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Death Toll Due to Coronavirus Rising in 27 States; Coronavirus Vaccine Enters Phase Three Trials; Attorney General William Barr to Testify before House Judiciary Committee; Trump 2016 Voters Talk About Pandemic & the 2020 Election; Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is Interviewed About GOP's Plan to Cut Unemployment Benefit to $200 A Week. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Basically a suggestion that we don't need to wear masks. He again touted an unproven treatment. He lied about testing again and the availability of supplies. So much for that new strategy he talked about last week to save the country. The death toll is rising in 27 states. Coronavirus has now killed more than 148,000 Americans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, 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. President Trump meanwhile making up a story about throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. There won't be an NFL preseason. I just learned of a number of New England Patriots who reportedly have announced that they're not going to play at all this season. Google just announced that employees can work from home until June of next year. The president's own national security adviser has tested positive after visiting foreign officials on a trip to Europe not wearing mask. The White House won't say when he last saw the president.

And in a different note, in just a couple of hours, Attorney General William Barr will testify on Capitol Hill in this long-awaited showdown with House Democrats. But let's talk about where we are in the pandemic this morning and these head-spinning developments overnight. Joining us now is Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, she's the director of the Division of Infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Dr. Carlos Del Rio, he's the executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System. We should note he is contributing to the Moderna vaccine trial.

Dr. Marrazzo, I want to start with you. We played Dr. Anthony Fauci having to make a statement this morning saying I don't mislead the American people ever, he said. Why did he have to do that? Because President Trump last night in addition to sending out to his 84 million social media followers at message that you don't have to wear a mask, sent out a message which said that Dr. Fauci is misleading people. So Fauci had to respond this morning. How does this affect the overall messaging to the American people as 1,000 people are dying every day? DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF

ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Yes. Good morning, John, good to be with you, but disheartening to hear all of this contradictory and completely unnecessary dissension about what should be a unified fight to fight this virus. The virus is taking advantage of our inability to get on the same page with messaging, right. We have excellent, excellent anecdotal information now from multiple outbreaks as well as good scientific information that when you don't wear a mask, you don't wash your hands, you don't social distance, the three W's, right, then we do see accelerated transmission.

And I think to have our leaders not be on the same page about this, is part of reason if not the fundamental reason that we are in this mess. Dr. Fauci's response was, as useful, masterful. He is trying to do the job he has been born for.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, deaths are rising in 27 states this morning, and the maddening thing is it doesn't have to be happening. Even at this late date, and the U.S. is very late to being able to getting their arms around this, it's not too late. We can still do something. And the easiest things in the world, actually, if it comes to saving your life or saving one of your loved ones' lives, is wearing a mask and social distancing. And you say that that could turn it around still today.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes, Alisyn, that is correct. It's unfortunate that we're seeing -- you know the U.S. right now is the epidemic is out of control. We're seeing over 70,000 cases per day. I just tell people that Wuhan, China, in the total epidemic had 70,000 cases. We're having one Wuhan a day in the United States. That is just an out of control epidemiological.

Of course, deaths are going up because after cases, deaths increase. We all can do something, we can do something today. And if we wear a mask, if we social distance, if we wash our hands, if we avoid crowded places, close environments and close contact with a lot of people, we can stop transmission. The most important thing you can do as a person is not get infected. You and your family -- if I can do something for my loved ones, it's to prevent them from getting infected. If I wear a mask, I protect you. If you wear a mask you protect me. It's about social consciousness, it's about solidarity. I really do not understand why we're still debating this today.

BERMAN: Right. And it's not just that issue either. Again, the president last night disseminated this message saying you don't have to wear a mask, and another part from some doctor apparently speaking on a Facebook post that got taken down was that you don't have to do wear a mask, says this doctor, because hydroxychloroquine will be the cure for everything. This is what Dr. Fauci just said about that.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: And I go along with the FDA. The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.



BERMAN: Yes. He seemed to add some extra emphasis there, Dr. Marrazzo, just to make his point. And to Dr. Del Rio's point, we keep having the same debates, or some people are, rather than focused on moving forward.

MARRAZZO: Yes. Another disheartening aspect of this dialogue. So I think people need to understand that as physicians, if you're coming to me as your doctor, we worship at the altar of the clinical trial. We have guidelines that are based on very robust evidence for practically everything, from managing your high blood pressure and from managing your high cholesterol. And now from both the NIH and the ID Society of America, we have guidelines that are evidence based for treating coronavirus. They do not include hydroxychloroquine for a reason. It's because we get together, we really rigorously look at the data, and nothing supports that we should be using this drug.

We do have great data on remdesivir. Again, that was a single in baseball parlance. It didn't work as great as we would like, and we do need other methods, especially pills, because we still don't have anything to treat people in the clinics. So I'm frustrated as much as the people who wish hydroxychloroquine would work, but the reality is the data simply don't support it, and that's the message that we need to be focused on.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, now to vaccines. Obviously, everybody is waiting with bated breath to see if the Moderna and the other vaccines that are currently moving forward are going to work. You're involved in the Moderna one. Yesterday we watched the first Americans get the phase three shots, 60,000 Americans. So is this full steam ahead? Are there problems we should know about? Just tell us from on the ground how we should temper our optimism if so.

DEL RIO: Well, first of all, we should be thankful, because if one thing is working in this epidemic in America, it's actually research. And the research infrastructure has done a tremendous job not only of developing better therapies and continue to look for therapies, but also in developing vaccines. And the fact that from the isolation of the virus to the first injection of vaccine in humans was only 65 days, and the fact that we're right now in phase three clinical trials that are going to show efficacy of a vaccine, are going to test for efficacy, is truly unbelievable. This is unprecedented speed.

So of all the things that are not working well, one thing that is working well is the clinical trials and the research infrastructure. So Americans should be very happy they have invested so heavily through the NIH and research, because research is actually the way to find an answer to this epidemic. Am I hopeful? Absolutely. I think one or more vaccines is going to show efficacy and is going to be effective to have one so we can get out of this pandemic.

BERMAN: Thank God for science and thank God for the work that both of you doctors are doing. Dr. Marrazzo, just a regional question now. I know there's big concern about Alabama for some time. But now Tennessee, and we had Dr. Peter Hotez say he's concerned that if you look at the map that more and more states as you move north are beginning to see rises in cases and could develop into full crises mode soon.

MARRAZZO: I think that's absolutely correct, and it emphasizes that the virus does not respect the borders, state borders or international borders. We are all woven together as a community, as Dr. Del Rio said. You really can't expect one state to do something and try to get the virus under control, and have a neighboring state not do the same sort of level of rigor, and then have them not see it as well. So what we're seeing is just the natural evolution of the virus.

Speaking of Alabama, we are now at a really critical point. We reached our peak of hospitalizations yesterday at UAB Hospital for the virus, for hospitalizations for people with the virus, and we are now at an all-time high use of our ICU beds in the state. We have 12 percent of our ICU beds in the state remaining. So this is playing out exactly like what happened in the northeast. Could we now see that moving forward? Absolutely. To the north, to the west, to the east, to Florida. Yes, absolutely. And I think that's really a concern, because it is emphasizing that we are all in this together. We have to treat this like we are a single entity vulnerable to this virus.

BERMAN: Dr. Marrazzo, Dr. Del Rio, thank you both, again, for you expertise in joining and for the work you do as part of your day jobs as well. Appreciate it.

DEL RIO: Have a good day.

MARRAZZO: Thanks. Good morning.

BERMAN: All right, we're about two hours away from Attorney General William Barr's highly anticipated testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. CNN has obtained Barr's explosive opening statement. CNN's Evan Perez live in Washington with the latest here. You get the sense that Barr and members of the House, they're looking for a circus today.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. I think we're going to hear a lot of fiery comments from the attorney general because he knows what the Democrats are after him for. He knows that they believe he is essentially the bagman for the president.


And so that's why he's coming out firing. We have some of his comments, his opening remarks. I'll read you part of it. It says, "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 Russian-gate 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."

There's a lot of questions from Democrats for the attorney general. He hasn't appeared before this committee since becoming attorney general. We know that he's going to be asked about the ouster of Geoff Berman as U.S. attorney in Manhattan. He's going to be asked about his intervention in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases. A lot of political things that people criticize the attorney general for doing. He says he's just doing his job, John.

BERMAN: And Perez, we'll be watching very closely, just a couple hours from now. Thanks so much for being with us.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BERMAN: So the extra $600 unemployment benefit that millions of Americans have depended on will expire in just days. What is Congress doing to help the Americans who need it? The House majority leader joins us next.



CAMEROTA: We are 98 days away from Election Day. And public opinion polls show President Trump slipping over his handling of coronavirus.

I sat down with a group of voters in Florida and Texas, two of the states hardest hit by the virus. All of them voted for President Trump in 2016. Today, half of them regret that.

Here is our latest "Pulse of the People."


CAMEROTA: Show of hands, how many of you voted for President Trump in 2016. OK. All of you voted for President Trump.

Show of hands, how many of you plan to vote for him again in November.

Okay. Three hands went up.

Daniel, tell us your thoughts.

DANIEL TURNER, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: I believe that his handling of the pandemic has been horrendous. I think his lack of accountability and an old political term he waffles on everything. He did say this, he didn't say that. And he meant this, but he didn't mean that. He's totally unpredictable.

ELLIE BERNSTEIN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't think anyone could have handled it any better. Listen to the health experts. When President Trump says something about ingesting Lysol, don't take it -- obviously an absurd statement. I mean, it's ridiculous. He should not be speaking on health matters, frankly.

CAMEROTA: But he is. BERNSTEIN: He's not qualified to do it. He wasn't taking it as

seriously as he should. But the entire government failed us. They were focused on impeachment as COVID was spreading. That's what they were focused on. They were all missing the ball.

CAMEROTA: Show of hands, have you had a friend or know someone who got very sick with COVID and/or died?

OK. So, three of you know people who got sick.

Tommy, tell us what you think about President Trump's response to coronavirus.

TOMMY STALLINGS, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: Well, they didn't get extremely sick and die, but I had a nephew and several friends that have tested positive for COVID.

I will say this. I'm a business owner. My wife and I own a fitness, 24/7 fitness center. We had to close our gym for 84 days.

We have had the business for seven years. I want to point out this all happened while Donald Trump has been president.

BIANCA GARCIA, PRESIDENT, LATINOS FOR TRUMP: Trump has done what he can do. OK? This is exactly what's happening, small businesses are losing their businesses, their livelihood because of this pandemic. I have people who I do know who have tested positive for COVID, my in- laws.

OK. One, she had to wear the mask, because she has allergies. I think the breathing of her own breath and having -- you know, deal with allergies, I think that got her sick. She started to get a fever.

She's over 60 years old. She panics because there's a fear mongering- going on. Oh, you're going to die. So she runs and they test her positive, she goes home, had fever for two days. She's fine now. She's older.

CAMEROTA: I'm confused about your point. Do you think people are not dying around the country?

GARCIA: What I'm trying to say and make a point to is that 382 million Americans, 4 million have tested positive and 145,000 have died.

CAMEROTA: So you're willing to live with those numbers, those numbers are okay for you?

GARCIA: No number of death is okay. If you do the math it's a 99.9 percent survival rate. What are we freaking out about? OK, I don't understand, 99 percent.

In 2017 and 2018, there was 13 percent more deaths in heart disease than in COVID. Also, three times more deaths of accidents and car accidents but we didn't is shut down the interstates and take people's cars away. TURNER: We didn't shut down the freeways because there's car

accidents. What we did was we did science and testing and we came to the conclusion that seat belts were necessary to keep us out there motoring along, as safely as possible. As far as heart disease goes, I can't walk into my local supermarket and catch that from the idiot standing next to me.

GARCIA: I have a breathing problem, I don't wear a mask I'm an idiot. You'd rather I die because I can't breathe with the mask on. Do you know how hypocritical --

TURNER: You're going to come to my grocery store and use that feeble excuse, yes, you are. You can breathe fine with a mask.

GARCIA: I cannot. I cannot.

CAMEROTA: So, Damani, what is it like to hear the strong reservations of your fellow panelists here?

DAMANI BRYANT FELDER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, you know, I think that everyone has a right to their own opinion but I also believe that here in America, we have a lot of serious problems that need to be taken care of, that honestly have been allowed to fester for far too long.

STALLINGS: I don't think there's anything that Donald Trump would do that will make the supporters that are dug in not vote for him, because in my opinion, if that were the case, then they'd be thinking like me right now.


GARCIA: I'm hearing a repeat of 2016, the anti-Trumpers. The people who are like, oh, I can't vote for him.

STALLINGS: It's not fair to call someone like me a Never Trumper because I voted for the man in 2016.

TURNER: Me too, thank you, Tommy. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you all did. I mean, you all did.

GARCIA: But what I'm saying it's the rhetoric. It's the rhetoric of the never Trump movement. I didn't say you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not rhetoric, it's based on facts.

GARCIA: It's 2016. It's the same --

STALLINGS: We at least -- we gave him the opportunity, we gave him the chance. It's what he's done in office, not what he did in the twitter feed or prior life prior to becoming president.

FELDER: I think we need someone with a temperament of Donald Trump. Even though sometimes he's unpredictable, I think we need the temperament of Donald Trump, because he is someone who's willing to call out what other people -- who refuse to call out. I think that's something that we really need right now.

STALLINGS: I'll say one more thing. I saw an interview with Trump and the guy from Barstool Sports and something that he said hit me, pretty ironically. He said that the preceding years prior to me announcing running for president were the best of my life. I can't remember his exact quote, but he was fabulously wealthy. He had this life and I'd like to remind him that Obama was president during the best times of his life. So, if Donald Trump loses, we will get through this.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That was really interesting to me. I will say that at the very beginning the mere layout of it is interesting. If you have three people who voted for Donald Trump who have regrets we heard from two of them say they're directly related to the pandemic, that reflects what we're seeing in the polls right now, that there is serious and growing concern around the country about that response. And it's really interesting to hear voice to that.

CAMEROTA: You're going to hear more from Monica in the lower left corner. I felt -- I feel badly some of her was left on the cutting room floor in this episode. Tomorrow, we talk about President Trump's response to the nationwide protests after George Floyd's death and they have strong feelings about that as well.

Monica, who you'll hear from, she had regrets instantly. And so, she will explain that.

BERMAN: You know, it should go without saying also that if you are losing people who voted for you in 2016 and you aren't doing enough much to expand your electorate and expand your base, then you're in trouble.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, thank you, John, for those comments.

Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Looking forward to more tomorrow.

Meanwhile, battle lines are drawn in Congress over the next stimulus plan. A key financial life line for millions of Americans who are struggling runs out in just days. The House majority leader is going to join us next.



BERMAN: The $1 trillion stimulus proposal just unveiled by Senate Republicans includes a $400 cut to the weekly extra unemployment benefit which expires this week. Democrats already denouncing this proposal. Can the two sides come together?

Joining us now, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Leader Hoyer, thank you very much for being with us. Six hundred extra dollars people have been getting for months. That

expires this week. We just saw the Republican plan, for the time being, they want to cut that back to $200.

Can you meet in the middle?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, we'll see. But it is typical of the Republican response to the American people in saying you're on your own. Obviously, to have a draconian $400 cut immediately is going to make it very, very difficult for American families to meet the rent, to pay for food, to pay their living expenses.

It is -- it is not acceptable that the 2-1/2 months after we passed the HEROES Act, the Republicans would still be dissembling, still not able to reach an agreement, still not coming forward with sufficient assistance to meet this extraordinary pandemic and crisis that America and the American people are confronting.

It mirrors, of course, the Trump's failure to respond in an effective way to this pandemic. Failure to apply the resources that are necessary to get us back to health and get us back to business and get us back to school. The incredible mismanagement of this pandemic and the incredible negligence of the United States Senate and the Republican Party to respond in a timely passion is mirrored in this proposal. It is insufficient, it will let down the American people and it will damage the economy.

BERMAN: One of the things that Republicans -- some Republicans say is that $600 serves as disincentive to go back to work. It is more in some cases than they say that people were making at the beginning. So what do you say to that?

HOYER: I think that's an argument that is -- it has some validity to it. And we ought to deal with that. And there is way to deal with that.

But not this way, not cold turkey. Not here you have it, now you don't. The American people were relying on that and we got 30 million Americans who have lost their jobs, highest unemployment that we've had in decades.

The Republican response is inadequate and frankly, it's incomprehensible that the states and local governments and cities and governments and territories that have been hemorrhaging revenue, hemorrhaging revenue because of the pandemic are turned -- left out totally in the cold.

They hire our firefighters. They hire our police. They hire our sanitation workers. They hire our teachers and all they're going to be left with an option to lay off people who are critically important to the American people in responding to this pandemic. It's not inadequate.

BERMAN: I want to make sure I'm hearing you correctly. It does seem like you might be willing to come off some from $600, not the $200, but you're not demanding $600 or bust?

HOYER: Look, it's not $600 or bust. You know, you don't -- Speaker Pelosi said the other day, which I thought was a great line, we don't have red lines, we have values.