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Trump Returns to Campaign Trail Despite Public Health Risks; Cases Rising in 31 States, Record Hospitalizations in 6 States. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2020 - 06:00   ET



JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is heading back to the campaign trail, hitting a trio of battleground states.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people have been with him, said he's fine, he's peppy. He will go on ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's foolish for him to do it. It's going to be hard for him to do it and it might give him a big setback. We don't really know whether he's still infectious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the first time since August, the U.S. has reported four consecutive days of more than 50,000 new daily coronavirus cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're already seeing a sharp increase in the northern Midwest. That will probably start going up in the northeast, as well. It will be a sad time in the fall and winter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be very clear. I'm afraid of COVID. I'm afraid of what's going to happen in the winter. I'm afraid of our surges. We anticipate they are going to happen.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, October 12, 6 a.m. here in New York.

President Trump is returning to the campaign trail today. He plans to hold rallies, despite the risk to public health. The president got out of the hospital one week ago after being treated for coronavirus, and he claims he has now tested negative, but the White House has still not provided any proof.

Just 22 days to go until the election. The president has a packed schedule. He will hold four rallies over the next four days. Now, if you're wondering what has happened to some people who have

been at these rallies, well, at least nine people who attended a Trump rally in Minnesota last month have been infected with coronavirus. One of them is in intensive care this morning.

As for Joe Biden, he is in Ohio today. His running mate, Kamala Harris, will participate in a Senate confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, but do so remotely.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So here's the thing. The most important headline this morning is this. The coronavirus situation in the country is not good. In fact, in some ways, it's very bad, as bad as it has been in months.

The U.S. is now averaging just under 50,000 new cases reported a day. That's the highest number in two months. Thirty-one states across the country are seeing a rise in cases. Six states are reporting record hospitalizations.

One model now predicts that 181,000 more Americans will die by February. A hundred and eighty-one thousand more people dead by February.

So that is the environment in which the president is choosing to gather crowds. It's a risky public health choice and a questionable political choice.

Speaking of which, the president managed to alienate Dr. Anthony Fauci, using footage of Fauci in a campaign ad without the doctor's knowledge or permission. And Fauci is not one bit happy; says his words were taken out of context.

Let's begin at the White House with Joe Johns.

And Joe, the president heading back out into the country as the number of cases continue to rise.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. The president heads out to Florida today. Later this week, he's also going to Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina. It's what a candidate does when he's behind in the polls in the presidential race.

However, we still have very little verifiable information about the president's health, except for what he and his doctors say, including whether the president is contagious.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're starting very, very big with our rallies and with our everything.

JOHNS (voice-over): With just 22 days until election day, Trump is ramping up his campaigning, causing rising concerns about potential coronavirus spread among rallygoers. The Minnesota Department of Health reporting at least nine cases linked to a Trump rally in September, landing one patient in the ICU. TRUMP: This is a lot of people. That's great. Thank you very much.

JOHNS: While the president claims he has tested negative for the virus, nine days after he initially revealed his positive diagnosis, his physician, Dr. Conley, only says he is not a transmission risk to others.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We know that the PCR test usually remains positive for some period of time, up to, in fact, 12 weeks after your initial positive.

JOHNS: Much still remains unknown about the president's condition, and Trump himself is now saying he's immune from the virus.

TRUMP (via phone): I beat this crazy, horrible China virus, and it also gives you immunity. I mean, it does give you immunity. And I have to tell you, I feel fantastically. I really feel good. And I even feel good by the fact that, you know, the word immunity means something, having -- having, really, a protective glow. It means something. I think it's very important to have that.

JOHNS: According to medical experts, much is still unknown about the immune response to the virus, and there is no proven immunity.

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, FORMER NYC ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH: Yes, the president has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, but he was treated with antibodies produced by Regeneron. Those Regeneron antibodies are going to be floating around for a while.

JOHNS: Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking out after he says the Trump campaign used his words out of context, and without his consent, in a campaign video.

Fauci tells CNN, "In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials."

The president defending the ad, tweeting, "They are, indeed, Fauci's own words."


JOHNS: Joe Biden is out on the trail again today, too, headed to Ohio.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is slamming the Presidential Debate Commission for canceling the second debate, even though it was the president himself who said he would not participate if it was held virtually. All eyes now on the date of October 22 for another debate.

John, back to you.

[06:05:03] BERMAN: Clearly, the Trump campaign regrets the president's rapid and hasty withdrawal from that debate. Clearly, they wish they probably didn't do that so quickly.

Joe Johns, thank you very much for being with us.

This morning, the U.S. is seeing this alarming uptick in coronavirus cases, averaging now just under 50,000 new cases a day. And you can get a sense of what's going on around the country.

Montana now has reported more than 5,000 new cases in just the last 11 days. It took the state five months to reach 5,000 cases at the beginning of the pandemic.

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now with the very latest. And we are seeing this rise. We haven't been where we are right now since the beginning of August, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, the struggle is real across the country. The predictions for what could happen in the next few months are dire.

Right here in New York City, a state that has one of the lowest positivity rates in the nation, we are continuing to see a cluster of cases. The governor is saying the only way forward, the only way to tackle these hot spots is with aggressive enforcement.

He says the hot spots are still largely affecting Hasidic Jewish communities. There are strict restrictions on religious gatherings now that have been met by protests in some orthodox neighborhoods. Those restrictions remain in place as the city tries to beat these hot spots.

Nationwide, much the same. You're seeing 31 states with an increase in cases. Some 50,000 cases a day on average last week. That is double the number of what we were seeing -- or rather, that is the highest number that we have seen in more than two months.

At the same time, we're looking at projections now from IHME. These projections have in the past been accurate, if not conservative. IHME is now projecting that we could see some 395,000 deaths by February 1.

If social distancing and other restrictions are eased, that number could go up over 500,000. And perhaps most interestingly, John and Alisyn, IHME is also projecting that if 95 percent of people wore masks, some 80,000 lives could be saved between now and February 1. Something to think about.

CAMEROTA: That is such a critical number. The amount of lives that could be saved.

FIELD: It's so simple.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much. We'll get into that later in the program.

Meanwhile, joining us now, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a professor of medicine at George Washington University and cardiologist for former Vice President Dick Cheney. Also with us, CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He's the political anchor of Spectrum News. Great to have both of you.

Dr. Reiner, President Trump seems to be taking a lot of solace in the notion that he is now immune. Of course, the larger concern should be for the people that he comes in contact with.

Case in point, he'll be holding a rally today in Florida. You know, there's been a lot of question about what happens to rallygoers after they go to one of these big, often maskless Trump campaign rallies. And we now have a little bit of information, thanks to the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

They did some contact tracing. And they found out that after the September 18 rally in Minnesota, nine people here became infected with coronavirus. One of these people -- we don't know their identity -- is in the ICU this morning. Two more people got infected at a counter rally that same day.

And so for everybody who's been wondering, gosh, what -- and by the way, that one was outdoors. OK? What we just saw was outdoors. There have been some indoor rallies. And so we're starting to see reporting, as you had predicted, of some of the consequences.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. We're in the middle of a pandemic. I mean, this sounds so elemental. It's a pandemic with a very contagious virus. If you bring a lot of people together, particularly if you bring a lot of people together who aren't wearing face masks, then the virus will spread.

Look, we had a gigantic outbreak in D.C. because of White House activities. Because of White House activities. In a city with only about a 1 percent positivity rate, it spiked because of White House activities. About 34 people associated with the White House itself have been infected with this virus.

So now the president is going to take his road show down to Florida. Florida has a positivity rate of 10 percent, which is about twice the national average.

So rather than making the same recommendation to the country, which is to lower our viral footprint, do the things that will protect us. And when I tell my patients to lower their viral footprint, that means, you know, minimizing how many times you go to the store, keeping out of crowds, wearing a face mask, keeping your distance from people. If the elevator stops and there are a couple of people in it, wait for the next elevator. These are common sense things. What I don't tell people to do is to go to a giant rally.

So -- but now the president is emboldened. He feels that he's immune. He feels that he got let off easy, and he's been playing it down from -- from the beginning. So now basically, his message is, I got through this, I beat this, and that's exactly the wrong message when we're averaging about 50,000 cases a day.


BERMAN: You know, Errol, the irony here is, it's clearly bad public health. Just listen to Dr. Reiner here. There's no question this is bad public health.

But politically, it doesn't seem to be particularly good thinking, either. I mean, why let yourself be put on camera in front of thousands of people who aren't social distanced when Americans already doubt how you're handling the pandemic?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right, John. In fact, what it does, in effect, is pit the president against most of the governors, much of the public health establishment, and how this plays out locally. Hey, the president is coming to town. There's going to be some big excitement coming to town. That's the whole point of going there to campaign.

On the other hand, every local news organization is also going to have to point out that this runs counter to what everyone has been saying for the last eight, nine months now, that you've got to have social distancing, you've got to have face coverings, and that this infectious spread is very real and that it has affected everyone, up to and including the president of the United States.

So it's one thing to run against Joe Biden. It's a much, much tougher pull to run against the entire public health establishment of the United States, including members of his own administration. That, however, is what the president has chosen to do.

That is a marker, by the way, John, I think, of where the campaign sees itself. We know that all of the polls show that he's running behind both nationally and in key swing states. But it suggests also this kind of hail Mary approach to this, that they feel like they're not making up ground. And that each news cycle that slips by without them making up that ground means they've got to try something bigger and bolder. And I think that's what these very otherwise reckless rallies represent.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, Errol, very quickly, is this a hail Mary or are they just -- President Trump thinks this these big rallies work for him? He's playing the hits. This is what he thinks, you know, has worked for him in 2016, and he's going back to that.

LOUIS: There's some of that, Alisyn, but I think there's also -- this campaign has not caught up with what the Biden campaign has figured out, which is how to do -- how to do rallies, how to do local hits, how to campaign on the campaign trail in a way that is both safe and also effective.

So you see all of these different things that the Biden/Harris campaign has put together, where they'll bring in local people, but have them socially distanced. They'll have a town hall, but have them socially distanced. There are ways to do this.

The Trump campaign is just behind, I think, in trying to figure out how to do it effectively. And again, they're -- they're running out of days to figure it out.

BERMAN: Yes. There's a good chance it's self-destructive. There's a good chance this backfires among seniors in Florida. He's going to Florida, where he's having trouble with seniors, so why not put yourself on TV looking like you're not respecting the coronavirus restrictions that the CDC says are necessary? Why not get in a fight with the most respected doctor in America?

Dr. Reiner, it's just fascinating. The Trump campaign put Dr. Fauci in an ad, this sound bite from Dr. Fauci, that so clearly takes him out of context. It's just crystal-clear.

And Fauci didn't like it. I mean, Fauci doesn't want to get involved in politics. Wherever we have him on, he dances around it the best he can. But basically, the Trump campaign put him in a position where he had to say, I didn't say the president was doing a good job.

I mean, what does it feel like to be someone in the public health establishment trying to stay out of politics and being dragged in?

REINER: Well, first of all, what they're doing to Tony Fauci is, they're muzzling him. Tony Fauci is really the scientific leader of the COVID task force. He's the voice that most Americans look to for answers and for solace and for direction.

But this weekend, he was largely muzzled. I've actually thought that he should speak out anyway. I don't think this administration can fire Tony Fauci. And he should not allow himself to be -- to be muzzled.

So they don't want him to speak out now, but they want to use his words to create some sort of false portrait of the administration's response. And -- and he's just had it. He's just had it. And he'll tell the public he's had it.

It's -- the whole communication process for this virus has been just so badly mishandled by this administration, and they keep stepping in it.

I mean, they're going to go to Iowa this week? Iowa has an 18 percent positivity rate. They're going -- they're going to the heartland of the virus. I mean, the president is basically running against the virus, and the virus is winning. The big -- I don't think the -- the way forward is to actually go into the hot zones.

CAMEROTA: Yes, in fact, I just want to very quickly, before we go, read what the mayor of Des Moines is saying. "Absolutely, I'm worried about the spread. We don't want a super-spreader event here in Des Moines. We urge everyone who would attend this event to wear a mask and social distance as best they can and to stay safe and healthy."


So, yes, we take your point that local officials are worried. Errol, Dr. Reiner, thank you both very much.

REINER: Sure. CAMEROTA: Coming up, more on the alarming spike in cases across the

country. Nearly 50,000 new cases now being reported every single day. So what is fueling this surge?


BERMAN: This morning, 31 states across the country reporting increases in new coronavirus cases. You can see all the states there in red. Six states seeing record hospitalizations. And there are a number of other states not on this map, by the way, where it's almost at record hospitalizations. It's a bad situation.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner is back with us.

Dr. Reiner, it strikes me, as we look at the number of hospitalizations around the nation, you can see the overall curve starting to bend upwards. It's now very clearly heading upwards. And this is exactly where we were in the summer after everyone let up. This was such a sign that things are about to get very, very bad. And you would think you would start to hear the alarm bells ringing at the highest level.


REINER: Well, you're going to start to hear it, because what's going to happen in communities around the country, unless this trend is reversed, and reversed soon, is hospitals are going to start to fill. And when hospitals start to fill, hospitals will start closing and stopping -- not closing, but will start canceling elective procedures. And will start doing some of the measures that we saw during the darkest days of the spring and early summer.

You know, there's a lot of talk, appropriately, about what happens to soldiers with multiple deployments to war zones. And what you're going to start to see, because we're seeing it now, is a lot of burnout amongst healthcare personnel in multiple waves of coronavirus in this country.

I'm concerned about the health of our healthcare providers. We should be doing everything we can to maintain our healthcare system. And the way to do that, the patriotic duty to do that is now to hunker down.

Again, as I said in the last segment, to reduce our collective viral footprint, so that we can blunt this curve. Otherwise, we're in for a horrible winter.

The good news is, I really do believe there's a vaccine on the way. There are probably multiple vaccines on the way. But we have to get through the winter. But it's going to be a disaster if this trend continues. Hospitals will fill, deaths will mount, it will be awful. And it doesn't have to be this way.

CAMEROTA: In fact, the IHME model says that, if 95 percent of people wore masks, we'd lower the death toll by February 1 by 80,000 people.

But Dr. Reiner, I mean, look, it's not just fatigue among frontline healthcare workers, though, of course, they're subjected to the most of it. It's just regular people. You know, regular people get tired of living differently than they have their whole lives.

So when you say it's time now, right now, you just said, to hunker down, what does that look like?

REINER: It means living differently. We've asked this country to do the hard things over and over again through our history. But our president and our administration hasn't asked us to do the hard thing.

You know, we shut down the country for a very short period of time in the spring, which was the right thing to do, but then we opened too quickly. The American people will stand behind the president when the president asks us to do difficult things.

Now what we need to do is, everyone needs to -- needs to wear a mask. I think we need to look at how -- how we test in this country. We haven't scaled up testing to the levels that would really enable us to open carefully in places.

Instead of looking to open, we need to understand where we may need to close. And -- and like what they're doing in New York, closing selective ZIP codes where the virus is spiking. That's the appropriate response.

We have to get through this short period of time. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We have to get through the tunnel.

BERMAN: Yes, I have to say, I mean, we focus a lot on the top and the decisions the president is making and the image he's projecting. But you can see it in everyday life. You can see people relaxing in everyday life. You can see people getting together in each other's houses, which they shouldn't be doing. You can see people gathering outside thinking, Oh, we're outside. It's at all good. Not if you're in a crowd. Not if you're in a crowd.

There's a big difference between what maybe you can do and what you should do. And it does seem that people are relaxing, in a way. And I worry, because we're in the middle of October already, and the curve is bending upwards. I don't know what's going to get in the way of this thing rising even more, Dr. Reiner.

REINER: Right. Look, I haven't eaten inside a restaurant since March. This weekend, my wife and I went out for lunch on our anniversary. We sat outside in a widely-spaced restaurant, and that was -- that was great. But I haven't been inside a restaurant. I haven't been inside a bar, right? I don't go into stores unless I have to go into stores. Because that's how you stay safe. And everywhere I go, I wear a mask.

If the country did that, if the country acted smart, you know, live smart. You don't have to live bad, live smart. You know, we could blunt this curve. We would blunt this curve.

But we need leadership. So we're seeing that on local levels. We're seeing that from some of the governors. But we're not seeing it from the federal administration. When you hold a rally right now in a place like Florida or in Iowa,

you're telling the country exactly the opposite. And that's -- it's -- I was going to say, it's suicide, except he claims he's immune. It's -- it's more like murder. It's really very destructive.


The message is, hunker down, lower your footprint, and we'll get through this together.

BERMAN: Dr. Reiner, happy anniversary. I guarantee you it's one you'll never forget. Thank you.

REINER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you very much for being with us this morning, as always.

REINER: Sure, sure.

BERMAN: The Supreme Court confirmation hearings -- the Senate confirmation hearings, in fact, for Judge Amy Coney Barrett kick off in a matter of just hours. We'll give you the very latest on what we expect to hear, next.


CAMEROTA: This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the first of four days of hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and CNN's Jessica Schneider is live in Washington with a preview for us.

So what should we expect, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this confirmation hearing is set to be an unprecedented hybrid, with some senators appearing in person, others appearing virtually-