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U.S. Reports 1,000+ Virus Deaths for Second Day in a Row; Millions of Americans Face Eviction as Housing Protections end; Ohio State University Reports 250+ Cases in 24-Hour Period. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 3, 2020 - 13:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.

For the second day in a row, the U.S. is reporting more than 1,000 people dying from coronavirus in a day. More than 1,000 families have just lost a mother, brother, grandparent, someone they love to the pandemic, which is now cut short more than 186,000 lives across the nation.

Right now, the U.S. is averaging about 41,000 new cases a day and that is lower than the summer peak of 70,000 but it's still too high with the compounding problem of a flu season that is rapidly approaching. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, is warning about the impacts of gathering this Labor Day weekend, as well. Fauci says that he is pleading for people to wear masks and socially distance after past holiday weekends caused spikes in infections.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We don't want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following the holiday weekend. We don't want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall. We want go into that with a running start in the right direction. We don't want to go into that with another surge that we have to turn around again.


KEILAR: Dr. Fauci also says that Americans can feel, quote, confident in the vaccine process after CDC documents revealed it was directing states to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October. He also though expressed doubt over that timeline, saying it was unlikely but not impossible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FAUCI: These are all guesstimates, Jim. I mean, if you look at the projection of the enrollment and the kinds of things you'll need to get a decision about whether the vaccine is safe and effective, most of us project that that's going to be by November, December, by the end of the year.

Could this will be earlier? Sure. So, if someone says, you know, I'm going to shoot for the possibility that I'll get it by October, you can't argue strongly against that. That's unlikely, not impossible. I think most of the people feel it's going to be November, December.


KEILAR: CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now to discuss this. And I know, Elizabeth, that you have been carefully following this race for a vaccine. Tell us what your sources are saying about this potential fall timeline.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Brianna, the experts that I'm talking to would say what Dr. Fauci said but they would add an adverb. They wouldn't just say it's unlikely. They would say that it is extremely unlikely.

And here is the reason why. The first vaccine trials in the U.S. started in late July. You've got to give shots to all those people. You then have to wait three to four weeks and give them a second round of shots. You have to wait for those shots to kick in. And then, and, Brianna, this is the part that can really take a while, you have to wait for those people to get into the path of the virus and get infected and get sick.

I can't emphasize this enough. Biology has to do its thing. If you have enrolled a bunch of people who tend to work from home, tend to wear masks a lot, they may never run into the virus and you will never know if the shot you gave them is working or not. That is what could take a long time. A lot of this depends on how good the pharmaceutical companies were at enrolling sort of risky kinds of people. If they weren't so great at that, this vaccine is going to -- this trial is going to take a while.

Now, you were talking about how the CDC is telling people -- telling states prepare to do a vaccine campaign even as early as late October. Well, part of that is really -- is just good sense. You want to be prepared. You want to be early in the planning, not late. So, Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, just talked about this.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I think that's unlikely but I defend the CDC in their effort to try to be sure people are prepared. This is like the Boy Scout motto, be prepared. Even if it's very low likelihood, if everything happened to come together beautifully, and we had an answer by then and we knew we had a vaccine that was safe and effective, wouldn't you want people to be ready to figure out how to do the distribution? That's all that CDC is saying.


COHEN: So a key phrase that Dr. Collins just said is if everything happens to come together really beautifully, what he means is what I said earlier. If you vaccinated or gave shots to a whole bunch of people who are putting themselves in the path of the virus, I know this sounds perverse, but you've gotten lucky, you then get the ability to test whether your vaccine works.

If, however, a lot of people volunteered for this trial who are careful, who are working from home, who are wearing masks, who were doing social distancing, it is going to take much longer to get to the end of this. Brianna?


KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for that report.

Iowa right now turning into the new epicenter for COVID. When you look at the seven-day moving average of cases, you can see the recent dramatic spike.

We have CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez in Des Moines. And the White House coronavirus task force weighed in on Iowa's numbers. What did the report say?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, White House coronavirus task force report puts Iowa at the highest new case rate in the country, and with that recommending that a statewide mask mandate be put in place.

Now, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has said no to that so far, saying that they were able to get the case rate down earlier in the year without one and that she said she knows where these cases are coming from, specifically pointing to social activity among young people.

And when you look at the county where of University of Iowa is, for example, we have seen the numbers explode since students back in class, specifically, she cites that 74 percent of the cases in that county are in the ages 19 to 24 years old. Brianna?

KEILAR: Omar, thank you.

Doctors in Iowa are worried about the surging coronavirus case numbers there. They want the governor to take action so they are petitioning her to impose a shelter-in-place order. In it, they write this. One must choose life over livelihood during these historic difficult times. We need your help in stemming the tidal wave of illness that will soon flood our hospitals. By imposing a shelter-in-place order now, you can help save the lives of countless Iowans.

Dr. Austin Baeth started that petition. He is joining us now to talk about this. Doctor, thank you for being with us.

as you're well aware, the governor has also rejected a mask mandate and closing the bars, which are considered quite the vector when it comes to spreading coronavirus. Why do you think this is?

DR. AUSTIN BAETH, PHYSICIAN, UNITYPOINT HEALTH DES MOINES: Why is she resisting these evidence-based measures? I don't know. I don't know how it makes public health sense. I don't know how it even makes political sense. I mean, that's probably the thing I'm personally struggling with the most.

The facts are clear. We know through science how to slow down this pandemic. And she isn't doing it. I don't know what it's going to take.

KEILAR: Do you think it will take the petition? Do you think the petition will work and sway her?

BAETH: So the petition I started, I think, about four months ago has not several thousand signatures. And I just started a petition for a statewide mask mandate. It has the signatures of hundreds of Iowa's physicians. We have several different physician groups in the state along with other health groups who are calling for this. And we have had a consensus and she is not listening to it. So, no, I don't maintain hope that our voices are going to be heard.

KEILAR: Right now -- and we are seeing -- look, we're seeing school districts in Iowa. Some of them are doing one thing when it comes to reopening. There is some disparity. Sioux City's public schools are still scheduled to resume in-person learning next week. Do you think that that's safe right now to do full in-person?

BAETH: So the governor has actually enacted a statewide mandate to return to school, at least 50 percent of the time, those localities who are not, who are actually doing that in defiance of the governor and that is going to plays out in the court.

You know, I think it depends on the local infection rates in each school district. And so I do think it's okay to have local control on this. The CDC has talked about the balancing the risks of keeping kids out of school and not having a social interaction.

What we know is this though. Going back to school will lead to more COVID-19 infections, older kids, ten and over, are shown to spread this as readily as adults. And things are bad now and I think it might only get much, much worse from here.

KEILAR: And to your point, that idea of looking specifically, how is one county doing and another county, because we know there is disparity, do you have confidence that when you look at some of these school districts that are in defiance and then when you look at the school districts that aren't, that they are following a model of being realistic about the conditions are coronavirus in their counties or is this just patchwork hodgepodge?

BAETH: Not only do we have a difference in the test positivity rate in the various counties, we have a difference of opinion of the severity of the disease itself, the severity of the pandemic and what is needed to get it done. We don't have a universal leadership that shows that when things are bad, you should do this, such as, close down schools or wear masks.

So, it's anybody's guess what any of these school districts are going to do because it depends on the superintendent, it depends on local officials.


KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that one of your Iowa senators has said. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst kind of backtracked on her baseless claims that U.S. coronavirus deaths are being overcounted. She had also thrown out a very serious charge against medical practitioners. That was essentially fraud, suggesting that they are inflating the numbers of coronavirus patients in order to make more money.

As a health care provider, I just wonder what you think about that.

BAETH: First of all, as you said, it's false. Physicians are not paid based on the diagnosis of their patients. They're paid based on the services they provide. Secondly, it is insulting. My colleagues and I risk our lives every single day when we come into the hospital to take care of the patients that we care about. We have had colleagues who have gotten sick. We have had colleagues across the country who have died. And while we are making these sacrifices, we are being accused of insurance fraud. I can't imagine a bigger insult.

Not only that it's dangerous, it's downplaying the severity of this pandemic and that gets breathing room for the deniers to act recklessly. And so those who are down playing this have blood on their hands.

KEILAR: Dr. Baeth, thank you so much. And I just want to say we appreciate what you and your colleagues are doing. You have been called to do something incredibly dangerous that you didn't sign up for and you've answered the call and we appreciate it.

BAETH: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: One big university now quarantining dozens of its fraternity and sorority houses after an alarming outbreak and another says it's had 800 cases in less than a week.

Plus, The Rock reveals that he and his family have tested positive for COVID. We'll hear from him including how he was infected.

And CNN reports from the ground on the heartbreaking reality of being evicted after losing jobs during the pandemic.


FRANCISCO MUNOZ, HELPING EVICTED TENANT MOVE: I have a family, I have a sister, I have my mom. And we never know. Maybe two days, maybe it's her, tomorrow it's me, you know?




KEILAR: Six months into this pandemic, millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills. Just today, the Labor Department announced that another 881,000 people filed for unemployment benefits first time last week. And all of this comes as Congress is unable to reach a deal on a second stimulus plan and is currently in recess. In Houston, Texas, where eviction moratoriums have been lifted, some people are being kicked out of their homes after falling behind on rent payments.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Houston with more.


BENNIE GANT, HARRIS COUNTY CONSTABLES, PRECINCT 1: Hello? Constable, I need you to come at the door.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From one Houston home to the next --

GANT: Hello, constable.

LAH: Deputy Bennie Gant with Harris County Constable's Office executes judge's orders to evict.

GANT: Hello? Constable.


LAH: Israel Rodriguez is a tenant at this apartment, but he's not alone. 20-month-old Israel, his brother, four-year-old Fabian and their mother are some of the estimated 40 million Americans facing eviction in the downward spiral of the COVID economy.

RODRIGUEZ: They didn't rush us but they're like, get everything you need.

LAH: Rodriguez admits he hasn't been paying rent behind thousands of dollars.

RODRIGUEZ: It's my fault on the eviction. It was a lot going on in the corona. When it hit, I lost my job. So it took like a month to get another job. This is my check but I ain't making it with $300. It's literally $300.

LAH: Their stroller now carries their possessions.

RODRIGUEZ: It's mainly the kids' clothes because me and her, we wear the same clothes almost every day. Make sure we got toilet paper, a little bit of snacks for the kids.

LAH: What are you going to do with all of your stuff?

RODRIGUEZ: That's trash. They get thrown into trash because we don't have a car, we don't have help, we don't nobody that can come and help us out right now, nobody. We've got ourselves, me and the kids and her. That's it.

LAH: How do you feel, as law enforcement, feel about seeing for that family to go?

GANT: That's a tough situation. I've got six kids, six children. And, you know, the kids see the mom and dad in desperate situation, it is tough.

LAH: Deputy Gant, an officer for 35 years, is just starting his day. Eight evictions are on his list.

GANT: Co-defendant is here, two of them.

LAH: At each stop, people behind on rent are ordered to leave, possessions, pulled out.

Where are you guys going to go now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can go to a hotel.

LAH: You can go to a hotel?

GANT: Constable.

LAH: As Deputy Gant works through his list, we get word that 200 eviction orders have come through the Harris County courts for this week. That's double what they normally saw for an entire month before COVID.

200 on Monday, what does that --

GANT: Well, that's a lot, yes.

LAH: What does that say to you?

GANT: Well, what that means is that they're ready to start having people removed from properties.

LAH: It is a backlog, but it's also just one precinct in one of America's hardest-hit cities in evictions. The job takes its toll.

GANT: I don't really want to put her out here, but I have to under this judge's order.

LAH: At this apartment, the tenant is an elderly woman who can no longer afford the rent. The landlord's mover, Francisco Munoz, works though he doesn't want to.


MUNOZ: I have a family, I have a sister, I have my mom, and we never know. Maybe today it's her, tomorrow it's me, you know?

LAH: Midway through the eviction, Deputy Gant decides it's too dangerous to evict her in the Houston summer heat.

GANT: I'm not going to put her out here in this heat.

LAH: And will call social services instead.

GANT: But tomorrow, you are leaving.

LAH: A one-day reprieve with an uncertain tomorrow.

GANT: You have a situation where people aren't working, they don't have money and they're desperate.


LAH: The Harris County Constable's Office has put a hold on all evictions for now as they try to sort exactly what does the CDC nationwide eviction moratorium mean. Locally, there is quite a bit of confusion and questions about whether this will be effective at all.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Houston, Texas.

KEILAR: Kyung, thank you so much for that powerful report. It's heartbreaking, right? And it's worth noting millions of Americans are in that situation while the Senate is on a month-long vacation and Congress can't compromise.

Next, new outbreaks at colleges and universities, including 800 new cases at one major school.

Plus, Alabama now allowing restaurant buffets to reopen but with some ground rules. I'll be speaking with one owner.



KEILAR: Colleges and universities across the country are monitoring coronavirus cases on campus through testing, and we are following the latest developments. Today, Ohio State University reporting more than 250 new cases just in a 24-hour period, this as Dr. Fauci warned students not to go home if they get infected but instead to remain on campus.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is tracking all of this for us. So, Evan, starting with Ohio, what's the situation there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this is the story we're seeing all across the country. Ohio State University is one of the nation's largest universities, as you know, and is reporting a large outbreak of the coronavirus.

Many schools posting online these pandemic dashboard, and OSU is one of them. What it shows is 882 cases since mid-August and positivity rate 4.5 percent. That's an alarming number because, as we know, 5 percent is what we consider a high positivity rate, Brianna. KEILAR: Yes, certainly. And one of the big concerns here is students socializing off campus. The University of Indiana reporting a sharp increase in cases in the Greek system. What do we know about that?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right. College administrators throughout these early days of the fall semester have been complaining about off campus parties and gatherings.

And across the country, fraternity and sorority houses have been a part of that problem. At the University of Indiana in Bloomington, 30 sorority fraternity houses have been ordered to quarantine and all of their non-resident activities have been suspended until September 14th.

The school took that step after Indiana University officials said there was an alarming increase in cases among people in the Greek system.

KEILAR: And let's take a look at the University of Georgia, because they have seen this staggering increase, more than 800 new infections. What are they doing?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right. What schools are trying to do about the rise in cases happening all over the country is essentially tell students to please behave, and in Georgia, that's basically what's happening.

The school had 821 cases reported last month and the president said, look, students need to take this seriously and they need to socially distant. It's a tough sell though. Because we know that as long as there's been colleges, there have been college administrators complaining that students party too much and it's dangerous to their health.

It's not really totally taking hold, it appears. Currently CNN is tracking 25,000 coronavirus cases at colleges and universities in 37 states, and that's just in these opening weeks of the fall semester, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Evan, thank you so much, Evan McMorris-Santoro.

The U.S. right now averaging 12.7 cases per 100,000 residents. One state is reporting a rate of infection more than double the national average, that is Alabama. But still the state is pressing ahead with reopening. And this week all buffets, salad bars and self-serve drink stations were given the green light to open.

New guidelines include having at least one employee enforcing social distancing, six feet apart, and providing and encouraging the use of hand sanitizer. The real question though will be, do people feel safe eating this way again? Are they coming back?

I'm joined by J.J. Nelson. He is the owner and the General Manager of Barnyard Cafeteria. Thank you so much for being with us, J.J. And just take us through what was your decision to change the name obviously of your establishment. It was Barnyard Buffet. It is Barnyard Cafeteria. Tell us why you did that.

J.J. NELSON, OWNER AND GENERAL MANAGER, BARNYARD CAFETERIA IN ALABAMA: Thank you for having me, Ms. Keilar. Well, the word buffet is just like an albatross around your neck right now. I mean, you've got to stay from it. It's not safe. It's got a stigma.


My business disappeared overnight, so we had to do something, we had to adapt somehow. And it was a pretty easy transition for us to go to.