Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on August 9, 2020

8/9: Face The Nation
8/9: Face The Nation 47:07

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Robert O'Brien, National Security Adviser
  • Quinton Lucas, Mayor of Kansas City
  • Charles Evans, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Ned Lamont, Connecticut Governor 
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan. This week on FACE THE NATION, new coronavirus cases decline in the U. S. but the death toll rises. Congress and the White House failed to strike a deal and the President decides to go it alone.

MAN #1: The President of the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: At his golf club in New Jersey, President Trump attempted on Saturday to bypass Congress and claimed authority to extend temporary economic relief, including jobless benefits to help families weather the pandemic.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We've had it and we're going to save American jobs to provide relief to the American workers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But those executive actions left more questions than answers with the legality and cost of his plans unclear, even the President acknowledged he could be challenged in court.

PAULA REID: This is expected to be tied up in the courts.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If we get sued, it's somebody that doesn't want people to get money. Okay? And that's not going to be a very popular thing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All of that comes after Congress and the White House failed to agree on the latest COVID emergency aid package.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: I've told them to come back when you-- when you are ready to give us a higher number.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To top it all off, the intelligence community issued a stark warning that foreign powers are interfering in the presidential race and picking favorites.

Our guests this week, in his first interview since recovering from the coronavirus, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. As the virus moves across the country, we'll hear from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas where cases are rising. And Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who's had success containing it. Former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb weighs in on reopening schools and keeping children safe. And Chicago Fed president Charles Evans says trouble is brewing if Congress doesn't find a way to provide more financial lifelines to Americans. Plus, Joe Biden spins his way closer to selecting a running mate.

MAN #2 (Fox News): Mister Vice President, have you picked a running mate yet?

JOE BIDEN (Fox News): Yeah, I have.

MAN #2 (Fox News): You have? Who is it?

MAN #3 (Fox News): Who is it?

JOE BIDEN (Fox News): You.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our latest Battleground Tracker on how his pick will impact voters in two swing states.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We're in the middle of the recession and on the doorstep of an election and millions of out of work Americans have just had their unemployment benefits slashed. Congress and the White House have the power to provide the needed help, but this morning the country's top leaders are nowhere closer to a deal on the next coronavirus aid package. Nationwide the number of infections is decreasing but so is testing. For the first time since early March, the number of people tested for the virus declined and as cases dropped in some areas they increase in others. Our coverage begins with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.

(Begin VT)

MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Eviction day near Houston for Lisa Pridea (ph) and her daughter, Ayanni (ph).

LISA PRIDEA: This is beyond Ayanni and I know. This isn't about us anymore. This-- this has surpassed us.

MARK STRASSMANN: An eviction crisis looms, COVID'S next catastrophic ripple. Over the next few months, as many as forty million renters could be forced to move. The jobless have lost a lifeline. No more extra six hundred dollars a week from Washington.

ZACH NEUMANN (Senior Fellow, COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project): They lose their jobs and they're not able to work. Their ability to pay their bills goes away pretty quick.

MARK STRASSMANN: New COVID cases keep rising quickly in eleven states, major cities from Portland to Kansas City to Boston, all face new warnings from the White House. COVID America can feel balkanized. New York City has checkpoints at major bridges and tunnels. Visitors from thirty-four states either quarantine for two weeks or face fines up to ten thousand dollars.

BILL DE BLASIO (Mayor of New York City): It also will spread the word to all New Yorkers and all visitors that this is really, really serious.

MARK STRASSMANN: In COVID-hot Florida, this gym owner was arrested for the third time. He refuses to make customers working out wear masks. Chicago is enforcing a mask mandate, up to twenty-five-hundred-dollar fines for businesses that ignore it.

J. B. PRITZKER: This is a make-or-break moment for the state of Illinois.

MARK STRASSMANN: Health experts agree, more testing and faster results would help. But nationally testing dropped by roughly a half million in the last week. One big reason, the backlog in testing labs. And common sense is always the wildcard. This is Sturgis, South Dakota, a bike jamboree for up to a quarter million people. More Harleys than masks at one of the biggest public gatherings since America's contagion began.

(End VT)

MARK STRASSMANN: After a week when seven thousand Americans died from COVID, some good news--the CDC now predicts that deaths from the virus will actually decrease over the next four weeks. But for that to happen, we're all going to have to fight off another epidemic: COVID fatigue. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann in Atlanta. Thank you.

We go now to the White House and President Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. This is his first interview since recovering from coronavirus. Good morning to you, Ambassador. We have just hit five million cases in this country. You were lucky one. You recovered. How are you feeling? And do you have aftereffects?

ROBERT O'BRIEN (National Security Adviser/@robertcobrien): Well, it's always great to be back on your show, Margaret, but it's especially good to be back now. And, look, I've recovered fully and I'm very, very grateful. I was blessed and had a light case. I want to thank the White House medical team and Doctor Sean Conley for-- for their great care while I suffered through this-- this virus. And-- and I also want to thank my colleagues from the-- the President, the vice president, everyone down who was so supportive of me personally. And I hope that anyone else who is suffering from coronavirus, who is away from work, who is quarantined, has the same level of support from their colleagues at their office as I did for mine. So-- well, you know, it's a-- it's great to be back. And-- and-- and I've been very blessed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: But-- but this is a tough thing. It's a-- it's a-- it's a nasty virus and it's done great damage to our country. And my-- my heart goes out to the folks who didn't make it. I was-- I was fortunate. But there are a lot of people who didn't make it and there are a lot of people who are suffering greatly as a result of this virus. And-- and having been through this, my-- my heart really goes out to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, not all Americans receive the kind of elite care that you were able to. You know, unless you work in Major League Baseball or at the White House, you don't have access to regular asymptomatic testing. That's just not where we are as a country. How long before the average American can get that?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, we're working on testing and I think what-- what's happened with tests in America is really a miracle. I mean we haven't-- there's-- there's no country in the world that comes close to what America is doing on testing. But we're working on getting more testing out there. And our great American companies are coming up with faster tests, more mobile tests. And we need to get testing out there. But it's not just testing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We were supposed to be at five million tests a day at this point, we're not nearly that. In fact, we're now at five million infections as a country.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, we-- we've had a lot of infections as a country. And, again, this is something we need to keep in mind. I mean this came out of China and we've been fighting it ever since. The whole world's been fighting it. And there-- there have been hundreds of thousands or maybe over a million people worldwide who have been killed as a result of this virus. And we've got to remember where it came from. But we're going to fight like heck. We're working hard on vaccines. We're working hard on testing machines that are portable and fast, so the people around the country can be tested quickly. We're working on therapeutics. I mean, I'm so impressed with our scientists and our doctors and our first responders and the folks who are-- who are attacking this disease and-- and God bless them all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know now that Congress and the White House were unable to come to this agreement on more funding for things, including a boost to testing. We also, because there's no agreement, don't have that boost to election security funding that Democrats were asking for. Ambassador, this country has never voted in a pandemic. Don't you need a boost to election security for states across this country? Don't you need more money before November?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, we're-- we're working on that with Congress. And what's really a shame and you had a piece in your-- in your lead up to-- to my conversation with you about the eviction that was taking place. I mean we have people that are going to be facing eviction and the President took executive action because Congress wouldn't-- wouldn't come forward to help people who are being evicted. So the President took executive action--

MARGARET BRENNAN: On election security that that was not actually included in these executive actions. Are you saying you do expect a bill to pass before November?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, I-- I hope so. And I want to make it clear there's been no administration that's done more for election security than this administration. Now, remember, the things that happened in 2016 and prior to that were under prior administrations. We've been putting hundreds of millions of dollars into election security at the NSC. We've been running a policy coordination process for months and months and months on election security. We're working with DHS; we're working with secretaries of state across the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: There's-- there's no higher concern that we have than maintaining the-- the free and fair elections that are the cornerstone of our democracy. And, look, we know that there are people overseas, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Russians, others who would like to interfere with our democracy. And we're going to-- we're going to fight against that. And we're going to take every step necessary to harden our election infrastructure, harden our cyber infrastructure and-- and protect our elections a hundred percent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about that, specifically, because the intelligence community issued this very sharp warning on Friday detailing efforts to interfere. Looking at the statement from July 24th, though, the language there says adversaries are trying to access candidates' private communications and election infrastructure. And that's at both the state and the federal networks. That sounds an awful lot like what Russia did back in 2016, but now it's happening on your watch. So what are you doing to stop it?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well-- well, what we're doing is we've got our cyber teams in place. DHS is working very hard to track down those malign actors, but--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it Russia again?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --again, it's not just Russia. Well, look, we know it's China. We know it's Russia. We know it's Iran.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Tampering with election infrastructure?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, absolutely, trying to access secretary of state websites and that sort of thing and-- and collect data on-- on Americans and-- and engage in influence operations, whether it's on Tik Tok or Twitter or in other spaces. So, no, it's-- it's a real concern. And-- but it's- it's not just Russia, Margaret. It's-- the Chinese don't want the President re-elected. He's been tougher on China than any president in history. And-- and we're standing up for the first time to the Chinese Communist Party and protecting Americans, protecting our IP, protecting our economy, protecting our-- our vaccine data. And so there are a lot of people around the world that aren't happy with-- with America because they don't share our values. And-- and that shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. And we're going to take every action necessary to-- to keep folks out, whether it's China or Russia or Iran--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --or Cuba or Venezuela or others.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to clarify something here, because in the statement that we saw Friday, the counterintelligence chief released the statement saying China prefers President Trump to lose, but it, specifically, referred to public statements, policy disagreements. Are you here today saying that China is tampering with the U.S. election infrastructure?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, well they-- they'd like the-- the President to lose. And-- and China, like Russia, like Iran, have-- have engaged in cyberattacks and phishing and that sort of thing with-- with respect to our election infrastructure, with respect to websites and that sort of thing. We're-- we're aware of it and we're-- we're taking steps to counter it. Whether it's China or Russia or Iran, we're not going to put up with it. And there will be severe consequences with any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair elections, whether-- whether their-- their leaders prefer-- prefer Joe Biden or prefer Donald Trump, it doesn't matter. We're Americans. We don't-- we're not going to foreign countries deciding who our next President is going to be. That's outrageous.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This statement Friday, specifically, when it came to Russia, detailed an active campaign to denigrate Joe Biden. That was the language used, denigrate former Vice President Biden. And it, specifically, also mentioned Kremlin-linked actors seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television. When President Trump spoke to Vladimir Putin July 23rd, did he tell them to knock this off?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, the-- the President has told the Russians, and we've told the Russians, our counterparts, many, many times not to get involved in our election. That it's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But did President Trump tell that to President Putin?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --a red line. You know, what-- what I don't get involved in, you know, unlike perhaps some of my predecessors or others who leaked documents, I don't-- I don't get into the-- the conversations that the President has with foreign heads of state, whether it's Russia or France or the U.K. for that matter. Those are private conversations. But I can tell you, we've made it very clear to the Russians, very clear. No-- no administration has been tougher on the Russians. We've sanctioned hundreds of Russian entities. We've sanctioned the troll farms. We've sanctioned Rosneft--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But they're doing it again is what you're saying. So the message clearly wasn't received.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well look--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did President Trump say to Vladimir Putin knock it off this time?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Margaret, there's almost nothing we can sanction left of the Russians. We-- we put so many sanctions on the Russians that, by the way, that the prior administration didn't do. We've sanctioned the heck out of the Russians, individuals, companies, the government, whether it's related to Nord-- Nord Stream or Rosneft. We've-- we've kicked, you know, out literally scores of-- of Russian spies. We've closed down all their consulates on the West Coast. We've closed down diplomatic facilities. There's not a lot left we can do with the Russians. But nevertheless, we continue to message the Russians. And President Trump continues to message-- message the Russians: don't get involved in our elections. And by the way, that message is to the Chinese and that message--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --is to Tehran as well. Don't do it because there will be severe consequences. And we've shown that. Keep in mind, all of these sanctions, all of this toughness on Russia happened under President Trump, not under prior presidents, not under Obama-Biden administration. It happened under the Trump administration. No one's been--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but the intelligence community is saying that the interference is also happening on President Trump's watch, which is why I'm specifically asking you, you know, what are you doing to stop it?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, look, we've made it-- we've made it very clear to our adversaries, whether it's China or Russia or Iran, stay out of our election. And we're taking steps across the board to harden our election infrastructure. We're pumping money into the states. DHS has a massive program running. In my shop at the NSC, under President Trump's direction, we've got a massive program running--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --to keep our elections free and fair. And look, I don't-- I don't want foreign governments to support Joe Biden to influence our elections. I don't want foreign governments to support President Trump to influence our elections. Amer-- the American people should decide our elections.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: That's-- that's clear.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador O'Brien, thank you. I'm glad that you're back and that you are feeling well.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Great to be with you. Thanks, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be back in a moment with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We now go to Kansas City, Missouri, one of ten areas in the U.S. that the White House coronavirus task force is concerned about. Mayor Quinton Lucas is in Kansas City. Good morning to you.

QUINTON LUCAS (Mayor of Kansas City/@QuintonLucasKC): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand Doctor Deborah Birx spoke to you on Monday and said Kansas City is a potential hotspot for rising infections, really looking at young people twenty to twenty-nine as rising in the infection rate. What is fueling the spread?

QUINTON LUCAS: Well, we're seeing a lot of activity that has been against public health advice, not just people who have congregated in bars and restaurants, but also informal spread, as we've called it, in Kansas City, house parties of up to hundreds of people, a lot of backyard parties and a lot of folks in families and other informal settings that aren't following social distancing rules, aren't wearing masks. And that has helped fuel the spread both here and in the states around us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, I know the White House has recommended that you bring things like capacity in bars down to twenty-five percent from where you already have it. Why haven't you done that?

QUINTON LUCAS: Well, we're at fifty percent in our restaurants and we have limited bars. One of the reasons that we have not limited it entirely, yet, is because we don't just want people going back out into the streets to celebrate. And this is really kind of our summertime challenge that we have folks that are congregating in large groups already, in some ways informal spread presenting greater threats, because none of these places are following rules. All of them have a large amount of spread. But we are evaluating limiting both restaurants and bar capacity to avoid some of the spikes you saw in places like Houston and Phoenix and in the state of Florida.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you may be doing this even though there may be an economic hit that comes with it?

QUINTON LUCAS: Well, we absolutely are. I mean one of the challenges that a lot of Midwestern and Southwestern cities are having is that we are surrounded by states that don't have things like mask orders, that don't have some of the same social distancing and restaurant rules we have. So every rule that we impose, we're surrounded in the state of Missouri and Kansas by a number of jurisdictions that lack it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

QUINTON LUCAS: So we would like consistency largely from the White House to help make it clearer what we need to do to stop the spread here in the central United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the White House is saying wear a mask. The White House is also saying, as we said there, bring those capacities down. On the letter you sent, I want to ask you about, to the President this week, you were one of a number of mayors who asked, specifically, for more funding. Two hundred and fifty billion dollars to be given to cities of all sizes. This was not in the executive orders that the President signed. And we know deals in Congress appear to be on hold. So how is your city going to get the money it needs? And-- and at what cost do these cuts come?

QUINTON LUCAS: Well, right now we're just not getting it. So you're seeing a lot of deficit spending from cities. Mine has already put out millions of dollars in COVID-19 response. And the impact is actually going to be to American workers. Those who work for state, local, county governments are going to deal with the brunt of it. We're talking about furloughs. There have been layoffs in a number of American cities--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to have to lay off?

MAYOR LUCAS: --and we continue to have increased-- I-- I believe we will. And lots of other cities have, and this is hitting lots of employees, so this isn't just theoretical for us and these are issues that are significant and in the now. And so we're looking for a deal. When you talk about things like real unemployment benefit extensions, that's something that lots of Kansas Citians are dealing with. So we feel like we are trying to answer a crisis moment where in some situations we haven't seen that response from Washington that is sorely needed here in the Midwest.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So your city has delayed the start of the school year until after Labor Day from what I understand. And you cited more funding being needed for schools. It doesn't sound like there will necessarily be a deal to give you that money. So, what does this mean for your school children? Do you need to push back the school year even farther?

QUINTON LUCAS: Well, when I was talking about White House direction before, that was a question I asked directly of Doctor Birx, of should we have in-person schooling or not? She deferred from answering that question. And so in many ways, our school districts are-- are trying to use the best advice possible. But you've seen lots go to a mixed virtual in-person learning environment. There are some that are going right back to in-person. And you've seen in other parts of the country some trouble and COVID outbreaks from that. But our advice is-- was to buy time to make sure we could have funding for things like PPE, masks, separation, social distancing, and to better understand what school reopening can mean from an epidemiological perspective. We are not there yet, so I think we all have some grave concerns about reopening, particularly at a time you're seeing spikes in this community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what were you looking for, Doctor Birx, to tell you that she didn't? Like, literally give you a green light, it's safe--

QUINTON LUCAS: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --or to give you a benchmark at which you could make a decision to open or close?

QUINTON LUCAS: You know, I think a mix of both. First of all, benchmarks are always helpful. We had asked for additional information, some written documentary information that we could share with the public in places like Kansas City. We did not receive that, although I did appreciate the call. And then I do think that, frankly, every parent, every teacher, everyone in America is saying, is it safe? You know, I'm a lawyer by training. I talk to doctors and health care professionals here, but these are calls necessarily that sometimes mayors may not be equipped to make or some governors. So I do think that looking at the most medical evidence and information we have nationally to see what a direction broadly--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

QUINTON LUCAS: --on schools is should be the guide for reopening schools, not just the different politics state to state and city to city, which is what we're seeing in my part of the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And very quickly, there's a fourteen-day backlog in testing in your city. How do you fix that?

QUINTON LUCAS: Money. Money. We need more resources to get more testing, to get faster testing through. That's the biggest challenge and we're going to continue to see this spread unless we get more testing efficiently for people. So, I think money. A solution out of Washington is key for not just mine, but all American cities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Mayor, thank you for your time this morning.

QUINTON LUCAS: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a look at new numbers from our CBS News Battleground Tracker.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: This morning we have a new poll that looks at the presidential race in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Late on election night in 2016, it was these two states that put Donald Trump over the top and secured his victory over Hillary Clinton. But today, former Vice President Biden is up by six points in both states, according to our CBS Battleground Tracker. We asked CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto what is putting Biden in the lead there.

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Well, it's concern about the President's handling of COVID that is outweighing any edge he might have on handling the economy. We unpack that a little bit. There still seems to be some goodwill towards the President in his handling of the economy for voters looking back at how the economy was before the outbreak, specifically things like manufacturing jobs in these states. They say returning rather than leaving, that was a key campaign promise. But when you look at the way the President has such negative ratings on handling COVID, specifically, parents concerned that their kids are going back to school, that schools they don't want to reopen fully, they feel like the administration is pressuring for that, feeling like the administration is not doing enough to combat the virus and then that is more closely associated with vote than any views on the economy. You see, specifically, the feeling that Joe Biden would do a better job handling the outbreak and then the feeling that Joe Biden is more attuned to the needs and concerns of a lot of these voters. So Biden is swinging a lot of voters, independents who voted for Donald Trump the last time. And when you look at what's changed since 2016 which you mentioned, well, Donald Trump won these states based on a lot of voters who were looking for change. When they look back and now, they tell us, this is not necessarily what they expected. In fact, more say that things have gone worse than things have gone better and that's kind of your classic voting calculus at play right now. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And since we expect former Vice President Joe Biden to announce his running mate sometime this week, our Battleground Tracker also surveyed how important that decision is to voters. Many voters, thirty-eight percent in Pennsylvania and forty-four percent in Wisconsin said Biden's choice for vice president is important to them. It is even more so for those who say they are currently not voting for Biden but could consider him.

For more analysis from Anthony Salvanto and further results, go to cbsnews.com/polls.

We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz, who takes a look at what it's like going back to school during a pandemic.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Schools are beginning to reopen around the country. And despite efforts to socially distance students, states returning to the classroom are already reporting coronavirus cases. CBS News' correspondent Adriana Diaz is in Chicago, where earlier this week that city's mayor said in-person learning is too risky for area public schools.

(Begin VT)

ADRIANA DIAZ (CBS News Correspondent/@adrianasdiaz): For schools reopening tomorrow, the routine morning drop-off will be masked by something new.

WILLIAM SCHLEUSNER: You got to find the right one, to breathe right.

ADRIANA DIAZ: Face coverings are required in Enterprise, Alabama. And they will be mandatory in September for New York City schools which just got state approval to split the school week between in-person and online classes. It's one of only two of the nation's ten largest school districts, offering some in-person instruction. All others are strictly online. Of the twenty-one school districts reopening Monday, eight will be in-person fulltime. Mostly in the South. The patchwork of plans nationwide is spurring debate and division.

CROWD (in unison): We want school.

ADRIANA DIAZ: Elkhart, Indiana, scrapped its virtual learning plan hours after parents protested. Chicago also reversed course, but with schools now starting online instead of a hybrid plan. Chicago mom Julia Deveski (ph) worries her six-year-old daughter Hazel (ph) will have too much screen time and too little socialization.

JULIA DEVESKI: I know if she goes to virtual learning fulltime, it's going to be damaging for her forever. So I just don't want to do that and it's-- I mean it's sad.

ADRIANA DIAZ: Nationwide, parents are somewhat split. In one poll, forty-four percent surveyed say it's safe to send children back to school. But fifty-six percent do not. The divide skews among teachers. A separate poll found that eighty-two percent are concerned about in-school instruction. Remember this photo of a crowded hallway and few masks at a Georgia high school? Well, that same school informed parents yesterday that six students and three staff members have tested positive. In Mississippi, more than a hundred students are under quarantine in one district. At another, a teacher and assistant football coach died last Thursday. Forty-two-year-old Nacoma James was self-quarantining when school started, but he had spent the summer training football players.

(End VT)

ADRIANA DIAZ: That Mississippi school is now contact-tracing to determine which students may have been exposed. Back here in Chicago there are concerns that remote learning will exacerbate inequalities. The city's announced plans to help bridge technology gaps and support parents who need childcare. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Adriana Diaz in Chicago. Thank you.

We want to go now to Hartford, Connecticut, and Governor Ned Lamont. Good morning to you, Governor.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT (D-Connecticut/@GovNedLamont): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You decided or you said back in June that you wanted schools to reopen for in-person learning. Doctor Fauci visited the state this week and said the state should reopen. I'm wondering what your plan is to keep schools open. How do you contain asymptomatic spread? And are you regularly testing teachers?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: So, first of all, we are one of the first states in the country to close down schools and we've been very cautious as we reopen the rest of our economy. And Doctor Fauci has been helpful. Scott Gottlieb, your next guest, very helpful. Kept a very low infection rate, about one percent, one of the lowest in the country over the last six, seven weeks now. So I think if Connecticut can't get reopened, I don't know who can around the country. And we're doing it led by public health, making sure everybody's wearing the masks; making sure that we have the Plexiglas where needed; cohorting, so the one fifth-grade class doesn't party with another fifth-grade class. And I think we're going to give our kids the best shot for in-classroom education.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, what about prioritizing testing? How do you stay open without regularly spot testing students and teachers?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, what testing does is tells you whether or not you are infected. As you pointed out in the previous shot, you know, many people are asymptomatic and contagious before they are tested. So, we have to watch out for that. We have a hundred and sixty testing centers. Any teacher that wants to go get a free test, recommending maybe some of them do that before the start of the school year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. So it's not currently part of the plan, but you're saying the state has access to tests. I want to ask you, though, about what something your office pointed out to us, which is that a hundred and forty-three thousand kids just simply did not log on for remote learning back in the spring in March, April, and May. Do you know how much damage was done? And if you have to shut down and go remote again, how do you avoid these kids getting lost?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: I-- I think-- I do not want a lost year, and when everybody says, let's not go back to school until it's perfectly safe, until we have a vaccine, until a hundred percent of the people are vaccinated, I worry that could be a lost year of education. But, in the meantime, we do need a backup plan. So we've bought a hundred thousand Chromebooks. We're getting them installed in every kid's home that doesn't feel comfortable getting back to school. The teachers' homes, if they don't feel comfortable getting back, expanded Wi-Fi so those kids can-- can connect at least with their classmates over Zoom.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what about those kids who just didn't log on at all in the spring?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: It's a tragedy. We made it available to everybody we could. But, again, it requires parental supervision, requires a-- a lot of effort to make sure everybody logs in. Right now we're going to have a telephone backup, better coordination, I think, with parents. But it by no means perfect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President, as you know, announced these executive actions yesterday after Congress didn't come to an agreement. And his announcement calls for states to provide a hundred dollars a week for every unemployed person in their state. On top of what he says they are going to redirect from FEMA to make up for the expired federal boost. Does Connecticut have that funding to kick in?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Look, that would cost us about five hundred million dollars between now and the end of the year. I could take that money from testing. I don't think that's a great idea. I could take that money from, you know, mass disinfecting for our schools. I don't think that's a great idea. In fact, I think the President's plan is not a great idea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, how long would it even take you to get that up and running? I mean what's going to happen to the unemployed people in your state who just saw six hundred dollars a week disappear?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, I mean, remember, we are continuing to provide them the state unemployment compensation--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

GOVERNOR LAMONT: --which is four-- four hundred and fifty dollars, we're talking about the extra six hundred dollars that the federal government put on. It's sort of a bridge. They did that a few months ago until we got our economy going.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But now it's a cliff.

GOVERNOR LAMONT: Let's face it, our economy in Connecticut is going-- is going better than most other places. But there's still, you know, tens of thousands who can't get a job and many of them in bars and the such, there's no job available to them. So there has to be some sort of a cushion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You spoke to the President this week. Connecticut has been hit hard. I know of my own family members about power outages largely across the state due to this tropical storm. Has COVID slowed down the response to this storm? What is-- when-- when are the lights going back on?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: I'd say we were hit hard by this tropical storm and we lost almost half our power across the state, and then you realize that means water treatment centers and nursing homes and a whole variety of real emergencies that have to be put out. In the meantime, we're bringing in thousands of contractors from around the region and around the country. And you're right. In the middle of a COVID pandemic, hey, I got a quarantine on people from South Carolina, please come on up and fix our wires. But we're getting people tested and we're fixing the wires. Number one safety, we got to get electricity back on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So COVID has slowed down the response. And just to button up, I want to make sure I totally understood what you said there on unemployment. Is the bottom line for people in Connecticut that they just won't get any additional money on top of their regular state unemployment payment?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Yeah, Margaret, I wouldn't say COVID slowed down our response on the electric hit at all and in addition to what we're providing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you just mentioned having to quarantine crews.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: No, we're not quarantining them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: They are essential workers, we're getting them back up on the poles as fast as we can, essential workers. What was your other question?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I just was buttoning up what you said on unemployment. You said the president's plan is not a good one.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Oh, I-- yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you telling people that they just won't get any additional money on top of what's already being provided?

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: Well, they're surely going to get additional support from the state of Connecticut. I would like to see the federal government step up, extend the unemployment (INDISTINCT) up a little bit longer, let people get on their feet. What I'm doing here at the state level is in particular rent relief.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: I've got, you know, tens of thousands of people who fear eviction. We have an eviction moratorium. We put money in place to help them negotiate with their landlord--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

GOVERNOR NED LAMONT: --so they can start, you know, paying down their overdue to the landlord.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Governor Lamont, good luck to you. Thank you for your time.

We'll be right back with Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor. Scott Gottlieb. He joins us from Stamford, Connecticut, this morning. Good morning to you. I know you've been dealing--

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --with power outages in Connecticut as well. So I thank you for-- for coming on today. I want to ask you this overall number. It seems stunning. Five million coronavirus cases in the United States. Two and a half weeks ago, you predicted that by the end of the year we could be at three hundred thousand deaths. Is that still where you think we are headed?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, we're definitely going to be somewhere between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand, and whether we're closer to two hundred thousand or closer to three hundred thousand depends on what we do and how this evolves. We've now had two waves of this epidemic, the New York wave and now the wave through the Sun Belt, which is receding, although Texas is showing signs of an uptick at least in the last week and that needs to be followed closely. We're probably going to have another wave. And the concern now is that this has become so pervasive across the country that it could start to infect more rural communities that have largely been untouched to date and probably are a little bit more complacent because they have been untouched, but are still very vulnerable because the infection hasn't been there. And if-- if this does become more pervasive across the country and it's not just in the urban centers, but also in more rural parts of the country, that's going to be far more difficult to control if it's more widespread. And we're seeing indications of that right now, the way it's spreading in the Midwest and the west.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When does someone who has COVID stop being a risk to others?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, the data shows ten days after the onset of symptoms, you're no longer shedding virus that can cause someone else to become infected. So you'll continue to shed virus for a persistent period of time. But when that virus has been cultured, it hasn't grown, which means it's dead virus. And so right now, the recommendation is that ten days after the onset of symptoms, if those symptoms have resolved, if you don't have severe illness, then you're no longer contagious. Previously, we were saying about two weeks, but the more recent data outlines about ten days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So we still have that question of, you know, what if you just don't know. And since forty percent of cases, according to the CDC, are asymptomatic, you don't really necessarily know who is carrying the virus. So you've talked about the need to increase testing and to improve it. Should there be a requirement that teachers get tested before they go into a classroom, that anyone going back to the office full time get a test?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, ideally, we would have that. If you look at what universities are doing right now that are reopening for on campus learning, they're implementing widespread testing. They're testing students two or three days a week. We don't have the resources. We don't have the capabilities right now in most districts to do that. And that really is the bottleneck. We need the-- we need to implement more low-cost tests, tests that could be done at the point of care or at the point of school or work. There's going to be a saliva test that's hopefully coming on the market, going to get an authorization from FDA in the next week, and that will provide more access to testing. But right now, we don't have the testing available to implement the kind of oversight that we'd like. It is the case that if you're asymptomatic, you're less likely to spread the virus. CDC models that people who are asymptomatic are about fifty percent less likely to spread the virus and you're probably most contagious right before you develop symptoms. And that's really what leads to the super spreading events. People don't know that they're sick, yet, because they haven't quite developed symptoms. They may be a day away from developing symptoms and they go into a confined space. And it leads to these situations where one case can lead to thirty cases. So after you've had symptoms for a number of days, your-- your infectivity, your ability to spread the virus probably declines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've seen-- when it comes to schools, we've seen these really troubling reports this week of a few children who have died after testing positive for COVID. You said time and again, children are not immune. It is just not clear what the impact of the virus is on them. What more do we know at this point? The President keeps saying they're immune and we know that's false, correct?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: We need to have a degree of humility. Children are not immune to this virus. We have seen bad outcomes. The CDC recently documented five hundred and seventy cases of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. There's more cases that are occurring. We've seen children die. There's eighty-six kids who've died from this and thousands that have been hospitalized. And so this is a risk in children. We haven't fully characterized that risk and we're learning new things about this virus all the time. There's been data in the last few weeks that shows that the virus is having impacts on the hearts of adult patients, causing inflammation and some long-term sequelae and cardiac symptoms in adults. Previously, we didn't really understand that or know that, and so we're learning a lot about this novel virus all the time. We need to have a degree of humility about the risks. We need to try to protect children. So if we do reopen schools and I believe we should, we need to do it with a sense of caution. This is complicated by the fact that there's been really a mixed experience when it comes to reopening the schools. We've seen some countries successfully do it. Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark have successfully reopened schools, albeit with a lot of measures to try to control the risk of outbreak. Sweden let their schools open--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --but on the other hand, Israel reopened schools and it led to outbreaks that then led to a resurgence nationally. And we've seen outbreaks in summer camps, the situation in Georgia and Missouri. We've seen large outbreaks among kids in summer camps. So we need to try to learn what went right, what went wrong as we step forward and try to reopen the schools this fall.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This week the State Department warned that Russia is spreading disinformation about COVID, specifically, vaccines. How should we understand this in terms of how vulnerable our country is?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think our country is vulnerable to this pathogen because we have unique risks owing to our federal system, owing to our culture, and we also have some vaccine hesitancy. So it's going to be very important to imbue confidence in the vaccine when it eventually does come through the authorization or the approval process by FDA. So I think we're vulnerable to that kind of information. The other thing to think about here is that this has now posed an asymmetric risk for the United States. Other countries looking in now can conclude that a respiratory pathogen poses a greater danger to the United States and perhaps other nations that have been grappling with this more successfully. And so it was always thought that a rogue nation would never unleash a pathogen deliberately. And I'm not saying this was a deliberate pathogen--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: By all-- everything we know, it was naturally occurring, but it was always thought a nation would never deliberately unleash a pathogen that can blow back on them. That thinking might have to be adjusted now that this has posed such an asymmetric risk to the United States relative to other nations that some of which are our adversaries.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Doctor Scott Gottlieb. We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now is the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Charles Evans. Good morning to you.

CHARLES EVANS (President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It looks like talks have completely stalled on Capitol Hill. There is no emergency aid package on its way to the American people. What is the impact of this failure on the economy?

CHARLES EVANS: Well, I think that's a very important and unfortunate development. I would say that fiscal policy has been unbelievably important in supporting the economy during the downturn that we've been experiencing. The economy closed down in March and April and fiscal policy swung into action very quickly with the CARES Act. And that's helped ensure that people could stay at home, be safe, pay their rent, increase food security, all kinds of things for vulnerable populations. And now that continues to be important because we've not got control over the virus spread. I think that public confidence is really important and another support package is really in-- incredibly important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, you've said it's not the job of central bankers like yourself. It's up to fiscal policy, the lawmakers. So even with what the President has announced and the questions around the legality and practicality of it, does this basically mean we should just assume there are going to be significant cutbacks in the middle of a recession? And what does that mean for increases in job losses?

CHARLES EVANS: You know, so if you look at the economic outlook, there are some negative scenarios and the ones that are, you know, most pessimistic involve not supporting state and local governments. I think you heard the Connecticut governor say that if he has to put twenty-five percent support against the President's executive order support for unemployment insurance, then that's going to cut back on other things. States have to balance their budgets. They are experiencing reduced tax revenues. And so there will be employment reductions. State and local governments account for about ten percent of employment in the United States. And so that's really another leg down, I think. Paycheck Protection has been very useful. Extending that to small businesses also would be very helpful. You know, in Chicago, we've had some panels. We've talked to people in neighborhoods, middle income, minority neighborhoods. And according to-- to-- to Stacie Young, the Preservation project, she's indicated that unemployment insurance has really helped low-income workers pay their rent. They've been able to-- in those neighborhoods, small businesses or landlords, and so that keeps the money in the neighborhoods and provides better food security. I think that Scott Gottlieb just mentioned, it also spills over to rural--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

CHARLES EVANS: --and exurb areas, too, because they're also hard hit. So it's, you know, widespread support could be very beneficial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the official unemployment rate is at ten percent. What do you think the actual is and where do you think it's headed, given what you just laid out?

CHARLES EVANS: Undoubtedly, you know, it is somewhat higher. It doesn't capture all the people who'd really like to work and somehow don't fill out the surveys right. I think there's a percentage point discrepancy. I think it also-- there's a huge amount of inequality it's-- it's experienced according to different racial groups. And so black unemployment is over fourteen percent. Hispanic unemployment is over twelve percent. White unemployment is nine percent. So that inequality gap has persisted. And I think that providing more support, the Fed has been providing accommodation. I think if we got the kind of support that we needed as quickly as possible, got control of the virus, perhaps all the people who were sent home to stay safe could be brought back by their-- by their previous employers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

CHARLES EVANS: We are down 12.9 million jobs since February. If more-- most of those could go back, we could enjoy low unemployment like we experienced at the end of 2019.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To that point, your colleague in Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, was on this program last week, and he called for a month or six-week shutdown to get the kind of contact tracing in place to do what the Northeast has been able to do. Do you agree that is what-- is what is needed?

CHARLES EVANS: You know I think a very strong program like that would have the opportunity to get on top of the virus, but it would come at quite a lot of hardship for small businesses. It would require tremendous fiscal support. If the, you know, national U.S. government were willing to do that, I think we could knock down the virus spread, the way that Scott Gottlieb and others have said is so essential. What we need is public confidence so that people feel good about going back to work. They feel safe. They can go out to retail establishments and enjoy leisure and hospitality and activities, put more people back to work. So while that could work, I'm not optimistic that that would be actually adopted. So I think that resources for testing, tracing, isolating people, trying to get control of the virus so that we can get it down and then go back to enjoy the type of activities that in Germany they're experiencing and in Asia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Thank you very much, Mister Evans, for laying out for us what you're seeing out there.

We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before we leave you today, we want to take a moment to remember the life of a trailblazer in journalism and a member of our FACE THE NATION family. Mary Hager, the mother of our executive producer of the same name, passed away on Tuesday. She was one of the first female reporters at the Palo Alto Times and later worked at Newsweek Magazine here in Washington, covering science, medicine, the environment and space. Her daughter, and our executive producer, says her mother was both the smartest and the kindest person she had ever known. And she will be dearly missed.

That's it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.