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U.S. Tops 4 Million Cases, About 1 Million Reported in Past 15 Days; CDC Experts: COVID-19 "Will End Up as a Top 10 Leading Cause of Death" in 2020; Ex-FDA Commissioner: U.S. could See 300,000 Deaths; Dr. Birx Warns of Concerning Rise in Cases in 12 Cities as Trump Paints a Rosy Picture; Florida Reports Record 173 Deaths, 10,000 Plus Cases in a Day; Miami Mayor Says 32 Percent Contracting Virus at Home Suggests Masks, Social Distancing Inside for Some; Trump Cancels Jacksonville Portion Of GOP Convention; Trump Holds Briefing As U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 4 Million. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 23, 2020 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: To the Felician Sisters convent, we are thinking about you. We are praying for you. Our deepest condolences. May their memories be a blessing.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.

We're following breaking news. We're only moments away from President Trump by holding his third coronavirus briefing in three days as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has just topped 4 million. We'll have live coverage coming up.

It took the country more than three months to pass the 1 million mark but only 15 days to go from three to 4 million. And for two days in a row well, more than 1000 deaths have been reported nationwide pushing the toll to nearly 144,000 American lives lost in this pandemic. And the crisis is pummeling Florida and California right now. They both set records for the number of deaths in a single day.

As we wait to hear from the President, let's get some more in the breaking pandemic news. CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from L.A.

And Nick, the numbers in much of California right now are moving very much in the wrong direction.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf, 157 people died in this state in just a 24 hour period. And that is an all-time high. We've also now had two days of more than 12,000 new cases reported.

And you know, right now, across the south, the average daily death toll from this virus is higher than it's ever been.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): One hundred seventy-three people report to dead today in Florida, an all-time high for that state. MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, MIAMI: One person is getting exposed or sick and they're infecting every single member of their household.

WATT: Today, we pass 4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases across this country.

Now, getting to the first million cases took 99 days, the next million took 43 days, the next 28. And getting from 3 million to 4 million, just 15 days.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: There's no end in sight in the sense that if there's no plan to control the virus at a national level, it's not going to go away by itself.

WATT: We're now six months in and the President still thinks testing is overrated.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of 50, we did 25. It would have half the number of cases. So I personally think it's overrated, but I am totally willing to keep doing it.

WATT: Doesn't he realize that a case is a case whether it's found by a test or not. An unknown case can be contained. That's largely why we test.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Finding and tracing those very early individuals is really critical.

WATT: So it says Dr. Deborah Burks, who right now is privately worried by recent upticks in tests. positivity rates in these 12 cities. Among them, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Baltimore.

BIRX: I know it may look small, and you may say that only went from five to five and a half and we're going to wait and see what happens. If you wait another three or four, even five, days, you'll start to see a dramatic increase in cases.

WATT: So in all of Oregon bars and restaurants must now close at 10 p.m., Anchorage, Alaska, now reintroducing restrictions on the size of gatherings.

Listen to this from it just published study, "If the United States had collectively waited longer, opened more slowly and then kept our gathering sizes small, we might have reduced case counts like Europe or Canada and experienced a relatively normal summer."

Instead, baseball's opening day is today, late July, with no fans and no spitting. Last year opening day was late March.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch at the Nationals. Who'd have ever thought a mild mannered 79 year-old immunologist would be on that mound, sign of our times.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WATT: And this baseball season is going to be like no other, example number one, Juan Soto, the star outfielder for the Nationals will not be playing tonight because he has tested positive. And the only way he's getting back onto the starting team is if he has two negative tests within a 24 hour period. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Nick, thanks very much. Nick Watt, reporting from California.

From there, let's go to the White House. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is with us.

Jim, we expect to hear directly from the President the next few moments, and we've learned what the Dr. Fauci will not be taking part once again.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump is about to hold another news conference. And White House officials like the way the President has kept these briefings tight with only a limited number of questions. But there has also been a glaring absence of any experts by the President side, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.

[17:05:05]

You just mentioned he won't be there this evening for the third night in a row, essentially removing the potential for administration officials' fact checking Mr. Trump and his misleading statements about the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: With a staggering 4 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., President Trump is still denying pandemic reality, insisting the nation is moving in the right direction when it's not.

TRUMP: We've made tremendous progress. And I think that's what you see the death numbers, it's a horrible thing to say. But that's why you see the death numbers really looking much better.

ACOSTA: But health experts including former administration officials say just look at the numbers, warning the COVID-19 death toll could soar to nearly 300,000 lives lost.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: By the end of the year, we could have upwards of 300,000 if we continue on the current trajectory. Right now we have close to 1000 casualties a day. So if we don't change that trajectory, you could do the math and see where we are towards the end of the year.

ACOSTA: Despite the grim estimates, the President is downplaying the importance of testing for the virus, calling it overrated.

TRUMP: To me it every time you test, you find a case and, you know, it gets reported in the news, we found more cases. If instead of 50, we did 25, would have half the number of cases. So I personally think it's overrated, but I am totally willing to keep doing it.

ACOSTA: The President's questionable coronavirus claims have now taken center stage at his evening news conferences where the experts so far haven't been part of the act. So when Mr. Trump downplays the risks of sending children back to school --

TRUMP: They do say that they don't transmit very easily and a lot of people are saying they don't transmit and we're looking at that. We're studying John very hard, that particular subject that they don't bring it home with them now. They don't catch it easily. They don't bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast.

ACOSTA: Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx, is forced to clarify later that the science is far from settled on the issue.

BIRX: What we need to do and what we're really trying to do right now is to really look at what the antibody levels are already in children under 18.

I think there's still open questions there. I think the multi- generational household question is critically important.

ACOSTA: White House staffers got another scare this week when officials discovered a cafeteria worker tested positive for the virus. An e-mail sent out to White House aides' caution, "There is no reason for panic or alarm."

Despite that discovery, the administration is signaling it won't mandate masks at the White House or other federal buildings. An idea Mr. Trump initially said he'd consider

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I spoke to the President this morning. The President said that here in the White House we're tested regularly. There's not a mask mandate for the White House. He encourages the wearing of mask but there isn't a mask mandate at the federal level or here on the White House premise.

ACOSTA: The pandemic remains a major threat to the US economy with 1.4 million Americans filing unemployment claims last week, more than analysts expected. One potential boost to the economy would be the mass production of a vaccine. Mr. Trump says he's ready for his injection.

TRUMP: I would absolutely. If they wanted me to, if they thought it was ready, I'd take it first or I'd take it last.

ACOSTA: The President is fielding more questions about his mental acuity, boasting about his passing grade on one particular area of his cognitive test, claiming it proves he has the brains for a second term.

TRUMP: Like a memory question, it's like you'll go person, woman, man, camera, T.V.

So let's say, could you repeat that? So I said, yes. So it's person, woman, man, camera, T.V. OK, that's very good. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now the president is using these news conferences as a substitute for his rallies injecting partisan swipes at Democrats into the discussion about the coronavirus. Trump advisor say expect the President to continue to push his lawn order message about quelling protests in major U.S. cities, arguing it's a winning issue with suburban voters.

The President is responding to both a political and public health emergency simultaneously. A new Quinnipiac poll down in Florida highlights Mr. Trump's challenge finding him behind Joe Biden by double digits in that key swing state.

Wolf, if the President can't win Florida it's hard to see how he wins re-election. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. That Quinnipiac poll has him daunted by, what 51.38 percent among registered voters in Florida follows a Fox News poll at the end of last month, where Trump was down to Biden 49.40 percent Florida, 29 electoral votes, a key battleground state indeed.

Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's get some more in all of this. Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us.

Sanjay, as you know, it took the United States 99 days to reach 1 million confirmed cases, then it took 43 days after that to reach 2 million confirmed cases, then only 28 days to reach 3 million. And now just in 15 days, we've gone from 3 million to 4 million cases. What does that tell us about the growth of this pandemic here in the U.S.

[17:10:00]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, one thing we pay attention to, people look at the numbers changing at day to day and we know that they've been going up obviously. But I think what a lot of public health experts are looking at is the pace at which they're going up. Is this starting to turn into exponential growth? So that when you look at these graphs that everyone is so used to looking at nowadays, does a line look like it's starting to go straight up? I mean, that that's the big concern.

Wolf, you know, a metaphor that somebody used is think of this, like a big cruise ship in the ocean. At the beginning, it is starting to get going, you can easily slow it down and even stop it. Once you get enough speed, you have enough momentum and the inertia, even if you hit the brakes, even if you just basically cut all the fuel to the lines, it's still going to take a long time to stop. And that's sort of the issue that we're starting to deal with here in the United States.

You know, we -- there's -- it doesn't mean that the measures that we're talking about the public health measures won't work, but they may need to be more aggressive and they may take longer to work, Wolf. BLITZER: Yes. Hundreds of Americans are dying every single day from coronavirus, a thousand yesterday and the day before each day.

The CDC just announced, Sanjay, that the coronavirus will end up as one of the top 10 leading causes of death in 2020. That's a pretty sobering analysis.

GUPTA: It's a really sobering, Wolf. I mean, I saw that as well.

You know, think about that. I mean, we didn't even know of this disease at the beginning of the year. And now if you do the math and look at it, it's likely to be the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. You know, we don't know for sure, obviously, how the numbers -- what the numbers will be, but that's what it's looking like, Wolf.

So for a disease and infection that the world wasn't even acquainted with at all, you know, at the beginning of the year, or very little acquaintance now is obviously taking way too many lives. So that's a concern, but also, I think, a target in terms of trying to bring those numbers down. Make sure that that trajectory, that inertia I was talking about, needs to be slowed down.

BLITZER: The former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has now warned that the U.S. could see upwards of 300,000 deaths by the end of the year if the current trajectory continues, do you agree?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, look, Wolf, we're, you know, it took five months and -- to get to nearly 145, 150,000 people dying. And that was in the beginning, you know, there wasn't, thankfully many deaths, it just it grew pretty significantly. There's about 150 days left in the year, thousand people roughly have died a day over the next couple days. I really hope those numbers come down.

But what we might see as they come down and other places around the country start to come up. So if it stays on that same trajectory, that's 150,000 more people dying, Wolf, by the end of the year.

BLITZER: We're going to do something about that.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Sanjay, as you know, is now highlighting 12 major U.S. cities where the increasing positivity rate is causing her deep concern. Some of them like Miami already have a major outbreak, but others are starting from a relatively low baseline right now. So what are these cities need to do right now before things get way out of hand, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New Orleans, a lot of cities.

GUPTA: Well, you know, from a medical, even surgical sort of thinking, Wolf, I mean, you've got to prepare at this point, because the virus has been very clear. As you start to see more and more people become infected. A couple of weeks later, there will be a demand for hospitalizations.

So, these hospitals in these areas, some of these are smaller cities need to be prepared. Do they have enough hospital beds? Do they have enough personal protective equipment for the staff? Do they have enough staff? Might they need medications like Remdesivir, which is the only medications been shown to really have some impact on this virus besides steroids?

All those are sort of the acute planning that needs to be done in these cities. You don't want to get caught behind on things like that.

And then, Wolf, how do you get ahead of this is the same public health strategies, you know. These are places where, you know, you're starting to see significant growth. People wearing masks out in public makes a big difference.

We're so used in this country, you know, taking a pill for everything or having an operation. The idea that a mask could have such benefit I think is still lost on a certain segment of the population. But it can make a huge difference. That physical distancing handwashing, there are plenty of studies now, Wolf, good studies that show how much of an impact that can make and these places need to do that in earnest right now.

BLITZER: Yes. If they don't, thousands of Americans are going to die and these are simple things. Simple things to do.

Sanjay Stay with us. We're going to have more with you.

And important programming note to our viewers, right now, Sanjay will be back later tonight along with Anderson Cooper for a new CNN global town hall Coronavirus Facts and Fears. Their special guests include Bill Gates later tonight 8 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

We're following all the breaking news, President Trump about to give his third coronavirus media briefing from the White House in just three days. We've just learned that Dr. Fauci again will not be taking part. We'll have live coverage.

[17:15:00]

Plus, a single day record number of coronavirus deaths in Florida. I'll speak live with the mayor of Miami Beach about the worsening crisis. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Once again, we're standing by for President Trump's White House coronavirus media briefing to begin looking at live pictures coming in from the White House.

As we await that, there's more breaking pandemic news that we're following. Florida right now reporting a record 173 deaths in just a single day and the number of cases in the state is soaring.

Right now joining us the Mayor of Miami Beach. Dan Gelber. Mayor, Gelber, thank you so much for joining us.

A bad day as far as the numbers are concerned in Florida. But Governor DeSantis, your Florida Governor said today that the situation in South Florida where you are in his word stabilized and that Miami is showing signs of improvement.

[17:20:09]

You're right next door in Miami Beach. Are you seeing signs of improvement?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D-FL), MIAMI BEACH: Well, the -- well, first of all we're feeling in the depths is the search from a couple of weeks ago. The numbers are incredibly high. And there is truth, we look at this every morning that the increase is slowing down. But the increases -- the amount of virus refilling every day is four or five, six times what it was when we sheltered in place a couple months ago. So we have way too much in the community.

And we have to not simply get it to slow down, we've got to get it to plateau, and then go in exactly the opposite direction a long way because we're getting two or 3,000 in our county alone every single day of new virus infections.

BLITZER: Yes, it's really serious. So the Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez, says contact tracing efforts in Miami suggest a lot of people are actually getting infected inside their own homes from their own family members, especially if they live in these multigenerational family homes. So what steps do you need to take to stop the spread inside the home?

GELBER: Well, the problem we're having, and Mayor Suarez and I, every morning sit with the experts and the data guys talking about this, so I know exactly what he's listening to. And he's right. The problem we're having is our contact tracing isn't doing the job, either. You're supposed to call everybody up and tell them to quarantine themselves, tell them to stay out of out of the way of others, tell them to go to a hotel room, which you're supposed to supply them if necessary. I don't know that we're even reaching a two thirds of the people that test positive to do all that and give them all that information. That is a huge problem right now.

And if we do manage to get our numbers down, the question is going to be whether our contact tracing will be adequate enough to keep the numbers from surging back up by instructing people, calling them every day, getting their groceries. That's what they do in New York now for contact tracing. In Florida, I don't think we're calling two thirds of the people who are positive and even reaching out to them and tell them what to do.

BLITZER: Yes, sometimes, if it takes a week or 10 days to get the results, then that contact pacing is going to be irrelevant for all practical purposes.

Mayor Suarez is also urging people to practice social distancing and wear a mask inside their own homes, especially as I noted in the multigenerational households with older family members, not just parents, but grandparents, would you make a similar recommendation?

GELBER: I do. I'm in my house right now. I have my mask with me because if I leave this room, I am going to go out and put my mask on. I mean, listen, there are so many sacrifices being made by people. This is not the biggest one that people will have to make. And it's one that they ought to make. Because every person who doesn't get the virus is one less person we have to worry about one less person that might infect a group of others.

Right now, the virus is really weigh too heavily in our community and many others. And the mask is just something that you need to do right now. Get used to it.

BLITZER: So, just want to be precise, so even in your own home, when you leave that room where you are now you'll put on your mask, even with your own family members?

GELBER: Yes. And in fact, if I don't have it on, I'll hear a voice from across the kitchen, in her office, my wife will say get back in your office and put on your mask. So I'm hearing it and it's appropriate, by the way, because we need to hear it.

But listen, people got to do this. If you want to open up the economy, you've got to stop the spread of this in your home and anywhere else. Because right now, Mayor Suarez is right, the third of the contacts, we believe from interviewing people that we are interviewing are from someone in their own home. And that means that, you know.

BLITZER: Yes. I just want to point out we're about to hear from The President of the United States, he's going to make an opening statement. If he starts talking and he might start talking about his strategy for reopening schools around the country, what do you want to hear as far as Miami Beach is concern?

GELBER: I want -- I don't want them to give us a mandate that has no relation to the health and the virus that's happening in our community. It makes absolutely no sense to say to a community, you must open up your schools, it's great thing to tell the world.

Everybody wants their kids in school, I've got a high school kid, I'd love to get out of the house. But you can't give a mandate to a community not caring or knowing what the health ramifications are going to be.

So, I hope he tells everybody to be thoughtful and cautious because the worst thing would be if we opened up schools because we -- because he's withholding money, which is what he has said and all of a sudden, people, our teachers get sick and we have something much worse than we have right now.

Schools can be real spreaders. Opening up the economy can spread, you can't do it unless you're prepared to do it and it's healthy to do it.

[17:25:04]

BLITZER: Here in the D.C. area, Montgomery County, Maryland, the public schools they're going to be doing virtual learning throughout the fall semester for all practical purposes.

Hold on for a second. I think the President of United States is walking in. Mayor, let's listen in.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you everybody. Thank you.

We've had a tremendous week uniting the country in our fight against the China virus. I've reminded people of the importance of masks when you can't socially distance in particular. A strong message has been sent out to young people to stop going to crowded bars and other crowded places.

Yesterday, we made the amazing announcement for our plans to protect nursing home residents. We're working very hard on that, we're doing very well all over the country.

And also about contracting with Pfizer we made a big, big, beautiful contract with Pfizer. We think they're very close. But we have a lot of companies that are very close to produce a vaccine.

And I wanted to come out again today to share some additional news with you. This afternoon my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the convention in Jacksonville, Florida. It's a place I love. I love that state.

The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good, so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well, a tremendous list of speakers, thousands of people wanting to be there and I mean, in some cases desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country, they wanted to be there.

The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line. But I looked at my team and I see, the timing for this event is not right. Just not right with what's happened. Recently, the flare up in Florida to have a big convention is not the right time.

It's really something that for me, I have to protect the American people. That's what I've always done. That's what I always will do. That's what I'm about.

They said, sir, we can make this work very easily. We have great enthusiasm, incredible enthusiasm, even the poll say about the most enthusiasm they've seen. We can do this safely, and we can do it responsibly. I said, there's nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe.

Whether that's from the China virus, or the radical left mob that you see in Portland, where I want to thank Homeland Security and others in law enforcement for doing a fantastic job over the last few days. They went in and people were added control for 51 days long time. And Homeland Security and other law enforcement with us went in and they've done a great job protecting our property, federal courthouse and other property. And most importantly, protecting our people.

Or the senseless violence that you see in Chicago or New York or Detroit, a lot of other cities with so many people are shot and so many people are killed. And people are elected me to help and to protect. So I tell my team, it's time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida component of the GOP convention. We'll be starting in North Carolina for the Monday as always been planned, we would never take that off. That's remaining as it is, the delegates are going to get together that's where they do their nomination.

So the delegates are going to North Carolina and there'll be doing the nomination. And we're going to do some other things with tele rallies and online the week that we're discussing, which will be really good, I think we're going to do it well. And I'll still do a convention speech in a different form.

But we won't do a big, crowded convention per se. It's just not the right time for that.

I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else, frankly, in this country, and even in the world, who would be coming into the state and I don't want to do anything to upset it. There'll be doing very well.

Very shortly, we're going to put some maps up of the country behind me and you'll see that the area that we're talking about is a hotspot, you'll also see a lot of the country is -- has no problem whatsoever, most of the country actually. So I'm always going to take care of you. So that's the way we're going to do it.

I've spoken to Governor DeSantis and informed other political leaders. I want to thank the Jacksonville community, and its great mayor. He's great guy. Really great guy. They wanted it so badly. And all of the other political representatives in Jacksonville and in Florida. And just very special people, a very special group. And they were there for us 100 percent.

Today, I want to provide an update on the actions we're taking to support the safe reopening of America's schools. Parents around the world who have had their children home for the last few months have a greater appreciation for the fact that teachers are essential workers, that they're essential to our children's future. Our goal is to protect our teachers and students from the China virus while ensuring that families with high-risk factors can continue to participate from home. Very important.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidance recommending that schools reopen. It said, quote, lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in a social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical and sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, of some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been a substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and for families.

So, that's very important, and there's a highway -- it goes both ways. The National Education Association recently stated, despite the momentous efforts of educators during the pandemic, online learning has never been an effective replacement for in-person learning and support. Being at the school, being on the campus is very, very important.

One study estimates that, due to school closures last spring, the average student will begin the school year roughly 35 percent behind in reading compared to the typical year, and more than 50 percent behind in math. That's a big statement.

According to McKinsey & Company, learning loss will probably be greatest among low-income black and Hispanic students. They're the ones that are hit the hardest. We don't want that happening.

Thirty million American students rely on schools for free and reduced meals. Over 70 percent of the students who receive mental health services do so through their schools. According to HHS, one in five reports allegedly, having to do with child abuse, they have neglect -- and these are neglect and neglected cases are submitted by education personnel. So people in the education world, on the premises, will be the ones that report neglect and other problems when they see the children. They know if they've been neglected. They know if they've been hurt or harmed in any way, whether it's at home or someplace else. But they see this at school. You don't get to see that if you're not going to school, it's a big thing.

Fortunately, the data shows that children are lower risk from the China virus, very substantially. When children do contact the virus, they often have only very mild symptoms or none at all, and medical complications are exceedingly rare. Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions. Ninety-nine percent of all China virus hospitalizations are adults, and 99.96 percent of all fatalities are adults. That means that children are a tiny percentage, less than 1 percent, and even a small percentage of 1 percent.

In a typical year, the flu results in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States than have been lost thus far to the coronavirus. Many different names. Many, many different names. The life of every child is sacred and must be protected. Our sole focus is the health and wellbeing of America's children.

I have a very, very special person who loves children, who's, I think, one of the greatest athletes of all time. A lot of people say the greatest pitcher of all time. Known as a relief pitcher who could have been whatever he wanted.

[17:35:03]

Some people -- he is the greatest reliever of all time, by far. Substantially more saves than anybody else. In fact, he got TRUMPial Medal of Freedom recently. And he -- I'm reading off these stats. I knew he was the best. I knew he was great, but I didn't know it was almost double anybody else. But he's a man who loves children, has children, loves children, works hard with children.

We're going to go outside and be with some little leaguers. Mariano Rivera, you know, he's the Sandman, right? My wife said, Darling, why do they call him the Sandman? I said, You know, they play the song. He just puts the batters to sleep. And that's exactly what happened. So, having Mariano here is a great honor. Thank you very much. He was talking about children in schools. And there's nobody that's done more than you have. Thank you very much, Mariano. Fantastic man.

Given these considerations, we believe many school districts can now reopen safely, provided they implement mitigation measures and health protocols to protect families, protect teachers, and to protect students. And we do have to protect the teachers and the families also. We have to remember that.

All families should be empowered to make the decision that is right for their own circumstance. This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who's at higher risk.

In cities or states that are current hotspots -- and you'll see that in the map behind me -- districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks, and that's possible. That'll be up to governors. The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community, but every district should be actively making preparations to open.

Again, the children obviously have a very strong immune system, maybe even as strong as yours. They seem to be able to fight it off and not have a problem. So, it's pretty amazing actually. Great, great credit.

Our strategy to safely reopen schools mirrors our approach nationwide. As we race toward the completion of a vaccine and therapeutics, the responsible path is to shelter those at highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk, much lower, in the case of young children to resume work at school and -- as long as everyone practices vigilant hygiene and social distancing. We want that. A permanent shutdown was never the strategy, which would ultimately lead to greater mortality and irreversible harms. We don't want to do that.

At the same time, we have to get our economy going. We had tremendous numbers issued yesterday. Housing prices -- pricing of housing up 21 percent. It's the highest in history. It's the highest number in history. Real estate housing went up 21 percent.

Today, the CDC will provide additional guidance for how schools can reopen safely. I hope that local leaders put the full health and wellbeing of their students first and make the right decision for children, parents, teachers, and not make political decisions. This isn't about politics, it's about something very, very important. This is not about politics. I even think it's bad politics if you do the wrong decision. Very bad politics.

We're asking Congress to provide $105 billion to schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill. This funding will support mitigation measures, such as smaller class sizes, more teachers and teacher aides, repurposing spaces to practice social distancing, and crucially, mask-wearing. This money is in addition to the $30 billion we secured for schools and universities earlier this year. That money we have, some is distributed and some is not distributed. If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice. The key word being "choice". If the school is closed, the money should follow the student, so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So we'd like the money to go to the parents of the student. This way, they can make the decision that's best for them.

We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school -- harming their mental, physical, and emotional development. Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families.

The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 5.6 million parents will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen this year.

[17:40:07]

That's a tremendous problem. It's a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely, but they have to open.

More than a dozen European countries, as well as South Korea, Taiwan, and many others, have already reopened schools and cases have not risen. We can achieve the same goal if we unite together, follow the best medical practices, and apply common sense.

We'll continue to support states and cities in the current hotspots in the South, Southwest, and West. The governors, I know them all. They're all very, very capable. They're doing a very good job. They're working so hard. You wouldn't even believe it.

We have nearly 30,000 federal personnel deployed in the states that need assistance. We're helping with doctors and nurses, medical personnel of all kinds. As a PPE update, we're in close communication with governors and states. We have supplies -- everything they could possibly need. We're very strong on supplies. Remember I used to say the cupboards were bare? Well, now the cupboards are the opposite.

Due to our historic efforts to increase both the National Stockpile and the state stockpiles, the vast majority of the states have 60 days' worth of supplies on hand. And most importantly, they have ventilators, because the ventilators are very, very hard to come by, at least in the past. Now we're making thousands of ventilators a month and supplying them, in many cases, to other countries.

For states that are making requests, we're rapidly delivering. In the last 24 hours, FEMA has deployed more than 1.5 million masks upon request, 1.7 million gowns, and 600,000 -- well, let me change that. We've created about 600,000 different supplies. We have 600 ventilators to Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington.

I think the number is 600. We'll go check that, and we'll give it you in a little while. But we've got a stockpile of thousands of ventilators. I think we've sent out about 600 just recently. The United States has now conducted more than 51 million tests, which is more than any other country in the world, by far. Roughly half of the tests are either the rapid point-of-care tests which, frankly, solves a lot of problem in delay, five to 15 minutes, instead of waiting for service both ways, in both directions, and then at the lab. But roughly half of them now, which is a tremendous increase, are five to 15-minute tests or tests done in a hospital where you get the results back in less than a day, in some cases, immediately.

We're continuing to surge testing to current hotspots such as Miami and Phoenix to detect those with the virus and take steps to stop from spreading it further.

This is a copy of the map, and this is a -- you have it right behind me. That's really very much indicating where the problems are. You see from that, it's in great shape, lots of it. The Northeast has become very clean. The country is in very good shape, other than if you look South and West -- some problems. That will all work out.

On therapies, we've worked with Florida to ensure that over 40,000 vials of remdesivir are arriving this week. That's a lot. That's a really -- that's a lot. They're working around the clock to make it. It's had a tremendous impact.

We've also shipped thousands of vials to Arizona, California, and Texas over the past two weeks. Arizona is doing very well, it's heading down. The numbers are heading down, I think, very quickly. The governor has done a great job. They've all done a great job. They've all done a great job. Working hard.

We'll continue to monitor the areas rising and -- with respect to cases. And we ask all Americans to exercise vigilance, practice social distancing, wear a mask, do whatever is necessary so we get rid of this horrible situation, this horrible disease that was sent to us by China. It should not have been sent. They should have stopped it. They could have stopped it. They didn't. And the entire world has gotten infected, and a lot of countries are going through a lot right now.

This morning, I spoke with President Putin of Russia, and they're going through a very hard time with this, in Moscow, in particular. I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. They're doing well, but they're going through a lot. Everybody is going through a lot.

[17:45:04]

Yesterday, I spoke to the heads of four different countries. All four are going through a lot. They're going through a hard time. This could have been stopped. It could have been stopped quickly and easily. But for some reason, it wasn't, and we'll figure out what that reason was.

So, with that, if you have any questions, please.

STEVE: On the convention, were you simply not convinced that you could keep people safe at the convention?

TRUMP: I just felt it was wrong, Steve, to have people going to what turned out to be a hotspot. You know, when we chose it, it was not at all hot. It was free. And all of a sudden, it happened quickly. It happens quickly. And it goes away, and it goes away quickly. The key is, we want it to go away without a lot of death, without a lot of problems.

And we're learning so much about the disease. That's why we're very cognizant of nursing homes, we're watching them very carefully. And people over a certain age, and especially people over a certain age with diabetes or heart disease, in particular, but with a problem.

So, we didn't want to take any chances. So we had a lot of people. We have -- the delegates want to be there. We're going to do a fairly reasonably quick meeting in North Carolina. The nomination will be produced.

And then we'll announce what we're doing, how we're doing it, whether it's something that's done online. I guess you could call it online. So, there can nothing -- there can be nothing like our last convention, unfortunately. That was a great convention and in a great place, as you know. We had a great time, a great time in Cleveland.

But it's a different world, and it will be for a little while. We want to get the world back to what it was, and I think we'll have that. Including great job numbers, including so many things that are happening so positive.

I have to say, the stock market is close to records. For Nasdaq, it is a record. It's already exceeded its highest numbers. But we want to get our country back to what it was.

STEVE: And so would your acceptance speech be from the White House? Are you worried that --

TRUMP: We haven't set that yet, Steve. We'll have that -- we'll probably announce that over the next few days.

STEVE: Are you worried this might dampen enthusiasm for you?

TRUMP: Look, we've done a great job. We built the greatest economy in the world. Nobody close -- not China, not anybody. We had to close it, we saved millions of lives, then we opened it. But we had the best numbers in history for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, every group you want to name.

Young people without a diploma, young people with a high school diploma, with a college diploma. Anything you want to name, we had the best numbers. Women doing incredibly. Never been a time like that.

And we had to turn it off because of what China did. We had to turn it off. And then, all of the sudden -- now we turn it back on, and we're doing very well. But it was very bad.

China -- speaking about China, the trade deal means less to me now than it did when I made it. When I made it, it was a great deal. But they're setting records. Yesterday was a record corn day. They purchased more corn than any order ever, and that went on for two or three days. And soy beans and all.

But it just means much less to me. Can you understand that? It just means much less to me. Please, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. What was the one thing, if there was one thing, that changed your mind about the convention? And did Florida officials ask you to cancel it?

TRUMP: No, they didn't. We're dealing with them, but they didn't. I would just say safety. Just safety. I just -- you know, I could see the media saying, oh this is very unsafe. This is -- I don't want to be in that position. It's safety -- not because of the media, but that's what they would say.

And we'll have a very nice something. We'll figure it out. It'll be online, in some form. Maybe it'll be something even a little bit different. We have time. You know, we're talking about the end of August. But I think it'll be something that will be exciting, but there can be nothing like having 25,000 people.

We had a tremendous thing planned in -- a tremendous convention planned in North Carolina. And it would have been very good, but a much smaller version in Florida. But then, we saw what was happening. Pretty quickly, we saw that the virus was coming up that coast, so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's an acknowledgment of the severity of the situation in Florida?

TRUMP: No, I think it's going to come and go. It will. I mean, you take a look at some of these locations were heavily infected. I mean, to a point where -- Deborah and I were talking that -- you know, when you look at what happened in New York and what happened in New Jersey and other places. And now you're looking, and it's gone. I hope it stays gone. I think it will. But we had to be -- we have to be vigilant. We have to be careful.

[17:50:02]

And we also have to set an example. I think setting the example is very important. It's hard for us to say we're going to have a lot of people packed in a room, and then other people shouldn't do it.

Don't forget, we're talking about schools. And we want them to be vigilant. And we're saying, open. And then we're saying -- here you have a big room. But I also -- if you notice, I said, where bars are crowded, where other things are crowded. Well, there's nothing more crowded than a convention. A convention -- I mean, you've seen them.

And even though you try and keep people away from each other, it's just not that kind of a thing. They probably can't do that. It just doesn't work for them. So it's a very hard -- so I think we're setting an example by doing it. It's very important.

Yes, John.

JOHN: Mr. President, if I can come back to school openings. You talked about money that Congress was looking at to help schools who want to reopen. If a school wants to reopen, but is concerned about testing, would you consider directing some of that money toward testing for either --

TRUMP: Yes.

JOHN: -- a school district or even individual schools if that's what it took to open the schools?

TRUMP: Yes, I think so. I mean, a lot of people feel differently about testing. We talk about it a lot. When we have 50 million tests-plus and, you know, we broke the 50 million-test mark.

Second in the world is India, which has 1.4 billion people, and they had 12 million tests. And other countries that are very big had 2 million tests. And some countries essentially only test if you're sick and walk into a hospital or walk into a doctor's office or you're literally really sick. They essentially don't do tests unless you're sick, and I understand that, too.

So, yes, if they feel that that's what they want, it's -- that would be fine.

JOHN: You would tell Congress -- you would encourage Congress to pay for testing for school districts?

TRUMP: I would if they want. Again, we've done 50 million tests. There's nobody even close in the whole world. You look at our mortality rate. You look at our death rate. You look at different statistics. We're doing very well.

But one death is too many. This should never have happened. This should never have been allowed to happen from China.

JOHN: Also Mitch McConnell's office just put out a statement, a moment ago, about the phase 4 relief package, CARES II, saying, quote, it's tailored precisely for this phase of the crisis. Yet, it does not include your payroll tax cut. So do you believe it's perfectly tailored?

TRUMP: Yes, I'd like to see a payroll tax cut. I think it's great for the workers. The Democrats would never have gone for it. They don't want it. They're not big into the workers, I guess. And based on that, I told them last night, I told the Republicans who have been working very hard on this, I'll tell you -- and they want what's right for the country, and hopefully the Democrats ultimately will.

But I said, I think a payroll tax will be good, but you're not going to get it from the Democrats. We need their votes, as you know. It's not like -- you know, we have a majority, but it's not enough that we -- that's why I guess we have an election coming up. So you still need Democrat votes, and we're not going to get the Democratic votes on that.

So I'd like to see it. I think it would be very good for the workers. But if we're not going to get their votes, I guess we have to go on to the next thing. A payroll tax cut would have been very good. And maybe something happens.

Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talk about setting an example on Jacksonville. But I just wonder, some people are going to take away from this the lesson that you're pushing too far, too fast. It seemed, for a while, the numbers were going up in Jacksonville, and you were going to have a problem there. This comes up at a time you're pushing for schools to reopen, have the opening of the Major League Baseball season. Isn't the example of Jacksonville that we're pushing too fast?

TRUMP: Well, baseball, as an example, we were discussing it a little while ago, you're going to be at an empty stadium. I've agreed, Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees, he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on August 15th at Yankee Stadium. And I say, how's the crowd going to be? And, you know, it's like you don't have a crowd. There is no such thing.

It's going to be interesting, Mariano. He's not used to that. I've been at many games. He walks in, the place goes crazy. I think it'd be just as good without the crowd. You were just born with it, you know. Some people are born with it.

I don't know if -- this is only for the baseball players, but I've never seen a pitcher throw a ball where so many bats were broken as Mariano. He's got the all-time record. I said, how do you do that? He said, parents. Great parents, when you get right down to it, right? How do you do that? It's called parents. But --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) baseball, but I think the question really is --

TRUMP: Yes, I just -- just to finish, I think that we have to all set examples. I think Major League Baseball is setting the example by, you know, playing to empty stadiums, and so are other sports. You see that. Now, then they'll allow a certain number in. I see golf is now -- soon will be allowing people to come in, in percentages. And all of a sudden, we want to get back to normal.

The key is to get back to normal, because nobody wants to see this. But I think it's really good that baseball is opening. It looks like football is opening. It looks like sports are opening. We have -- it's a tremendous thing, psychologically for our country.

And we're all, whether we're see -- we're going to see right now some beautiful, young Little Leaguers outside with a great future ahead of them. They're already practicing on the front lawn of the White House, and we're going to go out and say hello to them, and it'll be really great.

[17:55:15]

OK, how about one more? Yes, please. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, "The Washington Post" earlier today, reported that one thing holding up the GOP coronavirus bill is the White House asking that it include language regarding the FBI building in downtown Washington, D.C. Is that true?

TRUMP: I don't know that they're putting it in this bill, but I know they want to have a new FBI building. This one is very old, and it's really -- it was never built to a very high standard, as you probably have heard. And it's got a lot of danger involved and panels falling off the outside and pieces of concrete falling off the building.

And they want to build it at the site that they have it. They had options very far away from Washington. And I said to him, frankly, you have to be near the Justice Department. There's nothing better than the site. The site they have now is better. But they were looking in sites in Maryland and Virginia, in different places, but they would've been too far away.

So I am -- I have been encouraging them to build it. And if you're going to -- you have a choice: You can renovate the existing building -- but it's not a good building -- or you could take it down and build a great building for the FBI for 100 years and have it be incredible. Even with tracks on top, they're talking about -- you know, we have -- because FBI people like to work out a lot. And you could have, literally, quarter-mile tracks on top. It's a very big site, a very wide site.

So I think the idea -- the best idea would be to build a new building. And that way, you have it for a long time. Renovation can never be as good as a new building, in that case. I know they're talking about it, whether or not they put it in this bill or someplace else. But the FBI needs a new building, and we'll get it done.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, so the President making some important news. First, announcing that he was canceling the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of August. He simply said it's time to cancel for safety reasons. The timing is not right. There's a flare up going on in Florida.

As a result, there won't be a convention or Republican presidential convention in Jacksonville. There will be a little preliminary meeting in North Carolina, in Charlotte, North Carolina where the formally announced that he is the nominee, but there's not going to be a big deal. It's going to be online. He said, there may be some teller rallies, as he pointed out. That's one of the headlines.

The other headline is that he's announced that the Republican proposal will include $105 billion for schools, money that will be needed to reopen schools. He wants all these schools to open. He did say that if there are some cities and states that are hotspots, they may need to delay for a few weeks. But he said if they delay too long, he said, some of that money is not going to go to the local school districts. It's going to go to the families, the parents, if they have to move their kids to other private or parochial schools in the process.

Jim Acosta has been listening very carefully.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. BLITZER: Some significant news there. I think a lot of us were surprised that he announced that the Republican convention in Jacksonville is now going to be history. It's not going to happen.

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. I think this was, in part, a full scale retreat on the part of the President when it comes to this coronavirus pandemic. You know, he is the one that wanted to have this part of the convention in Jacksonville because officials in North Carolina would not bend to his demands for a big splashy nomination event. He's the one that wanted to put it down there. And now because he has to acknowledge the reality of the situation.

I was just talking to a Trump advisor a few moments ago about this, they could not have a nominating speech in Jacksonville in a football stadium or amphitheatre, wherever, packed with senior citizens and expected not have an explosion of cases of the coronavirus. And so the President had to bend to the reality there of the situation down in Florida as that state is dealing with a very serious situation when it comes to the coronavirus.

But, Wolf, it sets up a very, I think important question for the President. How is it that he is OK with canceling a convention in Jacksonville because of concerns with the coronavirus, but yet it's OK for him to push schools to reopen around the country? He is still demanding that schools by and large reopen across the U.S.

He was talking about how children can withstand the virus, how they have stronger immune systems and so on. Disregarding, once again, as we've recounted time and again, Wolf, the threat that is posed by children spreading the virus to their teachers and their loved ones at home when they come home from school, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administrators and so on. The President is just not dealing with that reality. So he's OK with canceling a convention down in Jacksonville because of health concerns. And yet he wants to push schools to reopen.

He did say that he's hoping that that money will be used as sort of a carrot for many of these schools. So they can use some of these funds to put, you know, safety precautions in place, but there's very little time for a lot of school districts around the country to do that.