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CDC Says Nearly 58 Percent of Adults Received At Least One Vaccine Dose; Dr. Fauci: It May Be Time to Relax Indoor Mask Rules; Kentucky Derby Winner Fails Post Race Drug Test; Capitol Police Inspector General Testifies on January 6 Threat Assessment. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 10, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, now to it the good news on the improving situation on the pandemic. The number of COVID cases across the country continues to drop. And as of today, the CDC says nearly 60 percent of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID dose, though the rate of vaccination is slowing.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So according to the White House, several states are now actually turning down their full allocation of doses because of a lack of demand. Although vaccinations are dropping. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it may be time to relax indoor mask rules.

Joining us now, CNN medical analyst and ER Dr. Leana Wen. She served as Baltimore's health commissioner. Doctor thanks for being with us. Let's start here by listening to Dr. Fauci on those indoor mask requirements.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: The CDC will be almost in real time, George, updating their recommendations and their guidelines. But yes, we do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated. We're averaging about 43,000 a day. We've got to get it much, much lower than that. When that gets lower, the risk of any infection, indoor or outdoor, diminishes dramatically.


BLACKWELL: What do you think, are we there now or will we be there soon when it makes sense to lift some of those indoor mask requirements?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think we're there now. When it comes to people who are fully vaccinated around other vaccinated people. I mean that's what the CDC already says. That if you've got friends, family members who are all fully vaccinated, you can get together for dinner indoors without masks. I think that can be applied to other settings like workplaces, too. If

all your employees are also fully vaccinated, you can be together in one conference room without masks or distancing.

But I do think that it's a bit soon for relaxing indoor mask mandates overall when there are people of unknown vaccination status. Because how do you know if somebody else is vaccinated? If you're going to a store or restaurant or some other setting, especially in communities where there's high levels of community transmission, I think it is just too soon in those settings.

But I do think going forward it's going to be on a region by region basis. There may be places where there are high level of vaccinations, low levels of vials spread where indoor mask mandates can be lifted in time.

CAMEROTA: I mean Dr. Wen, look, people are still confused about the masks because of all this, because it's not one size fits all. So people even in low rates of transmission towns, I see people with their masks on outside. They say they don't know if they're supposed to be wearing them or not. Is there a way to just come up with a simple rule which is if you've been doubly vaccinated, you can take off the mask, if you haven't, you can't?

WEN: I think there are two things that are very clear. One is that outdoors is much safer than indoors. And outdoors you can take off your masks regardless of whether you're vaccinated.

The second thing is if you're fully vaccinated and you're around others who are also known to be fully vaccinated, you can take off your mask.

But if there are people around you of unknown vaccination status, that really depends on you. You may feel comfortable in taking it off, taking off the mask because it's very low risk to you of getting coronavirus, but you might also say, I want to be even safer at this point and really use an abundance of caution especially with other variants, so I'm going to keep the mask on when I'm in a store for the time being.

BLACKWELL: You know, I was in Baltimore over the weekend visiting my mom for Mother's Day and I was outside without a mask, Dr. Wen, and I got the stink-eye from so many people but I'm doubly -- as Alisyn says, doubly vaccinated. It seems like there's some, I don't want to say, peer pressure for people who are not wearing masks outside, it seems like there's pressure socially to do so, even if you're following the guidelines.

WEN: That's right. I also get people looking at me from across the street even if I'm not wearing a mask and they're not wearing a mask. We're not even anywhere near six feet of one another. I do think at this point that there are a lot of people who are, just frankly, traumatized after a whole year of living through coronavirus.

[15:35:00] And even though we can now lift restrictions and can be safe doing it, there are people who are just not comfortable doing that yet. And I have to say to each their own. I think there are people who want to use a lot of caution and still want to be wearing masks even when outdoors. We shouldn't judge them for being cautious. In the same way that we should also not be condemning people who are now ready to live life. Who are fully vaccinated and now want to enjoy post-pandemic, if you will, life.

And I think all of that is OK, we just have to let people go at their own speeds that's comfortable for them. But happy Mother's Day to your mom.

CAMEROTA: You, as well. Victor I'm feeling like we should start a t- shirt business that says, hey, I'm doubly vaccinated, back off. Don't you think that would sell like hotcakes?

BLACKWELL: Yes, I feel I'm doing what the CDC tells me to do. And I would buy the t-shirt. Large, please. All right. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much.

So there's this new CNN analysis that finds that 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within five miles of all three vaccines for the coronavirus. Meaning they can essentially choose which one they want.

CAMEROTA: So health experts hope people who are hesitant about getting a COVID vaccine might feel differently once they see their easy options. For more COVID headlines here in the U.S. and around the world, let's check in with some of our correspondents.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I'm Pete Muntean at Reagan National Airport. The new estimate is that travelers who cancelled their trips for the pandemic hold $10 billion in unused airline travel credits. And now two high profile U.S. Senators are telling ten different airlines that they should give you refunds for those credits in cash.

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal have written ten different airlines to say if they do not give refunds, then they should at least make the deadline to use those credits indefinite.

This comes after a new pandemic-era air travel record. The TSA says 1.71 million people passed through security at America's airports on Sunday. The third time a record has been broken in the last seven days.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alison Kosik in New York. The New York Stock Exchange may look a little more crowded. The iconic building is loosening COVID-19 restrictions beginning today. It's allowing fully vaccinated people on the trading floor to go unmasked when socially distanced and seated at workstations. That's according to an internal memo obtained by CNN. If moving around the trading floor, however, people will be required to wear a mask. But current CDC guidance encourages mask use in indoor public

settings, even for the fully vaccinated. The CDC also notes that people should still avoid large indoor gatherings. The memo also says if a firm's team on the trading floor has been 100 percent vaccinated, that firm's head count can go up.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Scott Mclean in London. Romanians who find themselves at a 700-year-old castle in Transylvania probably won't leave with a neck bite or blood loss from a fictional vampire, but they could go home with a pinprick and immunity from a very real virus.

Bran Castle, which inspired the Dracula novel about a bloodsucking vampire is in the midst of a vaccination drive, offering free entry to a medieval torture exhibit to anyone who gets the Pfizer shot on site.

Despite almost 30,000 COVID-19 deaths nationwide, last month a survey found Romania to be one of the most vaccine-hesitant countries in Eastern Europe.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to all of our correspondents for that medieval torture and vaccines, interesting combo there ---

BLACKWELL: Two for one. Two for one.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, listen to this. Horse trainer Bob Baffert is saddling up for a fight after his winning horse failed a drug test that could cost him the Kentucky Derby title. What he's now telling CNN.



BLACKWELL: We're just a few days away from the next leg of the Triple Crown, but horse racing fans will have to wait to see if the winner of the Kentucky Derby will actually be on the track at the Preakness.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Medina Spirit's victory is in jeopardy after that horse failed a post-race drug test and the horse trainer has been suspended. He maintains he did nothing wrong and made his case to CNN's Carolyn Manno today.


BOB BAFFERT, HORSE TRAINER: This is something that, you know, we didn't do. I've had such success with all these great horses. And you know, there's a lot of people -- there's a lot of jealousy and animosity out there. And I understand that, I have my critics. But this is really -- you know, when it happens in the most prestigious race in America, the Kentucky Derby, Bob Baffert is not stupid, OK? And this is a horrible thing that's happening to this horse.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLACKWELL: Joining us now is Tim Sullivan. He covers sports for the Louisville Courier Journal. So this for Baffert, he says that this is a cancel culture type of thing, he says, of the statement from Churchill Downs. Tell us what's going on here.

TIM SULLIVAN, SPORTS JOURNALIST, LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL: Well, I think cancel culture is inappropriate. I don't agree that Churchill Downs should have suspended Baffert based on a first positive test. Normally tracks and racing jurisdictions would wait for the confirmation of the split sample.

That said, the racing industry, I think feels very strongly that some kind of message needs to be sent here.


This is Baffert's fifth violation in a 12-month span. At least the 31st in his career. There are no comprehensive records, but he's been a repeat offender. And you know, his stories become increasingly implausible and the idea that someone outside of his barn may have given this horse betamethasone is -- makes for a great story. But I see no evidence to support it.

CAMEROTA: Tim, is that what Baffert is claiming? When he says sabotage, are we supposed to think that that means somebody else, a competitor, drugged his horse?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think that that is open to interpretation. I asked him yesterday what exactly he suspected. You know, it's conceivable that there was a mistake made at the lab or in the test barn or somewhere in the chain of custody. It's implausible, but you have to allow for that possibility. If he can prove it, more power to him.

But unlike last year when he had a horse disqualified at the Kentucky Oaks race for fillies for the same substance, you know, this time he's claiming that the horse was never treated with that substance. There is a distinction there.

At this point, I think he's still likely to race in the Preakness, though. He's told at least one reporter that he personally will not be there because he doesn't want to create a distraction. But his lawyer is threatening a temporary restraining order if Pimlico were to attempt to block Baffert. So I think between that and the interest of the network and the financial interest of the track, Medina Spirit is very likely to run in the Preakness on Saturday.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned the potential restraining order, but do you think Pimlico would be inclined to keep Medina Spirit out considering how seriously the industry takes this type of thing?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think absent a rule that would give them the ability to honor a Churchill Downs suspension, I don't see that happening. You know, I think there are mechanisms in place to deal with this. And you know, when the split sample comes back, Medina Spirit is likely to be disqualified. At that point, there's an appeal process. And as we saw in 1968, with Forward Pass and Dancer's image, this

could (INAUDIBLE) courts go on for years. But at this point, I think racing would like to be done with this issue, would like to move on, but it's unlikely to happen because you're dealing with the most famous man in sport, in racing sport, and a very large controversy.

BLACKWELL: Bob Baffert, a big name, indeed. Tim Sullivan, thank you for helping us to understand it.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Happening right now on Capitol Hill, the Inspector General for the U.S. Capitol Police is testifying about the January 6th insurrection. We'll tell you what's happening there.



CAMEROTA: The Inspector General for the U.S. Capitol Police testifying again today before House lawmakers about the deadly January 6th insurrection.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Michael Bolton is discussing problems with the threat assessment and countersurveillance operation within the Capitol Police.

Let's bring in now CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild. What are you learning?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Inspector Bolton is laying out all of the deficiencies that he found within Capitol Police with regard to their countersurveillance and their threat assessment operation.

The main theme here is that Inspector Bolton thinks that USCP should reorganize in the vein of the Secret Service because the missions are similar. You're talking about protection. He thinks that their operation should more similarly reflect how the Secret Service works. And to do that he thinks they need a more robust countersurveillance entity that stands on its own, a more robust threat assessment operation. So in this hearing today he's detailing why that's so critical. Capitol Police says they would love to do all of the recommendations that Bolton has put forward, but they need the money.

We know House Democrats say they are willing and interested in putting forth a bill to supplement some of that Capitol security spending, but we just don't know what the future that bill is yet.

Later today throughout this hearing I expect we'll hear more about some of the details from the Inspector General's third report. Some more details about places he thinks were deficient such as officer contacts. I mean, the list is very long. We have more information coming up as this hearing unfolds. Back for you.

CAMEROTA: Whitney Wild, thank you very much for keeping an eye on that.

OK Kevin Bacon can put his dancing shoes back on, Victor. Washington, D.C., the mayor, has just lifted the so-called dancing ban. We have that story next.


CAMEROTA: Put your dancing shoers back on, D.C. next week Washington, D.C. will lift a ban on dancing at weddings.

BLACKWELL: What is this music? D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the dancing can start again on May 21st. the mayor is also lifting -- oh, so make it louder -- it's also lifting capacity limits on businesses, bars, larger sports and entertainment venues in June.

You know, I just don't know how you have a wedding reception without "The Electric Slide." Now they won't have to figure that out.

CAMEROTA: You make such a great point. I mean everybody is rejoicing -- Kevin Bacon circa 1984 is relieved. And Victor are you saying that the mayor is doing the hokey pokey and she's turned herself around.

BLACKWELL: I am explicitly not saying that because that's a little corny for my taste, but I do appreciate on behalf of Washingtonians that now have the opportunity to dance at weddings.

CAMEROTA: The fact that you struck that from the script and I reinserted it, I think, tells everybody everything they need to know.

BLACKWELL: Can't do it. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.