Return to Transcripts main page


New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio Live on NEW DAY . Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 08:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He's just wrong on testing, and some Republicans don't agree with his position either. Overnight they reached a fundamental agree with the White House on a coronavirus relief bill that does include more money for testing. With 143,000 dead Americans and climbing, the president is also making the bizarre claim that a cure -- his word -- is somehow close. It's not, no one thinks that. The president also pushed for schools to reopen 100 percent, presenting misinformation about the risk of kids spreading the virus.

A new poll finds that just eight percent of Americans think schools should reopen with no changes. Most people want schools to open with some kind of adjustment which requires guidance or a plan that still hasn't been provided. So the president wrong on an imminent cure, wrong on the risk of kids spreading the virus. But he totally aced what Alisyn called the heads, shoulders, knees, and toes test. We'll get to his obsession with his cognitive test, which he goes into excruciating detail, shortly.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And maybe we'll even demonstrate that dance.

Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Ashish Jha, direct of the Harvard Global Health Study. Great to have both of you.

So Sanjay, almost 4 million cases. What's so interesting is the rapid acceleration with how long we are now hitting these new astronomical milestones. So it's only two weeks now that we have gone from 3 million to 4 million, and it took, as you can see, many months to get up to the 2 million cases. So explain this. How is this happening?

Sanjay, can you hear me? I'm going to take --

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you hear me? Sorry, can you hear me now?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Could you hear my question?

GUPTA: Tick, tick, tick.

CAMEROTA: Can you hear us?

GUPTA: I got you, yes. I got you, yes. So it's really important to measure not only the growth but also the

pace at which that growth is happening, which is what you're alluding to there. So again, when we do the calculations, it took almost 100 days to get to the first million people infected. It took 43 days to the get to the next 2 million, 28 days after that, and just 15 days to get to this final million. So it's that pace.

So it's interesting to think about this, this is really important, because you think about this in terms of what do you need to do, what strategies will work? Carl Bergstrom, I believe, a professor in Washington, uses this analogy of a big steamship, a big cruise liner moving through the ocean. As it's gaining speed, the pace of acceleration is increasing here, what happens? It becomes harder to slow down, right? Small steering changes, they take longer to manifest themselves.

And think about the same thing. If you implemented strategies earlier before that thing really started to catch steam, those strategies are likely to be much more effective. It's certainly to say the strategies are still effective, but they're going to take longer. You may need more aggressive strategies to accomplish the same thing. That's part of the reason you really want to look at not only how many more cases you have but the pace at which this is growing.

Also just quickly, look at the country in terms of where cases are happening. We saw what happened in the northeast where you guys are there up in the northeast, but now you're seeing things, as we have been saying, for some time in the south, in the Midwest, in the west. If you talk to modelers, and especially modelers around the world, what you sense is that instead of -- because we don't have a national strategy, you don't see the country as a singular line, you're going to see these spots, and then they're going to curtail. Then you're going to see another spot, and then it's going to come down. And that's not the sort of model that you want. They start to come down because people in those areas realize, look, this is getting problematic. We really should start wearing masks here. The doctors and nurses really are sounding the alarm about lack of availability of hospital beds. So it's redlining in all these areas, and then coming back down. So pace increasing, redlining in areas, that's not the sort of model you want to be seeing.

BERMAN: So Dr. Jha, Sanjay keeps using words, big words, like "strategy" and "plan," which we have not heard from the president the last two nights, even though he has restarted these daily briefings. Schools, for instance, a perfect example of this. He says he wants schools to be 100 percent open, but we don't have a national strategy or plan or guidelines, even the guidelines he promised to give us on that. And he's suggesting that the evidence that he sees is that kids don't transmit the virus when the most recent study we have that Dr. Birx cited last night after the president spoke indicates that children old than 10-years-old transmit the virus as frequently as adults. So what are the facts here?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so thank you for having me on. Basically, it would be helpful to get a national plan on how to open schools safely. We all want schools open. That's not actually the debate. The debate is how do we open up schools safely, and a national plan would be helpful.


The facts on kid transmission is, first of all, we're still learning. There's a lot we don't know. But what we know is the following, which is kids under 10 transmit less. They don't transmit zero, but they transmit less. And that might help shape, I think, and it should shape how we open up, let's say K through five. Kids older than that, high schoolers, maybe middle schoolers, look like they transmit the way adults do, and therefore we have to have probably a different threshold and more vigorous kind of virus control before we open up high schools and maybe middle schools.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, in terms of the White House -- those White House so-called coronavirus briefings, the president really seems to want to lead with good news, possibly prematurely. He talked yesterday about a cure that doesn't exist at the moment. He wants to say that we're on track, everything is going in the right direction. But again, notably, the actual doctors we used to hear from, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, are not there at the podium. And do you have any insight into if that will change? And why not?

GUPTA: I talked to Dr. Fauci. I think he was very much in the dark, at least on the first briefing on Tuesday. He really didn't know whether or not he was going to be invited or not. It was quite something. We all didn't know. And when I talked to him, he had no idea either. So there was no real communication with him. We know he hadn't spoken to the president since the previous week, before that first briefing, again, on Tuesday. So the president was not briefed by Fauci, at least not within the few days before the briefing.

I don't know whether it's going to change, and I don't know if the members of the task force know whether it's going to change or not. There's certainly no indication that it seems like it's going to change. It's necessary for them to be there. The science behind what Ashish is talking about and what the country needs to hear, that needs to be given to the public.

One thing I do want to bring up, if I can ask even Ashish about this, when you do look at children under 10, because this is coming up a lot in households across America, I looked at the study. I think you're referencing the South Korea contact tracing study. There weren't a lot of kids under aged 10 in the study. Out of the 4,000 or 5,000 people in the study, there's only 40 or so kids of that age. I still feel like we don't know the answer with regard to even young kids. You think about flu and stuff like that, typically, they spread a lot. Do we just not know, or can we say definitively that kids don't spread that much, or they spread less if they're younger?

JHA: Yes. So what I would say is we don't know for sure. Certainly, we have -- there are four or five different studies out there. This may be the best, but as you point out, Sanjay, this is really still pretty inadequate.

My general gestalt, looking at the summary of the data, is that the young kids seem to spread less, but it doesn't mean that they spread zero. And that means we still have to do all the things that are necessary to make schools safe, like get the virus levels down, like improve ventilation and create spacing in schools. All the things that are going to be necessary we still need to do it for K through five, but we might get lucky that they spread less and therefore it would be as hard to keep those schools open. That's how I see it.

GUPTA: Dr. Jha, thank you very much for being with us. Sanjay, stay with us if you can, because we're going to want your take in a moment on something that will be etched in the stone and annals of intellectual history, the president's obsessive, unironic, and revealing fixation on a cognitive test that he took.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the last time I was at the hospital, probably a year ago, I said to the doctor, it was Dr. Ronny Jackson, I said is there some kind of a test, an acuity test? And he said there actually is, and he named it, whatever it might be. And it was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult, like a memory question. It's like you'll go person, woman, man, camera, TV. So could you repeat that? So I said yes. So it's person, woman, man, camera, TV. OK, that's very good. If you get it in order, you get extra points.

OK, now he's asking you other questions, other questions, and then 10 minutes, 15, 20 minutes later, they say remember the first question -- not the first, but the 10th question? Give us that again. Can you do that again? And you go person, woman, man, camera, TV. If you get it in order, you get extra points. They said nobody gets it in order. It's actually not that easy, but for me it was easy. And that's not an easy question. In other words, they ask it to you, they give you five names, and you have to repeat them, and that's OK. If you repeat them out of order it's OK, but it's not as good.


But then when you go back about 20, 25 minutes later and they say go back to that question -- they don't tell you this. Go back to that question and repeat them. Can you do it? And you go person, woman, man, camera, TV. They say, that's amazing. How did you do that? I do it because I have like a good memory, because I'm cognitively there.


BERMAN: All right, joining us now also is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. Sanjay, we'll come to you in a second for the medical truth and reality about this. John, first, the politics here, because it's astounding. The president's obsession with this is astounding, and more astounding is that he seems to think that this two-minute rant makes him look good.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is astounding, John. It's sort of like if I were to touch my finger to my nose or walk in a straight line for ten yards that I would stand up and that proves I'm a world-class athlete. No, it proves that I can pass the test the police officer gives to see if I'm drunk. This is a test that is administered to see if people have brain injury or dementia.

And the fact that the president believes that it flatters him to repeat that story raises more questions than it answers, especially when you tie it to the president's conduct in other ways yesterday. That he came out to this briefing and said that evidence shows that the kids do not -- school kids do not bring the virus home and transmit it to others, when, as you've noted, we have a fresh study out this week showing if you're from age 10 to 19 you do it as much as adults do, that's from South Korea. Or asserting in a FOX interview that testing is overrated. Now, is the president's inability to accept that information and convey the correct information, is that a political matter? Is that a cognitive matter? Or is that a matter of his psychological state? None of the answers would be reassuring.

CAMEROTA: I'm only smiling, Sanjay, and on the verge of laughing because of the cutaways of Dr. Siegel. I've interviewed Dr. Siegel many times. He's an excellent doctor. He is very thoughtful. And him, the cutaways of his straight face listening to the president repeat "person, woman, man, camera, TV" over and over again are interesting. On a serious note, of course, Sanjay, this is a test for people with dementia. We don't know exactly why the president demanded that he himself get this test. And as you have pointed out, we still don't have an answer for why he had that unscheduled visit to Walter Reed.

GUPTA: Yes. There's a few things, I know Marc Siegel well. It would be fun to talk to him after this and see what he was thinking. I'm going to call him.


GUPTA: But as John Harwood pointed out, this is the sort of thing that we also do on the sideline exam at football games and things like that, if someone we're worried might have had a concussion. It's a simple word recall exam. We check cranial nerves, we make sure they have no numbness or tingling in the side of their body, simple word recall, where are you, do you know where you are, do you know your name, do you know -- see they're oriented in some way, person, place, time. It's a very basic exam.

Now, things I don't still understand. There's two things that still jump out. When exactly did he have this exam? I know John Berman asked this earlier, he said Ronny Jackson administered this exam. We know about the Montreal cognitive assessment that was just on the screen for a second. That was done in January of 2018. And so that was more than a year ago. The president said he had this exam a year ago, and it was done at a hospital. Now, this exam doesn't need to be done at a hospital. You can see it's a very basic exam, so he was taken to the hospital we know for that unannounced visit back in November of last year. Did he have this exam done at the hospital at that point? And if so, why? Why an unannounced -- if it was a routine physical, that's not something that would be typically be done as part of a routine physical unless there was some concern for something.

We still don't have very clear answers what happened November of 2019. Why would somebody have to go to the hospital in unannounced way like that? What needed to be done? It wasn't a very long visit there, so what was going on? Again, it's speculative. We just don't know. But if this was part of that work-up at that time, and as John Harwood correctly pointed out, it's typically done because you're worried about some sort of acute injury or acute event that has happened in the brain, why? Why was this all part of it? And we're only talking about it because the president is talking about it, and he said it was done within the last year. It would be great to understand the details of this. When was it done? Why was it done? Who administered it? What exactly was the test that was done? All of that, because it's important.


I mean, you know, we -- that part of the exam he's talking about is a very basic part of the exam. What was also assessed at the time?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, none of this means what he thinks it means. That is abundantly clear, including the presentation that he made on Fox HERE.

John Harwood, Sanjay, thank you both.

President Trump wants to send federal agents to major U.S. cities he says to deal with the rise in violence. One of the cities already threatening legal action. We'll speak to the mayor of New York City, next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm going to do something. That I can tell you, because we're not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these -- Oakland is a mess. We're not going to let this happen in our country, all run by liberal Democrats.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was President Trump once again threatening to send in federal agents to quell a rise in gun violence in major American cities, including New York City.

I'm now joined by New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Good morning, Mayor.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you doing?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

You say that you won't local President Trump to send in federal agents to New York, but I guess I wonder how you'll stop it. I mean, Portland, Oregon's mayor didn't want it either but then it happened.

DE BLASIO: Yes, but it's been a total mess. The presence of those federal troops made things worse and, in fact, what the president is talking about is unconstitutional.


It is not the place of the federal government to send in agencies. They're supposed to be doing entirely different things. What is he using them for?

He's using them for crowd control, for repressing the right of people to protest, for a political stunt, obviously, for his own re-election.

But what's happening, Alisyn, is it's literally making things worse. We're not going to allow that in New York City. We have the biggest police force in the country.

When we ask for federal help, that's one thing. But when the president of the United States starts to use federal officers like his own personal police force, that's very dangerous for our democracy.

CAMEROTA: Let me just put up on the screen for our viewers where we are in New York in terms of violent crime. Shootings, the weekend of July 18th, there were 22 of them versus a year ago, there were five. The victims of those shootings, there were 44, whereas a year ago, there were five victims.

Then in terms of the crime stats being up, shootings are up 130 percent over last year, murders are up 30 percent, burglaries up 118 percent, auto thefts up 51 percent.

But then this next graph is really interesting. The NYPD arrests down, 62 percent.

So just explain this paradox, Mayor, how violent crime -- or these other various crimes as well are up, but arrests are down?

DE BLASIO: Sure, Alisyn. There's been a pandemic going on. I don't mean that to be flip. I honestly -- we have seen an absolute dislocation.

For months, we had a lot fewer officers because they're out sick. For months, we have not had a functioning court system. NYPD has a lot of people that are ready right now to see prosecuted, but our D.A.s can't prosecute because there's no court system functioning yet.

It's been a massive dislocation. And we don't accept it. We're fighting it back. We're sending cops out to some of the neighborhoods where we're having particular problems and we're fighting back the crime and those shootings.

But let's face it. The entire society has been through just an epic dislocation. People don't have work. They don't go to school. They don't have anything.

And we're going to fix it. We're going to deal with it. Remember, Alisyn, this is a city 25 years ago going through hell with crime and we fought our way back, and we'll fight our way through this. But we have to do it the way that works for New York City. It can't be

about someone else sending in folks not trained the right way to be here, who only unfortunately would make things worse and could lead to more violence.

That's the great irony. You send in folks who are not meant for this work, and even worse things happen.

CAMEROTA: But do you think that this is also, in addition, to everything you have just listed a reaction from the police who are demoralized?

The fact that there is a slowdown in 911 response times, do you think that that is some form of protest? The fact that there are more retirements being taken than usual, a form of protest somehow?

DE BLASIO: No. Alisyn, look, it's been a really tough time for our police officers. They've gone through a lot. Everyone has gone through a lot.

But what you see is the NYPD now regrouping and fighting back. Commissioner Dermot Shea and I had a press conference Friday and we'd outlined the strategy to go into the neighborhoods.

And it's a pretty few places that we are seeing an uptick, a relatively few people are causing the violence crime -- violent crime. We're going after them. We need them prosecuted. Again, that's the big missing link here because we can't get them off the street if there's not prosecution and the court system functioning.

But no, NYPD is fighting back, unquestionably. And in the end, look, this city again -- you know, the resilience of this place. Look at what went through in March and April with the coronavirus, we fought back. Look at what we went through for decades dealing with really profound challenges of crime. We fought back.

New York City always fights back and our police are devoted to that mission. There's no question.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that the president's pivot away from coronavirus where his polls -- poll numbers tanked but his pivot to being a so-called "law and order" president will help his reelection bid? I mean, as someone who wanted to run against him for president, do you think that this is something that resonates with those suburban voters?

DE BLASIO: Not the way he's doing it. I think -- I think people all want safety and everyone wants to see harmony in our society as well. I think there's a lot of pain in this country after the killing of George Floyd.

It came out in cities and suburbs all over the country. People want to see a lot more fairness, a lot more justice, but we all want safety too.

What Donald Trump is doing is just exacerbating the tensions and the divisions and I actually think it's going to backfire on him. I think there's a lot of voters -- I think he has a stereotype of suburban voters that they're folks who don't care about the other issues in our society, and I think he's misunderstanding suburbia today in America.


It's overwhelming folks who would like to see a more harmonious society, and a more decent society, they're not voting for Donald Trump. They're voting for Joe Biden. There's no question about it.

And, in fact, by doubling down, he's making it worse because he's making himself look like an extremist who is willing to take away our democratic norms.

I mean, think about it, he's literally trying to create the equivalent of a national police, something that's never existed. Our Founding Fathers didn't want it. No Americans have wanted it.

Trump's trying to do that de facto by ordering federal troops into cities that don't even want them. That will backfire in every way. And it has to be stopped.

And if those federal troops show up on the streets of New York City, we'll be in court and we will stop him because it's a brazenly unconstitutional.

CAMEROTA: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Arizona is dealing with a huge number of coronavirus cases, leading some doctors to ration medical supplies. One doctor on the front lines joins us next.


CAMEROTA: This morning, Arizona is in the midst of the pandemic crisis. More than 150,000 cases reported statewide. That state is expected to cross 3,000 deaths today.