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NEW DAY

Hurricane Isaias Makes Landfall on North Carolina; President Trump Interviewed on Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic in U.S.; Coronavirus Cases and Deaths in E.U. Less than U.S.; Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms is Interviewed About the Coronavirus Pandemic and Schools to Open In August; U.S Donation of Hydroxychloroquine Sits Untouched in Brazil. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 4, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Right now of where Pinellas County is, because it is worse off than many places. So at the moment the positive residents there are 16,700 plus, hospitalizations more than are 1,500, deaths 442. And here's the real number that I think is relevant for schools -- the positivity rate is 7.4 percent. Isn't that a little high for schools to be opening? Others schools around the country want it under five percent.

DR. ALLISON MESSINA, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Sure. Certainly, it's true that the less spread you have in the community the easier and the safer -- easier and safer it will be to open schools. There's a lot of factors that go into the decisions to start schools that are beyond -- that are beyond that. There are societal implications and financial implications and all of these other things that make that decision not just mine, of course. But I think that given that we know that kids are going to be going back to school in late August, that we want to make sure that we can do it as safely as possible. And that's really our charge here, to ensure that the kids at school are safe.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Allison Messina, we really appreciate you bringing us behind the scenes into how some of these decisions are being made. Thank you very much.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight, a tropical storm is racing up the east coast, and it has turned deadly. We have just learned that one person was killed when Isaias slammed into the North Carolina coast. It slammed there as a hurricane when it made landfall. The storm has weakened slightly, but New York is bracing for the strongest winds they have seen since superstorm Sandy. Isaias has already caused widespread blackouts, more than half a million people are in the dark this morning, along with flooding and fires. So we have the latest on the track for you in the moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a new interview where President Trump where he's asked about the alarming rise in coronavirus deaths in the United States. He says it is what it is, and tries to cook the numbers. We have some brand-new reporting from our Kaitlan Collins moments ago that Dr. Deborah Birx is bothered by the criticism that the president levied at her for her accurate description of the spread of coronavirus. We also have some 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.

First, let's get the very latest on this tropical storm Isaias, which does threaten millions of Americans and could lead to more than a million power outages as well. Chad Myers tracking the system.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Certainly, a million, and likely more than that, because we're almost up to three-quarters of a million customers. You have to multiply that by how many people are in each home, so we're almost up to 1.5 or 2 million customers, 2 million people that are being affected.

This thing is now racing north 33 miles an hour. And so the winds are going to be strong with this. And that's we why just talked about, you just talked about how much wind damage could possibly be around New York City. We're watching this storm moving on up not that far to the southeast of D.C. with the potential for tornadoes. In fact, a tornado watch was just issued for New York City proper, for Long Island, most of Connecticut, also parts of New Jersey as well. That's until 4:00. Every time a storm rolls on shore it could actually rotate and make a tornado.

Now, these are fast. These are one or two-minute tornadoes, but they're moving very fast, 60 miles per hour. So if you get a warning on your phone, make sure you pay attention to it and say I have 20 minutes. No you might not have 20 minutes with storms like this. We are going to see heavy rainfall, flash flooding is already occurring in spots, and by 2:00 this afternoon this makes an approach to in New York City. By 2:00 in the morning it's already in Canada. That's how quickly this thing is flying to the north, picking up speed and also picking up rainfall, and that wind will be knocking down trees and putting down an awful lot of power lines all the way up the east coast. We are going to see the heaviest wind in New York City somewhere around 3:00. Highrise buildings on top, probably even a little bit more gusty than 70. We'll see.

CAMEROTA: Wow. OK, Chad, thank you very much for all of those warnings.

Also new this morning, President Trump talking about the rising coronavirus death toll in the United States in this revealing new "Axios" interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so when they hear you say everything is under control, don't worry about wearing masks, these people, many of them are older people, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Under the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're giving them a false sense of security.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How? A thousand Americans are dying a day.

TRUMP: They're dying, that's true, and 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 control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:05:06]

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and policy at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm, I'll start with you. President Trump says we're doing everything they can. No, they're not. We talk about this every day. They're just nowhere near the amount of testing, let's just start there, they could be doing. What I'm struck by in that is the powerlessness of the Trump administration. It is what it is, he says that about the death toll. It doesn't have to be.

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Good morning, Alisyn. I have personally been trying to move on from all of this COVID theater and get to the very heart of what you're just talk about, what do we need to do as a nation to respond to this pandemic? We're just in the earliest stage yet. When we talk about case numbers in the 60,000, I think in the fall when we get kids back in school, colleges back in session, indoor air being something we frequent much more, we're going to see many, many more times the cases in the next six months than we have seen already. And so we need to move on with what can we do about this, what can we tell the American public that they must do and forget about the COVID theater.

BERMAN: Yes, it's interesting because you talk about the fall. You talk about opening schools. You talk about that may be an inevitability. And that's what had really been striking to me the last two days listening to Dr. Deborah Birx who's got, to me, a new level of concern in her voice, Sanjay. The way she's talking, the way she's saying the new phase, the fact that she told people they need to consider wearing masks at home. And now, this delves into the theater part, Kaitlan Collins is reporting that she's upset that the president criticized her for her accurate description of where the pandemic is headed. So where is it headed, Sanjay, this morning, given the cases that may have plateaued some in Texas, maybe on the downside in Arizona, Florida as well, but they do seem to be increasing other places?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it seems like the beginning of this pattern where they redline in certain parts of the country, then people sort of say, well, let's try to curb these numbers by adopting some of these basic public health measures, and so they start to come down. And then they start going up somewhere else in the country, and that same thing happens there, and then it moves. So you have these rotating waves, these rollercoasters of waves going on around the country. So even though you may have declining, plateauing or declining numbers in some parts of the country, you are starting to see increases in other parts of the country.

And I think one thing I have realized reporting on this for several months, people tend to think of growth as a linear sort of thing. It grows one to two to three. And what you know, what we know from a very contagious virus like this is that it can grow exponentially. So if it starts to take off, all of a sudden, the next day you can't believe the numbers that you're looking at as compared to the day before. So you've got to get ahead of the curve in these places.

And as Dr. Osterholm said, if you think about the fall now, there's no question the numbers are going to go up as more and more people are out and about if schools start to open and stuff like that. But how much are they going to go up, and what are we going to do to quickly identify newly infected people, and hopefully isolate them and quarantine their contacts? We're still not in a position to do that part of it. We are dealing with a contagious virus, that is true, and it sucks for the world. But the idea you could have some power over it in some way I think is also true.

CAMEROTA: Yes, so Dr. Osterholm, what is the answer? If President Trump thinks the death toll is what it is, and he's powerless to do anything, what is the right thing that we should do today?

OSTERHOLM: That's the thing that's really frustrating is we have got the right answer all around us. Look at the number of countries that did basically lock down and brought the numbers down to the manageable level where then they could use additional public health measures like test and trace. They could be very careful about how they reopened their economy. No one has it perfect. We have all of the countries that are always at some risk of seeing an increase in cases.

But just take New York. Governor Cuomo received all of the criticism early on for what happened in March and early April. And then turn around now, they have been flatlined for the last four weeks. They even had a day last week where they had no deaths in the entire state. That's an example of what can be done.

So I just categorically reject we can't do something about it or that the status quo is acceptable. As Sanjay just said, it is going to get worse. When kids come back to colleges, I think we're going to see an explosion of cases around this country. They're going to take us to whole new levels. So we hit one level, plateau for a while, then we hit a new level. I think these new levels are going to make what we had already seem like, boy, I wish we were back in the old days.

BERMAN: That's alarming, I have to say. That's frankly, very alarming. You point to Europe, the president, by the way, one of the thing he's now saying is that cases are rising in some of the other countries of the world, which they are. [08:10:00]

But just by means of comparison, and we can't build a graphic because Martians ate our computers overnight, but in the E.U. last week, there were 61,000 new cases and about 1,000 deaths. There were about 440 million people in the E.U., 100 million more than in the United States. In United States there were more 300,000 cases and nearly 8,000 deaths. So it's much worse here.

Sanjay, though, in terms of what works, there is new information on mask mandates in places that have said you have to wear a mask. We have some figures on the effectiveness.

GUPTA: Yes. There were places around the country where you had this experiment going on between, I believe it was April and May, about three weeks there, places that had these mandates, 15 states, I believe in Washington, D.C. You could see it does make a difference. You start to see a decline, which in and of itself is significant because there's been growth in new cases in so many of these areas. But the overall absolute numbers between 230,000 and 450,000 cases were likely averted by the third week of May because of masks alone.

And it's just a good reminder, again, as Dr. Osterholm was saying, this is a scary virus for a lot of people, but ultimately it's just a small strand of genetic material, of RNA, that can be fairly easily contained by a mask. So, yes, we want the vaccine. Everybody is waiting for that. But in the meantime, we have significant measures that, as again was pointed out, have made a huge difference around the world. Hundreds of cases, hundreds of deaths, for example, in South Korea, as opposed to hundreds of thousands in the United States. Why? Basic public health measures. So it makes a difference. We can keep proving it over and over again, but we now know that it works.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Michael Osterholm, thank you very both for all of the facts.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: The late Congressman John Lewis was a civil rights icon, yet President Trump struggles to describe him. It's very hard for him to answer a question about John Lewis. You'll hear for yourself next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:44]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New overnight, Georgia's Department of Public Health reporting more than 2,200 new cases of coronavirus. This weekend, hospital ICU beds in Atlanta were at full capacity.

Let's get the latest on this and so much more from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Great to see you, Mayor. Thanks for taking the time to be with us. So as I understand it, school in Atlanta is starting August 24th, 100

percent online. I know you don't control school decisions, that's the school board and the superintendent but do you think that's what's best for students right now? A hundred percent online?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: I do believe that's the right choice for Atlanta public schools because we have some of the highest rates in the state right now just a couple of days ago, with our population just over 500,000. We represented about 44 percent of the infection rates in the state of Georgia.

And given the prevalence of underlying health conditions throughout the Atlanta community, we have a very large minority population in Atlanta. I do think that it was the right decision to go online and it gives the school system an opportunity to revisit how students will enter the classroom in nine weeks and hopefully, we will be in a better place in this state.

It saddens me that we are -- we are still headed in the wrong direction so many months after we had an opportunity to get on the other side of COVID-19.

CAMEROTA: I want you to give us the status report if you would about the lawsuit that the governor, Brian Kemp, filed against you. You issued a mask mandate for Atlanta. You felt that you knew for what was best on the ground in Atlanta, and he didn't like that. And so, where are we with that lawsuit?

BOTTOMS: Mediation continues with the governor's office. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but at the end of the day, I am most concerned about the health and well-being and safety of the people of Atlanta and a mask mandate very clearly is what the scientists and health care professionals are telling us helps stop the spread of this virus.

Just a couple of days ago, about 2,100 health professionals throughout the state of Georgia wrote a letter to the governor imploring him to please allow local municipalities to enact mask mandates. I'm joined by cities and mayors across the state of Georgia, so it's my hope that we can come to some agreement, so that we can put our energy elsewhere.

CAMEROTA: Everyone is obviously waiting with bated breath to hear about Joe Biden's vice presidential pick. Your name has been mentioned among people that he is considering.

Have you had any recent conversations with Joe Biden?

BOTTOMS: Well, Alisyn, you know, I endorsed Vice President Biden in July of last year so I have conversations with the campaign weekly, sometimes daily. So, it's not unusual for me to be in contact -- close contact with the campaign.

CAMEROTA: Do you believe you are in his top three?

BOTTOMS: I have no idea. I think probably only the vice president knows that, but I am certain of this: our focus needs to remain on electing Joe Biden president and I trust that he will make the right decision. But we need his leadership now more than ever.

CAMEROTA: I want to play for you an interview that was released overnight. It's from "Axios" and in it, the reporter Jonathan Swan asks President Trump about John Lewis and about how he believes Congressman John Lewis will be remembered.

And so, let me play this portion for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN SWAN, REPORTER, AXIOS: John Lewis is lying in state in the U.S. capitol. How do you think history will remember John Lewis?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. I really don't know. I don't know. I don't know John Lewis.

He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose -- I don't know -- I never met John Lewis actually, I don't believe.

SWAN: Do you find him impressive?

TRUMP: I can't say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive. But not, but I didn't --

SWAN: Do you find his story impressive?

(CROSSTALK)

[08:20:00]

TRUMP: He didn't come -- he didn't come to my inauguration. He didn't come to my State of Union speeches and that's OK. That's his right. And again, nobody has done more for black Americans than I have.

SWAN: I understand.

TRUMP: He should have come. I think he made a big mistake. He should have come.

SWAN: But taking your relationship with him out of it, do you find his story impressive, what he's done for this country?

TRUMP: He was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to civil rights, but there were many others also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: What do you think when you hear that?

BOTTOMS: I'm disgusted by that.

And I've read Congressman Lewis' essay and I wrote something from his essay that I've been -- I kept on my desk: Answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe in. Donald Trump shows us time and time again, the only thing he believes in is himself.

He doesn't care anything about the American people. He doesn't care anything about the history of this country. He doesn't care anything about the future of this country.

And that's the reason I can't say it enough. This election is the most important election of our lifetime. If this man is allowed to serve as president for another four years, we will be in even more trouble than we are in now.

It's important that people register to vote, that they show up to vote. He's already cut off the time frame for us to even respond to the census. He is destroying our democracy in real time.

And we have to respond in the best way that we know how, the way that John Lewis taught us to respond. That is to show up and vote because what he reminded us, if we don't exercise the right to vote, we will lose it.

CAMEROTA: What do you think about, excuse me, when President Trump says he personally has done more for black Americans than anyone else?

BOTTOMS: He's delusional. He's a narcissist and he is delusional. The only person that believes that is him. He's done nothing for African- Americans in this country and to speak that in the same sentence as speaking of John Lewis is almost blasphemous.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we always appreciate your time. Thank you very much for sharing your perspective on all of this.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: With millions of jobless Americans waiting for help, why can't Congress and the White House hammer out a new stimulus deal? A Senate Democrat gives us their take on the latest talks, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:35]

CAMEROTA: The U.K. government urging Brits to dine out and return to their offices. CNN has reporters all around the world to bring you the latest developments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: I'm Nina Dos Santos in London where diners at restaurant like this one are now able to ask the government to put 50 percent of the restaurant bill for three days a week for the month of August. This is part of one of a number of initiatives that the British government has unveiled to try and kick start this economy and especially hard hit sectors like the hospitality sector. The government has also changed its advice to employers, now saying

that instead of recommending that staff work from home wherever possible, they are allowed back into the office as long as it's safe.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

With Australia's second largest city, Melbourne, under the toughest restrictions ever imposed in the country, the government is hoping to bring the second leg under control. The state of Victoria has been averaging 500 cases every day for the past month. But officials on Tuesday announced 439 new cases and are hoping that downward trend will continue.

Under the stage for lockdown which will last the next six weeks, a nightly curfew is now in place in Melbourne on non-essential businesses will be closed, along with schools and child care centers.

The government also announced an increase in on the spot fines from $1,000 U.S. dollars to $4,500 for those who are flouting the rules, especially people who test positive and are refusing to self-isolate.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul.

As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continues to rise in Iran, a grim new statistic reported by state media. A person in that country dies every seven minutes from coronavirus, according to the health ministry. Iran is the hardest hit country in the Middle East. It was the epicenter of the outbreak in this region.

But it did seem like they were getting the situation under control earlier this year, but as the country began to reopen in April, the weeks that followed, the numbers began to rise again. A record number of deaths registered in July. Last month, the government had to make the wearing of masks mandatory and they said that they could re-impose more restrictions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to our reporters from all around the world.

Studies continue to show that there is no benefit from taking the drug hydroxychloroquine. Still, the president continues to push it, despite resistance from members of his own administration.

Now, Brazil is letting a high profile donation of the drug from the United States sit in storage for months with the possibility it won't ever be used.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live in Sao Paulo with the latest on this -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: John, Brazil is one of the countries who strangely despite as you said, study after study saying hydroxychloroquine is ineffective continued to advocate for the drug, advocating for it for mild cases or pregnant women.

Now, Donald Trump, his administration gave, you say, a high profile donation of 2 million dosage of the drug in late May to the country, to a man many called Trump of the Tropics, Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro. It's extraordinary given how both nations embrace that drug at a presidential level, what exactly happened to the donation?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice-over): It's the pandemic gift nobody should want. Brazil's president touting the drug he says saved him from the disease, hydroxychloroquine.

END