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Trump Again Pushes Misinformation as Pandemic Worsens; William Bar to Testify Before House Panel; Dr. Birx Pushes Tennessee Officials to Mandate Masks. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired July 28, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unless we get around our arms around this, we're going to have further suffering and further death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-nine states are reporting more deaths last week than the previous week.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senate Republicans unveiling their newly-proposed $1 trillion COVID aid package.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Senate Republicans have presented us with a half-baked legislative proposal.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think this is a starting place. We can't pass a Bill in the Senate without Democrats.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, July 28, 6 a.m. here in New York.
One week, that's how long it took President Trump to abandon his newfound position on mask-wearing. He spent part of Monday spreading misinformation online that claimed mask-wearing was not important.
This morning, the death toll is rising in 27 states. Coronavirus has killed almost 150,000 Americans. Florida's new case average has jumped more than 1,500 percent since the state reopened in May.
In addition to questioning the importance of masks on Monday, President Trump also went back to undermining Dr. Fauci, touting an unproven treatment, and lying about testing and the availability of supplies.
And remember that new strategy that he talked about last week to save the country? Where is that?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than 5,000 people have died since the president claimed he would announce that new strategy.
And there was never a new tone. Sending out a message overnight that says you don't need to wear masks is not a new tone. Telling governors to open up as the virus spreads is not a new tone. Bashing Anthony Fauci overnight is not a new tone.
There are new developments that point to the pandemic being out of control. The baseball season, just days old is now threatened by a new outbreak. There won't even be an NFL preseason. Google just announced that employees can work from home until June of 2021.
The president's own national security adviser has tested positive after visiting foreign officials on a trip to Europe, not wearing a mask. You can see it right there. We don't really know when he last saw the president.
The president's supporter, Herman Cain, who attended the Tulsa rally, has been hospitalized for three weeks on oxygen. We certainly hope that he is doing well.
Then there's the new reporting on something so trivial but so perfectly representative of where the president's mind is and the absence of a new tone.
New reporting overnight from "The New York Times" said the president lied about being invited to throw out a first pitch at Yankee Stadium on August 15. Unbelievable. We'll get to that in a moment.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Rosa Flores, live in Miami with the word from Florida officials, Rosa, that that state is still very much on the brink.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, John. Good morning.
Twenty-two states across the nation this morning are showing upward trends in coronavirus cases. Twenty of them are showing that they are holding steady, including the state of Florida.
I asked infectious disease expert Dr. Ailene Marty about this, and she says that Florida has stabilized, but at a very high number. The state reporting nearly 9,000 cases yesterday, making the time right now critical.
According to Dr. Marty, the behavior, people's behavior right now, will determine what happens after this plateau. Will cases go down or will they spike?
FLORES (voice-over): President Trump is once again pressuring states to reopen.
TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening, and we'll see what happens with them.
FLORES: Florida is an example of what could happen. Since Gov. Ron DeSantis began rolling back restrictions on May 4, new weekly coronavirus cases have increased here by more than 1,500 percent, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Monday, the state of Florida reported nearly 9,000 additional infections.
MAYOR CARLOS HERNANDEZ (R), HIALEAH, FLORIDA: The numbers speak for themselves. We're in a critical situation, especially here in South Florida. I mean, everything has been behind and we really need to get ahead, because this is really getting worse day by day. And it's not going to go away by itself.
FLORES: In Miami Beach, the mayor blames DeSantis and his administration for failing to set up a sufficient contact tracing program.
MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH: We got out with very little virus in our community, and then it just started to go up so rapidly. And now we think we know why, which is nobody was doing what they were supposed to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aguilar clears the wall --
FLORES: Just days after what was hoped to be the start of a summer pastime, the coronavirus is taking a swing at Major League Baseball. The Miami Marlins Stadium will remain empty for their first home series of the season after ESPN reported that more than a dozen players and coaches tested positive.
DAVE MARTINEZ, MANAGER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS: I'm going to be honest with you, I'm scared. I really am.
My level of concern went from about an 8 to a 12.
FLORES: And the NFL announced preseason games will be canceled this year.
Meanwhile, California reported nearly 6,900 more confirmed cases Monday, and the average daily number of deaths over a seven-day period is now 109.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): What more evidence do you need than that about how deadly this disease continues to be? Some that say otherwise, these points of data and all of the pain and suffering these family members are going through is testament to a different reality.
FLORES: Even with more promising vaccine trials under way, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's key to change behaviors now to prevent further loss of American lives.
FAUCI: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we are going to have further suffering and further death. There are things that we can do right now in the absence of a vaccine that can turn us around.
FLORES: Gov. Ron DeSantis has recommended the use of masks here in the state of Florida, but he has not issued a statewide mask mandate.
Well, now the employee union at Jackson Health that represents more than 5,000 nurses, physicians, and other medical professionals on the front lines is demanding that the governor issue a statewide mandate. John, they're saying that masks are one simple thing that can be done to control this crisis, and we would hope that their voices carry some weight, given the fact that they're on the front lines.
BERMAN: They are on the front lines. And some of the hospitals, nearly 50, still at ICU capacity in the state of Florida. Rosa Flores, thank you so much for your reporting. Appreciate it.
We're just hours away from Attorney General Bill Barr testifying before lawmakers for the first time in more than a year. It comesj amid accusations that he has politicized the Justice Department and abused his powers.
CNN has obtained Barr's combative opening statement. CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with the very latest -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, Attorney General William Barr definitely in the hot seat up on Capitol Hill. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee appear eager to question him and go after him, in fact, on a whole range of issues relating to his leadership of the Department of Justice.
From the prepared remarks, the attorney general appears very ready and eager, as well, to push back against the notion that he is a tool of the White House, doing the bidding of the president.
JOHNS (voice-over): In an explosive opening statement, Attorney General William Barr accuses Democrats of seeking to discredit him because of his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
Barr calls the Russian scandal bogus and writes that "Many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the president's factotum, who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions."
House Democrats plan to question Barr on his intervention into the prosecutions of two Trump allies and the firing of a U.S. attorney in New York.
TRUMP: Roger Stone was treated horribly. Roger Stone was treated very unfairly.
JOHNS: Barr's Justice Department watered down the prison sentence recommendation for the president's longtime ally, Roger Stone, who was found guilty of obstructing and lying to Congress; and pushed to dismiss the case against Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Barr saying that, in criminal decisions, the president has not attempted to interfere.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had that terrible event in Minneapolis, but then we had this extreme reaction that has demonized police.
JOHNS: Barr's statement also taking on the two-month-long protests at the Portland courthouse. Barr writing, "It cannot reasonably be called a protest. It is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States."
Barr's involvement in dispersing protesters in Lafayette Square in June set to come under scrutiny. National Guard Major Adam DeMarco is set to also testify on Capitol Hill this morning that the protesters were acting peacefully, further raising questions about Barr's involvement.
MCCONNELL: The American people need more help.
JOHNS: Monday, Senate Republicans released a new $1 trillion stimulus package that will include a $400 cut to the enhanced unemployment benefit set to expire at the end of the week. McConnell said the White House is on board but concedes, it is just a starting point.
The bill is also coming under intense criticism for $1.75 billion allocated for a new FBI building, something McConnell said was included at the request of the White House.
Democratic leadership criticizing Senate Republicans' priorities.
SCHUMER: It's frustrating, because they've dithered for three months. We're now at very serious cliffs that hurt lots of people.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We clearly do not have shared values. Having said that, we just want to see if we can find some common ground.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, national security adviser Robert O'Brien the highest-ranking administration official to test positive for coronavirus. It's not clear when he last met with the president. Their last public appearance was at U.S. Southern Command in south Florida on July the 10th.
A senior administration official says it's likely he picked it up during a family vacation after a recent official visit to Europe -- Alisyn. CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you very much for all of those developments.
Now to this story. Remember this announcement from President Trump?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Andy Levine's a great friend of mine from the Yankees. He asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right, it turns out, that was a surprise to the president's staff and to the Yankees. "The New York Times" reports the team had not invited him.
They write, quote, "Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci's turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized."
Dr. Fauci threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener, and now he's getting more attention for that let's just say, less-than-perfect throw. And then there's this, a Fauci baseball card, breaking sales records in the first 24 hours it was available. Fauci talked to Wolf Blitzer about his performance on the mound last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: I feel a little embarrassed and humbled. I hope that Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle are not looking up at me saying, what the heck is going on here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Well, John, now President Trump's going to want a baseball card.
BERMAN: Yes. No, he'll probably use the Defense Production Act or something to make billions of cards. He'll be so upset that Dr. Anthony Fauci has the top-selling Topps card. Who knows? Who knows what will take place?
It's really crazy that the president in the briefing room went up there and lied about being specifically invited on August 15. That's just strange.
CAMEROTA: Oh, and he's not available, by the way. He -- his staff had to tell him, Actually, you have sort of presidential responsibilities that day, so you're going to have to cancel.
BERMAN: A pandemic is a presidential responsibility, among others.
CAMEROTA: That. BERMAN: All right, up next, a stark warning from health officials that coronavirus is spreading into states that have so far been spared the worst. We'll tell you which states are sparking this concern, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: The No. 1 bullet is mandate masks, close your bars, enhance social distancing. Tell every Tennessean to not socially gather with more than ten people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was Dr. Deborah Birx pushing Tennessee officials in cities and rural areas to mandate masks and to close bars. The number of coronavirus cases in that state is growing. Tennessee's governor, though, making clear that he will not follow her advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): Beyond the regions that are currently -- have restrictions, that -- that's not a plan for us now. We will -- I've said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there's nothing off the table. I've also said we're not going to close the economy back down, and we're not going to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Dr. Peter Hotez. He's the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Dr. Hotez, great to see you.
Dr. Birx warned in Tennessee of what she called logarithmic growth that she sees they're on the cusp of. And that means cases doubling every day, that kind of exponential explosion.
And there is a way to stop it. I mean, she was trying to sound the alarm. And that is, close bars, wear masks. I mean, that doesn't sound particularly onerous, but the governor is refusing to do that. And I know that you have said that if -- at this moment, we still have a chance to lock some things down in some states, but we're not doing that.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, Alisyn, you're absolutely right, and Dr. Birx is absolutely right.
There's two parts to this. She sees what I see, which is this very alarming steep rise in the number of cases in Tennessee. If you've been following the heat map of the U.S., looking at where COVID-19 is really ramping up, Tennessee's been unfolding now for -- for a couple of weeks, and it's getting worse, because now it looks like there's almost this northward (ph) trend.
There was a big, huge number of cases in Louisiana and Mississippi, then moving north up into Tennessee. Now it's going north up into Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana.
This could be the equivalent of what we just saw in the southern U.S., this massive resurgence in the southern U.S. Now it's in sort of the east-central part of the United States.
I'm really concerned that we're going to see a repeat of what we just saw in the southern U.S.: a rise in cases, hospitalizations, deaths. We've got to get our arms around this, and we urgently need a national reset.
BERMAN: We urgently need a national reset. It's interesting you say that, Dr. Hotez, because overnight, the president disseminated to his 82 million followers on Twitter a message that said, "I know you people want to talk about a mask. Hello. You don't need a mask."
And then speaking to the American people on television, he said this about plans to open up. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening. And we'll see what happens with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: What happens with them -- "we'll see what happens with them," Dr. Hotez. Didn't we see what happened in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida, in California, in states that opened up earlier than they should?
HOTEZ: Yes, this is terrible, John. I mean, if you remember, last week we started seeing maybe a glimmer of hope from the president. He was saying the worst is yet to come. He was, you know, making all the right noises, that he was finally recognizing this as -- we were in a dire public health crisis, now a homeland security crisis.
And then he just pivoted again on yesterday. So, I don't know what's going on.
But you know, I've put out a plan for what we need to do to bring the whole nation back down to containment. Look, look at all the terrible things that are happening. We just had the 14 Marlins players get sick. We -- School teachers are terrified about going back to school in areas where there's lots of transmission. None of these -- none of the wonderful things about America -- we can't have those things in the fall, unless we figure out a way to get this back into containment mode. WE -- you know, we just can't have -- we may not even be able to have baseball, if these kinds -- these kinds of things continue.
CAMEROTA: I guess the president wasn't serious last week about his new tone. I mean, that's all we can conclude this morning, if he's tweeting out questions about masks.
But Dr. Hotez, I want to ask about your plan, because I mean, I think that some mornings it can feel hopeless, but it's not hopeless. You have an actual, concrete plan. I don't know if you call it the kitchen sink plan. But basically, that there is a way out of this. And so, what would that look like?
HOTEZ: Yes, and it's not even really that draconian. What it really says is we need to bring the whole nation back to the same level of containment. And there's different definitions of it. The most radical one is one new case per million residents per day. That was put up by the Institute for Health Metrics. And some states may already be there, like up in northern New England, and Maine, and Vermont, New Hampshire. Others, we're going to need much more aggressive measures.
But the point is, if we then bring it down, then it makes things like contact tracing feasible. It's really hard to do contact tracing, for instance, in Houston, where you've got 1,200 to 1,400 new cases, confirmed cases a day, when in fact, that actually means about five times more, maybe 6,000 cases a day. It's really -- it's daunting to do contact tracing.
If you can bring it all the way back down, put masks on everyone, at that point, by October 1, we can really have a meaningful life where kids are back in schools, opening up colleges. We might even be able to have the National Football League or college football safely in some capacity.
But right now, this is -- this is a terrible situation. The cases continue either spiking dramatically or continuing on at a high level. Now we're seeing the deaths, 1,000 new deaths per day in the United States, so that many states, like Texas, Florida, Arizona, COVID-19 once again is the single leading daily death. And it's going to happen in Tennessee, and it's going to happen in Kentucky and Ohio. I don't understand why people just can't get their arms around this.
BERMAN: Look, there was never a new tone. I don't think there was ever a new tone. I think it's safe to say now, we're seeing evidence that there was never a new tone out of the president.
Dr. Hotez, the president's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, has now tested positive. We don't know when the last time the president saw him was, but what questions does this raise for you?
HOTEZ: Well, I mean, the question is what is the exposure to others in the White House, and are they protected?
Again, what we're now starting to see is that the other phase of allowing this COVID-19 epidemic to go unchecked, it starts affecting homeland security in so many dimensions. This is one of them. If major players in the White House are getting sick, that's a piece of it.
Also, if school teachers feel unsafe, the general public feels unsafe going to work or outside, that's also a big piece to homeland security. So, this has now been allowed to go beyond the dimensions of health,
as important as that is, and the fact that it's affecting homeland security also means it will affect the economy.
So, this business of saying, Well, we have to open up the economy, it's folly to think that we can do that with a raging COVID-19 epidemic. And eventually, the economy will be affected, as well.
So, we actually have no choice. We have to -- maybe not my plan or something close to it, but we have to enact a very aggressive national strategy. Otherwise, things will continue to spiral downward.
And we're rapidly reaching 200,000 deaths. We're going to probably be at 150,000 deaths by the end of the week, maybe 300,000 deaths by the end of the year.
And remember, it's not just the deaths. It's these terrible, disabling, permanent -- I don't know if they're permanent, because it's too early to say -- but long-lasting disabilities to the lung, to the vascular system, to the heart, to the brain. We're seeing long- term cognitive deficits. This is a terrible illness.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you very much for all of your expertise.
HOTEZ: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So, let's get into the way-back machine, and remember the time when President Trump encouraged Americans to be patriotic and wear masks. Oh, that was only last week. Well, overnight, we heard a very different message from President Trump.
BERMAN: In just a few hours, Attorney General William Barr will testify before lawmakers for the first time in more than a year. CNN has obtained a copy of Barr's fiery opening statement, which attacks Democrats who accuse him of politicizing the Justice Department.
Barr writes, quote, "Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus," what he calls 'Russiagate' scandal, "many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the president's factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today."
Joining us now, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip.