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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
More Than 64,000 Coronavirus Cases, 958 Deaths Reported In The U.S. Today; Sec. DeVos Says Kids Are Stoppers Of Virus Without Evidence. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 24, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): United Alaska and all major operators of the 737 insist to CNN that they take maintenance seriously and will comply with newly mandated inspections.
But it's a new bump in what airlines hoped would be a smooth recovery. Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thank you for joining us. Anderson starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So for all the talk of the President's change of attitude about the pandemic, more than 145,000 American lives into it, the President's spokesperson now says change, what change? He has been totally consistent.
John Berman here in for Anderson. There's a lot to get to tonight after a week that saw the four millions confirmed coronavirus infection. We start off with a spin that would be comical except to anyone grieving the loss of a loved one, except to frontline doctors and overburdened hospitals making agonizing decisions about who even gets treated, except for parents worried and confused about sending their kids to school, except for millions of laid off workers, other 1.4 million this week about to see their unemployment check shrink.
To them, what you're about to hear must sound far different than spin and closer, perhaps, to contempt for the reality we're all now facing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There has been no change. He hasn't changed, in fact, and just speaking on COVID generally. The way I've heard him talk privately in the Oval Office is the way he's talking out here.
The only thing that changed is the President taking dozens and dozens and dozens of your questions each and every day because he felt the best way to get information to the American people was for him to be out here answering your questions and providing this directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: No change, she says, and in fairness, perhaps she is right, it's just not how she intended.
You can make a case the President has consistently failed to take the pandemic seriously. And the only thing that's changed is he is now saying words out loud from a prepared script at the podium, these words now conveniently and deliberately ignore everything else he has said and done month after month, and death after death.
For example, here's the President last night talking about canceling the Republican convention in Jacksonville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to be vigilant. We have to be careful. And we also have to set an example. I think, setting the example is very important.
It's hard for us to say we're going to have a lot of people packed in a room and then other people shouldn't do it. Well, there's nothing more crowded than a convention. A convention, I mean, you've seen them, and even though you try and keep people away from each other, it's just not that kind of a thing. They probably can't do that. It just doesn't work for them, so it's very hard.
So I think we're setting an example by doing it. It's very important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The President also said -- and I'm quoting here, quote, "I have to protect the American people. That is what I have always done. That is what I will always do. That is what I am about."
Mr. President, if that's in fact so, there is someone I'd like you to meet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've been watching -- I've been watching the fake news for weeks now and everything is negative. Don't go. Don't come. Don't do anything.
We saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and all we do is get hit on like we're terrible.
They test and they test. We have tests that people don't know what's going on.
It's a disease without question. It has more names than any disease in history.
I can name kung flu. We've got this. We've got another one over here.
Many call it a virus which it is, many call it a flu.
So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The President indoors with thousands of people at a rally in Tulsa, no social distancing, only a few covered faces. That was about four weeks and nearly two million cases ago. Four weeks and about 25,000 lost American lives ago.
And now the President says that a very same type of event just isn't safe. And his Press Secretary suggests he has always thought that, even though he moved the convention to Jacksonville in the first place, because officials in North Carolina would not permit the kind of no mask non-socially distanced event that he was demanding, which he now says just isn't safe, which raises the obvious question --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Why is it not safe to hold a Republican convention, but it is safe to reopen schools?
MCENANY: Yes, schools are a different situation when you have children who, as the C.D.C. guidelines, clearly notes are not affected in the same way as adults.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Those guidelines, you'll recall, were loosened on orders of the President. We'll talk more about them in a moment, but in a nutshell, they lean strongly toward returning kids to the classroom even though the science on the safety of it is unclear.
Notably, the C.D.C. makes no mention of a large study recently out of South Korea, which found that kids ages 10 and up spread the virus just as easily as adults.
This morning on "The Today Show," Taskforce member, Dr. Deborah Birx alluded to it even as she admitted that evidence on younger children thin.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What I can't tell you for sure, despite the South Korea study, is whether children under 10 in the United States don't spread the virus as the same as children over 10.
I think that is still an open question that needs to be studied in the United States. We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected. It's just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: It's unclear, she says. The evidence is mixed, say the new
C.D.C. guidelines. To sum that up in plain English, yikes. Especially since the loudest voice in the room with no scientific training keeps saying things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But when you look at the statistics I just read having to do with children and safety. They're very impressive. They have very strong immune systems.
QUESTION: But you would understand that the children who go to school then go back to home, they are with -- some live with their grandparents and there's a real risk, would you understand if some schools --
TRUMP: They do say that they don't transmit very easily, and a lot of people are saying they don't transmit. And we're looking at that, we're studying, John very hard, that particular subject, that they don't bring it home with them.
Now, they don't catch it easily. They don't bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast. We're looking at that fact. That is a factor, and we're looking at that very strongly. We'll be reporting about that over the next few weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The President also says the administration is quote, "in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful," unquote, for addressing the pandemic. He said it by the way on Tuesday, more than 3,000 lost American lives ago.
We should also mention that at no point this week did the President mention the four million case milestone or the number of Americans who have died.
Perspective now on the public health and political sides of this, joining us, Dr. Celine Gounder, infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist and CNN medical analyst. Also CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod. And CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
David, look, the bottom line here -- this key question, why does the White House think it's not safe to hold the Republican National Convention in Florida, yet it is safe to reopen schools?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm not sure that -- I mean, there is some logic to it in the sense that there is a desperation, I think on the part of a lot of parents to get their kids back in school. Kids are suffering.
There is a really strong impetus to get them back, but you want to do it safely, and public health experts are of one mind that, particularly in these hotspot areas, it's very hard to guarantee that and it's hard to guarantee that they won't be spreading the virus. But you know, I'm also -- I can't help but remember that just Sunday,
the President was literally whining in his interview with Chris Wallace about how the mean Democratic governors were keeping him from holding public rallies.
So he's had a very rapid epiphany on this subject of what is safe and what is not.
BERMAN: Look, it's a confused message at best when you're trying to say both things at once from both sides of your mouth, and Gloria, I'm one who happens to think this idea that there's a change tone is a bit of hooey.
However, I do think it's clear that the White House is trying to present a different image of the President. They're trying to.
The question on that is, why? What do they want to get out of it? And are they?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they want to stop the bleeding of their poll numbers. They have an election they want to win in November. They want to show that Donald Trump is a leader. And what they're also trying to show is that he hasn't become completely irrelevant, which I believe he almost has, in the managing of the pandemic.
If you take a step back, this is a President who was late to the game, canceling the Jacksonville convention, has been saying we don't need more tests, we need fewer chests suddenly seem to change his mind on that and then went back and forth.
Now after demanding that all schools open have said, well, wait a minute, maybe there are some school districts in some of those hotspots that shouldn't open that quickly. So he is -- you know, and on the mask, of course, suddenly, we see him donning a mask.
So he is trying to appear as if he knows what he is doing. He's out front. He is leading, and he is not irrelevant. And the American public, 60 percent of whom say he has done a lousy job managing the pandemic are scratching their heads and saying, well, where were you four months ago?
BERMAN: Dr. Gounder, Deborah Birx and Dr. Fauci -- Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci have not been allowed to speak at these briefings and I think we know why because I think the most surprising thing said out loud today was from Dr. Birx in "The Today Show" interview, where she made clear the science on opening schools is unclear.
The science on children transmitting the disease she says is unclear. The science on children transmitting the disease, she says is unclear. So how much do we really know at this point about how rapidly children under 10 can spread coronavirus?
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Look, John, I think the number one message here is reopening schools in the middle of widespread community transmission is dangerous. That should be a nonstarter.
Now, is it possible based on some of the science that we have, laboratory science, clinical science with patients as well as what we've seen in other countries like Denmark and Norway, that have reopened schools just for the youngest kids, based on those experiences if you have suppressed community transmission in a place like say New York City, you could look at a phased in approach to reopening schools starting with the youngest kids under 10. See how that goes. Assess as you go, and then maybe see if you want to open more widely.
But that's really how that information should be used not as a justification for throwing school doors wide open when you still have widespread community transmission.
BERMAN: Dr. Gounder, sticking with you for a second, there's the South Korea study, which we've been talking about. Dr. Fauci today spoke about a study being done here in the U.S. by the National Institutes of Health, but the results aren't expected to be available until December, and that's halfway through the school year.
So in the absence of that information right now, how should parents navigate sending their children back to school?
GOUNDER: Well, I think you really need to look at what makes sense for you and your family, and I think for a lot of families, there are parents and extended family who do have underlying risk factors that would put them at increased risk for severe COVID disease and I think that really does need to factor into the decision making here.
I do think another important point here though, is that this is why contact tracing is so important because it helps to inform some of these decisions while we're waiting for that big N.I.H. study to come through.
In New York City, for example, contact tracing data would indicate that children are more likely to be infected by adults rather than adults infecting children -- excuse me -- children are more likely to be infected by adults as opposed to children infecting the adults.
So it's less likely that the children would be responsible for bringing disease home. But again, this is still preliminary data, and really should not be turned into policy except for where you have suppressed community transmission.
BERMAN: So David, one of the things that the President has not done in recent days, clearly doesn't like to talk about is the 145,000 lives lost in this country to coronavirus.
You would think those would be on top of mind of any President of the United States, who calls himself a Wartime President. What's the calculation there, do you think?
AXELROD: Look, from the beginning there's been this attitude of denial that you can somehow spin a pandemic and you just can't.
Even at the press briefing yesterday, he made the case that we're doing fine. We're doing well. And he said, but even one death is too much. One death? How about 145,000 deaths? And you know, to Gloria's point about him being almost irrelevant. He chose that role because he punted all the hard decisions to the governors instead of leading the country as one.
And we've had this peculiar paradox where you have a President leading a government that is trying to fight the pandemic, while he is also leading the resistance to the guidance that his own government is offering.
And that's one of the reasons why we are in such worse shape than other countries around the world.
BERMAN: So Gloria, today, Dr. Fauci praised the President for his quote, "short and crisp" coronavirus briefings, which is a backhanded compliment if you could ever hear one. What's great about them is they're short, Dr. Fauci says.
Do you think the President will be able to continue down this path, a hundred days to go until the election?
BORGER: You know, it's hard for me to predict anything with Donald Trump. But if I had to guess, I'd say the odds are that he can't, because he loves the stage too much. And he changes his mind all the time.
And we just saw it this week, he came out and said, well, you know, maybe we do need more testing and then he changed his mind in another interview with a journalist saying, well, you know, I'm not for a lot of testing. Some people are, some people aren't.
So I think the President is, of course likely to say, what comes to mind, and I don't think he has changed his mind. And I do think he wants to kind of pay no attention to this and just move beyond it. But he can't and this is what's so frustrating for him.
So it's hard to answer your question, but I talked to somebody who is in touch with some high up people in the White House, and they're nervous about it, because they don't know what's going to come out of his mouth the next time he speaks.
BERMAN: One of the things you have is you have a lot of Republicans patting him on the head for it this week, intentionally, I think to give him the positive reinforcement to keep on doing it.
Dr. Gounder, very quickly, Dr. Fauci says a vaccine won't likely be widely available until mid-2021. Is that a realistic timeline?
GOUNDER: Well, even if that's realistic, John, the other problem is, will people accept the vaccine and polls of Americans right now would indicate that some -- a third of Americans would refuse to get vaccinated. So that has me and many other public health officials really concerned.
BERMAN: All right, Dr. Gounder, David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, have a terrific weekend. Thanks so much.
Next, the Secretary of Education goes even further than the President on the power she claims that kids have against the virus. Her predecessor in the Obama administration joins us along with the doctor who once oversaw student health in Baltimore City schools.
And later, how baseball and other sports are adapting to a new world of social activism.
BERMAN: At the top of the program, you heard the President use one of his new coronavirus briefings to stray from the written script and return to what is apparently a deep seated belief about children and the coronavirus.
He also said he would be, quote, "comfortable" with sending his son Barron back to the classroom. But according to "The New York Times," the school that Barron attends is still deciding whether to open for in-person instruction at all.
So it's far less gung ho in this respect, than the president or his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who recently said this about the role children play in the pandemic.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BETSY DEVOS, U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves.
So we should be in a posture of -- the default should be getting back to school kids in-person, in the classroom.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BERMAN: Stoppers of the disease, again, that is from the Secretary of Education and know there's no evidence -- zero -- to support what you just heard her say.
Joining us now is Arne Duncan who had Secretary DeVos' job in the Obama administration; also emergency room physician, Med School Professor and a former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.
Secretary Duncan, first to you, when you hear Secretary DeVos, with the authority of your former office say things like that, what goes through your mind?
ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Well, it's unbelievably disturbing and infuriating, and obviously, she is lying. Obviously, there's no science there. And not only is she fundamentally dishonest, she is dangerous.
And fortunately, you know, parents, teachers, superintendents, children aren't paying any attention to what she is saying. She has made herself irrelevant. The President has made himself irrelevant.
We're going to be led out of this by amazing local leadership who live in communities, who live around real people and are going to make the right decisions for children, educationally, yes, but also for their health and safety. That's going to happen at the local level, at the grassroots level.
BERMAN: So Dr. Wen, Secretary DeVos, President Trump, they don't seem to be living in the same universe as Dr. Birx who we heard earlier, and Dr. Fauci, who echoed the same sentiments today about how little we actually know about how this virus affects children.
So how much does this add to the confusion for parents, not to mention administrators over schools?
DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER HEALTH COMMISSIONER FOR THE CITY OF BALTIMORE: I think everyone is struggling with these questions. And at the end of the day, we need to be humble. And I would have loved for President Trump and Secretary DeVos to be honest about here are the things that we know and here's what we don't know.
We do know that children tend to get much less severely ill than adults do. Although remembering that children don't live in a bubble, we're also talking about their parents and grandparents and teachers and staff and their families, too.
We also though do have unclear research about the -- information about the transmission of virus by children, and there was this South Korea study that was done that found that children under the age of 10 are maybe about half as likely to transmit the virus as adults, but half of a lot is a lot.
And the single most important thing we can still need to focus on is reducing that level of virus in the community, which is something that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx focus on, but that we have not heard nearly as much from the President.
BERMAN: So Secretary Duncan, the new C.D.C. guidelines came out last night, and they are really a shell of the previous guidelines, the ones the President said were too tough. So these guidelines, are they more political or medical at this point?
DUNCAN: Well, they're trying to have it both ways. So they're bending to the pressure, the political pressure that they're feeling from him. But if you actually read into it, they say, in the fine print that, you know, where you're having an increase in cases, those decisions should be made at the local level.
And again, let's just look at the numbers. If you go back to like March 23, March 24, when schools were shutting down, we had about 10,000 cases a day. A month ago, June 23rd, we had 35,000 cases a day. Today, we're having 70,000 cases a day. A month ago, we had 11 to 12 states with declining numbers. Today, we only have a single state with declining numbers.
So as a country, we're going the wrong way, and it's just infuriating. Had we done what we needed to do in March, in April, in May and June, we wouldn't be talking about can we open schools? This was a natural disaster. It became a man-made catastrophe.
Had we locked things down, had we socially distanced, had we worn masks, had we had a White House that led, had a national plan, we wouldn't be jeopardizing our children's chance to go back to school in the next couple of weeks.
BERMAN: So Dr. Wen, you hear Secretary Duncan say that local leaders are going to have to step up and make the right decisions, responsible decisions. Would they be better off just using the leaked internal C.D.C. document that was obtained by "The New York Times" a couple of weeks ago that had on its very first page a warning that fully reopening schools remain one of the highest risk for the spread of the virus.
WEN: You know, I compare that document, John, to the document that was released today about the guidance and they are night and day difference.
The document today was basically a justification of why in-person schooling is important, which I think we can all agree that it's important, we got it.
But what we need is the guidance on how to do so safely, and actually that leaked document provided that guidance. They actually looked at many different examples of school protocols from around the country and critiqued them and highlighted some innovative best practices.
That's what we need the C.D.C. to do. We need the recommendations to be based on science, not have political pressure to determine their content.
WEN: And what local leaders need more than anything is Federal resources. They need the resources now in order to do the right thing for their communities. They need local flexibility. And those resources need to be targeted to the communities that are the most disadvantaged, where there are the most vulnerable students who are facing educational as well as profound health disparities.
BERMAN: They need to know how to do it and have the resources to do it right. Secretary Duncan, it is interesting because the new guidelines do have this back door suggesting if the virus is out of control in your county or district, then maybe you should reconsider reopening and the C.D.C. Director, Robert Redfield clarified that today.
He said communities with a positivity rate higher than five percent, perhaps should consider not reopening? Well, that's a lot of places. That's California. It's Texas. It's Arizona. It's Mississippi. It's Florida. It's a lot of places. DUNCAN: Well, nationally, were about 8.8 percent. So, we're
significantly higher than that and it just puts superintendents and principals who are so thoughtful in an unbelievably difficult position, and folks who are trying to open totally physically are now having to go hybrid.
Other folks that were in a hybrid mode are now having to go only remote online, because in far too many communities across the country, the rate of cases, the number of cases are going up every single day.
Schools aren't bubbles. They're not islands. The best way we can get kids back into a physical school is to beat down this virus in our local communities.
Now, I just want to quickly say the goal here is not to reopen schools, the goal is to stay open. So we need to move thoughtfully and carefully. Start with those children most at risk as Dr. Wen talked about, start with our babies, see if that works, and then slowly trying to ask students if we do the right thing.
We've seen other countries, Israel opened too fast and had to shut everything down. South Africa just opened too fast and had to shut everything down. We do not want to do that here. And we should not be in this situation in the first place.
BERMAN: Look, there are places that can do it. The question is how to help them do it safely and the confusion just gets in the way.
Former Secretary Arne Duncan and Dr. Leana Wen, thank you both so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
DUNCAN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Just ahead, a close look at the pandemic's toll in Texas with a frontline worker who has seen the worst of what this disease can do. That's when 360 returns.
BERMAN: We want to focus now on the state of Texas, which today recorded the second highest death count from the virus to date 196. Just once shy of the high said on Wednesday. In Stark County, in the southern tip of the state, a county health board is having to make a truly awful decision. According to multiple reports from local media, the county's sole hospital has formed an ethics committee, beds are in such demand, the committee is considering guidelines that could force those close to death to go home, rather than spend their final hours with medical professionals.
Just reminder, President Trump said yesterday that states have quote, everything they could possibly need when it came to supplies. That's why we like to keep the focus on the people who are seeing these events firsthand, because they are our eyes and ears about the true toll this virus is taking. Joining us now, a frontline medical worker who has seen the pandemic in Texas up close both in McAllan in the south and El Paso in the West. Dr. Joseph Donnelly. Dr. Donnelly you just came from McAllan you were there during the peak of the surge. What was that like?
JOSEPH DONNELLY, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: It was devastating. It's hard to describe in words. The medical infrastructure there is not like a major Metropolis like New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles. So, resources already stretched them. And it didn't take long to reach the breaking point down there.
BERMAN: I understand you had to try and resuscitate a woman in the parking lot. How did that unfold?
DONNELLY: Well, it was an 18 bed emergency room I was working in and they had 32 COVID patients in the department, so you can imagine they're lying up in the hallways, there literally is nowhere to go. And so we had to make the decision to go out and meet the ambulance and resuscitate the person there.
BERMAN: What happened to her?
DONNELLY: That woman expired. She's 40-year-old, she had been treated a week prior with COVID. And we can't admit everyone with COVID. Most people are able to go home, but some people are going to return and not do well.
BERMAN: Just 40 years old and I know how difficult it must be to be surrounded by that all day and to work as hard as you are all day. You said that you have to use the hallways for the overflow. How else are you accommodating the patients that don't have beds?
DONNELLY: Well, we reuse beds upstairs. The pediatric ICU is now an adult ICU there. Literally everywhere you can put a patient, you'll put assuming you have a nurse and a physician to staff that area. And as I said the resources are stretched very thin. And there's no way to pre position enough people to accommodate a surge as has occurred down there.
BERMAN: Do you think there are people who have died or could have been saved if he would had more resources?
DONNELLY: Absolutely. There are people who don't seek care right now because they're afraid to even come to the hospital. And there are also people in the hospital who are receiving the best care we can give, but sometimes it's not good enough. You've got some nurses taking care of six or eight people, ICU type patients, which would normally be staffed at two patients to one nurse.
BERMAN: There is a positive side to this, which I think you've learned the less than a lot of doctors in New York learned as well. Which is that after weeks of treating patients like this, you'll learn how to do it better. Tell us about that. DONNELLY: Well, we learned, you know, to treat aggressive early when they come in sick, and we don't want that oxygen to drop low for too long. There is no FDA approved treatment for COVID-19. But there are treatments available that are being used the convalescent plasma, Remdesivir, proning, those sorts of things are helping, so we're not reinventing the wheel. But this is a disease unlike any other that I've seen in my 25 years, the word can affect one person who will have no symptoms when they haven't and another person will literally suffocate in a matter of days.
BERMAN: Dr. Donnelly I have to say, first of all, thank you for the work you're doing but you look like so many of the doctors that I've had a chance to speak to, you look spent, you look tired. You look like this is taking a toll on you. Talk to me about that.
DONNELLY: It, it wears you out.
BERMAN: How so?
DONNELLY: You kind of feel numb. And then at the end of your shift, you're just -- you're done.
BERMAN: Look, we're lucky to have you and the people of Texas are lucky to have you. What's your message to people who still may not be taking this seriously, who still may look at this and say, it's just something like the flu.
DONNELLY: It's nothing like the flu. Realize that you can make a difference. Stay home, use your mask, wear it right. Realize that maybe if you feel invincible, you may be the person that is choking on something and can't get an ambulance to come get you because they're all occupied for the search. So you can make a difference.
BERMAN: Dr. Donnelly, you're making a difference, and we're very grateful that you are, thank you for telling us what you are seeing. It makes such a difference for people around the country to know what's happening on the ground there and how hard people are working to try to turn this thing around. So thank you.
DONNELLY: Thank you.
BERMAN: We have more breaking news ahead. The Center for Disease Control today reports COVID-19 can be a prolonged illness even among those recovering from the disease weeks after they were discharged.
Just ahead, I'm going to speak with a British professor who got that back in March, and it lingered and lingered and lingered until now.
BERMAN: Breaking news from the Centers for Disease Control, scientists they reported today that even among patients recovering from the pandemic, the aftereffects can linger for weeks. Even the study suggests for relatively young people. Paul Garner is a case in point an extreme case in point, a so-called long holler. He got COVID in mid-March and he still can't shake it. He's a professor of Tropical Diseases at the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, England. Before he was diagnosed, he was healthy and fit. I spoke to him earlier.
BERMAN: Professor Garner, you call yourself a COVID long holler. You first became sick in mid-March. That's a long time ago. How are you doing now?
PAUL GARNER, PROFESSOR, LIVERPOOL ENGLAND SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE: So I'm beginning to feel a little bit better. I am less sweaty. I have the attacks that last for three or four days and have receded. I have considerable fatigue. I'm exhausted the whole time. It's quite debilitating. So, I can't do much during the day, I have to go back to bed two or three times. Just to keep my energy up.
BERMAN: You're in the unique position of being someone who studies infectious diseases but also has COVID. Have you had a chance to step back and analyze why this is happening with coronavirus?
GARNER: This is a mystery to me. I, some days I feel as though this is a post viral syndrome. And that's what it looks like. But there are so many -- there are new things happening all the time. So, but I do think on balance. This is the last tile that you see in some viral infections, but it's -- the fatigue and it comes back in very different ways. So about three or four weeks ago, I had difficulty speaking. I had difficulty stringing words together and that that apparently is recognized as a curse with people with fatigue. So, it is really quite frightening and it's taken me away from all the things I enjoy, which is running and being outside and I can't do any of those things. If I do any of them, it makes me feel quite unwell.
BERMAN: Well, you are an athlete and you have tried to exercise some. Can you tell people -- I mean a real athlete like someone who does it near extreme sports. What happens when you try to do anything?
GARNER: I can't. I walked six kilometers on Sunday and did 10 minutes of yoga. And Tuesday -- Monday and Tuesday, I've been quite unwell. I went a little bit too far. So it's really disabled me.
My friend in Australia said, Paul, you are trying to dominate this disease, you are trying to beat it and go back to your levels of exercise. But what you should do is try and accommodate the virus, you need to accommodate it. The virus is still in charge.
BERMAN: You know, people should know you also have had malaria and dengue, you know, shrinking violet here you wrote recently, quote, this stuff is real, people are ill, doctors need to stop diagnosing this as anxiety. We've messed up before let's not do it again with long term COVID-19 illness.
You know, what do you fear will happen if experts continue to misdiagnose long term COVID illnesses such as yours?
GARNER: I think that doctors are not yet familiar with a huge gray to spectrum of different condition, I have fatigue. Some of the people I know have very rapid heart rates they can't -- a woman I knows a boxer, cannot walk up a flight of stairs without getting a very fast heart rate is a very different syndrome. So, people are going to their doctors and the doctors don't recognize it. And if they're not confident they will be dismissed. So, it's really important that medics and people at home all believe what's happening to them because it is a very strange illness, and it causes many very strange, unexpected symptoms, but they are real.
BERMAN: Strange, real and in some cases, just terrible. Professor Garner, you've been living with this for more than four months. We wish you the best. Thanks so much for being with us.
GARNER: Thank you, sir.
BERMAN: New CNN reporting tonight, centered around President Trump's and anger and the Confederate flag, what he's upset about and who he's mad at? Just ahead when 360 continues.
BERMAN: New reporting from CNN tonight, according to two people familiar with his reaction, President Trump is fuming at his own defense secretary Mark Esper, the reason? Esper issued a military wide directive last week that in effect, banned the display of Confederate flags at military bases. As you know, the President has defended people displaying the flag saying it's a freedom of speech issue of freedom he does not embrace by the way when it comes to kneeling during the national anthem.
A senior White House official tell CNN quote, your story is inaccurate. So with all that as a backdrop today, before their first game of the 2020 season, the Boston Red Sox unveiled a huge sign painted on the tarp covering the seats in the center of field stands. As you can see, it reads Black Lives Matter, significant not only in the current as atmosphere of social awareness among athletes in all sports, especially in light of the troubled history of race relations in that city, and that wasn't by any means the only visible sign of change in baseball this season first, and it's happening in all of professional sports.
360s Randi Kaye has the details.
LEBRON JAMES, NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: First of all, I want to continue to shine a light on, you know, Justice for Breonna Taylor and her family. RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That was LeBron James moments after returning to the court for the first time in more than four months, the Lakers star is making it clear basketball and Breonna Taylor are top priorities. Back in March, Taylor was killed in a barrage of gunfire after police used a no knock warrant to storm into her home. So far, none of the officers have been charged.
JAMES: It was one of the leaders of this league, her family to know and I want the state of Kentucky to know that we feel for it and we want justice.
KAYE (voice-over): Several teams made statements on the field. At the L.A. Dodgers opener against the San Francisco Giants. Dodgers coaching staff and the whole giant squad wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts for the pre-game warmup, BLM was also emblazoned on the pitcher's mound. And before the game, both teams took a knee and held a black ribbon and circling the field.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All with the same goal, to level the playing field. To change the injustices.
KAYE (voice-over): In Washington D.C., the nationals also use their pitcher's mound to support Black Lives Matter and took a knee, along with the New York Yankees before the opening pitch. Some players wore league approved patches that read Black Lives Matter and United for Change. All while the Black Lives Matter video produced by the players alliance played on screen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We no longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will make our voices louder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For all of us who can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for all of those who could not.
KAYE (voice-over): Major League Baseball's official Twitter account also highlighted players in Black Lives Matter T-shirts, writing, equality is not just a word. It's our right. And today the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team also showed support for Breonna Taylor tweeting, today his opening day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.
(on-camera): All of this support for social injustice a far cry from 2016 when players in the WNBA were initially fined $500 for wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts to protest police brutality. The teams were fined $5,000. All of those fines were later dropped.
(voice-over): Soon after that NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick famously took a knee leading to the derailment of his football career. And now in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor's deaths, it's not just players supporting the cause. But teams as a whole are examining how best to move forward.
The Washington Redskins changing their name for now to the Washington Football Team, tweeting simply, it begins here. And the Cleveland Indians baseball team also possibly considering a name change is promising to engage Native American leaders to better understand their perspectives.
Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
BERMAN: Just ahead, we remember those who lost their lives to the virus including a man who helps secure much needed coronavirus supplies for his community before he passed.
BERMAN: Tonight, with the death toll topping 145,000. We remember some of the lives lost during this pandemic.
David Prasifika was an emergency management coordinator of Atascocita County in Texas. He took his job seriously. It was even known as the radar because he was always on the lookout for how he could help his community. Before he was appointed as the emergency management coordinator, he served as a volunteer firefighter and fire chief for more than 25 years. He was known as a person who would jump into problems feet first and confront situations head on.
So when the pandemic hit David worked tirelessly to secure personal protective equipment for the first responders and hospital workers in his county. Sometimes he'd drive hundreds of miles to personally pick up the PPE and bring it back to the frontline workers who needed it. During the crisis, David was diagnosed with leukemia, he was undergoing aggressive treatment. But then he came down with the virus that he was fighting so hard to contain in his county. David Prasifika was 58 years old
And our heart goes out to him in all those last two this pandemic. The news continues, I want to hand it over now to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."