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Sources: At Least 8 Secret Service Agents Stuck in Phoenix with Coronavirus After Pence Trip; Soon: Trump's Mount Rushmore Event with 7,5000 Guests, No Social Distancing, Masks Optional; Florida Leads U.S. in Average Daily New Cases; 102-Year-Old Coronavirus Survivor; More Than 50,000 New COVID-19 Cases In U.S. For Third Straight Day. Aired on 8-9:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 20:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A good Friday evening to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

We begin tonight with breaking news. CNN has learned that right now, at least eight Secret Service agents are sequestered in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Some are suffering from coronavirus symptoms. All have tested positive for the virus.

Two people familiar with the matter tell CNN they were infected while preparing for Vice President Pence's visit to Phoenix on Wednesday.

And, as you know, as many as 15 agents became infected while preparing for the president's visits to Phoenix and Tulsa last month. Both of which, went against the guidelines of his own coronavirus task force.

If that weren't enough, tonight, the president is at it, again. He is at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota to watch the fireworks, along with thousands of other people, at the invitation of a governor who has proudly declared -- not admitted but declared -- that there will be no social distancing at this event.

And there isn't. People tonight will be enter, be sitting in rows of chairs that have been zip tied together or packed shoulder to shoulder in bleachers. Mask wearing is optional. So just as he did in Phoenix and Tulsa, the president, tonight, will be flouting the guidelines of his administration's own task force on social distancing, on wearing masks, on avoiding unnecessary travel and large crowds.

And because of the example he is setting, millions of Americans who trust and believe in him are, in effect, being encouraged to engage in the same risky behavior.

Just to remind you, here is what Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Senate panel just this week.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We've got to get that message out, that we are all in this together. And if we are going to contain this, we've got to contain it, together.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): I assume that would mean that elected and community leaders need to model good public-health behavior and wear a mask.

FAUCI: We recommend masks for everyone on the outside, anyone who comes into contact, in a crowded area. You should avoid crowds, where possible. And when you're outside and not have the capability of maintaining distance, you should wear a mask, at all times.


SCIUTTO: It's simple advice and it's easy.

Fauci, also, warned we, as a country, could soon be seeing as many as 100,000 new cases a day. Already this week, the daily total surpassed 50,000. And as you can see there, the curve is climbing steeply. The CDC is now projecting nearly 148,000 deaths in this country, three weeks from now, no place else on earth, no place else on earth has the kind of caseload and death toll that we do.

Repeat. No country in the world currently rivals our own in the number of infections and deaths from coronavirus. It ought to be a wakeup call.

Instead, the president remains in denial. Tweeting overnight, there is a rise in coronavirus cases because our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country. Lots of falsehoods in there.

Keeping them honest, that is not what the experts say -- his own experts.


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover. But we do believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positivity are going up.


SCIUTTO: That's right. More people are testing positive. Means more people are infected.

And that's the White House task force member, Admiral Brett Giroir, testifying this week.

And the numbers behind his assessment do not lie. It's simple. Testing has been increasing, though, not everywhere. But regardless, the percentage of tests coming back positive has simply been skyrocketing.

The non-profit news outlet "ProPublica" which uses the same Johns Hopkins data we do came up with a powerful way of showing it. They charted the rolling percentage of change in testing, in this case in Arizona, after the two-week period after Memorial Day. You see it goes up, it does, 175 percent. So testing is increasing.

But look at how much more steeply the positivity rate goes up. Nearly, 700 percent. In other words, the testing is rising but infections are rising and factor. That is, more people getting infected.

And in states that have gotten the virus under control, such as New York, take a look. Testing, also, goes up. But the positivity rate is going down.

So, no, these spikes we're seeing now have little to do with testing. You can't blame on that. And states that don't have a handle in the outbreak, positivity rates are climbing. Again, that's more people getting infected at a faster rate, regardless how much testing is being done.


Let's take Florida. About 20 percent of tests, one in five are now coming back positive. A similar percentage in South Carolina. And Arizona is now averaging about 30 percent positivity. Nearly one in three people being tested has been infected with this virus.

By contrast, the rate in New York is hovering around 1 percent. And again, New York does a lot of testing. But the president is sticking to his false theory. But he's been doing -- been pretty honest about his dislike for testing, in general.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have so much testing. I don't think you need that kind of testing or that much testing.

We've done more testing than every other country, combined. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad.

I have always said testing is somewhat overrated.

Something can happen between a test, where it's good. And then, something happens and all of a sudden. This is why the whole concept of tests aren't necessarily great.


SCIUTTO: You know where they do a lot of testing, by the way? In the White House, around this president. A lot of testing.

But he doesn't like it nationally, he says, because those national numbers make him look bad, which makes you wonder why he isn't just as upset about the most important measure of all, the one that shows fatalities. About to cross the 130,000 mark, with each new death, a reflection of all the denial, the dishonesty, the failed national leadership leading up to it.

Tonight, it is regrettable to say but the president of the United States, in his words and his actions, is contributing to all of the above. Perspective now from two leading authorities. Emergency room

physician, visiting professor at George Washington University, and former Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.

And also, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder. She's an epidemiologist, infectious disease specialist and host of "The Epidemic" podcast.

In short, they know what they are talking about. They've done their homework, and that's why we have them on the air tonight.

Dr. Gounder, if I could begin with you.

OK. Perhaps, as many as 7,500 people tonight. Not socially distanced. Not -- masks optional, all gathered to see the president amidst a surging pandemic.

From a purely medical standpoint, just how dangerous is it for people attending that event tonight?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim. You know, this is a man who once said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and he would never lose voters.

Now, he's asking, essentially, people to shoot themselves. This is on par with the Jonestown massacre but on a national scale. He's, essentially, asking his supporters to drink the Kool-Aid or jump off the cliff, in a way that's very dangerous. Except, this is something that can spread to others.


Dr. Wen, earlier this week, the surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams, he was encouraging people, very much, to wear a mask. This morning, though, he would not advise people to avoid large gatherings.

You know him. He is a doctor. Why is he walking that line? Violating what health experts say is necessary. Health experts, employed by this White House.

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Yes. So I think that Dr. Adams is in a very tricky position. So, he and I were health commissioners at the same time. And I know that he understands public health. I, also, imagine that he does not want to contradict the president and the vice president directly. Just as Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and others, are very careful to walk that line.

But I think that, at this point, we do -- all of us in public health -- have to speak with the voice of science and truth, which is that being outdoors is much better than being indoors, wearing a mask will protect you at least fivefold. And also, this is not the time, in the middle of a pandemic, to be in a large crowd, in a massive gathering. That is, as Dr. Gounder mentioned, that -- we know what the end result is going to be, which is many more people getting sick.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Gounder, does that violate the oath to do no harm, as a medical professional? Not to speak?

I mean, it's like telling someone with heart disease. You know, eat fatty foods. I mean, it directly violates the clear medical guidance. Why can't the surgeon general speak -- speak -- who cares if he contradicts the president?

GOUNDER: Well, you know, I think there's going to be a time when Dr. Adams maybe thinks back on his career and has regrets about that. But, you know, I do understand. Many of us can be in very difficult positions, especially when we hold public office of some kind, we are accountable to our leaders. And I think he's really trying to walk that tightrope, where he can continue to message the American public, without losing his job.

SCIUTTO: Well, goodness. American public would benefit from some honesty here.

Dr. Wen, explain where the country is now. And perhaps, we could show this graph again. As we see, the cases peak and, actually, even rising above the peak that they were at before.


Some effort was made nationally at -- at mitigation, here.

What's happening? Is it accelerating? Are we reaching that point of exponential growth, that many health experts have warned about?

WEN: Yes, and you can see that, very plainly, on the graph, Jim, because you're seeing this line that's increasing, exponentially, and without a peak in sight. And I really worry about this.

I mean, the first time around, Americans made tremendous sacrifices. People lost their jobs. Kids didn't go to school. And we imposed these really strict lockdown measures, in order to reign in the infection. But we didn't go as far as we should have.

We, certainly, don't have the testing, tracing, other public-health infrastructure, necessary to reign in this disease. And I think, come this Fourth of July, we have an option. Do we continue on the same path? And see many more preventable deaths?

Or do we say it's time to hit reset. Let's pause on reopening. Let's reassess where we are, and let's impose many more restrictions that we need in order to save lives.

SCIUTTO: You know, watching this event there in South Dakota as they prepare for the president. I mean, so many rules being broken, just the lack of social distancing.

Dr. Gounder, as a physician at a hospital in New York, you know, New York went through a real and complete lockdown, and got from extremely high rates down to a level, now, where it's under control. Are you concerned that, as other states around the country go in the opposite direction that, that, then, will filter back to a place like New York?

In other words, you can't really keep this sequestered in other places around the country, can you?

GOUNDER: No, Jim, you can't. And so, this very much puts our control of the virus very much in jeopardy. I think we are going to see reintroductions of coronavirus from elsewhere to New York City. And, you know, this is, also, why it's really important to have some of those measures that Dr. Wen mentioned in place. You need to have the testing, the contact tracing, the means to isolate people who are infectious so that they're not infecting the rest of their family and community.

And New York actually does have those measures in place now, which means that we're better equipped to deal with that. But, that said, this very much puts us in a precarious position.


Dr. Wen, you wrote in "The Washington Post," and I'm quoting here, at this point, most of us have come to terms with the unfortunate reality that we will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. The best we can hope for is a slow burn that allows schools to resume and most of the economy to get back to business.

You know, slow burn. Given where we're seeing the numbers go in states, such as Arizona, Florida, and even a state like California, right? That addressed this, very aggressively, early on, and opened up, and are seeing it kind of roar back here. I mean, is slow burn almost a best-case scenario, at this point?

WEN: Yes. We do have to come to terms with the fact that we are going to be living with COVID-19. That quarantine fatigue is real and that we couldn't keep people cooped up forever.

So the best we can hope for is a steady level of disease. But right now, that's not what we have. We have a forest fire, and we need to put out this fire so that we don't have exponential spread all throughout our country.

And there is a way for us to do that. But we have to start redefining our priorities. If our goal was to get schools to be open for in- person instruction in the fall, maybe we need to keep bars closed for the summer.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that comparison. You know, let's worry about getting schools ready, not bars, now.

Dr. Gounder, and that's a point, frankly, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott made as he did come around to imposing, almost, a statewide mask requirement, say -- I mean, he said what health experts have been saying for months now, which is you can't have a sustainable economic recovery if you don't get the outbreak under control because if people are getting sick and people are afraid of getting sick, they're not going to go to businesses, et cetera.

I mean, explain that false choice, if you can, between the economy and health. I mean, the two go hand in hand, do they not? GOUNDER: Well, even Goldman Sachs has come out and said that wearing a

mask is one of the most important things we can do for our economic recovery, at this point. You know, we have seen masks dramatically reduce transmission. So, if what we care about is economic recovery, wear a mask.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, and we're watching an event there in South Dakota, getting ready. Lots of folks in the crowd, not wearing a mask. The president, himself, has not been wearing one, either, in public.

Dr. Wen, Dr. Gounder, thanks so much to both of you.

Just ahead this hour, the other fear about tonight's firework show at Mt. Rushmore, it has to do with embers, real ones. Not of coronavirus, as the vice president likes to say, but real embers, and a real threat of wildfire.

And next, the situation in Florida where the virus is really raging out of control now.


Plus, breaking news on the legendary NASCAR driver who has just tested positive for COVID-19.

That and more when 360 continues.


SCIUTTO: We have more news tonight. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus. Johnson, who has never missed a cup race in his career, will miss Sunday's event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which used to be called the Brickyard 400 is now named the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400. A sign of the times.

Meanwhile, in Florida, unlike Indiana, COVID cases are skyrocketing, and yesterday crossed the 10,000 per day mark.

CNN's Randi Kaye joins us from Palm Beach County with the latest.

Randy, I mean, things bad down there, frankly. I mean, Florida, with rates in cases bigger than some countries. Why is this happening? And what's being done about it?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a pretty bad situation here, Jim.


Nine thousand four hundred eighty-eight cases reported today. That is slightly down, as you said, from the more than 10,000 cases yesterday. But still, not great news for Florida. Florida is now averaging more COVID-19 cases per day than any other state. In fact, the daily case count, here, is just below what New York was at its height most days. So that's, certainly, not good news for Florida. And it's young people who are mostly being affected. The median age

now 37 years old. It was 65, 25 to 34-year-olds making up 20 percent of the cases, here, in Florida, including 7,000 minors here in Florida now testing positive, including an 11-year-old boy. He is the youngest person in the state of Florida, Jim, to die from coronavirus, 11 years old from Miami-Dade.

"The Tampa Bay Times" is reporting that he was severely compromised but -- and going to dialysis, but unclear how he caught the virus.

But, coming up this weekend, still, despite all of that, there is still no statewide beach closure mandate in place. The governor has chosen not to do that. So many counties are doing it on their own.

But Jacksonville Beach will open. It will remain open. The mayor there is saying that it was the bars, not the beaches, that caused the spike in cases. But, here, in Palm Beach County where I am, and Broward and Miami-Dade, south of me, about 60 percent of the cases statewide were in those three counties.

So they will all close their beaches. But the problem is, Jim, there's no uniform mandate. One person go to the next county, pick up the virus possibly, and bring it back.

SCIUTTO: We saw the Texas governor come around on a statewide mask requirement. Ron DeSantis, in Florida, not going there, yet.

KAYE: No, certainly not. Although, many are calling for it, including the mayor of Miami, and also, Palm Beach County, where I am, and Broward and Miami-Dade. They've all put it in place on their own. They have a mask mandate in the counties.

And here, in Palm Beach County, there are people so upset about it, in fact, that four people are suing Palm Beach County. They say it's an infringement on their liberty and their constitutional rights. And they, also, say, Jim, that a mask does nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19, which we know is not true.


KAYE: But I called the mayor of Palm Beach County and he told me he absolutely has the authority to put this in place. And he believes it is the right policy in this time of emergency, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Listen, we wear seatbelts, right? And the only difference is with the mask, not only, do you endanger yourself, you endanger others.

Randi Kaye, thanks very much.

KAYE: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: More now on the numbers, the cities re-imposing restrictions and the governor's resistance to taking statewide action.

Joining us now, Dr. Aileen Marty. She's infectious diseases specialist at Florida International University.

Dr. Marty, great to have you on tonight.

So, looking at Miami-Dade, which is currently one of the -- one of the worst-hit counties in Florida. You helped write the reopening rules. So, in your view, what went wrong with reopening there?

DR. AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: No. You jumped right to a conclusion that isn't, necessarily, the case. We've analyzed. We've done the contact tracing. And we know that most of the outbreaks in Miami-Dade happened from family parties, from graduation parties, from things that had nothing to do with businesses.

So, the truth is, when we got -- the mayor got us -- there's five of us on his team, physicians, got us together last Friday to discuss Fourth of July. We, unanimously, agreed with him to close the beaches because that's a site where family parties happen. And people consume substances that can make them less aware of what they're doing. Therefore, it's a risk.

SCIUTTO: So, you're saying it's about personal choices people are making, as opposed to things that fall under the rules regarding business opening, et cetera. So, as you get into the July 4th weekend, how do you help ensure that people follow those recommendations?

MARTY: And so, yesterday, we had an emergency meeting as well because our numbers continue to rise. We -- we have -- yesterday, 26 percent positive rate on our tests, which is completely unacceptable. We want it to be below 10 percent in order to do this. But we didn't get those kinds of numbers.

We're now at a very high -- over the last two weeks, we averaged 20.1 percent positive. That's just unacceptable. So the mayor imposed -- a curfew.

SCIUTTO: So, you've heard the president and the vice president, frankly, say that we're seeing an increase in cases in this country, including in states, such as Florida, purely, because we're testing more. It's not true, right? Because, as you note, the positivity rate is going up.

In other words, more people are testing positive. Meaning, more people are getting infected.

Just, as a doctor, explain why this is not just about more testing.


It's about spread.

MARTY: If the spread were the same, and we had more testing, we would not see an increase in the rate of positivity. The rate of positivity and the fact that we are getting more and more patients to our ERs, admitted to the hospital and, now, into our ICUs, this is completely and totally real. And so, we are facing a true increase, and it has nothing to do with more testing. It has to do with an elevated reproductive number, and that's because of people's behavior.

And so, we're fighting, very hard, to get the message to our population so that they change their behavior and change it right away. So, that we don't have to go back into another lockdown.

SCIUTTO: OK. So we have a problem, in this country, right? Because these health recommendations, backed by science, have become political, right? And you have a governor who's resisted, for instance. I mean, he doubted some of the numbers and the science early on. But has resisted statewide, for instance, mask requirement.

From a public-health perspective, purely, if you don't have that statewide or, even more broadly, national guidance and example setting, does it undermine your ability to encourage people to make those right choices themselves?

MARTY: Leadership is absolutely critical. Leaders have to understand the science, themselves, and acknowledge what's going on, and do everything possible to get the population to help him or her accomplish the task of getting the virus out of our community.

So the leadership has to recognize all the measures, all the public- health measures done right, and in coordination. So the six-foot distance, the hygiene, the -- all the various things that we know, together, with proper, targeted contact testing and tracing are, absolutely, imperative in order to get the virus out of the community. And that includes the use of masks, which absolutely, unquestionably help reduce transmission. And the fact that they're not doing it is counterproductive to his own goal, which were to improve the economic situation. It's completely counterproductive.

SCIUTTO: That's the thing. It's a false choice between economy and public health. Dr. Aileen Marty, we know you got a lot of hard work to do. We wish you the best of luck.

MARTY: Thank you, very much.

SCIUTTO: Just ahead this hour. Right now, live pictures of Air Force One, as the president is heading to Mt. Rushmore for the July 4th event there.

That event -- listen to what we've just been talking about, all this talk about social distancing, wear masks. Masks are not required at that event. Social distancing, not happening at that event. Also, concerns about the mix of fireworks there and the virus.

Former superintendent of the national park will explain why she's worried, in particular.



SCIUTTO: President is now making his way to tonight's event at Mount Rushmore. These are live pictures of Air Force One arriving at that event. Tonight, two public health concerns and both worry my next guest, until last year, Cheryl Schreier had been superintendent of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial for nine years. She says that the thousands of people gathered from different parts of the country could conceivably turn the area into a hotspot, for the virus a hotspot. It's a concern not just for the attendees, but the National Park Service employees, volunteers and others who are making tonight possible. The other concern series as well fireworks and the potential for forest fires which prompted park officials to cancel all fireworks back in 2010. That rule apparently does not matter to the President.

In the Washington Post, Schreier writes in case of emergency quote, evacuation of visitors could prove tremendously difficult. The anticipated traffic congestion and gridlock could last for hours before and after the event. And this year, resuming the fireworks demonstration is an even greater threat to both humans and nature. Thanks to an extremely dry summer, South Dakota faces a higher than usual risk of wildfires.

Cheryl Schrier joins me now. Cheryl, thanks so much for coming on tonight. First, let's talk about the COVID risk. We look at those live pictures of the event there tonight. There's no social distancing, as the governor said there would not be. A lot of people aren't wearing masks. Tell us your concerns.

CHERYL SCHREIER, FMR SUPERINTENDENT, MOUTH RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL: I have Many concerns but certainly as it relates to coronavirus and the 7,500 people, plus employees who are there this evening with very little social distancing, if any, and not wearing masks that we could definitely see an increase in coronavirus. We live here in the Black Hills, we haven't had as many cases as other places. But this is just the type of event that could end up being one of those super spreaders.

SCIUTTO: We've seen us Secret Service agents who did advance work and secured President and vice presidential events in Arizona and Oklahoma test positive for this virus. Some of them are getting sick of the virus. Tell us about the park employees who are taking part tonight. Is this endangering them?


SCHREIER: I think it is. And certainly with all of the prep time, spending time with all of the different people from many different agencies and not knowing whether or not someone has either tested positive for the coronavirus prior to coming to Mount Rushmore to help with the event, nor knowing whether or not after the event whether or not we're going to actually be seeing those increase in cases.

SCIUTTO: So the other risk is that from the fireworks and there's a reason that the park banned fireworks around there 10 years ago, yet tonight, I guess that rules getting broken. Why the particular concern about that, given the dry conditions around there and the risk of wildfire?

SCHREIER: Well, there certainly is a risk of wildfire and knowing that the National Park Service has attempted to mitigate the risk as much as possible. But I understand that there are 10,000 fireworks that are going to be launched this evening, and one never knows with the wind direction, the embers that could fall into the forest and Mount Rushmore is surrounded by National Forest, that you could certainly have a fire start that would be very devastating to trying to evacuate all that -- all the many people that are there this evening.

The other is the concern about the water quality, and perchlorates, the chemicals in the fireworks are very dangerous chemicals and they're found in the groundwater that is utilized by both the visitors and employees.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, like I said, there's a reason you banned him 10 years ago. That rule doesn't hold tonight.

Cheryl Schreier, thanks very much.

SCHREIER: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Just ahead this hour, the President's reelection worries that undergird tonight's big spectacle at Mount Rushmore and the culture war strategy that he is diving into.



SCIUTTO: Today if you can believe it, we are exactly four months to election day. That's why just four months away, a very small amount of time politically speaking for President Trump. Particularly if he has more bad weeks like this one on the rising coronavirus cases. He wouldn't even address the topic on the economy. He claimed it was on the rebound. And while yesterday's job numbers were better than expected and good news, they may mask what many believe will be a lengthy recovery. And then there are other polls.

The latest this week is from Monmouth University, which shows Biden with a 12 point lead. Just the latest poll to give the former vice president a double digit lead over the President. Trump's strategy an old one go hard on the culture wars. In this case, he spent part of his week tweeting about Confederate generals heritage and ending housing regulations meant to benefit minorities. Messages aimed directly at white voters.

And tonight, he continues that theme. A campaign he tells CNN the President will tell quote, the truth about America's history. Be interesting to hear from him.

Joining me now, David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to just four presidents. And Bakari Sellers, a CNN political commentator and former Democratic South Carolina House Member.

So Bakari Sellers, it appears we're going to see more oh, I should mention your book my managing by -- Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers. Great book also relevant in the current conversation. The President strategy Bakari, we're going to see more, are we not? Not less of a divide and conquer strategy? Are we not? BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And Jim, I, I have to be mindful. I heard your introduction and, you know, Democrats, we kind of drink our own Kool Aid in 2016. The polls don't vote, polls don't really matter. Donald Trump was down. I'm somebody who got on national TV, instead on a panel with Anderson Cooper and everybody else and said that Hillary Clinton was going to get 330 electoral votes. I didn't know that 53 percent of white women were going to leave Hillary Clinton at the brewery altar. I didn't know that that black men 13 percent of them would vote for Donald Trump.

And so by no means is Donald Trump out of this race. People still have to press forward. But you're right, this person President is going to harken and he's going to, to reach down and dig deep on something which is so true. I think that we miss misled a lot of people talking about economic anxiety. There's, there's really no such thing as economic anxiety. What we see in this culture -- in this country is cultural anxiety. And that cultural anxiety is something that Donald Trump's going to play on tonight, because people feel and there's a large swath of white voters who feel as if they're going to be replaced, not just in the economy, but in this country about brown people. And it terrifies them and it drives them to the polls, and he's going to play on that.

SCIUTTO: David, I wonder if you agree that that dominates, right, that fear of having their culture wiped out even as the economy suffers here, you have a 15 million unemployed, you have 130,000 nearly dead from a pandemic, which the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on. I mean, do you find the dynamic similar to 2016? Maybe even more so from your perspective?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that the Joe Biden is in a much better position than Hillary Clinton was at this stage in the campaign. He's got a much sturdier set of arguments and he's, you know, and the Donald Trump is, I think a deteriorating as a candidate and as a president. I think what we're seeing tonight damage is very important. Because it may signal a new strategy for him and on the on the pandemic side what we're hearing from the White House is learn to live with it. That's the message to the country. Just learn to live with it, will be OK.

That's not a strategy that's -- that took the administration is walking away from the problem slinking away on my dad, after declaring war, the better you know, the captain leaves the field.


And, you know, you look at those four faces on Mount Rushmore. They were not perfect man. As we're learning Bakari can tell us there are a lot of things we've learned about them, which say they were not perfect, two are slave owners. One with was involved in a mass execution.

But if you look at them with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, they to a person would have been appalled by this spectacle and Mount Rushmore tonight that flies in the face. What they want is -- what the -- public health officials have been arguing stay apart, social distance. We just CNN's reported tonight, be something we did not know, the chairs when people sit down in the chairs there and that's how close. The chairs are all wired together. (INAUDIBLE) think of that. I mean, that's got to be the craziest way to take it to social distance we can imagine.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, it contradicts the health advice of every doctor in this country. Bakari, I wonder the President's intention clearly to park himself in front of a national monument, talk about defending National Monuments perhaps even Confederate monuments but is it possible to overestimate his political brilliance on this venue? Could he stand in front of those four presidents and appear diminished, appear like a small man compared to those men?

SELLERS: But the question is to whom? Right. And so I think the answer to the question is yes to me and other Americans who have good common sense and who, who believe that we deserve better than this. And this is borderline. And this is why I'm glad David is here, because David educates me on so many so many things. This is borderline on an issue that's not Democrat or Republican. This is right versus wrong. This is like common sense versus someone with no sense. And so when you look at the President tonight, you understand that the President's dose of psychopathy makes him believe that he deserves to be on Mount Rushmore.

You do understand we're looking at a man who does who thinks he deserves to be up there with the other four gentlemen. Donald Trump is one of the worst presidents we've had in the history of this country. He's had over 100,000 people who died on his watch. We have million -- tens of millions of Americans who are out of work. And tonight, he's going to double down on what he knows best, which is cultural wars, in which is racism. And so that is where we are.

And -- and I -- and Jim, you asked me a question that I can honestly tell the American public, I do not know the answer to because yes, as we go into Fourth of July, I recognize that there are 35 percent of the people in this country are still going to vote for a man we know to be racist, right? 35 percent of this country will still vote for that man, even as we go into the Fourth of July and talk about freedom. Is that enough to be President of the United States for another four years? I think Joe Biden's in a much better position, but he has to get on his horse and he has to work extremely hard.


SCIUTTO: David, is it possible we're seeing though the politics change a bit on COVID-19. Indeed you have, for instance, a Republican governor of Texas, contradict the President on the necessity of masks, even his vice president quietly in a very Mike Pence sort of way, but contradicting the President as well. Other states moving towards reinstituting their closure plan stay at homeowners. Is it possible that the politics indicate a greater willingness to defy the President?

GERGEN: I think as the number of cases goes up so dramatically, yes, so 90 percent over the last 14 days, which is sort of unbelievable. And as the President's poll numbers fall, what you're seeing now, Jim, is a damn starting to break. People who had questions about Donald Trump are willing to become more verbal and open about those questions. People are skeptical or can express skepticism. And that's why I think I've been one of the reasons why I think the President isn't in some degree of three fall and it is people are looking four other strategies he got out of this. I can't trust the President.

But can I just add one PostScript Jim, which I think needs more attention on the South Dakota trip. You know, the attention we pay to indigenous people to the Native Americans doesn't mean attention we pay and the willingness to continue being, you know, fairly hard, hard hearted toward them. This witness is a group of Dakotas who, you know, they lost their territory after a second after the Civil War was taken from them. And then Mount Rushmore was created. We love Mount Rushmore, but we have to remember, especially today in talking again with Bakari, really on a member of the people who have been marginalized, who have not well represented on July 4th.


SCIUTTO: It's a fair point 10 percent of the residents of South Dakota with Native American ancestry.

David Gergen, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much to both of you -- both of you always get to have a conversation.

SELLERS: Thank you.

Up next, this hour something to bring a smile to your face tonight a survivor story. She is 102 years old and she beat a lot of things including coronavirus.


SCIUTTO: All right, something to smile about tonight. 102-year-old New Hampshire woman can definitely be called a survivor. She beat the 1918 flu, cancer and now the coronavirus. Here's Gary Tuchman with her story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We headed to New Hampshire to meet this remarkable woman who just recovered from the coronavirus.

(on-camera): Do you feel lucky today?

GERRY SCHAPPALS, 102YEARS OLD: I always feel lucky, I'm lucky. I never had a real problem with my life. Everything seemed to fall into like.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): An incredible attitude considering all that has happened in the life of 102-year-old Gerry Schappals. Julia Schappals is her daughter when her mother was a baby a little over 101 years ago. JULIA SCHAPPALS, DAUGHTER OF GERRY SCHAPPALS: She had the -- what we call the Spanish flu, which was a huge pandemic during the First World War.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): That's right, Gerry Schappals' family says she survived the influenza pandemic in the early 20th century, and the coronavirus in the early 21st century. Back in 1918, little Gerry and her mother were both seriously ill.

J. SCHAPPALS: And the doctor told her father, they're both going to die, prepare yourself. But that's my medical opinion.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But daughter and mother survived. Gerry went to college, got a bachelor's and master's, became a teacher and got married right after World War II. Her husband died almost four decades ago, but they had two children, and there are now three grandchildren and six great grandchildren. After Gerry retired, she had breast cancer and colon cancer, and she beat both.

(on-camera): Can I call you Gerry?

G. SCHAPPALS: Delighted (ph).

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's delightful to meet you.

G. SCHAPPALS: Thank you.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): How are you feeling?

G. SCHAPPALS: Wonderful.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): You're an amazing woman.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): I'm going to tell you why. You're modest, but you had coronavirus and 101 years ago you had Spanish flu. And you survived it twice. You're an amazing woman.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gerry is a resident of the senior living community in Nashville for several years now.

J. SCHAPPALS: Hey mom.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): On this day her daughter came to pay a visit.

J. SCHAPPALS: How you're doing?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Social distancing and masks still required.

J. SCHAPPALS: So how are you doing?

G. SCHAPPALS: We have to keep the mask on. J. SCHAPPALS: Yes, we have to keep the mask on. Yes. Do you recognize the top? You should I stole it from you. Don't think you're getting it back.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The employees of our senior community were upset and saddened when Gerry tested positive for the coronavirus. But when they told her the diagnosis.

LISA VALCOURT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUNTINGTON AT NASHUA: She had an incredible attitude. And she, you know, took every day and said, I guess I'm sick. They're told me I'm sick, but I'm not sick.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But like the Spanish flu and the two bouts of cancer, 102-year-old Gerry Schappals managed to fend off the coronavirus as well.

(on-camera): Thank you for letting us meet you. Thank you.

G. SCHAPPALS: My pleasure.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Nashua, New Hampshire.


SCIUTTO: Good for her, good for her family. We wish her all the best.

Coming up next, more details on how President Trump plans to stoke the culture wars in his speech tonight at Mount Rushmore. Look at the crowds there, no social distancing.



SCIUTTO: Very good Friday evening. Chris Cuomo is off tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.

Sometime in the 10:00 o'clock hour, for the third time in the last several weeks, President Trump will be addressing a large group of people from all over the country gathered closely together, and most of them not taking the simple step of wearing a mask.

He is at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and an event the governor they are proudly declared would not observe social distancing as recommended. Before leaving today, the President played golf His club in Virginia, not wearing a mask, even though he did say this week he liked the way he looked in them.

And before that he once again tweeted out his false notion blaming the country's record spike in coronavirus cases simply on more testing, which is odd, because members of the European Union where they do plenty of testing, have gotten their outbreaks very much under control, as have countries around the world.

But you look at the graph there - look at that green line, how sharply it is rising, it's clear this country is not. And tonight, the President is once again flouting the best advice we have on stopping the spread.

Joining us now from a nonsocial distancing, mask optional event in Mount Rushmore is CNNs Joe Johns. Joe, you've been there all day. Tell us what you're seeing in the crowd there. How close together are they? How many folks wearing masks et cetera.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jim, this place is packed. There are two levels. The lower level is full of people. They've been coming in all day. The upper level now is very full as well.

As you said, very few people wearing masks. We were told that that was going to be optional. They could get masks from the government if they wanted to. Fact is, it doesn't appear that a lot of people wanted to. As for social distancing, same thing really goes. The governor made it clear there was not going to be social distancing at this event, and people aren't practicing it.

Now, down on the lower level, there are bleacher seats, if you will, as well as some black folding chairs, which are connected with essentially pieces of plastic. And up here there are nothing but chairs connected the very same way.

So what it means is people who come here to see the President, who come to see the fireworks could very well be sitting right next to, very closely, somebody else, perhaps even though they don't know. So, clearly a concern about social distancing. The fact of the matter is, it's just not happening here, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And we we've seen it before, we saw in Tulsa, we saw it in Phoenix, and folks got infected. Members of a secret service detail got infected. They have that disease right now. So what do we know about the President's message tonight? He says he's going to talk about the real history of the country. I assume not about a response to the to the coronavirus outbreak.

JOHNS: Well, it doesn't sound like it. We've only gotten snippets, bits and pieces. My colleague, Jeremy Diamond over the White House reports that, among other things, we're going to expect the President to attack what he calls the left wing mob. He's going to go after people, who he says, divide our country, tear down our country.

So it sounds like the President is going to be playing to his base right here in Trump country. We do know this is an election year. This isn't supposed to be a campaign speech. Nonetheless, it sure sounds like one Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, in that setting might be showing up in some campaign ads. Joe Johns, thanks very much.


More breaking news now. These numbers just in. For the third day in a row, new cases in this country have again topped 50,000. 50,000 in one day. Joining us now, Dr. Peter Hotez. He's Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. So Dr. Hotez you're watching this event. You and I have talked before about what every doctor worth his salt in this country says and knows that you got to social distance, you got to wear masks, large gatherings bad idea. So what do you think when the President of the United States holds an event like this?

PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, it's - the event is concerning, but it's the bigger piece of this that alarms me Jim.

Last week, we talked and we were at 40,000. And we were alarmed that we reach 40,000, which was highest we'd ever been. This week now we're at 50,000. And, if we're - if I'm lucky enough to speak with you next week, it'll be 60,000 and so on and so forth. It will continue up at least until Dr. Fauci's apocalyptic prediction of 100,000 cases a day. And on a per person basis we're already there in Texas and Arizona and Florida.

So this seems to be spiraling out of control in terms of this massive resurgence across the South. And we still have not heard from the federal government, from the White House Coronavirus Task Force on what the plan is. There appears to be no plan. There is let the states lead. We will provide the PPE and the supply chain management. But that's the realization. There is no plan and these numbers will continue to accelerate.

SCIUTTO: There's talk now that the measure is going to be live with it. And we had a researcher on last night who put it in these terms, "a Wuhan a day" is what's happening in the country right now.

So let's set the President aside, because he's clearly not going to change on this or at least giving no indication he's going to change on his approach to this. Let's talk about Americans at home who are watching tonight. It's a holiday weekend. They, like me, like you want to see family and friends. They want to enjoy the weekend as best they can. What should they be doing? What should they feel comfortable doing? What should they not feel comfortable doing?

HOTEZ: Well, in the states where the disease is rapidly accelerating across the South, especially Texas, Arizona, Florida, the states are left to figure it out on their own and they're making the best of it. So here in Texas, we now have a stay at home - not a stay at home. We have a voluntary stay at home - and in the workplace. There stay at home in certain metro areas. We have mandatory masks.

So these are all good things that we're putting into place. The big unknown is whether these measures are by themselves are sufficient, or whether we're going to have to go to something more dramatic. For this weekend, people are just going to have to hunker down. Do not - you do not want to be in crowds. You do not want to be in groups, because the transmission is just so intense.

And our fire and rescue are being overwhelmed in Houston. That was just reported in the Houston Chronicle today. The numbers are starting to climb in our intensive care units. We - the Texas Medical Center in Houston is largest in the world, so we still have some room to go. But - to get there is the community transmission that is just so overwhelming.

SCIUTTO: OK, there were lot of outrageous claims that come from the White House. One of them today, the Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, talking about this, alleging that this virus is somehow weaponized. China seeded and spread this virus. Looking at the science, especially given now we know that the virus came in to the states more likely - or most of the cases came from Europe. What does the science tell us about the origin of this and how it is spread?

HOTEZ: Well, you know, what Peter Navarro said this afternoon and I heard the clip and that was - it was alarming, because it was - what I read it as a total failure to accept any personal - any responsibility on the part of the administration of what happened and what we need to do to correct it.

Instead, it was conspiracy theories. This was the Chinese Communist Party deliberately sending operatives into the U.S. infected with this virus and then it was - and then it just went on and on and there was pointing fingers at Dr. Fauci. It was it was absolutely outrageous.

And I don't understand what their goal is. I'm not a PAMA scientist. I'm a politician. I can't quite understand the President last night tweeting that it's all about increase in testing. This is an administration that can't seem to come up with a plan, and it's also the White House Coronavirus Task Force, they have to come up with a national plan.

We will not solve on our own with the states in the lead operating individually. There's a reason we call it the United States and we have to function that way.


SCIUTTO: We do. Well, it's good to hear from you, Dr. Hotez. We wish you well this weekend.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much. Have a good weekend.

SCIUTTO: Next - you - thanks very much. Next, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County on how he intends to do his part to slow the outbreak in a state that now has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in new cases.

Later the death of an African-American man during a police encounter. And a photograph, if you can believe it, reenacting the moment that he died. It's being called "appalling and inexcusable." When you see these images, you'll agree.


SCIUTTO: Again for the third straight day new Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have topped 50,000 with Florida leading the way. The daily new case count there topping 10,000 this week. Cities across Florida have begun taking action and some have been taking heat for doing it.

Starting tonight, Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, will enforce a 10:00 pm curfew. The Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is also rolling back the reopening of movie theaters, arcades casinos and other entertainment venues where people gather in numbers. The mayor joins us now.

Mayor Gimenez, good to have you on. We've talked a lot throughout this. And I know you've been - you've had a lot of hard decisions to make every day on this. Latest data in Miami-Dade shows something concerning, that's the ICU capacity, it's just above 73 percent. Given that you have this daily rising toll of infections; do you believe your hospitals are in a position to handle this as people get sick?


MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, we do. But just in case, that's why we took the measures that we did. We closed the beaches for the Fourth of July holiday. I've imposed a 10:00 o'clock curfew from now until further notice, because we actually had a sharp increase in the number of young people that have come up positive.

And for us, it's not the number of people that are coming up positive, it's the percentage of the positives. Because we know we've had well over 200,000 people here that have either had the virus or have the virus. So, we ran a medical study. We know that the official number really is underreported by a factor of 10 to 20. And I expected that would be the same throughout the country.

So it's actually how many people go to the hospitals, how many people are using our ICUs, how many people are using our ventilators. We have sufficient capacity. And we also have the capacity to add more. So we're not there yet. But I want to - being a firefighter, I want to make sure - the first thing we're taught is contain the fire. And so right now we're trying to contain the virus before we try to beat it. So that's what we're trying to do right now.

SCIUTTO: Did Florida reopened too soon and too quickly, in your view?

GIMENEZ: No, I don't think so. I think what happened was that people thought that this thing was over, and we had it pretty well under control. And then when we started to reopen, we had the rules in place that would have kept people safe.

We have a mask order that we put back in April. That was - that still anytime you're indoors, you're supposed to be wearing a mask. Anytime you're outdoors, you're supposed to be wearing a mask unless you maintain social distancing. We just changed that to every time you're outdoors.

Now, whatever, you have to wear a mask, and we had sanitation, we had all rules that were put together with our infection control doctors that they'd said. They told us, look, if the people follow these steps and these rules, the likelihood of contagion is low. But, unfortunately, a lot of people, especially the young, did not follow these rules and that's why we had this sharp rise in the young, which then infected some other people. And that's why we have this increase in cases of COVID-19 in our hospitals.

SCIUTTO: So you talked about the two simple rules there, right, mask wearing and social distance.


SCIUTTO: The President tonight is holding an event again, without required mask wearing without social distancing. Does that hurt your efforts to try to save lives there in Miami to have the have the commander in chief not be willing to follow those rules or ask people at his events to do that?

GIMENEZ: Well, look, what I've said before about what the President does is he needs to follow what local rules are. I don't know what the local rules are in South Dakota. I would expect that they're--

SCIUTTO: Why should there be local rules if those rules - every - there's not a health expert in this country that doesn't say wear a mask and social distance. Doesn't the rules--

GIMENEZ: Yes. But you follow--

SCIUTTO: --you know, the rules of science don't change local - locality, locality.

GIMENEZ: Yes. Except that in South Dakota, I think, they had 85 cases in the entire state yesterday. And so they had different rules in--

SCIUTTO: Not in Tulsa, not in Tulsa.

GIMENEZ: So even in this - even in the state of Florida, they have - we have counties with much less and that's why the governor has allowed us local leaders to make rules that are in excess of what he's got in place and that's what we've done in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. We're a lot stricter here because the cases that we have here are much higher than the rest of the state and, and so that's why--


SCIUTTO: You don't want to see leadership from the President? I know you're trying to say - you're trying to do your best save life, you don't see leadership from the President saying, you know what, I'm taking this simple step. I'm wearing a mask and keep yourself safe here even as you come to watch me speak. You don't want that kind of leadership?

GIMENEZ: If he comes to Miami-Dade County, I would expect that he wears the mask because that's what we make him do down here. We make everybody wear masks down here.

SCIUTTO: All right, well, Mayor Gimenez I know you got a lot of work to do down there and we wish you and the people of Miami-Dade the best of luck.

GIMENEZ: Thank you. Appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, the latest on the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain. The police chief taking action today due to a photo by officers that the mayor called appalling, recreating the circumstances around his death. We'll have that coming up.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news now on the investigation of Colorado police officers involved with the death last year of a 23-year-old Black male Elijah McClain. This concerns a photo taken by fellow officers of those being investigated, that today the Mayor of Aurora called, "appalling and inexcusable." CNN's as Omar Jimenez joins us now. Omar, tell us exactly what these photos show here.

Well, Jim, these photos show multiple officers posing at the site or near the site where Elijah McClain was placed in a chokehold back in August of 2019. Including, one of the photos showing an officer actually mimicking a chokehold there.

Now the interim police Chief there Vanessa Wilson did fire three of the officers involved almost immediately after, or I should say, days at this point after learning of these photos. One of the officers resigned earlier this week on Tuesday. But one of the three officers fired was actually among the initial officers that responded to the scene with Elijah McClain back in August of 2019. To use the words of the chief here, "they don't deserve to wear a badge."

SCIUTTO: Tell us what's happening now with the investigation of the officers directly involved in McClain's death?

JIMENEZ: Well, there are lot of simultaneous investigations going on between the Department of Justice, the FBI, the State of Colorado, and of course, local officials there in the City of Aurora as well.


To start on the federal side, the FBI and DOJ say they had already started reviews into Elijah McClain's case, stemming back from 2019 exploring the possibility of whether civil rights charges could be filed. The family attorneys have said that, they may have to file a civil rights investigation on their part.

Now on the local level, even though we saw the actions taken by the Aurora Police Department, the Mayor of Aurora says the actions taken does not end the response that they are planning to take as he points to an independent investigation from the city of Aurora that is set to be underway soon.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Lot of follow there and so much sadness for that family as well to have to go through this all over again. Omar Jimenez, and then his thanks for covering the story for us.

And that does it tonight for AC360. Up next. Jake Tapper takes a closer look at how President Trump sees the pandemic and how he's reacting to it.