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Hurricane Sally to Batter Gulf Coast with Torrential Rain; New Audio Reveals Trump's Early Concerns about Coronavirus; Trump Again Hosts Indoor Event with Few Masks. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The center is irregular, and I think that that tells us some problems with respect to accurately forecasting it. The models have as poor of a handle on this storm system as any you'll ever see.


NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If we wind up with a vaccine that requires two doses, there won't be enough for everyone on Earth until 2024.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know what we can do. Other countries have done it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is forcing these events to continue, even knowing so full well how dangerous it is for his own supporters.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome everyone, all of our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 15, 6 a.m. here in New York.

And there is a crisis unfolding in every corner of the United States this morning. Residents along the Gulf Coast bracing for Hurricane Sally, which continues to churn and move very slowly towards landfall. The big concern with this hurricane is that it could dump torrential rain for days and bring a deadly storm surge from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

You're about to see new video from a U.S. Air Force hurricane hunter giving us a view inside the storm.

Then on the West Coast, nearly a hundred wildfires are now burning out of control. Twenty-two people are reported missing in Oregon. Because of these fires, the West Coast has now become -- it now has four of the world's ten most polluted cities.


CAMEROTA: I mean, listen to that, John. That one is the headline that got my attention. Four of the world's most polluted cities. And some of that smoke that you're seeing is even reaching parts of the East Coast today.

BERMAN: Right. So we're being hit from the west. We're being hit from the south. And we're also being hit from within this morning by the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. death toll is nearing 195,000. New audio out this morning where the president told Bob Woodward in April that he was so concerned by the virus that he left a room after someone sneezed. But you know what? We don't have to listen to recordings from the past. Look at the now.

This picture tells you everything. This is the president in the back there, right in the middle, at an event in Phoenix yesterday. Look at everyone in the audience. They're packed in, indoors, no social distancing, few masks, a lot of seniors here who could be at high risk. Look at everyone at the head table now, side by side, everyone except one person. Who? Who?

CAMEROTA: I'll guess.

BERMAN: The president! He is conspicuously distant from people. So it's fair to ask, who was he taking care of? Not the audience, not the head table. Himself, only himself.

Clearly, he knows the risks. His aides know. Whoever set up the chairs knows the risk. The science knows. The science knows about coronavirus, and by the way, climate change, whatever the president says out loud.

Let's begin with the urgent danger from Hurricane Sally all along the Gulf Coast. Chad Myers has been tracking the storm. And Chad, this thing has largely stalled in terms of his forward momentum. And that might be a bad thing.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Truly. We always look at the numbers on the top of the screen here. The biggest number you want to see is two. That is miles per hour in forward. It is not moving at all. It is sitting over there over the northern Gulf, pounding northern Florida with an awful lot of rainfall.

And as it creeps towards the coast, it will continue to put a lot of rainfall into Mississippi and Alabama, as well. We're talking 20 to 30 inches of rain.

A surge, too, but probably the surge is somewhere in the ballpark of 7 to 10 feet. Now, that's not Katrina surge, but that's a lot of surge. That's a lot of saltwater up into your marshes. And if your house is less than seven feet above sea level, it's going to be wet, or for that matter, with the waves, washed away. There is the radar. We've been watching it all night long. It does not

have a closed eye. That is the good news, which means it's not really intensifying.

We are seeing a little bit of a drop in the millibars, which means the pressure is going down overnight, which means it could be trying to get a little bit stronger.

But now it has used so much of the water there, used up the warm water, mixed it up and made it slightly cooler, I don't think we're going to get any rapid intensification from here.

Eighty-five miles per hour, likely not coming onshore until almost this time tomorrow. Now, it's only a couple hundred miles or less than that offshore. And it doesn't come onshore for 24 hours. That's the lumbering -- or that's the lingering rain that we're going to have.

It's going to be an 85-mile-per-hour storm forecast there. But it's the purple that we're worried about. This purple in the middle of the screen, that's 10 inches or more, in a very large area. Literally bigger than probably Delaware will get 10 inches, everywhere across that area and then the surge on top of that.

Freshwater flooding, saltwater flooding an absolute likelihood. And obviously wind damage if you get gusts over 100 miles per hour.

Hurricane warnings all the way from Pensacola, still into Louisiana, because the storm is just sitting there and spinning, and the winds are 85. So that's what a hurricane warning is. Hurricane conditions are expected all across that northern Gulf Coast.

We'll keep watching it. Yesterday was a scary day. This thing went from about 65 to 100 in a rapid, rapid -- within 12 hours. Twenty-four hours. And so right now, we're not seeing that rapid intensification. That's good news. It's down to 85 and should stay there -- John.

BERMAN: But rain and rain and rain and rain in one area until at least Thursday. All right, Chad, thanks for keeping us posted there.

Let's get right to the scene. CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us this morning in Gulfport, Mississippi, where I think you're getting some of the last few dry moments you're going to have for days, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, the -- I was fully expecting to wake up this morning to be reporting here from the Gulf Coast and rain, but this storm evidently slowing down so much so that the first rain bands haven't even started arriving on this section of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

But those alerts, those warnings are out. People are paying a great deal of attention. We are not seeing a lot of people evacuating this storm.

I talked to one resident yesterday who was filling up sandbags along the -- the shoreline yesterday afternoon. And he said that most people around here are willing to kind of hunker down and stick it out, at least up to a Category 2 hurricane. And it appears that we won't see anything beyond that in this particular storm.

But those preparations are underway. John and Alisyn, this is a marina that is usually filled with hundreds of boats. Local officials here issued a -- an order that all of the vessels and boats had to be removed from this marina.

And it is quite a sight. If you go about a mile inland in shopping -- in strip malls, the parking lots are filled with the boats that were once here on the waterfront and have been moved inland. So those are the kind of preparations that people are doing here, as they are fully expecting now a flooding event that will come over the next few days.

And that's what people here are bracing for and preparing for, as best they can, as they watch the slow push of Hurricane Sally come here toward the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Ed, stay safe. We'll check back with you.

So this will be the second powerful hurricane to slam the Gulf Coast in less than three weeks.

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans.

Mayor Landrieu, so just tell us, what are mayors in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana doing as they see this, as Chad said, lumbering storm head towards them?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, all the governors and the mayors along the Gulf Coast, as you know, are hurricane strong and prepared. They all do a really good job of seeing what they can see and telling people what's coming their way and helping them prepare for whatever they think is -- the impact is going to be.

Of course, a couple of weeks ago, we had Laura, which was devastating for southwest Louisiana. This one looks like it's going to miss most of Louisiana and, really, the impact is going to be along the Gulf Coast, between east of Louisiana and then Bay St. Louis, Mobile, Pensacola, in that area.

The real challenge, as Chad told you, and he's the champ. He can remember all of these storms like they were his children. Is that if something is moving at two or three miles an hour, and it sits on top of you for a long period of time, you could see something like Isaac, although it probably won't be that dramatic, that happened in 2012. That storm was moving at about four or five miles an hour. And if it sits on you, and there's vertical rain for a long period of time, then all of a sudden, some -- some of the storm surge and -- and a fairly significant amount of flooding could come your way.

Ed is sitting there on the coast. He's in the middle of it right now. He's going to have a bird's-eye view of what's coming. But just because the storm is not a Category 3 doesn't mean that it can't hurt you significantly, if it has a substantial amount of vertical rainfall over a long period of time.

BERMAN: And it is the rain that is the main concern here. Someone asked on social media a few minutes ago, Mayor, what's the plural of apocalypse? Is it apocali? Apocalypses?

They're talking about, obviously, this hurricane. Which, it could be a serious damaging rain event, but what's happening on the West Coast with these fires, too --


BERMAN: -- where you see a record amount burned over there.


BERMAN: And there is the issue of the political response, and acknowledging what is behind it and acknowledging the role that climate change has made in making parts of the country more susceptible to this extreme weather.

And I want you to listen, particularly you, because of where you've lived your whole life. Listen to what the president says about the science here. Now, he's talking specifically about the fires, but it might as well be the intensity of hurricanes, as well. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.

TRUMP: OK. It will start getting cooler. You just -- you just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows, actually.


BERMAN: That last part there is so deliberate and, in some ways, insidious. "I don't think science knows."

LANDRIEU: Well, I'll --

BERMAN: What's the importance of that message, Mayor?

LANDRIEU: Well, I would say that it's delusional, but I think that it's intentional. So the president -- we have a president that is incredibly soft on Russia and really hard on science, and it puts the people of the United States of America at risk.

You know, when -- when you are the commander in chief, your first order of business is to save lives and property. Everything else comes after.

And just like the mayors and the governors and you guys, telling everybody about the storm, we can see it coming, we want you to prepare for it, we'll be there with you. It's been the exact opposite with the pandemic. It's been the exact opposite with wildfires. It's been the exact opposite with the hurricane.

And when you deny the impacts of climate change, you just put the people of the United States of America and, quite frankly, the world at risk. But you do the same thing with the pandemic, and of course, you do the same thing with hurricanes, as well.


So the president has demonstrated time and time again that he is going to misuse his power to hurt people and to abuse them and to not focus their attention on where it needs to be for the purposes of getting re-elected. That's his prerogative. He's completely and totally wrong. He's misusing his power.

And now the people of the United States are going to have the power to make a different choice in a couple of months; and I hope they -- and I trust that they'll make a great choice.

CAMEROTA: I mean, this -- this translates to policy. It's not just that he holds these beliefs not based on science. It translates to his policy. I mean, he believes that this is -- that the wildfires are about forest management.

And as Governor Gavin Newsom had to point out to him, Well, OK, I am in charge of 2 percent of the federal lands of California, or of the land of California. You're in charge of 57 percent. As if it's federal lands. So he's not doing what it takes to try to prevent the wildfires.

LANDRIEU: Well, to state the obvious, of course it's not academic. What the person who makes all the decisions think, completely determines what the response is going to be. And if the president ignores the existence of a threat and, therefore, doesn't do what he's supposed to do, and use the power that he has to help other people, then they're going to get hurt. It can't be any more simple than that.

And so when he says, The science doesn't know, and the generals don't know, and the doctors don't know, and he does know. And yet, he tells us, when talking to Bob Woodward, that he knew what the threat of the pandemic was, and then he downplayed it, why would you ever believe anything else he ever says? It's really time to move on.

But the people of America are really smart. They're going to brace themselves for what's coming. It's a tough time. It's not the toughest time we've ever had. We've been through the Depression. We've been through World War II. But it's clearly one of the top three or four critical juncture points in the history of America.

And people are going to have to stay focused, because what's confronting us right now is tough stuff. It's not that we can't handle it, but if we can see it, we can know about it, we can respond to it together, where we're all coordinating our efforts and focusing our attention. We can protect ourselves and our families. But the president is not going to lead you where you want to go. He's

going to lead us off a cliff. The question is: Are you going to follow him? And I want to encourage people to stop following him. He's demonstrated a lack of a willingness or an inability to grasp the gravity of all of these things and obviously, can't organize them all in his head in a way to have a thoughtful, comprehensive response. So we're going to have to do it ourselves.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, thank you very much. Great to talk to you.

LANDRIEU: Sure. Great -- great being with you.

CAMEROTA: President Trump continues to deny the science of coronavirus, as well as -- look at this! He held another crowded event indoors, where masks were optional; and he's doing it again today.

Now, of course, privately, we're hearing new audio of how the president really feels about this risk.



CAMEROTA: Nearly 195,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus. This morning, new audio from President Trump's interview with Bob Woodward. It reveals that back in April, the president was very alarmed by the virus, though he continued to mislead the American people about it.


TRUMP (via phone): And Bob, it's so easily transmissible, you wouldn't even believe it.


TRUMP: I mean, you can -- you can be in the room -- I was in the White House a couple of days ago, a meeting of ten people in the Oval Office, and a guy sneezed, innocently. Not a horrible --


TRUMP: You know, just a sneeze. The entire room bailed out, OK, including me, by the way.


CAMEROTA: Why, then, did the president hold yet another indoor event last night with supporters packed together, mostly without masks, and a White House signing ceremony today is expected to also draw hundreds.

CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest on the pandemic -- Alex.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Alisyn. Yes, the pictures speak volumes. President Trump drawing hundreds of

supporters to that indoor event in Phoenix. As you point out, many in that crowd not wearing masks despite the fact that hundreds of masks were being made available to even attendees.

Of course, there was one person at the event who was able to maintain proper social distance. That would be the president himself.


(MUSIC: "God Bless the USA")

FIELD (voice-over): While President Donald Trump sat at a social distance during his indoor campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, hundreds of supporters in the mostly maskless crowd did not. The president again defying warnings from health experts, just one day after holding this indoor rally in Nevada, violating state restrictions on large gatherings.

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D-NV): He knew what the rules were. He chose to show a callous disregard in a reckless, selfish, irresponsible way. There's no other way to put it.

FIELD: Last month, Trump told journalist Bob Woodward he did everything possible to stop the pandemic.

WOODWARD: The virus is said -- because it's in real people's lives, you know, all those tens of millions of people who don't have jobs, who don't have --

TRUMP: I know.

WOODWARD: -- that income -- listen, I mean, you and I --

TRUMP: But nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done.

FIELD: At the time of the interview, over 168,000 Americans had died from the disease. The death toll is now at more than 194,000.

Joe Biden slammed Trump for ignoring the four major crises he says the U.S. is facing, including the coronavirus.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The president recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying, which makes President Trump's climate denialism, his disdain for science and facts all the more unconscionable. It's clear that we're not safe in Donald Trump's America.

FIELD: Meanwhile, colleges are on high alert as videos circulating on social media show a large party near NYU last weekend. Some campuses are shifting to virtual classes to slow the spread of the virus.


The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, and Northern Illinois University are the latest to switch to all remote learning for the next two weeks, citing spikes in cases.

After reports of a large party, students at Lincoln Sudbury High School near Boston will now begin the first two weeks of school online. This change as both concern and cases of coronavirus in children continue to grow.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported nearly 73,000 new cases in children in just two weeks, bringing the total to nearly 550,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Children are not immune, despite what you've heard from -- from some of our political leaders. We've got to be careful about children and not be cavalier and -- and continue to track what's happening with them.


FIELD: Now, on the vaccine front, eight different vaccines are currently in late-stage trials with volunteers. Several of the vaccines in the U.S.'s Operation Warp Speed have given two doses of the possible COVID vaccine to volunteers in at least one clinical phase of the trial, but John, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines is now warning that, if an approved COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, we won't have enough for everyone in the world until at least 2024.

BERMAN: Obviously, the supply chain is such a major concern. Alexandra Field, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Dr. Carlos Del Rio. He is executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System and is contributing to the Moderna vaccine trial.

Dr. Del Rio, thanks so much for being with us. I am so struck by the picture from the president's event yesterday in Arizona. And this is the now. We don't have to go back and listen to Bob Woodward recordings here.

So you can see the president, small there in the back. He's the only person in the room who is safely social distanced. Everyone else is packed all over each other, largely not wearing masks. But someone, whether it was the president, the secret service, his aides, thought to distance him from other people.

So it's basically saying, safety for me, but not for thee. So what does this tell you?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: Well, John, I think that, as we know from the tapes from Woodward and others, the president knows. He is aware. He understands the seriousness of the situation. And he has done many things, including having testing done repeatedly in the White House. You cannot go in and see him without being tested. The fact that he's distancing himself, et cetera. He's protecting himself. He's protecting his inner circle, but I don't think he's protecting the American people. And this is a good example of what some of our failures have been.

Really, the lack of a national strategy, protecting the American people and doing the right things, has us where we are. We are about to reach 200,000 deaths from this pandemic in this country. This is going to be a very sad moment for many of us.

I remember just a few weeks ago, when "The New York Times," when we reached 100,000, they had the names of everybody published, and it was pages and pages. Well, now we're doubling that amount. And probably by the election, we will be at 300,000.

So the reality is, we need a plan. We need a strategy, and we need to leadership right now to really do the right thing. Because a national epidemic cannot continue the way it is.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, it's crazy! He doesn't have to do this. Hold your rally outdoors! I know it hasn't been easy for the campaign to find an outdoor event, because so many officials in different states, from Phoenix to Henderson, are not allowing more than 50 people to gather. And in fact, the Henderson place was just fined $3,000, because they held it indoors.

Hold -- find another place. Hold it outside. You don't have to do this! It's like recklessness for recklessness' sake.

And -- and furthermore, the event last night in Phoenix was for Latinos. Latinos are 4.6 more times likely to be hospitalized for coronavirus than white people. And so it's doubly hazardous and reckless. I mean, it just doesn't make any sense why they're making this decision.

DEL RIO: Yes, Alisyn, it really doesn't. And I think, again, what you said, and what you want to emphasize is that, if you have a person get infected there, because of the exponential growth and the way this is -- this is transmitted, that one person at the end of the month has infected 400 people.

And that's why this event, if very few people get infected, lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of cases afterwards. And you know, we saw Sturgis. We saw another event the president had in Tulsa. All of those led to major transmission events because of the exponential way in which this virus is transmitted.

So we really need to stop every single transmission. And we know the things that work. We know face masking, social distancing, hand washing, we have to implement those things. And if we do, we can stop transmission.


BERMAN: We also know that science works, and science can help. What you're doing is championing the science here, dr. Del Rio. And we also know probably the most powerful person at the Department of Health and Human Services right now is Michael Caputo, who's a really capable political operative. He's a really successful flack, but he's not a doctor, and he's not a scientist. And we've learned a few things over the last few days.

One, he's been directly involved in trying to alter the MMWR, which is one of the most revered scientific reports that is largely apolitical. And we also know that, on his Facebook live chats, he's been bad mouthing -- really bad mouthing -- CDC scientists.

What does this mean? What's the impact of all this?

DEL RIO: Well, the impact is not only now in the pandemic. The impact could last for many, many years. Because the reality is very good scientists, very good public health people work at CDC, at FDA, at many of these agencies. They're career servants, public servants that are doing what they need to do.

And the fact that they're being bashed like this is -- is demoralizing. People -- people are not enjoying their jobs. People are feeling frustrated. And we can see an exodus of people from these agencies. And these agencies are critical to safeguard the health of Americans.

The MMWR, I want people to understand how important it is. This is a weekly publication from CDC that for years has informed many of us about what's happening and what's new. We first heard about what we know now as HIV from the MMWR. We heard about 20 -- you know, 2009 pandemic from the MMWR. We heard about Legionnaires' Disease from the MMWR. This is where the breaking news happens.

And to think that the MMWR is now being manipulated for political reasons really is very disturbing for many of us that are -- that are avid readers of the MMWR on a weekly basis.

BERMAN: Has a lasting impact. Very damaging. Dr. Del Rio, thanks so much for giving us that perspective.

DEL RIO: Glad to be with you, John.

BERMAN: As we speak, look at these pictures. Nearly a hundred wildfires burning on the West Coast. Dozen offense peoples of people this morning. We have a live report in the battle to contain these fires and the message from officials out there about the climate crisis.