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Third Grade Teacher Dies Of Coronavirus Days After Diagnosis; Trump Claims He Didn't Lie About Deadly Pandemic Despite Tape; Ceremonies To Mark 19 Years Since September 11 Attacks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 11, 2020 - 07:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly 192,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, including at least three teachers in just the past three weeks. That includes third-grade teacher, 28-year-old Demetria Bannister. She was known as her elementary school's songbird. Here's just one example.




CAMEROTA: She died from coronavirus just a week into the school year and only three days after she was diagnosed.

Joining us now, a friend and colleague of Demetria, Patricio Aravena. He is the music teacher at Windsor Elementary and you two worked together.

Patricio, I'm so sorry for your loss. She was only 28 years old. Can you tell us a little bit about Demetria, who I guess you called Demi, as a friend and as a teacher?

PATRICIO ARAVENA, FRIEND AND CO-WORKER OF DEMETRIA BANNISTER (via Cisco Webex): Yes. Well, thank you for having me.

It's -- Demi was just this amazing teacher who was always joyful and she was full of life. And it's just hard to wrap my head around that she is no longer around us. Twenty-eight years old with a lot of life to live and things to give us. So it's very hard to grasp that.

CAMEROTA: She loved music. I mean, we can see that. We can see her big smile there. I mean, these pictures of her are incredible with her family.

And so, we have another music clip that I want to play.


CAMEROTA: I think you two collaborated on a music --


CAMEROTA: -- video. So tell us what we're about to see.

ARAVENA: Well, Demi did this song for our school attendance goal to be early -- you know, to be at school at 8:10. So when I heard the song I said Demi, this is not enough. Let's make a video about it so we can put it in our morning show at Windsor Elementary -- and she was all in.

So I recorded her in her classroom with her students and then I made the whole school community participate, and this was a big hit. Some of the teachers were even humming the song, they were doing the dance moves, and it was just a joy. And the thing is --

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.

ARAVENA: Yes. And the thing is that she wanted to make another video this year for something else and we were all about it. And, of course, you can see how joyful she is and all of her students as well.

CAMEROTA: Did you set the lyrics? Did she change the lyrics and set it to "Old Town Road?"

ARAVENA: That's right. Yes, she decided it was a catchy song at the moment and she changed the lyrics. She completely changed it. But I said Demi, this is just -- we need to do a video so the kids can, you know, see it, dance it. And it worked because we had a good improvement in attendance --

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

ARAVENA: -- thanks to Demi's song -- yes.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's listen to it. Let's listen to a clip.

ARAVENA: All right.


BANNISTER (Singing to "Old Town Road"):

I'm on my way to Windsor cause I can't get a tardy no more. Yes, I'm on my way to Windsor cause I can't get a tardy no more.


Coming to the school is our number-one rule. Make the teachers happy, you can go and ask them.


CAMEROTA: That's so good. I mean, if I had had that maybe I wouldn't have been tardy so often.

ARAVENA: Oh my goodness.

CAMEROTA: I mean, that is -- that just really captures I think that she went above and beyond for her students.

And so --

ARAVENA: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: But, Patricio, I mean, do you know how she got sick? I mean, do we -- do we understand yet why she was diagnosed only three days before she died?

ARAVENA: Unfortunately, we don't know the details and, of course, that's up to the family. But this is serious. COVID is serious out there.

And when we got the news that she was sick, I thought well, COVID, you know, she's strong, she's young. Probably she will be fine. And then three days later we learned that she passed away. And that was just surreal and just a reminder of how serious this virus is.

CAMEROTA: You say you can't imagine now going back into the school and having to go back to her -- back past her classroom. What will that be like?

ARAVENA: I think it will hard for all of us -- for all the teachers and all the faculty and staff.

My room -- the music room is at the end of the hall from the hallway where Demi's classroom is and every once in a while she will see me and she will shout stuff like Aravena, what are you doing? And I'm like none of your business. Things like that.

But it will be very hard, especially the way that she set up her classroom. And in the video that we just saw you can see a little glimpse of like a tent in the back because she set up her classroom like a campground.

So imagine being in the classroom -- not just the standard configuration of desks and everything -- but when they have free time they will go to the tent for having reading. Sometimes Demi will turn the lights off and give the kids flashlights so they can be like near the campfire per se and do some work.

So her classroom was always full of joy, always full of music, and that will -- that will be the thing that when I -- if I walk past her classroom I will really miss the most.

CAMEROTA: What a loss. What a loss of Demi Bannister. I mean, these are exactly the kinds of teachers that keep kids coming back to school and it's such a tragedy that she is lost at the beginning of this year.

Patricio Aravena, thank you very much for sharing all of your wonderful memories of her with us.

ARAVENA: Thank you, Alisyn, for having me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I agree, what a loss, what a loss. But also, how wonderful to have a friend like Patricio who can remember like that and in some ways, she lives on. But you can see the impact that she had on the school and the community.

CAMEROTA: I mean, those kids -- what are they going to do? I mean, being able to create your own songs and do your own dance video, that's what you want in every elementary school, and she went above and beyond.

And the idea that she was diagnosed and then three days later died, it's just such a tragedy. That's Demi, as she was called, Bannister.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: So, President Trump told Bob Woodward that he knew that coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu. He knew it was airborne, he knew it was deadly, and he knew it months ago.

He also knew it last night when he was speaking to a packed rally in Michigan. Three thousand people not social distanced and not wearing masks.

Joining me now is Tony Schwartz. He spent hundreds of hours with Donald Trump to write "The Art of the Deal" years ago, and he's now the author of the new Audible original, "Dealing With the Devil: My Mother, Trump, and Me."

Tony, really great to have you on to try to understand some of this and process it. You know the president's mind better than many, if not better than most.

And I'm just wondering given now that we've heard him say out loud how deadly he knew coronavirus to be -- and he knew it months ago -- what do you think was going through his mind last night as he's talking to 3,000 people not wearing masks, cheek-to-jowl there, not socially distanced? What's going through his head?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL," AUTHOR, "DEALING WITH THE DEVIL: MY MOTHER, TRUMP, AND ME" (via Cisco Webex): Well, Trump lives in a world of fiction in his own mind. And I think that it's simply more evidence last night, what he said to Woodward, what he said about the military, and then the 2,000-2,500 other lies he's told, just evidence of the fact that he's a man without empathy or without conscience.

So what was he thinking when he said that to Bob Woodward about corona? He was thinking this will get me advantage. This will -- as your previous guest said, this will keep the stock market up. He has no relationship to the truth except to deny and distort it in virtually everything he says.

BERMAN: You know, it's so interesting you say that because there is a quote in the Bob Woodward book from DNI Dan Coats, which says quote, "To him, a lie is not a lie. It's just what he thinks. He doesn't know the difference between the truth and a lie."

And what jumped off the page to me is a quote from your own book, which is almost identical to what Dan Coats said.

You said, "The truth didn't really matter to Trump. Lying was second nature to him -- just one more way to gain advantage. Facts were whatever he deemed them to be on any given day. Whenever he was challenged, Trump simply doubled down on whatever he claimed, even if it was demonstrably false."

So in some ways, you saw or have seen for decades what Dan Coats saw in his years in the White House.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, and I don't want to give myself too much credit because you only have to spend a half-hour with Trump to know this about him.


Like, look, Trump's path was to invent a self -- and unfortunately, I participated in that 30 years ago -- but it was never the truth. And he is actually the living embodiment of fake news.

My path, which I describe in this book, was to face the truth. To look, after doing that Trump book, very deeply into myself -- the best and worst in myself. And to discover that the worst things that people said about me and that I felt about myself were not only true, they were more true than I could even bear to admit, but they weren't all that was true.

And that was a transformative insight for me that allowed me to literally rebuild and transform my life. I may be the only person on earth who Trump led to the Dharma.

BERMAN: It is interesting in your book how you note how you, yourself, were somehow susceptible to Donald Trump. And it's instructive, the attraction to so many people.

I do want to ask you. One of the things people have wondered in the last 24 hours is why? Why did Donald Trump agree to talk to Bob Woodward as much and in the ways that he did?

I just want to play a little bit of how the president explained it yesterday -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did it out of curiosity because I do have respect and I want to see I wonder whether or not somebody like that can write good. I don't think he can but let's see what happens.


BERMAN: All right, leave aside the grammatical irony of what the president just said, which is -- actually, don't leave it aside. You're shaking your head there. Go ahead.

SCHWARTZ: Well, because he's so inarticulate. He is so incapable of expressing himself in a -- in a thoughtful, reflective way.

And, of course, what he's saying is so completely absurd. He didn't want to see if Bob Woodward could do it. What kind of test is that? He believed he could best Bob Woodward -- I'll seduce him.

This is the bizarre thing about Trump is that he always believes -- he's both the most destructive man of our times, but also the most self-destructive man of our times. And really, what we're seeing in these next 60 days is which one of those two out? Who gets destroyed first, Trump or us?

So it's absurd for him to say that he wanted to see if Woodward would write a good book. He, in his grandiosity, thought he would. But, of course, as Woodward has done over and over again, he told the actual story -- the truth.

BERMAN: It was interesting how it seemed the president kept on trying to impress Bob Woodward. One, giving him intelligence that no one had been told about a weapons system, then apparently, showing him props.

Bob Woodward writes, you know, he's sat with five or six presidents inside the Oval Office and no one has ever pulled out props and toys. But, Donald Trump did try to impress him. What did that tell you?

SCHWARTZ: That a person who demands that others be obsequies in his presence is very often reflecting his own deep insecurity and therefore, is very obsequies himself to those he thinks are more powerful or more famous or more whatever than he is because he's trying to prop himself up.

But as I've said before to you and to Alisyn, he's a leaky balloon. He blows himself up all day long with these lies but they keep leak -- whatever it is he gets from that keeps leaking out.

BERMAN: Tony Schwartz, we do appreciate you being with us, helping us understand what we've seen in the last few days. And your new book helps, I think, you understand what you have seen and understood for the last 30 years. And it's a wonderful, wonderful read or listen, as the case may be, on Audible.

Tony Schwartz, thanks so much for being with us.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: I have always found that metaphor provocative -- President Trump is leaking.


CAMEROTA: I mean, I'm sorry, he has used that before and it does conjure up some --

BERMAN: I'm just going to let that settle.

CAMEROTA: Please do.

France just set a new daily coronavirus record for cases, and infections are rising faster in India than anywhere else.

We have reporters around the globe to bring you the latest.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: I'm Vedika Sud in New Delhi.

India has reported over 96,500 new infections in the last 24 hours. This takes India's COVID-19 caseload to over 4.56 million.

This is the second day in a row that India has reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections reported by a single country, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Its data shows that India has the second-highest COVID-19 cases and third-highest confirmed deaths. India's death toll stands at over 76,200.

While addressing a function through the conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked people not to take the virus lightly.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matt Rivers in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, one of Mexico's most important cultural sites and a site that has been closed for most of the pandemic.

But for the first time this week, it has reopened to tourists. There is a 30 percent limit on capacity. You can't climb the pyramids like you normally would.

But still, this is a sign that Mexico is trying to reopen its tourism industry. And that is important when you consider how important that industry is to the economy here. In 2018, nearly nine percent of Mexico's overall GDP came as a result of activity in the tourism industry.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Bittermann in France where a scientific committee is meeting today to recommend what new restrictions may be required to combat the coronavirus. That, after 9,000 new cases of the virus were reported in the nation yesterday -- a new one-day record.

It should be said that to some extent, the numbers are a reflection of the stepped-up testing here. The French are now testing at the rate of a million tests a week. That gives a more accurate picture of exactly how widespread the disease is. Nonetheless, there are other indicators which are also on a rise -- a number of hospitalizations, a number of people in ICU beds, which may convince authorities that new measures are needed.


CAMEROTA: OK, our thanks to all of our correspondents around the globe.

It's been 19 years since the terror attacks of 9/11. Today, the remembrance will be like none other. So we will take you to Lower Manhattan for what it looks like after this.



BERMAN: The country pausing today to remember a moment that changed all of us. It has now been 19 years since the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and also in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There will be ceremonies at all three locations today but given the pandemic, they're going to look very different than in years past.

CNN's Athena Jones live -- joins us now live from Lower Manhattan with what we can expect -- Athena.


You know, we all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001. Everyone over a certain age remembers where they were on that terrible day.

And over the last 19 years, we've grown accustomed to seeing this traditional 9/11 ceremony at the memorial behind me -- if you walked behind me -- where you see the families of the victims reading out the names. It takes a long time because we're talking about 2,753 people who perished in those -- in those towers, the vast majority of the 3,000 who died that day.

Well, this year it's going to look very different because we're in the midst of another tragedy, albeit of a very different kind.

You're still going to have a reading of the victims' names but it's going to be done by recording because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Victims' families are still going to be invited to gather at the site but they're going to have to do so in a socially- distanced way and be safely spread out, according to the organizers.

We're still going to hear a moment of silence to mark each moment of attack. The first of those moments of silence will be at 8:46 when American Airlines flight 11 struck the north tower. And that is expected to be accompanied -- it's going to be a citywide moment of silence here in New York where we expect houses of worship to be tolling their bells. And so that will be a real moment. Now, vice president -- former Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden will be here to pay their respects at the memorial this morning, as will Vice President Mike Pence. And we also know that President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, are heading to Shanksville to pay their respects there.

And, you know, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a bit of preview of today, yesterday. He said, "We'll remember the heroism of not just our first responders but everyday New Yorkers and the compassion, strength, and resiliency the city showed in our most difficult moment." Mayor de Blasio saying "First responders are the best of us, but we also have to remember how this city showed the whole world the strength and meaning of New York City."

So a very different kind of ceremony this year but still very important to mark this day 19 years ago when so many died -- John.

BERMAN: Athena Jones -- it will look different today but still very much the same in all of our hearts. And we will mark these moments throughout the morning.

Athena, thanks so much for being with us.

NEW DAY continues right now.


TRUMP: I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: One day after bombshell recordings revealed the president intentionally downplayed the COVID-19 threat, Trump is claiming it was all about keeping Americans from panicking.

TRUMP: Bob Woodward, he didn't think it was bad and he said he didn't think it was bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're the president, you don't get to spin Woodward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new poll shows the majority of Americans believe political pressure will impact the approval of a vaccine.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It is moving forward at a pace that the world has never seen, but I will say not in a fashion that allows cutting corners.

DR. MIKE RYAN, EMERGENCIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: It's a race against this virus and it's a race to save lives.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And this morning, the president in direct conflict with top government scientists on the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed more than 191,000 Americans. And thanks to Bob Woodward, we know the president understands just how deadly it is and always has understood.

Despite that, he spoke to a packed crowd -- some 3,000 people, many without masks -- most, it seems, without masks -- in Michigan. And in real time as this was happening, the director of the National Institutes of Health told CNN he's puzzled and disheartened by these images.

At this event, the president said we've turned a corner on coronavirus. But, Dr. Fauci tells us he thinks case rates are unacceptably high -- too high, he says, to talk about completely opening things up right now.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Fauci also says we should hunker down for a difficult fall and winter as cases grow on college campuses. We'll try to figure out what that means with our doctors.

This morning, we also pause to remember the thousands of Americans who died 19 years ago on that September 11th.