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New Day

Hurricane Isaias Takes Aim at Florida Amid Pandemic; Glaxo, Sanofi Partner to Produce 100 Million Vaccine Doses; Trump Suggests Delaying Election, Only Congress Can Do It. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Breaking news to get to.


And New Day continues right now.

All right, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day. John Berman is off. Jim Sciutto joins me. Jim, great to have you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEW DAY: Great to be here this morning.

CAMEROTA: It's a very busy morning, and we begin with breaking news.

The United States is facing dueling emergencies. In addition to the coronavirus crisis, a rapidly intensifying hurricane is now threatening the entire east coast. Florida shutting down all coronavirus testing sites as this hurricane strengthens and takes aim at the state.

And on the coronavirus front, Florida led the country with nearly 10,000 new cases yesterday. And it broke its own death toll record for a third straight day.

Across the country, coronavirus deaths are rising in 27 states, with more than 1,200 Americans losing their lives just yesterday.

SCIUTTO: If you want facts, if you want hard answers, tune in just two hours from now. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials will be on Capitol Hill to face questions from lawmakers about the need for a federal, a national strategy, and the administration's optimistic prediction that a vaccine could be 90 percent effective. What does the data tell us? Dr. Fauci is urging caution about any hard predictions at this stage.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I mean, that's obviously a very optimistic estimate. We all hope it's going to be that way.

I'm not sure if it will be 90 percent, but I think it's going to be reasonably good.


SCIUTTO: All the science he does, President Trump heads to Florida today where he will address the pandemic and the approaching hurricane. It comes as the president is drawing a rare rebuke not only from Democrats, but Republicans, even one of his predecessors, for raising the possibility, the threat perhaps, of delaying the November election as more states opt more mail-in ballots due to the danger of voting during the pandemic, something only, we should note, Congress has the power to do. The president cannot delay the election.

We begin with CNN's Randi Kaye, she is live in Palm Beach County, Florida, with our top story on a hurricane hitting a state in the midst of a galloping outbreak of this virus.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And as we're still seeing record deaths here, Jim, in the state, 253 deaths just yesterday, and Florida is still leading the nation in terms of new cases, just under 10,000. And we could go from bad to worse in the next day or so as we wait for this hurricane that is barreling toward the State of Florida. It could hit here tomorrow. We are under a tropical storm watch right now and then the hurricane will then make its way hugging the east coast, make its way north.

Meanwhile, it's unclear how this will work in a pandemic. How do you evacuate safely? Is there enough PPE for FEMA workers or shelter workers? Are the shelters even open? Can you safely social distance? Those are all questions as we're facing this hurricane coming towards us in the midst of this pandemic.

The state has taken some action. They are closing all of the state-run testing sites throughout the state here in Palm Beach County, where I am. They closed eight of them. But in the three hardest hit counties in the Southern Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, they've now closed 33 testing sites. It's those tents that they set up that just would not be able to withstand those hurricane force winds.

All of this probably top of mind and will likely come up at this hearing later this morning, 9:00 A.M. start on Capitol Hill. We'll hear from the nation's top three health officials, that includes Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC director, Robert Redfield, as well as Admiral Brett Giroir. They will be talking about how to contain the pandemic and try and find a national plan to do so at this point.

Jim, back to you.

SCIUTTO: It's months into this. We should have a national plan by now. It doesn't seem like it's happening. Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

Now, for more on the hurricane that has intensified overnight, threatening Florida, and as it moves, the entire U.S. east coast. CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, she has been tracking it for us. All the paths take it up the coast. How big will it be, how strong will it be and for how long?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I think the strength is really going to be the biggest concern. At the 5:00 update the National Hurricane Center put out, saying, it's still a possibility this could get to a Category 2 as it continues to slide to the north and west.

Right now, Hurricane Isaias has sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, gusting up to 100 miles per hour. In terms of tropical systems, this is moving relatively quickly to the northwest at about 17 miles per hour.

In terms of where it is expected to go, it will continue on that northwest track heading towards Florida. At this point, you've got the models pretty much split. Some of them want a landfall over Florida, others just having it skirt along the east coast and continuing to ride up the very track, potentially making a landfall across the Carolinas or perhaps even later somewhere across the northeast, so, certainly, something to keep an eye on.


In the short-term, however, you do have hurricane warnings out for the Bahamas and tropical storm watches out for portions of Southern Florida. This does includes Miami, as well as Fort Lauderdale.

And, Alisyn, the biggest concern going forward is really going to be the rain, the amount of flooding potential. The highest amounts look to be in the Carolinas, where we could see three to five inches total.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Please keep us posted as you track it. Allison, thank you very much.\

Okay. Joining us now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, great to see you.

I remember a few weeks ago this was this like a frightening hypothetical, it's hurricane season starting, what if a hurricane hits a place where coronavirus is spiking, and now here we are. So Florida, the idea that hundreds of people would be packed into an emergency shelter, the idea that emergency services would be taxed now with the hurricane beyond coronavirus, what are you looking at this morning?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. My parents live down in Florida. I was with them for a couple of days this past week. And this was the big topic. There's a few things to consider. One, as Randi Kaye was mentioning, obviously, the testing, which we've been talking about for months now, will have to take a pause. They're still not up to snuff in terms of what they need to be doing. And that's going to affect this. There's going to be more people out there who are unable to get tested, who may have the virus continue to spread. We know what happens in those situations.

Also, people, if they need to be evacuated, obviously difficult to keep physical distancing at those times. Al though we find that if you wear masks in situations like this, you can greatly mitigate the spread.

One of the things I think is interesting and Peter Hotez brought this up before, we've seen evidence when you have significant storms, because people in that case are sort of forced to stay at home, forced to physically distance if they don't have to be evacuated, you do see numbers going down. You've seen that before, for example, with ice storms during flu season, where you see a sudden drop-off in overall spread.

So you're going to have all these counteracting forces. Obviously, it's not a good thing, overall, but we're going to be keeping a close eye on what happens there.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, national response plan, forgive me for shaking my head. I know you do as well, because we're six months into this. There is no national plan and no apparent interest in one from this administration.

Given that, what is the most likely trajectory for this outbreak in the coming months as perhaps some children go back to school, but the expected fall spike or second wave happens with the weather change and so on, what is the likely path of this in the next several months?

GUPTA: You know, it's very interesting, Jim. Some predicted early on that what you would see is these sort of progressive waves occurring across the country. We saw it first in the west coast, Washington State. We had the first people who were infected, California, New York obviously, and then you're seeing it in the south and now it's moving toward the Midwest.

So you sort of see these ebbs and flows. And what seems to happen is that we don't really fully eradicate the infection. We sort of half treat it in various places and then it starts to come back, as any disease would. If you think of the country like the human body and do these half measures, the disease never really goes away. And when it comes back, it can come back more forcefully and spread more widely. That seems to be what's happening.

I asked Dr. Fauci about this last night, and I said, just where are we in the arc of this entire thing? And he basically said, look, we could have been in the seventh or eighth inning right now as you see in the European Union because of national strategies that really stamp out the disease, but we're still sort of in the second or third inning. It is why we need a national strategy, because even New York, where you are now, is not -- is still vulnerable as a result of what's happening in the rest of the country, even if the numbers are down right now.

CAMEROTA: Of course, everyone is vulnerable. There is no cure. This thing is wildly infectious. Of course -- well, I mean, yes, we all feel it. We're all still vulnerable.

And that's why this morning, Sanjay, at 9:00 A.M. East Coast Time, it's going to be so interesting to hear Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield, and Admiral Giroir, who is supposed to be heading the testing strategy for the government, they are going to have to answer questions to lawmakers. And, of course, lawmakers are going to ask them about the absence of a national strategy.

And I always am reluctant to post political questions to you because that's obviously not your purview, however, should Admiral Giroir be able to answer where the national strategy is since President Trump promised it two weeks ago? I mean, will we get an answer to that today?

GUPTA: Well, he absolutely should be able to answer it. I don't know if we will get an answer to that today. I mean, you know, with Admiral Giroir, in particular, it's really been his focus on testing and where we are on testing and why we still don't have a national strategy on testing.


The fact that testing is just basically used to identify hot spots in the country as opposed to actually being able to do surveillance, bring numbers down, isolate people who are infected, all of that, that's still not happening.

So he's been asked about it, I asked him about it last night at the town hall. And it's still this sort of acknowledgment that, yes, we don't have enough testing, it's unrealistic to test the whole country, which isn't really the point. No one is saying we need to test the whole country but we need to be doing adequate testing. The fact that we don't have a national strategy means we surge in one area for a bit of time, we surge in another area in a bit of time and those other areas sort of get forgotten.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I love your analogy of only half treating a patient for a disease. You don't quite kill it and it comes back.

Let's talk about a vaccine, if we can, because you and I have talked to Dr. Fauci a number of times, and he's always been fairly optimistic, saying that it is realistic to imagine a workable vaccine perhaps as early as the end of this year, beginning of next year. That said, when you asked him last night about this idea of a 90 percent efficacy rate coming from the director of operation warp speed, he injected some reasonable, if not doubt, but questions about that.

GUPTA: Yes. You know, I was really surprised that the head of operation warp speed said 90 percent efficacy, that he threw that number out there, as are a lot of scientists that I talked to late last night and even early this morning. I think the thing is, we don't know. What they're trying to do is they say, hey, look, when someone gets infected, how many of these antibodies do they make.

Okay. Now we give the vaccine, how many of these types of antibodies, called neutralizing antibodies, do they make? And they find that they're similar, whether you're vaccinated or infected, you're producing the same amount of antibodies.

What we don't know is how protective is that. There is no correlative measure, we call it. I would love to tell you that is six inches or three meters worth of protection or 20 pounds worth of protection, something you would understand in terms of overall protection. But we don't really have that correlative measure here.

So everyone is sort of guessing. And it worries me when you start throwing around 90 percent as the number that that becomes the basement, that becomes the expectations of what this is going to be and very few vaccines perform at that level of efficacy. Dr. Fauci was also saying the same thing. I'm sure he'll get asked about that again today.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, Dr. Gupta, thank you very much. We appreciate all of the information.

CNN has just learned the U.S. government is committing another $2 billion to support coronavirus vaccine development. Two pharmaceutical companies will be partnering to produce 100 million vaccine doses.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is live in Savannah, Georgia, with the details. So tell us about this breaking news.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is just another vaccine, one more to add to the list that Operation Warp Speed is funding. And many of them are being funded to the tune of billions of dollars.

Let's take a look, Alisyn, at the entire list. So there are two that are already in phase three trials. That's the final round of trials before hopefully review of data and approval. That's Moderna and Pfizer. AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Novavax are also getting Operation Warp Speed funding. Those are expected to begin phase three by September.

Then this one that we just learned from, GSK, GlaxoSmithKline, they say that they will be in phase three by the end of 2020. There's also two more unnamed vaccines.

I was told by Moncef Slaoui, I had an exclusive interview with him yesterday, and he said eight total. So if you add that up, that adds up to eight.

I also asked the Dr. Slaoui, when do you expect most Americans will be able to get a vaccine. Now, I think this is very important because everyone keeps hearing, oh, by the end of the year.

But that's not quite right. What the Dr. Slaoui told me is that by the end of the year, December or maybe January of next year, he expects there will be tens of millions of doses for high risk people. High risk people are elderly, they have underlying health conditions or perhaps they are morbidly obese. And those people he said that he expects will be able to get the vaccine end of this year, beginning of next. But when I asked him about the rest of Americans, he said, ideally, by the middle of next year or possibly even the end of next year.

So I think as we sort of move forward in this pandemic, I think it's a good thing we're moving forward with the vaccines. But, remember, that for most Americans, it will likely not be until well into 2021 that we're actually able to get a shot in our arms.

CAMEROTA: It's good to temper our expectations, for sure. And about that $2 billion price tag, is that customary? Does that seem high? COHEN: That's about what the other companies are getting as well. And so that covers not just development of the vaccine and the clinical trials but also manufacturing.


And that's what's different, happening different here than with other outbreaks. They're manufacturing these while they're testing them. They know that some of these probably won't work and they will have wasted a whole lot of money, but they say that it's worth it in order to get us out of this pandemic.

CAMEROTA: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for giving us all of this breaking medical news.

All right, President Trump is raising the notion of delaying the presidential election over his bogus claims about mail-in voting. Is all of this a distraction? The president has some re-election woes. We get to the bottom of it.



DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't want to delay. I want to have the election, but I also don't want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn't mean anything. That's what's going to happen.

Do I want to see a date change, no. But I don't want to see a crooked election.


SCIUTTO: A non-denial from the president. Republicans are breaking with President Trump over that suggestion as the president, once again, falsely claims mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.


Joining us, CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman. She's a New York Times White House Correspondent who covered this president well and long.

A classic Trump non-denial there, saying, I don't want to delay the election, but then saying that election might not mean anything if he so deems, for whatever reason, claiming that mail-in voting makes it illegitimate. That struck me as worrisome words coming from him, his attempt to delegitimize the election will not fade, that, in fact, he will double, triple, quadruple down on it.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What we saw yesterday, Jim, was the president's attempt, frankly, to clean up of what he had tweeted. And what he tweeted was something he didn't disavow at that news conference, which was the suggestion of delaying the election. That met with a swift rebuke from Republicans who wanted no part of it. That was a bridge too far even for them when they normally avoid his controversies.

But he has been, as you say, doing this buildup, laying the groundwork for many months now to try to suggest that the results of the election won't be legitimate and he is doing this on baseless claims that there's going to be widespread rigging, in his words, of this election if by mail voting is used.

The big question for a lot of people heading into November is what voting is going to look like. And all he is doing is exacerbating those fears, not trying to calm them.

CAMEROTA: Wasn't it interesting, Maggie, to hear Republicans, like Senator Marco Rubio, immediately rebuke it? I mean, just nowhere, Marco Rubio tweeted, we're going to have an election, it's going to be legitimate, it's going to be credible, it's going to be the same, as it's always been. Are they at a breaking point? I mean, it's just interesting to hear them speak so vociferously against something the president said.

HABERMAN: Look, I do think, Alisyn, again, there's going to be a big question of whether you see Republicans who are facing the potential loss of their Senate majority this fall in part because of the president's numbers and how poorly he's doing if they start to take more steps away from him. But on this one, I think it's a very specific thing. And I'm not sure that it relates to future actions.

On this one you are undermining something that has been foundational to U.S. democracy, which is that the election is held, set by Congress, the president does not unilaterally have the authority to make a change, even if he wants to. And I think there are desires to show the country that, you know, he's not inching toward making broad- scale changes that Republicans have repeatedly criticized Democrats for raising fears about.

I also think Republicans are acting in their own self-interest. When the president says things like this, he risks suppressing Republican voting shares. If he's telling his followers and his supporters, don't do by mail voting, it's going to be widespread likely this November, that raises the possibility there are fewer votes for Republicans and so I think you have republicans acting out of concern for themselves.

SCIUTTO: Herman Cain, sadly, passed away yesterday, a former Republican presidential candidate. He died from COVID. That picture taken at Trump's Tulsa rally where Cain went, as many did, without wearing a mask, still not clear whether that's where he contracted it. But tell us about the import of the president commenting, of course, on Herman Cain's death, but deliberately refusing to visit John Lewis' body at the Capitol or also join the funeral yesterday as Democratic and presidential -- republican former presidents did?

HABERMAN: Look, Herman Cain and John Lewis had little in common in terms of being figures of significant public interest in this country, but it is certainly true that the president sought to praise Herman Cain. It's not surprising that he did. Herman Cain was a supporter. He passed away after several weeks of being hospitalized, as we understand it, battling the coronavirus. This was a -- I think the president's folks took this as an opportunity for him to sound empathetic about somebody's death related to the coronavirus.

But what most of the rest of the country was focused on, at least the political world of the country, was focused on John Lewis. And it, again, just signified how isolated this president has been in recent days as he's looking at a pretty grim political future.

His refusal to talk about John Lewis is at a piece (ph) with his refusal to talk about John McCain when John McCain passed away. He will not acknowledge people who have been critical of him, regardless of the circumstances.


CAMEROTA: Maggie, one more note on the Herman Cain thing, because it was such a gut punch, actually, yesterday to hear the news that -- I mean, ever since I heard that he was sick, of course, knowing his demographic, I worried that it would end horribly tragically. Then when it did, I'm just wondering what happened in the White House, knowing that Herman Cain went to that Tulsa rally, okay, the Tulsa rally that the medical experts in Tulsa did not want the president to hold because they knew it would be dangerous.


He went as a healthy, 74-year-old man. He was not sick. He was not positive for coronavirus that day. Then a month later, he is dead.

Is there any feeling inside the White House of responsibility, of guilt, of connection to this?

HABERMAN: This is not how the White House is handling it. In fact, you've seen the president say not that long ago, I think it was a few days ago, that he's known several friends who passed away from COVID and one was close to the end. I have to assume he was talking about Herman Cain.

The White House continues to have a blinder view of all of this. They do not look at actions they have taken as having an impact on people getting sick, whether that's the Tulsa rally, whether it's a lack of sufficient testing across the country, whether it is the lack of a national plan to combat this. And this incident with Herman Cain, which is obviously tragic, is no different.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask about one more thing, because there are statements, then there are actions, right, statements to restrict or de-legitimize the vote and actions, and many of which are not just by the president but by Republican Party more broadly.

NPR has a story out this morning regarding the census and how door-to- door visits will stopped a month early. That is impactful because that disproportionately affects the counting of minority districts, people of color. We're aware of previous administration attempts to restrict the census in ways that might politically benefit Republicans. Tell us the significance of this step going forward.

HABERMAN: Look, there have been issues and questions related to the census and how this administration is conducting the census for a very long time. But you are correct. this is going to raise new concerns about the possibility that this is being politicized to undercount people of color. We recently saw the president sign an executive order to say that undocumented immigrants would not be counted as part of the census. There is an effort to restrict clearly.

Now, maybe they will come up with a different reason for why it is that they are ending this count a month (ph) early. If it exists, we haven't heard it yet. It is going to feed into fears that there's an effort to politicize this count.

CAMEROTA: For sure. Maggie Haberman, thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

All right, the question on so many parents' minds continues to be, is it safe for kids to return to school? We're going to ask a superintendent what he learned when he reopened his schools this summer and how they did it safely, next.