Return to Transcripts main page


Houston To Allow Some Special Events, With Restrictions; Fauci: I Disagree With Trump That U.S. Is Turning A Corner On COVID; All Eyes On The 2020 Battleground States. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Appreciate your good humor. So, lessons -- I want to get your take on lessons learned here. We've talked several times throughout this COVID pandemic, which hit your city incredibly hard. We'll get into some of the numbers in a minute. You're in a better place now. But you still have a challenge ahead of you. And you're deciding, OK, let's see, what can we do? So you allowed some tailgating parties last night. You're trying, I believe, if I have this, right, let the symphony come back with smaller crowds, walkthrough when you watch an event --


KING: -- like last night, the lessons you're learning and what you think it is safe to do now.

SYLVESTER: But let me first, John, let me just say that I do want to pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 persons who lost their lives on 9/11. And I certainly want to acknowledge to the family members who happen to live with this person who got lost for the rest of their lives.

Well, respect to last night, you know, I was proud of but I saw last night about both the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, the players how they came together, and recognizing that we're all in this together. So that was important. The numbers in the city of Houston are dramatically better now. We're being -- we're taking some steps forward. But we're being more cautious rather than aggressive.

So for example, like you said, the Houston symphony, it will start back I think given this coming Sunday. In John's Hall, you can hold about 3,000 people. But only 150 will be in the audience. As we take this step moving forward, respect to the Houston Texans, for example, tailgating, 100 cars, no more than 400 people still having to be distance. But we're taking that step forward.

We are allowing in a controlled setting, no more than 25 percent occupancy, although many of the different organizations are doing significantly less but no more than 25. We're not allowing parades, festivals, anything where you can't control the crowd. So we're going to take these incremental steps. And then we'll look at the data. We'll see where we are. And if the positivity rate continues to go down as it is now, then we'll see what we do the next time around. KING: And let's look at some of those the stats, if you will, as you have, I'm going to call this a hold your breath moment for leaders like yourself in these positions.


KING: If you look at the cases by the day, and you look at the Houston Health Department numbers as you go across, we talked a couple times when those numbers were way up high, the higher numbers. It's hard -- it might be hard to see at home, but you can see the high and the low. You're down now to a modest number. Then you look at the positivity rate, you just mentioned, your positivity rate has come down quite a bit. There it is there. And again, you don't need to see the numbers at home really to understand. You see the peak. And you see where you are now.

But you're still above, well above 5 percent in Houston, which has to make you a little bit nervous Sir. As you say, OK, we're in a better place but we're heading into fall. What -- you mentioned the positivity rate, what else are your breakers to say, I'm sorry folks, I tried to open this backup but no?

SYLVESTER: No the positivity rate for me is that it needs to be 5 percent and below, and it needs to stay below 5 percent. So we need to crush it. We've come from 23 percent in one time now down to 6.6. So we are moving in the right direction, when you look at the curve this is dramatically going down. And so that's why we're going to be very, very cautious with respect to our hospitalizations, for example, at one time, there were more than 2,400 people in our hospitals with COVID-19, the number as of this morning is under 600.

The positivity rate in terms of people at our hospitals, when they are being tested, that positivity rate is now about 4.3. So the numbers and the hospitals are dramatically better. The numbers in the community are better but not where we want them to be. And that's why we're going to take some incremental steps to move as we move forward. As I indicated to people this week, we'll be more cautious than aggressive. And then we'll see what the positivity rate is next week.

And if the positivity rate for example should go up, and then we're going to hit the break real quickly. But the goal is to continue to encourage people to put on their masks, social distance, exercise proper hygiene, and then let's move in an incremental fashion forward, because we recognize that people want to get back out. And I think they'll be more responsive to our message if they see that we're taking some incremental steps, but we're being very protective of their health at the same time.

KING: I hope you're right Sir. Sylvester Turner is the mayor of the great city of Houston, Texas. Mr. Mayor, thanks for your time, and more importantly, best of luck in the days ahead. We'll circle back.

SYLVESTER: Thanks. Thanks John. Thanks.

KING: Thank you, Sir.


Up next for us, Dr. Anthony Fauci talking openly again about disagreements between him and the President.


KING: More public disagreement today between the President and his top adviser on the coronavirus. The President says we're rounding the final turn and that the numbers are plunging. Dr. Anthony Fauci just moments ago asked to square that with his own message that people better hunker down heading into the fall.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIR., NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that because if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics, Andrea, they are disturbing. You know, we're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day, and the deaths are around 1,000.


KING: Let's bring in CNN's Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, it's not the first time but at an important moment more disagreements between the President and his top scientist.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. I think Dr. Fauci is acknowledging what we have known for a long time, which is that he and the President have not always seen eye to eye about this virus that's not surprising. Dr. Fauci is a man of science. Donald Trump is someone who just makes things up. Let's take a listen to what Dr. Fauci had to say.



FAUCI: Certainly there were disagreements. As you know, 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, when the President was saying it's something that's going to disappear, which obviously is not the case. So there was and is some disagreements in what we say and what comes out from the White House.

But, again, we're trying to get the right thing done by getting the right word out. But I can't have any explanation for the conversations between the author of the book Bob Woodward and the President. So I mean, I can't comment anymore on that, except to say, yes, when you downplay something that is really a threat. That's not a good thing.


COHEN: Right and, of course, what we learned from those interviews with Bob between Bob Woodward and the President is that the President did downplay it. He knowingly downplayed it. He knew that the virus was more dangerous than what he was communicating to the American public. John?

KING: Truth telling helps, I think that would be my translation of that. Elizabeth, you don't need to go there. Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate the quick hustle on that, the new comments from Dr. Fauci.

When we come back, the President's great at rallying the base. Here's a question a lot of people ask, are there hidden Trump voters out there?



KING: Let's listen to the President last night in Michigan. He lived through this in 2016. He was traveling. People said there's no way he could win. The President says, great. Let's do it again.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, this is not the crowd of a person who comes in second place. You do know that. We're up in the polls. We just saw polls, we're up in Michigan. I don't know if that's good or bad. I don't know. I don't know if that's good or bad because in all those polls when we were down last time we won. So maybe we're better off being down.


KING: Let's discuss. Joining me now Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times. Amy Walter to you first, you guys at the Cook Political Report made a little change in your electoral map that does slide things a little bit in the President's favor, but it's still a map that right now favors Joe Biden. We know that some states will tighten. We also know, there will be the predictable conversation. The race is getting tighter. This is happening that is happening. The way I would describe it is a stable race advantage Biden still a narrow electoral path for Trump agree or disagree?

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: I think that's absolutely fair. And, you know, the President there talks about, well, there are folks who will come out of the woodwork and support me much like they did in 2016. The reality is there are a lot of potential voters for Donald Trump in these Electoral College states, which is why to your point there is a narrow path there.

It's not that these voters though, are hidden or shy. It's just a question about whether they're actually going to be able to -- whether they're going to turnout or not for the President. There is a big pool of voters, for example, in a state like Wisconsin, that didn't vote in 2016. And most of those voters fit the sort of Trump demographic. They're white and non-college voters. But what we don't know yet is if those voters if they didn't show up in 2016, they didn't show up in 2018. If they're going to show up and vote in 2020. And if there are enough of them, who will show up to out power the number of other voters, specifically those voters who went third party in 2016, but are now looking at Joe Biden.

KING: Right. And Jonathan Martin to that point, look, we're heading into the final seven weeks here. We want to look at every possible scenario. We should learn from 2016 to not think that because this is what it looks today, that's the way it's going to be tomorrow. But when you have, you know, Amy talks about the shy voters, other people call them, Trump himself calls them, the silent majority or the hidden Trump vote. Yes, but right?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, in fact, I think a lot of Trump voters or anything but shy they're happy to tell you that they're for Trump, but they got the flag and the sign to prove it. The difference between this campaign and the last one John, as Amy just touched on, is that you're not going to have the kind of third party vote share in a lot of these states that you had in 2016.

If you go to places like Wisconsin and like Michigan, you will see that, you know, 5 percent of the vote, all told what the people other than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, President Trump, John, and a lot of these states was getting 47 or 48 percent of the vote. It's a higher bar for him to get 50 this time around which he may need to against Joe Biden if there's less of that third party vote share. And so he's going to need to get not just vote yet last time, but some new voters out and that's going to be harder if you've got some of those people who voted third party last time or they're going to side with Biden. I think that is his challenge in a lot of these states, John. He can get the 47 but can he get the 49, he can he get the 50, I think that's a challenge.

KING: Amy, I don't know if you can see, he has palm trees behind him. He's in Sarasota, Florida while we're both indoor. So advantage J. Martin at the moment. Look, there are going to be a lot of numbers. We're going to see a lot of polls coming in. We're going to see a lot of organizations like Cook Political Report, like the New York Times, like CNN, you know, moving their path to 270 maps a little bit. That's the way it works in the final weeks of a campaign.


Another set of numbers people are going to see are now especially because this is an unprecedented year for mail-in balloting, people are going to see something like this in Florida total requested 3.2 million ballot, mail0in ballots. And when you do the partisan breakdown, you see more Democrats requesting ballots. You flip to North Carolina, another battleground state, 15 electoral votes, total number of requested ballots more than 51 percent of them, Democrats.

So people are going to say, aha, look at this giant Democratic advantage because they're requesting more ballots. It's good for the Democrats, Amy, that they're organized that they have their people requesting ballots, but and an important but, Democrats like to tend to vote by mail anyway. And we have seen in past campaigns, the early numbers don't necessarily mean anything about the final numbers.

WALTER: Well, John, you're going to have a fun election night explaining this over and over again, that the tranche of numbers you may be seeing right now either are just the Election Day vote or the vote that's already been counted from early or absentee ballots. And it could look very different an hour or two hours or quite frankly, a week from once all the votes are counted. So it's going to be very much of a bifurcated election night as in person is likely to be more Republican absentee is likely to be more Democratic.

And here's the other thing we don't know. And this is where in some ways, the polling, the real challenge is trying to figure out who's a likely voter. In some ways, everyone may be a likely voter. We're looking at historic turnout. People are talking about 150 million likely voters. That is going to break all kinds of records. And so the President talks about his voters that are out there, they're not raising their hand. They're the silent majority. But there are plenty of other voters out there who may not have been involved in this process either, who we may not know where they stand in this race either.

KING: Seven weeks in change, a lot of counting left to do. Amy Walter, Jonathan Martin grateful for the reporting and the insights. We want to turn back now to the coronavirus pandemic. Another grim milestone internationally this one for India, the country again reporting a new global record for the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day. More headlines, our CNN correspondents around the globe.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Here in India, the country has reported over 96,500 new infections, taking India's COVID-19 caseload to over 4.56 million. This is the second day in a row that India is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases registered by a single country according to the Johns Hopkins University. This data shows that India has the second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 caseload across the world and third highest confirmed deaths.

India's death toll stands at over 76,200. Now one reason for the surge in COVID-19 cases is the aggressive testing that has taken place in India. According to the data available by the health ministry, over 54 million tests have been conducted to date. Also, according to the health ministry, about 57 percent of the new cases are being reported from only five states in India.

The recovery rate is at over 77 percent. While addressing of function through video conferencing Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked people not to take the virus lightly.

Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here Jerusalem, a second lockdown is all but assured as coronavirus cases surged throughout the country and continue to break new records. On Wednesday 4,013 new cases in a day according to the Ministry of Health, that was a record broken one day later with another day of over 4,000 cases. It's because of those searching numbers that the coronavirus cabinet approved late Thursday night a second general lockdown in the country.

It'll look much like the first general lockdown back in April when the pandemic was just beginning. Restaurants, entertainment venues, leisure activities, a lot of these will be closed. Israeli citizens will be required to stay within 500 meters or about a quarter mile of their homes as the country tries to get the surging coronavirus cases under control.

This lockdown still requires government approval that's expected on Sunday with more details of what the lockdown will entail. It's expected to start at the end of next week before the High Holidays, which means there will be restrictions before what would be otherwise a holiday of large family and religious gatherings. But crucially, it gives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enough time to make a trip to the White House for a signing ceremony with President Donald Trump and the United Arab Emirates.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Mexico, this is the ancient city of Teotihuacan, one of this country's most important cultural sites and a site that had been closed for most of this pandemic that has reopened to tourists. With a 30 percent limit on capacity, tourists can't climb the pyramids like they usually would, but this is a sign that Mexico is trying to jumpstart its tourism industry. And that is important when you consider that of Mexico's 2018 GDP nearly 9 percent of that figure came as a result from activity in the tourism industry.


And that's a sector that's taken a huge hit as a result of this outbreak. In July of 2020 compared to July of 2019, roughly 1.4 million fewer foreigners arrived in Mexico. And just look at Cancun, the country's most important region for tourism at that airport there, passengers arriving from international destinations in July fell by 84 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Teotihuacan, Mexico.


KING: Have a safe weekend. We'll see you Monday. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage after a very quick break.