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President Donald Trump Again Pushes Drug As COVID Treatment, Against Scientific Evidence; U.S. Approaches 150,000 Deaths As Cases Surge; Russia Plans To Start Mass Production Of Vaccine By September; GOP Texas Congressman Gohmert Tests Positive For COVID-19; Top Tech Leaders Face Grilling In Capitol Hill Hearing. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This important news just into CNN the Oregon Governor now says federal officers will be leaving Portland. You're seeing clashes here - Vice President Pence and others the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland.

They have acted the Governor says as an occupying force and brought violence. Starting tomorrow, she says, all customs and boarder protection and I.C.E. officers will leave downtown Portland.

It's the top of the hour. Hello to viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. A very serious warning about the number of Americans who may die from Coronavirus and yet some less than serious recommendations from the President that defy medical science.

America's medical leaders saying multiple hundreds of thousands could die in this country if the United States continues its Coronavirus fight without a national plan. But the President today indicating he's not in the mood to rethink his push for schools to reopen to keep the economy open and again he is arguing against his own doctors and medical evidence from clinical trials.

The President today saying he's a believer recommending the use of Hydroxychloroquine. He says he's a believer this morning and that the drug saves lives. The science, trials, evidence, says that's simply not true.

There are some positives though if you look at data, decline in the average number of new cases when measured against last week. We'll break down the numbers in just a moment. United States still recording though 64,000-plus new infections per day over the last week's in July alone, 1 million 660,000 plus cases added to the case count.

In the United States near a lock you see the numbers there to pass 150,000 Coronavirus deaths today. The virus has killed 1,244 people just on Tuesday. That's the most since the end of May. In July, 21,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus. Let's get straight to the White House and CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, interesting to see the President today, interesting, my word I could use other words. Once again pushing Hydroxychloroquine yesterday saying much of the country is Coronavirus-free. Not true.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes and also defending that doctor he re-tweeted when yesterday he seemed not aware of the claims that woman had made prior to that. Comments about saying that medicine uses alien DNA, that doctors are trying to come up with a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious.

Things like that we discussed with the President yesterday. But now that even now that he is aware of those things, she said, John - we asked the President if he stood by those claims, if he regretted re- tweeting what he had earlier in the day and this is what he said this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was making the statement without Hydroxychloroquine with other doctors that clarified it. They think it's great. I happen to be a believer in Hydroxychloroquine. I used it. I had no problem. I happen to be a believer. Many, many people agree with me.


COLLINS: John, the President was saying there he could not understand why that video featuring that doctor was removed from social media sites including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, which of course they said, they removed it because of misinformation, like the woman that the President called an impressive doctors saying that there is a cure for COVID-19 which, of course, we and all the medical experts and the people suffering from Coronavirus know that is certainly not the case.

And we should note also that that group of doctors that the woman was featured in the video with did meet with the Vice President this week. Though that woman at the forefront, the one who made the controversial, bizarre claims in the past was not at that meeting we are told. The Vice President's office has not explained why they did hold that meeting?

KING: That's an explanation that we shall wait for. Kaitlan Collins live for us in the White House. Kaitlan, I appreciate the reporting. Then let's take a look at some of the hot spots. Again the map improving to some degree let's start there with the state trends.

You see 50 states. And what you see here, as you see, yes, 22 states that's the orange and the red, heading up meaning more cases this week than last. If you were with us a week ten days ago, at times we were talking about 38 states heading up. So this map is definitely an improvement.

18 states, that's the beige holding steady. 10 going down, notably including Texas and Arizona they have been parts of the drive of the big summer surge. Florida and California holding steady. Their case counts have been the drive in the big summer surge.

So the map looks a little bit better. Let's just walk through some of the timeline of the peak in cases. You go back to April. 34,000 cases a day you see 34,000, 36,000 here. Then you have this plateau and then it is July where it's just become 61, 77, but Tuesday, 61, down from July 16th, 77.

The question is have we hit a plateau, can we push it down a bit? These if you talk to the White House Coronavirus Task Force were hot spot states that Dr. Deborah Birx now says are beginning to improve. We just showed you the trends on the state map, Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

They have been driving the big case count numbers they have also been driving the hospitalization numbers and they are improving according to data at the moment. Let's hope that continues, but Dr. Birx also says you have some red zone states to watch. And you see there are many, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Indiana and Idaho.


KING: Smaller states for the most part but still states you want to watch as you go through all this. Let's come back to the state trend map here and you see in the middle, the dark red. That means your case count this week is 50 percent higher than last week.

This is the State of Missouri right here in the City of St. Louis, danger becoming a hot spot if it doesn't get its cases under control that is the word from. You see the daily high for new COVID-19 cases yesterday, that's the ninth time this month in the State of Missouri.

White House Task Force Coordinator warning St. Louis along with ten other cities to get more aggressive to stop spread of the virus. With me now Dr. Fredrick Echols he is a Director of the St. Louis Health Department. What is it that you think you need to do, sir? And are you on the same page as the White House? We've seen in some cases the White House put cities on a list, we touch base with the cities and they say, they haven't told us?

DR. FREDRICK ECHOLS, DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS HEALTH DEPARTMENT: That was a great point. So early on we had conversation with the White House, and a lot of the mitigation strategy they recommended we already had in place for example, ensuring their face covering requirements for all citizens in the City of St. Louis as well as socially distancing requirements.

And a lot of those mitigation strategies were already implemented. However, this week we are stepping up and making additional requiring additional enforcements for businesses that are not complying with those requirements.

KING: And what is your biggest problem at the moment? Is it people just getting lazy, if you will? Dropping down their guard? Is the economy reopening, just say businesses not complying with the requirement? What do you see as the case count goes up, what's the biggest issue?

DR. ECHOLS: Well, the issue right now is the population that's been impacted by COVID-19. Early on, we identified our most vulnerable populations who were the elderly and those individuals who have underlying medical conditions right now seeing younger populations becoming impacted.

So between June 28th and July 27th, approximately 64 percent of all of our cases were under age 40. And so a lot of these individuals don't have underlying medical conditions. They develop very few symptoms if any and so they can underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19 infection.

We're really doing a better job, more effective job of trying to reach those individuals so that we can continue to slow the spread and further protect not only our public health system but also our hospital systems and our most vulnerable communities, particularly the elderly who live in congregated settings.

KING: And we were at the end of July about to move into August which means many parents interesting. Summer vacation season anyway, now having to have conversations about whether kids can go back to school. I want you to listen here to the view of Dr. Anthony Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In many respects unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh. I don't mean it to be that way. It's that you're going to be actually part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.


KING: It does sound a little harsh. I get Dr. Fauci's point. People, kids go back to school we will learn what happens. Where are you in the City of St. Louis and walk through the challenge because you're one of the many urban areas where everybody wants children back in the classroom?

You might look at the public health risk, you might think, keep them home. You look at food disparities and health disparities; you think oh, it might be better to have them at the school. How are you wrestling with this?

DR. ECHOLS: A very complex situation. Particularly in the City of St. Louis where we have approximately 25 percent, a little more - greater than that, individuals living at or below the federal poverty level. In addition to that we have individuals who may, that have some level of illiteracy.

And so it is very complicated situation that we're trying to navigate through, but we have to make sure that quality education is available for everyone. In addition to making sure resources are available for our must vulnerable populations. One requirements that we made for all schools in the City of St. Louis, is that they have infection control plans so that in the event that someone tests positive for COVID-19 whether it is a staff or students, they will have protocols in place to make sure that situation is properly investigated and the proper infection control measures are implemented in a timely manner to prevent further spread in that facility.

KING: Dr. Frederick Echols, St. Louis Director of Health Department. I was very grateful for your time today and I wish you the best of luck in the challenges days ahead.

DR. ECHOLS: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Appreciate it very much. Up next, Russia says it's a global leader and will roll out a Coronavirus vaccine in the fall.



KING: A big global Coronavirus developments now including an exponential spike in cases in India. Today it hit a grim milestone 1.5 million cases. The numbers are especially troubling when you consider this. It took six months to get to the 1 million mark and just 12 days to add 500,000 more new cases more of the global headlines now from our International Correspondents.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Russia officials are calling it sputnik moment, a technological leap, like the launch into space of the first satellite by the Soviet Union. Russian officials telling CNN they intend to approve the first Coronavirus vaccine by August 10th.

So soon apparently because scientists here say they're using tried and tested technology, but also critics say because of the enormous pressure put on labs by the Kremlin to get across the vaccine line and conventions on human trials being ignored.

Russian officials say crucial third phase trials, for instance, will take place, while the back scene is actually being administered to high-risk groups like frontline medical staff. It's risky, fueling skepticism about the effectiveness and safety of this Russian vaccine.

But given the huge Coronavirus problem in Russia, which has the fourth highest number in the world, it's a risk authorities here say they're willing to take. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in the UK, there are concerns that a vaccine for COVID-19 may not give lifetime immunity. The Chair for the UK government's vaccine task force Kate Bingham was speaking to "The Financial Times" when she said she thinks it's unlikely they'll be a so-called silver bullet vaccine. Instead she says it's more likely scientists will develop a vaccine with but mainly give one year immunity and require boosters each year that follow. She also says it's possible that a vaccine will simply mitigate the symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of death.

Meanwhile, the UK government today announced a new deal to secure up to 60 million doses for a vaccine developed by Glaxo-Smith-Kline in partnership with Sanofi in total the UK government has now signed deals with four different vaccine candidates.

Potentially giving it access to 250 million doses if, of course, these vaccine candidates are successful in human trials. Anna Stewart, CNN.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Asia, the number of new COVID- 19 infections is rising, and while the numbers are pretty small compared to other places they are a big cause of concern for governments here.

In China, they saw their biggest daily spike in active cases since April. 101 infections reported most of them spread within the community as opposed to April when a lot came in from the outside. Now keep in mind China has 1.4 billion people. So the numbers are still very small by comparison to other places.

Here in Hong Kong, 118 new cases. It is the eight day that they've broken 100. 7 million living in this densely populated city but the chief executive warning that the city is possibly on a verge of a large-scale community outbreak if they don't get this thing under control that's why we have the strictest social distancing measures Hong Kong has seen so far during this pandemic.

Also Japan, 981 new cases, another record daily high for them there are also new cases reported at U.S. military bases majority in Okinawa. Japan, if it stays on trend here they could hit 33,000 total cases as soon as tomorrow. Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Tijuana, Mexico, this is the part of the country that really felt the effects of this outbreak before many other parts. We've been speaking to doctors and nurses inside public hospitals like this one for months who said at times their hospitals have come close to collapsing.

And that is the reason that several people we spoken to recently said they didn't get care for COVID at a hospital like this. They actually went across the border into Southern California to a U.S. hospital. And we should say these people have the legal right to be in the United States but it's clearly a growing trend.

At Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, right across the border we're told that hospital is near or at capacity for months in part because of patients from across the border. In July alone it has admitted more than 50 COVID patients who recently had come from Mexico.

And the hospital says the vast majority of patients who travel from Mexico test positive. Of course, that's putting a strain on the health care system in California that is already under considerable stress.

But I spoke to one doctor who said, look, he has zero qualms treating people from Mexico. He says this is the border. We share everything culture, commerce, even COVID care. Matt Rivers, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Germany the government is ramping up its efforts to support the development of a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus.

The German Research Minister has come out and said Germany is going to give grants from a fund worth almost $900 million to three labs currently trying to development vaccines. Among those is German American Cooperation of BioNTech and Pfizer.

Now the Research Minister also warns that there could be setbacks that a vaccine might not be widely available to the public until middle of 2021. Of course all this as Germany is seeing another spike in Coronavirus infections.

And as of next week the government says it is going to make tests mandatory for people coming in to this country from what they call high-risk areas among those also the United States. Germany says it currently has the capacity to conduct about 1.2 million Coronavirus tests, every week. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

KING: Up next for us, an extra seat on Air Force One today as the President heads to Texas. The Republican Congressman no fan masks, tests positive for Coronavirus.



KING: Some big news on Capitol Hill today Republican Congressman due to travel to Texas with the President, instead here because he tested positive for the Coronavirus. Louie Gohmert was tested at the White House before he was supposed to travel with the President.

CNN's Manu Raju live for us on Capitol Hill with this news. Note worthy anyway Manu, noteworthy especially because Louie Gohmert one of the Republican lawmakers who is not a fan of wearing a mask.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, refuses to wear a mask on the House floor. It's been going on for several weeks now. I spent a lot of time watching him interact on the floor. He spends a lot of time on the floor during votes.

He goes up to members, he chitchats with that extensively he does not wear a mask and he has refused to wear one, and I asked him just a few weeks ago why is he not wearing a mask. He told me that he doesn't have the Coronavirus. And he said that if I get it you'll never see me without a mask.

I told him, well, you can still spread it, not have symptoms and that's why the public experts, health experts say wear a mask.


RAJU: He said, I'm not - I keep getting tested I don't have it so am not afraid of you. But if I get it I'll wear a mask and he wouldn't answer a question to me about when he was last tested. But he was tested this morning, as you mentioned, John, on the way to Texas.

He hoped to travel with the President on Air Force One in that pre- flight screening essentially informed him that he tested positive for the virus. A lot of people on Capitol Hill are reacting to this, because of the fact that he has not been wearing a mask and interacting with his members.

Including in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday where he interacted after the hearing with Bill Barr, the Attorney General, and Gohmert was not wearing a mask. Barr, we're told is not going to get tested today to see if he is testing positive.

The Chairman of that Committee, Jerry Nadler, said that it should be a lesson for all members. He just tweeted he wishes Gohmert a speedy recovery but he said when individuals refuse to take the necessary precautions it puts everyone at risk.

Regularly instructed all members to wear their masks and hope this is a lesson by all of my colleagues. Now there is a rule in the House Committees that members must wear masks. Members of the Chairman of Committees can admonish their members and refuse to recognize them if they don't wear a mask.

We've seen this come to head in several proceedings. But on the floor that's a different story John. There are no rules about wearing masks. It's harder to enforce. The Health Capitol Physician strongly recommends members to wear a mask but Louie Gohmert has been one of those members who has not taken that recommendation, not worn a mask interacted with his members.

And so now as a result of him testing positive a lot of members are ask, what it's next for them? So we'll see how they react and whether or not there was any spreading of this virus, John?

KING: Some high-powered contact tracing getting under way because of that test result. Manu Raju live on the Hill for us very important there. Another big story up on Capitol Hill today a hearing about to get under way tech CEOs facing some very tough questions from members of Congress.