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Miami Beach Mayor Slams Florida Governor Over Contact Tracing Issues; German Police Search Garden in Madeleine McCann's Disappearance; GOP Stimulus Plan Cuts Unemployment Benefit to $200 a Week. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, it's also notable that on that image, he appeared with Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority leader who also just coincidentally happens to be Jewish. Perdue's campaign says it was accidental, but that they would remove the ad to ensure there's absolutely no confusion. Ossoff's wife, by the way, is battling coronavirus. As of this morning, Ossoff himself has tested negative.

The situation in Florida. What is it as we speak this morning? The mayor of Miami Beach sounding a warning that contact-tracing an utter and complete failure and slamming the governor for failing to contain the virus.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And the debate over how best to contain the coronavirus. How do voters feel about the president's handling of it and masks?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't walk into my local supermarket and catch that from the idiot standing next to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a breathing problem --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And therefore, if I don't wear a mask, I'm an idiot.

CAMEROTA: OK, guys --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you'd rather I die because I can't breathe with a mask on, and I'm an idiot because I didn't wear the mask.


CAMEROTA: OK, you're going to want to stick around for this, because I spoke to a group of voters who supported President Trump in 2016. How do they feel today?



BERMAN: In a scathing letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Democratic Mayor of Miami Beach is slamming him over contact-tracing issues. Mayor Dan Gelber writes, quotes, "since we began our reopening, our number of infections, our positive testing percent, our hospitalizations, our ICU census, our ventilator census and our resident deaths have skyrocketed to unimagined levels. A large part of the blame falls on an unprepared and under-staffed contact-tracing operation."

Joining me now is the Mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber. Mr. Mayor, I heard you say that only 17 percent of people who are testing positive are contact-traced. Can that possibly be right?

MAYOR DAN GELBER, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: It is right. You know, and I -- it's really discouraging because when you shelter in place, you lose an incredible amount of your economy, people, you know, lose their jobs, and the hope is that when you come out of it, you're going to be able to control the surge of the virus. That's why the CDC says that contact-tracing is a, you know, a core state responsibility.

And in fact, in Florida, ironically, the county health departments aren't the counties or the cities. They work for the state of Florida. They work for the governor. So, this was right in the responsibility of the governor and the Surgeon General. And we watched our numbers just skyrocket. And we've learned that we didn't have enough people at all to sort of even call people up and say you need to quarantine. Who else were you with?

Do all the things that a contact tracer is supposed to do. And then they're doing that in other states.

BERMAN: Less than one out of five. What's the point?

GELBER: Well, it's worse than that, even, because we just on Friday got percentages over the last two weeks, for instance. I think the average was 18 percent of people who tested positive -- and remember, we're getting 2,000 or 3,000 people every day testing positive. So, that's an enormous amount of people. Only about 17 percent or 18 percent were actually being called. One day, it was as low as 7 percent. It was the connection between the contact tracers and the people who had the virus.

BERMAN: One of the things I've heard you say is that one of the problems you're seeing in Florida is a concern not to embarrass people in the chain of command. Officials don't want to embarrass the governor. The governor doesn't want to embarrass the president. Why do you say that?

GELBER: Well, you know, when the local health officials, they don't work for local mayors. And of course, we're the ones who are -- who are delivering all the difficult medicine to their -- our residents, wearing masks and all this other stuff. So, they don't really want to tell us that, you know, we're not doing

the job we need to. We don't have enough people. We don't -- they don't report to us. You don't report to somebody else. You report to your employers.

And so, there's that concern for embarrassment. But it is also overall -- if you look at what's going on, I think at our state and nationally, you do feel like the governor, we had a huge spikes, he would call them blips, to sort of downplay them. The president says the same thing regularly. And the problem with that is people need to have a sense of urgency, that this is important.

And that's how they're going to lean into the wearing the masks, the physical distancing. And when they hear the governor and they hear the president saying, don't worry, this is fine, go out, you know, you don't have to wear a mask, open up the economy. They believe that maybe this is a green light to do whatever you want, and that's, I think, one of the reasons why we've had such difficulty in constraining the virus.

BERMAN: In fact, the president less than 24 hours ago gave this message to the American people about reopening. Listen.


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, and we'll see what happens with them.


BERMAN: Didn't we see what happened in Florida where you're living right now, mayor?

GELBER: Yes, and look, this is a recurring problem across the board. You know, we're getting mandates from the Secretary of Education and the president, and even our governor to open up schools. And the one thing that, you know, that Miss DeVos, the president and our governor have in common is they're not doctors, they're not health experts, and you should never undermine the health expertise --


GELBER: With political advice. You can't -- you know, that's not how you get things done, and it's not healthy. So, for me, in Florida, you know, we are now seeing children increasing substantially their positivity ratio as well as their hospitalization. I think we have over 300 hospitalized in Florida right now, mostly high school kids or a good amount of them high school and middle school.


But you know, we've got to think about that as we open up our schools, and we can't just hear some mandate from somebody saying, do it because I'd like to tell the American people that's what I'm doing. BERMAN: I've got to let you go, but very quickly, I want a quick

update on where you are in Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County. Any sign that cases are leveling off or anything like that?

GELBER: They are leveling off, we think, but they're leveling off at a very enormously high level. I think 20 or 30 people are going to die a day in Dade-County alone, and we've got to get the virus down, we've got to get our contact-tracing in place. We've got to wear our masks. We have a curfew. We've closed indoor restaurants. But we have to do all those things if we're going to -- if we're going to be able to really open up at some point.

BERMAN: Mayor Dan Gelber, we appreciate you coming on the show this morning. Thanks so much.

CAMEROTA: John, we want to remember some of the more than 148,000 Americans lost to coronavirus. Fifty six-year-old Dr. Joseph Costa was chief of Critical Care at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center. Hospital officials wrote in a letter to the staff that when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued to work on the front lines.

He is survived by his husband and partner of 28 years, David Hart. Gaby O'Donnell was the mother of Long Beach, California Mayor Robert Garcia, who announced her passing. She and her then young son emigrated from Peru in pursuit of the American dream. CNN affiliate "KABC" reports she was a beloved medical assistant at City of Hope Hospital. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: Well, we do have some breaking news for you this morning. German police, we just learned, are searching a garden in connection with their investigation of a man suspected in the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Heavy equipment including an excavator are digging now in a wooded area. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, who has been following all the developments in this story joins us now live in Berlin with the breaking details. Fred, what have you learned?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Well, the German prosecutors still remaining fairly tight-lipped about what exactly they're doing. What I am hearing though from a German media is that they are using that excavator there, apparently moving a lot of things out of that garden. They actually put up a dumpster outside of it as well to sort of take things out. What they've also done though is they've also put up screens to try and block the views, obviously, people passing by, of the cameras, of course, as well.

Now, it's not clear how this property might be connected to the German suspect, Christian B., or what exactly the police are looking for there. But what I can tell you from experience in this case, John, is they searched a property that belonged to him in the past.

And originally when they searched that property, they didn't find anything, but then they came back with an excavator and then there, they actually found that he had buried a dog there, and under that dog, they found all sorts of hard drives containing pornographic and child pornographic material.

Now, we know what the police are trying to do is they believe they have the right guy, but they're trying to make a clear connection between him and what they believe is the murder of Madeleine McCann. Now, of course, we know they don't have a body, they've conducted some searches over the past couple of weeks, so they're trying to find any sort of other evidence that they can get to link him to the disappearance and possibly the murder of Madeleine McCann.

And what we've been seeing over the past couple of weeks, John, is really the German police and the German authorities ramping up that investigation, conducting things like searches, going to the press, making public things where they say they are calling on people to get information out there. And then, of course, also conducting some searches around the area where Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal in 2007, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Fred, we just pray that the McCann family can get some answers. Thank you very much for that big update. Now to a CNN exclusive series, taking an inside look at the U.S. Supreme Court in this historic year. One of the landmark cases this term, concerned rights for LGBTQ-plus workers. CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins us with more. So tell us about this edition of your special series.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Good morning, Alisyn. This one focuses on a case involving a gay and transgender rights. And what we found out was that when the justices first took up this case, testing of federal anti-discrimination statute that applies in the workplace. They first said, yes, we're going to side with gay skydiving instructor who had been fired from his job, and yes, we're going to side with a gay county services worker who was also removed from his job.

But the justices weren't quite sure yet how to handle the case of a transgender woman who had been fired from her job at a funeral home in Michigan. And what we learned was that there were all sorts of issues that had come up early on in the justices' conference room, having to do with shared bathrooms, shared locker rooms, religious interests on the part of employers.

But the turning point on bringing those two areas of the law together, involving both sexual orientation and gender identity was the fact that the Chief Justice assigned it to Justice Neil Gorsuch. And his approach to the law was to include both of them.

The law at issue said you cannot discriminate because of sex. And once Neil Gorsuch used his approach, it necessarily would cover people claiming discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. So, that was one thing we learned.

CAMEROTA: Well, surprised that Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts sided with the liberals on the bench. It did not sit well with at least one of the conservative justices, and it led to some leaks. So, tell us about that.

BISKUPIC: OK, so, you know, we always keep our ear to the ground during a term, Alisyn. But we can't usually pick up much. But this case was heard in October. And in November, some of us started hearing leaks that the Chief John Roberts, and Neil Gorsuch had joined with the four liberals to say that this law, Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act indeed would cover people claiming sexual orientation, discrimination or gender identity.


And there was a real surprise. And you know, we usually don't write what we hear at those early stages because we just don't know if it's true and we can't verify it. But "The Wall Street Journal" was one of the conservative publications that picked it up and wrote a story, saying that -- wrote an editorial saying that Elena Kagan was luring the chief and Neil Gorsuch over to the liberal side here.

And I think it might have been the kind of story that was meant to put pressure on the conservatives, but the surprising thing was that the story actually held some truth. Those two conservative-leaning justices were indeed over with those on the left wing, and if that editorial was meant to pressure those two justices, it did not do the trick because from November when the leaks started through June when the opinion came out, all six of the justices in the majority that ruled for this ground-breaking decision stayed together.

CAMEROTA: That is some intriguing background. Joan, thank you very much. And there's much more of Joan's exclusive series this week. You can check it out at Thank you. Meanwhile, Google taking a big step in its pandemic response. Details on what the workplace will look like there next year. That's next.



BERMAN: So a stunning announcement from Google, and new information about how much less Republicans want in terms of unemployment benefits to millions of workers hit in this pandemic. CNN's Julia Chatterley joins us now with more.

Let's start with the unemployment benefits. Workers now getting$600 a week in unemployment benefits on top of their normal. That expires this week, and now we know the Republicans are calling for just $200 in the extension. That's a big difference, Julia.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a huge difference and that will come between now and September, then they want to pay workers just 70 percent of the wages that they were getting pre-COVID. The Democrats are not going to have this, let's be clear, they wanted to see that $600 extended until the end of the year. Their argument will be, look, people cannot live like this when we're in a midst of a pandemic and a crisis.

It's an opening salvo from the Republicans. Let's be clear, a weaker of the $2 trillion gap right now in total between the Republicans and the Democrats. Let me give you a sense of what else is in there very quickly. Good news if you've got a stimulus check earlier this year, you're set to get another one, another cash payment if you've got minors of any age at any point as well. We are expected to see money for schools and for colleges.

There's also going to be more money for small businesses and liability protections too. I'll say it again, John, in the most contentious and the most urgent part of this is going to be what happens with those benefit payments, of course, and that decision has to come quickly, but a $2 trillion gap here needs to be fixed.

BERMAN: We have a democratic leader on from the house who will join us in a little bit, we'll ask if it's even a place to start negotiating. Julia, Google made the stunning announcement, 200,000 employees affected by this. Google now saying they don't have to return to a physical workplace until June of 2021. That seems like a big deal.

CHATTERLEY: It's a huge deal. It's a bold call by a massive tech giant, simply saying to their people, look, you can stay away now for another year from today. Some people will look at this and say, this is a big company making a judgment call about how long we have to fight this virus. Others including Google themselves is saying this is just about giving workers clarity, whether it's where they're located, schools, do they continue to pay rent.

The bottom line is, we've seen this from other tech companies, too. Remember Facebook, Twitter, they've said people can work from home indefinitely, but when you see a big company like this saying to their workers, it could be another year, it's pretty ghouling. Tough if you can do it, though, John.

BERMAN: Well, that's the thing, I think actually you're hearing two things from workers and they can be in alignment. One is they'd love to return to work or many of them would, but what they want more than anything is certainty.

CHATTERLEY: And this is the key. This is providing workers at Google with clarity, simply to be able to say, look, you can be in one place for the next year, no matter what happens with the pandemic. It works for tech companies where people can easily work from home for other companies, but of course if you simply have to be in the workplace, then you have to face the health risks no matter what, John, and that's the problem here.

BERMAN: All right, Julia Chatterley, thanks so much for being with us, really appreciate it. A lot going on this morning including some breaking news concerning Anthony Fauci. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless we get our arms around this, we are going to have further suffering and further death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty nine states are reporting more deaths last week than the previous week.

TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that are 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 the starting place. We can't pass the bill in the Senate without Democrats.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is NEW DAY. Breaking news, Dr. Anthony Fauci just responded to President Trump's attacks on Twitter.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't tweet. I don't even read them, so I don't really want to go there. I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it's very important. We're in the middle of a crisis with regard to an epidemic -- a pandemic. This is what I do. This is what I've been trained for my entire professional life, and I'll continue to do it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, TELEVISION JOURNALIST: To the charge you've been misleading the American public?

FAUCI: I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.


CAMEROTA: Well, President Trump tweets a lot and he retweets. And last night, he tweeted again basically a suggestion that we don't need to wear masks. He again touted an unproven treatment.