Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on July 26, 2020

7/26: Face The Nation
7/26: Face The Nation 47:23

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

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas 
  • Eugene Woods, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atrium Health
  • Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Elections and Surveys Director
  • 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, coronavirus surges in the south and west with hospitalizations and deaths on the rise. Unemployment claims spike for the first time in nearly four months and President Trump looks for a reset.
 
As America's pastime faced its new reality, a July opening day, empty stadiums and a mask--epidemiologist tossing the first pitch. President Trump faced his own reality, a pandemic out of his control.
 
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: He shifted messaging on multiple fronts, endorsing masks, reviving his COVID press briefings, and cancelling the GOP convention in Florida. The President even backed off his push for all schools to reopen.
 
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In cities or states that are current hotspots, districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And as an eviction ban in extra jobless benefits expired, his administration failed to reach a deal with Senate Republicans who still need to negotiate with House Democrats on the next COVID aid package.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The Republicans are derelict in their duty.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our guests, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Plus, we remember a lion of the Civil Rights Movement, the late Congressman John Lewis.
 
It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. One hundred days from the election, the country faces a bleak outlook. Over the past five days, the coronavirus killed more than a thousand Americans a day, highest number since late May. Millions of Americans are also wondering how to make ends meet. Congress allowed a six-hundred-dollar boost to unemployment insurance and a federal ban on evictions to expire. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it may take weeks to reach a deal, as Republicans have not yet presented an alternative to the three trillion-dollar rescue package that House Democrats already passed.
 
We begin this morning with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi, thank you for joining us.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (Speaker of the House/@SpeakerPelosi): My pleasure. Thank you.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: The treasury secretary said this morning that Republicans will introduce a bill on Monday. When do you expect to begin negotiating?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, we-- we've been anxious to negotiate for two months and ten days when we put forth our proposal that does three things--honors our-- honors our heroes by supporting state and local government with the health care workers, food suppliers, teachers, teachers, teachers, transportation workers, sanitation workers and the rest. Secondly, that opens up our economy by having testing, tracing, treatment, and distancing to end this virus. And, third, to put money in the pockets of the American people. Unemployment benefits, direct payments, et cetera. These are things that the Republicans have voted for in previous COVID packages so it was nothing new. It was more--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --because more was needed. And then for them to come now, when we're right on the brink, when people are hungry in our country, children, millions of children, are food insecure. Many families who never thought they'd go to a food bank are going to food banks. And we need more money for food stamps and emergency nutrition programs. And they're resisting that.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: And again, that-- that they would now be trying to-- they're in disarray and that delay is causing suffering for America's families. So we have been ready for two months and ten days. I've been here all weekend hoping they had something to give us. They promised it this week. It didn't come.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Now they're saying Monday.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you stay in session until a deal is negotiated?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: We can't go home without it. But it's so sad that people should have this uncertainty in their lives. At the same time as they are bolstering the stock market. And that's not a bad thing but trillions of dollars from the Fed, et cetera, to bolster the stock market--let's have a measured amount of money to bolster America's working families.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let's-- specifically, on what has just expired, that-- that boost of six hundred dollars to federal unemployment. Republicans and the White House are saying that they want to keep some money going, but bring it down to about seventy percent of prior wages. Is that something you can accept?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, let-- let me just say this. The reason we had six hundred dollars was its simplicity.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: And figuring out seventy percent of somebody's wages. People don't all make a salary. Maybe they do. They make wages and they sometimes have it vary. So why don't we just keep it simple? Unemployment benefits and the-- the enhancement, which is so essential right now and that's really where we are starting and-- and--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So a flat amount is what you're saying--
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: It's so important to the American people.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So--
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: You know, sixty percent, over sixty percent of the American people support that.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. No, I understand the difficulty for states to adjust their systems to process this. But would you accept a flat amount? Something less than six hundred dollars as a boost. Is there a compromise here?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Let-- let me just say, I'm not going to have a-- with all due respect to you, Margaret, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some values that we have that, apparently, they don't share. We'll have our negotiation, but we-- how can-- these are the same people who gave a tax-- the only thing they have accomplished in the Trump administration, on their own, the only thing they accomplished was a tax cut for the wealthiest people in America. The cost of two trillion dollars to the national debt in order to give eighty-three percent of the benefits--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --to the top one percent. And they're resenting six hundred dollars for single moms to be able to put food on the table, for dads to maintain the dignity of-- of keeping their families intact, with unemployment insurance, with assistance for rent--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --with food. This is an emergency that maybe they don't understand. I don't know what they have against working families in America--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --they would keep this going so long.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I appreciate you not-- saying you don't want to negotiate in public, but for everyday Americans who-- who are waiting on this money, the amount matters. I know the argument being that this is a cliff and that people were paid to stay home. Now, they don't need to be paid to stay home. So I'm-- I'm just wondering for you, because the last time we spoke on the heels of the HEROES Act being passed back in May, you said to me at that time, we have no red lines. Has that changed? Is this a red line for you?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: That was in reference to what you said about the liability, et cetera.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I see.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: But, in fact, you don't go into a negotiation with a red line. But you do go in with your values. And if you are spending trillions of dollars to bolster the stock market, and I'm not complaining about that--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --that's important to our economy. So is this. Now, mind you, we haven't even spoken about state and local. State and local government is-- supplies the-- meets the needs of the American people. Millions of people, over a million people, have already been fired from state and local government because of the cost of-- of coronavirus and the revenue lost from coronavirus. If these people get fired, they go on unemployment insurance.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: So what money are you saving by ignoring the needs not only of the American people, but of state and local government? That's a whole piece of all of this that is essential to, again--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --not only meeting needs and meeting payrolls, but also growing our economy.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of the companies and even universities out there have said that they do need some kind of liability protections. Is-- are you open to a deal that includes that?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, there-- there are some suggestions that relate to academics-- to schools and the rest. We have an initiative in California to that respect, but we-- what we will not support is the following. What they're saying to essential workers, you have to go to work because you're essential. We've placed no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe and, if you get sick, you have no recourse because we've given your employer protection. And if you don't go to work because you're afraid of being sick and you have that job opportunity, you don't get unemployment insurance. This is so unfair. Let's just get to the heart of it. At the point of all of this is, this President--I have a new name for him, Mister Make Matters Worse. He has made matters worse from the start. Delay, denial. It's a hoax. It'll go away magically. It's a miracle, and all the rest. And we're in this situation with-- you spelled out some of the numbers very clearly early.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: So with makes matters worse-- now then when we send our children to school, the best way to send our children to school is to fund it, to fund it. The ventilation--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --the spacing, the additional teachers and to lower the infection rate in the community in which they exist. That takes money.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: That's in the HEROES Act to do.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Speaker, I do want to ask you about your former colleague, John Lewis. We know that the procession in Alabama will bring him across that Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time today.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Yes.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've crossed it with him and I'm just wondering what this symbolizes to you?
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, the very idea that John Lewis will be crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge today in a full horse and carriage, taking him across with the state troopers, paying their respects to him, honoring him, so different from what happened before. Your show is called FACE THE NATION. And I have this pin, this pin I brought to John over Fourth of July weekend. That was the last time I saw him.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: I brought him this pin and it says, "One country, one destiny." That's a nation. And John's life was about that. One nation-- one country, one destiny, more perfect union.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: And, again, these words were embroidered into Lincoln's coat, the coat he had on that ill-fated night. And just think that tomorrow John Lewis will lie on the catafalque that was where Lincoln was laid to rest when he came to the capital of the United States and was the-- and John F. Kennedy and the rest. But Lincoln to Lincoln. Lincoln Memorial, fifty-seven years ago. Now he's-- he's sharing that resting place with Abraham Lincoln. So, it's a number of days more that we have. We look forward to welcome him to the capital. But the-- but the most--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --iconic thing is that his life-- we know when he made his speech in fifty-seven years ago as a young man, the youngest person to speak there.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: And now when he left Washington on his way out of town, he went to Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC. He met the mayor there.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We remember that.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: And really passed the torch.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: He did.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: To see him there-- to see him there from one generation into the future, we-- we're so blessed. He was a titan of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the conscience of the Congress.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: We-- we will miss him, sadly.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Speaker.
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Thank you.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn--
 
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Thank you, Margaret.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, thank you for joining us. Before we get to business, your reflection on John Lewis.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-Texas/@tedcruz): Well, John Lewis was an extraordinary hero. He was a civil rights icon. When-- when I was newly elected to the Senate, I had the-- the privilege of joining John and joining much of the Congressional Black ca-- Caucus in flying to South Africa for-- for Nelson Mandela's funeral. And-- and I was the only senator who attended Mandela's funeral and-- and the entire flight there, the flight back we-- we basically sat around John Lewis and listened to his stories of as a young man, a hero, fighting for civil rights, enduring that horrific beating on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And-- and, I have to say, he was a man who believed in justice, who had incredible courage, and-- and-- and he is an inspiration for many generations to come.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for that, Senator. I-- I do want to ask you about the business at hand, which, as we know from the White House and from Leader McConnell's office, is this bill they plan to introduce tomorrow to provide another round of aid. You opposed it earlier this week. Are you on board now?
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Yes. I-- I am not. We have right now two simultaneous national crises. We have a global pandemic. It is serious. It has taken the lives of over six hundred thousand people. We need to do significantly more to fight the disease. At the same time, we have an absolute economic catastrophe. We have over forty-four million Americans have lost their job, and we have got to get America back to work. Unfortunately, I just listened to your interview with Speaker Pelosi, her objectives are focused on neither of those. Her objectives are shoveling cash at the problem and shutting America down. And, in particular, you look at the three-trillion-dollar bill she is trying to push. It's just shoveling money to her friends and not actually solving the problem. Our objective should be Americans want to get back to work. They want to be able to provide for their family.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: They want to be-- be-- be hopeful for the future. And-- and unfortunately, Margaret, I-- I think we're seeing Democrats. We're seeing Democratic governors. We're seeing Democratic mayors who--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But what specifically-- but what specifically because in terms of the unemployment benefits, do you object to providing any kind or any amount of federal boosts to unemployment at this point? Because not everyone is choosing to be out of work.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Okay. The policy that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are pushing adds an additional six hundred dollars a week of federal money to unemployment. We have the unemployment system, the system we have had--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And McConnell wants to take it down to seventy percent of prior wages.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Except, the problem is, for sixty-eight percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job. And I'll tell you, I've spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen and they're calling their-- their waiters and waitresses--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: --they're calling their busboys, and they won't come back. And, of course, they won't come back because the federal government is paying them, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home as-- as-- as--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're open to a lesser amount?
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: I-- look, I-- what we ought to focus on, instead of just shoveling trillions out the door, we ought to be passing a recovery bill. Now, what's a recovery bill? A recovery bill would be lifting the taxes and the regulations that are hammering small businesses so that people can go back to work. A recovery bill--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: --would suspend the payroll tax, which would give a-- a-- a pay raise to everyone in America who is working. That actually gets people back to work. But what--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as the Treasury secretary said this morning that you could have five, six, seven other bills coming along that include things like a payroll tax but this time, unemployment, in particular, is something that he said needs to be extended. And-- and according to our latest CBS poll, it's very popular. Seventy-four percent of Republicans approve more stimulus and added benefits. Ninety-two percent of Democrats. Eighty-two percent of independents. So Republicans do have the burden of governing right now.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Absolutely--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why aren't you onboard with this?
 
SEN. CRUZ: I am on board with restarting the economy. What-- what Democrats want to do- we're a hundred days out from the presidential elec-- election. The only objective Democrats have is to defeat Donald Trump, and they've cynically decided the best way to defeat Donald Trump is shut down every business in America, shut down every school in America. You know Nancy Pelosi talks about working men and women. What she's proposing is keeping working men and women from working. And, you know, ironically, what she does have in her bill? She has a big tax cut for millionaires and billionaires in blue states.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I-- I just want to quickly--
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: She eliminates--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --get to you on-- I'm sorry, I just want to quickly get you on China because I'm running out of time here. I know you care passionately about what happened in Houston with shuttering that consulate. What did you learn, and will more consulates be closed?
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, they may well be closed. That consulate was closed because it had been engaged-- engaged in espionage. It had been engaged in intellectual property theft. They use it as a base for spying in Houston and throughout the Southwest. And for a long time I-- I have made the case that China poses the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century. In fact, the last time I did this show was from Hong Kong in October.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: I traveled there. I met with the protesters. There were two million protesters in the street. And you'll recall, Margaret, I dressed in all black in solidarity with the protesters that were standing up to Beijing and to communist China. And one of the most, in fact, the most significant foreign policy consequence of this pandemic is people are understanding the threat China poses. And, in particular, this virus originated because of communist China's deliberate cover-up. They arrested, they silenced the heroic Chinese whistleblowers that tried to stop this at the outset.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: And because of that, over six hundred thousand people are dead, because the Chinese communist government lied. And, Margaret, you know, last year when I said that--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator--
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: --I didn't have a lot of allies in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, you didn't have the White House on board with you then. They are now.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: They-- they are now.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
SENATOR TED CRUZ: People have woken up on both sides of the aisle to just how dangerous communist China is and their lies are-- are taking away people's lives.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, we have to leave it there. Thank you for joining us.
 
FACE THE NATION will be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now is the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Mister Secretary, thank you for joining us. The President said this week the virus will get worse before it gets better. What does that mean? What is the administration projecting?
 
ALEX AZAR (Secretary of Health and Human Services/@SecAzar): Well, Margaret, as the President said, we're facing a very serious situation with these-- these outbreaks. It is serious but the good news is, thanks to the President's leadership, we have the tools to deal with it. We have health system capacity. We have personal protective equipment.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But does that mean you're-- you're, actually raising the projections? Because, very specifically, the White House had said two hundred and forty thousand Americans could succumb to this in the first wave. Does--
 
ALEX AZAR: Well--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: --what the President said indicate you are now upping those projections?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, Margaret, it's not about projections so much as what are we doing about it, which is we need to wear face coverings. We need to practice social distancing, good personal hygiene, and in our hot zones, close our bars, restrict our indoor dining, restrict our home gatherings. We know this works. The modeling shows, those--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
ALEX AZAR: --simple steps will lead to outcomes in terms of disease spread that are comparable to shutting down without all of the pain of shutting down. And if we comply as individuals--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
ALEX AZAR: --if we don't wear our masks, we can avoid further shutdowns. But if we don't, that will be the consequence.
 
MARGARET BERNNAN: Okay. Well, we're above a hundred and forty thousand dead, a thousand per day succumbing to this. So that is why I am asking you about the projections. Why did the President oppose, including more testing money, in this latest bill?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, we-- we got twenty-five billion dollars of money in the previous acts, eleven billion of it for states. They've pulled down about forty million of it so far. The President's going to make sure that he works with Congress, that there's adequate funding for testing. I'm going to leave it to the chief of staff and the secretary of the Treasury who are negotiating with Congress now. But we'll make sure there's adequate money that meets the needs of this response.
 
MARGARET BERNNAN: Because Senate Democrats released a letter this week, and I've also heard the same from Senate Republicans, that they say you, in particular at HHS, are sitting on some of that money. In fact, Senate Democrats in a letter this week said that the twenty-five billion that was provided in April for testing and tracing, less than half has actually been obligated. Why is the federal government sitting on it?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, we've got two billion dollars of money that's being devoted towards developing the next generation diagnostics. You know we'd love to get to the point that we have a rapid point-of-care diagnostic that is readily available, easily produced, and low cost. So we're doing that at the NIH. We have eleven billion dollars that we have pumped out to the states that they are not yet using. You know our public health labs are running at fifty-eight percent of their capacity, even though, we have the supplies to support them fully. We've got to get full shift work into those so we increase the capacities there.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have no power over the states or labs to do that?
 
ALEX AZAR: Well, we're certainly talking to the governors and telling them they've got to use this money to get up and running and get that happening. We've made available-- we're meeting every need they've got for supplies, for-- for testing. But, at the end of the day, our governors have to take that initiative and get their public health labs fully up and running even as we improve testing through, say our commercial labs. You know, just this last week, we've approved now pooled testing at the commercial labs--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
 
ALEX AZAR: -- that enables four or five tests to be run in a single-- a single test. So it expands capacity dramatically.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
 
ALEX AZAR: But the most important thing we've got to do right now is each of us act responsibly as individuals, wear our face coverings, practice social distancing--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
ALEX AZAR: --use good personal hygiene. We know this works--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
ALEX AZAR: --if we just will do this as individuals.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We-- we take the health advice definitely very seriously here. I want to ask you, though, about schools. The CDC did release guidelines. HHS weighed in on them. I-- I want to know why wasn't there a benchmark on when schools should shut down?
 
ALEX AZAR: We don't believe that there are uniform thresholds for-- for-- for school re-openings. We believe the presumption should be--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But don't you-- don't you actually have thresholds for what you consider a hot spot. Isn't that actually five percent very specifically laid out by the administration? Why wouldn't that apply to a school in a district with that number?
 
ALEX AZAR: So, Margaret, the-- what you're referring to is positive testing--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
 
ALEX AZAR: --and at five percent, we call that a yellow community. At ten percent, we call it red. That's an epidemiological early warning sign of potential spread of disease. That's not been defined as a threshold for reopening of any kind. The steps that we can use that are data driven, informed by doctors, they're smart, sensible approaches that can get our kids back safely--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So if positivity--
 
ALEX AZAR: --and our staff back safely to school.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: So if positivity-- if positivity is between five and ten percent, should a school stay open?
 
ALEX AZAR: Each community is going to have to make the determination about the circumstances for reopening and what steps they take for reopening, but the presumption should be--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
 
ALEX AZAR: --we get our kids back to school--
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood, Mister Secretary.
 
ALEX AZAR: --and we figure out how to make that happen.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm going to have to hit this commercial break and leave that there with you. Thank you very much, Secretary Azar. We'll be right back.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming up, the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis.
 
(ANNOUNCEMENTS)
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a minute. Stay with us.  

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We now go to former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning to you, Doctor.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're around 70,000 infections a day, 1,000 Americans dead. You've described this as four separate epidemics. Where are we now?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, the epicenter of the epidemic right now in the United States has been the Sunbelt, states like California, Texas, Arizona, Florida. There are signs that the cases in these states are starting to plateau. That- that trend is most discernible in Arizona and Texas right now, where you see the positivity rate declining. It's a little bit more of a mixed bag in Florida and California. I think we're gonna have to wait another week to see how those states net out. But there are unmistakable signs that the epidemic seems to be slowing in these states. Now, at the same time, it seems to be heating up in other states. So if you look at states like Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, all hitting highs on the number of new cases being reported. So the epidemic may be shifting to other regions in the country. I think Arizona in particular is a very instructive case because if they're able to start to bring down the epidemic in that state, largely what will have done it is some selective action by the governor. He did take some targeted mitigation steps like closing the bars, but more the collective action of individuals to withdraw some of their actions, stay home a little bit more and more adherence to masks. And so if they're able to get the epidemic under control with those more targeted measures and more collective action on the parts of consumers, that's a good guidepost for the future and how other states may control their epidemics.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Alabama, you've highlighted them all. Would you recommend to those governors that they get ahead of it and do some of those things like shuttering bars and mandating masks?

DR. GOTTLIEB: I think that's exactly right. I think looking at what Governor Ducey did in Arizona is somewhat instructive. They did take some targeted mitigation steps in that state, like shutting bars, dialing back how many people could be in restaurants, closing movie theaters and other kinds of entertainment venues outside. At the same time, they did implement the mask mandate, a little late, but they did do it. And you did start to see consumers decrease their activity. Google mobility trends started to decline in the state. And so if that sort of trifecta of activity can have the effect of quelling an epidemic without the really significant mitigation steps that we took during the first wave of the epidemic, that's a hopeful sign. And it's also a suggestion that states that now have made gains in getting their epidemics under control, like the state of Connecticut that I'm in right now, perhaps they can keep their epidemics under control if they can just maintain adherence to things like masks and keep certain high risk congregate venues like bars closed through the duration of the really risky period for this epidemic in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it's interesting because, again, we are seeing the private sector make its own decisions. McDonald's joining Walmart, Starbucks, other large retailers this week in requiring masks to be worn indoors. Is this a way around the politics? I mean, do you look at 
that and say this is what we should be doing?

DR. GOTTLIEB: I think so, and I think it's a very good way around the politics. If enough businesses mandate masks in their venues, you effectively have a national mask mandate. You  know, Delta Airlines announced this week that if you don't wear masks on their planes, they may ban you from flying on their planes for life. I think you're going to see more collective action on the parts of businesses. I've been talking with some CEOs in the past week, and I think you're going to see more businesses come together to implement mask mandates in venues, especially indoor high risk venues, to try to keep this epidemic under control. I mean, if we really can manage to keep the epidemic under control heading into the winter until we get to a vaccine or some kind of therapeutic that changes the clinical trajectory of this illness just with masks, that's going to be something relatively simple that we can all do that doesn't really change our lives and allows us to maintain what's really important to us, like keeping some businesses open, like getting our kids back to school.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we are looking at going back to school within a matter of weeks. I have been talking to people this week about testing. I know people who have been waiting weeks for results. I know LabCorp told F.T. this week that it's taking about four to six days for people to get results. You've said they're basically useless unless you get them within three days. Do you have to fix this before we can open schools safely?

DR. GOTTLIEB: I think you do. I think one of the things you need to look at in a local community is whether or not you can get test results, because if you can't get test results back in a timely fashion, you really don't have a way to detect whether there is an outbreak in the community or in the school. And while we do need to lean forward and try to open our schools because it's important to children, we need to prevent outbreaks from happening in the schools. We can't just let the infection run rampant inside the schools. And having good testing in place is going to be a critical tool. I talked to the CEO of LabCorp yesterday. They've gotten caught up. They're doing about 175,000 tests a week. They're going to be returning test results maybe within two or three days right now. Hopefully, Quest will get caught up as well. But if we do have other major epidemics, other major hotspots emerge, the testing system can become strained again. We're heading towards about 750,000 tests a day and will probably be at a million by the end of this month. So we have a lot of testing capacity. The problem is when you have these major epidemics in multiple regions of the country, it can strain the system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC did come out with guidelines this week on how to reopen schools, but they left out when you should shut them down. What is the benchmark that parents need to be looking for to make that decision?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, the CDC didn't put a benchmark in that guidance and I think it was unfortunate. I think in the absence of specific guidance to districts, you're likely to see more districts err on the side of caution. So I think CDC should have addressed this. It was probably deliberate that they didn't because they don't want to address something that was politically charged. But for local school districts, I think they need to be looking at what is the spread within the community. If you have uncontrolled spread within the community, it's going to be very hard to open against that backdrop. I think you need to look at the density of students in the schools. So you'll see some districts, for example, opening the elementary schools to five days a week in class learning because they can de-densify those schools. But maybe the high schools, they'll go to a hybrid model where it's harder to de-densify the schools. Schools are looking at retrofitting HVAC systems to improve air quality, the use of mandatory masks. And I think one of the most important features, and a lot of other countries did this with success is keeping students in defined cohorts or pods so you don't have--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

DR. GOTTLIEB: --a lot of students intermingling. You have the same fifteen students gathering together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're a parent. If you see a positivity rate above 5%, which is hotspot territory, do you send your kid to school?

DR. GOTTLIEB: I think somewhere in five to 10% it's starting to get iffy. Above 10% I think that's a threshold where you really want to think carefully about closing the school districts, because that is a sign that there is an epidemic underway inside that community. So those are the kinds of things you're looking at. I'm- I'm in Connecticut right now. We've got the infection under control. I think we're going to have the opportunity to open the schools here. But when you look at states like Florida or Southern California, I mean California has already made the decision not to open the schools. I think it's going to be very hard in parts of Florida to open schools on time because of the outbreaks. And you're also seeing a lot of parents make proactive decisions to keep their kids home. So districts in Maryland, for example, that were giving an option to parents, a flexible option to parents, they surveyed those parents and enough parents said we're not going to be sending our kids that the districts just made the decision to close the schools. And that shows that in the- in the setting of uncertainty and- and the lack of specific guidance about how to keep schools open, I think more parents are going to err on the side of caution. That's why it's very important to get specificity out of what the hard metrics are that CDC didn't do in this guidance. There's still time to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

DR. GOTTLIEB: But I think we need to think about it. Things like positivity rate. What is the local spread? What is the testing capacity in place in a local community? Those are the metrics you want to be looking at.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. I agree. More information is always better. I'm glad you gave us a benchmark. Always good to talk to you, Dr. Gottlieb.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to turn now to Gene Woods, the president and chief executive officer of Atrium Health, which operates 36 hospitals and over 900 care locations in North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia and he joins us from Charlotte this morning. Good morning to you. Well, we heard you testify before the Senate committee this past week, and you said at the time that you could process about 4,000 COVID tests a day, but that you're actually unable in your labs to do that because of shortages. What do you need to fix this problem? And does that need to come from the state or federal government?

ATRIUM CEO GENE WOODS: Well, thanks for the question. I think, yeah, we have our own in-house capabilities to run our tests and- and- and many times we can do actually same day turnaround. The challenge that we've expressed that I expressed at the Senate was that we don't have enough reagents, which is actually the chemical compound that you can- that you use to process these tests. So we have- we've asked for- part of my request to the Senate was really in part we may need a national registry in terms of how these supplies are distributed to hot spots around the country. But we certainly- we believe that we at Atrium can do more. We want to do more. We just need some more of the testing reagents to be able to continue to serve the community as we have. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: In all of your facilities, supply-wise, what is the area of greatest needs- need?

WOODS: Well, the good thing is that we spent the last several months stocking up on PPE. We stocked up on ventilators. And so we feel like we're in a much better shape than we were before, starting this pandemic. The other thing is you've heard a lot about hospital capacity. The thing I'm as excited about is early on, we realized that we needed to have more capacity inside of the hospital. So we launched what we call a virtual hospital. And so imagine if you have COVID and you are actually being treated in your own bedroom. And we've converted people's homes and bedrooms into the hospital rooms. We have monitoring. We do virtual visits. And if you need something like medications, we're working with the paramedics to actually deliver them into your home. So we've actually cared for about 11,000 COVID patients in their homes. And I think that gives me a lot of confidence going forward as we continue to battle COVID, that we'll have the- the beds that we need to serve the community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've also been looking at how to target the communities that have been hardest hit. And as we know from the CDC, Blacks and Latinos are three times as likely to become infected. What are you seeing in your community? Why this disparity?

WOODS: Yeah, you know, what COVID has magnified the disparities and the crisis and marginalized- marginalized communities. You know and as we as we think about, you know, the legacy of Congressman John Lewis, he said if- if you see something that's not right, we have a moral obligation to fix it and address it. And that's why early on, we engaged with communities of color, these marginalized communities. First of all, we had established relationships there, but also we have the data. We had the science. We saw early on- we- we geo-spatially mapped hotspots in our communities down to the zip code. And what we saw early on was the disparities in testing. So we worked with the pastors, we worked with the community leaders, and we loaded up mobile vans, medical vans with supplies and personnel. And we said to the- to the- to the pastors in the community, where do you need us? So we went into the parking lots. We went wherever- wherever we were needed. And in a matter of about a week's time, we eliminated the disparities of testing in these vulnerable communities. And our message to the community has been, you know, we- we were there before this started. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

WOODS: We're going to be there throughout, and we're gonna be here past this pandemic. And I will say, MARGARET, as- as a Black man that also has Spanish heritage, this is personal for me. You know, I feel the vulnerability of these communities. They could be my cousins. They could be my uncles. They could be my aunts. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

WOODS: And it's also personal for our organization. From our board to our leaders to our- to our frontline, our mission is to care for all and that extends well beyond our walls. And we're going to be there for the long haul--

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Are you-- 

WOODS: -- to deal with inequities. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to ask in your conversations with Congress for your health care workers to be at the front of the line for a vaccine? And what do you see happening with distribution of it?

WOODS: Yes, we have asked that health care workers throughout the country, especially in the hot spot areas, be- be- be at the front of the line together with essential workers, including teachers and and so forth. So we've already made that- that request. The challenge, and I shared this with the- the Senate committee is that, you know, even when we have the flu, a flu season, 40% of Americans say they're not going to get vaccinated. And so what you heard in my testimony was that I do think we need to launch a national campaign, national PSA that really talks about the benefits of vaccination, because I'd be very, very concerned--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

WOODS: -- if- if we did get a vaccination and then we had a problem with actually adoption.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we need to start talking about that. Gene Woods, thank you very much. We'll be right back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's 100 days until Election Day. This morning, we have a new CBS battleground tracker that looks at national trends and the presidential race in two Midwestern states, Ohio and Michigan. President Trump won both in 2016 and our results today show Ohio is competitive. President Trump is up 46 to Biden's 45. But in Michigan, former Vice President Joe Biden leads. He's up 48 to 42. CBS News Elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto joins us from his home today in Westchester County, New York. Good morning, Anthony. 

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, MARGARET. How are you doing? 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm doing well. I want you to explain to us, you know, what is driving the vote in these two states? 

(00:00:48)

SALVANTO: Well, first thing we should say is that we see an increasingly expanding Electoral College map because of what's going on in these two states. They're both pivotal, as you said. The president won them last time and at least Ohio, he probably needs to win again. But you look at what's happening, let's start with Michigan. Well, that state was hard hit by the Corona virus outbreak last spring and there's still some lingering negativity about how the administration handled that response. In fact, most voters in Michigan tell us they think the administration's efforts hurt the state more than helped it. So that's number one. Then, number two, we see big negatives among voters for how they think the president handles himself personally. And that is something that's accruing then to Joe Biden, where we find that more of Joe Biden's voters feel like they're voting more against the president than for Joe Biden. Now, I should add, economics here are something of awash. It's about even between which candidates policies would help revive the economy. In Ohio, some good news for the president. He's seen as a little better on protecting American manufacturing jobs. But all of that really adds up to not only are these states pivotal on that Electoral College map, but also they exemplify the kinds of voters who swung to him last time and he probably needs again, MARGARET. 

(00:02:13)

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, you don't get more personal than talking about someone's children. And the president's been talking quite a lot about trying to get kids back in classrooms, back to school this fall. How are voters receiving that?

(00:02:26)

SALVANTO: So when we interviewed parents, we found a real wariness about sending their kids back to school in any regular way. They would prefer at most a limited reopening and many would actually prefer not to have the schools reopened at all. There's still that real concern about coronavirus and what it might do to children. But where this cuts to vote, MARGARET, is we see parents telling us that they feel like the administration is pressuring schools to reopen. And what that's doing is it's making parents feel, they say, like they're- they're getting the impression the president doesn't care as much about the risk of coronavirus to children. And look, in any election, that empathy part is always part of how people select a candidate. And if there's an empathy gap there between the president and Joe Biden, that then is probably advantaging Joe Biden, at least for the moment, MARGARET.

(00:03:23)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president this week was tweeting about suburban housewives of America. That was the phrase he used. It seems that's who he is trying to target. I'm not asking what his strategy is, but I'm wondering why he has focused on this demographic, and who is that demo anyway? What does that mean?

(00:03:43)

SALVANTO: So a couple of things and sort of a user's guide going forward to this election. One is you're going to hear the word suburban a lot. It means a wide range of things to a lot of people. Often a stand in for middle class. Often a stand in for areas of the country where there's more competitiveness. We often find nowadays that a lot of these suburbs are moving towards the Democrats. A lot of them did in the midterms in 2018. So that's something that the Republicans would certainly try to win back. Now, as far as the women's vote is concerned, we see that, too, with large gaps toward Joe Biden. He's doing better among women in particular. We'll talk a lot about white college degree holding women. Those groups have been moving towards the Democrats. And that's the kind of trend that the Republicans and the president's campaign probably wants to try to slow down or reverse, MARGARET.

(00:04:40)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And probably why he sent that tweet this week. Anthony Salvanto, thank you for breaking it down for us. We'll be back in a moment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Civil rights icon and longtime Congressman John Lewis is being remembered this week in a series of memorials and services. CBS News anchor and national correspondent Michelle Miller is in Selma, Alabama. Michelle, the nation has been in mourning for a week now. What has stood out to you?

MICHELLE MILLER: Really MARGARET the women, the women who are taking the lead on speaking out about how this man not only paid homage to them and lifted them up, but they're wanting folks to know about it. I mean, the civil rights movement is something you heard about the men in the movement, the Martin Luther King's, the Whitney Young's, the Big Six. They got all the attention. But you didn't hear about the Amelia Boynton Robinson's or the Annie Lee Cooper's, women who were beaten for daring to cross this bridge or daring to try and register to vote. And women like Chris- Sheyann Webb Christburg who, at eight years old, walked across this bridge and were counseled because she was so traumatized by what she had seen the youngest person to walk that bridge. She spoke about him last night at the A.M.E. Church. She spoke about how he stayed in touch with her to- these past 60 years. Or the Terri Sewell's, the first black woman to represent the state of Alabama ever, who went to Capitol Hill and the minute she got there, she said that Lewis was there to- to greet her, to mentor her, to guide her. In fact, he- he insisted that she become a co-pilgrimage maker every year to cross this bridge with her and was always there to take a stand with her. I think of the Women's March of 2017 and the fact that many of those leaders, including Tamika Mallory who said he was the first in Congress to legitimize that movement. And she showed me a letter that he had written about a week before he died to not just her, but others in the movement saying, "I passed the torch on to you. I passed the torch. And I know it will burn brightly." And I just want to mention one woman who walked here wearing a purple T-shirt. It said Y.O.I.E. standing for, she said, "your only is enough." Inspired by John Lewis, she said, because, you know, if you can only register five people to vote, then that is enough. Again, his mantra, if you see something wrong, say something, do something. And that is his lasting legacy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I love that passing of the baton, Michelle. With this procession and this process of mourning, what should we expect in the coming days?

MILLER: The family does not want people to travel because of the pandemic, of course, but a lot more taking place. This afternoon Lewis will lie in repose at the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery, which ironically was the end point for the famous 1965 march. On Monday, there's a procession through the streets of the nation's capital, and an invitation-only ceremony as Lewis' casket arrives to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Later Monday evening, an outdoor viewing with social distancing protocols in effect on the east front steps of the Capitol, that viewing continues on Tuesday. Wednesday, he will be returned to his adopted hometown of Atlanta and ceremonies at the Georgia state capitol. Finally, Thursday and the official funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the pastoral home of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. And although that would be Ebenezer's New Horizon Sanctuary, it is still something very- that is expected to be very special. The burial that afternoon will take place in Atlanta, South-View Cemetery. He will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Lillian, who passed away back in 2012. So near a full week of celebrations in honor of John Lewis, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A celebration of his life and his message. Michelle Miller, thank you. I know you'll be covering it for all of us.