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Fauci: Lack Of Total Shutdown Early Made Outbreak Worse In U.S.; GOP Lawmakers Openly Reject Trump's Tweet On Delaying Election; Former Presidents Praise John Lewis' Fight For Democracy, Voting Rights On Same Day Trump Tweets About Delaying November Election. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00]

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I thought it was just actually quite unbelievable that we've heard answers too, well, why can't we get 48-hour testing?

And the answer is, well, we'll be able to do that sometime in the future. But we should have been able to anticipate that these surges of infectious would occur. And I think so much of our response has been reacting to what's happened rather than anticipating what's ahead.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And we've talked about this many times before, the data was certainly before them. The White House had it. The Coronavirus Task Force report some documents that have leaked make clear that they have had it.

One of the interesting things to your point, we have a testing backlog now because the demand is so high, even as they did ramp up, they did not get the baseline down so that you have so many people now. And that was the most interesting part to me was Dr. Fauci conceding essentially, the reason the European countries, the reason most of the Asian countries have done so much better is because when they shutdown, they stayed shut down.

They shutdown just about everything and they stayed shutdown until they hammered the baseline down to a minimum number of cases. So then you're dealing with it from a position of strength. He said roughly about 50 percent of the United States shutdown. So even when the economy was reopened, you never got down to a low baseline. And 20,000 was about the lowest, 20,000 average cases in New Day.

Now we're seeing 60,000 plus. Their recommendation, Dr. Wen, was that they believe if you wear a mask, social distance, have hand hygiene, avoid big crowds, Dr. Redfield said, then he believes you can get this back under control without shutting down more. Do you believe that?

WEN: I think it could have happened if we did that much earlier as in, if we did all these other things that you just mentioned, that the European countries did, which is if we had brought the cases all the way down, so that we actually do have sufficient testing, contact tracing, and other infrastructure, if we had ramped up or infrastructure enough, then we can use masks and social distancing. And we would be able to keep this virus at bay.

But because we don't have those things, we need much more aggressive measures at this point because otherwise, the piecemeal solutions that we have are going to result in what we're seeing, which is these waves of infections. In some states, we control it only to have these waves crest in other places. And that's just going to continue because we don't have a national cohesive strategy.

KING: And lastly, I'm speaking to you as a parent as much as an anchor of a news program at the moment, we're about to move into August. Parents around the country are getting closer and closer to what am I going to do. Now we've seen many school districts make their decisions, a lot of school districts retreating and saying we'll at least begin the school year with online learning.

But from what you heard today, most of the Republicans were pushing schools should reopen and some of them have very good reasons. This is where a lot of underprivileged children get their food. This is a place where unfortunately, sometimes child abuse and other issues are detected only because those children are out of an abusive home.

And in the schools, the Democrats raising concerns though, about safety and about the -- especially inner cities like you're in Baltimore, to have the facilities, to have the proper social distancing. Did you learn anything helpful today, that would help a parent out there as they go through this process?

WEN: Nothing new today. But here's what we know, based on the science, we know that children can get sick. They do get less severely ill than adults do from COVID-19. We don't know how much children can spread COVID-19 compared to adults. But we know that they spread it some.

And we also know that it's going to be really unsafe to open schools if you have community transmission that's very high in that area. And so we need to very urgently curve community transmission, stop the spread, especially in places that are undergoing rapid surges, while we also invest the resources.

It's going to be expensive. It's going to be hard to implement all these resources, these new solutions to help schools stay safer, like new ways to clean and improve airflow instead of social distancing. But we have to do that because it's not a tradeoff between public health and education. Public health is the way for us to get our students safely back in school and to protect teachers and staff too.

KING: Well, we need to spend more time on it. As I say, we're passing from July into August. Dr. Leana Wen as always, appreciate your expertise and your insights and your candor.

We're going to move on now to some breaking news out of Florida. Florida today reporting its deadliest day since this pandemic began, a new record, new record in deaths for the fourth day in a row. The State of Florida reporting, you see the numbers there, more than 9,000 new cases and 257 new deaths, 257 is the daily high for deaths, 9, 000 not too high for cases.

It's been above 12,000 in some days, but that is still as Florida you might say it's in a plateau. That is still a stubbornly high level of cases there and a sad death total. And it comes on a day the President is heading to Florida for a fundraising trip. And also comes as the state as if it hasn't had enough braces now for a hurricane. The storm strengthening overnight set to impact the Bahamas today and Florida might well be next.

For more let's go to CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar. Allison, what is the path at the moment?

[12:35:04]

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So that's a good question because the models are really split at this point. So that becomes the ultimate question of what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Right now Hurricane Isaias its sustained winds of 75 miles per hour gusting up to 90 miles per hour. There is still the potential this storm could strengthen even more as it makes its way towards Florida. We do have hurricane warnings out, hurricane watches, tropical storm warnings, and tropical storm watches out basically covering the Bahamas as well as Florida.

And that new hurricane watch for Florida was some of the newest things that were just added at 11 o'clock this morning. Here's a look at where the latest track is. Notice Florida is still in the cone. I cannot emphasize that enough. Even though the models are trending eastward, they have not removed Florida entirely.

Then from there it heads up towards the Carolinas and eventually into the Northeast as we head into early next week. One thing to know, we talked about it, the split in these models here. Here you can see the American model versus the European model. The timing is also off not just the landfall location, but the European model is significantly slower.

That is also going to play a part in where this system goes because you can have other things that come into play ridges, troughs, cold fronts, those can shift and steer this particular storm based off the timing.

Here's a look at where all the models basically want to take this. Notice, there are still at least four of them that want to have a landfall over Florida. The rest of them slide it just to the east coast of Florida then making landfall perhaps over North Carolina on sometime on Monday or early Tuesday.

The winds here, this is going to be key because even if it just slides just to the east of Florida, you are still likely going to have very intense winds, Sunday going into Monday across much of Florida, John. So certainly still something we have to keep a close eye on regardless of whether this makes a technical landfall or not.

KING: We will keep on top of it as we head into the weekend and throughout the weekend. Allison Chinchar, appreciate the latest there. I'm sure we'll be speaking more in the days ahead.

Up next for us, President Trump continuing to sow doubt about the upcoming November election, the dangers of that strategy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:41:17]

KING: More false and frankly reckless attacks from the Trump White House today on mail-in voting, a major aspect as we plan to have a presidential election in just a little over three months in the middle of a pandemic.

But at least the White House seems to be backing away a bit from the President's threat yesterday, to perhaps try to delay the election. We can show you the tweet there, the President suggesting that the election should be delayed until people can properly securely and safely vote. While there are many ways for people to properly safely and securely vote.

Let's go straight to the White House in CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, there was a lot of Republican blowback to the President's idea yesterday. That's something quite rare. The election will be November 3rd. In many states, people will start voting in about five weeks and yet more scorn about mail-in voting today.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I can't think of a single Republican who backs the President on that. A lot of them thought it was a big mistake for the President to even suggest that, knowing that legally he can't do it. He didn't have any support behind it. But just the fact that he even suggested it, face its own blowback from his own party from people like you know it, who are typically hesitant to criticize the President.

And today when the press secretary was asked about this, she said that the President doesn't have a desire to move the date from November 3rd, but he's worried about it being safe. And this comes as he is trying to cast doubt on mail ballots, saying that they are going to be fraudulent, there's going to be forgery, all of these claims made by the President with no evidence to back them up.

And even his senior advisers, Stephen Miller is also making a similar argument. Listen to what he said on "Fox News" earlier in the day, and then we'll fact check after you hear what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Any foreign national talk about foreign election interference, can mail-in a ballot, it's a simple principle. One citizen one vote, emphasis on the word citizen, universal mail-in ballots are an attempt to dilute the vote of your viewers.

It's an attempt to dilute the vote of Americans who want to have their identities verified by allowing for massive endemic fraud. That is scandalous. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, during that interview, Stephen Miller also said and I'm quoting him now, nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed, nobody checks to see if they're even a U.S. citizen. John, that is very far from true. It's not even close to being true.

There are many states that for mail-in ballots I think many if not all states that have you actually sign the ballot and they verify that signature with past voter registration records. It's something that's even come under controversy from people who have said that it's disenfranchising voters.

But they do in states check your signature, you know, you get a ballot in the mail that has a barcode on it that's so you can check it and to see if it's gotten back to where it supposed to go after you've already voted by mail. But also so they can make sure, states can make sure that you haven't been forging it and there aren't duplicates.

They come with a ballot on it. It's certified through the U.S. Postal Service and third parties. There are measures in place to make sure there's not fraud when you're voting by mail. But you are not hearing that from the White House, even though, you know, there has been concerned about doing this on a large scale, which is something that officials say could be what we are facing in November, given what's going on and what the state, the country is in right now with the pandemic.

But instead of talking about, you know, boosting states when it comes to funding for testing, the White House today asked what their plan was to help states that they do, do mail-in voting. They just said it's up to states to run the election. So basically are shrugging it off on them while they're criticizing them and saying that it's going to be full of fraud and forgery.

KING: Kaitlan Collins, live for us at the White House listening to Stephen Miller. Reminder, to all of you out there who send your tax dollars to Washington, some of them are paying for xenophobia straight from the lawn of the White House. So let's continue the conversation now. CNN senior political analyst David Gergen is with us along with Julie Hirschfeld Davis, congressional editor for The New York Times.

Julie, I want to start with you on this question. We'll start on the smaller question. It's a big question, but I want to then expand the conversation. On these attacks, the President has been urged by fellow Republicans stop doing this. He keeps doing it. You see Stephen Miller right there doing it recklessly and race baiting and anti-immigrant along the way.

[12:45:11]

As he does it, Republicans are genuinely worried because in the pandemic, every state is going to have to expand absentee ballot or mail-in voting to some degree, expand early voting. And they are worried that if the President and the likes of Stephen Miller keeps saying it's full of fraud, it is Republicans who won't vote. JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, there's an issue of the President undermining people's confidence in the election, people's confidence in the democracy itself. But then there's also a question of whether you're going to dampen the enthusiasm of people to turn out and actually vote in this election. And that will be a problem for the President and for Republicans who are running for reelection just as much as it would be for his opponent, Joe Biden and Democrats.

And so they are very concerned. They all rushed to make very clear yesterday that the election is going to be November 3rd. What you didn't hear was a lot of criticism, though of this line of doubt sewing about fraud. A lot of Republicans actually echoed that. And I think that that is a concern, we're going to keep hearing from them.

And they've also not supported attempts to include billions of dollars in this recovery bill that's being debated right now, to make sure that states can carry out this election during the pandemic safely. So that's going to continue to be a point of controversy.

KING: And David, it is hard. There's so much going on. And sometimes so many reckless things being said about context is hard to come by. The past 24 hours have been quite remarkable. The President learned yesterday and all Americans learned yesterday, the bottom fell out of the American economy in the last three months of record historic drop in GDP. That was one of the reasons the President is tweeting about let's delay the election. He doesn't think the economy is going to come back like he wishes.

We also said farewell to an American hero, the congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis, and at that event, three living former presidents, one a Republican, two Democrats, you had to translate a little bit of Bill Clinton and a little bit of George W. Bush, not so much Barack Obama. Listen here, three former presidents taking issue with the current President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may no longer have to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar in order to cast a ballot. But even as we sit here, there are those in power, who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John and I had our disagreements of course. But in the America, John Lewis fought for and the America I believe, and differences of opinion, are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy and action.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're here today because he had the kind of character he showed when he lost an election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I wish we had time to even expand, David, listen to more of the former presidents in the points they were making, but it was quite remarkable.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was very remarkable. I thought it was the finest and most eloquent speech that Barack Obama has given since he left office. It reminded you of who he was and what the stark contrast in this election is shaping up to be.

Here we had these three former presidents, including one Republican who stood up in to talk about optimism, talked about hope. They came from a point of lightness. You know, they wanted to support, you know, a more robust democracy.

These are people who all believe in the role of a President is to build up the country, to build up its democratic institutions. And in contrast that with that, our sitting president skipping the event, never saying a word. of praise about this is the only Black Matters Everlane state in the U.S Capitol.

And he stands for just the opposite. He stands for darkness and just dystopian kind of world. That's the choice that voters are going to have to make in November. It's not just about policies, but it is how do you think about the world? How did -- spawn to the world, literally emotion -- one of the emotional ties to each other into the world.

KING: And Julie as this plays out, one of the reasons the President is frustrated are the numbers. You just look at this new ABC News Ipsos poll approved on the coronavirus, 34 percent, disapprove 66, approve for the President's handling of Russia relations 63 percent disapprove -- approved -- the President's handing of the protest 64 percent disapprove, two-thirds of the country essentially, within a number two, they're disapproving of the President and all of the big issues that tells you there is a wall of opposition, if you will, to this President, we have 90 days plus to go. But this is an environment where the voters are looking to make a change.

DAVIS: Well, absolutely, it is. And you know, the other big number that he looked at yesterday, and I think was very upset about and we all were was the GDP number that, you know, the economy is in a very, very bad place, it's the worst quarter ever recorded.

And that is in a lot of ways at his feet. As the President he has to be very concerned about the state of the economy. We're in the middle of this huge public health crisis. And so I think he is rightly nervous about what that is going to mean for his reelection and looking for ways to distract people and deflect from those, you know, very potent signs that, you know, that the country is on the wrong track.

[12:50:13]

KING: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, David Gergen, appreciate your insights today. We'll continue the conversation as we get closer to the election.

Up next for us, we take a closer look at the factors driving the summer coronavirus surge including foot traffic, many people leaving their homes to go back to bars and restaurants. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:55:10]

KING: Let's take a look at the state by state coronavirus trends and then some of the factors that have participated, contributed to the summer surge. First, let's just map out where we are right now. The map somewhat better as we end this workweek than it was as we began and certainly last week, 19 states heading up those are the orange and the red states the deep red states, you see New Jersey, you see Connecticut, Rhode Island back on. That means 50 percent higher this week than last week.

So we were talking about the Sun Belt and the West. Now, the Midwest and sometimes the Mid Atlantic Northeast, having some issues but 19 states going up, 24 holding steady. Those are the base states. Notably, Florida, Arizona, California, three states that have been a big part of the surge have plateaued in this past week.

Texas heading down that also is one of seven states heading down that also has been part of the trend of going up still at a high baseline. Back in Memorial Day, we were down to below 20,000 new cases a day. You see the summer surge here still 67,000 plus cases yesterday, so maybe a plateau but a plateau at a very high baseline here.

If you want to look one of the reasons things are happening, why is this happening? People are getting out and moving around more. You see this is go back to May 1st. Most states shutdown, restaurants especially, through July 26th national restaurant foot traffic up 90 percent.

One more, then we'll have a conversation about why. May 1st zero, national bar foot traffic up 158 percent. Let's bring into the conversation Jonathan Wolf, he's the Vice President of partnerships at SafeGraph. That's the company that uses this anonymous smartphone data to track and aggregate foot traffic patterns.

So May 1st, you're at zero still most of the states have shut down. There's just no doubt you see this increased traffic to bars, increased traffic to restaurants. What jumps out at you when you look through this the most in terms of the growth in the data?

JONATHAN WOLF, VP OF PARTNERSHIPS, SAFEGRAPH: Yes. Great question, John. And just in general, we've seen it foot traffic is a great leading indicator for cases when people go home, the number of cases dipped. When people go out again, the number of cases come back up, that May 1st number happens to be right around the trough. So right around the middle of April was when everyone was at home.

Sure enough, people are going out to restaurants, people are going out to bars. We're seeing a rise in cases. You were just talking about the plateau. If you notice at the end of this chart, you're seeing a plateau it's kind of stabilized over the last couple weeks. And hopefully now we can see that come back down.

KING: Stabilized because some governors have had to roll things back in those states. And so let's just come to Florida, which has been one of the hotspots states. And to me make your point, you go back to May 1st to zero. The green line is bar traffic. At one point up to 140 percent, above 200, close to 250 percent, now at 195, pushed back down by decisions in these states.

Here's your restaurant traffic here, still 105 percent. This is the state of Florida. I just want to bring in California and Florida and Texas together. These three states Jonathan are among the drivers of the summer surge and you see up and then a little bit of a push back down.

WOLF: That's exactly right. When you pointed out earlier in the show that we saw this huge surge but now it's kind of stubbornly high in Florida. It has come back down. You see that blue line has come back down, but it is stubbornly high. The traffic is meaningfully up from its low point in April in May.

KING: It's mainly that and I want to come back here and just look at these Florida hotspots here. This is going back to May 15th. The other graph showed you from May 1st. But amusement parks, family clothing stores, hotels, bars, and gyms all up. Obviously some of this necessary people maybe have been cooped up for a long time need to get things.

But what jumps out when you look at the different variations and a big huge spike in amusement parks, I guess a less of a spike of bars since May 15th but still up?

WOLF: Yes, of course. So there was of course the big reopening with Disney World and everybody is now going out to amusement parks. The concerning thing for me is you look at amusement parks, bars, gyms, these are all places where people are close together. There's a lot of talking, there's a lot of eating, a lot of open mouths.

So unfortunately, you know, unlike something like a clothing store, those other groups are high risk areas to be. So it's a troubling trend. And it's one unfortunately that's going hand in hand with the rest in cases.

KING: Right. And so just we have just a couple seconds left, I just want to come back to the map trend because we do see, you know, the plateau, if you will, still at a high number here, starting to see in the Midwest and the Northeast, states going up again, Jonathan, are you seeing in your data foot traffic? Is that part of it?

WOLF: Yes, absolutely. So in California, Florida, Texas chart, we saw the numbers were in the 20s. In the Midwest, the re-rise in traffic is in the 40s and 30 percent. So people aren't going out. And unfortunately, we're seeing a rise in cases that goes hand in hand with it.

KING: Jonathan, as always appreciate your sharing this data really helps us track how people are moving, how government responses, we'll come back and do it again.

And thank you for joining us today. Thanks for joining us. We have a great weekend come in Sunday morning if you can as well, 8 o'clock Eastern we'll be here. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good afternoon.

[13:00:01]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar. And I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.