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Fauci: "We Are All In This Together" Despite Political Divisiveness; RNC Looking at Two Outdoor Stadiums for Convention in Florida. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 16:30   ET



GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Which guidelines are too tough? Which guidelines are impractical?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I think it's important, George, to realize when you use the word "guidelines." That's what CDC has done. They provide guidances. They're not requirements.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the president and CDC on different pages, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan says it's Trump who's mixed up.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: Well, actually, I'm not confused, I think it's the president who is confused. The governors seem to know exactly -- we knew exactly what the CDC was talking about.

COLLINS: Asked how the administration can say that they're not going to tell schools how to open but they will see when, Kayleigh McEnany said this.


The costs are too high to keep schools shut down.

COLLINS (on camera): How can you say you're not going to tell all the schools how to reopen but you're going to tell them all when to reopen?

MCENANY: There are 40 -- there are 47 guidelines issued by the states. There's local guy lines that have been put in place. This can be done safely. It can be done well.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you do testing to that extent --

COLLINS (voice-over): Also today, Trump repeated his inaccurate assertion that there are more cases in the U.S. because there's more testing, claiming if half the people had been tested, there would be half the cases.

But again, that's not true even according to his own health experts.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: That's an indication that you do have additional infections.

COLLINS: The Trump administration is also being accused of politicizing the reopening of schools by threatening to cut off funding if some of them don't reopen. Today, the education secretary claimed that money could go towards a conservative cause, school choice.

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: If schools aren't going to reopen, we're not suggesting pulling funding from education but instead allowing families take -- let the families take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated.


COLLINS: Now, Pam, we were out in the rose garden with the president and he repeated his assertion that he thinks if students in Germany can go back to school, then we should be fine to do so here in the United States. Though, of course, he did not note the vast differences in how the two countries have handled the coronavirus pandemic and how Germany flattened the curve successfully while clearly the United States has not.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Right. And there was a sort of national standard in Germany, versus -- very different from the U.S.

Kaitlan, stay with us. We have a lot to discuss.

And we're going to be joined now by Dr. Seema Yasmin, CNN medical analyst and former CDC disease detective.

Dr. Yasmin, thanks for coming on.

So, you have the American Public Health Association saying, quote, the Trump administration's reported pressuring of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrongly makes educators, students and parents political pawns and could have deadly consequences during COVID-19 epidemic. In your view, does reopening too soon have deadly consequences?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It absolutely can. And, Pamela, we've seen this before. Right now, the president is saying that the CDC guidelines on school reopening are too tough. But it wasn't that long ago he was saying the same thing about guidelines for businesses reopening.

And so, those guidelines were then revised. In effect, what we're learning today is that businesses were then kind of just given the leeway to rewrite their own reopening rules.

BROWN: Uh-huh.

YASMIN: How we saw that manifest was the crisis we're in now where we're seeing record case counts day by day. So, the APHA is completely right here, that yesterday we saw the president say CDC will be revised. Today, the CDC director himself says no, they won't.

So, in effect, you have 76 million school kids, teachers and parents thinking, well, what do we do, then? People are just left in the dark.

BROWN: And, Doctor -- I mean, Kaitlan, Dr. Yasmin pointed to this --

COLLINS: Not a doctor yet.

BROWN: I'm sorry? Oh, yeah. Not yet, Kaitlan, but you're on your way.

Dr. Yasmin had pointed out that back in April, the president as we know pressured states to reopen businesses and now it's many of those same states that we're seeing these surging cases and increased positivity rates like in Florida. Did the president learn anything from that? What are you hearing from sources?

COLLINS: Well, the White House hasn't even seemed to acknowledge that, that those were the very states we're touting. And remember, the president invited the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis into the Oval Office. We were there that day. And he took a victory lap about how Florida had handled the outbreak so far.

And, of course, now that's the danger in taking a victory lap is look at what's happening in Florida now.

So, it doesn't seem that that is something that's really registered. I mean, tomorrow, the president is flying to one of the worst hot spots in the country right now, Miami-Dade County, where he's doing a briefing on drug trafficking and attending a fundraiser and the White House has said that they do not have really any qualms about going there and taking this big contingency with him despite the fact that cases are really high there and the hospitals already say they are overwhelmed by what's going on.

BROWN: Yeah. It goes along with this theme from the White House that, hey, there's nothing to see here, you know, when you look at the data, Dr. Yasmin, and you are seeing a surge of cases, a surge in hospitalizations and deaths in some areas.


When you look at reopening schools, reopening businesses, wearing a face mask, getting testing, it's all become so politicized and partisan. At today's White House event with Hispanic American leaders you can see in this video we're showing right here, in this video at least, no one is wearing a mask.

So what do you make of the administration's attempts to push reopening early and go against the advice of the president's own health experts?

YASMIN: It's completely in line with how we've seen the administration respond to this pandemic, Pamela. So it's not shocking at this point, but it is extremely troubling.

And also this false narrative that we keep hearing, right? Of course, we're seeing more cases, it's because we're doing more testing. And that's completely not it.

We're also seeing deaths increase. We're also seeing hospitalization rates, the record of those broken in eight states and we're not hearing this truthful messaging, that actually the number of positive tests, that rate, that's what's coming back a lot higher.

So, we're being lied to about the extent of this crisis and it's only going to get worse until we have science-led policy.

BROWN: Just very quickly, how -- what's the significance of a higher positivity rate? Why should -- to the average person, what does that mean? Why is that important?

YASMIN: So, let's just quickly use Dallas County, Texas, as an example. A few weeks ago, one in ten tests was coming back positive for COVID-19, now it's closer to one in four. So, it's saying, yes, you might be ramping up testing in your area but that doesn't explain why so many more people are infected. What's really happening is infection rates are truly on the rise.

And, in fact, really quickly, in Houston, we're learning there's been an uptick of people dying at home of COVID being diagnosed on their autopsy. They aren't even being tested when they are alive, not even registered in these case counts which are already so high.


All right. Thank you so much, Doctor, and, Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate you both coming on.

All right. Coming up, the RNC has already moved next month's convention to Florida. So, why are Republicans scouting more locations? That's next.



BROWN: Stunning numbers out of Florida where the positivity rate for coronavirus test is at nearly 20 percent. So that means about one out of five people tested for the virus actually has it.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Palm Beach County.

So, Randi, it seems like Florida is breaking records daily lately.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more than 8,900 new cases in the last 24 hours and 120 deaths, Pamela. That is the highest number of deaths in a single day here in the state. And it's the positivity rate that you mentioned that people are really concerned about. Statewide, the positivity rate now is 18.39 percent. That is the highest we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

The governor held a press conference today. He touched on it and he said that, yes, it's a bit higher but that the death rates are down. He quickly points to the fact that most of the new cases are positive cases under 45 and the death rate among them is very, very low.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade, the hardest hit county, has a positivity rate of 28 percent. That's where the president is heading just tomorrow. Forty-six hospitals in 26 different counties are now running out of ICU beds. They don't have any to spare. And, you know, more than 4,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, the counties are shutting down in some way, but the RNC, the Republican National Convention, still expected to take place in Jacksonville in just a few weeks in august. And they are now looking at the -- the Republican officials are looking at outdoor venue instead of the arena that's indoors, that holds about 15,000 people. They're looking at two outdoor venues, including the stadium where the Jacksonville Jaguar plays. That holds about 67,000 people and another baseball arena also outside that holds about 11,000 people where some minor league teams play.

So, we'll see if the president signs off on that. Apparently, he's been briefed but hasn't officially signed off on that. And I can tell you that the Senate majority leader has been asked if he would go to the RNC. He hasn't said he would. He said he has to see what's happening in late August and determine if it's safe to gather that many people, Pam.

BROWN: All right. And he has been taking precautions, wearing mask and so forth. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

KAYE: Sure.

BROWN: And otherwise healthy teenager is now fighting for her life battling coronavirus. Her aunt joins me next with her plea to the public.



BROWN: The family of a city 16-year-old Florida girl with coronavirus is asking you to think about her before you go places without a mask.

Halene O'Connell was just taken off a ventilator today. She was in a medically induced coma for nearly two weeks. Her family says she was a healthy teenager with no underlying health conditions.

I want to bring in her aunt, Carmen Barlianto.

Thank you so much, Carmen. I know it has been such an emotional journey for you.

Tell us about Halene and what she has been through with coronavirus.

CARMEN BARLIANTO, AUNT OF CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: wow. It's been a up- and-down roller-coaster ride. Corona has just devastated her body, and the ups and downs of anything you can imagine, and the emotional toll on my sister.

She -- yes, like high blood pressure. They have had her on insulin, pneumonia, her fever up and down anywhere from 101 to 103. Just waiting on these updates every day, and then it changes so rapidly. And then we've just been hopeful.

And it's -- we got happy news today. She just -- she's off the ventilator. And we're waiting to see what's next.

BROWN: That is a huge step in the right direction, for sure.


BROWN: How did it -- what were her initial symptoms? Was it clear that she had COVID initially?


Fever and nauseous. She had a fever, and she didn't know. Maybe it's the bug. Yes, it wasn't your first initial shortness of breath. It was more nausea and then vomiting.

And she went to the E.R. They sent her home. They didn't test her because she didn't have enough of the symptoms.



BARLIANTO: Two days later, it changed so quick. And she was admitted.

BROWN: They didn't even test her.

BARLIANTO: The first time, yes.



BROWN: And she is still in the hospital, as we know, with her mother.

But her mother cannot leave, and no one else can go visit.


BROWN: I can't imagine how hard this has been for the whole family.

My mom had been in the ICU, and we couldn't visit her when she was in critical condition. It's just -- it's awful.


BROWN: How -- tell how it's been for you.

BARLIANTO: I mean, I put myself in their shoes.

My sister has not left the hospital. My brother-in-law had to quarantine at home. He's still at home just waiting, waiting this out, and seeing -- just hoping that today we got the best news. BROWN: Absolutely.

And you see in the media images of young people out at bars, parties, downplaying coronavirus.


BROWN: What is your message to them?

BARLIANTO: COVID don't care. That's what we're telling everybody.

She's 16, healthy. Came out of nowhere. This can go to anybody. It's not for elderly. Just you got a mask up. That's all we have. Social distance. Just be aware.

I don't know. We don't know when this is going to end. I don't know when she's going to come home. And the effects of COVID, you hear stories from other survivors, and it's scary.



BARLIANTO: She's only 16. Yes.

BROWN: She's only 16. You don't know what the long-term effects are.

But we hope, we pray that she will make a full recovery and a full recovery very soon.


BROWN: Thank you so much for coming on and sharing this important story.

Halene O'Connell's family, they have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover her medical bills.

Carmen Barlianto, thank you so much. Best of luck to you and your family.

BARLIANTO: Thank you. Thanks to everybody.

BROWN: We will be right back.



BROWN: Well, it seems like, nearly every day, you will see a new anti-Trump ad.

Ads aren't unusual for an election year, of course, but what is, is that many of these anti-Trump ads are paid for by Republican never- Trump groups, as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Trump said this about spiking cases of coronavirus...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.

ZELENY: ... a new television ad quickly sprang to life.

TRUMP: Slow the testing down, please.

NARRATOR: Slow the testing down? Slow down our chance to save tens of thousands of lives.

ZELENY: It's not the work of Democrats, but, rather, the never-Trump movement, a small slice of Republicans trying to make Trump a one-term president.

After failing four years ago, the movement is back and multiplying, with the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, along with new groups, like Bush Alumni for Biden, whose slogan is: "We Worked For W. We Support Joe."

TRUMP: Within a couple of days, it's going to be down to close to zero.

ZELENY: This time, they're using the president's words against him, hoping to get into his head. At least, that's the goal of the Lincoln Project, whose videos made by former aides to George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney are designed to relentlessly mock and needle the president.

George Conway, whose wife, Kellyanne Conway, is a top Trump adviser, is a co-founder.

GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: He's thoroughly unfit for office.

ZELENY: The president has long mocked never-Trumpers, taking delight in taking over the Republican Party.

TRUMP: Some of these people don't get it. Never Trump. By the way, never Trump is disappearing rapidly.

ZELENY: While polls show as many as nine out of 10 Republicans say they support the president, the second act of the movement may be different than 2016. Two reasons why, the Trump record and Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton.

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: Joe Biden just simply isn't it as scary to them. I think women are going to lose this election for Donald Trump. I think that is going to be the decisive and defining group of people.

ZELENY: Sarah Longwell has studied Trump voters since 2016. She's watched them stand by the president, but she senses a different moment.

LONGWELL: The health crisis, the economic crisis, the racial crisis. People are tired. They feel like Trump isn't fit for the moment. They feel like the stakes are higher.

ZELENY: Her group is collecting testimonials, believing the power of individual stories will make other Republicans comfortable saying it out loud.

JACK SPIELMAN, MICHIGAN VOTER: But I will vote for a tuna fish sandwich before I vote for Donald Trump again.


ZELENY: And that Michigan voter there, Jack Spielman, who lives in Macomb County, of course, a critical part of Michigan, I talked to him today.

And he said that he was hoping that Donald Trump would be a better president, but that has not turned out to be. He said he's a failed leader. So he was giving his voice to these testimonials, trying to urge other Republicans to do the same.

Now, Pamela, the Trump campaign dismisses the never-Trump movement as an irrelevant factor. And, of course, the Trump campaign is spending many, many, many more dollars here, but no question the never-Trump campaign is getting under the president's skin this summer -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Good to see you.

ZELENY: Likewise.

BROWN: And thank you for joining us today.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.