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COVID-19 Cases Continue Rising in States Across U.S.; White House Lists Ending COVID-19 Pandemic as One of President Trump's First Term Accomplishments; Pence Campaigns in Wisconsin Today Despite Worsening Outbreak. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is getting worse. It's the opposite of ending the pandemic. Forty states are seeing cases increase. Look at this map. There has never been this much orange and red on this map, which means cases rising just about everywhere -- 985 new deaths reported overnight. Deaths are rising in 27 states. You can see it's getting worse. It is the opposite of ending the pandemic.

But in this mind-blowing feat of dishonesty, Orwellian level propaganda, the White House Science Policy Office lists ending the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the top accomplishments of the president's first term. So do you think the families of the 985 people just reported dead from coronavirus think that anyone has ended the pandemic? It's outrageous.

And this morning there's new evidence that that message that the White House has ended the pandemic, that message may be backfiring. There is a brand-new poll out of Wisconsin which shows voters disgusted with the president's pandemic response. Joe Biden in the ABC News/"Washington Post" poll has opened up that sizable lead you can see on the screen there.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So President Trump continues to hold large rallies in hot spot states like Wisconsin where virus cases and deaths have exploded recently. Former President Obama will be, or was at a drive-in rally in Florida, blasting President Trump for giving up, he said, on fighting the pandemic. Joe Biden will be off the trail today in Delaware, but is expected to speak on coronavirus and health care. Kamala Harris campaigns in Arizona as does President Trump. He'll hold two rallies. Vice President Pence will make stops in Wisconsin and Michigan.

More than 68 million Americans have already cast their votes. That is more than half of the total votes in 2016.

BERMAN: Joining us now CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Sanjay, you are an accomplished neurosurgeon, a lot of schooling. I don't know that it requires your level of education or knowledge to be able to react to this White House Science Policy Office claim that somehow, Alisyn tells me reliably, they list it as their top accomplishment in the first term. And David Gregory is just getting over a bought with COVID-19, we can see it there, and the White House is bragging about ending the coronavirus pandemic. Ending it? Is anything over?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all. The numbers are not only going up, they're going up at a faster pace than we have seen before, 500,000, half a million people just being diagnosed over the last week. Hospitals becoming overwhelmed. You just showed the graphic of the United States, showing that it's mostly red and orange now.

We've been following this graphic for so many months, seeing how it changes day to day, week to week, and now it's all consolidating around the fact that the entire country is going up. To give you a little context, you were just talking about Wisconsin, if you go back to where you guys are in New York back in April, that was sort of the highest pace at that point, incidence of new cases, about 509 per million in New York, that was back on April 10th. Wisconsin has now surpassed that. Wisconsin is now around 579 per million.

My point is that what was considered unacceptable back in April has now been totally surpassed by Wisconsin, and we're starting to see that same sort of trend line happening in several states around the country. So this is by no means over. This is actually getting worse, and we're starting now this third peak or wave or whatever you want to call it at the highest baseline that we've started overall in this pandemic, and that's going into winter.

CAMEROTA: David, I just want to show that poll again that John alluded to, and that is the handling of coronavirus by President Trump. This was registered Wisconsin voters out just this morning, the ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, they disapprove now -- this is --

BERMAN: This is the horse race.

CAMEROTA: I don't want the horse race. I want the handling of the pandemic. They disapprove at 59 percent now. That is up from mid- September where it was 54 percent. They approve of him only by 39 percent. And so what do you make of it?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I just think that if the question is the coronavirus, the answer is going to be Joe Biden and not Trump. It doesn't mean the question is going to be the coronavirus for every voter, but I think it's inescapable that this massive crisis that we're facing is at the president's doorstep, is on the doorstep of every American where we feel vulnerable, we've been impacted by it either by getting sick or by the disruption to our families or our communities or something far worse, where we've experienced -- or someone we know has been in the hospital or died.

So it's impossible not to have this be a dominant issue where you get up, you think about voting and you say, what do I think about how the president has handled this?


Because only a president, only the federal government has the scale, the bull horn, the megaphone, the bully pulpit to guide the country through this, and that's what that polling speaks to.

BERMAN: David, can I ask you -- and we are so happy that you are recovering after a pretty long battle with coronavirus. You mentioned the fact that you had a hard time walking around the block. But what's it like to have gone through this and, to an extent, still be going through it, and to have the White House make the claim that it's ended the pandemic?

GREGORY: It just doesn't make sense. And a I think anybody who goes through it at any level, and I just reinforce the fact that I was very fortunate I could recover from this at home, as I think most people are able to do, which is good. But it still has such an impact on people, and anybody who goes through it, even though my vulnerability has gone down, I'm increasingly anxious about my family and friends and others in my community. So I think it's offensive the idea that we've somehow gotten over it.

I can understand and I think it's really valuable to have, you know, Sanjay explain how we understand the data, because one of the things that was difficult for me is, well, if hospitalizations are up, I understand that. Deaths appear to be down. That's important information. And it's still important to know that most people who are going to experience this virus are going to do just fine with it. But the notion -- we can handle all of that. What we can't handle is the idea that we should just kind of forget about it and that we should move on.

CAMEROTA: I don't know, I used to cling to that, David. I used to cling to everything that you're saying, but now, Sanjay, I was just telling you in our 6:00 hour a Professor Haseltine was saying that even younger people, even not the so-called long-haulers, OK, what they're finding out is that there is this vestiges, this autoimmune complication even from people who haven't had it badly. And I'm not trying to alarm you, David, because I know you've talked about the psychological anxiety of what comes along with having it because you don't know what's next, but, Sanjay, we just are learning more every day that this isn't something like the flu where you get it, you tackle it, you're over it.

GUPTA: Right. We are still learning about this novel coronavirus, something that, again, a disease that didn't even exist a year ago we're trying to better define. It will be the third leading cause of death in this country this year -- again, a disease that didn't even exist a year ago.

But it is interesting, how does the body respond? We typically make antibodies to try -- these proteins that help fight the virus the next time it sees it. But sometimes this antibody production it seems in some of these patients, younger patients, can be antibodies that actually target the body itself. So that's the autoimmune disease, a lupus-like illness, rheumatoid arthritis like illness. And that could be the genesis of some of these long-hauler-type symptoms. We don't know how long it lasts. We call it long-hauler, but the only way that we will know how long this lasts is with the passage of time and actually following these patients along. I do think with regard to the death rate, it is true that younger

people are more likely to become infected right now and they are less likely to get sick or die. It is true that we have learned more about this virus in terms of how to better take care of patients in the hospital, and those two things could be affecting death rate. But sadly I think it's also true that, as we saw in that nursing home in Kansas, the virus, even if it's in younger people now, the lag period to when it affects more vulnerable populations and increases that death rate may be a longer lag period, but it hasn't gone away. And I'm still worried about those vulnerable populations, especially as we go into the winter months here.

BERMAN: So David, I'm curious. If you include today, I know people get tied up in the count here, we have seven days left to vote, seven full days left to vote. And I'm wondering what you think the effect of the messaging will be, the White House saying they've ended the pandemic, the president at rallies, at packed rallies, and images that are being pumped out to all these swing states continuing to say that COVID is overblown, all anyone wants to talk about is COVID and they are turning the corner. I wonder, again, based on what you're seeing in these Wisconsin polls, what you think the political impact of that might be over the next week.

GREGORY: When I hear the president talk like that, I feel like he's wasting time talking to the already converted who are making the point, who are, frankly, even disregarding health concerns by showing up to these rallies. People who are doing that are making a statement. I wouldn't show up at one of those rallies, not for a Republican, not for a Democrat or Green Party or independent. I wouldn't show up for anybody, and I'm just getting over the virus.

So I think people are doing that are making that statement that they, that they don't want to believe the hype, or they don't want their rights infringed upon, whatever their explanation is for not following public health information. I think the race is really static.


Looking at some data from 2016 to now where you saw movement in 2016 that was positive for President Trump, that he had more -- Mr. Trump at that time, who had more momentum in those closing days of 2016. He doesn't have that. The rate has been really static. So I think that these are just set pieces for people who have already made their minds. Now it's purely about mobilization and driving up those vote totals.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you both very much.

As we just discussed, the U.S. has smashed all kinds of coronavirus records this week. So why would the White House falsely claim the end of the pandemic as an accomplishment? We talk to the Trump campaign next.


CAMEROTA: Just six days left until Election Day, as the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is getting worse this week. More than 73,000 new coronavirus cases were reported just yesterday. That's the fourth highest day ever. And more than 44,000 Americans are hospitalized, that's up 50 percent in just the next month. Almost 1,000 Americans died from the virus yesterday.

Yet the White House's Science Policy Office is listing ending the COVID-19 pandemic among the Trump administration's first-term accomplishments. Here is part of their press release "From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic the administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, government, to understand, treat and defeat the disease."


Joining us now is Hogan Gidley, the Trump campaign's national press secretary.

Hogan, good morning.

HOGAN GIDLEY, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Good morning, Alisyn. Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate the time.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.

How can ending the pandemic be the top accomplishment of the White House?

GIDLEY: Well, look, I think the president took leadership on this issue very early on when so many on the left refused to acknowledge it. We remember Nancy Pelosi in Chinatown saying this wasn't a real thing. We remember Governor Cuomo leaving his state open days after the rest of the country began to lock down.

This president has understood that this virus was traveling through the world.


GIDLEY: It was unprecedented. It was unforeseen, unleashed on this -- on this global community by China --


CAMEROTA: Do you think the White House has ended it? Do you think the White House has ended it?

GIDLEY: The World Health Organization lied about all the malfeasance and covered it up.

CAMEROTA: I'm not talking about fighting it. I'm talking about ending it. Do you think the pandemic has ended?

GIDLEY: Right. Well, we're moving in the right direction. I think that's what the president has been talking about on the campaign trail. We're seeing a reduction in deaths by 70 percent from --


CAMEROTA: But almost 1,000 people still died. Hogan, I'm just talking about the language why does it say as the top accomplishment ending the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you think it has ended?

GIDLEY: I didn't write the document, I don't know who said that. The president is not saying that on the campaign trail.

CAMEROTA: But you think that's erroneous? OK.

GIDLEY: I don't know. I have not seen the document.

CAMEROTA: No, but I mean, I'm reading it to you.

GIDLEY: I don't know, I'm just telling you we're moving in the right direction.


CAMEROTA: But if the document said ended that would be wrong?

GIDLEY: I'm not looking at the document. I don't know what the document says or how it characterizes the word ending, but I'm not going to quibble over semantics. The fact is we're moving in the right direction.

CAMEROTA: Well, it's just the conclusion. It's not --


GIDLEY: What we can't do is to shut this country back down again, which is exactly what Joe Biden is trying to do. The American people don't deserve that and they can't handle another shutdown across this country.

CAMEROTA: You know what, Hogan? I do want to ask about what happened this Wisconsin because the shutdown, excuse me, comes into play there.

So, Vice President Pence is going to, I think, central Wisconsin today to hold a rally and the governor there has really come out with, I think, a very -- he's basically imploring people to stay home.

He said there is no way to sugarcoat it, we are facing an urgent crisis, there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors and the people you care about. He's basically saying that staying home is saving lives.

Why is Vice President Pence going there for a rally?

GIDLEY: Well, I understand Democratic governors don't like it when a Republican president shows up to talk about the record-setting accomplishments and record setting time.

I think it should be noted, however, that these governors are largely silent when people lock arms and march through our city streets and burn down churches, smash storefronts and assault innocent Americans, leaving them to die in the middle of the streets.

CAMEROTA: I don't think that the governors have been silent about that, Hogan. I'm saying today --


GIDLEY: However, when you want to exercise your First Amendment right to stand -- again, it's your First Amendment right to peaceably assembly. And this particular instance, when anyone shows up to our events, we take all the necessary health precautions, Alisyn. We hand out masks, tell people to wear them, we temperature check everyone who comes into the facility. We make sure there's enough hand sanitizer --


CAMEROTA: Does President Trump and Vice President Pence from the podium say, OK, now, everybody put on your masks?

GIDLEY: I'm not -- I haven't been to a rally in a while, I'm not exactly what they're saying from the podium.


CAMEROTA: Did you ever hear them say that?

GIDLEY: The fact is they're given a mask -- they are given the masks and people are told to wear them. But people also have a right in this country to do what they want to do because we have certain freedoms that we are afforded by the United States of America.


CAMEROTA: But, of course, Hogan, but I mean, I'm just talking about public health.

GIDLEY: The states where there are mask mandates, as documented by the governors there, then they should follow those restrictions and follow those guidelines, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but I mean --

GIDLEY: But you can't mandate masks from a federal level because that's unconstitutional.


GIDLEY: Something Joe Biden has been saying he wants to --

CAMEROTA: You could encourage it, you could model it.

GIDLEY: Of course, we've encouraged it. We're the ones who put out the guidelines.

Listen, it was Joe Biden who said he would call all these governors. Why hasn't he been doing that, number one? And number two, a lot of these Democrat governors haven't put mask mandates in their states. So, if he is, quote/unquote, the party, then why aren't they listening

to the leader of their party?

CAMEROTA: Well, I don't know, Hogan --

GIDLEY: Because they know people in the States want freedom and they're going to act responsibly when their own health is at risk.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's talk about acting responsibly. I mean, just again with Wisconsin, are you at all concerned given that there has been an outbreak in the vice president's orbit of people around him and that there is currently an outbreak -- I mean, hospitals in Wisconsin are near capacity. And so is there -- does that give you any pause or the vice president any pause about going there and holding a big rally?

GIDLEY: No, it doesn't. The vice president has the best doctors in the world around him, they've obviously contact-traced and have come to the conclusion it's fine for him to be out on the campaign trail.

The American people have the right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble, too.


The fact is, we are seeing some good news about coronavirus and all of the sadness that we've seen not just from the loss of life but the loss of livelihoods, the loss of businesses, we are seeing a reduction in deaths of 70 percent, 45 percent reduction in deaths in the nursing home population alone. That's encouraging.

We're seeing four potential vaccines in phase three clinical trials at this moment. And of the excessive death rates in this country, as modeled around the globe, a third of those aren't even related to COVID, they are related to heart disease and diabetes and other issues.


CAMEROTA: You know, Hogan, that's not fair. Hogan, hold on a second, that's not fair.


GIDLEY: -- as we're moving forward.

CAMEROTA: Just because some people have comorbidities doesn't mean they would have died last month. They're dying because of COVID.

GIDLEY: That's not what I said. I'm saying a third of those weren't related to COVID virus, in fact, they were related to other illnesses.

CAMEROTA: Hold on a second. Hold on, you mean, hold on, let me just clarify. Of the 225,000 deaths -- sorry, 226,000 deaths, you don't believe that those are from COVID? GIDLEY: No, that's not what I said. I said the excess mortality rate

of which we are one of the lowest in the world, a third of those have now been discovered to not be related to COVID virus at all but to other issues.


CAMEROTA: I'm just talking about the COVID deaths right now. I mean, I'm talking about the COVID deaths.

And, you know, let me play something that the president said that I need you to help clarify for us. It sounds like he's basically saying he's getting sick of hearing about COVID on the news. Let me just play this for you from yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it's COVID. You turn on the news, COVID, COVID. Do you know when they're going to stop talking about it so much?

November 4th. You're right. November 4th. It's a whole crazy thing.

All they want to talk about is COVID. But the good news on the 4th, they'll stop talking --


CAMEROTA: So can you explain that, Hogan? Why does it go away on the 4th?

GIDLEY: I think the president is being pretty clear there that the coverage of this virus has been exorbitantly negative, even when there are breakthroughs and good news. When you have just last week the scientists and the scientific community pointing to several of the therapeutics coming online --


CAMEROTA: We reported on that. We reported on remdesivir.

GIDLEY: -- like remdesivir and also Regeneron, those are good things to tell out there. Absolutely that's good news.


CAMEROTA: --explain to me why is it going away?


GIDLEY: -- and it's because of this president's leadership that those things are even being talked about right now because Operation Warp Speed is something that Joe Biden couldn't have done. He worked with the public/private partnerships. He developed those to ensure that the American people could get these vaccines in record-setting time. Right now, we're expecting to get something -- CAMEROTA: Yeah, we talk about -- believe me, we talk about the

vaccines and the timeline all the time. You expect -- I'm sorry, when?

GIDLEY: I said we expect to get that very soon.

CAMEROTA: But why is the coverage going to go away on November 4th?

GIDLEY: Look, I think the president is pointing out the fact that the media has largely made this -- made this issue one that has been political in nature, saying that basically if Joe Biden gets elected, then all of your problems and all of your ills and all of your woes will go away, regardless of what the American people are facing out there.

CAMEROTA: But just to be clear --

GIDLEY: I listen to CNN quite regularly and I think that's kind of largely what a lot of anchors and reporters opine about.

CAMEROTA: Hogan, is he suggesting that it's a media hoax and that on November 4th, we're not still going to report on the deaths and the record hospitalizations?

GIDLEY: Alisyn, he's not -- he's not saying -- he's not saying it's a hoax. It's very real.


GIDLEY: It's the biased coverage against this president when 95 percent of the news coverage attacks him at every single turn.

If we had the record setting success of trade deals that work for the American people and peace deals no one thought possible, defeating ISIS, bringing hostages home, cutting taxes, high employment records for --

CAMEROTA: I'm just talking about coronavirus coverage.

GIDLEY: -- African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic Americans and women.

CAMEROTA: Hogan, I hear your message. I'm just trying to figure out --


GIDLEY: And on top of that, when a global pandemic faces this country and this president steps up and saves countless lives because of his moves, we know that because the Doctors Fauci, Birx, Hahn and Redfield have all said so, you guys would be cartwheels saying, wow, look at this.


GIDLEY: If he had a D by his name, you would be saying he's going to sail to reelection, Alisyn, you know that. CAMEROTA: Hogan, I can assure you that sadly on November 4th, we

still expect to be reporting on record deaths and record hospitalizations and whatever happens, and we will still be reporting on it as we do every day. I wish we didn't have to, but we do report on that every day.

But, Hogan, we really appreciate you coming on with a message from the campaign and the White House. Obviously we are watching very closely and we will see you again soon.

GIDLEY: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

Wisconsin breaking records for coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We talked to a doctor from a Wisconsin hospital about the crisis there that is growing, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, we learned a number of Americans sick enough with coronavirus to be hospitalized is up 50 percent in just the last month. Hospitalizations up 50 percent in the last month. These 14 states reporting record hospitalizations, they include Wisconsin where ICU capacity and staffing are now a critical issue.

In Utah, hospitals may have to start rationing care if they become overwhelmed with patients and that doesn't seem that far away.

Joining us now Dr. Emily Spivak. She's an associate professor of medicine in a division of infectious disease at the University of Utah Medical School.

And Dr. Jeff Pothof. He's an emergency room physician and the chief quality officer at UW Health in Wisconsin.

Dr. Pothof, I want to start with you in Wisconsin because some of the numbers we've seen from your state over the last few days are really scary and we had the governor of Wisconsin come out yesterday and basically saying everyone has got to protect their family.

Why such a dire warning? What are you seeing?

DR. JEFF POTHOF, CHIEF QUALITY OFFICER, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: We're seeing tremendous growth of COVID-19 in the state. It is frightening how effective this virus is disseminated amongst our communities. Hospital capacity is very high and even more worrisome, about 30 percent of those people who require hospitalization are requiring ICU- level care.