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President Trump Cancels Jacksonville, Florida, Portion of Republican National Convention Due to Coronavirus Pandemic; Some Hospitals Reported Shortages of Equipment Such as Masks. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 24, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He abruptly cancelled his Florida acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention, a speech he moved there because North Carolina would not let him do it in a full, unmasked stadium. Remember, it was the president who demanded that indoor rally in Tulsa last month despite pleas from health officials and staff members getting infected. The president ridiculed mask wearing, refused to wear one for months. Now he is sometimes, but he didn't do it last night. Look at this. How about line up for a picture, shoulder to shoulder, and not wear a mask, with a smile? That was the White House last night.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president's actions finally reveal that the virus is not under control in the U.S. It is not going to simply disappear, as he has claimed. This is something most of Americans -- most of the American public has known for a long time. Here's a new poll that shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by 13 points. This is in Florida. Other polls show Biden leading in other battleground states as well. Overnight, the CDC released a new guideline supporting the opening schools, but only if it is safe. And if it's not safe enough to hold the GOP convention in Florida, how is it safe enough to open schools?

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. Sanjay, to you. In terms of the type of event that is clearly not safe, an indoor convention is very high at that list -- on that list. So as a doctor, your reaction to the decision from the president?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it was an inevitable decision, frankly. I say that, of course, we saw what happened in Tulsa and Arizona. But I think at this point, given how much viral spread there is, I think the public health communities have been pretty unified in their voice on how risky this is.

You can take a look at what are the riskiest types of events and what are the lowest risk types of events, and frankly, anyone who has been paying attention to this over the last months, this should not come as a surprise. Lowest risk is going to be virtual events, but the highest risk event, exactly what you're describing, large indoor events, people coming from outside the local areas because that means they may disperse then, obviously, to other areas, difficult to practice social distancing.

I'll add into that there's no -- there was no clear mask mandates inside these types of events in the past. And people sit next to each other for a while, so it's not just the distance, but the duration. People always want to thread the needles on all of these issues, when it comes to events, when it comes to schools, things like that. Let me find the loophole where I can get this done. That's a constant discussion I have been having with all my sources about schools lately.

Two issues with that. One is that it's not just your risk, right? You're not just the one taking the risk. You're taking the risk on behalf of others as well who may not want you to take that risk. And second of all, pandemic's not very forgiving. If you error all of a sudden and start to get clusters of outbreaks that can spiral out of control very, very quickly, as we're seeing in so many places around the country.

CAMEROTA: John, at the end of this week, can we just take a 30,000 foot view of what a remarkable week this has been in terms of the president's positions, the president's about-face on these positions that he has adamantly stuck to for months. And then, lo and behold, this week he changes his tune on masks, though he's not living it. He's saying that people should be wearing masks. Changing the RNC, not going to Florida after he had fought so publicly against the governor in North Carolina to let him have a big indoor rally. He's changing his tune on -- he's now admitting it's going to get worse before it gets better after -- for so long he's said that it's going to miraculously disappear. He has changed his tune and retreated on schools, not exactly saying that they all 100 percent must be open in 50 states. And so how do we explain what happened this week?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, I thought last night was a very significant moment for this reason. What we saw there was a president who has been battered by reality, battered by the virus, battered by the demands of a job that he's failing at. And so he understands and his advisers understand, they can look at these polls, he's looking at a massive repudiation by voters right now. Don't know if that will be the case in November. But when you see a poll that shows the president down 13 percentage points in the state of Florida, I don't believe he's going to lose Florida by 13 percentage points but that is a gigantic gap.

And what it indicates is that even within the president's putative base of voters, they are living through the reality that is turning their lives upside down, that's frightening them, that is dislocated the economy such that the bluster that the president has been offering in recent weeks, people are not believing the bluster.


The stuff about the resurgence of the economy, the stuff about having the virus under control, even the stuff that he was trying to say at that briefing yesterday, yes, the country is doing great except for the south and the west. Well, those are huge states in the south and the west. He didn't even seem to have the spirit in offering that bluster yesterday. To use an allusion that we have discussed before I think on this show, the curtain is all the way back on the Wizard of Oz, and they see a guy who is struggling badly.

And I think one of the questions now is, to the extent that the president's dysfunction has been restraining the government's response, is that restraint less significant now? Is everybody going to say, OK, let's stop the baloney and get more aggressive about what we're doing? And does it undercut the people who on Capitol Hill have been enabling the Republican response? Among other things the leverage of Republicans in resisting Democrats on coronavirus relief has been seriously undercut.

BERMAN: Look, the numbers I think that jumped out to a lot of people are the poll numbers, and they are telling. The numbers that really matter, more than 1,000 daily deaths for the third day in a row. Cases over 4 million, deaths now over 144,000. And Sanjay, the fact that coronavirus is going to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States, now, at first, that may not strike you as extraordinary. But this didn't exist a year ago.

GUPTA: Yes. Yes, that was -- it is extraordinary, John. If you can start to look at it, almost already it's the third leading cause of death. It certainly will be the leading cause of death by the end of the year, just behind heart disease and cancer. More deaths than stroke, than diabetes, than Alzheimer's disease, for something that didn't exist, as you point out, at the end of last year.

I will say that it didn't have to be this way. We say it all the time, and I feel a little bit bad reminding people of this, but I think it's important because hopefully it inspires us to do better. There are countries around the world that count their deaths in the teens, maybe the hundreds, but certainly not the thousands or hundreds of thousands like we do. So we have got to do better, for sure.

CAMEROTA: John Harwood, Dr. Birx was allowed to be seen, but not heard yesterday at the White House coronavirus -- so-called coronavirus briefing. Will that change next week? Will we again hear from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, the experts, the doctors on this?

HARWOOD: Look, I was surprised, Alisyn, this week. I thought the president couldn't resist having those public health experts now because the resumption of the briefings itself was a concession that he is way behind the curve on this and everyone knows it. Nevertheless, he went out and briefed by himself, he tried on the first day and said, well, wear masks. It's going to get worse before it gets better. Then the second day he returned to his practice of saying things that were not correct, saying school kids can't take the virus home with them, that sort of stuff. I think the concession on this convention is a sign that he can't maintain the pretense anymore. And I would expect, yes, that Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci are going to be heard from more. We'll see whether the president decides he wants to resist that step.

BERMAN: I have to say, I don't know. Dr. Birx is out doing interviews this morning saying that we don't know whether children younger than 10 or how much they transmit the coronavirus, which is very different than what the president says, so I'm not sure he's going to like that message.

Sanjay, the idea that we're under control, which is something that the president is trying to say, and things get better, a lot depends on testing and supplies, and you have seen firsthand the situation in hospitals.

GUPTA: Yes. If I can paint you a picture for a second, we still don't have enough testing. People fundamentally get that, I think, by this point. But the trickle effect is quite extraordinary. So if you don't have enough testing, even within hospitals, that means that you may have to, as I did this week, have to operate on patients who have not been tested. You haven't been able to get a test result back on them. You have to take them to the operating room.

So that means everybody, we always wear masks and gowns in the operating room, but now we also have to wear N95 masks on top of that, which are hard to get. People say in places around the country we have plenty of PPE. I don't know if that's the case or if we have just moved the goalpost. What we're told in our hospital is that you can only have one N95 mask, you have to use it until it's essentially ruined. Let me show you a quick little video.


GUPTA: I have got to tell you, one of the hardest things has been wearing one of the N95 masks because you see it really digs into your face quite a bit. And they're really hard to get. We're basically told to reuse the same mask as long as we can until it becomes too soiled. You have got to take really good of it, and what I do in addition to wearing the mask, and what a lot of people do is they put another mask then on top of it. And I'll just basically have this, tie this above, and that's basically what I'll do to operate. That is the COVID world.


GUPTA: So the mask, just not that this matters as much, but you're wearing this mask doing a five, six hour operation. If you're wearing it properly with a fit test it digs into your face. It hurts after a while. But you also have to do everything to protect it. It's like gold. So I'll wear another mask on top of it, to prevent that N95 mask from being contaminated. Do we have enough masks? If we treat them like this, we do. We used to be able to have plenty of masks to be able to have fresh masks when we're doing operations, interacting with people with respiratory diseases. We don't have that anymore. Those masks are under lock and key now.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I just like the reminder that you're a brain surgeon in your free time. I think that it's just sometimes we need to remind viewers that's what you're doing when they don't see you for the 12 hours you're on the air. Sanjay, thank you. I know that John Harwood, John Berman, and I think we're brain surgeons, but you actually really are. Thank you all very much.


BERMAN: Yes, I go home and take a nap after the show. Sanjay goes and operates on people's brains.

All right, stimulus talks in the Senate have stalled. What does that mean? And they stalled, by the way, inside the Republican conference. What does that mean for the millions of Americans unemployed and in need of help? We'll discuss next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This morning, the question millions of Americans are facing -- will the money run out in just days. The boost in $600 unemployment benefits so many people have been counting on is set to expire and talks among Republicans in the Senate and the White House on the next stimulus package have stalled.

CNN's Phil Mattingly live on Capitol Hill with the very latest -- Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, I think one of the things we've been talking about, you, me, and Alisyn over the course of the last several weeks is just the extent of the federal assistance that was kicked out in March, the effect that it's had, but also what happens when it starts to go away.

And it's not just one or two things it's a domino effect, and that includes for many employees that are unemployed, a loss of their health insurance.


ASHLEY PAMPLIN, RESTAURANT MANAGER: I'm always very optimistic and smiling, it'll all be okay.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Despite a furlough, Ashley Pamplin managed to stay positive in the first few months of the pandemic.

PAMPLIN: Unemployment and everything, that's what made it a little bit easier to be like, okay, I can stay at home and be okay.

MATTINGLY: But the Pittsburgh restaurant group where she worked just days ago decided it had to make cuts.

PAMPLIN: There's so much uncertainty and I think nobody really knows what's going on. It's kind of almost like a downward spiral.

MATTINGLY: Now, Ashley Pamplin has joined nearly 18 million Americans as unemployed and those job losses have laid bare a significant hold for those individuals.

RACHEL GARFIELD, VICE PRESIDENT, KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION: Particularly at a time like this when people are losing their jobs at unprecedented level, they're losing their health insurance coverage at a time we're facing a health crisis in the country and many people have a need more than ever for health insurance coverage. MATTINGLY: Nearly 160 million or about half the U.S. population

received health insurance through their employer in 2018. Now as many as 26.8 million people could become uninsured due to those job losses according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And while the group estimates that more than 20 million would likely qualify for Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid, that leaves more than 5 million people paying their own way all as a crucial $600 federal unemployment benefit is about to expire on July 31st.

PAMPLIN: That was actually like my saving grace. It really was --

MATTINGLY: As Pamplin confronts the need to purchase insurance on her own, she is faced with a stark reality.

PAMPLIN: It was between food, utilities, mortgage, and my car insurance. Like yes, it would just -- I feel like sadly, health insurance would be the last priority.

MATTINGLY: As lawmakers urgently debate an extension of that federal unemployment program, it's a decision millions may be forced to make with jarring repercussions.

PAMPLIN: I just don't know if I could afford that now. And that's really saying something, because I felt like I was finally blessed in a position where I felt a little comfortable.

MATTINGLY: Pamplin had a job, health insurance. She closed on a new home just days after her restaurant shut down. She's still never stop smiling, but the uncertainty has taken its toll.

PAMPLIN: I don't want to lose everything I have worked hard to get, and then realize how hard it would be to get it back again.


MATTINGLY: And, Alisyn, it's stories like that that lawmakers up here are hearing. Both parties, both chambers, they acknowledge that this is a serious issue that extra $600 in the federal unemployment benefit that needs to be addressed and addressed quickly. I think the problem right now is there's no agreement on -- between Republicans and Democrats on how to address it. The Democrats just want to extend it through the end of the year that $600 benefit. Republicans concerned that this disincentivizing people to go back to work, want to reduce it in some level.

And they're all facing a deadline crunch. But John kind of hit the biggest issue of the moment earlier, when he said, right now, Senate Republicans in the White House don't have even their own plan, let alone a plan that they can reconcile with Democrats and obviously the clock, Alisyn, is ticking.

CAMEROTA: And they say they'll take it up again on Monday. Maybe we'll hear something then.

Phil, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She is the senior whip of the Democratic Caucus.

Congresswoman, great to have you here.

So, about that, what are you hearing in the congressional hallways? What's going to happen to these tens of millions of people who are counting on that $600 a week, are they still going to get it?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We have to make sure that it gets done and, you know, I think Republicans have been intransigent. They've been sitting on their hands for 10 weeks and the reality is, that we knew this moment was coming.


And it is coming, Alisyn, at time when on Wednesday, 46,000 Americans were hospitalized.

I mean, this pandemic is spiking. The virus is spiking again. And the Republicans are debating whether or not they want to include enough money for contact tracing and testing.

They are, you know, delaying at a time when Americans and the person that was on your show -- or in that piece was exactly right, people are making decisions between food and rent and health care.

So when Republicans passed a $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest people in this country, we had plenty of money, and let's be clear, that any moment that goes into these unemployment benefits is going to be spent right away. It is desperate for so many people across this country to be able to get those unemployment benefits, to be able to have some certainty that they can keep money in their pockets, and to know that we are actually taking on the virus through the testing and contact tracing, money for state and local governments.

These are things that -- it's very clear this is what we have to do and the question is when are the Republicans going to get off their hands and stop talking about how we can't give money to people in their most dire of circumstances.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about another remarkable moment, and that was yesterday on the House floor, and that was your colleague, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and she said in explicit terms on the floor that she felt accosted by Congressman Ted Yoho who had come up and used some profanity with her and she quoted it. She basically said on the House floor that he called her an F-ing B.

I'm not quoting it right now on morning TV, but you get the gist.

Here's more of what she said.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly, he does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not. And I will not stay up late at night waiting for an apology from a man

who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women.

In using that language in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community. And I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.


CAMEROTA: What did you think of that moment?

JAYAPAL: It was an incredible speech. I hope everyone watches it. I'm really proud of my colleague.

She understands something that I said right after she spoke which is that this violent sexist language is about power. You know, I talked ago during my floor speech, she ceded some time to me, that that word is a five-letter word that starts with a "B" and rhymes with witch, was actually -- you know, it was not that popular until 1915 to 1930.

And during that time, Alisyn, the use of that word in newspaper reports, articles, you know, in usage in general doubled. And the reason for that was because we were giving women the right to vote on the House floor in 1920.

And so when you look at this, you have to understand that the use of this -- this kind of violent, sexist, misogynistic language is actually about power. It is about the fact that too many men in this country -- not all, but too many don't want to see women in power, they certainly don't want to see women of color in power.

I'm one of only 79 -- Alex and I, you know, two of only 79 of the 11,000-plus people that have ever served in Congress who are women of color.

So this is about a way to diminish us, to diminish the voices of women, and I think it's -- it's disgraceful and it's something I have experienced through my four years here in Congress numerous times, including on the floor of the House.

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. You have had men call you something that profane?

JAYAPAL: Not that profane, but you might remember that a Republican colleague, Don Young, on the floor of the House addressed me on the floor and said, young lady, you don't know a damn thing about what you're talking about.

Now, I was on the floor, I was speaking on an amendment. He continued to use that kind of language and I demanded that the floor be shut down, that he'd take down his remarks and that I wouldn't move on until I got a public apology on the floor, which I did.

And so, I was very encouraging to Alexandria when we talked about this ability for her to get an hour on the floor to address any kind of disrespect that a colleague has put forward. It doesn't have to be on the floor. It can be outside of the chamber.

We don't do it often but I think it's very important that women across the country see us standing up and see us taking on this vile, sexist language, because it isn't about just a personal hurt.


We don't -- we're strong enough, you know, that these words don't hurt us, but they do hurt the overall dynamic of who gets to make decisions in this country and whose voice is respected. And it's why it's so important that we see you on TV and that we see many of us as women in Congress making decisions and speaking out.

CAMEROTA: Well, we appreciate the history lesson on the etymology of that word and when it became in popular use.

So, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you very much for your perspective on all of this.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It's been four months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her own home.

Up next, CNN investigates the key miscalculation by officers that ended in her tragic shooting.


BERMAN: This morning, a CNN investigation, the Louisville police operation that led to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor was deeply flawed and riddled with critical miscalculations.