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California, Texas, Florida See Record Deaths; White House Pushes Unproven Drug Hydroxychloroquine; Experts Urge Reset as U.S. Tops 150,000 Deaths; Masks Mandated at U.S. House After Lawmaker Tests Positive; Federal Officers to Withdraw from Portland; Tech Leaders Face Lawmakers' Pointed Antitrust Questions. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, experts are urging the U.S. to reset its coronavirus response as the death toll here passes 150,000 and the world hits 17 million total cases.

Conspiracy theories are spreading, too, fueled in part by President Trump touting the views of a radically fringe doctor.

And four of the world's most powerful CEOs faced U.S. lawmakers via video link but will high tech questioning lead to big tech oversight?

Good to have you with us. Well more than 17 million people around the world now have been infected with coronavirus since the pandemic began. Johns Hopkins University also says a staggering 1 million new cases were added in just the past five days. The U.S. accounts for 25 percent of all cases. More than 150,000 Americans have died so far. And U.S. medical experts warn that hundreds of thousands more will die if the country doesn't change course.

U.S. house Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday ordered all members and staff to wear masks in the House chamber and office buildings. This after Republican Congressman, Louie Gohmert, who has notoriously resisted wearing a mask tested positive just as he was about to travel to Texas with President Trump.

Well, California, Texas, and Florida on Wednesday each reported their highest numbers of COVID-19 deaths in a single day and we get the latest now from CNN's Nick Watt.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. just suffered the deadliest day of the summer.

DR. DAVID SKORTON, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGES: And if we don't do something to change our course, we will have multiple hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country. WATT: The Association of American Medical Colleges wants decisive, coordinated action. Releasing a detailed roadmap called for increased testing, enforcement of reopening criteria as well as informing and educating the public. Meanwhile, the President and his acolytes are still pushing a widely and scientifically discredited drug.

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, U.S. TRADE IN MANUFACTURING POLICY: Hydroxychloroquine, I'm pleading to you and the American people to look at this drug again because I literally have tens of millions of tablets sitting in the strategic national stockpile.

WATT: Maybe you do, but --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.

WATT: In all these states concern is climbing as cases climb. They're dubbed red zone and yellow zone states by the CDC. Only Vermont is green. No deaths in nearly six weeks but even Vermont just pushed reopening schools back a couple of weeks. A new study suggests that states that closed schools early in the spring saw significant declines in COVID cases and deaths. The Trump administration wants schools open again ASAP.

FAUCI: We don't know the answer to all of those questions.

WATT: Such as do kids transmit the virus like adults? Dr. Fauci recommends teachers wear goggles and masks or face shields in the classroom.

FAUCI: This may sound a little scary and harsh, I don't mean it to be that way, is that you're going to be actually part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.

WATT: Define the governor, Miami-Dade County just announced schools will start later than usual and online only.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And I would absolutely have, you know, my kids in schools because I do think that it's safe to do so. I believe that that this is something that is really low risk for kids, fortunately.


WATT: Governor DeSantis noted he does not have school-aged children. Case counts right now are high but stabilizing in Florida.

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: We're encouraged in New York and they've kept it down. Flattening the curve is certainly important. But when you flatten it at a very high level, we're still going to see significant hospitalizations and deaths, you know, several weeks down the road.

WATT (on camera): The state of California just reported 197 deaths from COVID-19 in a single day. The governor called it a somber milestone. Now it is probably inflated by a reporting backlog from here in Los Angeles but that's kind of irrelevant. Right now we are averaging over 100 people dying every day in this state and that is higher than it has ever been.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.



CHURCH: Coming in from London, Dr. Richard Dawood. He is the medical director at the Fleet Street Clinic. Thank you doctor for being with us.


CHURCH: So we are seeing Europe fight off a second wave of coronavirus infections. Hong Kong is dealing with its third wave. The United States is still drowning in the first wave along with Latin America and the global number of cases just surpassed 17 million. So doctor, five months into this pandemic, where are we right now? And can we ever get on top of this virus without a vaccine?

DAWOOD: Well that's a very difficult question. Ultimately it will have to take a vaccine or widespread immunity gain through natural infraction to definitively bring it under control. The measures that are needed to control the virus are very clear. This is a virus that spreads from person to person. So without a vaccine we require social distancing, an inability for one person to spread the virus to the next. And this requires very well-coordinated measures and an acceptance of the need to reduce person-to-person spread. And whether that's by legislation, lockdown, widespread adoption of masks and hygiene measures, whatever. Those precautions are clear.

The problem is how to bring the community with you in following those precautions and how to apply them in a sensible way that balances a need to control infection with the need for other things to continue.

CHURCH: Yes, we see considerable resistance, don't we? And the U.S. just crossed the grim milestone of 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 with health experts calling for a total reset. Is that what the U.S. needs to do or could the wearing of masks, social distancing as you mentioned, the washing of hands turn this around if only Americans would actually do these things?

DAWOOD: Well, the success in Europe and in other countries where you know, one is speaking of a second wave or a third wave. That success is only because the first wave was been brought down and under control and tough measures were introduced to reduce spread. So that really hasn't happened in many part -- I mean, it's happened in New York where, you know, successful leadership did bring transmission down and brought the rates down and help put things under relative control. That's not happened in many parts of the U.S. and it really does need to happen in order to bring things under control. There is no real substitute for that. The problem is, if it becomes

more difficult, people get fatigued and fed up with the proportions and the restrictions, but it will need to be done in order to reduce deaths and cases. It will really need to be done, otherwise, you know, the consequences are going to be huge.


CHURCH: And that was Richard Dawood of London's Fleet Street Clinic. He went on to say that understanding human behavior is becoming as important as understanding the virus in this pandemic fight.

Well there is a new rule in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mask up or stay out. The new policy for members and staff on the House floor and all House office buildings comes after a Republican Congressman who's been outspoken in his refusal to wear a mask tested positive for COVID-19. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more now from Washington.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Republican Congressman who has repeatedly refused to wear a mask now testing positive for coronavirus. Hours before he was scheduled to join President Trump on Air Force One.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I didn't have any of the symptoms that you see listed for the coronavirus.

DIAMOND: Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert spotted on Capitol Hill just yesterday maskless walking near Attorney General Bill Barr getting his diagnosis at the White House this morning. But Gohmert didn't immediately isolate himself, instead he returned to his congressional office to tell his staff in person. Some members of Gohmert's staff telling "Politico" the Congressman would berate them for wearing masks and wanted every member of his staff in the office to show what reopening looked like. Democrats slamming his conduct.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): I'm concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many of the Republicans who have chosen to consistently flout well-established public health guidance.

DIAMOND: Gohmert isn't owning up to the role his defiance of CDC guidelines may have played in him contracting the virus. Instead, he's blaming mask wearing without any evidence.

GOHMERT: In the last week or two I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months. I can't help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place that if I might have put some germs, some of the virus on to the mask and breathed it in. I don't know.

DIAMOND: As for President Trump, he's inched away from his anti-mask stance recently but he is still focused on promoting a drug scientists overwhelmingly agree is an ineffective coronavirus treatment.

DR. STELLA IMMANUEL, HOUSTON: This virus has a cure. It's called hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zithromax.

DIAMOND: After retweeting a video of a fringe doctor making bogus claims about hydroxychloroquine, Trump is sticking by his praise.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it.

DIAMOND: Even after she was exposed for making bizarre claims about alien DNA and sex with demons.

TRUMP: I think she made sense, but I know nothing about -- I just saw her, you know, making a statement with very respected doctors.

DIAMOND: And the President isn't just watching the videos. Vice President Mike Pence meeting with the group that doctor belongs to branded as America's front-line doctors and propped up by the Tea Party at the White House just yesterday to discuss hydroxychloroquine. There's no evidence those doctors are treating patients on the front lines of the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci once again reminding the public, hydroxychloroquine does not work.

FAUCI: But right now today the cumulative scientific data that has been put together and done over a number of different studies has shown no efficacy.

DIAMOND (on camera): Now the White House's robust testing protocols didn't just prevent Congressman Louie Gohmert from being on Air Force One and in close contact with the President. In fact, there was a second person who tested positive because they got a test because they were supposed to meet the President of the United States, and that was Wesley Hunt. A Republican congressional candidate in Texas's seventh district. He was slated to meet the President at the airport and before doing so he got a test. He tested positive.

And of course, it's ironic because the President has repeatedly complained about the testing system in the United States. Not because he believes like most experts do that there isn't enough testing, but because he believes that there has been too much. Arguing that more testing creates more cases. Even suggesting that testing should be slowed down. But of course, it's the President who is benefitting from perhaps the most robust testing system in the United States.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: The Trump administration has reached an agreement with Oregon's Democratic governor to withdraw federal officers from downtown Portland, the scene of peaceful protests and violent clashes.

This video was shot just a short time ago. The atmosphere around the federal courthouse remains tense. Tear gas and flash bangs were fired into the crowd as the protestors were told to leave. Governor Kate Brown said the federal forces will start to withdraw from the area in the coming hours but the Department of Homeland Security says it will maintain a presence in the city until it believes federal facilities are secure.


KEN CUCCINELLI ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY DEPUTY SECRETARY: FPS will be a visible force outside of the courthouse, so will Oregon state police. That will be a collaborative effort there on the courthouse property. Outside the courthouse property the state police will maintain responsibility. So we will be relying on the governor and her team to maintain those lines of communication. And the goal, of course, is to see not only violence move off the courthouse, but the goal we all have is that the violence dissipate entirely.



CHURCH: The decision to send federal agents into Portland earlier this month escalated tensions in the city. Portland has been on edge for two months over demands for racial justice and police accountability.

And a short time ago CNN's Don Lemon asked Oregon's governor to react to the withdrawal of federal agents in Portland and here's what she had to say.


GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): The plan is very, very clear. This is a phased withdrawal. It certainly will not happen overnight. It is a step-by- step process. The good news is that Trump's troops, including border patrol, customs and I.C.E. are leaving the streets of downtown Portland. It will certainly make Portland safer and quieter, and that's a good thing.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Governor, I want you to listen to what the President said about Portland just a few hours ago. Here it is.

TRUMP: All you have to do is look at Portland. Look at the agitators, look at the anarchists in Portland in our people have done a great job in protecting our courthouse. And I told my people a little while ago, if they don't solve that problem locally very soon, we're going to send in the National Guard and get it solved very quickly.

LEMON: Why do you think he's still threatening to send in the National Guard even though this agreement is in place?

BROWN: Well, there's certainly a lot of bluster coming out of Washington, D.C. This was clearly a political strategy. It was about political theater and scoring points with their base and had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with public safety or problem-solving. What is really, really clear is that this political strategy has backfired and that Trump's troops are leaving the city of Portland.

LEMON: Yes, but if you listen to them -- to him and his apologists and conservative media, you would think that the entire city of Portland is on fire and is out of control. What do you say to that? BROWN: Well, certainly there's absolutely no question that in the wee

hours of the night there is violent action happening by a few outliers, including the burning of trash cans and the rock throwing and this violence must end. It is a distraction for the incredibly important work ahead of us to tackle the issues of racism in our policing and our justice system.

However, the vast majority of protests are peaceful, not only in Portland but across the entire state and frankly, across the entire country. You have citizens, moms and dads, aunts, uncles, lawyers and doctors, teachers and folks all urging that we take action to eradicate racism in our justice system, in our education system, in our health care system, action that is long overdue. This is the important work that we should be focused on.

The Trump administration putting troops on the streets of Portland was a distraction from their failure to lead a national response to this global pandemic and it was clearly a play to their base.


CHURCH: Well, in just a matter of hours, former U.S. President Barack Obama is set to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of long-time Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. Right now his body is lying in state at the Georgia state capitol where thousands have paid their respects during a public viewing. His funeral today will be held at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will be among those attending.

Six days of ceremonies have traced the path Lewis took from leading civil rights marches in Alabama where he was brutally beaten to the halls of Congress where he served for more than 30 years.

And still to come, CEOs of some of the most powerful companies in the world respond to U.S. lawmakers' questions about how they treat their competitors. Are they playing fairly? We'll take a look.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the chief executives of four of the most powerful tech firms in the world face tense questions about their competitive practices Wednesday from U.S. lawmakers. The leaders of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple appeared remotely at an antitrust hearing and they responded to allegations their companies are too dominant and have unfairly hurt their competition. Here's part of the testimony.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Did Google ever use its surveillance over web traffic to identify competitive threats?

SUNDAR PICHAI, GOOGLE CEO: Congressman, just like other businesses, we tried to understand trends from, you know, data which we can see and we use it to improve our products for our users.


CHURCH: And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg tried to deflect accusations the company had broken competition laws by buying Instagram.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: It was not a guarantee that Instagram was going to succeed. The acquisition has done wildly well, largely because not just of the founders' talent but because we invested.


CHURCH: So let's take a closer look now at the testimony and CNN's Hadas Gold followed the hearing. She joins me now. Good to see you, Hadas. So these four big tech CEOs certainly got grilled on Capitol Hill but how likely is it that we'll see any serious follow-up in the form of legislative regulations?


HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, this hearing was the result of more than a year of investigation by the committee that elicited more than a millions of documents and hours of closed-door testimony from people, for example, who worked for these companies.

It was a six-hour long grilling for these lawmakers. And much of the questioning, as you noted, was really focusing on the power these companies have in their marketplaces and whether they are too dominant and just crushed their competition in unfair ways.

Probably the most anticipated testimony likely came from Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Because though he is the richest man right now and runs Amazon, he's actually never appeared before Congress before and there are a lot of questions over how Amazon uses all of this data it has and from all these third-party sellers on their platforms. They might use that to their advantage when they're trying to sell their own private label merchandise on Amazon. Take a listen to how Congresswoman Jayapal pressed him yesterday.


JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON CEO: We have a policy against using seller specific data to aid our private business but I can't guarantee you that that policy has ever been violated.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): You have access to the entirety of sellers pricing in inventory information past, present and future. And you dictate the participation of third-party sellers on your platform. So you can set the rules of the game for your competitors but not actually follow those same rules to yourself. Do you think that's fair to the mom and pop third-party businesses who are trying to sell on your platform?

BEZOS: I am very proud of what we've done for third-party sellers on this platform.


GOLD: And while this hearing was very important in terms of the evidence that it brought up, it's not ultimately up to Congress whether these companies would be broken off for parts of them would have to be spun off. That will be up to agencies like the Department of Justice who have many ongoing investigations into this companies who would have that power -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All Right, Hadas Gold, many thanks for bringing us that report. Appreciate it.

Well President Trump visits one of the worst hit states for coronavirus, but the pandemic barely mentioned.

And there's little sign of proportions among those who attended. Much more after this short break.