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CNN NEWSROOM

Coronavirus Updates; Interview with West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh; Interview with Veteran and Gold Star Widow Kait Wyatt. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying once again he does not expect a vaccine before Election Day, but he is encouraged by the milder flu season so far in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dr. Fauci says the methods used to stop the spread of coronavirus there hold promising signs for our own flu season, just weeks away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What happened in the Southern Hemisphere happens here, that would be a very good and favorable thing.

So what we think has happened, we think because people have done public health measures to avoid infection with the coronavirus -- namely masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands -- we've had the secondary effect that there are less influenza infections. In fact, in Australia this year, for their influenza season, which goes from April to September, they've had one of the lowest rates of influenza infection in memory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And that is certainly good news.

But Dr. Fauci said it is crucial for people to get their flu vaccinations to avoid a full-blown flu season happening at the same time as this pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: We do not get control over the coronavirus, you could have several challenges. One is differentiating between COVID and flu, because there are medications for flu and we're getting more and more medications for COVID.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, he also said that it is possible that when a vaccine against coronavirus is available, Americans will have a choice of more than one. And then this just in, a new study examining the use of 45 million

cell phones is making a connection between stay-at-home orders issued in the spring and a drop in coronavirus cases. I want to turn to CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard for details on this.

OK, tell us how this happened, Jacqueline. How did researchers make this connection?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Brianna, researchers did two things. One, they looked at that location data by state in March and April, and they looked at what happened after states issued stay-at- home orders.

And you'll see here, we should have a graphic showing how the movements seen in that location data declined. So you'll see here a graphic for some of the states with the highest infection rates -- New York, New Jersey, Michigan -- and you see that drop there in movement that the researchers saw in the location data.

So that was one thing that happened, Brianna. Then the second thing that researchers did, they compared that data -- so you saw that decline in movement -- they compared that with rates of infection by state, and they saw that there were also declines in the rates of coronavirus infections in states after the movement went down and after the stay-at-home orders were in place.

So the bottom line here, this research really suggests that the stay- at-home orders do correlate with a drop in infection rates. And we can infer that's because there was that drop in people moving around based on the location data.

KEILAR: It's fascinating. Jacqueline, thank you so much for walking us through that. Jacqueline Howard.

There is a new ad campaign launched today aiming to recruit more minorities to participate in COVID vaccine trials. Moderna has warned that it may have to actually slow its trials down if it cannot get enough people of color to participate in time.

Plus, nine of the world's largest biopharmaceutical companies have made an unusual pledge that they will all stand by science when it comes to approving a vaccine. This, as the president presses to make one available before the election.

For more on the front to find a vaccine, here's CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, nine pharmaceutical companies have signed a pledge saying that they won't ask the FDA for permission to sell their vaccines unless their data shows that those coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective.

Now in a way, this kind of goes without saying, a company's not supposed to ask permission to put a product on the market unless that product has been shown to be safe and effective. However, the companies might have felt that they needed to because many Americans have been hesitant about the vaccine.

CNN polling shows that 40 percent of Americans say they won't get the vaccine when it comes out -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Now, we know that nursing home shave been hit by -- have been some of the hardest hit by coronavirus, and now a lawsuit has been filed against two New Jersey facilities. Jean Casarez is following that for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- New York, a civil action has been filed in New Jersey, hoping to have it certified as a class action against two long-term care facilities, Andover One and Andover Two, saying that they did not take reasonable precautions to avoid COVID impacting their facilities, that the care, the control, the custody of those residents was in the hands of the employees, the staff, the managers and the owners.

[14:05:10]

They specifically discuss a timeline. Let's look at that April 11th, they say the Andover Police Department got word that the facilities were requesting 25 body bags. On April 12th, the Andover Police Department went to the facility and discovered five dead bodies in a small holding room at the facility.

On April 13th, they got an anonymous tip that there was a body inside a shed. They went to the facility, and they found 12 additional dead bodies in that small bolding room.

The complaint alleges that family members tried to contact for weeks, authorities at the long-term care facility to find out what had happened to their loved ones ,how they were doing. They couldn't get through to anyone, and they did not know that many of them had perished.

We contacted the owners of the facility and they said that they in fact took the COVID threat very seriously.

KEILAR: West Virginia University's Morgantown campus is switching most undergraduate classes to online starting today. This is happening after social media showing several college parties surfaced over the long weekend. There was great concern over the rising number of coronavirus cases on campus.

And to talk about this, I'm joined now by the vice president and executive dean for Health Science at West Virginia University, Dr. Clay Marsh. He's also West Virginia's coronavirus czar.

Thank you so much for being with us, Dr. Marsh. Tell us first how many coronavirus cases does West Virginia University have?

CLAY MARSH, V.P. AND EXECUTIVE DEAN FOR HEALTH SCIENCES, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY (via telephone): Well, thank you for having me on. And so the university has experienced a bit over 500 cases, 360 or so

that were validated by testing and another group of tests that were reported, self-reported.

But we had seen an increase in the percent of people being tested, testing positive and in part, that was one of the issues that caused us to take a breath and to try to settle things down by going online for a short period of time.

KEILAR: OK, so you were seeing a positivity rate increase, and what was that?

MARSH (via telephone): That positivity rate went from about one percent in the weeks preceding, as we opened, to about 3.2 percent, and then the most recent week to about 13.8 percent. So as we saw that increase --

KEILAR: Wow.

MARSH (via telephone): -- and we were also tracking, as part of the state coronavirus approach, an incidence rate map that color codes -- really, taken off the Harvard Global Health Institute's map -- and we saw that the county, the only county in West Virginia that's red, which is over 25 new cases on a rolling seven-day average corrected per hundred thousand population, being Monongalia County, which is the country that the university is part of.

So the other issue is we wanted to make sure that we were able to slow down those cases for Mon (ph) County so that our K through 12 schoolchildren would also have a chance to go back to school.

KEILAR: Yes. So when you're looking at these West Virginia University cases, how many can be traced back to these parties?

MARSH (via telephone): Well, we know that the overwhelming majority of positive cases over the last seven days have been from people age 10 to 29 years old. So we are clear that you know, part of the spread has certainly been from the university students.

And while we know the majority of students are acting very responsibly -- and this is no blame to any student who's back at the university -- but that there is an overwhelming drive sometimes for young people to want to gather, to connect with each other, to explore, to experience.

And during this very unusual time, we really need to reinforce the idea that by protecting yourself, it's the way that you protect everybody else around you and you protect the university and the county and the town so that, really, part of the responsibility of each of our students is to do the right things to reduce COVID spread.

KEILAR: Dr. Marsh, thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Clay Marsh, we appreciate it.

MARSH: Thank you, have a good day.

KEILAR: You too. Next, a military widow will join me live. Her husband's gravesite at

Arlington National Cemetery was captured in this photo with President Trump, when he reportedly made disparaging comments about veterans.

[14:10:00]

Plus, the House launches an investigation into the postmaster general. I'll be speaking to a congressman who grilled Louis DeJoy about whether he had pressured his former employees to donate to Republicans.

And Trump supporters, clashing with counter-protestors on the streets of Oregon. We will take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: President Trump keeps trying to defend himself against reports that first appeared in "The Atlantic" magazine that he described America's war dead as losers and suckers. Most recently, he suggested his former chief of staff, John Kelly, could be the source for the article and slammed him as being unable to handle the pressure of the White House job.

Kelly, we should note, is a retired Marine Corps general who lost his son in Afghanistan in 2010. And on Memorial Day in 2017, he accompanied President Trump to his son's grave at Arlington National Cemetery, just outside of Washington, D.C.

[14:15:09]

And according to the "Atlantic" article, while at the gravesite, Trump said to Kelly, quote, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?" If you look closely at one of the photos of Trump and Kelly on that day -- I'll direct you to the lower part of your screen here -- you're going to see that they're standing over the grave of Corporal Derek Wyatt, who was also killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

And when his widow saw this photo just recently, she tweeted, "Get off my husband's grave, get out of Arlington." She's joining us now. Kait Wyatt is with us right now. She is also herself a Marine veteran. Kait, thank you so much for coming on and speaking about this, it's so important. Thank you.

KAIT WYATT, VETERAN AND GOLD STAR WIDOW: Thank you for having me, Brianna.

KEILAR: And you know, I think it's -- for you, I want to talk about this picture because obviously, it has been many years since you lost your husband. Obviously, still incredibly painful. But this was a picture from 2017, this day that Trump reportedly asked Kelly what's in it for them.

And you had never seen this photo before until recent days. So tell us what it was like here when you saw that gravestone of your husband's in this photo. WYATT: Yes. My mom had sent me the photo yesterday and said, I'm not

sure how we missed this. And I looked at the photo, and the first thing that I noticed was Derek's name and his tombstone. And it really triggered me as a widow, it triggered me as a veteran.

I absolutely discourage political moves using veterans and our killed- in-action and POWs as a leveraging chip or bargaining chip or bid for re-election. I was instantly furious, and so I reached out to my friends. I reached out to people that I knew who know this part about me. And as you can see on my Twitter, I was genuinely upset at this political move and the complexities that are within this picture that a lot of people may not know.

KEILAR: And so talk a little bit about that. Because on its face, when you know you see this picture in 2017, and perhaps it just looks like the president honoring Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice, right? He's there in Arlington Cemetery.

But now --

WYATT: Absolutely.

KEILAR: -- having known what he has said about war dead and those who are injured, and those who sign up to serve, what is the context that seeing your husband in that photo takes on?

WYATT: So the first couple things I'd like to point out is, the -- as you said, looking at this at first glance from an outsider's perspective, is that politicians and presidents routinely visit Arlington, especially during holidays that are veteran-centered like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

However, when we look at this picture, even though it's in 2017, the idea, the premise of Trump using this photo opportunity for political gain is the first thing that I come up to. I look at it, I see my husband's name, which gave me a call to action. And I see General Kelly, who is a man I respect highly as not only a Marine but as a Gold Star family member. And I understand the power play and the manipulation that went into that photo op.

I know of General Kelly. I have not met him personally, so I cannot speak to how he felt. But what I can say is that as a fellow Gold Star widow, to his family and their Gold Star son, Lieutenant Kelly, who was a very honorable man -- he was my husband's platoon sergeant.

And to use that opportunity of a family grieving as a political photo op, whether it's in 2017, whether it's in 2020, the same cues are there, the same signs are there that I am desperately pleading to people who are one the fence politically, if you are looking to make a genuine decision within your right as a voter, an American citizen, as an American citizen, as a veteran, I am pleading with you to look at what is said instead of just what you see.

What is being said is things like, he's smart, why did he join the military? Things like, I don't get it, what's in it for them? Things like, that General Kelly can't handle the pressure of the job when he is a Marine Corps general, there is no pressure -- there is an immense amount of pressure that he has endured and persevered through in his life that Trump could never even imagine.

[14:20:13]

So what I see in this picture is a father grieving with a person who's willing to use this opportunity as a photo op because this was obviously staged and obviously planned.

And it's not just this politician. However, this politician took a picture with my husband's name and tombstone in it to glorify his position for veterans. And I can't say enough that you can't stand on the graves of better men who fought and died for this country while you rip apart that country with your incompetence and unqualified presence within a position of leadership.

Gold Star family members and the sacred ground that Arlington is for us, is not a place for political statements or re-election bids. It's a disgrace to those (ph) who have served and especially to those who have died.

KEILAR: So I think you're a very good person to answer a question. Look, the comments that were made were abhorrent, we know that.

WYATT: Absolutely.

KEILAR: And the idea that a commander in chief doesn't understand why people sign up for the military is -- it's very hard to understand. But on the other hand, I thought maybe you could kind of shed some light on something for us.

Which is, look, we live in a country where most people do not serve. And the idea of what people put on the line -- like yourself, a Marine veteran, like your husband, who lost his life in war -- it is hard for a lot of Americans to understand. And they admire it, right? But maybe -- do they understand it? Why do people sign up and put it all on the line?

So I want to ask you that, Kait. As someone who is a veteran, as someone who gave birth to your son the day after learning that your husband, his father, was gone? Tell us why people put it on the line. Why do they say, send me?

WYATT: Well, Brianna, first I respectfully disagree. I think that even though most of Americans don't serve in the military, that doesn't mean that they don't serve a higher purpose or a higher power. America is filled with great people who recognize a higher power or a higher service than just serving themselves: serving the public good and progressing our country that we love to its full potential.

Because America hasn't reached its full potential. We don't need to be great again, we are great. And in order to maintain greatness, as any person who has strived for that will tell you, that it comes with a certain amount of humble service. That you must give yourself over to a higher power that you believe is important, or else life can kind of spiral into nihilism. And so I would say that personally as a veteran, as a Gold Star wife,

as a mother of a son who's going to have to sign up for the draft when he's 18 and may or may not join the Marine Corps, I stand behind veterans. I stand by our service members because I understand that our call to service was from our country.

At the time that I served, was -- there was a war going on. And I still answered the call for my nation and their security. And I know that there's so many people who can debate the war and debate violence and actions and those debates aren't what I'm saying.

What I'm saying is that to serve something higher than yourself is why most veterans, from my view, from my experience, why they join. Why they come to the military, knowing that it's going to be hard, knowing that you're going to be broken down. And that when you get out, there's no reliable way for you to get the things that you signed up for an earned at the end point.

None of that is the point, though. It's not about the benefits of serving, it's about giving yourself to a higher power. And to me, that higher power was the Marine Corps. That was the global force for good because my life is centered around the service of something bigger than myself.

KEILAR: Yes. And I think you're right, Kait, I think a lot of people do connect with that. So I really appreciate you giving us your perspective. It's so important to hear. Thank you for your service, thank you for sharing your husband's memory with us and thank you for talking to us today. Kait Wyatt.

WYATT: Thank you so much, Brianna. Have a great day.

KEILAR: You too.

Draft memos from the Department of Homeland Security say white supremacist violence is the most lethal threat to the U.S. right now.

[14:24:58]

Plus, as college towns become the country's new coronavirus epicenters, Dr. Fauci is issuing a warning about what college students need to do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Police in Chicago are searching for the gunman who killed an 8-year-old girl during a drive-by shooting Monday night. The child's death marked a holiday weekend of deadly violence in the city where 53 people were shot and eight others killed. CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Chicago.

[14:30:04]

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, whenever we have a warm holiday weekend in Chicago, there's a major concern for violence.