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Trump Caves to worsening, Cancels GOP Convention in Florida; U.S. Records over 1,000 New Deaths for Third Time in a Row. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 07:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And for the third straight day, more than a thousand coronavirus deaths have been reported in the United States, more than 4 million cases in America. The CDC says coronavirus is on track to become a leading cause of death in the United States. Hospitalizations this morning are near an all-time high.

And President Trump is doing a 180. He just canceled his Florida acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention. You'll remember, he made a big show of moving the speech to Florida after the North Carolina governor would not let him do it there in a full, unmasked stadium because of safety concerns. That was the end of May.

After that, President Trump still held multiple rallies, like the one in Tulsa, where according to local health officials, many people got sick.

You will also remember how President Trump mocked masks and refused to wear one for months before his reversal this week. But then he still did not wear one during an appearance with little leaguers at the White House last night.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: This morning, the virus is winning and the president is in retreat, though for him it may be a retreat from political reality rather than a public health emergency. A new poll shows that he's trailing Joe Biden by 13 points in Florida and there are new polls that show Biden leading in other battleground states, as well. In all the states, the president's approval ratings on the pandemic at anemic levels.

Overnight, the CDC released new guidelines which strongly support the opening of schools, but in something of a retreat there too, for the CDC and the president, they say states where the virus is spreading uncontrolled, and those are some of the most populous states in the country, that those states might consider not reopening the schools.

Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman, she's a White House Correspondent at The New York Times. Maggie, I think this decision on the convention speech in Florida is a microcosm of what's happening here at a much larger level. You said overnight that the decision is unbelievable. Not literally --


BERMAN: Not literally unbelievable because of what it represents. The convention speech was only going to be in Florida because the president was mad that North Carolina wouldn't let him do it in a full, packed, unmasked stadium. So he moved it to Florida so he could speak to tons of people. And now he's saying that's not safe.

HABERMAN: That's right, John. Look, this is a microcosm, I think, as you well put it, of how the president has approached this virus over the course of the last several months. When he was told by North Carolina's governor that there needed to be some safety plan for how to do a scaled back version of the convention, the president was furious. And had the Republican National Convention sent a (INAUDIBLE) letter saying, we must have a full convention. The president eschewed social distancing.

He mocked states that were taking in his estimation too long to reopen. He mocked mask wearing. He did everything to make fun of and make it harder for people who were trying to take steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus, to make it more difficult for them. And then abruptly, yesterday, after many, many days of pleading by some of his aides, did an abrupt 180 and said, we're not going to do this event there.

The main reason he's not doing it, John, is two factors. One, he has finally come to accept the number of cases are rising. That's true in Florida, as well, which has become a hotspot. He finally is willing to see that. And he was afraid that he was going to get negative media coverage, particularly if a lot of people got sick, as people got sick after the Tulsa rally in June.

So, look, this is clearly the right call in terms of public policy and public health, but it took him a very long time to get there and he has been completely inconsistent about this.

CAMEROTA: But, Maggie, just help us understand it even more. Numbers have been rising for weeks. 144,000 Americans are dead. This isn't new information. Why this week did he just get it?

HABERMAN: Because for whatever reason, this is when it finally sank in for him that he was hitting a point of no return. He is suddenly, I think, Alisyn, more interested in trying to fight for electoral survival than he had been for most of this year. He has been in some kind of a psychic slump, for lack of a better way of putting it, and he is now suddenly trying to turn it around.

Can he sustain being more disciplined and more subdued at the podium? I think history indicates every time we have seen what keeps getting called a new tone. The old tone is still very much there and we're seeing that in his tweets and we saw it in an interview with Sean Hannity last night. [07:05:00]

But I think this is about him realizing the polls are not fake news.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, one of the things he said at the podium was that, except for the south and the west, the country is doing great. That's basically like sign from Matt (ph), Mrs. Lincoln, how is the play? I mean, that's half the country. And it's three most populous states in the country, Maggie.

HABERMAN: That's right. And, look, I would put it this way, John. That's another example of not being honest with the public about what's happening. To keep trying to put this rosy spin on things is not just a power of positive thinking moment. You are not being candid with the public when you do that as the president in the middle of a pandemic, and the most important thing that leaders can do in a crisis like this is be honest with people.

CAMEROTA: I mean, after the Tulsa rally, the health officials there saw cases spike. They had hundreds more cases in the week and second week after that rally than they had before. It's real. Having a indoor, huge convention had deadly consequences. Doctors and health experts have been saying that for weeks. But for whatever reason, he just is finally getting it.

And it's very interesting, Maggie, I mean, just to see this different tact. We've talked for years about how reluctant he ever is to admit a mistake. I know he's still not admitting a mistake, but in his actions -- no, but in his pivots, he might as well-being. He's pivoting on masks, he's pivoting on schools, he' pivoting on the RNC, he's pivoting on by saying it's going to get worse before it gets better, not anymore, it's just going to magically disappear. All of that happened this week.

HABERMAN: Alisyn, he has been running out of time. Most of his advisers believe that he -- well, the president believes this campaign, and I'm sorry to put this in starkly political terms, but that really is the president's thinking, is less about the public policy. The president believes the campaign will be fought and won in the final weeks of October, as his last campaign was. Most of his advisers do not believe that, because he's an incumbent, and because he has made sure this race is about himself no matter what.

Most of them believe that if he does not do something to put himself in a better position by the end of August, this race is likely unchangeable for him.

BERMAN: It is interesting though, Maggie, and you pointed it out, the course of events, the things that took place in the six weeks between when he forced the move of the convention to Florida and when he canceled the speech there. It was the president urging states to reopen before they probably should. It was the president filling stadiums in Tulsa. It was the president -- so, there is a cause and effect there, which he refuses to own. I don't expect him to, either.

But even in so far as he may lop it off on the states, he has yet to say, Florida opened too early, Texas opened too early, Arizona opened too early.

HABERMAN: Look, John, I think, again, and I think it is important to note that he has made some changes this week that are clearly in terms of public health perspectives, positive about masks, about cancel an event that was potentially a super spreader event. Those are good things.

But it doesn't memory hole everything else he did, including as recently as this Sunday, when he was complaining about Democratic governors that wouldn't let him hold rallies in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News. That wasn't weeks ago, that was a few days ago.

CAMEROTA: The president, as you know, seems to also be trying to strategically pivot to talking not about the coronavirus, despite the briefings, but about law and order and about how cities are in trouble, and about how they're run by Democrats and things like that that he keeps repeating.

So he tweeted this out. The suburban housewives of America must read this article. Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American dream. I will preserve it and make it even better.

Now, I don't know if the suburban housewives is an episode of The Real Housewives of suburbia or who he's referring to exactly there, but, he -- it's interesting that he says all of this. He is president right now. He's the president. He's not running as an outsider. This is all happening, you know, on his watch, and what do we think the likelihood of this working for voters is?

HABERMAN: It is not an issue that is top of mind for voters. And, frankly, he is describing these scenes of chaos that are just not what most voters are either experiencing in their own lives or seeing. But, again, it's not top of mind. The coronavirus is what is top of mind. And he is trying to run to his default, which is law and order has been his default, not just in 2016, but throughout his life, his adulthood. He goes to this theme over and over.

That phrase, we shouldn't let it pass suburban housewives is, I think, he was either intentionally or unintentionally making some play on The Real Housewives of wherever. Lots of suburban women work, and I don't think saying that suburban women are housewives is a particularly 2020 (INAUDIBLE) things.


BERMAN: Yes. Look, and also the article he tweeted out is about policy, which many people see as overtly racist. It's about changing housing rules so low-income and minorities are not able to move as frequently to the suburbs.

And so, to me, he's going down a list, Maggie, checking boxes that he may be from political advisors, gosh, I've got to do better in the suburbs, check.

And seniors, two days ago at the briefing, he made this explicit plea to seniors. Oh, I love the seniors. We're really concerned about the seniors. And the poll numbers show why, perhaps, he may be doing that. If you look at Florida, for instance, the latest Quinnipiac poll there, he's trailing Joe Biden by three points among people 65 and older. He beat hillary clinton by 17 points among seniors there in 2016.

HABERMAN: Correct. Look, the dip in seniors, John, and you know this well, began with his coronavirus briefings. Seniors are the group that is the hardest hit by the coronavirus, and basically, the administration's posture was some version of, look, older people are going to die anyway. And strangely not being treated as if their safety mattered that was significant to this group of voters.

To your point about the policy that he's talking about in that opinion piece that he tweeted about suburban voters, suburban voters are recoiling from him, yes, in part because of his coronavirus performance, but in part because they believe that he is doing and saying racist things. And so making overt policy moves like that that make it harder for suburban white voters to tell themselves he's not that bad is a bit of a mystifying strategy.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for sharing all the reporting and analysis.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. The CDC is pushing for schools to reopen, but only in places that are not seeing, quote, sustained transmission. What does that mean for you? We have that, next.



BERMAN: This morning, deaths are rising in 28 states across the entire United States. That's north, south, east and west. President Trump offered a very different take at the White House last night.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You'll also see a lot of the country has no problem whatsoever, most of the country, actually. The country is in very good shape, other than, if you look south and west, some problems. That will all work out.

And it goes away and goes away quickly.


BERMAN: Dr. Deborah Birx, who did not speak at the briefing, warned in a private call to local health officials that 12 cities need to take immediate action.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: There are other cities that are lagging behind them and we have new increases in Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Jose, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Baltimore.

So we are tracking this very closely. We're working with state official to make sure we're responding together. But when you first see that increased test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation effort.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a Professor of Medicine at George Washington University and former Vice President Dick Cheney's cardiologist. Also with us, Dr. Mark Supino, he's an Emergency Medicine Physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Dr. Reiner, first, to you. It was striking to hear Dr. Birx list those cities, many of which are not in the south or west and to hear the president say, you know what, aside from the south and west, we are doing great, which is a strange formulation to begin with. How do you see it?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. And, well, I see it closer to the way Dr. Birx sees it. But I would like to hear Dr. Birx tell that to the country.

The problem, when the president articulates these really unrealistically rosy scenarios that we're doing well in most places and places that aren't doing so well will get better quickly, that resonates around the country. And that impacts how people react on a day-to-day basis. That results in fewer people social distancing, fewer people wearing masks. And that's how we've gotten to the fact that we now have empty baseball stadiums and no political conventions.

So rather than painting these unrealistic, super great scenarios, the president should be pretty frank about what this country needs to do. And if he does that and gets states to shut down and gets people to social distance and wear masks, then we can get this under control. But the whole 15 to 0, cases will go away soon, it will blow away, has led to where we are now.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Supino, tell us where we are now. You work in an emergency room in Miami. What's your reality?

DR. MARK SUPINO, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Yes, Alisyn, it's a new reality, but this is not so new anymore. This has been going on for many weeks. We have a lot of patients, we are full, we are near capacity, if not, at capacity with our ICU beds and we still are seeing a lot of sick patients. This has not gone away.

BERMAN: Dr. Supino, we've had record deaths in Florida over the last 24 hours. Given what you are telling us about the hospital levels, given what we are seeing in terms of the daily case loads staying at a very high level, do you expect that daily death count to go down anytime soon? SUPINO: I would love for it to go down. I mean, my hope and dream is that we get this under control and we get everyone healthy again.

I'm just seeing a lot of cases. I'm seeing a lot of COVID cases still and with that, unfortunately, we'll have a lot of patients falling ill and dying.


CAMEROTA: Yes. Dr. Supino, I want to stick with you for one more second, because you use this metaphor that I find really evocative, you say it's like being lost at sea and not being able to see land or the horizon. Is that still how you feel today?

SUPINO: Yes and the horizon could be a mile away, but we can't see it. So not knowing if it's a mile away or ten miles away or 100 miles away makes it a little more daunting.

BERMAN: Dr. Reiner, the CDC finally put out their guidance for schools, which is essentially to go along with the previous gating criteria and suggestions they had for how schools reopen. In this guidance, they strongly push for schools to reopen.

However, they added this language, which to me seems like an escape clause, and, in a way, an opportunity for the president himself to back off a little bit. It says this, if there is substantial uncontrolled transmission, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations. If there is substantial uncontrolled transmission, they say, maybe you should think twice about reopening.

Where would that include, broadly speaking in the country? Where does that include?

REINER: Well, to use the president's parlance, that would include the south and the west and then some other parts of the country, as well.

Look, that language in the CDC document is, I think, what every public health official in this country has urged since this pandemic began and since we started talking about how to open schools. You can't do it in places where there's uncontrolled transmission. So when you hear someone like the governor of Florida saying, schools are going to reopen, it just flies in the face of reality.

There are places in this country where the positivity rates are so low that schools can reopen. And there are some places where it might be border line and schools can reopen, but may have to move to virtual learning. The point is that every school district has to make these decisions. These are complex decisions. Everyone wants kids to go back to school. Kids do need to go back to school, obviously. But they have to go back safely.

The document sort of downplays the risks to kids by saying that only about 7 percent of the infections in the United States have been to children less than 18, but that's 10,000 people. There are 138 countries on this planet that have had fewer infections than that. So 10,000 children have been infected and that's almost certainly a gross undercount.

So the risk to children and moreover the risk to their families is real and school districts on an individual basis need to assess the risks based on what's going on in a community.

Finally, I think, we're starting to see some record of that from president.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Supino, I think that we can all relate at different hard times in our lives to feeling as though you don't know where the finish line is, or feeling like you can't see the horizon, and how much harder it is, as you say so well when you're in the midst of that. And so what is happening with your colleagues? How are you and your fellow doctors finding the stamina to go back in every day?

SUPINO: It's definitely challenging. And I'm glad you asked about it. I think now is as good a time as any to address mental wellness and mental health issues that are so preponderant.

I'm still so struck by the physician in New York City that took her own life in April after having falling ill from COVID herself, and then having to have been on the frontlines subsequently.

And New York Times did a nice piece about her recently. And that just resonates that you feel the weight on her shoulders of what she was dealing with. And that's a lot of what we feel.

I think what's really important is in these moments is to turn to each other, to discuss, to spend time discussing our patients, how we're feeling, and also to take time to do things that are unrelated to our day-to-day jobs, to do things that are enjoyable and pleasurable and connect.

And without that, it becomes very difficult to continue to go in and see what we see. And that is really all I can think to convey at this time.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we hear you. I mean, that is really hard and we can't say it any more clearly than you have. That story, as you say, of the doctor in New York, it is devastating, devastating at how high -- how quickly she went from being high functioning to feeling suicidal. And so please take care of yourself, Doctor. Obviously, community and reaching out is the key. Let us know if we can help.


And thank you very much for just giving us a picture of what it's like on the ground there. Dr. Reiner, thank you, as well.

SUPINO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We want to take some time right now to remember some of the more than 144,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

Roberto and Loida Tobias died one month apart, leaving behind 17-year- old Robert Jr. and his 29-year-old sister, Beverly. New York One reports the couple emigrated from the Philippines to New York City, seeking a better life. Loida was a nurse at Harlem High School. Roberto Sr. had worked at the World Trade Center.

61-year-old Kerry Crosswhite was head swimming and diving Chandler High School in Arizona for 15 years. The Arizona Republic say he was known for wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes, sometimes leading the marching on to the field Friday nights.

Robert Shackelford coached the football program at Sarasota High School, a one-time NFL free agent in the '80s. WSTP reports he was also a civil war history buff.

We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: New CDC guidelines make a strong push for reopening schools this fall, but with one big asterisk.