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Isaias Pounds East Coast with Powerful Winds & Downpours; Two Teens Die from COVID Complications in Florida; Trump Claims U.S. is Doing Better Than Other Countries Despite Rising Death Toll; Stimulus Talks Continue on Capitol Hill. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August 4, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And breaking overnight, Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, and today is predicted to bring the strongest winds to New York City since Superstorm Sandy.

The storm hit as a Category 1 hurricane. It's now weakened slightly to a tropical storm. Isaias has already caused widespread blackouts, flooding, and fires. Tropical storm warnings extend as far north as Maine at this hour. So we'll get a live report for you and the latest storm track in just a moment.

fires. Tropical storm warnings extend fires. Tropical storm warnings extend as far north as Maine at this hour. So we'll get a live report for you and the latest storm track in just a moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight, a new interview with President Trump, where he's asked about the alarming rise in coronavirus deaths in the United States. His answer betrays either a stunning lack of understanding of the trend or a stunning lack of honesty about it. Maybe both.

Overnight, the president also blasted out a new demand to open schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci says while the default should be to open schools, the primary determinant should be the safety, health, and welfare of children, and there are new concerns.

Two more children, teenagers, have died from coronavirus complications in Florida, and new studies point to testing and contact tracing as the key to opening schools safely. Those are problem areas for America, to say the least.

We also have new reporting this morning on the negotiations over a new economic rescue plan. As of this moment, with huge economic suffering, we see more finger-pointing than progress. Let's begin with the latest on Tropical Storm Isaias, which has made

landfall and is wreaking some havoc. Brian Todd live in Virginia Beach -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, officials here telling people, do not underestimate this storm, just because it's been downgraded to a tropical storm.

We're getting pounded with some strong winds here. The gusts are going to be up to 85 miles an hour. That's hurricane strength, when you get hit with one of those gusts. And we're getting some rain bands now moving through the area right now, as this moves in kind of a circular motion, as tropical storms and hurricanes do.

We dodged a bit of a bullet last hour. There was a tornado warning for the area not far from here, just northwest of here, in Yorktown, Virginia. That seems to have come and gone without a major touchdown, but we're still going to try to chase some reports of any damage from that.

You know, what is a big deal here is going to be storm surge later on. Now, high tide is not for a few more hours, but what's going to be really a problem, as I kind of take you down here -- you can see the -- the beach patrol here trying to get people off the boardwalk, as the -- you can see some of the storm surge in the Atlantic Ocean just behind me here.

High tide's not for a few hours, but the problem here in southern Virginia, John, is that there are lots of narrow rivers, small rivers, tributaries and creeks all over the place. It's a very low-lying area with lots of water, lots of inlets coming from the ocean and from the bays. And when the water hits there in any kind of a storm surge, it doesn't have many places to go. So, some of the low-lying neighborhoods are going to get flooded.

We have already had reports of some roads closed in this area, some bridges closed because of trees down. At least 5,000 customers just in the Virginia Beach area are without power following, as we've been reporting, overnight and yesterday, more than 300,000 people in North Carolina getting their power knocked out. That's going to be a problem, of course, as this storm moves up the coast through Virginia and into New England.

You see some of the strong winds here. This is on Atlantic Avenue here in Virginia Beach. We've seen debris kind of whipping around here, Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street down here, some trash bins upended.

And again, we're just getting -- it's really just starting to grind into this area in earnest. It's going to get worse in the next few hours. They are worried about flooding, and they're telling people, stay off the roads. Virginia State Police warning people, stay off the roads and avoid those, you know, large puddles that you think you can drive through, when you cannot. Those are very dangerous. That's going to get more dangerous as we go along this morning, John.

CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Brian. Thank you very much for -- particularly for that important warning. Thank you for that.

Let's get more on the storm's track. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us. So, what are you seeing? What time are things going to hit and where?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Looks like 3 a.m. for New York City will be the worst. This was an 85-mile-per-hour storm in the water making landfall there in North Carolina, and it will be very close to Philadelphia with its eye, with its center.

But most of the heavy wind will be east of there, and so, it will continue up to the north. We will be -- this storm will be in Canada in less than 20 hours. That's how quickly it's moving.

Because it's moving quickly, it isn't going to lose all of its power like a typical landfalling hurricane does. It is continuing to be a 65-, maybe 70-mile-per-hour-gust storm, even over New York City proper.

The rain right now is into Virginia/North Carolina, moving on up toward D.C. Heavy rainfall and heavy wind will bring trees down, will bring power lines down.

And we even have a few storms that are rotating with small tornadoes possible today. That always happens, because the storm is already spinning. When one more storm comes onshore, you can get that storm to spin, as well.

Four to six inches of rainfall will be the big story, and the wind coming in, as well. This is going to be the problem. We're going to stop this at 3 p.m. That should be the heaviest area here of wind for Long Island, for Staten Island, all the way even into most of the coastal areas of New Jersey.


Toms River, you could be flooding with that surge coming in, that area. Maybe even a little bit of surge up the Hudson.

But for the most part, this is going to be a power problem. Already now, I've been adding these up this morning. They just go up and up and up: 500,000 customers without power. That means, what, 1.5 million people right now without power, John.

BERMAN: Yes. It's tough. And of course, obviously, with the pandemic, sometimes it's hard to get the work to get the lines back up and running again. People need that power.

Don't sleep on this storm, Chad. It's going to affect a lot of people. Thanks so much for being with us. Keep us updated throughout the morning.

New developments overnight in the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed about 156,000 Americans. Two more children, teenagers, have died of coronavirus complications in Florida. And in a new interview, the president says that the death toll -- now above 155,000 in this country -- quote, "is what it is."

CNN's Rosa Flores live in Miami with the latest here. I know, Rosa, in Florida, more than 40 hospitals still at ICU capacity.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, you're absolutely right. And the legal battle here in this state still continues over whether or not to reopen schools. Just think about that for just a second.

Here are the facts. According to the Florida Department of Health, there are more than 38,000 children in this state who have contracted the coronavirus. Nearly 400 have been hospitalized. And unfortunately, seven total have died.

Now, Governor Ron DeSantis was here yesterday for a press conference. I shared these facts and figures with the governor, and then I asked him -- and I asked the governor to share his statewide safety plan for the reopening of schools.

Now, the governor said that parents have a choice, and then he cited that school districts have been working with his Department of Education and also with the Department of Health to come up with solutions, and then he walked off.

Look, here is the reality here in Miami-Dade County, which is the epicenter of this crisis in this state, accounting for 25 percent of the now more than 490,000 cases in just a few weeks. Some schools could reopen for face-to-face instruction.

Now, we know that Miami-Dade County public schools has opted for virtual schooling only, but there are 139 charter schools in this county, and these schools don't have to follow Miami-Dade public schools. They have to follow the state rule. And I've talked to at least one charter school system who says that, if the data is right, they will be prepared for face-to-face instruction.

And then, remember how the state of Florida has had an issue with the delay in test results? Well, Governor Ron DeSantis announced yesterday that he will be introducing antigen tests at two sites here in Miami- Dade County. Now, these are the tests where you can get your results in about 15 minutes, which sounds great.

But I asked FIU infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty about this last night, and she says that she is concerned about this, and here is why. She says that antigen tests are known for giving a large number of false negatives, Alisyn. And so Dr. Marty's concern is that, by having these possibly large number of false negatives, the state of Florida, and especially Miami-Dade County, which is the epicenter of this crisis, could appear to look better than it really is.

Now, Dr. Marty says that she's expressed this concern to the mayor of Miami-Dade County. Because just think about it. If you do increase that denominator, what's going to plummet? Your positivity rate. You're going to make yourself look better. That is her concern this morning -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Rosa, thank you very much for all of those developing details.

In a new interview released overnight, President Trump claims the coronavirus pandemic is under control. He also believes the U.S. is doing better than other countries, despite the evidence that we're doing so much worse.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House. Tell us more, Joe.


The president continuing to push overly optimistic assessments of the coronavirus, suggesting everything's under control when it's clearly not.

The vice president asserting that we're seeing a plateau in cases in the Sun Belt states, but the death toll continues to mount as the White House and Democrats remain stuck, at least for now, on the details of a coronavirus stimulus package.


Johns (voice-over): There's no clear end in sight to the coronavirus crisis or Capitol Hill negotiations on a stimulus bill to help those financially impacted by the pandemic, but according to President Trump --


JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS CORRESPONDENT: It's giving them a false sense of security --

TRUMP: -- right now I think it's under control. I'll tell you what --

SWAN: How? A thousand Americans are dying a day.

TRUMP: They're dying, that's true. And you have -- It is what it is, but that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.

JOHNS: After Dr. Deborah Birx warned the virus is widespread across the nation Sunday, the president said this.

TRUMP: We're beginning to see evidence of significant progress. Nationwide, the virus is receding. In hotspots across the south and west.


JOHNS: But coronavirus deaths are continuing to climb in hotspots across the United States.

Trump once again contradicted his own health experts by pushing the use of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, even though studies show it does not work and has potentially harmful side effects.

TRUMP: Hydroxy has tremendous support, but politically, it's toxic, because I supported it.

I don't agree with Fauci. Look, Fauci didn't want -- and I like him. I get along with him, actually, great.

JOHNS: Dr. Anthony Fauci says that's not what trials using the antimalarial drug suggest.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There does not appear to be any efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19.

JOHNS: And when the president was pressed on why he's not involved in stimulus negotiations --

TRUMP: I am. The fact that I'm not over there with Crazy Nancy? No, I'm totally involved. I'm totally involved.

JOHNS: Discussions continued without the president on Capitol Hill, as millions of Americans wait to see if they will still receive a $600 weekly unemployment benefit. Those payments a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans, fighting to approve their respective $3 trillion, versus $1 trillion plans.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Democratic leaders insist publicly they want an outcome. But they work alone behind closed doors to ensure a bipartisan agreement is actually not reached.

JOHNS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met privately with House [SIC] chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, without making a deal.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We still have our differences. We are trying to have a clearer understanding of -- of what the needs are. Much of our discussion has to be on how we defeat the virus, and that takes dollars and policy.


JOHNS: Both sides are described as far apart on that stimulus deal as a Senate recess looms, but that break could be delayed. Republican Senator John Cornyn says he can't see how they go home and tell people they failed.

The speaker of the House says she'd like to see a deal, but she doesn't think it's going to happen until next week.

John and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for the update.

So, there's new research this morning on how to open schools safely this fall. The two factors that scientists say are critical and can be done. We'll tell you, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAMEROTA: President Trump once again pushing for schools to reopen for in-person classes this fall, despite the safety concerns from some of the governments' top health experts.


FAUCI: The default position should be to try as best as you possibly can to open up the schools for in-person learning. Having said that, there's a big "however" there. And the "however" is, the primary consideration should always be the safety, the health, and the welfare of the children.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Dr. Carlos del Rio. He is the executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine and a contributor to the NIH/Moderna vaccine trial.

Doctor, great to see you. Let's just start with the good news this morning, and that is that there is research out of Britain and Australia, where they have done it successfully. They have opened schools successfully. Here are the keys. Here's the secret sauce. Contact tracing and testing.

Now, I know that President Trump has given up on testing and contact tracing, effectively, for the country, but schools are smaller. They are more contained. Do you think that, if we were to follow the model of the research in Britain and Australia, that we could do it safely here?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think we could, but we also need to first control the infection in many communities. For some communities, like for example, in Connecticut or in New York, you could probably open schools safely now.

For other communities, like for example, in some places where the epidemic's raging, like in Miami or in Atlanta, it may be hard to open schools right now.

So we've got to control the epidemic in the community. And if we do that, yes, testing and contact tracing are critical, and particularly, testing is going to be really important. Because again, you have to -- as you test people, and not only symptomatic people, but also asymptomatic individuals, who will pick up those infected people and isolate them and prevent outbreaks. You're going to have infections. What you want to avoid is outbreaks.

BERMAN: I have a tremendous amount of respect for the researchers in England and Australia. But with all due respect, duh! I mean, of course, testing and tracing are key. Of course, they are! It is why we can't have nice things in the United States. DEL RIO: Right.

BERMAN: I mean, it just is. We're not there. We don't have it. In a perfect world, you would line up testers as kids and teachers enter schools on day one. You would test them. You would establish a baseline and then test them every week, and you'd have extensive testing in communities. We don't have it.

So, it's a nonstarter as a discussion in the United States. It is just a nonstarter now.

DEL RIO: John, you know, I agree, but I think there are two things. We have to accept that the U.S. is doing more testing than anybody else. The problem is, we have more cases than anybody else. In other words, our number of tests for the number of cases is still lower than it should be.

If we could bring the cases down, the amount of testing we have in the U.S. could actually do that. We have built an incredible testing capacity.

The problem is it's overwhelmed right now.

Now, the other thing we do need and we need research to give us, is a very cheap rapid test.


I mean, when you think about the future, having a test like a pregnancy test, that you could take some saliva and put a swab in somebody's mouth, and within 20-30 minutes, get a result. I think that would be a game-changer. And that's what we need. We don't need a test where you get a swab done and you get your results in a week. That simply is not useful.

CAMEROTA: I'm not quite as pessimistic as John is, because again, I, too, have given up, John. I mean, I've given up on being able to do it on the scale of the United States, because the Trump administration says it can't figure that out.

But schools, Dr. Del Rio, I mean, some schools have 300 kids. Some schools have 3,000 kids, but that's still a more contained population. Isn't it possible to line kids up every morning and test them?

DEL RIO: Yes, but still, again, if you are not getting a rapid turnaround test -- time in your test, it's not going to be helpful, right? That's why you need a test that you can actually get results very quickly.

And I think you don't need to necessarily test everybody. You can potentially do like, you know, the kids from "A" to "G." You test them Monday and the ones from "J" to "K," you test them on Tuesday. I mean, you can put -- make a mechanism in place that you can pretty much be testing all the time, but testing different groups of individuals. There's a lot of modeling suggesting what you can do and what you cannot do. The problem is not just what happens in the school, but what happens

outside in the community. If you have a lot of transmission in the community, it's going to be what the kids do after school that is going to get them in trouble.

BERMAN: There is an interesting development out of New Jersey, Dr. Del Rio, and Alisyn's attention perks up immediately, because New Jersey is her coverage area, of course.

But the positivity rate has increased fairly substantially. It's almost at 1.5 right now in terms of testing. And the governor there has scaled back what people can do indoors. Indoor gatherings from 100 -- what is it -- I don't know, is it to 25 or is it down to 10? The bottom line is he's backing off.

DEL RIO: Yes. I think this virus is tough right now. And you can't let your guard down, because the moment you say, I'm done, guard is down, you start getting cases. So what you need to do is do exactly what has been done in New Jersey. You're monitoring the data. You're monitoring the epidemic. And the moment you see an uptick -- you don't wait until you have a big problem -- the moment you see an uptick, the governor saw the arc of 1.48, and he immediately scaled back and said, you know, indoor gatherings need to be limited to 25 individuals.

I think that's exactly what you need to do. You need to be on the controls all the time, dialing up or dialing down as you get the data.

And I would say the data is there, you know. Right now, we know that every week the coronavirus task force is sending every governor, basically, a you know, six-, seven-page document with all their data for the state and with recommendations of what to do. We really need the governors to actually pay attention to the data and to respond appropriately.

So I, in fact, congratulate the governor of New Jersey. He's doing the right thing.

CAMEROTA: Well, with all due respect to the governor of New Jersey, who I have a lot of respect for, and obviously, he is monitoring the data, I haven't been inside with more than eight people since March. The idea that you can be inside at an event with even 25 people, that is mind-blowing to me. I truly have --

BERMAN: But what's a school? What's a school?

CAMEROTA: Well, we're not going back to school yet, and I believe in contact tracing and testing.

But I mean, look, we've shown, John, the models for how to do it at school. You -- you have kids more than six feet apart. You space them out. I mean, there's a way logistically to do it, but my point was that the idea that they're going down to 25 people at events, that -- that was mind-blowing to me. I truly have not been inside a room or building with more than eight people.

Do you think that 25 is safe, Doctor? Is that too much, to your mind? DEL RIO: Well, you know, I have been inside of rooms with 25 people,

because you know, I work in a hospital, and we have sometimes people with more -- rooms with more than 25 people, but everybody's wearing a face mask. And I think that's a critical component.

If you're going to be in a closed environment, in a crowded environment, with a lot of people close by, you have to wear a mask. So, that 25 individuals -- that 25-person room, be sure everybody's wearing a mask. If people are not wearing a mask, the risk of contagion really goes up.

CAMEROTA: Great point. Thank you for all of the information. Thank you for, you know, trying to settle this -- this, you know, fight between John and me every morning. I know it's not easy. Thanks so much.

DEL RIO: Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

So, President Trump in this newly-released interview discusses why he did not pay his respects to Congressman John Lewis. The very revealing back-and-forth, next.



BERMAN: We're waiting to see where negotiations go on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans for a new economic rescue plan. Millions of Americans are waiting for it. Millions of Americans have lost the extra $600 in their unemployment benefits that they had been earning until last week.

The president, despite claims that he has been involved, is largely absent from these discussions. And in a remarkable moment of blunt honesty -- no pun intended -- from Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, he was asked, should the president get involved? His answer was no.

Let's bring in CNN political director David Chalian. That's a pretty big statement from a Republican senator, when he says the president getting involved would not be helpful.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: John, first of all, admit it, pun was fully intended.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Thank you. Thank you, David. I saw that a mile away.

CHALIAN: I mean, that pun wasn't intended.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CHALIAN: I mean, that was fully intended. Yes.

I was stunned when I saw Roy Blunt say this, just a simple no. This was also after a senior member of the Republican conference, John Cornyn, who you know is up for re-election in Texas this -- this year, John, he said, There is no way that we can go home and tell our constituents that we didn't get this done.

You see the pressure that is mounting.