tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN June 22, 2020 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
are going to enforce those. the other question of course is social distancing. it's a big venue where organizers say social distancing right now is not something they're planning for. jake? >> ryan nobles, thanks so much. our coverage on cnn continues right now. thanks for watching. ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." we're following an alarming surge of new coronavirus cases across the united states. some of the largest states including texas, california, arizona, and florida are all seeing very dramatic rises with florida passing the grim milestone of more than 100,000 confirmed cases. meanwhile, president trump is refusing to directly answer questions about whether he asked for coronavirus testing to be slowed down, as he said at a
weekend rally. and the white house is defending the president's use of a racial slur to describe the virus and claiming that there is no second wave of infections on its way. the u.s. has now surpassed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths with almost 2.3 million confirmed cases. worldwide there are more than 9 million cases and almost 470,000 confirmed deaths. let's go straight to the white house right now where white house correspondent boris sanchez is joining us. terrible new coronavirus numbers and they're confronting the white house. >> reporter: yeah, that's right, wolf. and the president not really acknowledging them. he's continuing to push his transition to greatness message even as officials at the white house scramble to clean up his racist remark this weekend. and he dodges questions about whether he would like to see a slowdown in coronavirus testing.
>> but did you ask to slow it down? if it did slow down, frankly, i think we're way ahead of ourselves. we've done too good a job. >> reporter: the white house today insisting the president was joking saturday night in tulsa upset about media coverage. >> so i said to my people, slow the testing down, please. >> it was a comment that he made. >> the apparent joke coming as the u.s. surpasses 120,000 coronavirus deaths. and nearly half of u.s. states are reporting an increase in cases. >> we saved millions of lives, and now it's time to open up, get back to work. okay? [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: administration officials also eager to quell concerns about a second wave of cases this fall. >> we now had to deal with this stuff now. and there is no second wave coming. it's just, you know, hot spots they send in cdc teams. we've got the testing procedures. we've got the diagnostics.
we've got the ppe. and so i really think it's a pretty good situation. >> reporter: though other administration officials admit the white house is preparing for a second wave. >> are you preparing for a second wave in the fall? >> of course. you prepare for what can possibly happen. i'm not saying it's going to happen. but of course you prepare. >> reporter: the president pushing forward with a planned event tuesday in a state surging with coronavirus cases. arizona, despite new rules requiring the use of masks in public, the mayor of phoenix tells cnn trump's peach will be an exception. >> we are not going to be focused on enforcement during the rally. >> reporter: the speech coming after trump's tulsa rally failed to meet expectations drawing far fewer supporters than anticipated and leaving the white house to try and spin his latest racist remark. >> it's covid. it's this -- by the way, it's a disease without question. has more names than any disease
in history. i can name kung flu. [ cheers and applause ] i can name 19 different versions of names. >> why does he use racist phrases like "the kung flu"? >> the president doesn't. what he does is point to the origin of the virus, which is china as china tries to ridiculously rewrite history. to be clear, i think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that china let this out of their country while the media wants to focus on nomenclature, the president is going to focus on action. >> reporter: the press secretary also struggling to explain the surprise firing of geoffrey berman last week by attorney general bill barr. the now former u.s. attorney in the southern district new york who was leading several investigations related to president trump initially refusing to resign, ultimately
ousted through a letter published by barr saying trump wanted him gone. though the president later claimed he wasn't involved. >> why did the president say he wasn't involved in the firing of geoff berman when the attorney general said the president was the one who fired him? >> because the attorney general was taking the lead on this matter. he did come to the president and report to him when mr. berman decided not to leave. and at that point is when the president agreed with the decision of the attorney general to fire mr. berman and to promote mr. clayton. >> so he was involved in it then? >> he was involved in a sign-off capacity. >> reporter: wolf, we are learning that two more campaign staffers who attended that rally in tulsa, oklahoma, on saturday have tested positive for coronavirus. that's in addition to the other six advanced staff that tested positive for covid-19. on top of that we're also learning that two secret service agents who were there have tested positive for the virus,
wolf. >> all right, boris, thank you very much. let's get some more on all the disturbing developments. the increase of coronavirus cases here in the united states. cnn's nick watt has the latest from los angeles. nick, we're seeing what many health officials feared for a long time as the country begins to reopen. >> reporter: we absolutely are, wolf. and meanwhile i just want to show you what's happening in the international terminal here at lax. they are trialing thermal imaging cameras that would scan anybody coming in from outside or off a plane. if your temperature's more than 100.4, boom, you're flagged. and the mayor of miami just made masks mandatory today. it's looking like a long haul. florida reopened early. now paying the price. fewer than a thousand cases
reported today. saturday a new record, more than 4,000. >> right now we know exactly what's happening. young people are going out because they do think they're invincible, they're getting the virus and they're spreading it into the community and it's just harder to protect people when that happens. >> reporter: meanwhile in new york, which waited until today to reopen restaurants and retail in the city. >> we went from the highest transmission rate in the united states to the lowest. the other places basically did re-opening as a political exercise. it was politicized by the white house and some states ran to reopen and just forgot about the metrics and the science. >> reporter: nationally, we had largely flattened the curve of new cases. but they're now rising again, fueled by those early openers in the south and the west. record high hospitalizations right now in arizona, the carolinas, and texas. and a death rate rise says dr. anthony fauci, will follow in a few weeks.
>> i wish we had done this more slowly so we could have seen the data along the way. >> reporter: oklahoma where the president just was, set a new record sunday, nearly 500 new cases. >> i said to my people, slow the testing down, please. >> reporter: and arizona where the president will be tomorrow, the average new case count has quadrupled in just three weeks. >> the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. it's the lack of global solidarity and global leadership. >> reporter: the u.s. is the global super power and the largest economy on earth and natural leader. yet this country can't even manage its own crisis. makes up around 4% of the world's population. but 25% of global covid-19 cases and deaths. the white house now prepping for a second wave. >> we are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall. >> reporter: and the cdc
expected to publish new guidance on masks any moment. >> cdc has been late and hasn't given us a great playbook, if one at all, frankly. so we've sort of been on our own trying to write this thing as we go along. >> reporter: new jersey chose a cautious path, opened outdoors already, parks, beaches, but only starts some indoors, barbers, tanning salons and such today. and the governor is still preaching caution. >> we're now going inside. folks are going to have to be careful. obey the rule. and this is a big step for us today. >> reporter: and, wolf, a quick sports update because i know you care. the nfl players association is now advising players to stop training together due to an increase in cases in certain states. the toronto raptors today are traveling. some staff and players to florida where the nba still hopes to start their season
sometime in late july. wolf? >> we'll see if that happens. thanks very much, nick watt. our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta is joining us and the former acting cdc director richard besser is with us as well. sanjay, we are seeing these dire new numbers in several states, especially across the south and the west. what does that tell you about where we are in this epidemic? >> well, we're still very much in the middle of it. i think most people may gather that by now. this epdig sort of started i think not surprisingly. and obviously the significant impact in new york. but now you're seeing these sort of waves across the country. last monday a week ago there were 18 states that were sort of on the rise. wolf, now there's 23 states. and i think that that number's going to continue to go up. the problem is that even despite
that map, we are largely starting to reopen. and we've known that there would be more people who'd get infected once we start to reopen. the problem is you've got a virus that's circulating so quickly in the community where it's re-opening. the number of people who get infected could go much higher than anyone predicts or wants. we're in the middle of this, wolf, still very much so. >> we certainly are. dr. besser, a new york city, washington, d.c., they're both moving into what's called phase two of re-opening today. what are these rising nationwide numbers tell you about the prospects of being able to keep cases under control, even as these cities are re-opening? >> wolf, i see some real danger signs for places like new york, new jersey, washington, because as you reopen, as sanjay was saying, you expect to see more cases. but what we're hearing in terms of the public health model of testing people, doing contract
tracing and isolation and quarantine, it doesn't sound like it's working as well as it really needs to. that people aren't being willing to share who they've had contact with. and our worry that it's not because we're providing the services that people need in order to be able to isolate and quarantine safely. if you think about somebody who lives in a crowded household where they have elderly relatives, and they're being told that they had contact with somebody who had covid or they have covid infection. if you're not able to provide them with a safe place to isolate and quarantine and provide them with economic support, help them in terms of their caregiving needs, people aren't going to own up in terms of their exposures and that's going to lead to ongoing community transmission. it's going to lead to this pandemic hitting the same groups, black americans, latinos, who have been hit so hard to date. >> the florida governor seems to be downplaying concerns about the rising cases in his state.
because he says younger people are the ones getting sick. but those young people will eventually have contact with older people, higher-risk people, their parents, their grandparents. a lot of elderly folks in florida, as we know. how concerning is this to you? >> this is the issue when you have such a contagious virus. there are populations of people who we know are going to be less vulnerable of getting sick and needing hospitalization, all of that. but it is a contagious virus so people who may not even have symptoms can still carry the virus. let me show these charts here and give people an idea of the demographics of what we're dealing with in terms of who's likely to get infected and who's likely to get hospitalized or get very sick from this, even die from this. you can see there in the 18 to 39 group, much more likely to get infected, lower likelihood of death. 40 to 64, you start to see that
shifting. and then 65 to 84 it flips. people more likely to die from those infections in that 65-84 group, and obviously the highest people 85 and older. but to your point, wolf, what are we supposed to do with that information now? are you going to basically say younger people below the age of 40, you're going to be totally fine as long as you never visit someone who's older? you're dealing with a very contagious virus here. we're sort of figuring this out together. but the concern that you raise i think is the concern. right now you have increasing number of people who are getting infected. you can predict i think pretty reliably that within a couple of weeks there is going to be increased hospitalizations, even if it's younger people who are making up the majority of those infections in florida, they're going to more likely spread the virus because there's more people who have the virus in their bodies. >> even if you're in your 20s or 30s, you may be asymptomatic, but you can clearly transmit
this virus to other people who potentially are a lot more vulnerable. sanjay, thanks very much. dr. besser, thanks to you as well. still ahead, we'll have more on the latest by white house officials to spin president trump's words including his use of a racial slur to describe the coronavirus. we'll also get an update from florida where coronavirus cases just surpassed 100,000. i'll ask miami's mayor about his new order for people in his city to wear masks or face coverings when they're in public. nt firm with a truly long-term view that's been through multiple market cycles for over 85 years? with capital group, i can. talk to your financial professional or consultant for investment risks and information. it was 1961 when
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correspondent and our white house correspondent. john, listen to kayleigh mcenany defend the president's use of that racial slur. listen to this. >> why does he use racist phrases like kung flu? >> he doesn't. he points to the fact that the origin of the virus is china. to be clear, i think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that china let this out of their country. >> so, john, what's your reaction to that spin coming from the white house? >> reporter: well, obviously it's embarrassing, which is what we've come to expect from people who speak for president trump. because they've got to defend things that are indefensible. people would find it offensive -- many people do find it offensive if you refer to it as the china virus or the chinese virus as if you're suggesting it has something to do with being chinese as opposed to the geographic origin of the
virus. but at least that has some basis and reality. any school child could tell you that calling it the kung flu is a racial slur. and unfortunately for kayleigh mcenany, her job description requires her to say things like that. but it's not fooling anybody. >> jamie, during a time when americans are taking to the streets demanding racial justice in our country, the president uses this awful racial slur, and then his white house doubles down on it. is the president and the president's team, are they disconnected from what's happening all around the country right now? >> i think they are disconnected. but i think they don't want to connect. look, we have to look at the history of donald trump. this is awful, outrageous that he said it. but it's not surprising. if we go back and look at what he said about mexicans going
rapists or the fact that there are very good people on both sides or just recently that vice president pence couldn't bring himself to say black lives matter. i think the question, wolf, though, is political context. when this white house and this campaign looks at where they are in the polls, yes, he's appealing to the base. this is red meat for the base. but his numbers are not good. they are low. and if he's just appealing to the base, it puts him in jeopardy in november. >> john, after the president made those stunning comments about ordering his people in, his words, to slow down coronavirus testing, the white house insisted, you know what, he was simply joking. but when the president was directly asked if he did in fact give that order, he wouldn't give a straight answer. listen to this. >> but did you ask to slow it
down? >> if it did slow down, frankly, i think we're way ahead of ourselves. we've done too good a job. >> so what does that extremely evasive answer tell you about his approach to handling this crisis? >> what it tells me is that typically when you have the president say something outrageous, members of his staff will attempt to preserve some plausible deniability by saying, well, he was kidding, he wasn't serious. take him seriously but not literally. but typically when the president himself is asked a follow-up question about it directly, he gives away the game. he gave away the game in that interview because he had an easy chance to say i was kidding, of course i didn't slow down testing. what president in his right mind would slow down testing for a pandemic that's sweeping across the country? no. he didn't say that, why? because he doesn't believe in testing as something that benefits him personally.
he has said repeatedly that more tests mean we're going to discover more cases, and more cases makes him look bad. he didn't definitively answer the question, but he gave a very strong signal of where he is coming from on this, affirming previous signals. and, by the way, senior democrats chuck schumer and patty murray in the senate have sent a letter alleging that the administration is sitting on more than $8 billion in funding for coronavirus testing and tracing that the congress has passed. so, there is substantive backup that the president is slow-walking this. >> we'd like to know, everyone who might potentially have coronavirus, that's why testing is so critically important. coming up, an update on the alarming surge on coronavirus cases in florida. what should be done to slow the spread? i'll speak live with the mayor
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florida's health department reported a grim milestone today. the state just surpassed 100,000 cases, confirmed cases of coronavirus. let's go to cnn's correspondent rosa flores joining us from miami. miami is requiring people to wear masks when they're in public. update our viewers on the latest developments. >> reporter: yes, wolf. the city of miami requiring masks in public effective immediately. according to the mayor here, francis suarez says it's because of the number of cases of covid-19, the number of hospitalizations. the number of people that are requiring ventilators as well. he says that there are several zip codes that are of most concerning including little havana. in those zip codes, the city of miami will be issuing masks for those individuals that don't have one. all of this as florida meets this grim milestone. more than 100,000 cases in the
state of florida. this as the median age of the covid-19 patient in the state of florida plunges. it used to be 65 back in march. now according to the governor, most of the cases are now between the ages of 18 and 35 according to governor ron desantis, most of these young people are not social distancing, they are not wearing masks. so the governor says that he's going to be publishing psas to educate the public and also sending in inspectors and regulators to businesses to make sure that the rules are being followed. he is not shutting down the economy, and he is not requiring masks statewide. of course, now we know that the city of miami is requiring masks. and there's another important metric, wolf. that is hospitalizations. now, the state of florida does not publish a number of hospitalizations related to covid-19. however, we do get a glimpse from jackson health, one of the largest health systems here in the state of florida. they report in the last 13 days, wolf, an increase of 75% in the
number of covid-19 patients. >> wow. all right, rosa, thank you very much. let's talk to the mayor of miami right now, francis suarez is joining us. mayor, thank you so much for joining us. and as we all just heard, you've ordered residents of miami to wear a mask in all public settings. why did you decide that now was the right time to issue this new mandate? >> thanks, wolf. i did that along with 14 other mayors that stood by my side at 2:00 p.m. at a press conference. we are all disturbed at the rising numbers in our county. if you remember the high water mark when we shut down the economy and implemented a stay-at-home order for miami-dade county was 433 cases. yesterday we had over 900 cases, whis twice the high point title that we closed down our economy.
we're not going to be opening up movie theaters, night clubs. and we will not be opening up large sporting facilities. >> how do you enforce this new mask mandate, mayor? >> it's going to be obviously very tricky. just like when we had a stay-at-home order, it's very difficult to enforce every single person staying at home making sure that they don't violate. i think the first thing we have to do is we have a duty to inform the public of what we're seeing. and when we see the elevating numbers and new cases in hospitalizations, in icus and in ventilations, we have a duty to inform the public. we have to tell the public what we think is the best way to combat it. i think implementing this rule having, you know, wearing masks in public is the best thing that we can do as a group of mayors to help again reduce the number and the spread of covid in our community. enforcement is going to be
difficult, just like it has been in a variety of different context. we have to shut down five different establishment -- restaurant establishments for not following the rules that were established by the county. and so enforcement is always tricky. but what we did and what we've always done is we warned people first, and then we have the ability to take more dramatic measures. >> you've told me in recent days, mayor, that all options are on the table to control the spread of this virus, including potentially return to stricter social distancing measures. but cases are spiking right now. if you wait until the situation gets even worse, do you worry it may be potentially, god forbid, too late? >> of course. i think one of the things that we're balancing of course is the understanding that we have a cataclysmic economy. we have tens of millions of people nationally out of work in miami-dade county, it's hundreds
of thousands of people that are out of work and they are making a fraction of what they were before this pandemic. so we're trying to do the very best that we can, understanding those new realities and those new dynamics. but we're very closely monitoring deaths. we're monitoring capacity, which right now we have a significant amount of capacity, even though all the metrics that we're seeing are going in the wrong direction. >> the florida governor ron desantis has downplayed concerns about the rising cases in your state because they appear to be spreading among younger, less vulnerable people, people in their 20s and 30s, for example. but those young people don't live in a bubble in miami-dade county, we checked, about 17% of the population is over the age of 65. many of them have underlying health conditions. do you worry that those young people who may be asymptomatic eventually could spread the virus to older, more vulnerable residents? >> absolutely. that's another reason we implemented the mask rule. we want to re-emphasize that
even though it appears that younger people are the ones that are increasingly getting sick, they have the ability to pass that onto their elderly parents or grandparents. and as we know in many urban areas in this country, young people live with their parents, live with their grandparents. and so there is a possibility that exists that they can impact those vulnerable populations which would make the metrics much worse. even though the hospitalizations are up among that demographic, we know the vulnerable population in terms of, so far in terms of being at risk of death, is slightly higher in age. there is definitely a concern that the fact that younger people may be coming home infected could impact those mortality rate numbers. >> they certainly could. and it's really, really depressing to think about it. mayor suarez, we love miami. thanks so much for joining us. good luck to all the folks down there. >> thank you, wolf. coming up, more fallout from
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together. masimo. together in hospital. together at home. today there's new fallout after the abrupt ouster of the top federal prosecutor for the southern district of new york who had been leading several investigations involving president trump. let's bring in our legal analyst and our chief legal analyst. there is a new book coming out
in early august entitled "true crimes and misdemeanors: the investigation of donald trump." i want you to listen to what the white house press secretary kayleigh mcenany's explanation was today for the firing of geoffrey berman. listen to this. >> the president held mr. clayton in very high regard, wanted to nominate him to this position in sdny to keep him in the government as he returns to new york. barr was working on a smooth transition. when berman chose to respond in the way that he did, he came to the president and the president agreed and fired this individual, mr. berman. >> all right. so, jeffrey, what do you make that far explanation? >> it is somewhere between bizarre and absurd. first of all, u.s. attorneys are almost never fired with five months to go. so, why did they fire the guy who's investigating the president and his friends? and why did they try to install one of the president's golf
buddies, who has no prosecutorial experience in perhaps the most important prosecutor's office in the country? the whole thing just reeks of corruption. and geoff berman managed to work out so that when he left, his successor is audrey strauss, who is a person known to have a lot of integrity. but why they fired geoff berman at this moment is still very much an unanswered question, and it's hard to believe there is an innocent explanation given how this all unfolded. >> this prosecutor, this federal prosecutor geoffrey berman, he has been investigating members of the president's inner circle. i'll put some of them up on the screen. michael cohen, igor fruman, lev parnas, rudy giuliani. regardless of his reason for firing berman, does this send the message that he's willing to retaliate against anyone who potentially could get in his
way? >> well, look, the fact that the southern district of new york was conducting all of these investigations around people who were close to the president in some way or in his orbit demonstrates why that would be the last prosecutor in the world that you would want to remove unless you want to be accused of doing things for political purposes or for corrupt purposes. and the other side of this that also is so questionable is why, when the attorney general originally was going to remove him, he wasn't just going to go ahead and appoint the deputy or the first assistant who now is the acting according to that. so, there is just so many reasons why this looks corrupt and inappropriate. >> let's also talk about the president's former national security adviser john bolton's bombshell new book. a federal judge ruled that he's
free to go ahead and publish it and distribute it. that bolton has exposed his country to harm and potentially criminal liability. do you agree that bolton potentially could face criminal liability? >> i think john bolton has a serious legal problem. there is this prepublication review event. and the rules are very clear. you either have to honor what the administration says about what's classified and what's not. or you go to court and get a judge to overturn the administration's ruling. what bolton did was he said the hell with your process, i'm just publishing my book anyway. as i understand it, that means the government is well within its rights to take any money he made on the book and perhaps to prosecute him for disclosing classified information, if, in fact, it's established that this material is classified. so i think john bolton
definitely has a best-seller, but he may not have much money or any money to show for it. >> and he potentially could have other legal issues as well. guys, thanks very much. an important programming note to our viewers. the former national security adviser, john bolton will join me here in "the situation room" wednesday. he will share stories from his new book. we will discuss that and a whole lot of other ramifications. that's here in "the situation room" wednesday during our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. coming up, how the national reckoning on racism and police brutality is impacting a key democratic primary that potentially wi potentially determine who will take on the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell in november.
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mcconnell or at least giving him a tough run for his money has suddenly been up ended by the political awakening happening across the country. >> this is happening in kentucky right now. we have in a moment, y'all. we are in a moment. >> reporter: a sleepy senate primary race suddenly electri electrified in kentucky. >> this time has to be different for my cousins, for my little ones, for y'all, this has to be different. for everybody that's a hash tag. >> reporter: a national reckoning on racism and police brutality is resonating where a louisville police killed a 26-year-old, an emt, in march, and the owner of a bbq restaurant in june. weeks of protests have injected fresh uncertainty over who democrats will choose to take on mitch mcconnell in november. >> she's kentucky's best chance to move on from mitch mcconnell.
>> amy mcgrath is a first choice. her primary winning was seen as a foregone conclusion, but booker is now riding a wave of momentum. >> you said you're campaigning from the hood to the holler. ek plain that. >> i'm trying to speak to our common bonds. there's a reality there are so many similarities in the hood that you would say in the places in the hollers of eastern and kentucky and in the mountains. if we realize our common bonds, we can have an awakening. >> reporter: mcgrath has struggled to kind her footing. >> have you been on the ground with people? >> i have not. >> why? >> well, i've been with my family and i've had some family things going on this past weekend. but i've been following the news, and you know, and watching. >> reporter: booker turns that
moment into a tv ad. while she's outspending time, $14 million to his 1 million or advertising alone, the closing momentum is on his side. the race is playing out in trump country where the president won four years ago by nearly 40 points. >> president trump and mitch mcconnell, delivering for kentucky. >> reporter: from the streets of louisville to small towns, booker is making the case for progressive change. his policies closely align with bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. both of whom have endorsed him. >> we got to be that change. we got to bend the arc. >> reporter: do you wonder if he's too progressive for kentucky? >> i think about that, but it's time for change. everything is evolving. >> reporter: and while tens of thousands have voted early, only one polling place will be open tomorrow in louisville with precincts consolidated because of coronavirus. >> it's going to disenfranchise people. that's a concern. >> reporter: the uncertainty over this race is going to be
complicated. tomorrow on primary day we're normally 3700 voting locations across the state of kentucky have been boiled down to about 170. there's going to be only one here in the city of louisville. one in the city of lexington. of course, the two largest cities in the commonwealth of kentucky. we've seen voting problems in other states across the country as the voters -- the primaries have been changed because of the pandemic. so there's certainly a question about how the votes will be could wanted and cast tomorrow. never mind the ideological divide suddenly hanging over this race. >> all right. we'll see what happens. jeff zeleny reporting. coming up the white house defends president trump's use of a racist slur to defend the coronavirus. with a truly long-term view that's been through multiple market cycles for over 85 years? with capital group, i can. talk to your financial professional or consultant for investment risks and information.
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we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room with breaking news on the scope of the coronavirus pandemic. a new study just out now estimates that as many as 8.7 million americans may have been infected in march, but 80% of them were never diagnosed. tonight new coronavirus hot spots are also emerging as the u.s. death toll surpasses 1 120,000. 23 states are seeing alarming increases in new cases with california, texas, arizona, and florida experiencing dramatic spikes in florida alone more than 100,000 people have now been