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Trump Under Pressure; California Reports Record Number of COVID-19 Deaths. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:02]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I want to thank you both for coming on, Congresswoman Deb Haaland and Congressman Michael Waltz.

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): All right.

KEILAR: Thank you. Have a great weekend.

REP. DEB HAALAND (D-NM): Thank you.

WALTZ: All right, thanks so much.

KEILAR: And you at home, if you have story ideas or if you have questions, please e-mail us at HomeFront@CNN.com. We do check those e- mails. You can find my column CNN.com/HomeFront to see all of the issues that we have been working on.

Our special coverage continues now with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you.

Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. Thanks for being with me on this Friday.

How about this? Shut down the United States and start over, that is the plea from more than 150 experts in an open letter to President Trump and other officials, those experts warning that if tough action isn't taken now, as cases spike, the country could see widespread suffering and death. That's a direct quote.

Hospitalizations now at their second highest levels ever, with eight states reporting record numbers of patients. And for the third straight day, Thursday, virus deaths topped 1,000.

In a series of interviews today, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that while he doesn't think a second nationwide shutdown is necessary right now, it is time, he says, for some of the hard-hit Southern states to rethink their policies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: My advice would be time-out and maybe go back to a prior checkpoint. And from that point, try to proceed in a very measured, prudent way, according to the guidelines.

If we do that, I think we can control the surging that we're seeing in those states. For the other states, I would say, please take a look at the example of what happens when you open in a way that might be too quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now, amidst all of this, the CDC issuing new guidelines that push for American children to get back into the classrooms.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield saying it is -- quote -- "critically important" that schools reopen this fall, echoing comments made repeatedly by President Trump, who called previous guidance tough and expensive and demanded a change.

So let's stay on these new CDC guidelines for reopening schools.

And with me now, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, an internal medicine and viral specialist.

So, Dr. Rodriguez, nice to see you again. Welcome back.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNIST: Nice to be with you.

BALDWIN: And let's just start. Do you agree with the CDC? Should kids go back to school in the fall?

RODRIGUEZ: You know what? That's a tough one.

And I think that we're embarking on a great experiment with the children of this country, because nobody really knows what's going to happen. If I had children of high -- of school age, I would not let them go to school. I would wait and see.

So, right now, I think that we need to take each state by itself. For example, I don't think Florida should open at this time. I don't think Texas should open. I think they should wait a couple of months and do telehealth.

I get it. Kids need to be around other children. We all need to be around people. Parents need to go back to work, but at what price? So I disagree with this sort of just opening up all schools and letting kids go and see what happens.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. No, I hear you, piecemeal, depending on maybe which state is hit the hardest. Don't have the kids go back into the classroom.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes.

BALDWIN: Now, we have heard from President Trump. Clearly, he wants schools to reopen. But Dr. Birx, Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Task Force, admitted this morning that it's still unclear how kids under 10 years of age actually even spread the virus. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What I can't tell you for sure, despite the South Korea study, is whether children under 10 in the United States don't spread the viruses the same as children over 10. I think that is still an open question that needs to be studied in the United States.

We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected. It's just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, since it's so unclear, Dr. Rodriguez, I mean, what's a parent to think, right? On the one hand, you have the CDC saying, it's safe, schools should reopen, and you have Deborah Birx saying, we don't actually know that much about kids and COVID.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, that's the bottom line. We don't actually know that much about kids and COVID.

And under 10 don't spread it, that doesn't mean, A, they don't get it. And then the kids between 10 and 18, we do know that they spread it the same as everyone else. So it isn't just about the children, even though that is of paramount importance. It's also about how they're going to be affecting the rest of their society, the rest of their area.

Like I said, we are embarking on an experiment where our children, all right, to use a term, are the guinea pigs. So each parent has to decide, how much is your kid worth? It's a horrible thing to say, but it boils down to that.

BALDWIN: Yes.

And then just adding to some of the confusion, this is what I led with, a group of more than 150 medical officials have signed this letter encouraging political leaders to totally shut down the country and basically go back to ground zero in order to really contain COVID.

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Do you think shutting down is the answer? And, if so, Dr. Rodriguez, how long?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, first of all, in the best of all possible worlds, that wouldn't be the answer.

But it's like having a broken leg and then finally deciding, hey, I want to take up jogging. It's a little late. And I think that we're lacking in four areas to be able to do that. And one is, we don't have clear, inspirational leadership in the

national level. If we did, we could explain to people, we could motivate people to sacrifice something. We don't have the scientific infrastructure of testing that is currently necessary. We don't have the financial planning, so that people can be without work for two months.

And it saddens me to say, I don't think we have the national resolve to do that. Too many Americans feel inconvenienced. Look, we're not Europe. We're not Asia that have been decimated in the past with wars, and people have suffered, and they know that sacrifice leads to improvement.

We have been a little bit spoiled. So, in the best of all possible worlds, yes, I'd love to shut it down for two months. But the reality is, there are a lot of things that need to fall into place before that can happen. And we're not there, unfortunately.

BALDWIN: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you, sir.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just in, for the second day in a row, California's reporting its highest number of COVID deaths in a single day. More than 8,000 people in California have now been killed by the coronavirus. New infections are also surging, leading some people in the state to call for new restrictions there.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles.

And, Stephanie, again, a new day, horrible numbers. What are you hearing from folks?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, when you look at these numbers, this is what we have been told, right? You're going to see the cases rise first, and then you're going to start to see the deaths start to mount. And that's what we're seeing here in California today.

New numbers just coming out from the state, 159 deaths reported today, that's two more than yesterday, which was also a record, so two days in a row of a record, not the way we want things to go here.

Cases, that number did come down from yesterday, that number today 9,718. Yesterday, we were above 12,000, and that was our second highest, so seeing a drop here in the cases. The positivity, it's been pretty stable at about 7.5 percent for that 14-day run. They're looking at that pretty much staying in the same area there.

But, obviously, this is what we were told could happen after we saw those cases rise. Overall, in L.A. County, which does account for more than half of the deaths that we have seen in California, I can tell you that the numbers there, 49 deaths were last reported by the county and also more than 2,000 deaths.

They are saying that hospitalizations were above 2,200 again, which would put it at the fifth day in a row that we have seen that number in that range there. Also, looking at our positivity in L.A. County, it's at about 10 percent. But it has pretty much stabilized in that range for the last few days.

So it's stabilized at a higher level. It still needs to come down, according to our health officials here. And then also a new move coming from the Health Department here. They're going to now start making sure that businesses are complying with what they need to do as far as making sure that the infection is not spreading.

And that will include fines when they find that people are not in line with the guidelines. And that could be from $100 for the first fine and then $500 and maybe losing your license for 30 days if you're found to be a multiple offender of this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Listen, I realize some people may say that is severe, but if you want to decrease those numbers, desperate times, right?

Stephanie Elam, thank you so much in Los Angeles.

Let's talk about Florida. The punishing rate of infections is still on the rise there. The state reported more than 12,000 new cases today, and just yesterday set a record for the most coronavirus deaths it's reported in a single day, 173 deaths.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Miami.

And, Rosa, on top of all of that, I understand you have some new information on the spike in hospitalizations across Florida. So, tell me what you know.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Brooke.

We obtained this information through an information request. This information was not public. And it involves statewide hospitalizations. We learned from this data that was released to the state to us that, on July 4, which is the first day that this data was compiled by the state, there were 5,022 COVID-19 patients in the state of Florida.

Today, that number is 9,215. That's an 83.5 percent increase. Process that for just a moment. Here in Miami-Dade County, where I am, this county accounts for 25 percent of the now more than 400,000 cases in the state of Florida.

According to the county, the positivity rate here is 19.5 percent. According to the county as well, if you look at the number of hospitalizations, they have increased in the past two weeks by 27 percent, ICU beds up by 37 percent, and ventilators up by 71 percent.

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Now, with all this said, there's this ongoing battle here in the state of Florida over the reopening of schools, with Governor Ron DeSantis pushing for in-person instruction, but also saying that parents have a choice. Teachers, on the other hand, suing the governor to stop the reopening. The U.S. surgeon general was here in Miami yesterday. I had a brief interview with him in the sidelines, asked him about the reopening of schools here in the state of Florida. He said that it's possible to reopen schools safely in a month, but he says that everyone would have to do their part. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: People of Florida, please hear me when I say this to you.

This face covering is a really small gesture. It may seem like an inconvenience to you. We all need to take the small measures that we can now to avoid big inconveniences down the road.

And this is the simplest thing that we can do that will have such a big impact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: Now, despite the surge in cases here in the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, Brooke, departing to the White House today, where he's expected to talk to President Donald Trump about COVID-19 and also other matters -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Rosa, thank you in Miami.

Coming up here on CNN: President Trump makes some big reversals. And striking a slightly different tone on the pandemic, could it have anything to do with his tailspin in the polls? Let's talk about that.

And this family in Michigan absolutely devastated after coronavirus has taken the parents of three children, and one of those kids will join me live.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

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BALDWIN: We're back on this Friday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Listen, if one thing has been consistent during this whole coronavirus pandemic, it is the inconsistent messages from the president of the United States. Just look at this past week. We have seen yet another series of mixed messages.

Yesterday, for example, President Trump abruptly canceled the Republican National Convention activities in Jacksonville, Florida. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To have a big convention, it's not the right time.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's not the right time for a convention. But, according to the president, it is the right time to put the nation's children back in a classroom, back in close quarters, while the pandemic is still out of control.

And then, this past Tuesday, President Trump urged the public to wear face masks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They will have an effect.

And we need everything we can get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But after that, this is what we saw. Take a look. On the left, you see him just yesterday hosting little leaguers at the White House. Do you see any masks? Hmm. No social distancing.

And then on the right, a campaign event he held that very same day where he urged Americans to wear masks. Again, there he is, red tie on the right, not wearing a mask, not social distancing.

Abby Phillip is our CNN political correspondent in Washington.

And, Abby, there's a lot of talk about this so-called new tone from the president from this week. But, I mean, he held a White House event for children. They weren't wearing masks. He's still not walking the walk.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in his actions -- I think his actions show that he still wants his world to be just the way that it was before this pandemic, even though, for the rest of the country, they have to live in a world in which masks are increasingly becoming required in all public spaces.

You see, at the White House, because the president is being tested so regularly, and because people around him are being tested regularly, the president's aides and supporters say, well, he doesn't need to social distance, he doesn't need to wear a mask in the same way that others do.

But what the -- what that shows to the public is that, do as I say, not as I do. There is a part of the job of the presidency that is demonstrating the kinds of actions that he wants the American public to follow. And, clearly, that is not what has been happening at the White House in recent days. BALDWIN: Well, you see how the American public has viewed President

Trump and this whole COVID response? Right, you juxtapose the poll numbers from the president vs. that of Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden is clearly pulling away.

And there are examples of how -- I was talking to Dana earlier this week, and I loved how she was describing how the president's been on this island of, oh, I'm not wearing a mask, and I'm not social distancing. And all of a sudden, he's realized, well, maybe I need to say something different.

But I'm just wondering. I mean, three months until the election, I get that anything can happen. But what more does he need to do COVID-wise?

PHILLIP: Well, I do think that he needs to demonstrate control over the situation.

The fact that Americans don't think he's handling the pandemic well is at the core of his low approval rating. And it's not just whether he's wearing a mask. It's not just whether or not he is talking about it. It is also the fact that he still talks about not really liking testing.

He says he will allow more testing, but he doesn't really think the testing is necessary. He's still giving the public mixed messages. I think people in this country understand that there needs to be more testing, partly because, when they try to go for a test, maybe they can't get one.

Maybe they're waiting a week-and-a-half for their result. And they believe that that is a problem. So, it's an overall competency issue for the president, not just one-offs, not just these individual briefings.

[15:20:05]

And until he's able to really change that perception, it's going to be very hard for him to recover against Joe Biden nationally and in all of these battleground state polls that have been coming out in recent days showing him double digits behind Joe Biden.

BALDWIN: Meanwhile, Obama-Biden team getting together releasing this teaser of a sit-down, conversation these two had recently.

Here's just a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can you imagine standing up when you were president and saying, it's not my responsibility, I take no responsibility, it's not -- I mean, literally, literally.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That -- those words didn't come out of our mouths while we were at office.

BIDEN: No. No. I don't understand his inability to get a sense of what people are going through. He just can't -- he can't relate in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Abby, clearly, Joe Biden is seizing on this COVID moment, but, again, three months to the election, anything could happen.

Do you think this is a safe bet, going all in on this for team Biden?

PHILLIP: Yes, I do think that Biden thinks it's a safe bet.

I think they want to stay on the course that they are on. They have been criticized even by some of their allies that perhaps he's not out front enough. Some of his allies really dislike the kind of basement Joe Biden that they saw over the last few months.

So this is actually, I think, more of what people want to see, these really polished videos, bringing Obama in, for Democrats, a universally liked political figure.

And I think about how President Trump calls Joe Biden sleepy Joe Biden. I think the Biden campaign wants Biden to be thought of as normal Joe Biden. They want to present this image of, this is what you can go back, this presidency. They want to project competence.

They want to bring up how the Obama administration was sort of known as the no-drama Obama. That is what they want to remind people of. And I think that's what they are trying to do in that video. It's a nostalgia video aimed not just at Democrats, but also at other Americans who they want to recall that era in which things didn't seem perhaps so chaotic as they do now.

BALDWIN: And they're hoping voters will vote that way come November.

PHILLIP: Yes.

BALDWIN: I do want to get you on this, because we have just heard the president just did this interview with Barstool Sports. And he made this rare admission, saying that he sometimes regrets his tweets.

Roll the sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know, it used to be, in the old days before this, you would write a letter, and you would say, this letter is really bad. You would put it on your desk, and then you go back tomorrow and you say, oh, I'm glad I didn't send it, right?

But we don't do that with Twitter, right? We put it out instantaneously. We feel great. And then you start getting phone calls. Did you really say this? I say, what's wrong with that?

And you find a lot of things. You know what I find? It's not the tweets. It's the retweets that get you in trouble. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Abby, what do you think of that?

PHILLIP: So interesting.

BALDWIN: Right?

PHILLIP: So interesting.

Well, Brooke, I mean, listen to what he said at the end there. He says two things. One, it's the retweets. But also, he says, people will call him and ask him about what he tweeted.

Remember, when he tweeted that video of The Villages in Florida with the man screaming "white power," it stayed up because his aides could not get ahold of him to ask him to take it down.

BALDWIN: Yes.

PHILLIP: He was on the golf course.

So, it does seem that that is one of the things that he is referring to, a retweet of that controversial video that he didn't look into, apparently, because he says in this clip that -- we didn't play this part, but he says later that some things, you don't investigate, but you retweet them, and you get in trouble for it.

Well, yes, that was a clear example of a thing he maybe didn't investigate, even though it was said in the first few seconds of that video, that got him in trouble. You don't hear often the president regretting -- expressing regret.

He certainly didn't apologize. But I think you see there a recognition that, yes, there are lines that he thinks are too controversial to cross. Does he apologize for them? No, but, clearly, he understands that they're not helpful to him or even perhaps to his political standing.

BALDWIN: Retweeting white supremacist tweets not a good idea, Mr. President.

Here's my last question, because he also made news. I'm just looking at the notes I was just handed. The president, this Barstool Sports interview, said that he loves being president, but that he said his life was great before running for president.

What do you think of that?

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, this is something that actually has come up for President Trump many times in the past.

He talks often about the great life that he used to have and how much he sacrificed and gave up to be president of the United States. To be fair, Brooke, he was a very wealthy man, a private businessman. He perhaps did not mean to run for president. He did. But it is interesting to hear someone say that as president. Usually,

you have people saying how great it is to be president and how much they love their jobs. But, clearly, this is all weighing on the president.

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And he talks also, when he talks about his prior life, how much he's gone through because of the Russia probe. And I do think that he feels victimized by a lot of the things that have happened to him over the course of this presidency, principal among them the Russia investigation, which is why, even though it's over, he's been impeached, he's been acquitted in that impeachment proceeding, he has not let that go, and maybe pines for his old life.

We know, after the presidency, he plans to have his residence in Florida at Mar-a-Lago. I think he wants to go back to that life of golfing, golfing on his properties.

BALDWIN: Well, he may pine for that old life, but, listen, the man's running for four more years.

PHILLIP: Yes.

BALDWIN: So, obviously, life isn't too shabby for him for now at the White House.

PHILLIP: Yes.

BALDWIN: Abby Phillip, you're wonderful. Thank you so much.

PHILLIP: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

Coming up here on CNN: Three children are now orphans after the coronavirus has taken both of their parents, and one of those children will join me live next.

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