ICYMI: Top takeaways from this week's "Face the Nation": White House grapples with COVID spikes

6/21: Face the Nation
6/21: Face the Nation 47:05

This week on "Face the Nation", alarming new increases in the number of COVID cases around the world as President Trump struggles to get the country -- and his campaign -- back on track.

Here's the big takeaways from Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation" with Margaret Brennan

1. DHS' Wolf tamps down Trump's questionable comments on COVID testing

  • Homeland Security Secretary Wolf blasted the "press and others" for focusing on the increase in the COVID-19 case count which he said is a product of what happens "when you test individuals more and more and more." He also claimed that he does not think that the President ordered officials to slow down testing, which is what President Trump said at a rally in Tulsa.
  • "When you do testing to that extent you're going to find more people, you're going to find cases," Mr. Trump said."So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.' They test and they test. We got tests for people who don't know what's going on."
  • "Are you aware of the president telling officials to slow down testing as it relates to coronavirus? WOLF: No, again, I heard those comments as well. I think that what you- what you heard from the president was frustration, frustration in the sense of that we are testing, I believe we've tested over 25 million Americans. We've tested more than any other country in this world. Instead, the press and others, all they want to focus on is an increasing case count. And we know that that's going to occur when you test individuals more and more and more.
  • On COVID spikes: "...the White House Coronavirus Task Force is on top of all of these outbreaks, looking state by state, county by county. Whether it's Arizona, Texas, Florida, a number of these states that are having hot spots, that are having those upticks. So we're surging resources, medical individuals and the like, even individuals from the Department of Homeland Security. We're surging into those to- areas to understand what is the cause of that outbreak and address that proactively."
  • What's the cause? "They're all different. They're all for various different reasons. What we see is some of the outbreaks along the southwest border in Arizona, particular parts of Texas, we have about 1.5 million U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents living in Mexico, coming back over for medical treatment."
  • Why this matters: While there are more tests being conducted, the fact that is concerning to doctors is that the number of the test results that come back positive. That positivity rate increase along with a jump in hospitalizations in sunbelt states is a concern. Wolf acknowledged that those spikes are a real concern.
  • The message from the White House is that the threat from COVID19 has largely passed. But that's not the case and it remains deadly including to residents of the sunbelt states whose Republican governors have said that they will not shut down due to the outbreaks, and have been reluctant to mandate mask wearing to contain the virus. The risk remains. More on that from Gottlieb.

2. Wolf on the future of the Obama-era DACA program 

DHS' Chad Wolf: DACA will continue following ... 07:18
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration did not make a sufficient argument to justify cancelling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which had been set up by the Obama administration. That program shields the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows them to have work visas. The program is popular among a bipartisan group of Americans but Congress never codified it in law. That means the SCOTUS ruling has not settled the matter and the President has vowed to try a second time to shut it down. What does that mean for the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients? Will their work visas be renewed?
  • What Wolf said: "We'll continue the program as we have over the past two years, continuing to renew those. But the president's been very clear about wanting to find a lasting solution for these individuals. He's also directed the department to take a look at the court opinion, take a look at our rationale, and we're doing that as well so that we can, again, wind down this program. I think it's important to- to remind your viewers this is an unlawful program."
  • Why this matters: Why it matters: 700,000 people living and working in the U.S. are still unclear on what the future holds for them or if they'll be able to become citizens. Congress needs to craft legislation which is unlikely in this election year particularly when immigration is such a hot button issue.

3. Does increased testing lead to COVID spikes?

Gottlieb warns of "exponential growth" in cor... 06:51
  • Is increased testing a reason for the spike in covid case count or is there a growing problem? Here's what DR. Scott Gottlieb, former Trump administration FDA Commission told us about COVID19
  • What Gottlieb said: "We're seeing a resurgence in the south, in the southeast. They never really got rid of their epidemics. Now we're seeing significant outbreaks on top of a background rate of spread that was quite high. As they reopened, that spread has continued to increase. And so, you know, a challenge that was facing some regions of the country now is facing every region in the country. And the- the worry is that they're going to tip over into exponential growth coming this week because the cases are building quite quickly in Texas, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arizona. And the challenge with exponential growth is everything looks OK until suddenly it doesn't. And so this is something that has to be a concern of everyone that's been watching this."
  • "Some of the cases that we're collecting are because we're testing more. But the positivity rate is also going up in states like Texas where it's about eight percent, Florida about eight percent, Arizona almost 20 percent. We're seeing the positivity rates go up. That's a clear indication that there's now community spread underway. And this isn't just a function of testing more. So some of it is testing more. We're probably capturing right now somewhere between one in five to one in 10 infections. Before during the epidemic, we were probably measuring one in 10 to one in 20 infections. So we're capturing a higher percentage of the overall infections, but the infections are also going up. So this is an epidemic that's expanding in these states. And the challenge is there's not a clear endpoint. We're becoming more and more dependent upon a therapeutic intervention early in the fall to be our backstop because we're taking a lot of virus through this summer. We really shouldn't be where we are in June right now. It's not clear what's going to improve the picture in July and August if we're not going to start to- to impose additional mitigation, start closing bars and restaurants. And states aren't going to want to do that. They're going to be slow to do that. So these case counts are going to build."
  • This is going to get hard to get under control: "So if you look at places like Arizona, the hospitals now are getting pressed. Midweek, there was a report out of Arizona that about 40 percent of the hospital beds were filled with COVID patients. Texas and Florida still reporting a lot of capacity even though Florida doesn't report the total hospitalizations for COVID patients. But these things can mount very quickly, as we saw in New York. You're always when the epidemic is expanding, it's always worse than what you're measuring. And so there are a lot more cases in these states that are going to get turned over this coming week. Given the rate of growth that we've seen, we know that there's community spread now underway in states like Florida, Texas, California, for that matter, too, and Arizona. Those are big states that have a lot of cases they've been building. And so this is going to be hard to get under control. We're not going to want to shut down businesses again. We're not going to want to shut down the economy. So there's not many tools we can reach for. We can do case-based interventions, the tracking and the tracing of sick people to get people isolated. We can go towards universal masking, something that's been controversial and some of these states, but there's not much else you can do. And so there's no quick intervention that's going to bring this to an end. 
  • Why this matters: Gottlieb argues that Governors may lose control of the epidemic if they do not take strong measures. Arizona's Governor gave mayors the power to mandate wearing a mask. Texas and Florida still have not. He says the advice has been complicated by mixed messages early on from federal health officials: "We should've been recommending masks from the outset." 

4. Warner: The Russia probe goes on

Warner calls firing of Manhattan U.S. attorne... 06:16
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner of Virginia said he hopes the Trump administration will allow for the release of the final and fifth installment of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He hopes it to come out in August, which would be just 3 months before the 2020 election. 
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton released a bombshell book about his time in the Trump administration, including damning details about President Trump's conversations with foreign leaders and tendency to sublimate national security and the best interests of the country to his own personal best interest and re election. The Trump administration tried to block its release and failed. However, a federal judge indicated that Bolton may still have legal challenges given that he cut short the classification review process. Democrats have seized on Bolton's disclosures as evidence that President Trump is unfit for office but are loathe to embrace Bolton due to his refusal to testify during the impeachment trial. Senator Warner indicated it is still unclear if Bolton will now come before the Senate to answer questions. 
  • "Listen, I'm not sure that his credibility at this moment is all that high. But I think the bigger argument here, if these allegations and accusations, which are extraordinarily damning, are true, I would think my Republican colleagues would want to have that- get him on, get him under oath as well...That's a maybe at this point. But again, I don't think- I think John Bolton managed to not only- he managed to unite all of Washington....."
  • Did Bolton disclose national security secrets? "I think there is a legitimate question here whether what Bolton is laying out, though, is this classified because of Donald Trump is afraid of the substance or because of legitimate intelligence reasons," Warner explained. 
  • Why it matters: The upcoming 2020 presidential elections will be complicated for many reasons including the pandemic and the ongoing attempts by foreign actors to spread disinformation and sow distrust of U.S. institutions. Democracy doesn't work well if people are disaffected and do not vote or If their votes do not count. If there are lessons to be learned from what happened last time, Americans should have that information available to them. 

4. Jide Zeitlin: Diversity for Fortune 500's a "real business imperative"

Tapestry CEO: diversity is a "real business i... 06:39

  • Jide Zeitlin is the CEO of Tapestry, which owns brands like Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. It is one of the country's largest corporations, and he is one of only 4 African American CEOS among the Fortune 500 ranks. Zeitlin reflected on the need to diversify board rooms and corporations, and spoke about the impact of COVID19 on the luxury retail business.
  • What's the right way to diversify? "It's holding ourselves accountable for goals in the same way we hold ourselves accountable for revenue and profit metrics. And it is fundamentally believing that this is a business imperative. You know, I noted last week that you had Rob Kaplan on your show, and he made the comment representing the Federal Reserve, the belief that inclusively translates into greater workforce growth, greater productivity growth and greater economic growth. And so we exist within an ecosystem, within an economic ecosystem. The faster that ecosystem is growing because it is more diverse and inclusive, the faster we will grow. So it's a real imperative, and we need to hold ourselves accountable the same way we do against other business metrics," Zeitlin explained
  • But do increased numbers fix the bigger issue?  "So being very clear that our workforce ought to be- ought to look like the American demographic. And it's not setting goals that are five or 10 years out. It's setting goals that are quite immediate, in the same way as my board holds me accountable for revenue and profit metrics, not five and 10 years out, but this year and next year. That is the diversity piece of it. And then on the inclusivity piece, it's recognizing that you don't change your culture so that if a more diverse workforce comes and they find themselves living in a 1950s culture and in a culture that is not representative of where America is today, you won't keep your people. You won't motivate your people. You won't get the best out of your people. So it's having a culture that- or- or being more inclusive that- that actually encourages people to fully show up as themselves."
  • Behind the scenes: It is a small, small world. Late Friday after the guest lineup for our show had been announced, I got a text message from Anushay Hossain, one of my best friends from the University of Virginia. She had discovered a connection to one of our guests, Tapestry CEO Jide Zeitlin. He is the son of one of her father's closest friends. The two fathers had a fateful link having met in 1971 in the war that birthed the country of Bangladesh. Arnold Zeitlin, Jide's Dad, was a journalist with AP covering the war for independence from Pakistan. My friend's father - Anwar Hossain Manju - was a student political organizer at Dhaka University. His whole family owned the national newspaper. He shared with Arnold information about the brutality including the rape camps set up to terrorize Bangladeshi women. Decades later the two men remain friends. It isn't often that I get to see childhood photos of our guests before they come on Face the Nation but Arnold is indeed a proud father to Jide. He emailed me photos and shared stories of Jide's extraordinary life. Readers may be interested in reading more about Jide who is now one of only four African American CEOs among the Fortune 500. He began his life - as he puts it on his LinkedIn page - in Nigeria, born to a single mother who worked as a domestic servant. 
  • "At just shy of five years old, I was adopted by an American family who believed they could help me access a decent education and of course, a whole different life. Growing up, I moved from Nigeria to Pakistan to the Philippines, before landing in Cambridge, Massachusetts."

Missed Sunday's episode? Click here to watch the show. "Face the Nation" airs Sunday mornings on CBS. Click here for local listings.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Margaret Brennan is moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation" and CBS News' senior foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.