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Coronavirus Death Rates Rise in 29 States, Hospitalizations Near Record High; GOP to Include $1,200 Checks & Smaller Aid in New Stimulus Plan; Hurricane Hanna Lashes Virus-Stricken Texas; CNN Polls: Biden Leads in Three Key States Trump Won in 2016. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six months into the pandemic and some of the nation's coronavirus deaths are going from bad to worse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have had more people to die in July than in March, April, June, combined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are never going to be happy with testing until we get turnaround times within 24 hours. We are not there yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans in the Senate are working with the White House on a new economic stimulus proposal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a $1,200 check coming. That is going to be part of the new package.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all about kids and jobs. This is our focus.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, July 27, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we want to give you the very latest on where things stand in the coronavirus pandemic this morning.

Daily coronavirus deaths rising in 29 states, all the states there in red. Some local leaders and medical experts are calling for new stay- at-home orders across the country. And the administration official in charge of testing admits what everyone already knows, that tests are taking too long.

But there are a couple of hopeful trends that bear watching in a few hard-hit states this morning.

Hospitalizations in Arizona and Texas appear to be plateauing, or Arizona, you can see there, actually dropping. The positivity rate in those states, also flat or dropping. Also, some vaccine developments this morning. The first Phase III

coronavirus vaccine trial in the United States begins as soon as this morning, where thousands of doses will be given of -- of the vaccine to see if it works.

Now, we should note that challenges in Texas this morning are exacerbated by flooding after Hurricane Hanna made landfall.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And John, in other places, coronavirus appears to be getting worse. In California, cases and hospitalizations still rising.

Over the weekend, Florida surpassed New York in total coronavirus cases. And then, as you said, the pandemic continues -- well, first, let me get to the politics of this. Where it continues to affect President Trump's approval rating. We're now less than a hundred days away from the election, and he's trailing in three critical states.

And today, millions of people are struggling. They are expected to learn what's in the Senate Republicans' relief bill, and it is not expected to include an extension of the $600-a-week benefit that unemployed people have been getting. So we'll give you all the details of that in a moment.

But let's begin with CNN's Rosa Flores. She is live in Miami with our top story. What's the situation there, Rosa?


Look, Miami-Dade County is the epicenter of this crisis in the state of Florida. Over the weekend, it surpassed 100,000 cases, now accounting for 25 percent of the more than 400,000 cases in this state.

Look, Governor Ron DeSantis maintains that the number of cases in his state has stabilized. An infectious disease expert says that it is too early to make that call. This as Florida and other states around the country are seeing delays in testing results.


FLORES (voice-over): Florida's coronavirus crisis is showing no signs of slowing down. The Sunshine State now has the second highest number of positive cases, surpassing New York.

Miami-Dade County's hospital ICU beds are at 146 percent capacity. And on Saturday, the county had a daily positivity rate of 18 percent, meaning nearly one out of five people tested here have the coronavirus.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FL: Our base line is way too high. The growth rate has shown flattening since we implemented the mask in public rule, and we're following, you know, the advice of our healthcare professionals.

FLORES: With the higher demand for testing across the state of Florida, some are experiencing an extremely slow turnaround time. It's a problem happening nationwide, including in California, which added nearly 8,300 additional cases to its total Sunday.

DR. ANISH MAHAJAN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, HARBOR-UCLA: Wearing a mask is essential. Social distancing is essential. What we have to do differently now is we have to have more testing. And we have to have contact tracing. Without these steps, we will be in this perpetual cycle of, as we reopen, we'll again see a resurgence of infections.

FLORES: In Louisiana, there's a significant backlog, too. And the health department says 94 percent of the 3,840 cases reported Sunday coming from community spread.

President Trump repeatedly made this claim throughout the pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If somebody wants to be tested right now, they'll be able to be tested.

FLORES: But now, the Trump administration official overseeing testing admits it's taking too long for people to receive their results.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are never going to be happy with testing until we get turnaround times within 24 hours, and I would be happy with point-of-care testing everywhere. We are not there yet. We are doing everything we can to do that.

FLORES: Health experts fear that delays in states experiencing high levels of transmission, like Texas, could be damaging.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: What happens is people give up even trying to get testing. The lines are really long, and the lines themselves not even safe, so people are not getting testing.



FLORES: And as the debate continues in this state over whether or not to reopen schools for in-person instruction, all-new this morning, we're learning from the Florida Department of Health that the number of children infected in the past eight days has increased by 34 percent. The number of children hospitalized has increased by 23 percent during that same time period. And the number of deaths have gone from four to five.

Now that -- that latest death is the youngest death here in the state of Florida. Take a look at her picture. This is 9-year-old Kimmie Lynum. According to her family, she had no underlying conditions.

She got a fever. Her family sent her to the hospital. The hospital sent her back home. Later, she collapsed and died.

And John, her family describes her as just an amazing young lady. And this is as the state of Florida is debating, still, there's this battle over whether or not to reopen schools in just a few weeks.

BERMAN: Look, that's awful. That's awful, and our heart goes out to her family.

And Rosa, I had not heard the statistics until you sent them to us this morning about the increase in hospitalizations among children in Florida, as well. That's concerning. We'll be asking doctors about that over the course of the show.

Rosa, thanks so much for that report.

Developments this morning in the push for economic relief for millions of Americans suffering in the pandemic. Top White House negotiators -- negotiators are said to be pushing to scale back new coronavirus stimulus legislation, just as Senate Republicans are set to unveil their $1 trillion proposal this morning.

Joe Johns live at the White House with the latest here. What's the White House pushing, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this plan from Senate Republicans is expected out today, but there is enough disagreement to at least create the possibility of uncertainty, which means there's a possibility that it could be slowed down.

Let's look at some of the provisions. They're calling for a one-time payment of $1,200 to $1,400; what the backers are calling reemployment bonuses, incentivizing return to work along with so-called retention bonuses. There are tax credits in there for businesses and restaurants. Also, an extension of the federal eviction moratorium.

And one of the biggest sticking points is the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit. That would not be renewed, but people over here at the White House are pushing for it to be scaled back to 70 percent of wages.

Larry Kudlow is one of the president's point persons on these issues. Listen.


LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: It won't stop the assistance. It's going to -- it's going to cap the assistance at a level that is consistent with people going back to work. That's what we've said from day one.

First of all, state unemployment benefits stay in place. Second of all, we will try to cap the benefits at about 70 percent of wages.


JOHNS: House Democrats are pushing for simply extending that benefit, and the speaker of the House has expressed resistance to the administration's position.

Alisyn, back to you. CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you very much.

Also developing this morning, border communities in south Texas dealing with the double whammy of coronavirus and the aftermath of Hurricane Hanna.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas with more. What's the situation there, Ed?


Well, just when you thought the year 2020 couldn't get any more difficult, residents in south Texas not only dealing with being the hot spot here in Texas, but they're dealing with a hurricane that came ashore with 90-mile-an-hour winds.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Hurricane Hanna barreled down on southern Texas this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We woke up to the worst of our fears.

LAVANDERA: Hanna made landfall on Saturday just south of Corpus Christie as a Category 1 hurricane. This popular marina in the area destroyed with boats piled on top of one another.

The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression but still drenched parts of south Texas with up to a foot of rain, leaving more than 140,000 residents without power this morning, according to

President Trump declared a federal emergency declaration for the hard- hit state.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): This challenge is complicated and made even more severe seeing that it is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for COVID-19.

LAVANDERA: The Rio Grande Valley, seeing damage and terrible flooding from the storm, further devastating the community already struggling to contain a huge surge in COVID-19 cases.

There were numerous reports of water rescues in the area due to stranded cars and flooded streets. This comes as area hospitals are already overwhelmed with coronavirus cases. In Starr County, an ethics committee is being formed evaluate which patients will receive care and which patients will be sent home to die.


MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: What's happening right now in south Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, is -- is horrible to -- to watch. They're making forced choices about who gets care in hospitals.

LAVANDERA: Local officials in Hidalgo and Starr Counties are issuing stay-at-home orders.

On Sunday, Texas reported more than 5,800 new cases. The state has seen over 390,000 cases to date and surpassed the grim milestone of more than 5,000 fatalities, with nearly 1,000 of those deaths coming in just the last six days.

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG (I), SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: Seriously, our deaths have tripled. nearly tripled within the last three weeks or so. So you know, we are seeing the results of a careless reopen in the state, and we are committed to not allowing that to happen again.


LAVANDERA: So John, after a brutal few days over this weekend dealing with this storm, the good news is -- is that the weather forecast shows today that the worst of this storm is over and beginning to move out of the area. That will come as welcome relief to all of the hospital workers, mostly, who have been overwhelmed the last few weeks -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, look, that's the last thing that they need down there right now, it is this storm. Thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate that report.

One Texas doctor says for the first time in a hundred days, he has had no new coronavirus admissions. What does that mean for the pandemic fight there going forward? That's next.



BERMAN: This morning, daily coronavirus deaths are rising in 29 states. So many days in the last week of a thousand plus deaths.

But there are some possible glimmers of good news, or at least less bad news, that we're watching, including in Texas, where hospitalizations appear to be plateauing, albeit at a high level. And the positivity rate -- that's the percentage of people testing positive -- that is beginning to drop a little bit.

Joining us now is Dr. Joseph Varon. He's the chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. And Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. We have leaned on you so so much the last few weeks, and you are the last person on earth, I think, to do a victory lap or to celebrate good news before it's time.

But I do understand that you did have your first day in a long time without any new COVID patients.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON: That is correct. You know, today is day No. 130 since I started to work nonstop on -- on our COVID unit. And the last 24 hours are the first 24 hours where we have not had a single admission to the hospital with COVID.

CAMEROTA: Have you -- I'm sorry, Doctor, did you just say that you have worked nonstop for 130 days. Have you had any days off?

VARON: Not a single day off, working 16 to 20 hours a day.

CAMEROTA: How are you doing that?

VARON: I mean, that's a question that everybody asks. You know, I think that I'm living out of adrenaline, you know? It's the only way. I mean, somebody has to care for these patients.

BERMAN: It is interesting when you look at the maps. We had put up the map a second ago. And I'll put it back up here, of the number of states that are seeing their daily death count increase. Twenty-nine states are showing daily death increases right now. That's bad, obviously.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. What you're seeing on that screen now, the results of the last month in states like Texas, Florida, California, Arizona.

When you talk about new daily cases, though, it is a little bit of a different story. We can put that map up, and you do see some green. There are states like Texas and Arizona, which are seeing the number of new daily cases drop or at least level off. Why do you think that is, Doctor?

VARON: Well, I mean, it's probably people finally are listening to -- to you guys, who are spreading the word that they need to stay at home, keep their safe distance, wear their mask. Probably, finally, somebody is getting sense into these people's heads.

CAMEROTA: Well, on that note, Houston's mayor is warning that a second stay-at-home order could be necessary, if things don't continue in that trend that we're talking about. But you say that you made a mistake by closing Texas without an education campaign. So what does that mean?

VARON: Well, I mean, it's fairly straightforward. You know, if we were going to close the state again again, without any proper education. And by education, I'm talking about let's teach people about this safe distance, these -- wearing your mask, washing your hands.

When we do that in, you know, all the month of April, we open up on May 1, and people have cabin fever. They run to the beach. They run to bars. They run to places.

So what I'm saying by education is, it's a process where you are going to do, like New York, get people out very slowly. Because the way we did it in Texas was wrong.

So if we were going to close again for whatever reason, we need to make sure that we have an additional component that is attached to that. That means, you know, television ads, constant information.

And more importantly, we need to make sure that whatever we're telling people, we will enforce it, so that we will make it mandatory for people to wear their mask, whether they like it or not. BERMAN: Dr. Varon, we just had a report from Florida, and our

reporter, Rosa Flores, reports an increase, a substantial increase in the number of children admitted to the hospital over the last week. That's something I had not seen before. And I am wondering if that's something you're seeing in Texas or what the age makeup is of the people in your hospital?


VARON: You see, in my hospital, we deal mostly with adults, but we have seen young people, as young as 18 years of age. That's the youngest we've had. But the hospitals in the Houston metropolitan area that care for kids, they do see kids. And they've had kids that are as young as 2 years of age, that I'm aware of.

CAMEROTA: Doctor, in southern Texas, south Texas, Hurricane Hanna has complicated things. And of course, hurricane season, people in Florida are worried about it. People all along the coastline are worried about it, because this double whammy of hospitals and emergency workers having to, obviously, deal -- be in overdrive for coronavirus and then -- look at -- I mean, I don't know if you can see on your screen, but just the aftermath of a hurricane and everybody having to deal with that. Have you all given thought to what's happening in Texas there with the aftermath of the hurricane?

VARON: Absolutely. And you know, and this is a serious concern, because those people are being displaced by the hurricane. You know, all of these people are going to have to go to shelters.

And just think about it for a second. Shelters are going to be like giant petri dishes as far as coronavirus goes. So, yes, indeed, it's a double whammy, where we are going to hit hard on both ends.

BERMAN: Dr. Varon, in the beginning, I put up the hospitalization rate in Texas, and I wonder if we can put this graphic up again so people can see. It has plateaued. The number of people in the hospital in Texas right now, that graph is flat, but it's flat at a very high level.

So my question is, how long can you sustain? You've worked for 129 straight days. How long can you sustain at this level? Or do you really need to see this drop?

VARON: Well, personally, you know, doing what doing, I need to see it drop. I mean, I have to see it drop, because my patients do need me. And what I've been doing really makes us a little different, but I do

believe that the rest of the healthcare workers, at least the ones that work with me, you know, they are completely exhausted. I mean, they have worked over and over and over again.

When you have, for example, a nurse that normally works three times a week and now is working six times a week, you can imagine how tired they are. And these are not easy patients. These are very difficult patients. Just going in and out of the COVID unit with these space suits takes a toll on your body. BERMAN: Just so people know, again, it may be good news that the rise

has stopped, but it stopped at a level that is producing record daily deaths in Texas. So it's got to bend downwards. It's got to bend downwards if things are going to improve.

Dr. Varon, look, get some rest, if you can. Seriously. They need you down there, and we thank you for the work you're doing.

VARON: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. New polls out from CNN showing the president trailing Joe Biden in three states that he needs to win. Three states he won in 2016. We're going to break down the new numbers, next.



CAMEROTA: We are now 99 days away from the presidential election. That will be a very helpful graphic, John, every day, for us to see.

New CNN polls offer a snapshot of where the race is today. President Trump is behind in three key battleground states that he won in 2016, and those are Arizona, Florida, and Michigan.

So joining us now is CNN political director, David Chalian. So David, give us the headlines of the numbers you're seeing.


Let's bring up those horse race numbers again. Three critical background states. I don't know of a path to re-election from President Trump without Florida in his column. And you see in the middle there, he's down five points in this poll to Joe Biden, 51-46.

But he's down four points in Arizona, 49-45. And Michigan, he is down 12. I mean, Michigan may be proving to be out of reach this time around for Donald Trump. As you remember, it's one of those three critical so-called blue wall states from the upper Midwest that Donald Trump just busted through in 2016 and helped deliver him to the Oval Office.

BERMAN: Those are all states that are on his must-win map, essentially, David Chalian.

Look, I read a lot of polls, and I know you read a lot of polls. So it's not often that I see a question, not the results, but a question that jumps out to me as very interesting.

We asked a question which was, Which candidate do you trust to keep Americans safe, which I found interesting in the way we asked it. And the results also interesting.

CHALIAN: Yes. And we asked it in all three states that we polled, John. And I think what you find interesting is perhaps what I find interesting, which is asking a question like that, well, what does that mean to the voter? Well, the voter sort of has to decide.

Does it mean safe from the spread of coronavirus or does it mean safe from the threat of protesters on the streets of your city? But take a look at the results here.

In Arizona, this notion was tied between the candidates, Biden 47, Trump 47.

In Florida, Trump had a five-point advantage. Remember, he's down in that state. But on this notion he bests Joe Biden by five points, 51 to 46, on keeping safe.

And in Michigan, this is a Biden category, 52 percent to 43 percent.

Again, I think it means different things to different voters, but we also know that security is a motivating issue for people.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to --

BERMAN: I'm sorry. I think I jumped. I think you were going to give us some approval ratings in some of these states, first.

CHALIAN: No problem. I do want to take a look at why we say right now, this race is shaping up to be a referendum on Donald Trump more than a choice between the candidates.