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Study: Delta Variant Spreading Faster in Counties with Low Vaccinations; Democrats Face Uphill Battle on Voting Rights, Infrastructure, Police Reform; Key Senate Vote Tomorrow on Sweeping Elections Reform Bill; Study: Most Major U.S. Cities Have Become More Racially Segregated. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 21, 2021 - 15:30   ET



DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICINE ANALYST: I'm really glad that the Foo Fighters are having their concert, Dave Chappelle is showing up and I'm really in particular glad that they are requiring vaccination. Because frankly the risk of vaccinated people to one another is extremely low.

The concern is for unvaccinated people with other unvaccinated people and also for unvaccinated people to people who are vaccinated but who may have underlying health conditions or who may have family members who have immunocompromised or with young children.

And so I think anything we can do to have proof of vaccination in big, crowded settings allows for businesses to resume their pre-pandemic normal and also gives peace of mind to their customers and employees.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And we've heard from the former FDA commissioner that this growth of these variants, the spreading of it will fuel a surge of interests in these vaccinations and what should happen next, let's listen to Dr. Scott Gottlieb.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Now we need to think about trying to push out the vaccine into community sites, where people could get it delivered to them through a trusted intermediary, that's going to mean doctors' offices, schools, places of employment. We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get the people who are still reluctant or who still face challenges getting into those access sites.

But as people contemplate going back to school and back to work in the fall, they will be seeking out vaccines and I think that is when we need to think about that 2.0 campaign and a different strategy for delivering vaccines to those who remain unvaccinated.


BLACKWELL: It's been weeks since the president said that there would be this campaign to allow these vaccines in doctors' offices. We're also seeing some of the mass vaccination sites, those are closing as well. What should 2.0 look like?

WEN: Well, actually I think that we may even need a 3.0, Victor, because the first phase of the vaccination campaign was getting vaccines to the people who really, really want it. And so the mass vaccination sites were good for that. The second phase was making sure that people have access to the vaccine, so bringing vaccines to workplaces and pharmacies and doctors' offices.

I think at some point we're going to see that it's not really about access any more, it's about people who have concerns, people who don't think that the pandemic is very real. Then, yes, the doctors' offices are going be important, but I think you also have to add the incentive for people to be vaccinated. And those incentives might require for there to be concerts and sports games and cruises and other things that require proof of vaccination in order to do those things.

And I think it is workplaces and schools requiring vaccination come the fall that's going to make the biggest difference in terms of driving up vaccine rates. Because otherwise we are going to be in big trouble come the fall when winter and colder weather set in again.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Oh, OK, well listen to this Dr. Wen. My 14- year-old son has a cold right now and he is freaked out because he hasn't had a cold in 18 months. And so he -- it's unrecognizable to him. And he literally just has a summer cold. But that's happening more and more that colds are back and the flu is back because people are interacting and, you know, not wearing masks. Are you seeing that same thing happening with kids now?

WEN: Yes, and we're seeing this with adults as well that people are getting all kinds of viruses because we've just been apart from one another during this last year and a half or so. We need to remember that the COVID-19 vaccine for those who got vaccinated protects you against COVID-19 but not against all these other viruses that are potentially out there.

And also worry about what's going to happen in the fall when we get even more of these viruses, the normal viruses. Your Influenza and all these other cold viruses. It's going to be hard to distinguish what's COVID-19, what's influenza, what's all these other things. And so we really need to be ramping up testing right now and thinking through what is that testing strategy going to look like or contact tracing going to look like especially in schools this fall.

BLACKWELL: All right, Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much.

WEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Up next, we're live at the White House to speak with Cedric Richmond, one of President Biden's senior advisers, about how they can get Congress moving on his key pieces of legislation. That's after the break.



BLACKWELL: It is a critical week for President Biden. Democrats are working to pass some of his top agenda items before The Fourth Of July break. The president is expected to welcome lawmakers to the White House this week. He's trying to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure deal but some progressives want to move forward with their own plan and pass it with Democrats' votes only.

The president is also trying to secure bipartisan support for voting rights and police reform. And tomorrow the Senate will very likely reject the procedural vote on the For the People Act elections bill.

Joining me now is senior adviser to the president, Cedric Richmond.

Sir, thank you for being with us. I know that it is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day, we're going to talk about that in just a moment.

But first, let's talk about infrastructure. What is the strategy to get a deal done this week?

CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, as you said, the president will convene, he is still listening to and evaluating the proposals set out by the bipartisan group, still has questions about the policy itself.

But more importantly, the pay fors. Remember the president had two red lines. Inaction was one and not raising taxes on people who make under $400,000 a year.

BLACKWELL: So, are you saying that he is holding that, that there will be no plan with the president's signature that does not increase taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year?

RICHMOND: The president has said his red line is he will not raise taxes on people who make under $400,000 a year.

BLACKWELL: OK, so what is the starting point here? You've got three plans at least that I can count. You've got this bipartisan group of Senators. We know that some will be coming to the White House.


You've got the Problem Solvers in the House who say that they have a plan. There is the go-it-alone package that Bernie Sanders has introduced -- I'll ask about in a moment. You can't pull your full weight behind three plans. Which direction are you starting in, are you going in?

RICHMOND: Well, I don't think that it is about direction, I think that it is about being intentional, about being strategic and fulfilling the president's vision. So every plan will be evaluated. And the best decision for the American people, that's how we'll decide.

And the president has been very clear that he was open to ideas, that he was willing to negotiate. But all of his openness and all of his willingness to negotiate is based upon one thing, what is best for the American people, what will invest in our infrastructure, what will invest in our people, in our future and make us more competitive. So there is no one size fit all.

BLACKWELL: I get that there is no one size fits all, but I'm listening to an adviser to the president says it's not about direction, there is no direction. It is about being strategic.

Is there one that are you focused on that you say this is a starting point. Let's start with the 21 Senators who've come close to a trillion dollars over five years, $579 billion in new spending, is that a starting point? Is that somewhere where you can start and say, all right, now let's work out from this?

RICHMOND: We are engaging with that offer. But we are also talking to Senator Schumer and Senator Sanders about a budget resolution. So we can do more than one thing at one time and we can have a vision big enough to lead this country out of this pandemic and economic stalling that we've been in for a while.

So, I don't think that it is either/or, and I don't think that it is a lack of direction. I actually think that it is a matter of strategy, focus, discipline and hard work.

BLACKWELL: $6 trillion is the price tag for Senator Sanders' reconciliation proposal. Some moderates have balked at a price tag that high. Can the White House get behind a $6 trillion plan?

RICHMOND: That's where Senator Sanders is starting. The legislative process and I know is like making sausage, it is an ugly process, but you look at the end result. And so, Senator Sanders and we'll see how he shapes it and what he puts in it, right now people are talking about a dollar figure with no -- none of the meat and potatoes of it.

So it would be inappropriate to talk about where we are then, but we have talked about what we want for the American people. That is to invest in research and development, and then invest in those families, in education, in childcare, in elder care, in all of those areas, in the green economy, all of those things are what's important. So when we think about it, we think about the meat and potatoes fixing the brick and mortar of this country and then investing in families.

BLACKWELL: But you are not rejecting a $6 trillion offer out of hand?

RICHMOND: Well, you keep saying a $6 trillion offer. I just went through the things that we support. We support investing in American families, investing in our seniors, investing in our climate, investing in roads and bridges, research and development so we can outcompete China. Those are the things that we want to invest in.

And just like we did with the American Rescue Plan, which has been a great success, is we decided what we needed. And then at the end of the day, we added up all of those things that we needed to get this country back on track to give over 300 million people a shot. Then we added it up and it added up to $1.9 trillion, but it was what we needed.

And so I think we're taking that same approach which is to figure out exactly what we need, to achieve our vision, and then go from there.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's turn now to voting rights. Tomorrow, Senator Schumer is expected to bring the For the People Act to the floor. It's not expected to get the votes that it needs to move forward. The Manchin plan is not expected to have the votes that it needs. What do you do on Wednesday morning?

RICHMOND: Well, we keep working. And it is disappointing that the Republicans and the messed up -- more Americans participated in the democratic process than ever before in the history of the United States, that they don't applaud that, that they decide that they want to go make it harder for people to vote and basically pick who can vote and who can't vote.

And so we're going to work on it. And if by chance tomorrow the votes are not there to proceed with either plan, then we're going to start immediately when it is over laying out a vision and a pathway for how we go forward. But right now --


BLACKWELL: But what does that look like, a vision and pathway forward, can you give me specifics about what that means?

RICHMOND: -- we we're using our energies and our efforts to help Senator Schumer, help Democrats help pass the For the People Act because we see the assault on democracy that's out there and we need something to combat it.

BLACKWELL: So you said and I saw that your IFP came up so you didn't hear my question here. My question is you say that you start to create a path forward.


We've seen that the legislation doesn't have the votes. What does that mean practically?

RICHMOND: Well, it means that we go back to that ugly process of sausage making. And there are things that we support. We support HR-1 which is the For the People Act. We support HR-4 which will be the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

And then we've acted already by executive action in terms of making it easier for people to vote. So again, there are some hardcore principles we believe in, we're going to continue to support. But the president has been convening leaders in the voting rights space, but he's also been acting.

And just this Friday the vice president met with voting rights advocates. I met with voting rights advocates. So it's an all hands on deck approach to making sure that we protect this democracy that we have.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the Child Tax Credit, expanded benefits, $300 a month for children up to six, $250 for older children. The administration made some lofty projections based on this what I would mean, but prices are going up for milk and pork and seafood and fruit and vegetables and all of that. Are you expecting that those estimates of how many children will be out of poverty will still hold based on how prices are changing?

RICHMOND: We do. And what we're trying to do today is make sure that everybody that's eligible for this tax credit will get this tax credit. This is a humongous tax cut for working families in this country. It's estimated to affect 39 million households off the bat, 65 million children. And what we want to do is make sure that those families and those people who don't necessarily have to file taxes because they don't make enough, that they go to and register so we can make sure that they are getting their monthly payment.

Because we just still know how hard times are and we want to invest in those families and empower those families and of course reduce child poverty in this country.

BLACKWELL: So will you now be working to make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent?

RICHMOND: It's important to extend the Child Tax Credit. And our American families plan, we have a plan extended by five years and the goal is to make sure that we continue to invest in families. So we're going to continue to push for five years and we'll have conversations about going further.

BLACKWELL: Cedric Richmond, thank you.

RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.


CAMEROTA: OK, up next, a new study finds most major cities are actually moving backwards when it comes to desegregation. Why is that happening?



BLACKWELL: So decades after legal segregation ended in the U.S., a lot of America's largest cities are actually moving in the wrong direction. They're becoming more segregated by the year.

CAMEROTA: This study comes from UC Berkeley. And Nicquel Terry Ellis is a senior writer for CNN's Race and Equality team. She has been going through the numbers for us.

This was a stunning study to read because these cities that you think of as being the most, you know, multicultural, the biggest melting pots are not. And so thes top cities that are most segregated, New York City.

BLACKWELL: We're sitting in one, number one. Yes. CAMEROTA: Number One. Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit. Why is this, Nicquel?

NICQUEL TERRY ELLIS, CNN SENIOR WRITER, RACE AND EQUALITY: Yes, so I spoke with one researcher, Alisyn and Victor, who gave a few different explanations for why we're seeing this increase in segregation. He mentions that centuries-old policies such as redlining have had long lasting effects on these communities, you know, despite us having fair housing policies and efforts to integrate communities.

You know, there's these communities are still segregated. You know, we also mentioned that some racial groups are simply choosing to live amongst people who look like them as opposed to integrating with other communities. He also makes one interesting point, as we know, Asians and Latinos are the fastest growing minority groups in the country. He's saying that these groups also have the highest segregation levels from white communities.

So it seems that these groups are moving to the U.S., moving to these cities and choosing to live amongst people of the same race as them, as opposed to integrating. And, so, you know, with that being said, that is driving up the overall level of segregation throughout the entire country.

The study found that in total, 81 percent of major metropolitan areas have become increasingly segregated in the last 30 years, which is to your point, surprising because, you know, you see these cities gentrifying, you see, you know, efforts to integrate these cities. But yet the data is not showing that they have been successful in these efforts. And so I think that, you know, also when you look at the research, you know, I think they have concluded that where you live simply also determines your life outcome.

The research found that in communities of color, for example, they had lower incomes, lower home values, higher unemployment, less education than in white communities, you know, which is, like, to our point, just showing that, you know, where you live has an impact on what --


BLACKWELL: Is a great determinant --

ELLIS: -- the outcome of your life could be.


CAMEROTA: Yes, geography is destiny.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is. I mean I moved here to New York, and I thought that it was going to be the mix.

CAMEROTA: I remember. You and I have been talking about that. OK, thanks, Nicquel, we really appreciate it. And we'll be right back.


CAMEROTA: I thought you're so good at tossing to Jake that you should do it today.

BLACKWELL: Well, thank you so much for the privilege. You got to get it right. You got to have the right tone and temperament and then you just let it go.

CAMEROTA: And the (inaudible).



CAMEROTA: Watch this.

BLACKWELL: "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.