Return to Transcripts main page


New CDC Guidelines Come Down Hard in Favor of Reopening Schools; Baltimore Schools Begin Classes Online this Fall; Poll: Biden Holds 13-Point Lead over Trump in Florida; Trump retreats on Coronavirus as Poll Numbers Plummet; Fauci on Threats He and His Family have Received: "It's Tough". Aired 7:30-8p ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New CDC guidelines make a strong push for reopening schools this fall but with one big asterisk. The guidelines read, "If there is substantial, uncontrolled transmissions, schools should work closely with local health officials to make decisions on whether to maintain school operations. The health safety and wellbeing of students, teachers and staff and their families is the most important consideration in determining whether school closure is a necessary step."

Joining us now is Sonja Brookins Santelises. She's the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, which will be starting classes online but is proposing a change to the start date.

Ms. Santelises, thanks so much for being here.

As I understand it, it was supposed to open August 31. You're proposing pushing that to September 8. But what is that one week buy you?

SONJA BROOKINS SANTELISES, CEO, BALTIMORE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, actually what that one week buys us is one additional week for teachers to get ready. We heard overwhelmingly from our faculty that the professional development opportunities to get ready for online learning is valuable. And it also gives us time to orient our parents for the -- our parents and our families to get ready for the school year.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about orienting parents because obviously, every parent in the country wants to know what their fall is going to look like, will they be able to work? Will they be homeschooling? Will they be needing childcare, et cetera?

And so with -- do you know the answer to that right now? I mean, the idea of starting with online classes, what do you say to parents about what their fall will look like?

SANTELISES: So, one of the things that we've said to our parents is our goal as Baltimore City Public Schools is really to make sure that there are quality options for families. And to the extent that the health conditions allow, we want to be able to provide families with choice about some in person or -- and or all virtual because we know families have a variety of readiness to do that.

But the other piece we've heard knowing that we're going to be starting virtually is that parents need better and more robust support. So we'll be continuing things like our parent hotlines that we launched in the spring.

But we'll also be offering more virtual classes and orientation for families to our online virtual platforms to give them some tips on how to support their students. But we also know that we're going to need some of our community organizations to come alongside of us with this because we have families that are in, you know, various stages of readiness for virtual learning.

CAMEROTA: Do you envision right now some in person classes, kids in the classroom this fall?

SANTELISES: So, well, actually we have some students in classrooms this summer. So we actually have a summer school. Now a small number. We gave, again, families the option, we gave educators the option, so.

And we have some families that actually are in very small numbers, socially distance, masks in class learning because we know not all young people thrive in a virtual environment.

For now we're starting virtually, but we're monitoring with some of our public health partners. We have an advisory group made up of, you know, medical professionals from Johns Hopkins, Morgan State University, University of Maryland Medical School, as well as our health department. And we are putting together a dashboard that will allow us to monitor just what the conditions are in each section of our city on a regular basis.

But I think for all of us, our real pushes to be able to offer families choices, but we will do that when it's medically feasible on September.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, since you have been doing these programs in person right now, through the summer, you're sort of a guinea pig, frankly, for the rest of the country. And so, how has it worked?

I mean, are all the kids complying with wearing masks? Are there plastic shields between desks? How far apart have you put desks? Like how is it working?

SANTELISES: Well, and I would say, you know, we have been hearing feedback from our teachers that are in summer school, our families. Families have said what has made them most comfortable is the fact that, one, we have small numbers of students in classrooms, right? So it's not 20 children at a class, it's closer to six to nine students in a class, they can see that they're being physically, you know, that there's physical distance, they can see the hand sanitizing station. Students get temperature checks as they walk through the building. And so, you know, some parents have been very clear that seeing those particular things makes them more comfortable. And they're also clear that if they did not see those conditions, they would not be comfortable.

So, you know, we have been we offering the opportunity. And as a bonus, we've also been able to still learn a lot from it as well. And yes, children are keeping their masks on. So, I just need folks to know that. They've been doing great.


CAMEROTA: That's really interesting and really good to hear.

Here's what the CDC says about the harm caused by school closures, "Extended school closure is harmful to children, it can lead to severe learning loss and the need for in person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs. Available evidence provides reason to believe that in person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces."

And so on balance, do you agree with that, that it's more harmful for kids to be out of school in the fall than in school? And is it worth the risk?

SANTELISES: So what I would say is this, one, we know that for certain populations of students, and we heard this from our family, right, that online learning, virtual learning is challenging and I don't think you would find an educator anyway anywhere who would say that in person relationship based teaching and learning is more advantageous for the large majority of students.

However, we also know that large numbers of our families, larger numbers of our educators want to feel physically safe. And so, the balance of medical needs with the educational needs is one of the things that makes this a really complex time for educators.

And there's no simple kind of knee jerk, one liner response to this kind of challenge, where those of us who knows students and have -- matter of fact, I have three daughters of my own. So I am a city schools parent, as well as a Baltimore City School CEO. And I will tell you, the balance is often based on where students are.


SANTELISES: So our students would just -- you know, we know that they're prioritized when it's safe to be able to return because those families were challenged during virtual learning. So, it's an ongoing balance (ph).

CAMEROTA: For sure. We know there is no easy answer or we would already have it.

Sonja Santelises, we really appreciate you sharing what the experience has been there in Baltimore. We will be watching.

SANTELISES: Great. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Our pleasure.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the Department of Homeland Security announcing they are lifting the ban on the Global Entry exploited travel program for New Yorkers. The Trump administration moved to exclude New York after the state passed a law enabling undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses.

Federal lawyers are now admitting they made false statements to justify excluding New York conceding that other states did the same thing and were not targeted.

Yes, you can tell by that animation, Tropical Storm Hannah gaining strength. Expected to make landfall in Texas in just hours.

CNN's as Allison Chinchar tracking the storm for us. What do you see Alison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, John. Yes. So this morning, sustained winds are right around 40 miles per hour gusting up 250, it's moving to the west northwest at just about nine miles per hour. We do anticipate that this will strengthen a little bit more before it makes landfall in Texas on Saturday.

You have tropical storm watches and tropical storm warnings out already, again, because we anticipate this storm to cross over into the central and south central portions of Texas as we get into the day Saturday. But even before that, you're going to start to have some of those outer bands begin to push some of the heavy rain showers into these areas. So flooding is going to be one of the biggest concerns, widespread amounts about three to five inches of rain, but there will be some spots that could pick up eight, even 10 inches of rain before this system finally pushes out.

Here's the thing. This is not the only system that we're keeping an eye on. We are also looking at Tropical Storm Gonzalo, this has the potential to become Hurricane Gonzalo at some point later today as it continues to push towards the Windward Islands.

Now, this is something that we'll have to keep an eye on likely into next week because it is still pretty far away from the United States. A different storm that is headed to one of the other states, that is Hawaii. Now you are looking at major Hurricane Douglas. This is now up to a category four hurricane, very strong, very powerful.

The good news here is, John, it is expected to weaken back down to around a category one before it makes landfall in Hawaii on Sunday.

BERMAN: All right, Allison, thanks so much.

In the near term concern for the Texas Gulf Coast, including Corpus Christi having such problems of the pandemic. The last thing they need is a tropical storm and major flooding.

About 100 days to go until the November election, we have a number of new revealing polls out from battleground states. What's behind the numbers even more interesting, that's next.



BERMAN: All right, this morning, a new poll shows Joe Biden 13 points ahead of President Trump in the President's new home state of Florida. It comes to the President abruptly canceled the Florida portion of the Republican convention. But there is more underneath the numbers that could spell trouble for the President.

CNN's Senior Politics Writer and Analysts, Harry Enten joins me now.

Harry, one of the very first things people say when they see polls like the one out of Florida is, oh, the polls were wrong in 2016, which is a canard to begin with. But that aside, why is what we are seeing in Florida this morning different than 2016?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Yes, you hit it right on, John. So you know, if you look at the Quinnipiac University poll that was out yesterday, you saw that by former Vice President Joe Biden was up by 13 points and over 50 percent. Now compare that to the Quinnipiac University poll that came out at this exact same point back in 2016, what you see, you saw that Hillary Clinton was actually trailing in the state by five and not even close to 50 percent.

So the fact is, when you're looking at the poll numbers, like down in Florida, you just see that the former vice president is in a significantly better position than Clinton was at this point.


BERMAN: And how does this connect or relate to what we're seeing in the rest of the country?

ENTEN: Yes, this is so important. You know, three Fox News polls came out yesterday from Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And what you see there is, again, large leads for the former vice president up by nine points, or even more, you know, up by 13 points in Minnesota State that the Republicans want to flip doesn't look like at this point.

And if you look at the polling averages across the country, and you said, OK, if the polling averages hold and the election were held today, and the winner in each state was the winner who was leading in the polling averages, what do you see, you see that former Vice President Joe Biden would win 352 electoral votes, it would not be close at this particular point. Of course, we still have a little bit more than 100 days to go, so we'll have to see what happens.

BERMAN: So oftentimes, the polls tell you what is happening and you have to search deep down inside to figure out why. The why here this morning, Harry is no mystery. It is screaming out loud.

ENTEN: Yes, you know, sometimes there's some real mysteries. There's not in this particular case.

Look at this, the most important issues according to the most recent national Fox News poll, coronavirus 29 percent, nearly double the percentage of the economy. This is going to be one of those elections that's determined by a noneconomic issue. And what's so important is that who is leading on that particular issue of the coronavirus. Who is more trusted? It's the former vice president overwhelmingly.

And not only is it that the former vice president is leading overwhelmingly that lead is expanding on the issue, which I think goes right to the heart of the issue of why the former vice president's lead is expanding overall, it's because voters are not liking the President's response to the coronavirus.

BERMAN: Now, I think all the polls that have come out are most interesting because of what they tell us about where things are today and how they perhaps explain the public perception of how the President has handled coronavirus. But, if you were to look forward and project forward to November and what might happen, then what is the one number that jumps out to you this morning as being the most telling?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, the president's approval rating, his net approval rating, that's his approval rating minus his disapproval rating. And what you see is the presence very much under water with a minus 15 percentage point net approval rating.

Now go back over time, look at all the incumbents who are running for another term since 1940. What you see is that the presidents who ended up not getting that second term, or that fourth term in the case of are getting in for FDR, you see that those presidents had a minus 14 percentage point net approval rating.

He looks a lot more like the losers than he does like the winners. Those winners had a plus 23 point net approval rating. He simply put is not anywhere close to them. He looks a lot more like the losers and the winners.

Again, we have time to go but this is not a good place for the incumbent president to be at this point.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, it is a pleasure to see you. You make us smarter. Thanks so much for the work you're doing.

ENTEN: So do you my friend.

BERMAN: We try.

All right. So, we've seen the numbers on where the President stand and we've seen the actions from the President this week. A retreat from coronavirus, which is dictating the course of actions more than anything else. David Axelrod joins us next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump is underwater in some key battleground polls. A new Fox News poll shows Joe Biden ahead in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan by a margin of about 10 points.

Joining us now to talk about this and what it means and so much more, we have CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod. He was the top campaign strategist for President Obama.

Great to see you Axe.


CAMEROTA: OK. So let's just talk about the issues. I just want -- John went over this, but I just think that it bears repeating in terms of how voters are feeling right now about what is most important to them.

So, in this Fox News poll just out coronavirus far away the top issue, 29 percent, then the economy 15 percent, then race relations 10 percent, then wanting to vote Trump out of office meeting, their negative impression of the president at 6 percent, and then healthcare all the way down at the moment about 5 percent. And so the fact that he's underwater in battleground states, I mean, people, David, I can assume really don't like how he's been handling coronavirus.

AXELROD: Yes, the coronavirus hangs from his neck like the anchor from the Lusitania. I mean, he is really struggling here and partly because he has spent so much time trying to deny what everyone can see. I've said to you guys before, it's very hard to spin a pandemic, because people are living the reality of it.

And that's what Trump has acknowledged basically this week, because Sunday he was still in denial mode in his interview with Chris Wallace, by Monday, you know, he was beginning to turn and he started having briefings again, in which he at least read words that acknowledge the severity of the situation.

The problem is that he continues to, even in those same press conferences, suggests that we're really doing well, that things are going better, and people know otherwise. So he, you know, right now there's one tool in Donald Trump's toolbox, and it's a shovel and he just keeps using it and digging himself deeper on this coronavirus issue.

BERMAN: Yes, talk more about that Axe, because with your trained ear, I think you hear things that a lot of us don't in these news conferences and then interviews after and you read things into actions maybe that the rest of us don't, you know, the cancelling of the Republican convention, some of the things the President has been saying. So what are you picking up?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, the cancellation of the Republican convention was about to reality was ludicrous, too. And you know, he had been in the last week you heard from the sheriff and the mayor and local authorities and what is prime Republican area of that state all saying we don't know if we can pull this off.


The city council in Jacksonville was about to debate whether or not to authorize the convention. So, this was -- he made a virtue out of a necessity here by saying that he decided it just wasn't the right time to bring large crowds together, even though he was in a press conference at which the main thrust was that he thinks school should open right away.

So again, another conflict. But what I -- what clearly, John, the whole thrust here is that his political advisors finally sat down with him with the polls and said, we're killing ourselves here. We've got to look like we're in control and engaged on this coronavirus issues. So, hence we have these briefings, whether they'll be more successful than the last round of briefings, which ended disastrously, we'll see.

But they -- I think the strategy of denial has gone by the wayside and now they know they have to engage.

CAMEROTA: David, we're still three months away from the election, from a political strategists point of view, is that an eternity or is that around the corner?

AXELROD: No, I think it's an eternity. Just think about this, Allison, four months ago, five months ago, the discussion was can Donald Trump be beaten? He had gotten past the impeachment, the economy was strong. His approval rating was creeping up toward 50. The Democrats look like they were in disarray.

The thing you worry about as a strategist is the things you don't know, things that are going to happen that you just can't predict. And so, you know, you can't -- you have to be vigilant if you're the Biden campaign, particularly against an opponent like Trump, who is willing to do just about anything to win.

So there are uncertainties. The vote itself and how that's going to come down is a concern because we don't know where the COVID-19 crisis here, how people are going to vote whether the state authorities and local authorities are going to be equipped to deal with the volume of mail in votes. And, I mean, there are a lot of questions, voter suppression. There are a lot of questions about that. So, there are variables here that, you know, would keep me up, if I were a strategist for Biden, even as I feel very, very good about where I am right now.

BERMAN: Well, what made you a good strategist because you do -- you'd find a way to be nervous about something, no matter what.

AXELROD: Yes. There are people who would attest to that.

BERMAN: So David, in addition to being a great political analyst for us, you're also the host of the wildly popular Axe Files. And for that you spoke to the country's worst pitcher, but perhaps most esteemed infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and you talk to him about the personal attacks, the vicious attacks in some cases that he had weathered, some that we see, you know, in the everyday press, some that we have no idea what's going on. Let's just play some sound from him on that.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There are people who get really angry at thinking that I'm interfering with their life because I'm pushing a public health agenda.

AXELROD: Yes. How are you -- how do you process that?

FAUCI: You know, it's tough. I mean, it's tough. I mean, serious threats against me. I mean, against my family, on my daughters, my wife. I mean, really? Is this the United States of America? But it's real.


BERMAN: It's real, he says, Axe. It was interesting to hear him talk about that.

AXELROD: Yes, you know, you know how controlled he is. He's really very deft as a communicator. And this was a place where he really sort of let his hair down. And this is obviously something that's upsetting to men, understandably.

So, he is trying to do what he thinks is best based on the science and giving the counsel that he thinks is best based on the science. And, you know, some of the things that he has recommended involve great sacrifice, he understands that, but we see now what the absence of those measures can mean in terms of a resurgence of the virus.

So he's trying to do his job and in return, he's become a target. And let's be honest, the President himself at times has put Fauci in that position, retweeting fire Fauci e-mails and so on. So, he's in a very tough position and I admire him for hanging in there. I think the country needs him to hang in there.

CAMEROTA: There are a lot of interesting things that he said with you on the podcast that I hadn't heard before. Everybody should check out "The Axe Files."

David Axelrod, great to see you.

AXELROD: Always good to see you guys. Have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You too.

And New Day continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is New Day with Allison Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome again to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day, and this morning, it is clear the virus is winning and the President is retreating.

For the third day in a row more than 1000 Americans die. We got reports of 1000 American deaths. More than 4 million Americans have now been infected by coronavirus and that number is climbing faster and faster. Hospitalizations seem like they're about to hit an all- time high.

So the virus is winning. And the President is retreating from the path that he shows up path that gave the virus an edge he abruptly canceled his Florida acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention speech.