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Biden Says He'll Take Any Message Directly To Putin On Latest Hacking; 150-Plus Campers, Adults Infected In Texas Church Camp Outbreak; Biden Pushes Investments In "Human Infrastructure," Clean Energy. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 7, 2021 - 14:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Let's bring in now Suzanne Spaulding, a cyber official at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

Suzanne, I plan to start in a different place with you.

First, thank you for being with us.

But after the president there said, I will deliver it to him, the president has always said that the U.S. will respond in a time and fashion of its choosing.

Should it be quiet this time? I mean, should it be something that is public, that is announced as a deterrent to Russia, but also to China, to nonstate actors? Is this strategy of a quiet response working?

SUZANNE SPAULDING, FORMER SENIOR CYBER OFFICIAL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Association President Obama always used to say we will respond in ways that are seen and unseen.

I do think that both of those components are important. It's important to do what we can and some of that is going to be clandestine, covert or quiet behind-the-scenes communications.

But it's also important for the American public and the rest of the world to be able to see something public that we are stating that we are doing, action that we are taking.

So I think it's important to do both. We may not be ready at this moment to take that public action and so, right now, the behind-the- scenes conversation may be the right first step.

BLACKWELL: So it's obvious that what has been happening, if anything has been happening, has not worked.

Since that Geneva summit, there was the discussion of experts getting together and deciding what the red lines are.

What are the options? Whether they are probable or not, what do you think would work as a deterrent for these Russian actors and to encourage Putin to get involved? SPAULDING: Well, first of all, in terms of the fact that we haven't

seen a complete cessation of militia cyber activity emanating from Russia is not an indication of failure yet.

We obviously haven't achieved our objectives but we are still very early in those discussions and I'm encouraged that those conversations are happening. So that's the first thing.

And then you're asking the right question, which is how do we deter Russia? What are the kinds of things that we can do?

Lord knows we have sanctioned them until we're blue in the face and it's hard to imagine that further sanctions could have an impact.

Although, I've heard some folks suggest that we could impose sanctions on their energy infrastructure, for example.

We need to think of deterrents in terms of imposing consequences and raising their costs of activity, both making it harder and imposing consequences, and then denying their benefits, raising our resilience.

So there are things that I'm sure the administration is looking at. Can we make it harder with our international allies for Russian companies, for example, to raise capital in western markets?

You know, our earlier sanctions went after some aspects of sovereign debt. Can we use all of -- are we using all of our law enforcement tools -- I'm sure the FBI is working very hard to do this -- working with our international partners.

Seventeen nations were said to have been impacted by this latest massive attack emanating out of Russia.

To make it hard for those criminals to travel, to spend their ill- gotten gains.

I'm sure they're working on tracking earlier payments that this criminal group has extracted in earlier attacks to try to identify individuals. All those things need to happen.

But with every step that we might take, it is likely to trigger some kind of retaliation.

And so we need to be building our resilience so that we are not such a glass house such that, when we begin to take actions, we worry more about the consequences back on us.

We need to have our defenses up and our plans in place so that they can't have the effect they want to have with their response.

BLACKWELL: All right, Suzanne Spaulding, a lot of options for the president. We'll see if he announces which he will take.

Thanks so much for your insight.

SPAULDING: Thanks for having me. BLACKWELL: Sure.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Now to this story. A COVID outbreak at a summer camp. More than 150 people infected at one church camp. What went wrong there?



CAMEROTA: So a new report confirms how long lasting and detrimental the effects of COVID-19 can be. The study tracked a group of nearly 900 people, of which 234 tested positive for the virus.

Those infected individuals experienced changes in their sleep duration, in their step count, even in their resting heart rate.

The prolonged symptoms lasted an average of two to three months after first contracting the virus and indicated that the damage was actually done to their nervous systems, worse than we knew.

BLACKWELL: New York is celebrating its heroes today. The city's essential workers were celebrated with a parade.

Fourteen floats, 13 bands, more than 2,000 people there, all to say thank you to the men and women who kept New Yorkers going in the darkest days of the pandemic.

First responders, educators, municipal workers, grocery store employees, all of them honored today.

CAMEROTA: That looked like a ticker-tape parade right there. That's what it looked like.

BLACKWELL: I was trying to avoid the word.

CAMEROTA: I know you were.

While New York is celebrating, Texas is reeling from an outbreak at a church camp where nearly 160 campers and adults have tested positive for the virus.

According to health officials, some of those are the highly contagious Delta variant. And at least six of those infected were breakthrough cases.


Services at the affiliated church are cancelled as a result of this outbreak.

Dr. Philip Keiser is the local health authority in Galveston County, Texas, where the camp is located.

Doctor, thank you so much for being here.

Is the number still 160 infections? I know that that has continued to go up.

DR. PHILIP KEISER, GALVESTON COUNTY, TX, HEALTH AUTHORITY: Yes, I honestly don't know what the number is as of this number as of this minute. It went up overnight.

But that's about where we are in terms of the order of magnitude. I'm sure we will have more as the days go on.

CAMEROTA: Doctor, did this camp not require people to be vaccinated?

KEISER: No, they did not. And, you know, generally, in Texas, there's not requirements for people to be vaccinated. In fact, there's a state law barring that except under specific circumstances.

So most places do not require that people be vaccinated.

CAMEROTA: Did the camp require the campers or the adult workers or counselors to wear masks?

KEISER: I honestly don't know about that. The camp actually is not located in our jurisdiction, but the church is.

And what we know about this is that there were 450 people that went to camp. It's a fairly large church.

They all gathered at the church to go up there. They took five buses up there and spent a week there. And then when they came back, that's when we started getting cases.

The first case reported Monday last week. By Wednesday, we realized we had a problem.

And Thursday, we were in close consultation with the church and talking to parishioners and getting people to contact us if they had symptoms or if they had a positive test.

CAMEROTA: Do you know how many of those folks of the 160 that we know of got sick?

KEISER: That's a good question, right? So in general, among kids -- and this is mostly kids between the ages of 12 and 18, there were about 10 or 15 who were younger than that -- they have a higher rate of asymptomatic infection.

The infections that we've seen so far have all been pretty mild. No one has been hospitalized at this point so that's very good news.

CAMEROTA: There were also, I think, the six breakthrough cases, meaning people who were vaccinated. Did any of them get sick or did they just test positive? Meaning, are they symptomatic or asymptomatic?

KEISER: Yes, several were asymptomatic and several got tested because they knew that they were exposed and we had asked -- were asking people to get tested.

Of those, none of them had actually gotten sick enough to require medical care or to be hospitalized. So again, that's good news.

But the bad news is, is that this is almost certainly all the Delta variant. We were able to do testing and we're continuing to do testing on these variants and to see how many of these are actual variants.

We got some data back Monday afternoon, so not quite 48 hours ago that the first three tests that we were able to do were all Delta variant. One of them was in someone who had had a breakthrough.

So, you know, this is exactly what we were concerned about, which is that the Delta variant would get into a highly vulnerable population and that we would see people who were vaccinated getting infected.

As of yet, no one, though, has been sick enough to require hospitalization.

CAMEROTA: That's such a relief.

But as you say, with the Delta variant, part of the problem with this camp is that then the campers, who are young and generally they don't get really sick, go home.

And then when they go home, you know, they may carry the virus with them and then who knows who at their home may get sick from being infected.

I want to read the statement from the pastor who runs the camp, who said, "From the beginning of this pandemic we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols. We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events."

Of course, they're saddened by it. And I certainly understand everybody is sad that people got sick.

But it sounds like, if they didn't require everyone -- those who could, to be vaccinated. And we don't know if they required masks, then they weren't requiring the strictest of safety protocols.

KEISER: Well, so there's the camp, which is actually run by a different group than the church.

So that statement comes from the pastor. They have been extremely cooperative with us.

They have been asking people to wear masks when they come to church. And they also ask people to get vaccinated and have been promoting vaccinations.

So they have really been trying to behave responsibly.

One of the problems we face here in Texas is that there's a significant number of people who really don't want to get vaccinated.

You know, we were very quick off the blocks in getting people vaccinated. We got a lot of folks vaccinated very, very quickly.

Once we hit that 50 percent mark, we saw the numbers of people drop dramatically.

The other problem we face is the timing in terms of the vaccination for the students. We had been working through the schools. But it was only approved for students during the last week of school.


And so many parents -- the kids were out of schools, they were going on vacations and doing other things haven't gotten their kids vaccinated yet.

We only have about 25 percent of our school-age kids between 12 and 18 vaccinated.

So we look at this as an opportunity to educate people and say, hey, now's the time to get your kid vaccinated before they go back to school.

If you're thinking about sending your child to camp, now is a good time to get vaccinated.

So that's where we are at this point.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for sharing that message with our viewers. And thanks for all of the information. We'll continue to follow the story.

Dr. Philip Keiser, we appreciate your time.

KEISER: Thank you.


BLACKWELL: At the start of the summer there, was a lot of discussion about the CDC and their guidance and their guidelines for summer camps.

There were parents who were saying, well, listen, we know that children don't get the worst of the symptoms, so why do they need to wear masks outdoors all the time?

We know that it doesn't transmit outdoors as easily as it does indoors.

Now we're seeing the other side of that, where the questions are legitimate now, were they required to wear masks? Were they required to have vaccinations? So --


CAMEROTA: And it is annoying, of course, to wear a mask while you're playing outdoors. My kids are at summer camp right now and it requires everybody to be vaccinated.


CAMEROTA: Which is a relief.

BLACKWELL: All right. President Biden is now speaking. He is making a push for a second part of an infrastructure plan, the generational investments in human infrastructure he's going to talk about. He's there in Illinois.

Let's listen.





BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you.



BIDEN: Please.


BIDEN: Please be seated.

Mr. President, he hasn't told you today he had to delay his vacation to be here today.


BIDEN: He heard Biden is coming. He said, oh, my god, when's he coming?


BIDEN: So he could show me around McHenry County College.

I'm glad to be here with great Illinois leaders.

I want you all to -- you know, America is back. America is back.



BIDEN: In no small part because of the men and women that I serve with.

Governor Pritzker, stand up, man.

(CHEERING) BIDEN: This is a good man.


CAMEROTA: If you really want someone in a foxhole with you when you're in trouble, you want Senator Tammy Duckworth.




BIDEN: And the guy I rely on more than anyone else in the United States Senate -- and I've served with him for years, we have a lot in common in terms of losses as well as gains -- is Dick Durbin.




BIDEN: Congresswoman Underwood, who got me a passport to come.



BIDEN: Her mom and dad are mildly proud with good reason.


BIDEN: Including me.

Actually, mom looks like her sister.


BIDEN: Last week, I was up in Wisconsin to talk about a bipartisan agreement to modernize American infrastructure. And in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs.

That's not my estimate. That's Wall Street estimates. That's everybody's estimate.

Millions of good-paying jobs. Not $7, not $8, not $10, not even $15 an hour. Good, prevailing wage jobs.

And here's what it means for Illinois.


BIDEN: You've got, like many states, all states, you've got 2,374 bridges and over 6,200 miles of highway that are in disrepair. As a result, every driver in this state pays a hidden tax of about

$600 per year in wasted time and wasted fuel because of the nature of the roads and bridges.

By the way, you're better than a lot of states.

Not to mention the challenge of getting to work or getting to the day care center on time to avoid that late fee when you pick up your child.

Your governor has an ambitious infrastructure plan.

Under a bipartisan infrastructure agreement, we'll make the biggest investment in bridges and roads since the construction of the interstate highway system, literally creating millions of good-paying jobs.



BIDEN: And God-willing, we're not going to have 40 weeks of this is infrastructure week. Remember those?


Think what it will mean to McHenry's agricultural program if we can get products more easily to Chicago. Think about how much easier life will be when it's quicker to drive on Randall Road.




BIDEN: Look, this agreement also allows us to replace every lead pipe and service line in America benefitting 10 million homes.


BIDEN: It's going it's been addressed -


BIDEN: It's going to address lead exposure to 400,000 of our schools and daycare facility where children drink that water.

This would be the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history.

One in every 10 people in Illinois lacks access to high-speed Internet. The bipartisan agreement Dick and others made sure we're getting allows us to connect every single American to high-speed, affordable Internet. Every single American, rural and urban.

By the way, those of your parent who is had kids at home tell me what Internet means this last year --


BIDEN: -- if they're school aged.

Well, from 2010 to 2020, Illinois experienced 49 extreme-weather events.

Although, I heard today from a Senator north of here that -- the Republican -- it's not global warming. You know, there's no such thing.

But those weather events caused this state roughly $50 billion in damages.

We're going to upgrade the electric grid to make it more resilient to extreme weather and other threats.

There's a lot more to agreement will do to ensure the physical infrastructure lays a foundation for a strong and durable and sustainable, competitive economy.

But I want to talk about the human infrastructure. It's essential to that foundation as well.

Truly, in the 21st century and, once again, truly build an economy from the bottom, up, and the middle, out, truly deal everybody in this time, we need to invest in our people. We need to invest in our people.

That's why, in addition to the bipartisan infrastructure agreement that I believe we're going to get done, I'm here to make a case for the second critical part of my domestic agenda.

It's a combination of parts of my American Jobs Plan that were essential and not included in the bipartisan infrastructure plan, as well as my American Families Plan.

In Washington, they call it a reconciliation bill. That's a fancy way of saying, for filibuster -- that our friends on the other side use constantly, more than it's ever been used in history.

It means you got to get 60 votes to get it done. We're a 50/50 Senate with a vice president who happens to be Democrat.

Back in the campaign, I said we're going to build back and Build Back Better. We can't just build back. We have to Build Back Better.

Today, I want to outline some of the key pieces of this Bill Back Better agenda and what it's going to do for the people of Illinois and the United States.

It's about a country once again that inspires and leads the world, and the opportunities we provide, the cures we discover, the technology we discover, the technologies we pioneer, and industries we create.

The nation that leads the world in battling the existential threat of climate change.

The Build Back Better plan agenda starts with education.

You know, one of the reasons why we've been the leading country in the world for so long, still on the edges, is because we're the first industrial nation in the world to require -- to allow 12 years of free education back at the turn of the 20th century.

But everybody has caught up.

At the time, they were debating what should be education in America. The argument was it should be 12 years of free education. That's what got us ahead. That's what had us leap ahead of the world.

Today, everybody has caught up.

Does anybody think, in the 21st century, with the changes that's taking place in technology across the board, that 12 years of education is enough to be able to live a middle-class life?

I don't think so.

The fact of the matter is, I've decided we should have a minimal of 14 years of education, 14 years of education, which I'll explain in a second.

You know, as the first lady -- I'm Jill Biden's husband.


BIDEN: But as Jill would say -- she's a full-time community college professor while being the first lady -- she says any nation that out educates us is going to out compete us. Any nation that out educates us, will out compete us.

That's why I was to guarantee an additional four years of public education to every person in America, starting with providing two years of universal high-quality preschool for three- and four-year- olds, building --


BIDEN: -- building on what the governor has been doing here in Illinois.


For the last 10 years, studies out of great universities, studies of a high-quality program here in Chicago, found that low-income children who participated in pre-school were 47 percent more likely to earn an associates degree or higher and get through school without any difficulty.


We have to build on that foundation for future success. Then I want to add two years of free community college for everyone.


BIDEN: We can afford it. I'll tell you how.

That could boost earnings of high school graduates with low-wage jobs by nearly $6,000 dollar a year on average.

The average annual cast of a two-year degree in Illinois is $4,000. Under my proposal, that cost would be zero.

But it's not just tuition that's expensive.


BIDEN: As was pointed out, living expenses, housing, meals, transportation.

That's why I propose to increase a maximum Pell Grant, which, if you're below a certain income, you qualify for a Pell Grant from about $6,500 a year to 8,000 a year.

That will fill it out.


BIDEN: I know -- I know, here at McHenry, you have a dual enrollment program. Students from places like Woodstock Hight School and other high schools, you get credit for taking college classes here.

My plan will provide resources to expand programs like the one you have here.

My plan will also do large investment in high-quality job training and apprenticeships in fast-growing sectors, like public health, childcare, manufacturing, information technology, clean energy.

So all Americans can get the skills employers want that lead to good middle class -- and I may no apology -- and union jobs.




But also


BIDEN: But also make strategic investments in teachers in the teacher pipeline.

Because even before the pandemic, our school system was 100,000 teachers short in America, particularly in high-demand areas. Our children are the kite strings that lift our national ambitions

aloft. And our teachers are the ones that help them believe they can anything.

I bet every one of you successful can name the teacher that helped change your life. I bet every one -- every one of us. Somebody came along and made us believe in ourselves. That's the really secret of teachers.

My plan will reduce student debt for future teachers, double the size of annual federal scholarships for future teachers.

We'll also support $100 billion dollar in school infrastructure improvements, including community college, to make sure they are safe and healthy places for learning, and that all students with labs and technology they need to be able to compete in the 21st century.

Of course, an ability to take these jobs often depends on the availability of childcare.

As a single father -- when I first got to the Senate, I had two young boys who just lost their mom and their sister in an automobile accident.

If I had not had the family I had, my younger sister, my best friend and my brother and my mom, to help out, I couldn't have done it. Not everybody has that kind of support.

I just toured the children's learning center. It's an amazing resource. Students and faculty can have the children cared for.

Students can earn their associate degrees in early childhood education as well.

High-quality childcare options should be the rule, not the exception.

So on my way here, I met with Mike Sayer (ph), who wrote me a letter about his struggle to find affordable childcare. And he wanted to know what my plans were.

Well, Mike, I hope you know now. Here we are.

My plan will provide access to quality, affordable childcare with more childcare centers with community college campus with new and upgraded childcare facilities all across the country.

Businesses --


BIDEN: Businesses will get a tax credit to build on-site facilities.

There is a reason I want to do that is not just to be nice. Business -- because studies show, when there's an onsite childcare center, businesses have less employee turnover, less absenteeism, and higher productivity. It's overwhelmingly in their interest to do it. Middle-class families will pay no more than 7 percent of income for high-quality childcare for children up to age five. And those hard- pressed working families won't have to pay a dime.

My plan will also invest in a childcare work force with better wages, benefits and training opportunities.

Look, they're also going to give parents the option to take up to an $8,000 tax credit to cover childcare expenses if that's the preferred root.

That's good for families and it's good for the economy and it will create more jobs.


My plan will provide up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave for medical care.