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CDC Study Finds Efficient Spread of Virus among Kid Campers; Hurricane Barrels Toward Florida Amid Coronavirus Crisis; Senate Takes Long Weekend as Relief Expires for Millions. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 13:00   ET



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

Breaking news in the fight against coronavirus as schools debate across America over reopening. A new study is raising questions about how the coronavirus spreads among children.

CNN's Natasha Chen is joining us with details on this. And, Natasha, I know this is a study that a lot of parents will be curious about this. Look at how the disease spread throughout Georgia overnight summer camp. Tell us what it found.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. This is very important for what we can learn from this camp to the schools reopening in the fall. And forgive me, I am just reading this report, of course, this report is brand new. So we'll be looking at this right alongside you.

But, overall, what we're seeing from this report is that nearly 600 people, that includes staff and student campers, were at this camp in mid to late June in Georgia. And of those people, just over half of them were tested for coronavirus when some people started to feel sick.

So keep in mind, not everyone was tested for COVID-19. But of those people tested, three quarters of them about were tested positive for COVID-19.

And this just goes to show and the CDC reports this, that this means children are very susceptible to testing positive and spreading this virus and giving this virus to people who are older. So just imagine what that means for schools now trying to debate opening school buildings for the fall.

Let's go into a little bit of detail here to show you what the CDC actually recommends for summer camp. So we will have -- let me pull that up here. CDC recommends staying at home when appropriate, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, clothe face coverings, ensuring ventilation systems operate properly. And now, here, let's show you what the CDC says was not followed by this camp. Cloth masks were not worn by the campers. Windows and doors not opened for increased ventilation in the buildings. Camp attendees were cohorted by cabin, engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering.

So, in other words, this CDC report says that this camp did not follow a lot of the safety and health guidelines that were recommended.

If we can pull up another graphic that shows you the percentage of those who got sick by age group, so 51 percent of kids age 6 to 10, 44 percent of kids age 11 to 17, and then the rest, 33 percent of ages 18 to 21.

When we look at this situation, we see that, you know, a lot of the staffers were actually teenagers and so you're seeing a lot of spread of this virus among people between 11 and 17. And it's not that younger kids aren't getting sick either. They definitely were. And they were passing it to the people who were older. In fact, the report states that the first person to feel sick and go home with fevers and chills was a teenage staff member.

So this is something to consider when we're looking at all of these school districts across the country figuring out how rapidly kids actually spread this virus and what this means for the older teachers and staffers perhaps in the school buildings.

So that's definitely very alarming information, but the bottom line, Brianna, is that hundreds of people got sick here because the CDC says this camp was not following guidelines.

KEILAR: And you can see why. Thank you for outlining that for us, Natasha Chen, with the report for us.

I want to bring in Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. He is a viral specialist and internal medicine doctor. Dr. Rodriguez, thank you, again, for being with us.

Tell us your about what your thoughts on what we just heard.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: I'm alarmed, to be quite honest. Even I'm surprised by this. I'm not -- obviously, this is what I think is just harbinger of things to come.

I think, A, people need to be serious about the fact that we always, no matter what, whether it's kids or not, we need to follow the recommendations of mask and distancing. So, people that are in close quarters, whether it's a school class of 30 kids or a camp, you have to realize that in that confined environment, the virus is going to spread a lot more easily.

So, my concern is that people are not realizing that children, no matter what age, and teenagers not only get the virus but spread the virus. There was a study recently that showed that kids ages one to five have 10 to 100 times more virus in the nose than adults or teenagers. So I'm afraid that we are embarking on this national experiment with our children to see exactly what happens.


So whether it's palatable or not, kids and high school students and junior high school students need to follow recommendations. And the classes need to be limited in size if they're going to open at all.

So, this is kind of scary when you ask me.

KEILAR: Yes. And I wonder how you think officials are going to use the information as they decide when and how to reopen schools. Do you think it will have an affect or do you think the kind of -- the cake is already baked when it comes to what teachers and parents are thinking right now?

RODRIGUEZ: I actually think it will be used. I was reading some statistics yesterday on some of the largest school districts in the country. And I think they're starting to pay attention and listening to the parents. And a lot of the largest school districts in this country are going either to online teaching or a hybrid of both, which I think is a step in the right direction.

Listen, if I had my druthers, schools probably would not open in the hotbed areas at all until we see what's going on. So, I'm hopeful that they'll take this information and cut back if nothing else on the congestion of class load with kids.

KEILAR: Yes. All right, Dr. Rodriguez, thank you so much. Stay with me if you will.

Six months into America's fight against the coronavirus, there is no grand plan. That is the headline out of four hours of testimony from the nation's top scientists and taskforce members on Capitol Hill. There's no plan to test more people, there's no plan to speed up results, no plan to step up contact tracing, no guidance on how to realistically reopen schools safely across the country.

The only real takeaway is that much of the rest of the world seems to understand what it takes to control this virus in a more effective way while the U.S. is completely lost.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you look at the comparison between Asia and Europe, as is shown by the chairman's poster up there, that when they shut down, they shut down to the tune of about 95 percent, getting their baseline down to tens or hundreds of cases per day.

When we did it, we got it down but, unfortunately, our baseline is 20,000 a day.

I think there was such a diversity of response in this country from different states that we really did not have a unified bringing everything down.


KEILAR: Dr. Rodriguez, what is your reaction to what we're learning from top government officials with Dr. Fauci essentially saying that this got screwed up from the beginning and now we are paying for it?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, he is absolutely right. You can go back and then, listen, there are a lot of fingers that we can point. But from the beginning, first of all, there was no set government agency to handle this. This was dismantled before that. And a lot of it, if not most of it, comes from the fact that there was no clear leadership.

I have friends in Italy and when this started there, they were locked down. You couldn't go out of your house unless you got permission to go to the grocery store. You had to carry a certificate. People that were sick were brought food to their home. They were fined if they went out. But there was a unified national plan, which is something that we lacked.

And, unfortunately, I think the fact that we left it to the states, even though we had great state leadership, we don't have any boundaries between states. People traveled. And that's something that I was saying from the beginning. So, yes, did we screw it up from the beginning? Yes.

But right now, the politicization of this has created the fact that there's approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of the people that just don't want to goat on board. And that has lowered the resolve, I think, of most of the people in this country to really do something about it, and that starts with leadership at the top.

KEILAR: This week, we have been seeing the president's task force members contradicting him several times. Let's listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Frankly, a lot of the country is doing well. A lot of people don't say it, as you understand. But we have had this big flare-up in Florida, Texas, a couple of other places.

FAUCI: We are certainly not at the end of the game. I'm not even sure we are halfway through. I mean, obviously -- and if you want to do a score, I don't want to get too cute about it but, certainly, we are not winning the game right now.

TRUMP: Young people are almost immune to this disease, the younger the better.

FAUCI: Now you get this study, which is interesting, that says younger children up to five years old have many, many more times virus in their nasal pharynx than adults do, which would mean it would be a reasonable assumption that they would be able to transmit the virus.

TRUMP: Many doctors think it is extremely successful, the hydroxychloroquine, coupled with the zinc and perhaps the zithromyacin. But many doctors think it's extremely good, and some people don't. DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We know in the randomized-controlled trials to date, and there's been several of them, that there's not evidence that it improves those patient's outcomes.


FAUCI: Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

TRUMP: The United States has conducted over 52 million tests, that's more than all of Europe put together times two. Nobody is even close.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I was doing brain surgery on someone. We could get a CAT scan on them, we can get coagulation numbers on them, we can get cardiac testing on them, but we couldn't get a COVID test on the patient.

The end of July now, sir, that seems like that's not acceptable at this point.



KEILAR: I mean, what do you think about that? He says it shouldn't be acceptable. How damaging is it, Dr. Rodriguez, that the national response being when where it is, the president still isn't on the same page as science?

RODRIGUEZ: I think that's probably the most damaging thing that is happening right now. And, you know, sometimes we doctors are told to stay in our lane when we start to talk politics. But very, you know, sort of intermeshed, I think politicians need to stay in their lane when they start talking medicine, because at the end of the day, you don't want an opinion to be driven by a political agenda and, unfortunately, that's happening.

I have known Anthony Fauci or worked circumferentially around him for 30 years when it comes to HIV. His reputation is stellar. But if there's any criticism is I think that the scientists and the doctors need to step up. And I know that they're walking a very thin line in contradicting the president but they need to say, which they're saying now, this is what science tells us.

This is not a hoax. If this is a hoax it is the whole world in on a hoax. So I think at every misstep, at every mistruth that is told by politicians, it's the obligation of people like me and other physicians and scientists to come out and say, hey, that is not the truth. And I think they're now really doing that a lot better than they used to be doing it.

KEILAR: But what -- what do you mean when you say you want them to basically do more? You're saying they're doing better but you want them to do more. Knowing they work on the White House coronavirus task force, do you want them to specifically say this person said such and such, that's incorrect?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, yes, I do, because --

KEILAR: And if they get fired?

RODRIGUEZ: That is an unfortunate result. And I know that is what I meant that they are walking a very tight rope and a very thin line, because a person like Anthony Fauci is going to do a lot more good being in that position than being removed from that position and then someone that is a lackey, if you will, to the president coming in and just repeating the party line. So I get where they come from.

So I don't -- you know, I respect what they're doing. But, yes, every time that the president comes out and says, hey, hydroxychloroquine is good, you know, to prevent or to treat the coronavirus, they need to come out say, no, actually, that is not the truth. And they're being muzzled if you will because they're not being -- they're not able to be there at the same time when the president says this.

So, right now, they're doing the best they can. Before, you know, sometimes they were just stay idly by and nod. And I recognize it's a difficult, difficult position to be in. So if that means having press conferences, making press releases, like they're doing now, that's what needs to be done.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Rodriquez, thank you so much. Always great to see you.

Florida is setting a new record for COVID deaths for the fourth straight day as a hurricane barrels toward the state. We're going to take you there.

Plus, a California gym that defied orders now has an outbreak.

And one state says children can come to school even if they're exposed to someone is infected.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: Florida is setting a new record for COVID deaths for the fourth straight day, reporting an additional 257 lives lost to coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

But now, another threat is barreling toward Florida. A hurricane watch in effect for parts of the state as the second hurricane of the Atlantic season bears down on the Bahamas.

Let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye. She's in Palm Beach County, Florida, for us.

Tell us, Randi, how the state is preparing for the storm now in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. I mean, just imagine preparing as we're getting word that we have more than 9,000 new cases today, still more than 6,800 Floridians have lost their lives and 8,400 are still in the hospital here, and now we have this hurricane barreling toward Florida.

It is supposed to arrive at some point tonight, we believe. We were in a tropical storm watch zone. Now, we are in a hurricane watch zone. So we are really going from bad to worse here.

And the question is, how do you deal with a hurricane, as you said, in the middle of a pandemic? How do you social distance? How do you evacuate? We know that FEMA has been checking with their teams to make sure that they have PPE.

But in the meantime, we have these state-run testing sites where they have been testing people for COVID, most of those have shut down. They've reopened on the west coast because of the track of the storm has changed, but still so many here in Palm Beach County, eight closed here. 13 have closed in the hardest hit county of Miami-Dade. In all in three counties, we have 33 state-run testing sides that have closed, including Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade and Broward County.


But, Brianna, the governor held a press conference just a short time ago and he did give an update. He said that they have enough supplies, and let me just give you some of the list that he read off. He said they have PPE reserved, they have 20 million masks, 22 million gloves, 1.6 million face shields, 20,000 thermometers, 9.4 million bottles of water and 2.6 million meals ready to go as well.

They also have generators. He said they have the most amount of generators they've ever had, 50 generators and 100 percent of the nursing homes, he said, and long-term care facilities will have generators on site as well, Brianna. So they're certainly trying to do their part to keep everyone safe.

KEILAR: All right. Randi, thank you so much for that update, double threat there in Florida.

And Indiana student tests positive for coronavirus on the very first day back to school. Parents of students at Greenfield Central Junior High were notified by email last night and they were told that the student was immediately isolated.

The building had been closed since March when Indiana shut down all schools in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Let's check in with CNN reporters who are covering this pandemic across the country.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro. A new study published from the journal, JAMA Open Access, says students can return to college safely in the fall if schools screen them frequently for the coronavirus to control outbreaks.

Researchers found that screening college students every two days using a rapid, inexpensive, less sensitive, test along with strict adherence to masks and hand washing is the most cost effective way for colleges to manage infections.

The study's lead author warns that colleges that can't set up a system like that should rethink reopening plans.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Simon in San Francisco. The State of Utah will allow students to go to school this fall even if they have direct contact with coronavirus as long as they're not showing any symptoms and as long as no one in their household has tested positive.

Utah health officials say this will allow children to remain in the classroom as much as possible and they likened it to the same policy that is in place for essentially workers. Schools are being encouraged for in-person classes and this is giving them the latitude to operate.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam in California.

A gym in San Diego has experienced an outbreak of coronavirus, this as the Health Department says that the business kept its indoor operations open for several days after being ordered to close them.

Now, while it is not clear how many infections are tied back to the gym, the Health Department says that it considers three infections or more tied to one location an outbreak.

At this point, the gym is facing a misdemeanor charge and a fine of potentially $1,000. The business did not respond to CNN's request for comment.


KEILAR: Thank you to the colleagues there.

The Senate deciding to take a long three-day weekend on the very day that COVID relief expires for millions of Americans and they are still nowhere close to a deal.

Plus, a man who lost his mother to coronavirus has a message for those refusing to wear masks and he will join us.

And Major League Baseball in complete disarray as yet another game is postponed due to more infected players.



KEILAR: Tonight at midnight, a critical unemployment benefit that has kept millions of families afloat during these tough financial times is set to expire. People receiving unemployment checks will no longer see that additional $600 per week from the federal government on top of their state unemployment check.

But instead of hunkering to work out a last-minute deal, the Senate is on a break, even as the U.S. Census Bureau says that nearly 30 million people did not have enough food to eat in the last week. And with no new deal in place, many families are left to wonder what happens next.


PAMELA FRINK, GEORGIA RESIDENT: So now that I have the fear or the knowing that it will end soon is kind of like, okay, so now what do I do to be able maintain my livelihood?

Please don't make us go back to being able to possibly call a shelter because we can't afford to pay our rent for this month or the next two months.


KEILAR: CNN Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill. Lauren, tell us where are negotiations right now.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Brianna, they're stalled. And I'll tell you that lawmakers last night met on Capitol Hill in Nancy Pelosi's office with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. And while there were some offers from the White House to temporarily extend this extra $600 a week benefit that so many people are depending on, the Democrats didn't agree to that because what they argue is they need a broader stimulus bill.

Essentially, they're saying we can't just have a short-term agreement on this extra $600 a week. What we need to do is get people back to school. We need more money for the SBAs, Small Business Program, we need more money when it comes to state and local funding. The fear is because there is so much emphasis on this $600 benefit, the fear is that if you let this go as a standalone bill, you lose leverage in future negotiations.


So I'll tell you that this is not going to be any comfort to the people who depend on this money.