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Top U.S. Experts Says We've Got to Get Our Arms Around This; 35 States Have Implemented Some Type of Mask Requirement; U.S. Passes 132,000 Deaths, Three Millions Cases; Hospitals Running Out of ICU Capacity; U.S. CDC to Release New Guidelines on Reopening Schools; Hong Kong Battles Third Wave of Coronavirus; Asia's Mask Acceptance Contrasts with American's Resistance. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, 3 million cases and counting. With the coronavirus pandemic raging across the United States, Donald Trump focuses on undermining medical and scientific experts and pressuring local officials to reopen schools. But are teachers and students ready to return? I will ask the President of one of America's largest teachers' unions what she thinks.

And U.S. jobless claims have been declining since peaking in March. But this week's unemployment report is due out within hours. What toll with a surging coronavirus take on America's workers? We'll take a look.

Good to have you with us. Well, for the second straight day, the U.S. counted more than 58,000 new cases of COVID-19 pushing its total past 3 million. And that's about a quarter of all confirmed infections making it by far the worst hit country in the world. With the outbreak growing, the nation's top expert on infectious disease is urging the public to tighten things up. He says wearing masks, controlling crowd sizes and practicing social distancing is the best way to reopen and get kids back in school.

But at the latest coronavirus task force briefing Vice President Mike Pence said schools must open as soon as possible. He announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue new recommendations on how to do it safely. It comes after President Donald Trump slammed the agency's current guidelines and threatened to cut funding if schools don't reopen. But dozens of states are struggling to contain the latest surge of cases. In some areas the number of deaths and hospitalizations has risen to levels not seen in weeks.

And as of Monday, 35 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico all have some type of facemask requirement. While not all states have the requirement, they're at least recommending the use of masks or allowing local leaders to make the call. The mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, has made the use of masks mandatory in public while also confirming she tested positive for the virus. She said learning from other more successful countries is critical to slowing the virus.


KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA MAYOR: Other countries have gotten to the other side of it because there has been decisive leadership from the top and they've been very intentional about testing and making sure that people were wearing masks. All of the things that we are not doing. So when I hear this President say he wants to get the economy going again and he wants kids back in school, then maybe we should look to other countries.


CHURCH: Well, the situation is increasingly dire across the American Southeast as hospitals run out of capacity and intensive care units. Georgia only has 18 percent of critical care hospital beds free and 17 percent of inpatient beds available. While in Florida's densely populated Miami-Dade County hospitalizations are up 70 percent and ventilator use has shot up 116 percent. For more on how local and federal officials plan to tackle the growing surge in cases, CNN's Erica Hill has this report.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As cases surge across the Sunbelt, the White House Task Force is advising hotspots to buckle down.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Is really asking the American people in those counties and in those states to not only use the face coverings, not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either and decreasing those gatherings back down to our phase one recommendation, which was 10 or less.

HILL: In less than a month the United States has added a million new cases. Now, adding more than 51,000 every day. Former hotspots also seeing new spikes.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): We have lost all the gains made in June and announcing some numbers that rival our peak back in April.


HILL: As cases climb in Louisiana, New Orleans limiting patrons in bars and restaurants mandating masks at all times, unless you're eating or drinking.

In Los Angeles, the infection rate also rising. Houston's Mayor canceling the Texas GOP convention scheduled for next week.

SYLVESTER TURNER (D), MAYOR OF HOUSTON: If you still refuse to recognize the public health danger to everyone involved, then I am still the mayor.

HILL: The city added more than 1, 000 new cases on Tuesday, a daily high.

PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: And the cases don't really tell the true tragedy of this that the patients are piling now into hospitals into ICUs.

HILL: Forty-two hospital ICUs in Florida are now full, more than 50 have just 10 percent of their beds available.

In Miami-Dade County where the positivity rate just hit 28 percent, the number of patients on ventilators is up more than 100 percent. Arizona has just 145 ICU beds remaining.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: The best that we can hope for now is to put out these multiple fires around the country and get to a point of a slow burn, where there is a steady rate of infections and unfortunately, deaths.

DR. ANDREW PASTEWSKI, ICU MEDICAL DIRECTOR, JACKSON SOUTH MEDICAL CENTER: These aren't 80-year-olds that should die. These aren't 80- year-olds who are going to die next week. These 80-year-olds that contracted a virus because a group of people just didn't want to wear a mask and they had to go out and have fun. I had a mom and grandmother drive themselves into my hospital. And only one drove home.

HILL (on camera): In terms of death in Los Angeles County the public health director there noting a slight uptick in deaths on Wednesday and warning that there could be more to come because, of course, deaths will lag even as cases and infection rates and hospitalizations continue to rise.

In New York, Erica Hill, CNN.


CHURCH: And joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Amy Compton- Phillips. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So let's start with the numbers. More than 3 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. more than 132,000 lives lost so far. 1,100 Americans died on Tuesday alone and yet we see the President and Vice President playing down the severity of the situation and even threatening to cut funds to any schools that don't fully open next month. As a doctor, what's your response to this pressure to open all schools for in-person learning in the midst of a pandemic? How smart is that?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Well, my advice to our government is to look at the CDC guidelines and use those to make very wise decisions for each community. And it absolutely is true that children get services beyond education at school. We deal with childhood hunger. It's how you identify children in risky situations at home. It's going to set them up for life better if they get a strong education as a child. So there are reasons that you want to open schools. There's also ways to do it safely. And pushing schools, particularly if they're overcrowded or they haven't been able to make the accommodations over the summer to open safely is not something that would end up well for the health and well-being of either the children or the teachers who care for them.

CHURCH: And you mention the CDC because it's now being pressured by the President to rewrite its guidelines for reopening schools because he thinks they're currently too tough and impractical. So let's just take a look at some of those guidelines.

Wearing masks. Staying home when appropriate. Staggered scheduling. Backup starting plan. Modified seating with social distancing. Closing communal spaces.

Which of these do you think the President finds too tough? And do you worry that these guidelines will be watered down to satisfy the President and perhaps put lives at risk?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It is hard to read his mind so I'm not going to pretend to do that. But I can say all of those guidelines are there to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to one person to another. One child to another or one child to a teacher. One teacher to another. We have to have a work force that stays healthy. So every single one of those guidelines is there to make it safer to be able to actually do what we want, educate our children.

So I think probably in total those look daunting to somebody who's sitting back going, the goal number one is to open the economy. Because I think what is really essential is to say, yes, everybody wants to open the economy. Everybody wants kids to be in school. Everybody wants the parents to be able to go back to work. But we can do that safely, thoughtfully and well. While preserving health and well-being.

CHURCH: And doctor, meantime the numbers show deaths rising in Florida, Arizona and Texas. And in Florida more than 40 hospital ICUs have hit capacity.


And nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded Wednesday. Seven states have record hospitalizations. All this moving in the wrong direction. What do you expect to see in the next few weeks in terms of hospitalizations and deaths across this country?

I think they will keep going up and predominantly because it takes a couple of weeks for people to change their behavior to see the benefits of that change behavior with something like hospitalizations. So if you get exposed to COVID today, it'll take you somewhere, you know, just call it a week to get symptoms if you're going to be one who get symptoms. And then after you have symptoms for a week or so they can get bad enough to have you need the hospital.

So if you decided to completely isolate yourself and stay home today, go into quarantine today, 14 days from now you might need the hospital if you got COVID today. Right? And so there's that time lag. So we're going to see at least see a couple more weeks of numbers climbing until we see the benefits of all of these new regulations and requirements that Florida and Texas and Arizona are putting in place right now to minimize the risk of transition. So we have a little bit more up to go before we start coming on the downhill side.

CHURCH: Right, and doctor, we did learn yesterday from the respected Washington University model that if 95 percent of Americans wore masks right now, we could save around 45,000 lives and yet there's a reluctance to do this. Definitely from the President and from his supporters. And we labor this point every single day. You and I have been doing this as well. And yet the message doesn't get through. Does it? So do you think the President needs to be telling people this? And why wouldn't he be doing that already if so, many lives could be saved. Where is the disconnect?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Somehow there is a disconnect in not understanding that masking up lets us open up. The fact that if we wear a mask and we keep people safer, we can get the economy going faster. And so, it has artificially become this distinction either you're in favor of wearing masks or you're in favor of opening up. The former allows us to do the latter. And so, I think we need to start speaking the President's language and say this is about the economy and the economy is going to be better if people are healthier and people wear masks.

CHURCH: Masking up lets us open up. I like that. We need to put it on a t-shirt. Thanks so much, Dr. Amy Compton-Philips, always great to chat with you.

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Thank you so much for having me.

CHURCH: Well, Mexico is reporting its highest daily increase of new COVID cases. Almost 7,000 in 24 hours. The single-day record came as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met with the U.S. President at the White House. And this was the first meeting in person and they repeatedly referred to one another as unlikely friends. They're celebrating the implementation of the new North American trade agreement and they signed a joint declaration recognizing their strength and partnership.

Well, the University of Southern California is joining a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a new policy that could result in thousands of students being deported. Harvard and MIT filed the lawsuit earlier this week. Under the new rules, students must attend at least one class in person or lose their visa status. Now it comes as universities shift to online only classes to protect their students and faculties' health

Well a developing and disturbing story from California where actress Naya Rivera famous for her role on the show "Glee" has gone missing at a lake north of Los Angeles. Authorities say Rivera was on a boat with her four-year-old son on Wednesday and about three hours later another boater found the child in the boat alone. Rescuer started searching for Rivera late Wednesday night and plan to resume at dawn on Thursday. Well coming up, health officials and Hong Kong are racing to contain a new spike in coronavirus cases in what's being called the third wave there.

Plus this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In China from passengers boarding trains and planes to those with shorter commutes, riding scooters or hopping on the metro rail, masks are on.


CHURCH: While the debate over wearing masks rages here in the United States, other countries have quickly adapted to the idea. We'll take a look.



CHURCH: Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong after China implemented its controversial new security law. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the law created a fundamental change in circumstances. He also announced a pathway to permanent residency for Hong Kong's citizens who want to leave the city. New Zealand Says it's also reviewing its relationship with Hong Kong. And there's been outrage and protests in Hong Kong despite the new law targeting what Beijing considers subversion and terrorism.

Well, right now millions of people in Melbourne, Australia, are under a six-week lockdown as the country battles a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Earlier this week Australia closed the border between its two most populous streets, Victoria and New South Wales. There are more than 3,000 cases in Victoria, with 165 new ones just on Wednesday. Queensland will close its border starting Friday.

And there's been a sudden surge in new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. In what officials are calling the third wave of the pandemic there. Hong Kong has been praised for its vigilance in handling previous outbreaks. But this new crop of cases shows just how difficult the virus is to control. Health authorities will be giving an update in the coming hours.


And CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live from Hong Kong to talk more about this. Good to see you, Will. So what's behind the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases there? And how's Hong Kong responding a this?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, Rosemary, but at this stage I just don't know the full answer. Because a lot of these cases, and again were talking about dozens popping up over the last couple of days. Which when you compared to other places is a really low number but here in Hong Kong where they acted very early and decisively shutting down the border with mainland China. Eventually restricting all travel except for people who are Hong Kong residents. And making everybody who arrives in Hong Kong to have a 14-day home quarantine wearing an electronic wristbands to make sure you don't leave your home.

You know, they thought they had the city locked down airtight, and yet now we have community spread once again. And small numbers can become very big numbers if health officials don't get a handle on this thing very quickly. And that's what they're concerned about. That the numbers here in Hong Kong could start to sharply rise if additional steps are not taken.

How did this happen? Well one theory is that flight crew who are coming from all over the world up until recently didn't have to take a COVID test at the airport like every other incoming traveler. They had to report their health condition and temperature. Now they are also required to also be tested for COVID at the airport along with other passengers. Now they still don't have to go through the 14-day quarantine because that wouldn't be viable for their job. Same thing for diplomats who might have to travel back and forth in and out of Hong Kong. They also have an exemption in some cases.

But it still raises the question if these people are allowed out in the city, there isn't adequate testing being done, then we have what we're seeing here which is these numbers starting to take backup in an uncomfortable direction for a city really once you get past the quarantine, life here, Rosemary, is really relaxed. You can go out to dinner with your friends, you can go to the gym, you can go out on a boat trip with your friends for the day which is a very popular summertime activity.

But all these activities involve you being in close proximity to large numbers of people. And that could all come to an end pretty quickly if the government decides that these incidences of community spread, while the numbers are relatively small right now, they're worried it could get much bigger, life here could go back to the way it was earlier this year when a lot of the city was shut down. A lot of businesses order to be closed, ports were closed and we could end up back at square one. That's the reality of living with coronavirus in a place like Hong Kong that's taken it very seriously, pretty much from day one.

CHURCH: It is a very different story, of course, compared to what we're seeing in the United States. So a wake-up call to all of us here. We're all screaming but no one is listening. Will Ripley, thank you very much. Joining us live from Hong Kong.

And wearing a facemask in the U.S. has almost become a political statement, but in Asia, even in democratic countries, there's hardly any resistance. The stigma comes when you're not wearing a mask. CNN's David Culver shows us what it's like in Beijing.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A weekday morning rush hour. Walk with us through the streets of Beijing, look to my right, my left, behind me and even headed right toward me. You notice just about every commuter wearing a face mask.

(on camera): To see a smile around here these days, it's a bit rare and it's even a little unnerving because it obviously reveals that somebody's not covering up their face.

(voice-over): In China from passengers boarding trains and planes, to those with shorter commutes, riding scooters or hopping on the metro rail, masks are on. Concerns of the virus still very fresh here in China's capitol especially with the recent cluster outbreak that's partly why folks of all ages wear them and unlike in parts of U.S., it is not political here.

LILY JUNG, BEIJING RESIDENT: I think people really take it as a social responsibility to wear a mask.

CULVER (on camera): Does it seem like a controversial issue when you think about putting your mask on every day.

JUNG: You know, for me it's really just common sense. We want to protect each other so everyone's wearing a mask.

CULVER (voice-over): Lilly Jung's got a go-to stash of surgical face masks at home.

JUNG: You can see we do have plenty, I just grab one and put it on.

CULVER: And she always packs extra.

JUNG: Just in case I forgot to wear a mask before I leave.

CULVER: Some folks treat masks like a pair of cheap sunglasses, keeping spare ones in places you're likely to come back to. It is just one of many layers of protection from COVID-19 that is in place here. Mask testing is routine and, in some cases, mandatory and contact tracing is strict. Call a rideshare and both you and the driver must show one another your digit health code certifying you have not been in high risk areas of the virus.

Step into a local shopping mall with us and it's a temperature check first and another check of the health code. At the food court you order by phone to avoid contact and you pick up with your mask on.

(on camera): The one time you can actually take off your mask is when you're eating.


(voice-over) That is if you're dining in. Even the chefs working behind the protective glass cover up and as soon as the diners are done, look, they're immediately putting their mask back on as they walk out.

(on camera): And you may be in a place like China and you say, well, naturally, people are going to follow the rules. It's an authoritarian government, otherwise they face more serious consequences. But you don't have to look far to see a democratic society doing the same thing. You've got it in South Korea and in Japan.

(voice-over): And the leaders of all these Asian countries and territories often seen wearing a mask in public.

(on camera): Stepping out of you home now, it's really just part of the routine. I mean you grab your cell phone, you grab your keys, your wallet and you make sure you have your face mask. Naturally, there are times you forget, right. You walk out of your house, bare faced, you're in a rush. If the strange looks don't remind you, then a police officer or security guard will sometimes gesture to you and shout and you realize they are telling you to put on a mask.

No question, culturally mask wearing is not that foreign here. Many wore them for the SARS outbreak in 2003 and 2004. And of course, here in Beijing, masks were worn on heavily polluted days. But you will even find folks here who have forgotten to wear a mask and if you encounter them say in the elevator, they will quickly realize it. They become embarrassed. They'll try to cover up their mouth with their clothes or they'll turn to the wall of the elevator to not breathe near you. Or in some cases, they will even step off the elevator just as a courtesy.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.


CHURCH: Very enlightening.

Well, President Trump wants American schools to be open but are teachers and students ready for that? More on the push to get kids safely back in the classrooms. That's after this short break. Stay with us.