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Coronavirus Cases Surging; Interview With Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Multiple Children Killed in Gun Violence Over Weekend. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 06, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Monday. You're watching CNN.

We begin with this urgent warning, this warning from more than 200 scientists to the CDC and the World Health Organization that the coronavirus can float in the air in smaller droplets than previously thought, and the public needs to be on alert, that message delivered in an open letter.

And it comes as 32 states begin this new week where they ended the last one, in a fight to contain the spread, several states posting records yet again.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Clearly, our current approach, if you call it that, is not working.

By the time we're -- for the fall election, I'm sure we will easily be at 100,000 cases a day, as Dr. Fauci predicts, and we might even be more -- might even be at a higher level than that. So we're in freefall, if we don't stop it.


BALDWIN: Despite the surge, many Americans shrugged off the thread over the holiday weekend.

The Michigan medical director says police were aware of this lake party -- look at this -- but lacked the authority to enforce social distancing. And despite a statewide mandate requiring masks in public, you can see most people there are not at all wearing one.

And you know similar scenes played out nationwide. And the White House minimizing the risk and touting their questionable record, as the U.S. nears three million cases.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the world is looking at us as a leader in COVID-19.


BALDWIN: We should note that, just last week, one of the president's top officials debunked Trump's claim that the spike is the result of more testing.

Admiral Brett Giroir testifying to Congress that a jump in positivity results tells him and others that -- quote -- "This is a real increase in cases."

Let's turn to Florida now, one of the hardest-hit states, where coronavirus cases topped over 200,000. Florida set a record for new infections on the 3rd of July, more than 11,000 in just that one day. And now Miami-Dade, the state's most populated county, is rolling back reopening plans.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live from Miami Beach.

And so what are the restrictions that are now going into place?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, experts warned about this. If the number of cases didn't drop, this was going to happen.

Miami-Dade County announcing today that it's rolling back some of the reopening plans. They are closing down restaurants again, allowing only takeout and delivery. They're closing down fitness centers, party venues, short-term vacation rentals.

And officials here are citing the numbers, the increase in hospitalizations, and also the need of ICU beds and ventilators. The concern, too, is large gatherings in public -- in public places.

Now, here's what Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference today about theme parks and Disney. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The theme parks have been doing great. Disney, I have no doubt, is going to be a safe environment. I think that where you start to see the spread is just in social situations, where people let their guard down, usually like a private party or something like that.


FLORES: Now, Brooke, here in Miami-Dade, on the other hand, they're concerned both of what's happening in private, with private parties happening in homes, but also what's happening out at restaurants and public venues -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: What's the story also, Rosa, in Florida with contact tracing? Apparently, there's very limited contact tracing happening there. Why?

FLORES: The CNN Health unit interviewed 27 Floridians that tested positive for COVID-19. And according to these individuals, only five of them were contacted by the Health Department for contact tracing purposes.

Now, I remembered that, here in Miami-Dade, Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced on May 14 that the county was getting ready to hire 800 to 1,000 contact tracers. So we contacted the county today asking how many people they had hired.

Well, the answer, Brooke, was zero. And here is why. According to the county -- quote -- "In Florida, the Florida Department of Health is the only entity authorized to conduct contact tracing."

Now, Brooke, process this with me for just a moment, because Miami- Dade County is the epicenter of the crisis here in the state of Florida, accounting for 24 percent of the more than 206,000 cases in the state. So you would think that it's all hands on deck.

And we have asked the state why Miami-Dade County can't help with the contact tracing. And we're waiting to hear back -- Brooke.


BALDWIN: Keep calling them. Blow them up. That needs to change.

Rosa Flores, thank you so much in Miami Beach.

People in Texas are being urged to shelter in place. Hospitals in two counties have already reached capacity, as coronavirus cases surge statewide. And officials are sounding the alarm, as ICU beds and ventilators are coming dangerously close to being fully in use, as the number of cases continues to climb all across the state, really suggesting it is only a matter of days until hospitals are overwhelmed.

Listen to this:


STEVE ADLER (D), MAYOR OF AUSTIN, TEXAS: If we don't change the trajectory we're on now, that, in 10 days to two weeks, we're going to have overwhelmed hospitals and overwhelmed ICUs.

And it's not just the physical space. It's the health care professionals. It's the doctors and skilled nurses. And it's beginning to look like Houston and Dallas and San Antonio are all going to be competing with that same talent as Austin here in a couple weeks.

And that has great concern.


BALDWIN: Speaking of Houston, joining me now, Dr. Ben Saldana, a medical director of the freestanding emergency care centers for Houston Methodist Hospital.

So, Dr. Saldana, thank you so much for being on with me. Welcome.


BALDWIN: So, your hospital is seeing a surge, in the same way we saw across New York City and those hospitals back in March. As of today, what is your top concern?

SALDANA: Yes, so I think what I can tell you about the Houston environment is that Houston Methodist has seen in the past four months about 3,000 admissions for COVID.

We know that, at our peak in the mid-April, we have already tripled those numbers here in Houston at Houston Methodist. And so, as we are prepared to double those numbers, we are asking our public to take heed to the strict handwashing, the social distancing and the mask wearing.

So I think that's, that's our greatest concern is getting the message out to take these things serious.

BALDWIN: You know, I was reading about you today. You have been at Houston Methodist, Doctor, for almost two decades. You have been on the front lines of planning during the Ebola crisis, during hurricanes.

You know, when you think about this pandemic -- and I have read that doctors in Houston, say, vs. New York in the spring, you know, now have a broader knowledge about how to manage the sickest patients and are often more able to avoid breathing tubes and ventilators and critical care.

Why do you think that is?

SALDANA: Yes, so I think there's a couple of things.

First of all, many of us in Houston trained in New York City. We had the privilege of thriving through HIV/AIDS, 9/11, SARS, anthrax. And so all that experience brought with us the knowledge of how to address these kinds of issues.

So, in the past four months, what we have also learned from our colleagues around the nation is what better treatments that we can use. So, often, during the first surge, an older population required ventilator use early. And now we know, with the second surge in Houston, seems to be a younger population.

That younger population, we have learned, can do things like proning to aerate parts of the lung, to increase that oxygenation, without the use of ventilators early on. There are other therapies use at use that experimental that seem to be doing well as well.

But that's kind of, I think, the difference in why you might not be hearing the need for ICU ventilators at this point. BALDWIN: Quite like we were, quite like we were in New York City in

March. I just think that is such an important distinction. Thank you for explaining that to us.

Let me throw -- I want to put a graphic up on the screen, Dr. Saldana, of just the timeline of the hospitalizations since Texas reopened.

And when you look at that curve upwards, the trajectory is frightening. And then you have some urging Governor Abbott there in Texas to empower local government to issue stay-at-home orders.

As a doctor, just right there on the front lines, what do you think it'll take to get that graphic moving in the right direction?

SALDANA: So, I think it's going to take, first of all, just continuing with the messaging.

We are lucky to have great medical leadership here at Houston Methodist and in the Med Center. All the CEOs, CNOs and quality leaders in the E.R. as well have collectively gathered every evening to discuss rates, help each other with bed management, so that we all share our patient population.

I think that there are conversations that happen with the governor and his leadership to make sure that there's an understanding of the realities of what's available to us and what really needs to happen.

I think some of the requests for mandated masking now and closing of the beaches this past weekend was a step in the right direction. It's really up to us. I think we need to in the public just be aware.


The way that we're going to show we care is by wearing a mask, social distance, and adhere to strict hand hygiene.

BALDWIN: No, I hear all your messaging. And I hope Texans are listening.

And Dr. Ben Saldana, thank you for all you're doing and all that you have left to do here during this pandemic. Appreciate you. Thank you very much.

I want to take everyone from Texas now to Illinois. The city of Chicago, once a hot spot in the pandemic, has now seen new cases drop dramatically in recent weeks. And now the city has a new rule to keep it that way.

Starting today, Chicago is requiring anyone traveling to the city from any of these 15 states to quarantine for two weeks. Violators could be subject to a fine of up to $500.

So with me now, the commissioner for the Public -- the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady.

So, Dr. Arwady, thank you for being with me. And let's just go right to that list. You know, what was the criteria

for choosing those things 15 states?


So, we felt like we had to do everything we could to protect the progress that we have made here in Chicago. We're at a point where we're seeing record lows in hospitalizations, record lows in death going back to March.

And so these states are places where there are more than 15 cases every day per 100,000 population. That means they're at levels twice what we're seeing in Chicago, and they're at a level of an outbreak back where we were under shelter at place -- in place.

But in these states, there are not shelter-in-place orders. So we have put an order in place saying that, if folks travel from those states, including Chicagoans who go to visit, if they return to Chicago, they need to quarantine for 14 days before they can be out and about.

BALDWIN: Now, it is one thing to put this order in place. It is quite another to enforce it.

How will you plan on forcing people to comply? And how will those fines work?


So our main goal here is really, first and foremost, to educate people into doing the right thing. So people will be getting information at the airport. They will be getting information as they're booking tickets. We're having our hotels and our Airbnbs make sure that people have that understanding as they're looking to book information.

We're putting info up on the highways for people who are driving in. But we're not going to be pulling over people with out-of-state licenses. We're not going to be making big lists of people to track them down.

Primarily, if we determine, in the case of -- as we're doing our case investigations, that someone has violated this order, it gives us the authority to put those fines in, up to $500 per day for anyone who is found to not be in compliance with the order.

But, mainly, we want to educate people into doing the right thing, let them know that right now is not the time to be having nonessential travel to any of those places.

BALDWIN: No, it certainly -- with that list, that is sending a strong message.

Dr. Allison Arwady in Chicago, thank you so much on those new restrictions starting today.

Meantime, the polls. The polls show the president's political standing falling. So he is again blaming China for the coronavirus and peddling outright lies about how the U.S. is handling it, attributing spiking case numbers to increase testing and claiming it is under control.

The president is also holding closely to culture war symbols and tweeting about them just to light a fire under his political base. Just last hour, this tweet: "They named teams out of strength, not weakness. But now the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they're going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct."

Also prominently featured in the president's daily Twitter rant, the Confederate Flag. He criticized both NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate Flag from its racetracks and said Bubba Wallace, the sports' only black driver, should apologize after the FBI determined that a noose was found in his garage at Talladega was, in fact, not part of a hate crime.

Wallace, for his part, has responded with this -- quote -- "Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally, as people are taught to hate, even when it's hate from the president of the United States."

Gun deaths are now spiking across America, with so many children among the victims. I will talk to the mayor of Atlanta, who says that she is fighting -- quote, unquote -- "the enemy within."

Plus, New York City is concerned about spiking numbers in other states. So, indoor dining is now off the table again.

And an army soldier is the victim of a grisly crime, and now her family is calling for change in the military.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

There is nothing worse than burying your child. Today, the parents of at least six children across the country will have to suffer through that inescapable grief, after gun violence stole the lives of their kids.

Secoriea Turner, she was 8. She died in her mother's arms in Atlanta. Davon McNeal, he was 11. He was killed running into his aunt's Washington, D.C., house to grab a phone charger. Natalia Wallace, she was 7. She was playing outside in her Chicago neighborhood when a bullet struck her in the head.

Royta De'Marco Giles, he was 8. He was caught in the middle of a gun battle inside a Hoover, Alabama, shopping mall. An unnamed 6-year-old boy in San Francisco and a 14-year-old in Chicago.

Just one child is too many, but six in 72 hours is a national wakeup call. Let's go straight to CNN's Omar Jimenez minutes in Chicago, where at

least 77 people were shot over this weekend.

And, Omar, tragedy piled on top of tragedy, but the Chicago mayor says there decades of inequities fueling the violence.



Well, it's the ecosystem of public safety, is how Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot described it to me. And they're operating at the intersection of coronavirus and gun violence.

And many of the same communities that have most been affected by this pandemic are being most affected by violence. And when you look at this summer and what we have seen so far specifically, of course, you're dealing with the typical challenges of summer violence.

But, on top of that, we have had first responders, including police officers, who have tested positive for coronavirus or died. The jail has seen hundreds of detainees test positive or die. Courts have had to close at one point or another.

So, Mayor Lightfoot says all of these factors come together to create this current reality.


LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Violence is a manifestation of much larger social problems. It's a factor of poverty, lack of jobs, lack of education, and lack of hope.

All of these forces are coming together at the same time and making it very difficult.


JIMENEZ: And one of the most difficult parts of this is, this is now a third week in a row in Chicago where children have now been killed, children that range in ages from 10 years old, 3 years old, 1-year- old, and, of course, this past weekend, a 7-year-old.

And the family of 3-year-old, Mekhi James, who died in recent weeks told me and gave me insight to a grim reality that they are now living firsthand, funerals where children are now carrying the caskets of children.

BALDWIN: Omar, thank you.

With me now, the mayor of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

So, Mayor Bottoms, thank you so much for being with me.

And I want to just get right to Secoriea, 8 years of age. You said it over the weekend. She was a baby. How could this happen? KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: You know,

Brooke, that's the question that we're all asking ourselves.

And, ironically, I found a note on my desk, and I don't even know the context in which I wrote this out. But I said, I don't know the answers because I often don't even know the questions to ask.

And I was listening to Mayor Lightfoot. She summed it up. We talk about systemic racism and the trauma and anxiety and all these things that are happening in our communities. And it is this convergence.

And I hate to use the word a perfect storm, but it's where we are in this country right now. And you think about the leadership or the lack there of that we have coming from the highest office in the land. I think that you are seeing so many emotions play out.

And so, too often, it's playing out in violence in our streets.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to this concept in the community of a perfect storm, but I do want to ask about the family first.

We know the family last night was calling on the community to work to help find who killed their daughter. Do you have an update, Mayor Bottoms, just on the search for Secoriea's killer? Is there any progress there? And have you spoken with the family today?

BOTTOMS: I have not spoken with the family today, but we have received a number of tips. So we are encouraged by that.

There are so many peaceful people in the area and so many people who've been gathering in a peaceful way throughout our city over the past few weeks. So, this is -- has not been received well by so many people of good conscience. And people are speaking up.

And, hopefully, we will have something more concrete soon.


And then you made it clear when you were speaking last night these are folks in the same community shooting each other. And as you also point out, you cannot blame police. Why?

BOTTOMS: Well, the point that I was hoping to make, and I hope that it was received that way in the way in which I was intending, the irony of this is that this is on a site that was supposed to be a tribute to a man who was killed by police, who spoke about his daughter's eighth birthday the next day.

He spoke about her birthday party in his encounter with a police officer. And the irony was that, in -- this place of peace and what should have been a place of honor and tribute turned into deadly violence.

There were two shooters is what Secoriea's mothers said. One shot from that parking lot of the Wendy's, and one shot from the parking lot that she was attempting to make a U-turn in. And so it is -- there are separate issues, but the result is still the same.

There is injustice and there is police brutality in America, period. But there's also this violence that's erupting on our streets, often between people within the same community, that is also a problem.


And to someone like Secoriea's parents to her nearly 50 loved ones who were with us on -- yesterday, the result is still the same. Somebody who they love is gone. And I think that we have to deal with both of these issues, and we can't deal with them if we want to put our heads in the sand and act as if they don't exist.

BALDWIN: To that point, you said this last night -- quote -- "During the civil rights movement, there was a common enemy. Now we're fighting from within."

So two questions: How do you stop that infighting, and then what or who, in your view, is that common enemy?

BOTTOMS: Well, in the civil rights movement, there was a -- there was this defined objective. And that objective was to receive equal rights for all Americans, particularly African-Americans, during that time.

This movement is a very different movement. It's a more global movement. And I think that, at this moment in time, when you have so many people interested in making change across the globe, I don't think that it is helpful to this movement, when it is being overshadowed by violence and things and instances that are taking away from the importance of this movement.

And so I think that this enemy that we have to confront is violence. And whether it's violence from interactions with police officers, whether it's violence within our communities, the impact is still the same on our communities. It's destroying our communities.

And I think that they are equally important conversations. I think that we can have the same conversation. I think we can -- we have the ability to have this conversation simultaneously.

But when you have a child, an 8-year-old child who is killed just feet away from the site where we are protesting the killing of an unarmed black man, then we have got to acknowledge that we have got some layers of issues in our communities, and we have got to confront them both with the same anger and with the same sense of urgency.

BALDWIN: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, I appreciate you speaking up and out on this. And thank you for taking the time with me.

And, of course, our condolences to Secoriea's family. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: New York City's restaurants still not allowed to have indoor dining. Coming up, I will talk to a restaurant owner about the challenge of just trying to stay open safely and survive.