she's accused of participating in and abetting, that -- those crimes are less important than the fact that he knows her and therefore, he said something that no other president would have said in a situation like that.

CAMEROTA: John Harwood, thank you very much for all of the reporting.

HARWOOD: You bet.

CAMEROTA: President Trump repeatedly calling coronavirus the China virus at his press conference. Does that help his case? What does it tell us?



CAMEROTA: President Trump took a more serious tone yesterday about the pandemic that is gripping the U.S. and much of the world. This was during the conference on coronavirus, but the president still managed to work in his preferred name for it.


TRUMP: Today, I want to provide an update on our response to the China virus. The China virus is a vicious and dangerous illness. The median age of those who succumb to the China virus is 78 years old. If you watch American television, you'd think that the United States was the only country involved and suffering from the China virus.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is CNN political commentator and former Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang.

Andrew, great to see you.

The president doesn't refer to it in the vernacular that most people in the country, doctors included, refer to it, COVID-19, or coronavirus. Why do you think he is branding it as the China virus? ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's hoping he can

distract the American public from his administration's epic mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and the fact is now, a clear majority of Americans, including a growing proportion of Republicans, disapprove of how he's handled it.

And so, he's going to his playbook and saying, look, if I can distract the American people and use inflammatory or divisive rhetoric, maybe they'll ignore the fact that we have, unfortunately, now become the singular example of a developed country that's suffering at higher levels from the coronavirus than any other country in the world.

BERMAN: Yes, I mean, there were those who's saying he's changed his tone. He certainly didn't change his tone on trying to divide on that type of language, which there are many people who look at as racist, Andrew.

YANG: Yeah, as an Asian-American who sensed this surge in hostility against Asian-Americans, it's really damaging. It's destructive, it's heart breaking.

I have friends who don't want to go out in public because of the hostility that the president is unfortunately encouraging.

CAMEROTA: That is -- that is really heartbreaking to hear, Andrew, but, you know, I mean, what his press secretary I think has said is they're just following in the long line of history of naming a virus after, you know, where it comes from. We call 1918 the Spanish flu. Ebola is named for a river near its origin.

What's your response to that?

YANG: Oh, it's factually incorrect. It's not like the Spanish flu even originated in Spain, and any health expert will say that we should be naming this by its technical name, COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. So he's clearly just trying to brand it a particular way for his political expedience.

I'm happy to say it does not seem to be working at all and you're seeing that in the poll numbers, you're seeing in the fact that at this point, Joe has built a double-digit lead.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the discussions happening on Capitol Hill right now in terms of new stimulus getting money into people's pockets.