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Dr. Birx: U.S. in 'New Phase' of Pandemic with More Widespread Cases; Tropical Storm Isaias Strengthens Overnight; NYT: Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Vaccine Project; Negotiations to Resume Over Coronavirus Relief Bill. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 3, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. continues to report more cases and more deaths than any other country.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: No matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very frustrating as an epidemiologist to see these case numbers continuing to rise without a national strategy, without adequate testing. And these numbers are going to continue to go up until we do have these things in place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Hurricane Center talking about this being potentially a Category 1 hurricane within the next 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not too worried. We have generators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Storm surge is always the biggest threat. The heavy rainfall, the gusty winds that could be upwards of 70 miles per hour.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, August 3, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me today.

I understand someone had a birthday.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman, nothing gets past you.

BERMAN: I know, because I just asked you, was it your birthday? You said yes. Happy birthday.

HILL: Thank you, my friend.

BERMAN: Belated.

All right. This morning, the United States is in a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, and new here does not mean good.

Dr. Deborah Birx tells CNN that this phase is different from March and April because the virus now is so extraordinarily widespread. California just became the first state to reach a half million cases. Florida will likely hit that milestone this week. The daily death rate is rising in 30 states.

The CDC now predicts 19,000 more Americans will die in the next 20 days, and that could be a conservative estimate.

For millions of Americans, enhanced unemployment benefits have expired. Extra money that so many have depended on is gone. And leaders in Washington have failed to reach a new deal on new measures. Negotiations will continue this morning.

And with more than 150,000 Americans dead in this pandemic, an unprecedented health crisis, the president missed his own self-imposed deadline to announce a new healthcare plan.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've been in office three and a half years. You don't have a plan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we haven't had -- excuse me. You heard me yesterday. We're signing a healthcare plan within two weeks.


BERMAN: So he promised a new healthcare plan within two weeks. That interview ran two weeks and one day ago. Deadline missed. Unless he was lying about announcing a new healthcare plan in the first place.

HILL: Well, on top of all of that, of course, and specifically the pandemic, there's a strong tropical storm bearing down on the Carolinas, forecast to become a hurricane today before making landfall tonight.

Isaias has already brought powerful wind and drenching rain to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Florida. There are tropical storm watches and warnings that stretch all the way up the East Coast into Maine. We have a live report and Isaias' latest track coming up.

But we do begin with the latest on the coronavirus. Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles this morning with our top story.

Steph, good morning.


When you take a look at it, it's not fun, but it's not hard, either. Yet, health officials saying Americans are hardly doing their part when it comes to stopping this pandemic.

This as California had a record weekend.


ELAM (voice-over): California was the first state to shut down, and now it's the first to have more than half a million coronavirus cases.

On Sunday, the state recorded almost 509,200 total infections. But back when California began reopening in May, there were roughly 64,600 cases.

PELOSI: Governor Newsom contained and controlled how this spread in the beginning. When the opening up took place, we had more cases. And that should be instructive to others. The virus is vicious. And you have to have shelter in place, as long as you need it.

ELAM: California added over 9,000 new cases yesterday. On May 8, it was just over 2,000. The rise hitting major cities like San Francisco hard. And state leaders fear it's because residents are becoming too relaxed when practicing social distancing.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO: We have to get more comfortable with changing how we interact with one another. This has been the biggest challenge when we find out through our contact tracing teams, the fact that people are still coming together in large groups and family groups. This is where people are spreading the virus.

ELAM: In Los Angeles, the county health department is now investigating this party for first responders at a Hollywood bar, despite businesses being required to close indoor operations.

Top health officials say Americans following preventative measures like wearing masks could have positive long-term effects on fighting the coronavirus.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH: Wearing a mask is incredibly important, but we have to have, like 85 or 90 percent of individuals wearing a mask, and avoiding crowds. That is essentially -- gives you the same outcome as a complete shutdown.

ELAM: This as Dr. Deborah Birx warns the United States has already entered a new phase of the pandemic.

BIRX: What we're seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural, as equal urban areas. No matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.


ELAM: The CDC now predicts 19,000 more Americans could die from the coronavirus over the next 20 days if the current trajectory continues.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, PHYSICIAN: Some more serious measures need to be taken in order to flatten the curve. I'm concerned that the -- the sort of complacency we've seen with coronavirus has led to these mass gatherings and a general sort of disagreement with the science, in many parts of the country.


ELAM: Now, the data shows that people are moving around more, but health officials are saying people really need to stop gathering in those large groups.

And even though you know someone doesn't mean you know that they are healthy and without the virus. So just pretend that everyone you come in contact with could potentially have that virus. And then if you do that, then we might be able to get these numbers to come down, John.

BERMAN: Yes. Keep your guard up. Stephanie Elam for us in Los Angeles. Stephanie, thanks so much.

All right. Breaking news, Tropical Storm Isaias gaining strength overnight and taking aim at the Carolinas as a potential hurricane.

CNN's Chad Myers has the latest track and the timing. And Chad, I mean, this could really be a problem for a lot of people all up the East Coast.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Anywhere from Charleston all the way up to Wrightsville Beach and, for that matter, even into the Cape Hatteras area, but this storm probably did get stronger overnight.

The radar presentation looks a little bit better. We haven't had a hurricane hunter in the storm since about 1 a.m. We're waiting for another one to fly in, to figure out whether the pressure has continued to go down, and obviously, that would make the wind speeds go up.

Hurricane warnings are here in red across parts of South Carolina and North Carolina. This is going to stay in the water until landfall, probably somewhere around Myrtle Beach or slightly farther to the east of there.

So we're not going to get this into Savannah or Tybee or really even into Charleston, but you're going to get the surge, the wind coming from the same direction, pushing all of that water into Charleston, in Myrtle's Inlet, into Myrtle Beach itself, washing away a lot of the beach in some of these areas, and also bringing down some trees, bringing down some power lines. We'll have some widespread power outages here.

And it's not like we have one spot where all the crews can go and put the power lines back up. We have a wide swath. Thousands of miles where trees have been coming down here because we're going to see a lot of rainfall and even with wind to 60, if that tree is saturated in rain, it's going to have no roots to hold it up. So get ready for that.

An awful lot of rain, all the way up, even toward the northeast. The surge, about 3 to 5 feet, on top of high tide. And today, or last night, was full moon. And so therefore, this is the highest tide of the month. You add that to the 3 to 5 inches of surge feet of surge, you certainly have the possibility of some surge into Charleston, into some areas there that are so vulnerable with the wind coming from the east, pushing the water back up the rivers, John.

BERMAN: Sounds like some dangerous ingredients here, potentially, Chad. People need to stay alert over the next 24 to 48 hours. All the way up to New England, I think, based on where this storm direction is. All right, Chad, appreciate it.

So what is the strategy to deal with this new phase of the coronavirus? Deborah Birx says they changed plans five or six weeks ago. Where's the evidence those plans are working? That's next. That's next.



BERMAN: A dire new warning from one of the top members of the White House coronavirus task force.


BIRX: We are in a new phase. And that's why I really wanted to make it clear to the American people. It's why we started putting out governor reports, directly to the health officials and the governors, in every single state. Because we could see that each thing had to be tailored. This epidemic right now is different, and it's wide -- it's more widespread. And it's both rural and urban.


BERMAN: Joining us now, William Haseltine. He's the chair and president of Access International, Health International, author of "A Family Guide to COVID."

Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

Dr. Deborah Birx in this interview with Dana over the weekend said we're in a new phase of this pandemic and said that the administration pivoted about five or six weeks ago. They adjusted to this new phase. Well, if that's true, given where we are today and what we're seeing, what does it say about the quality of the new plan that they took five or six weeks ago?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, AUTHOR, "A FAMILY GUIDE TO COVID": Well, regardless of what plans people have made, this epidemic is now out of control. And it's out of control mostly because of our own behavior.

People have not taken the consistent warnings of our health officials seriously. They are gathering in private and in public places, without adequate protection. They're ignoring the advice.

And the virus doesn't care what people would like. It does what it can do and takes advantage of our behavior. These viruses evolved over a long period of time to be adapted to the way we behave. If we congregate, they will spread.

HILL: If we congregate. So Dr. Birx also saying, it's not the super spreading individuals, but these super spreading events. We hear that from Dr. Birx.

And then we heard Admiral Giroir saying, if everybody just wears a mask and social distances, we're not going to have to worry about another lockdown.

There is a slight gap in those two responses that we're hearing from both of these officials on the task force. What really needs to be done at this point, because to John's point, I'm not sure what the reset was five to six weeks ago.

HASELTINE: You have to do more than just wear masks and keep social distance. You have to minimize your contact with as many people as possible. And if you do have to work, you have to assure that the workplace is safe and you can work safely of at a distance and protected, while you work. Those are the two most important things that you can do, in addition to wearing masks and keeping your 6-foot distance. Just don't meet many people. Meet as few people as you can.


It's not that complicated, but it is hard to do psychologically. It's hard to do sociologically, and it's extremely hard to do for young people who have a biological necessity to get together.

BERMAN: I was listening really carefully and closely to the interview with Dr. Birx, and it really did seem as if her level of concern had amped up substantially over the last few weeks. And some of the things she was suggesting were more severe or stricter than we've heard before.

For instance, Professor, she said that people should consider wearing masks at home. Now, she said, that's if you live with someone who's older or vulnerable, or who has a co-morbidity. Still, that was the first time I ever heard her say quite so publicly, consider wearing masks at home. What do you make of that?

HASELTINE: Well, it is clear that one of the major ways this virus is transmitted is in family groups. If one member of the family gets infected, the others can be infected, and we can now trace that very accurately. We can see that, in fact, young children are efficient infectors of an entire family. That's not a surprise, because we all know that's true for cold viruses.

And we always have to remember, this is a cold virus with a very bad consequence. But it is, at essence, everything that we know about colds, we know about this virus. Young kids may not get so sick, but they give it to the adults, and one adult will give it to another. So family and small-unit transmission is a major factor here. And you've got to be careful within families, as well as in -- outside the -- outside the house. HILL: As we look at some of the numbers from July, the U.S. Added

almost 2 million cases in July.

But the average for deaths, too, that number really stood out to me. At the beginning of the month, it was about 500 a day, on average. At the end of the month, 1,000 a day on average. And we know that deaths lag at least two to four weeks.

Moving forward, what are we looking at?

HASELTINE: Well, we're looking at an enormous crisis that's out of control. And I think what you're hearing in the voices of our leading public health officials is extreme worry that they don't see an end in sight to this. That is the issue that they're looking at.

And no matter how fast we may get a vaccine, it's not going to be in time to stop some really devastating events in terms of rising number of deaths.

I'd like to make another point. And that is, we count the dead, but we don't count the wounded. Every day, every week that goes by, we understand the long-term consequences of those who are infected, even the asymptomatic. There's now evidence that people who are asymptomatic, even though they don't know they've been infected, have their total activity degraded. Either you're an elite athlete and you've been asymptomatic, your performance is degraded, or you're a young person and you can't do the kind of work you did before.

That's minor compared to the 20 percent of people who are sick who are going to have heart disease, lung disease, and cognitive dysfunction for the rest of their life.

BERMAN: Professor --

HASELTINE: These are serious --

BERMAN: It is very serious. And thank you for bringing that up.

I know you watch vaccine development and track the timing very carefully, and you have for your whole career. "The New York Times" has an article this morning about voices raising concern that the administration might put a political deadline or speed up the process for political reasons.

And there's a quote and it has to do with Jared Kushner, obviously, the president's son-in-law. It says, "Jared Kushner, who is helping steer the re-election campaign from the White House, is a regular participant in meetings of a board formed to oversee the vaccine effort. They ask regularly about October, a date that hangs over the effort. Trump campaign advisers privately call a pre-election vaccine, quote, 'the holy grail'."

What concerns do you have about the politicization of this?

HASELTINE: Well, I've been concerned about this from the very beginning, not only in the United States, but elsewhere. And we've actually seen that come to pass.

We've seen the Chinese approve a vaccine for their military and civil servants. And it cannot have been quality tested for safety or efficacy.

We've seen the same thing now in Russia.

And I think that there is no reason to suspect that that same political pressure is being brought to bear on every aspect of vaccine development.

I haven't worked in vaccines for many, many years, as have many people in the same business that I'm in. And it will not be possible to assure the safety of a vaccine by the end of this year. All you have to do is listen to the CEO of Merck, Ken Tracer, who's been very specific about the fact that it cannot be done this year.

Yes, we can have a vaccine that has some efficacy and has some safety profile, but it is not going to stop this epidemic in time for the election.


BERMAN: Professor Haseltine, we always appreciate your insight. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HASELTINE: You're welcome. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Talks set to resume a little bit later today between the White House and Congress over extending economic relief for millions of Americans, Americans who have been depending on these expanded unemployment benefits. They have expired. Is there any chance they'll see this money again soon?


HILL: Negotiations continue today between Congress and the White House on a desperately-needed economic relief bill. But they've already missed a key deadline. That supplemental $600-a-week unemployment benefit expired on Friday.

Let's bring in CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans and CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, also Axios's White House editor.


You know, as we look at all of this, Christine, I thought you made a really interesting point, in that looking at whether this supplemental $600 weekly benefit is a disincentive for people to go out and find a job, actually misses the point about where the jobs are.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: There just aren't the jobs to go back to. Look, in normal times, we can have a philosophical conversation about whether unemployment benefits keep people at home or keep them on the sidelines. These are not normal times. A third of the labor market that was working at the beginning of March

has filed for unemployment benefits at sometime this summer, and there is a pandemic. So this is not about disincentivizing work. This is about a pandemic that's keeping people from getting jobs, because the jobs aren't there.

The unemployment rate is 11 percent. So that's -- that's a conversation for a whole other time.

The other part of this problem here is that so many of these people who have lost their jobs and have this $600 a week extra, for the first time ever, they're actually making something close to a living wage. I mean, it took huge government intervention to do that. And now taking it away on Friday is about $18 billion a week, according to Bank of America, out of their pockets right away a week and out of the economy.

That is a foreseeable brick wall that we just hit -- hit in the economy that's going to be very difficult. There's no time to lose for them to figure this out.

BERMAN: A foreseeable brick wall that was looming for months. And they crashed into it with their eyes wide open.

And Margaret Talev, I'm not sure I understand the state of the negotiations, because the White House, the Republicans have come to the table unable to reach an agreement within their own ranks, and it does seem like Nancy Pelosi is just standing there going, I'm waiting. I'm waiting.


Well, that's right. We've seen Mitch McConnell, to some extent, hang back on the sidelines as the White House has taken the lead on these talks. And we'll see Mark Meadows and Steve Mnuchin continue to reengage here with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

But look, there are a couple of things going on. And one is exactly as Christine says, this issue of consumer spending. When you take this money out of the system, it's not like if you're pulling in $600 a week, you're stashing tons away for a rainy day or, you know, planning long-term. This is money that goes right into the economy.

When you take it out of the economy, that's an added pressure in the middle of an election year, as the two parties are about to head toward the conventions.

But there have been these other sideline issues that are part of the negotiations, right? Things like funding the U.S. Postal Service, how it's going to affect mail-in balloting. Whether you have liability protection for employers, which the Republicans have been pushing hard for.

And even as the $600 is a key point of the negotiations, and even as it will absolutely affect the people who have been counting on that money, these other issues also have yet to be resolved and are part of what's been slowing down the progress on this.

HILL: One of those issues is state and local funding, Christine, which Mnuchin said very clearly, is not going to be part of their plan. But we know it is part of the Democrats' plan.

ROMANS: And guess -- yes, Democrats have already passed big aid for state and local governments. But guess what? If you don't bail out the state and local governments. And maybe bailout is not the right word, but if you don't have funding for state and local governments here, there will be more layoffs, right? And that's exactly what you don't want.

You don't want to be laying off teachers and firefighters and public servants on the state and local levels. And that's what will happen if they can't balance some of these budgets, which they can't, because the revenues are down so sharply here.

I think the two most visible things in a stimulus for the American people, for main street, are -- are a check that comes in the mail. Looks like they'll be doing that. And then these extra unemployment benefits. We're talking about millions of people, millions of people who are getting this aid, and now it's going to disappear. That is something that's going to be a real problem for a V-shaped recovery if the president still thinks he's going to get that.

BERMAN: Margaret Talev, on the subject of deadlines missed, I can't help but notice that the president did not announce or sign, as he promised he would, some giant new healthcare plan by yesterday. He went on an interview. He went on FOX TV, told Chris Wallace, two and a half weeks ago, Within two weeks, I'm going to sign a completely new healthcare plan. It didn't happen. So what does that tell us?

TALEV: It tells us -- well, tells us that a healthcare plan isn't ready, doesn't -- not only isn't it ready, it isn't remotely ready.

But also, like, put that in perspective for a second. Nothing is happening until this gets resolved. Nothing is happening until this issue over the next stimulus gets resolved, because the country cannot function right now without both a working economy and basic health protections.

And so, as the August recesses sort of begin, nobody is going home. These talks are going to continue every day. And we can't expect any progress on anything else right now.

BERMAN: Grim. All right, Margaret Talev, Christine Romans, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HILL: Nice to see you.

We are now three months away from election day, and there's still one big question. Who will be Joe Biden's running mate? We have the latest on the veepstakes, next.