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Biden Sets Goal of One Vaccine Shot to 70 Percent of Adults by July 4th; Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump's Suspension; Vaccine Hesitancy Remains High in Rural Oregon as Cases There Rise. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 5, 2021 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The challenge was supply and access, right? I mean, we were all fighting to get our appointments, right? You're in line, it took forever to get it. And now, that's changed and the real obstacle seems to be desire here, right? You mentioned it, hesitancy, et cetera. And part of the administration plan is to go after rural communities via their G.P.s, their personal doctors, because they trust them. I wonder if you think that's a smart strategy.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That really does seem to be what the data shows. And when I say data, I mean, remind people that vaccine hesitancy is not a new problem at all. This is something that people have been talking about for a long time.

We went back and looked to 2009, and maybe we can put some of the data that we found at that time. What does ultimately convince people? You obviously have to have access. People have to believe in the vaccine, that it's safe. But when they've looked overall at the vaccine hesitancy, we have a graph to show basically how people reacted.

We find that their local health care providers was far and away. If they're going to get a message about this vaccine, they're far and away, it needed to come from their health care providers. I think close to 70 percent, 68 percent willingness if that message was given by health care providers. Look at that, 11 percent if it's coming from a non-health care professional.

And this idea of political -- people coming out and talking about it, celebrities talking about it, you see the value of that, but look at the difference when it comes from your own health care provider.

I think what that means to the country as a whole, the community at large, is that there's still vaccine hesitancy even within the medical world, 20 percent or so, maybe even higher in some places. That's where a lot of the outreach needs to happen. The health care workers need to be convinced and they act as the ambassadors. And that's ultimately where you really increase vaccine confidence overall. we've known that for a long time. And if you listen to the polling data now that's emerging, it's sort showing the same thing.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Sanjay, in India, 25 percent of all COVID deaths in the world in the last week have been in India. I mean, that's how huge this human catastrophe is. And in the next few days, it's expected -- our reporting is that the Biden administration will make a decision on where they stand on whether or not intellectual property, basically, the recipe for vaccine should be shared with India and beyond. India asked for this more than six months ago. Would that help?

I know, I mean, meaningfully, right now, it wouldn't change the situation immediately, but would it help longer term?

GUPTA: Yes, there's no question about it. And, by the way, one of my relatives, one of our favorite uncles, my cousin is one of the people who died of this, which is just heartbreaking because everyone thought that -- and it's heartbreaking, obviously, but people thought this was sort of was in the end game, as you probably heard, in India.

Yes, it would help, not in the short run because vaccines are really powerful weapons. But we've said all along that you've got to break the cycle of transmission right now. It is just an exponential growth in India. And breaking the cycle of transmission is the key, which is why they have to do the stay-at-home orders in Delhi and many other places around India, high filtration masks when you're out in public, if you have to be in public. All those things still work regardless of it's a circulating virus, a variant or whatever.

But, ultimately, India has been able to make great vaccines. They've exported a lot of those vaccines. But you need to be able to have wide availability. You have got close to 1.4 billion people there. If you're talking about herd immunity, that's a billion, roughly, vaccines.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always good to have you on. Thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

HARLOW: Coming up, former President Trump's ban from Facebook is upheld for now. An oversight board effectively deciding today to leave that final decision to Facebook, to Mark Zuckerburg in six months. Well, joining us next is a woman who used to run, until recently, public policy at Facebook.



HARLOW: Former President Trump will not be returning to Facebook at least for another six months. The Facebook oversight board upheld this morning President Trump's suspension from the platform for the time being. They gave the company six months to reassess and then make a final decision on whether or not to lift the penalty.

Facebook imposed the suspension one day after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, with that decision, quote, we believe the risks of allowing then-President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.

Katie Harbath is a fellow at the Bipartisan Center and a former public policy director until very recently at Facebook. She also previously served as chief digital strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2010 election cycle, worked for the RNC and for Rudy Giuliani. And you just left in February, so you know what it was like directing and leading through this. Katie, thank you for being here.


HARLOW: So, do you think that the decision that was just made by the oversight board is the best decision for democracy? They're going to have Zuckerberg decide in six months.

HARBATH: I mean, I think that it is a -- kind of just kicking it down the road, as Brian and others have been saying on the program after the decision came out. I think, you know, that it was correct to say that it was right to deplatform in those days. But then looking at just, I think, the themes of wanting Facebook to be more consistent and transparent around its rules is what I was expecting from the oversight board decision and I think is what's needed in order to help protect democracy.


HARLOW: Why shouldn't Mark Zuckerberg make this decision? He wields, as you know, so much power at Facebook, has 58 percent of the shares. He not just leads Facebook, I mean, he created it. He's the founder, right? He created the machine and this is what's happening on the machine. Why shouldn't he decide?

HARBATH: I think there are elements, of course, that Mark should be able to decide what happens on Facebook. But I really think that what we're debating right now is more broadly the questions of how do you hold political leaders accountable for the speech that they are having and what should the role be of lawmakers, civil society and academia in helping to make those decisions and find what the new social norms and laws should be.

And I think a lot of people are rightfully concerned about that power sitting only with people like Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey in terms of determining the types of political speech that people get to see.

HARLOW: So let's talk about what happens now, because just on Monday, the president said -- lied again and said the fraudulent election of 2020 will be from this day known as the big lie. One would safely assume, if he's back on Facebook, then he'll just post that again, right? So has anything really changed from when Zuckerberg made that declaration on the 7th, that he was too dangerous to be on Facebook to today?

HARBATH: I think that that's the question that everyone is grappling with. But I'm not sure much has changed, and that may be part of the reason, just speculating that the oversight board wants to give Facebook six months to see how the political climate continues to evolve. And if it does change in terms of the threat of violence that is happening, and I think as well with this, their policy recommendations are, again, wanting to provide clear rules for people and world leaders about what they can or cannot say on the platform.

And so a lot of it to me feels like this is a bit more of wait and see and trying to give more time to put more rules and structures around how situations, like January 6th, and the things that President Trump is saying, how those things should be handled.

HARLOW: Katie, let me ask you about the time you were leading there in the last year or so, as, again, the director of public policy. In July of 2020, then-President Trump made a post on Facebook. It was a lie. It was a false claim. He said mail-in voting could lead to a corrupt election. That wasn't taken down. It was -- directed people to truth about voting.

And then in the Biden administration, in the middle of the campaign, also sent you guys a letter and said, look, you've got to take down this false video ad that the president put up about Biden and his son in Ukraine. It was completely a lie. And you wrote them back and you wrote them this letter right here explaining why you're not going to do it, why it's not your role to take these lies down.

It happened again and again. And I wonder in retrospect, having seen what happened on the 6th of January, four people dying, 140 injured, do you see Facebook as culpable at all in the lies that kept coming and coming and coming, some unchecked, remaining on the platform in what ended up happening?

HARBATH: I think what you're describing is the constant tension that I have to say -- I, myself, have personally been grappling with around what I do think is the right for people to see the speech, that those who represent them and want to represent them say so that they can be informed when they go to the ballot box about just exactly the type of person that they're wanting to go and vote for.

But it is undeniable to say that, you know, his speech has contributed to the things that we have seen happen, including what happened on January 6th. And I think that in trying to think about a right way forward, I would love to try to find a way that allows for people to still see that speech, but we look at ways to think about reducing the amplification. That's something the oversight board talked about in its decision.

Think about our labels and how do you add more context to some of those decisions and some of those conversations and things that people like President Trump and others are putting on the platform. And that's the type of stuff I'm wanting to work on as I leave.

Facebook is trying to help, to continue to think about those tensions and what are potentially new and creative ways to think about handling those while still preserving the right around free expression.

HARLOW: Do you wish you had done more when you were there leading on this in retrospect? [10:45:01]

HARBATH: I always felt every day that I wish we could do more. It's something that -- I can talk about various limitations that I felt that we had and there are only so many hours in the day. But I always wished I could do more.

HARLOW: I can hear in your voice how you grapple with this now, and it is all playing out in real-time, in front of us, for the first time, right? But, I guess, I wonder -- I hear you making a free speech argument, right, that people should be able to see what their leaders are saying, but private companies aren't held to the free speech standards that the government is. I mean, Supreme Court just reaffirmed that in that case two years ago.

HARBATH: You're right, but I think that's also part of the conversation that's being had right now, is when those private companies have as many users as a place like Facebook may have, what should the role of private companies be and how much leeway should they have on their platforms about who gets to have access to those audiences or who don't. And so I think it's absolutely a fair conversation, and it's one that lawmakers are discussing actively, not only in the U.S., but in Europe and many other places around the world.

HARLOW: Katie, thank you very, very much. I hope you'll come back as we continue this discussion.

HARBATH: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: You got it. Jim?

SCIUTTO: An important conversation. While many states are easing back into some normalcy, Oregon is set to restore coronavirus restrictions this week, comes amid a case surge there as vaccine hesitancy remains high. What local leaders are doing to help combat that, just ahead.



SCIUTTO: New coronavirus infections are currently rising faster in the state of Oregon than any other state in the U.S. This Friday, 15 counties there will be moved into an extreme risk category. That means new countywide restrictions on local businesses as well as public life.

HARLOW: That's not the only problem that state health officials and some rural leaders have had on their hands and have on their hands right now. Some parts of the state have more vaccine doses than people willing to take them. Watch this reporting from our Lucy Kafanov with more from the Pacific Northwest.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In this rural corner of Eastern Oregon, the rolling hills stretch as far as the eye can see. Umatilla County is home to fewer than 80,000 residents, more than 60 percent of voted for the Republican Party. There's plenty of cattle, plenty of land and these days plenty of vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, this one is 70 doses.

KAFANOV: So what's the problem?

JOE FIUMARA, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, UMATILLA COUNTY: We -- unfortunately right now, we have more vaccine than we can find folks to get it to.

KAFANOV: Coronavirus cases are up. The county how back in the high risk category.

GEORGE MURDOCK, CHAIR, UMATILLA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: We have plenty enough vaccines but very reluctant citizens. Almost half the people here are not choosing to get a vaccine.

KAFANOV: So you have plenty of vaccines but not enough people interested in getting the shot?

MURDOCK: Right. We're really like all dressed up and no place to go.

KAFANOV: Joe Fiumara is on the frontlines to get locals vaccinated.

FIUMARA: We have been a hot spot for COVID across the state.

KAFANOV: As Umatilla County's director of public health, he understands the urgency. But his county ranks at the bottom in vaccines administered per capita in his state.

FIUMARA: Last week, we gave a total of about 500 doses of vaccine. Logistically, we could have given about 1,600 doses.

KAFANOV: Fiumara says reasons vary, but mainly stem from distress that the government on both ends of spectrum, from hard line republicans to migrant workers who might be undocumented.

How do you deal with that as a public health official?

FIUMARA: I really don't know. We've seen a polarization with this vaccine that I have not seen with other vaccines.

MURDOCK: It's developed under a Republican president, it's being implemented under a Democratic president. It shouldn't be partisan.

KAFANOV: It's not that all residents here are complacent about the virus. Some just don't trust the vaccine despite the FDA and CDC saying they are safe and effective.


KAFANOV: As a waitress, MaRaanda Solis says she doesn't want to get COVID, but she and her fiance will skip the shot. SOLIS: We're pretty young and health and we don't feel like we need the vaccine.

KAFANOV: County and state officials are trying to win the hearts and minds of vaccine hesitant Oregonians with more public messaging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the COVID-19 vaccines came out, I talked to my doctor and I made my own conclusions.

KAFANOV: Boost Oregon, a non-profit dedicated to helping people make science-based vaccine decisions, is launching radio and T.V. ads across the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to get vaccinated. Let's cross the finish line together.

KAFANOV: But it's too soon to tell how much those efforts could help. Cases are rising, harsh COVID restrictions are making a comeback but patience is wearing thin.

MURDOCK: We can't stay locked down forever but we're kind of at a standstill because they're not getting the shot. And so what will make things different?


KAFANOV (on camera): And that's the question being asked by local and state officials all across America. Vaccines are becoming increasingly available, but how do you persuade those reluctant Americans to get the shot.

Now, ending this pandemic depends on widespread vaccinations. That's according to health experts. But eroding confidence in vaccines could sink that effort.

Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Umatilla County, Oregon.


SCIUTTO: And let's hope people get those shots. Thanks so much, Lucy Kafanov, for that report.

A quick programming note for CNN, join Don Lemon for a look at Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking album, What's Going On, 50 years after its release. Why hasn't it become an anthem for a new generation? A CNN special, What's Going On, Marvin Gaye's Anthem for the Ages, premieres Sunday at 8:00.

HARLOW: I can't wait for that. All right, so much thank you for joining us. What a busy morning. The coverage continues. And we'll see you tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.