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Divided on a Stimulus Proposal; Cherry-Picking Data on U.S. Death Toll; Coronavirus Outbreak Update from around the World; U.S. Accuses China of Spying. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 08:30   ET



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

We, of course, are asking you because you are perhaps the best known champion of the universal basic income. You want to give Americans $1,000 a month across the board. They're talking about something different. One of the things the president wants is a payroll tax cut. What are the limitations of that in terms of what you would like to see?

ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Economists who have looked at it are nearly unanimous or unanimous in saying a payroll tax cut is not the way to go. It puts a little bit more money into the hands of folks who have jobs, which is not the core problem right now.

The core problem is that you have tens of millions of Americans who don't know where their next paycheck's going to come from. So we need to have stimulus checks that go directly to the American people and 80 percent of Americans, including the vast majority of Republicans, want cash relief. They got the $1,200 last time. They loved it. It helped keep the groceries on the table and pay that month's rent.

So that's the way economists want this next stimulus to go. That's the way the American people want the stimulus to go. That's the way Republican senators even want the stimulus to go. And I hope that reason will prevail and we'll see cash relief be a huge component, the central component, of this next relief bill.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, as you know, Republicans are really, even within their own ranks, struggling with how much relief and stimulus, et cetera, to give. It goes against their, you know, their stated philosophy that they have thrown out about being, you know, deficit hawks and all that stuff.

And so coming right up is that $600 supplemental uninsurance money that people have been getting. It's going to expire this month. And you hear some Republicans saying that they are -- they don't want to renew it, they're uncomfortable with it because it was more money than people were sometimes making when they had paychecks. So what's the response to that?

YANG: Well, that's the great thing about direct cash relief is that if you put money into people's hands and it's unconditional, then if they go out and get a shift or get some more hours, then that is more money for them. And so there's no disincentive.

But economists who have looked at it say there are three things that this bill should be built around. Number one is direct cash relief to people. Number two, benefits that help people who don't have a job. So this is -- one reason why the payroll tax is a terrible idea. And, number three, direct cash to states because, right now, many states around the country are having huge budget shortfalls and the last thing you need are more layoff in the midst of this pandemic.

BERMAN: Andrew Yang, great to see you. Thanks for coming on the show. Always a pleasure.

YANG: Thanks, guys. Be safe. See you soon.

BERMAN: You too.

CAMEROTA: You too.

President Trump says the U.S. pandemic response is, quote, the envy of the world, but is the White House cherry picking their data to show President Trump? A CNN "Reality Check" about this is next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump talks a lot about the U.S. having one of the lowest coronavirus mortality rates in the world. But that's according to a different dataset than researchers in the U.S. use. It's apparently to keep the president happy.

Here's John Avlon's "Reality Check."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sudden embrace of masks, social distancing, the --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I've always agreed with that.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But he hasn't always agreed with that. Prior to that, Donald Trump's Covid mode has primarily been denial since the earliest days of the pandemic, slowing our response, criticizing medical experts, dodging responsibility and putting policy through the prism of his self-interest rather than the national interests. All of which makes his 2015 book "Crippled America" look like a prophecy of his presidency.

But even by Trump's standards, his interview with Chris Wallace was a denial-palooza.

TRUMP: We have the best testing in the world. If we didn't test, you wouldn't be able to be showed that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.

AVLON: OK, that's like arguing pregnancy tests cause babies, or as Daniel Dale wrote, like someone standing in front of you isn't there if you close your eyes.

But the Trump administration slow rolled testing and our response hampered by the president's reluctance to confront bad news out of fear of it hurting the economy and his re-election efforts. Spoiler alert, it did both.

But let's take a look at U.S. testing versus other countries. Now let's take a look at Covid cases in the USA compared to other countries. We're number one, but not in a good way.

So much for what Jared Kushner said.

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: By July, the country's really rocking again.

AVLON: And according to the head of the CDC, our best estimate right now is for every case reported, there were actually ten other infections.

Now, of course, the real horror show is in the number of deaths in the United States, rising past 140,000. But the denier in chief even tried to put a positive spin on that.

TRUMP: When you talk about mortality rates, I think it's the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: That's not true, sir. We can check it out.

TRUMP: Could you please get me the mortality rate.

I heard we had the best mortality rate.

AVLON: The best mortality rate? Where did he hear that from? A rumor he picked up on Twitter? His press secretary then handed him a piece of paper. And here's where things got really revealing, because the document was essentially framed to make the president feel good. It doesn't even show we have the lowest mortality rate. And across the top in small print it says, during an outbreak (ph) of a pandemic, the CFR is a poor measure of the mortality risk of the disease.

But not only that, they chose to avoid other countries, like Russia, Germany, France, the U.K. and India, let alone our neighbors in Mexico and Canada. If you add them in, the picture looks a lot worse for the U.S.

But what it really shows is just how coddled Trump's become inside the White House bubble, surrounded by staffers who tell him what he wants to hear, rather than what's really going on.

So when President Trump says --


TRUMP: We are the envy of the world.

AVLON: We could point you to surveys showing the opposite. And that was before Covid. Or we could remind you that President Trump just passed 20,000 false or misleading claims according to "The Washington Post." But as the White House fights additional funding for Covid testing, the catastrophic consequences of Trump's denial should remind all Americans of this, we're always safest when we confront reality.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Indeed it is.

Our thanks to John Avlon for that.

So this morning, officials in Hong Kong adding new restrictions to fight the pandemic there. And Italy's health minister has declared in that country the worst is over.

CNN has reporters all around the world bringing you the latest developments.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Will Ripley in Hong Kong, where new, drastic steps are being taking to try to stop what city officials call a third wave of Covid-19 that is on the verge of becoming a major outbreak in this densely populated city. People now have to wear masks not only while riding public transportation but in all indoor public spaces, as well as bus terminals.

Also, people who are flying into Hong Kong from nine high risk countries, including the U.S., are now required to submit negative Covid-19 tests before they can even get on a flight.


More cases of Covid-19 at U.S. military bases is adding to fears that service men could be spreading the virus among local residents. U.S. military personnel are exempt from local laws, including the disclosure of Covid-19 cases.

But after a week of pressure from local authorities, the U.S. has now said it will disclose all cases among U.S. military bases in Japan, not just in Okinawa. Japan is asking the U.S. to test all incoming military personnel for Covid-19, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms or not.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm Barbie Nadeau in Rome, Italy, where the country's health minister, Roberto Speranza, has just declared that Italy is, quote, out of the storm when it comes to the global pandemic.

Now, Italy was the original epicenter for the pandemic outside of China, logging more than 244,000 positive cases and more than 35,000 deaths for this country of just 60 million people. The health minister said that it was due to the sacrifices made by the Italian people, which included a very, very strict lockdown and a continued adherence to social distancing and the requirement of face coverings inside all public places.


BERMAN: Our thanks to our reporters.

If there's one thing we've learned, counties, countries, states should all be careful about declaring victory over this pandemic.

Breaking news, the U.S. has ordered a Chinese consulate to close in Houston over accusations of spying. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just explained why. We have a live report, next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: There is some breaking news this morning because the United States is accusing China of illegal spying and ordering it to close its consulate in Houston. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just spoke out about this.

CNN's David Culver is live in Beijing with that update.

What did he say, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, he addressed what is now a significant story here in China, and that is the closure of their consulate in Houston. And one of the biggest questions posed to the secretary was, all right, we've known about intellectual property theft with regard to the Chinese Communist Party, we've known about the issues of interfering was U.S. domestic politics. So why now? Why is it that they acted with the closure of this consulate?

Here is what he said just a few minutes ago while in Denmark.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The report that this has been going on for a long time makes our point. President Trump has said, enough. We're not going to -- we're not going to allow this to continue to happen where they -- you've seen the remarks that National Security Adviser O'Brien given, that FBI Director Wray gave, that Attorney General Barr has given.

We -- we are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave. And when they don't, we're going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs. That's the actions that you're seeing taken by President Trump will continue to engage in this.


CULVER: Now, we've got to put this in context with the multifaceted rising of tensions here. You've got the issue with Shingjong (ph), the far western region of China, and widespread human rights abuse allegations made against China. You've got Hong Kong and the national security law and the U.S. now stripping of it -- of its special trade status. You've got the South China Sea and the rising tensions there, not to mention the pandemic and the allegations of cover-up and mishandling against China.

China is responding, saying they will retaliate in some measure. They haven't gone into specific detail. But they are saying that this will sabotage U.S./China relations.

It's also interesting, Alisyn, they are just putting out a warning to foreign students in the U.S. They're saying, watch out, you may be interrogated arbitrarily and you could face harassment.

What's interesting about that is it plays into the nationalism that is growing here. And when you have the rising nationalism, that then fuels the government to want to take action. So state media is already responding to this closure of the consulate saying China's got to do the same, at least, and that could perhaps come at the closure of the Wuhan consulate.

That's what Reuters is suggesting. But the reality is, most of those diplomats, the Americans, already left at the outbreak's onset. And so it wouldn't really be that significant of a move but it would validate the actions from the China's perspective.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you for all of that context and for the great reporting. We really appreciate it.


BERMAN: All right, now from covering coronavirus to getting it. A Georgia reporter has just been released from the hospital after 11 days fighting the virus. Lyndsey Gough is a reporter at CNN affiliate WTOC in Savannah.


She believes she caught coronavirus in June while on assignment. I had a chance to speak with her about her experience.


LYNDSEY GOUGH, WTOC-TV REPORTER: I was covering the RBC heritage on Hilton Head Island, the return of pro golf. It was the second week. I turned 27 on June 19th. On June 20th, I was out on the golf course working and I believe that is where I actually got coronavirus initially.

Once I tested positive, which I'll get to that in a second, one of the people I interviewed had actually reached out and said they tested positive and they were from hot spot Charleston. That night I started feeling really fatigued. I thought it was because of a long, crazy workweek. I had three days off. I slept most of those three days.

So on the 23rd, I started feeling the flu-like symptoms pretty much every coronavirus symptom that there is, except for the fever and shortness of breath. I never had a fever until after I was in the hospital.

So on June 26th, I was finally able to get tested. I tried to get tested on the 25th and they ran out of tests. So the 26th I was tested for coronavirus. I got my results back on the 30th as positive.

I started to feel better after the two weeks. And then my flu-like symptoms came back with a very, very, very, very severe abdomen pain. So I let that go for two days. It didn't get better.

So on July 9th, I went to the emergency room with the abdomen pain. And they kept me for 11 days. They tested me again on that day and I tested positive again for coronavirus and they -- after running numerous tests, they told me that my appendix had ruptured and it needed to come out immediately.

I got out of surgery the next morning, they told me that my appendix was the size of a baseball. They also removed part of my colon and they told me that coronavirus had literally, quote, been a lightning strike to my body. My body just wasn't able to fight it all off.

And they said that -- well, they actually tried to go in like laparoscopically with two small incisions and I wound up with three, one pretty big one and 15 staples. They said that they had trouble stitching me up. My body was just kind of ravaged fighting off the coronavirus.

BERMAN: What an ordeal. That's incredible.


BERMAN: Horrible. I'm so glad, once again, that you're doing OK.

GOUGH: Yes, me too.

BERMAN: Do they connect -- is there a direct connection between the ruptured appendix and coronavirus? Were they able to determine that?

GOUGH: They -- they think it was just the stress of my body trying to fight off the coronavirus and the O.R. team actually told me that I was one of several gastrointestinal patients that they had seen that also had coronavirus. So they think that there's some kind of connection. It's just the fact that we don't know enough about this disease at this point.

BERMAN: Right. A lightning strike on your system. That is remarkable, vivid imagery here.

You're 27, right? You're 27. This isn't really supposed to happen to you.

GOUGH: Right.

BERMAN: We keep on being told it doesn't affect young people as badly. So what do young people need to know?

GOUGH: Well, you know, I -- I am a reporter and I was even guilty of thinking -- And I've covered this story for months, that if I get coronavirus, I'll be sick for two weeks, it will be bad, you know, I'll feel terrible but then I'll get over it, I'll rebound and it will be fine.

First of all, this is not the flu. I've had the flu. This is way worse than the flu even before my appendix ruptured. And just the fact that it's affected my body in ways that I didn't even think, you know? I -- I had a cough and stuff like that, which I expected, but I never expected the abdomen pains and the fatigue and all of this stuff.

And, I mean, I've been sick since the day I turned 27. It's been over a month now. I really still don't feel good. I don't really have a timeline to return to work still at this point. So it's definitely something to take seriously and, like I said, even with me covering the story, knowing how serious it was, even I was guilty of thinking, OK, you know, if I get it, I'm down two weeks and I'll be OK.

And I am OK, fortunately. But I don't know how this will affect me, you know, for the rest of my life. They told me that when I left the hospital my lungs sounded good for a Covid patient, but they are diminished.

My last x-rays they said looked OK. So I don't have a ton of lung damage, fortunately. But I am missing a part of my colon now. And, you know, I could have stuff pop up later on. They just don't know at this point.


BERMAN: Lindsey Gough, I can't imagine what you've been through. You impress me as a very strong person and a journalist which makes you even stronger. So I know you'll push through this.

Happy birthday?

GOUGH: Thank you.

BERMAN: I know it hasn't been great so far, but it will get better. Thanks so much for being with us.

GOUGH: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: What a story, John. I mean just hearing the panoply of symptoms that she had is just so alarming. You know, it's alarming because this virus, we know so little and it seems to affect each person differently.

BERMAN: Yes, it really hit me what she was saying, she doesn't know what the lifetime impact of this will be. And I can tell she's a little bit scared.

CAMEROTA: How could she not be? She's so young, 27 years old. I mean we do have in our heads that it's not supposed to affect a 27-year-old like that, but then it does.

John, thank you. That was a great interview.

Wonderful to see you today.

BERMAN: You too. It's always wonderful to see you.

Our coverage continues right after this.