Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

AAP: Face Coverings Can Be Worn by Nearly All Children Age 2+; FDA Releases New Guidelines on Hand Sanitizers; Will Pandemic Worsen in Fall?; President Trump Holds White House Press Briefing; U.S. Death Toll nears 167,000 with 5.2+ Million Cases after Deadliest Day of Pandemic since May; Phoenix Mayor Responds to Fauci saying Arizona Set a Good Example for Controlling COVID. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 13, 2020 - 18:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But, David, do you have anything further to add on that?

QUESTION: The Prime Minister was pretty clear today at his own press conference that he considers this to be a temporary suspension and that the deal would still be open to him at some point in the future. I'm asking what you think he should do. Should he actually (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: No, right now, all I can say: It's off the table. So I can't talk about some time into the future. That's a big statement. But right now it's off the table. Is that a correct statement, Mr. Ambassador?

DAVID FRIEDMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Yes. The word suspend was chosen carefully by all the parties. Suspend, by definition -- look it up -- that means temporary halt. It's off the table now, but it's not off the table permanently.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you so much. Just to follow on some of the questions that Kaitlan was asking. You said you do want an accurate vote.

TRUMP: That's right.

QUESTION: Would you direct the Postmaster General to reverse some of the policies changes...

TRUMP: No, not at all.

QUESTION: -- that have occurred there, in order to prevent delays?

TRUMP: No, I wouldn't do that at all. No, I want the Post Office to run properly. But -- which makes sense, they would need a lot more money if they're going to be taking in tens of millions of ballots that just come out of the sky from nowhere. And so they need additional financial help. It's a part of the bill that the Democrats don't want to make because

they want a trillion -- much bigger part of the bill -- they want a trillion dollars to go to states that are run by governors, who happen to be Democrats, who have not done a good job for many, many years. And those are states that owe a lot of money and need a lot of money, and they're talking about $1 trillion.

So, the Post Office and the three and a half billion dollars for the votes themselves, which sounds like a lot of money they're looking for -- three and a half billion dollars. Think of that: three and a half billion to have mail-in ballots.

Again -- absentee, good, universal mail-in, very bad.

Please. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just taking a step back, one quick follow-up. Given that the negotiations are still ongoing about whether to get more money to the Postal Service, why not put more resources and more money, yourself -- find a way to do that to make sure there is a free and fair election?

TRUMP: Well, they can do it very easily. All they have to do is make a deal. If they make a deal, the Postal Service is taken care of, the money they need for the mail-in ballots would be taken care of -- if we agree to it. That doesn't mean we're going to agree to it. But all they have to do is make a deal.

But again, more important to them is not that. That's a lot of money, but a small time compared to the other. What they want to do -- and very -- very, very strongly what they want to do is bail out cities that are run by Democrats and have been for many years. And these cities and states have done very badly, and they desperately need money for that.

And we're open to something, but we're not open to the kind of money that they need.

Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: My question for you is just, Mr. President...

QUESTION: Mr. President, three and a half years, sir...

QUESTION: Very quickly, my question for you is just what are you doing...

QUESTION: Three and a half years...

TRUMP: Just one second. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: What are you doing as President to make sure there is a free and fair election?

TRUMP: That do what?

QUESTION: What are you doing, as President, to make sure there is a free and fair election?

TRUMP: So, everyone talks about Russia, Russia, Russia. They talk about China, China. They talk about all of these different countries that come in and run our elections, which is false.

But what they do -- what they don't talk about are things like very loose mail-in ballots, universal in nature, that, frankly, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran -- all of these countries that we are reading about, hearing about, and, in some cases, they're writing about, intelligence-wise -- these countries can grab those ballots or print forgeries of those ballots, and they would go out and they would have a field day.

This is the easiest way for -- the mail-in ballots is the easiest way for a country like a China or Russia or a North Korea or Iran -- I hear Iran, too. You know, that was part of the report. This would be very easy for them. This is much easier than...

QUESTION: What are you doing to make sure it's free and fair?

TRUMP: Well, we have been very strong. Now, if you remember, President Obama was informed about Russia by the FBI in September. The election was in November. President Obama decided to do absolutely nothing about it. People don't mention that very much anymore. That's a lost fact. But he was informed very powerfully that they're going to do -- and President Obama did nothing. We have done a lot, and we've really shored it up.

But what people can never prepare for are millions and millions of mail-in ballots. Because they can be forged. They can be captured. They can be taken.

QUESTION: There's no evidence of that, so...

TRUMP: No, that's a very hard thing to do. We have to make sure that we can do that.


QUESTION: Sir, Mr. President, after three and a half years, do you regret, at all, all the lying you've done to the American people (OFF- MIKE)

TRUMP: All the what?

QUESTION: All the lying. All the dishonesties.

TRUMP: That who has done?

QUESTION: You have done.

TRUMP: Yes, go ahead. Please. Please.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the payroll tax cut. One, is it going to be optional or mandatory for employers to defer and not collect the payroll tax?


TRUMP: So, we'll...

QUESTION: and I have a follow-up on that.

TRUMP: The payroll tax is very important and a very big benefit to people, as you know, to companies, because we want the companies to be strong -- but now, directly to people. And it's a very big number. And we're taking care of it. And we -- this will go directly to the people, to workers within the company. It's a payroll tax. It's called a payroll tax cut. We're cutting the payroll tax. And it's a very large number, and that will go directly to the workers of the company.

QUESTION: But will the employers collect that through FICA? Will that be -- are they going to be required not to collect that money? Or is it...

TRUMP: The -- you mean later on? You mean later on, at a later date?

QUESTION: Well, right now. So, September 1, when I get my paycheck, will it be up to my...

TRUMP: The employers -- the employers will collect it and give it, most likely. The employers will collect it and give it. OK?

QUESTION: But can I ask a follow-up on that?

TRUMP: Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I have two questions. The first one on domestic policy. There are claims...

TRUMP: Can't -- can't understand a word you're saying.

QUESTION: There are claims circulating on social media that Kamala Harris is not eligible to be -- to run for Vice President because she was an anchor baby, I quote. Do you or can you definitively say whether or not Kamala Harris is eligible -- legal -- and meets the legal requirements to run as Vice President?

TRUMP: So, I just heard that. I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements. And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that's right. I would've -- I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for Vice President.


TRUMP: But that's a very serious -- you're saying that -- they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country?

QUESTION: She was. QUESTION: No, she was born in this country, but her parents did not --

the claims say that her parents did not receive their permanent residence at that time.

TRUMP: Yes, I don't know about it. I just heard about it. I will take a look.

Back in the back, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a follow-up on UNGA. Ambassador Kelly Craft recently said that you -- or she's hoping that you might be able to deliver the speech in front of the U.N. General Assembly in person, even though other leaders will be sending in their video recordings. Can you confirm that?

TRUMP: Yes, I'm thinking about going directly to the U.N. to do the speech. A lot of people will not, because of COVID -- will not be able to be there, as you know. But I'm thinking -- I think it's appropriate. If we can do it, I will do it directly. And again, this will not be like in the past because some countries won't be able to escape the problems they're having. You know, countries are having a tremendous problem with the China virus. So, we'll see what happens.

But I would prefer doing it. I can do it the other way. I can do it viral, as they say. I can do it in that form. But I'd rather be at the United Nations -- deliver it.

QUESTION: Would you do it if the room was empty?

TRUMP: I think it -- I think it better represents the country. Also, I feel, sort of, a -- at least a semi-obligation as the President of the United States to be at the United Nations to deliver what will be an important speech.

QUESTION: Would you still do it if the room was empty?

TRUMP: Well, the room won't be empty. The room will have different people there and representatives of countries. But I can understand how it's, you know -- it's very difficult for countries to be there. They won't be there only for that reason. They'd love to be there. I've already had people call. In fact, say -- a couple of them -- I'd love to be there. If you want, I will be there. I said, Don't be there. You don't have to be there.

No, the room would be -- I think the room will not be -- although, there may be a spacing requirement like you have in this room. This room was always packed. This room would be packed again if we had the seats open. But you have a spacing requirement, so I understand that the United Nations, they may have that, too.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I have a question on the peace deal, but if you don't mind, could I defer my question to Emel Akan from "Epoch Times."

TRUMP: Sure. Yes. Please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you.

QUESTION: I would like to ask your opinion about what recently happened in Hong Kong, the recent attack on press freedom in Hong Kong. And Jimmy Lai was arrested. His newsroom was raided. How will the U.S. respond to this?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's a terrible thing. But one thing that we have done -- you know, we gave tremendous incentives to Hong Kong because of freedom. We want freedom. And we were giving tremendous economic incentives to Hong Kong. And we have now withdrawn all of those incentives, and it will be impossible for Hong Kong to compete with the United States with respect to that. It just won't be, because we've taken all of the incentives away.

If you look at China -- with the World Trade Organization, as an example -- they're getting tremendous because they're considered a developing nation, which is ridiculous. Why should they be a developing nation, but we're not? And they get tremendous incentives.

We have -- by the way, I told them it's unacceptable, and we've been -- we've been doing that for a long time. They understand exactly how we feel, and big changes are being made. But with respect to Hong Kong, they get tremendous financial incentives so that they could do business and compete in the world.


We've now withdrawn all of those incentives. It's going to be very hard for Hong Kong to compete. And I will tell you that the United States -- and I say this from any standpoint you want to hear it -- will end up making a lot more money because of it. Because we lost a lot of business to Hong Kong. We made it very convenient for people to go there, for companies to go there. We've withdrawn all of that. And the United States will be a big beneficiary from an economic standpoint, but I hate to see what happened to Hong Kong because freedom is a great thing.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: And you heard the president there.

It was a new low in a day full of lows, the president of the United States questioning the legitimacy of Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket, the presumptive vice presidential nominee, to be president or vice president of the United States.

She obviously is qualified to be vice president. She is a natural-born citizen of the United States who was born in this country. But the president was asked about this crackpot theory that has shown up on right-wing media suggesting that Senator Harris is not qualified to be a vice president. That is just flat-out lie. It's not the case. It was a lie when they said it about Barack Obama. It's now a lie when they're saying it about Kamala Harris.

But I want to begin there, because there were lots of things to fact- check, as always, during this press conference with the president.

Gloria Borger, let me go to you first.

We -- I guess our breath should not be taken away anymore with this president. We started off the day with the president saying he's not going to give funding to the Postal Service because he doesn't want to see mail-in voting in this country. Now he's questioning the legitimacy of Kamala Harris.

There is no bottom.


And let me just say this, that there isn't any pretense anymore that these briefings have anything to do really with coronavirus or with giving the American public information.

What it is now is a campaign event from the podium of the White House. And what struck me from the very outset, when the president was challenging what Joe Biden did today, he called it a decree, which, of course, it was not.

He said that he would like, urge governors to require mask wearing. About 37 or 38 states already do that, as you know. But what struck me was, he then started to describe Biden as somebody who would usurp an enormous amount of power.

He said, if the president has unilateral power to order citizens to cover their face, what other power does he have?

And let me remind everyone, this was from a man who is trying in many ways to derail voting in this election. And there he was standing at the podium of the White House also asking Joe Biden to stop playing politics with this virus, as he delivered this political attack that went on and on from the podium of the White House.

ACOSTA: And, Daniel Dale, you're our fact-checker here at CNN.

Walk us through some of what the president was just saying a few moments ago, and specifically these comments about Kamala Harris.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Senator Harris is qualified to serve as vice president or eventually as president. This is a lie. This is absolute nonsense.

The president couches this in the tone of just asking questions, I'm not sure if it's true, check it out.

In whatever form he raises this issue, it's just absolute garbage. It should not be humored whatsoever. It's wrong. The president also made a series of false claims about Joe Biden. As

Gloria said, he kept suggesting that Biden was calling on him as president to issue a national decree to mandate masks. Biden asked every governor to issue their own mandate.

He also claimed that Biden has been wrong at every turn about the virus. I'm sure you can find cases where Biden has been inaccurate in some respects, but Trump is the one who said, we have 15 cases, we're getting close to zero. He's the one who predicted a total death total of 50,000, 60,000, 70,000, 80,000 we keep exceeding, et cetera.

Trump also claimed that Biden's immigration policy, which he wrongly described as -- quote -- "open borders," would result in the pandemic infiltrating every U.S. community.

Jim, it's already around the United States. It's already in every states -- every state of the union. We don't need an open border policy for the pandemic to be everywhere.

And, Jim, lastly, the president continued to make a series of false claims about mail voting, wrongly saying that mail voting is easy for foreign countries like Russia, China, North Korea to grab ballots, to forge ballots.

That is just false. Every jurisdiction has a different ballot, different paper, different security codes, different candidates on the ballot.


And experts have emphasized that it would be extraordinarily difficult for any for any foreign country to do large-scale mail ballot fraud.

ACOSTA: Bakari Sellers, your thoughts?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's no bottom.

I mean, that's my initial thought. I mean, birtherism is something that I had on my bingo card, but I did not have it right now. To go to that within the first 24 to 48 hours is a bit much.

And I think, just as someone who's run for office, someone who's been elected office, someone who is a -- quote, unquote -- "political strategist" -- I guess they give us those names from on high -- what we can recognize is that the Trump campaign has no idea how to deal with Kamala Harris.

They're throwing at her the entire proverbial kitchen sink. And what we have seen throughout the polling moment, Morning Consult, et cetera, is that she's polling extremely well. She's outpacing her numbers that she had before. She's outpacing Tim Kaine when he was chosen as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate.

And so Donald Trump and Mike Pence are having a great deal of trouble. But we should have seen this coming. The reason being is because Donald Trump is attempting to treat Kamala Harris the same way he's treated every other woman and black woman that he's come in contact with, with some sense of power.

And he cannot handle that. And so, as we go through this process, expect the words like nasty, expect the misogyny, expect the birtherism, which is rooted in racism. Let's not escape that. Let's expect what Donald Trump truly is.

And my last point, we cannot be desensitized to the isms that the president and vice president and Republican Party may put before us. We simply cannot. Our country deserves bigger and better than that in evaluating both parties and both presidential candidates and both presidential vice presidents -- or vice presidential candidates.

We cannot become desensitized to their racism, their bigotry, their ignorance or incompetence. And that's very important throughout this cycle, because this presidential election, November 3, people are going to vote like their life depends on it, because we see it actually does.

ACOSTA: And, Gloria Borger, Donald Trump, I mean, he's sort of -- he used birtherism to make a name for himself in the Republican Party. You and I remember this all too well.


ACOSTA: It got so out of control during the Obama administration that President Obama had to put out a birth certificate, which was just completely unnecessary.

He was born in Hawaii. And yet the president -- then candidate Trump -- or not even candidate Trump -- then businessman Trump was just saying it over and over again throughout his rise inside the Republican Party.


ACOSTA: And, I mean, to me, this should have been a situation where he really should not have even addressed that question the way it was asked.

BORGER: Well, exactly. Exactly.

ACOSTA: What do you think? I mean, it just seems to me that he...

BORGER: Well...

ACOSTA: He seemed to pump oxygen into it, as opposed to knocking it down.

BORGER: Sure. Right. Well, of course.

Look, it's garbage. We all know it's garbage. It's absurd. It's nonsense. And what the president should have done is what John McCain did during his presidential campaign when he was asked about Barack Obama by somebody who said, oh, he's an Arab, he's this, he's that.

And McCain, of course, said, no, no, he's a very good man. ACOSTA: That's right.

BORGER: But, of course, Trump would never do that.

In fact, when the question was first raised to him, if you will recall, he wasn't quite sure even what the issue was. And, at first, he said, oh, wait, yes, but maybe she wasn't -- she wasn't born here? I hear that. Some people are saying, as he always said.

And then whoever it was who asked the question sort of elaborated that, in fact, that was not the so-called issue. And then he said, well, I'd have to look into it.

So, he was ready not to just dip his toe in the water on this, but to jump into the pool on this, because he's throwing everything up against the wall that he can, not only against Joe Biden, but now also against Kamala Harris. And it's distasteful and it's disgraceful.

And somebody in his administration, some -- someone in the United States Senate ought to stand up and say, enough of this, stop this, get on with the campaign, and talk about how you're going to fix this COVID problem we have.

ACOSTA: And, Daniel Dale, I want to play a little bit of -- our colleague Kaitlan Collins tried to press the president on this comment that he made earlier this morning about depriving the Postal Service of money needed to deal with this influx of mail-in ballots that we may see at election time, we likely will see at election time.

Let's play a bit of that exchange and talk about it on the other side.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: ... need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all these millions and millions of ballots, and you said that would be fraudulent. So it sounded like you said you're blocking...


TRUMP: No, no. No, no. I said it will end up being fraudulent, because if you look at what's happened over the last few weeks -- just look at the few instances where this has happened -- it's turned out to be fraudulent.

COLLINS: There's no widespread evidence of fraud.

TRUMP: We have to have an honest election. And if it's not going to be an honest election, I guess people have to sit down and think really long and hard about it.


ACOSTA: Daniel, what did you think about that comment?

DALE: Well, he keeps citing suppose that instances of voter fraud or election fraud that are not actually instances of voter fraud or election fraud.

One he brought up in some of those comments to Kaitlan was the New York primary, Democratic primary, in which Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney one. There was no evidence of voter fraud in that primary. There were ballot issues related to things like missing signatures on ballots, a late postmark. So there was a legal challenge, but none of that is fraud.

That is, unfortunately, standard with mail voting. And so the president keeps referring to things as evidence for his false claim that mail voting is rife with fraud that don't prove his point whatsoever.

ACOSTA: Gloria, I mean, what do you think?

The president keeps repeating these comments over and over again about the New York primary. He talks about -- he makes these false statements about voter fraud out in California. He has been riding this horse since he became president.

And yet he's -- I mean, it is -- it obviously creates all kinds of confusion and distrust in the system. And he seems to be doing it all over again.

BORGER: Right.

And there's now a court challenge in Pennsylvania. And the Trump campaign has to come up with concrete examples of just where voter fraud was evident in the state.

So, look, I think this president wants to have people believe that the election is rigged before the votes are cast, counted, whatever you want to call it, and he understands that there's early voting in an awful lot of states and a lot of that voting is going to be done by mail.

And I think he's doing everything he can to delegitimize an election that he's worried about losing. And it's pretty transparent to me. And the fight in Congress over the funding for the Postal Service is particularly absurd, because what the president is saying is, well, in order to have a fair election, you have to fund the Postal Service, but I'm against giving more money to the Postal Service.

I can't quite square that one.

ACOSTA: He was slippery on that question, for sure, and didn't really give a straight answer in terms of what he would accept...

BORGER: Yes, he was.

ACOSTA: ... in terms of funding the Postal Service.

All right, Gloria Borger, Daniel Dale, Bakari Sellers, great insights from all of you. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Just ahead more breaking news. We will have the latest on the coronavirus pandemic and a dire new warning about what may happen in the months ahead.



ACOSTA: Right now, we have breaking news on the coronavirus, as it keeps spreading and killing Americans, the death toll nearing 167,000 tonight, just hours after the deadliest day of the crisis since May.

CNN national correspondent Athena Jones has the latest.

Athena, there are blunt new warnings from top health officials about the danger now and in the months ahead. Isn't that right?


And this -- this bears repeating. We're at 1,000 deaths a day. And at this rate, we're talking about more than 80,000 additional COVID deaths by Election Day if the country doesn't get the virus under control.

Dr. Anthony Fauci saying, you can't run away from the numbers, and how long we need to do these public health measures like limiting crowds and remote learning and limiting sports and wearing masks depends entirely on us.

He says, if we keep running away from the reality of the need to do it, it could linger on and on.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Bottom line is, I'm not pleased with how things are going.

JONES (voice-over): Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci raising concerns about disturbing trends in parts of the country.

FAUCI: This is the thing that's disturbing to me, is that we're starting to see the inkling of the upticks in the percent of the tests that are positive, which we know now, from sad past experience, that that's a predictor that you're going to have more surges.

JONES: This warning comes as the U.S. confronts the deadliest day of the summer, 1,499 people lost to COVID-19 Wednesday, and as CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield makes this blunt admission:

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: This is the greatest public health crisis that hit this nation in a century, that we were underprepared. And we need to owe it to our children and grandchildren that this nation is never underprepared again for a public health crisis.

JONES: Redfield warning that if at least 95 percent of Americans don't follow basic public health recommendations, like mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing: REDFIELD: This could be the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we have ever had. I'm not asking some of America to do it. We have all got to do it.

JONES: While new cases are steady or falling in 43 states, deaths have averaged more than 1,000 a day for 17 days now.

And COVID test positivity rates are on the rise in 35 states, with Texas leading the nation at nearly 24 percent, even as the number of tests being conducted nationwide continues to decline.

Meanwhile, in Martin County, Florida, north of Palm Beach, an entire elementary school classroom and one bus route were placed under quarantine one day after the district reopened for in-person instruction, and a student began exhibiting symptoms.

Nationally, more than 2,000 students, teachers and staff across five states are under quarantine due to COVID concerns.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: There's just no way right now, where this epidemic is raging across the South, in Florida and Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi, Louisiana, and much of Texas, that you could open up schools safely.

JONES: Still, it's game on in Utah tonight, a state with a positivity rate of almost 9 percent, two high schools facing off in the first football match of the season.


DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I feel like the Titanic. We have hit the iceberg and we're trying to make decisions on what time should we have them to play (ph).

Not having fall sports this year in controlling this virus, to me, would be the number one priority.


JONES: And we're getting more insight into the impact the pandemic is having on Americans, a new CDC survey finding that 41 percent of respondents are struggling anxiety, depression, increased substance use or suicidal thoughts. People ages 18 to 24 and those with pre- existing mental health conditions were most likely to report adverse symptoms. But when it comes to suicidal thoughts, self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults were most likely to say they consider suicide in the last 30 days. Jim?

ACOSTA: Athena Jones, thank you very much for that.

Joining me, is Dr. Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Institute, and William Haseltine, who is the Chair and President of ACCESS Health International.

Dr. Jha, let me start with you. The CDC director says this could be the, quote, worst fall from a public perspective we've ever had, and Dr. Anthony Fauci today said he is not pleased with how things are going. Those are some very honest admissions from two of the country's top health officials. What did you think when you heard that?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so thanks for having me on. Dr. Fauci has been pretty straightforward the whole time. It's nice to see Dr. Redfield, I think, admitting what many of us in the public health community have been very worried about, which is, look, here is what's going to happen in the fall.

People are going to start spending more time indoors because the weather is going to get colder. We know the virus spreads more easily indoors. The flu season is going to be upon us. And the COVID is going to be nowhere near gone.

So, put all those three things together, and I think we all can expect that things are going to get worse unless we do a series of things to really try to prevent some of that.

So, what are those? We know what those are, mask-wearing, avoiding bars and restaurants where you can't wear a mask, other public health measures. If we can do them going into the fall, we're going to have a much better fall. If we don't, unfortunately, Dr. Redfield's kind of prediction is going to end up being right.

ACOSTA: And, William Haseltine, Joe Biden today weighed in on how he would handle the issue of mask usage. Listen to what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Every single American should be wearing a mask when they're outside for the next three months at a minimum. Every governor should mandate -- every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing.

This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens.


ACOSTA: William, do you think a national mask strategy where governors are all having mandates across the country, could that be a game changer, do you think?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: It would certainly be a big help. There are a number of things that can help. First of all, you just heard the voice of a leader, which we need to hear in this epidemic. We need the voice of a clear leader.

The second thing is we need vastly increased testing. The good news is that some very rapid tests that allow you to know in 15 to 20 minutes if you're contagious. We don't need to know if you've ever been infected by the virus, We need to know if you're contagious. And there are new tests coming that everybody can use. It should be cheap enough to have tens of millions of tests a day, not a week, not a month, and then to follow that up. What we're all worried about is when the fall comes, we're going to start from a high point of infection and go up, not a low point of infection and go up. That's what is really behind all of the concerns that you're hearing.

ACOSTA: And, Dr. Jha, that message from Biden is also coupled with him actually wearing a mask. It's not one of those things where we have to -- happen to catch President Trump wearing a mask here or there. That has rarely happened. But just about every time you see Biden out in front of the cameras, he has the mask on, he takes it off. What kind of message does that send, do you think?

JHA: You know, one of the things we've learned over the years in the public health community is that just making a proclamation or even having a policy isn't enough. You need to model good behavior. You need to be consistent in your message. You can't be talking up masks one day and, you know, sort of undermining it the next.

And what good leaders do is they are consistent in their public health messaging and they say it over and over again and then they model it. And that's what Vice President Biden is doing and that's what we need President Trump to do and that's what we need our entire federal leadership to be doing.

ACOSTA: And, William, we got that warning from the CDC director on the fall but the number of tests that this country is doing has gone down. Are we missing infections and missing opportunities to stop the spread?

HASELTINE: We are missing them and we have been missing them for a long time.


We know the policies we have now I would call testing the worried. We test people who are either feeling ill or are worried they've been exposed. We don't do general surveillance. And whether we're missing 70 percent or 90 percent of people who are transmitting the virus is the question.

Ask yourself how can virus get into the White House and infect their national security adviser? How can it get all the place that it gets if we are finding the people who are transmitting it? We're not. We need a deep rethink of our national testing policy to test everybody, especially our kids and our teachers before they go to school.

ACOSTA: And, Dr. Jha, I'm sure you saw this. Admiral Brett Giroir, who is the administration's testing czar, he is looking ahead to Labor Day and warning that these large indoor parties that we hear about from time to time are the equivalent of going to a crowded bar. I mean, I suppose, you know, you can't issue this public health warning enough, but what is it about these gatherings that are so risky and why is it not sinking in for people?

JHA: Well, I think, first of all, like the reason it's not sinking in for people is because we've heard mixed messages. When you hear from our political leaders, this is the flu, it's going away, it's no big deal, we should just open up schools, we should just open restaurants, with no real sense of the tradeoffs and the complexities of these decisions, it makes a lot of people think there's no problem here, that the pandemic is behind us.

The reason these things are so risky is we know that viruses have spread efficiently when large numbers of people gather indoors and don't wear masks for extended periods of time. And that's what is the problem of bars and restaurants. That's the problem with a lot of these house parties. And we really do have to cut it out and stay out of doing those kinds of dangerous things until this pandemic comes to an end.

ACOSTA: All right. Dr. Ashish Jha and William Haseltine, thank you so much for those insights. We really appreciate the important information.

Just ahead, as Dr. Anthony Fauci says, Arizona has set a good example for controlling COVID-19, I'll talk to the mayor of Phoenix if she is convinced, ask her if she is convinced the state is doing enough.



ACOSTA: Coronavirus pandemic is taking a staggering toll on the United States tonight even as new cases are easing in parts of the country. We're joined by the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Kate Gallego. Mayor Gallego, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know, Dr. Fauci is pointing to your state as an example of turning things around following a coronavirus surge. The number of new cases per day is showing some very encouraging signs. But you're warning your community that you have a long way to go against -- in this fight against the virus. Isn't that right?

MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D-AZ), PHOENIX: Yes, we absolutely still have to be vigilant. We do not have a statewide mask requirement in Arizona. We have seen a decline in new cases but we've also seen a decline in new tests. Arizona, if you opened up our newspaper this morning, the headline was that we led in pediatric COVID-19 cases according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So we have been able to decline in hospitalizations and some metrics but we have to continue to be vigilant. We have some tough data right now and we are not through this in any way.

ACOSTA: And the top doctor also says he's seeing troubling indicators that other areas of the country are poised for surges. What is your advice for mayors who are seeing early signs of an uptick in their communities?

GALLEGO: I understand that everyone is frustrated. People want to go back to 2019. But we have to be vigilant. So I would tell other mayors, get out there early and communicate consistently. You should share real data about what you're seeing in your hospitals and how we have to give our nurses and doctors a fighting chance. We need to be consistent about masks and social distancing.

I understand it's summer and back to school, but wherever possible, if people can stay home, that is still the safest.

ACOSTA: And the president admits he does not want to fund the post office getting to the subject of mail-in voting and the election. We just saw the president talk about this during his press conference. He says he doesn't want to have funding for the post office because he doesn't want to have mail-in voting in this country. What do you see? What do you hear when you hear the president use that kind of language?

GALLEGO: I am very concerned about that. Absentee ballots have been an important part in Arizona. We were one of the first states where anyone could vote by mail without an excuse in my county, which is a very large county, the second largest voting jurisdiction. over 75 percent of our voters are on the permanent early voting list. In my own election, more than 95 percent of the votes were cast by mail.

Arizonans are used to voting by mail. We need a strong postal service. But it's a system that works and it's elected a wide variety of different elected officials from different partisan backgrounds. We have Democrats, we have Republicans. It's one-party system but it is a system that makes sense during a pandemic.

ACOSTA: And the president said he likes Arizona's vote by mail system, but if you don't have adequate funding for the postal service, might you have some problems?


GALLEGO: The men and women of the U.S. Postal Service have been doing heroic work during COVID-19. So many more of our residents are using mail delivery for not just voting but to continue economic activity. They deserve our support even if there wasn't an election. But we need to make sure they have the support to get the ballots out and returned on time.

In Arizona, if your ballot is not received by Election Day, it does not count. We've been doing this on time with great results, but we need a federal partner to continue that.

ACOSTA: And I wonder what you make of these racist and sexist attacks the president and some fellow Republicans have hurled toward Kamala Harris in the wake of her selection of being Joe Biden's running mate. It hasn't been very long and yet we're seeing these attacks escalate.

What are your thoughts on that?

GALLEGO: It is deeply disappointing. I can't say I'm terribly surprised that a woman would receive such sexist and racist attacks.

The now deleted tweet from a member of the president's own family saying she was horrible and spelling it whore. That's just beneath us. It's deeply disappointing and upsetting. We deserve better in the United States of America. ACOSTA: And Biden and Harris participated in their own coronavirus

briefing today. Did you see a contrast between their response to the pandemic and how the White House is responding?

GALLEGO: Absolutely. It was consistent messaging. They are willing to ask Americans to do things that are difficult but that will save lives. We've really struggled with a federal partner out here. I had people living near my own home who waited 8, 10, 13 hours to get a test.

We saw a clear message that this ticket will use the resources of the United States of America to help mayors and others who need to deliver for their communities.

We have not had one of the best responses as the United States of America compared to other countries yet we had so many more resources. So I'm looking forward to being able to vote for a ticket that will help and be a partner to those of us in local government and just our residents who are struggling to stay healthy.

ACOSTA: All right. Mayor Kate Gallego, thank you very much. And I hope you stay safe there in Phoenix. We appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

GALLEGO: Thanks for having me.

ACOSTA: All right. And just ahead, new warnings from the FDA about some of the hand sanitizers you can find in your local grocery store.



ACOSTA: Tonight, new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to urge nearly all children age 2 and up to wear face coverings and offer guidance for when children should be tested for COVID-19.

Let's discuss with Erin Bromage, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a CNN contributor.

Erin, thanks so much for doing this. These new guidelines make it clear that putting a mask on a child over the age of 2 is necessary to protect the child, but also to limit community spread. Can you explain the benefits to that?

ERIN BROMAGE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, when we can put a mask on the source point of where the virus leaves our body, our mouth or our nose, any time that child coughs or sneezes or even talks, any viral particles that get released with those little droplets of spit get caught on the mask and don't end up in the environment.

So, if we can put masks on the source, on the mouth and nose, we make the environment that that child is in safer. And we stop the community spread of the virus. ACOSTA: And getting a 2-year-old to wear a mask and keep it on can be

very tricky. Just how important is it that parents understand just how critical this is to embrace?

BROMAGE: Yes. I mean, it's going to be really tough at the start. If we wait until the day before they go to preschool, the day before daycare or school, it's going to be too late to get them used to the feeling of having something on their face.

I've been saying it for a while now that parents should be introducing the masks to their children slowly, just for a few minutes, then building up a little bit more each day. I've done the same thing with my kids. And now, it's just like a piece of clothing they put on when we go out. It's just not a big deal.

So, if we start now and do it incrementally, it won't be a problem for that child to be wearing that for the time when they're in school or in daycare.

ACOSTA: And probably a good idea to have extra masks as well as we know kids lose mittens and gloves and socks and everything else.

Erin, the guidelines also say it may be necessary to test a child for coronavirus even if they aren't exhibiting symptoms. When should a child be tested?

BROMAGE: Yes, so it becomes important not just for children but for anyone to get tested if they've been exposed to a person who is infected, or they are showing symptoms of infection. So, if we can break these chains of transmission, be it through an adult or be it through a child putting it forward, it just means better things for the community in regards to lowering the overall impact or number of cases that we have. So, there's this new guidance coming out now that we really do want to know if anybody is in infected because then we can put them into quarantine or into isolation, so they don't become part of the problem and we can direct the resources to them that they need to make sure they and their family are safe.


ACOSTA: And Dr. Fauci is once again urging people to get outdoors as much as possible. He also advises opening the windows in the car if you're riding with another person, which is a smart idea for people who take Ubers and that sort of thing.

Why is exposure to fresh air so important to limit the transmission of the virus?

BROMAGE: Yes. So, we know for certain that face to face conversations with people can spread infection from one to the other. Just the process of talking releases droplets that land in your eyes, in your nose or in your mouth. But there is this thought that those droplets, the smaller droplets, can build up in the air in an indoor environment. And then somebody else can just sit there and breathe in a little amount of virus over time in and get them to the level of being infected. The way that we deal with that is by getting more fresh air inside our

car or inside a classroom or inside our house. So, opening the windows in a car when you're driving brings in a lot of fresh air. Taking it off recirculates, and putting it on the flow through air does the same type of thing.

We know from influenza transmission studies that if you open a window in a classroom, you can drop transmission or infections down by 50 percent. So, diluting the virus in the air becomes really important if we want to stop ongoing transmission.

ACOSTA: All right. Those are great tips. Great information.

Erin Bromage, thanks again as always. We appreciate it.

And as students go back to school, there's an even greater demand for hand sanitizer. CNN's Brian Todd joins us with some important information on that.

Brian, some sanitizers work better than others. Some can actually be dangerous because they make you think they're working when they're not.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. Some sanitizers that have been on the market actually have one ingredient in them that can poison you even if it's taken in through the skin. The FDA has had to issue recalls of dozens of sanitizer products. And tonight, public health officials are issuing new warnings.


TODD (voice-over): In your local grocery store or pharmacy, you might be seeing unfamiliar brands of hand sanitizer. High demand during the pandemic prompted the FDA to allow distilleries and other makers of alcohol products to jump into the market and start making sanitizer.

But tonight, new warnings from experts. Check the label.

ALEXANDRA PHELAN, GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Not every hand sanitizer is equal, and in fact a number of hand sanitizers the FDA has identified include things like methanol.

TODD: Methanol, a dangerous type of alcohol often used in products like antifreeze. In recent days, the FDA has said it's seeing an increase in the number of sanitizer products contaminated with methanol. So, the agency has released a new set of guidelines to help companies make the product safely and meet the demand. Experts say methanol can even be lethal when ingested in high enough concentrations.

DR. MATTHEW HEINZ, HOSPITAL PHYSICIAN, TUCSON, ARIZONA: That can cause central nervous system effects, it can cause seizures.

TODD: Methanol shouldn't be in hand sanitizer, experts say, because even taken in through the skin, it's dangerous. What should be in hand sanitizer? Ethyl alcohol, according to doctors. And to be effective, each bottle of sanitizer should say it's got at least a 60 percent concentration of ethyl alcohol.

HEINZ: Anything below 60, you're going to reduce the ability of that hand sanitizer to actually, you know, do its job. And significantly below that, it's not much different than putting water on.

TODD: What's also not effective, experts say, is using only hand sanitizer dozens of times a day, which reduces its effectiveness.

HEINZ: Some will have aloe. Some have all sorts of other fillers in it. So, you get a little residue as that alcohol kind of dries into your hand. You get that film. And then if you apply it again, you get that film again.

TODD: So, it's important, experts say, to wash your hands with warm water and soap between uses of sanitizer. Hand sanitizer, they say, is not a substitute for hand washing, which experts call the gold standard of hand hygiene during the pandemic.

HEINZ: (INAUDIBLE) oils and lifts dirts and all sorts of stuff off the skin. Just warm soap and water 20 seconds or more is very, very difficult for just about anything at all in terms of bacteria or viruses to survive.

TODD: But if you have to use hand sanitizer, experts say, use a generous amount. And don't just apply it to your palms, as many people do.

PHELAN: Similar to the hand washing producers, you want to sort of rub one palm on top of the other. Do the same on the other side. You want to make sure that you're covering down on your thumbs, on both thumbs, under your finger, on your sort of finger joints and then around the wrists.


TODD: Some experts have told us they've also heard of people trying to make their own hand sanitizer at home. They say that is exceedingly dangerous, especially trying to mix ethyl alcohol, which they say can cause contact burns and even start fires -- Jim.

ACOSTA: CNN's Brian Todd, thank you for that.

I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.