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Dr. Fauci Warns of Tough Fall and Winter. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 16:00   ET



L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But this is also a man who supports a president who is anti-Black Lives Matter.

Stephen Ross needs to make a decision.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Forgive me. I have got to jump in. We're up against the clock.

But I hear. You're either racist or you're anti-racist. It's one or the other.

L.Z., thank you. We will talk again. Thank you so much.

And thank you all for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our health lead and a grim warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who says it's time for the United States to hunker down and prepare for a tough fall and winter.

In an interview this afternoon, Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, called the current coronavirus trends disturbing, noting that the United States is averaging 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths every day right now. Fauci warned, those numbers are expected to go up again as cooler temperatures force more people to spend more time indoors.

Now, despite this bad news, President Trump continues to say that he is handling the pandemic well.

Compared to whom? This is the death rate in the E.U. in blue. That's the United States in orange. The E.U. has 100 million more people than the United States, but their death rate is half.

The virus is not contained in the United States. Testing is not available for most Americans. Millions of children in this country cannot go to school. Millions of Americans remain unemployed because of the pandemic. The current plan is not working.

Dr. Fauci also gave a striking reality check for people who think a vaccine will mean a return to normal. Fauci says that, even if a vaccine is ready by the end of this year -- and that's a big if -- he does not think the world can return to the same levels of normalcy as pre-coronavirus until the middle or end of next year.

CNN's Nick Watt kicks off our coverage today.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump is still ignoring the facts and playing down the pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're rounding the turn. You see what's happening. You see the numbers are plunging.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that because we're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day, and the deaths are around 1,000.

WATT: And 30 states are seeing more than 5 percent of tests coming back positive. That's still too high.

Remember, the 1918 flu pandemic surged again when it got cold and killed many, many more people. So could this.

FAUCI: I just think we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it's not going to be easy.

WATT: The president also still ignoring the CDC's suggestions, very few masks at his MAGA rally in Michigan last night.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It just deeply public puzzles me, Sanjay. How did we get here? Imagine you were an alien who landed on planet Earth. When you went around, you saw some people not wearing them and some people wearing them and you tried to figure out why, and it turned out it was their political party.

And you would scratch your head and think, this is just not a planet that has much promise for the future.

DANIEL GUILDER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'm not afraid. The good lord takes care of me. If I die, I die.

WATT: The older you are, the more likely you are to die. The CDC now says point 0.03 percent of infected under-18s are dying. But that climbs to a sobering 5.4 percent for those 70 and older.

Still, many places now trying out an ounce or two of normal, limited indoor dining now allowed in Orange County, California. Bars across Florida could open half-capacity starting Monday, and some fans in the stands at last night's NFL season opener in Kansas City. FAUCI: If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality

which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021.


WATT: Now, we have just heard that Miami, which was a hot spot at one point, is going to move into phase two reopening Monday. And that opens the door to in-person teaching in schools.

The governor of Florida said today that current data just doesn't support the idea that kids can fuel secondary infections. But, today, we also heard from some researchers in Utah who say that 12 kids who caught COVID in day care centers passed the virus on to at least a dozen other people.

Two of those kids showed no symptoms whatsoever, and still infected other people -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick, thank you so much.


Let's bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, you just spoke with the head of Operation Warp Speed. That's the White House effort to find a coronavirus vaccine.

What did he have to tell you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we wanted to sort of really talk about two things.

Around the likelihood of this vaccine being available, you want to know if it's effective, and you want to know if it's safe. So, those are the two points we really hit on.

Here's what he said specifically about the idea that we would have an effective vaccine within the next few months.


DR. MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER TO VACCINE EFFORT: If we can make them advance prior to the Election Day, we will. And if we can make them advance after the Election Day, we will.

It's totally irrelevant. It's very unlikely that that number happens in October. It's more likely that it happens in November, and it's even more likely this happens in December.


GUPTA: So, you get an idea of what he's talking about there. He's saying basically, if two groups, half the people get the vaccine, half people get the placebo, is there enough of a difference in the infection rate between the two groups to say, yes, this is definitively working?

And you heard him, Jake. He said most likely that would be -- most likely in December, maybe earlier. The second big question, Jake, is safety.

They say that they want to wait for the phase three trials to be done before they determine whether they are going to approve this or authorize it. But what does that mean? When is the trial actually done? I asked him about that as well.


SLAOUI: You look into the databases of the FDA, on the overwhelming majority of adverse events associated with vaccines happen within the first -- actually, I was told 42 days after completing the immunization regimen, and maybe two months after completing.

It doesn't mean -- it doesn't mean things may not happen way after. They could. Extremely rare.


GUPTA: So, Jake, just what he's saying there, put it together, is that even for people who are in rolling right now, you're a member, you get a shot, you wait a month to get another shot.

And he's saying 42 days to two months after that is probably where they're going to be looking for initial safety concerns, point being, if you look at the calendar, Jake, that puts that really into sort of mid, late November at the earliest to get that kind of data back.

TAPPER: So, Sanjay, you have three girls doing remote education. I have two kids doing the same.

Let me just raise something with you that really bothers me about -- you and I have been talking about this for months, the idea that our kids can't go to school safely because they can't get tested.

A friend of mine has a son at Northeastern University. And I believe this is correct that that school requires all students to get tested every 72 hours, every three days. And if you don't get tested, then you lose access to campus, et cetera.

Why can't -- I get that Northeastern is a school with an endowment and money and whatever. But why can't our government have that happen for our public schools and private schools for our kids, so that there is testing, so that they get tested every three days, and we know that they're safe?

Why not?

GUPTA: Yes, look, Jake, the answer to that question is, they absolutely could have done this.

To be clear, there could have been an Operation Warp Speed for testing like we have just been talking about for the vaccine. And I don't think I'm exaggerating or describing a fantasyland when you say, it's possible we could have had at-home testing at this point, where you could test yourself at home, even on a daily basis, like in the morning when you're brushing your teeth.

You could do a test like that, comes back positive, you stay home. Now, you keep taking the test until it comes back negative, you can go out again. People have described this, and that could have been possible because there were tests that were authorized back in May, antigen tests.

Now, they're not necessarily as accurate. But if you're doing them daily, you really improve the overall impact of these tests. We didn't really invest in this. We could have really ramped up manufacturing around those types of tests, invoked the Defense Production Act, all the things that we have talked about for months.

But I got to tell you -- and I understand your frustration, because I share it. And I think it was a conscious decision not to do that. I interviewed the -- Admiral Giroir yesterday, the testing czar for the country.

And he says, we're going to get there now to that point. He recognizes the importance, but it's still probably going to be close to the end of the year when we have that level of testing available in this country.

TAPPER: It's not only safer for our kids. It's safer for the teachers and the faculty. And also you could do it at businesses too. It would have saved money.


TAPPER: The economy has been crippled because of this.

It's so frustrating.

Sanjay, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that adults who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant. It doesn't specify, the study, if they dined indoors or outdoors.


TAPPER: Dr. Fauci also just addressed the study. Take a listen.


FAUCI: So, if we want to get back to the normal existence of being able to enjoy being in a restaurant, the best way to do that is to get the community level of infection at the lowest level possible.



TAPPER: He seems to be suggesting we're doing this bass-ackwards, the idea that people are going to restaurants and then getting this disease.

We should clamp down on the disease before we open the restaurants, especially indoor. Texas, Miami allowing 50 percent capacity indoors at restaurants. New York is going to allow 25 percent capacity. Is it safe, indoor eating?

GUPTA: I think it's very hard to justify it as safe, Jake.

I mean, first of all, there are criteria by which states, communities could open restaurants. You know these gating criteria. No one paid attention to them almost from the day they were released. No one even cared about them.

But there are criteria to, two phases of going downwards for 14 days, having enough testing, a low positivity rate, all the things that we have talked about.

The problem with indoor dining, as you can probably guess, first of all, indoors is going to be far worse than outdoors. But you can't keep a mask on.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: I mean, that's basically it.

You can try and do lower sort of occupancy. It depends how large the space is. I have talked to several restauranteurs about this. They're trying to figure out their HVAC systems and doing all this stuff.

But the -- and they're trying their best. Many people call me and say, hey, we're doing the best we can do. Problem is, you're dealing with a contagious virus inside transferring among people on surfaces maybe even in with people who can't wear masks because they're eating and drinking.

TAPPER: Fauci also said that, even if a vaccine is ready by the end of this year, we may not be able to get back to anything remotely resembling normalcy until the end of 2021. Do you agree with that?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, this is all about how quickly this rolls out.

Again, going back to my conversation with Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, maybe a few million doses available in the next few months, with a lot of ifs in there, if the data pans out, maybe tens of millions, maybe by the end of the year.

But then we're talking you 200, 300 million people to get to that 60, 70 percent of the country being vaccinated. It's a lot. As well, Jake, the FDA is going to accept a 50 percent efficacy of the vaccine.

So, if it works 50 percent, they may authorize this. Well, that may mean that, even if we get vaccinated, there's going to be -- a lot of people still need to wear masks and keep physical distance.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. And love to your three little girls. I know this remote education thing sucks.


GUPTA: You too, Jake. Have a good weekend.

TAPPER: All right.

It seems like President Trump never met a scare tactic he did not like until COVID came around -- how his reason for downplaying the virus goes against what he has clearly been doing for more than four years.

Plus: America burning. Raging fires burning up and down the West Coast -- the story of an area the size of New Jersey.

We're live on the ground there.



TAPPER: Today, we remember the nearly 3,000 people who were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At a time when more than 190,000 Americans have lost their lives to coronavirus, it is a time of trauma.

In our politics lead, President Trump is still defending his decision to downplay the virus to project calm, ignoring the experts. He told a packed, largely maskless crowd that the virus is now coming to an end. That's not true, leaving some Trump supporters indifferent to the threat -- as CNN's Jeremy Diamond now reports.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WIHTE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a moment of silence on Air Force One, today, President Trump commemorating the 19th anniversary of 9/11 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nineteen years ago on this day, at this very hour on this field, 40 brave men and women triumphed over terror and gave their lives in defense of our nation. 9/11, we'll never forget.

DIAMOND: As Trump honored the heroes of Flight 93, Vice President Mike Pence marked the moment at the World Trade Center Memorial, alongside Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

A brief reprieve from a campaign roiled by Trump's damning admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he intentionally misled Americans about the coronavirus.

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic.

DIAMOND: And his false defense.

REPORTER: Why did you lie to the American people, and why should we trust what you have to say now?

TRUMP: That's a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can't be panicked.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There were times when I was out there telling the American public how difficult this is, how we're having a really serious problem, you know? And the president was saying it's something that's going to disappear, which obviously is not the case. When you downplay something that is really a threat, that's not a good thing.

DIAMOND: Trump now comparing himself to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

TRUMP: When Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, great leader, would often times go to a roof in London and speak. And he always spoke with calmness.

DIAMOND: But that's not true. Churchill didn't sugar-coat the truth.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous time. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

DIAMOND: Trump is still spewing coronavirus misinformation.

TRUMP: We're rounding the turn. You see what's happening. You see the numbers are plunging.

DIAMOND: Dismissing the reality of 35,000 cases per day over 800 daily deaths and warnings about a potentially deadly fall and winter. All while addressing a crowd of thousands who mostly refuse to wear masks.

DANIEL GUILDER, TRUMP REALLY ATTENDEE: I'm not afraid. The Good Lord takes care of me. If I die, I die. We got to get this country moving. What are you going to do, wear masks and stay inside for another year? Where will that get us?



DIAMOND: And, Jake, today, President Trump also announcing that the U.S. has brokered an agreement between the state of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain to normalize diplomatic relations. This is only the fourth Arab country to normalize relations with Israel. And it comes after last month, U.S. brokered a similar agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

All three countries are expected to join -- or leaders from the three countries are expected to join President Trump at the White House next week to sign the agreement -- Jake. TAPPER: That's great news on the two peace agreements.

Thank you so much, Jeremy Diamond. Appreciate it.

Here to discuss CNN's Laura Barron Lopez and Abby Phillip.

Abby, let me start with you.

President Trump says he wanted to downplay the virus because he didn't want the American people to panic. But, frankly, he tries to invoke panic all the time to motivate his base. Just yesterday he tweeted, quote, if I don't win, America's suburbs will be overrun with low- income projects, anarchists, agitators, looters, and, of course, "friendly protesters".

That's -- I mean, his whole argument is panic.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And if you listened to even his speech last night, he was sounding the same basic tune, warning that the suburbs are going to be overrun by anarchists, there are going to be murderers all over the country. I mean, this is not a president who shies away from turning up the temperature on his rhetoric. So, it is not believable that that is a reason why he downplayed the coronavirus threat.

And it's particularly -- it's particularly ridiculous explanation from the White House's part because these were warnings that really could've saved lives. I think watching, you know, Jim Acosta's interviews with those Trump supporters at the rally really vividly illustrates the consequences of the president continuing to refuse to explain to the American people and level with them about what the threat is and what they can do to protect themselves.

TAPPER: Yeah. I'm going to get to that in one second. But first let me ask Laura.

So Trump invoked win stop Churchill and FDR during his rally last night suggesting that like them during World War II he was trying to avoid public panic during a time of crisis. But anyone that has read any history of World War II knows that that's not what FDR and Winston Churchill did.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. As Jeremy laid out in his report, what Trump claimed has no -- does not match up with the facts at all, Jake. And so, Churchill said there would be months of suffering. Americans were asked to sacrifice during world war two and were asked to ration. And FDR made very clear the threats that were posed to the country.

By contrast, Trump from the beginning of the pandemic has said that the virus would disappear or has said that it isn't as dangerous as the common flu, often contradicting Dr. Fauci, head of NIH. And so, it's -- from the very beginning, he has repeatedly said that this is not that dangerous, that the summer months would mean that it disappeared. We're now about to enter fall. The pandemic is still very present. And CDC officials, former CDC officials that I've spoken to throughout

the pandemic have said how significant and critical it is when government leaders express empathy and actually level with citizens about what they need them to do in order to help during a pandemic like this to help it pass and to get past it.

TAPPER: So, Abby, health officials I speak to say there are two things that we need to be doing right now. One is everybody needs to be wearing masks when they are near somebody else other than obviously in their family. And, two, is testing overwhelmingly.

So, you talked about the messages that Trump's base, Trump's rallygoers are getting from him. Jim Acosta interviewed some of them last night. Let's roll some of those and I want to get your reaction.



ROD BEEBEE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Because there's no COVID. It's a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.

ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, the coronavirus, and that it is deadly.

BEEBEE: That's his opinion. The truth is that the CDC said only less than 10,000 people die from COVID.


TAPPER: I mean, again, I could do an hour just fact-checking that one guy. The CDC does not say there's been fewer than 10,000 people who have died from COVID. This is a number that's been taken out of context floated by conspiracy theories who believe that on a medical chart, for instance, if you had any comorbidity, let's say that you had asthma and then you died of COVID.

But beyond that, to hear this Trump supporter say it's fake and then repeat these debunked conspiracy theories, and there was a whole bunch of people like that that Acosta talked to.


What was your reaction, Abby?

PHILLIP: It's really disturbing on a lot of different levels. This ecosystem of disinformation, not just around COVID but particularly around COVID that is so dangerous. People are taking in information about conspiracy theories.

But then the other side of this is how the president's rhetoric placed into this. You heard that person talk about how coronavirus was designed to destroy the United States. That seems to be sort of coming right out of the kind of rhetoric that paints this as some sort of primarily as some kind of intentional attack by China to weaken the United States.

Now, there is no question that there has got to be a lot of scrutiny on China for its role in this virus spreading globally. But at the same time, that does not change the fact that it is here in the United States. And it's a real risk.

Look, I just -- I do think that the president at this point has lost control of this message. He cannot roll this back. And that's what you're seeing in those clips.

TAPPER: And we've seen, by the way, conspiracy theorist after conspiracy theorist die from COVID. I mean, there's been -- there's a whole trail of them.

Laura, yesterday, Trump unprompted listed off all the cable, of Fox and Fox Business that he watched on Wednesday, the Biden campaign was quick to point out that that meant that the president had watched 480 minutes of television while more than a thousand Americans were dying of COVID.

In some ways, Trump is playing right into the hands of Democrats. I wonder how effective an attack you think it is though.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, all the polls that we've seen this week and last week, Jake, show that coronavirus is still very top of mind for voters and that when they're asked who they trust to handle the pandemic the most, Biden in a number of polls leads by double digits. So that suggests that this is something that is top of mind for them.

Also, the impact of the pandemic on the economy is top of mind for them when they're thinking about who they're going to vote for in this election.

And a lot of what Biden's campaign has been focusing on is that very detail. They're talking about the economy a lot. They are talking about the virus a lot. And by contrast, Trump in a lot of his ads is very much focused on so-called rioting, on crime, on this law and order message that is based on fallacies.

TAPPER: Or a panic, which is -- panic ad.

Laura Barron-Lopez, Abby Phillip, thanks to both of you. Appreciate your coming on.

President Trump's spilling a nuclear secret. How his penchant for bragging may have theoretically helped America's enemies.

That's next. Stay with us.