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Two Confederate Statues Removed Today In Charlottesville; Twenty-Sevne States Report A Rise In Cases As Delta Variant Spreads; Updated CDC School Guidance Prioritizes In-Person Learning; Surfside Death Toll Mounts As Search Enters 17th Day; Chaos Intensifies In Haiti After President's Assassination; Fence Comes Down Amid Growing Security Concerns At Capitol; Gas Prices Soar Above $3, Highest Since 2014; Western States Face Possible All-Time Record Heat. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with the historic statues, confederate statues, being brought down in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, officials removing a pair of statues honoring confederate generals that have stood in the city for the past century.

The removal comes nearly four years after white supremacists and Neo- Nazi groups converged on the Virginia college town to protect those monuments. That Unite the Right rally turned violent and left a peaceful counter-protester dead.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Charlottesville for us. So Evan -- what was witnessed today?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, as you mentioned, just until -- for about a hundred years until just a few minutes ago, General Stonewall Jackson was on that pedestal behind me here in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In just of couple hours this morning, this city took down statues that have marked this city's approach to -- changing approach to the civil war, changing approach to its history over the past decades.

And this process, as you mentioned, began actually four years ago in 2016, when the town council voted to remove those statues. But after legal challenges and that awful Unite the Right rally you mentioned in 2017, that was all put on hold until today.

The mayor spoke this morning before the statues came down and talked about what kind of a moment it was for her and what a moment it was for Charlottesville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR NIKUYAH WALKER (I), CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: This statue is finally being surrendered. It's just one small step. The real work has always been and will continue to be the willingness to accurately teach history, eliminate wealth gaps by investing at the same pace that white people invested in themselves.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It's important to note that what the mayor is saying is that these statues coming down as part of an overall process here in Charlottesville. They've wanted them down for a long time.

It was outsiders that stopped that from happening, outsiders who filed lawsuits, outsiders who came here with that Unite the Right rally.

But now, they've gotten the statues down. And this morning, when I was out here and the crowds were with me, all you heard was cheering. It sounded very different than those crowds back in 2017.

Charlottesville feels like it's turned a corner today and it feels like these statues coming down to put the end to a chapter of American history since 2017 that's just one that we don't like to think that much about, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much for that from Charlottesville.

All right. Turning now to the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC announcing new guidance as schools prepare to reopen for the fall term, some in just a matter of weeks.

Health officials are now saying in-person learning is the priority. They're calling on schools to promote vaccinations, but they also say schools should be very cautious about removing the measures meant to protect students.

It comes as the Delta variant is spreading across the country. It's now the dominant strain in the U.S. 27 states are now seeing a rise in COVID cases over the previous week. And many are in areas that have low vaccination rates.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the states seeing a surge. Polo, what are you learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is important to remember, too, Fred, with many parts of the country feeling like they are out of the woods, they're certainly doing better, there are still just over two dozen states that are currently experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. And as you mentioned, the Delta variant is highly to blame.

And that's really what we're seeing here in Arkansas. We heard from health officials a little while ago saying that, currently, the state of Arkansas is experiencing the upswing portion of what is the third wave of the coronavirus cases here when it comes to hospitalizations and cases. And when you look back at the general numbers, several weeks ago, the numbers were looking good. Cases were on their way down. Vaccinations on their way up.

But then just a few week ago, that vaccination rate seems to have stalled at about 40 percent. And of course, as we mentioned, those cases continue to rise.

Now when it comes to that vaccinations rate, here at Little Rock, also very similar according to local officials when it comes to the number of people who have actually been vaccinated.

But when you hear from the local mayor Frank Scott Jr. here saying that the big challenge for them at the local level is to get out in the community and try to convince many of these people who are still hesitant about getting that vaccine.


MAYOR FRANK SCOTT, JR., LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS: A lot of the residents -- a lot of the residents that we're hearing, the concern is, well, it's not FDA approved yet. They still have some history from the past of a lack of trust.

They think it is a conspiracy theory. Some of them even say it is big brother. A lot of this is not factual. It's not research-based and, quite frankly, when you see your loved one die, you understand that it's real.


SCOTT, JR.: And we hate that that has to happen to get individuals. You'll see countless folks who were concerned, then they had a loved one of their immediate family get the test and then they've decided to get it afterwards. We don't want it to get to that point.


SANDOVAL: You know, just like much of the country, Arkansas state officials had offered those incentives for people to get vaccinated, like a lottery ticket perhaps or possibly a hunting license -- anything to get people there.

But officials are now seeing that that only proved to have a limited success. So the mayor there touching on an important point, that when it comes down to it, those facts will hopefully speak for themselves. Those numbers and, sadly, many of those stories of those Arkansas residents who have already lost loved ones, to try to get more people to get that shot.

Because at the end of the day, so far, based on the numbers that we're seeing at the state level here in Arkansas, Fred, out of current COVID cases, over 90 percent of those current COVID cases are people who are not fully protected with a vaccine. That says it all.

WHITFIELD: It does indeed. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much, in Little Rock. We'll check back with you.

All right. Let's talk more about all of this. I want to bring in Dr. Mike Saag. He is the associate dean of Global Health at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Dr. Saag, always great to see you.

So the CDC says the priority this fall is to have students back in class for in-person learning, but students 12 and under still not allowed to get a vaccine. So is it feasible, in your view, that students will be back in class, or is it with conditions, like mask wearing?

DR. MICHAEL SAAG, ASSOCIATE DEAN-GLOBAL HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA- BIRMINGHAM: Well, I think it is feasible. And I think it's important. We suffered enough in terms of having kids at home.

As far as safety, I think we just go back to the principles of the virus. Number one, the virus doesn't care who you are or what politics you have. If it gets an opportunity to infect, it's going to.

Secondly, the Delta variant is about ten times more infectious, ten times, than the original SARS COV-2 strain that we saw.

And finally, mask-wearing we know works. And if you're vaccinated, it is, in essence, like giving you a biologic mask. So when kids go back to school, if they're under 12 they can't be vaccinated. The teachers should be vaccinated, and the kids should be wearing a mask as they go back, at least while Delta is in our midst.

WHITFIELD: All right. There are a lot of concerns, obviously, about the rise of the cases in the U.S. Overall, especially as that Delta variant becomes a more dominant strain, like in Arkansas. And we know now there are Delta cases in every -- all 50 states.

So is this country in a place right now to try to slow the spread of this new variant simply by the means of encouraging people to get vaccinated?

DR. SAAG: Yes, truly that simple. I keep wondering, how is history going to look back on this time? We know what the virus does. We know this variant is here. It's not a surprise.

We know what works. And we know vaccines, as I said earlier, are biologic masks. And if you don't want to get vaccinated and you want to protect yourself, you should wear a mask when you're out in public to protect yourself and those around you.

I don't understand why the message is so resistant. I don't understand why people are putting up such resistance, but that's what we're up against right now.

WHITFIELD: And are you confident that the current vaccines are enough to protect against the Delta variant?

DR. SAAG: I really am. The data are pretty overwhelming that it is protective. For example, in the month of May, there were 18,000 deaths from COVID. 17,850 of those deaths were in unvaccinated people. Only 150 people had been vaccinated.

This vaccine works extraordinarily well even against the Delta virus. I think what we're all concerned about is if this thing keeps spreading and mutating, perhaps one day, there will be a Delta or a Delta plus variant that comes along that is not as neutralized by the immunity from the vaccine.

But we're not there yet. This vaccine works. Everyone should get it.

WHITFIELD: And in Alabama where you are, it's the only state where less than a third of the residents are fully vaccinated. And you said, you know, you're throwing your arms up, hands up, why so many are hesitant or even resistant.

And there is a difference there. There are those who are hesitant. They don't trust it. And then there are those who resist it because they just simply don't believe it's necessary?

DR. SAAG: Yes, it's kind of -- people have dug their heels in, either from (INAUDIBLE) you can't tell me what to do or that it's a hoax. That's about 20 percent, I would guess, of people in Alabama. But for the rest of us, it is time to get moving. We just moved into the 50th slot. We're now the worst in the country for vaccination.

And as your graphic just showed a few minutes ago, we now are over 50 percent of new cases over the last week or two.

It is going to happen. It's biology. It is principles of virus. It's not hard to predict. The weather is probably easier to predict than where this virus is going to go.


WHITFIELD: All right. In terms of where we go from here, though, among those who are vaccinated -- booster, no booster?

I mean Dr. Fauci says premature. The head of Pfizer perhaps got out ahead of his skis by saying, according to Fauci, by saying, yes, booster necessary.

DR. SAAG: I don't think we're ready for a booster. Here's the two things that lead to a booster.

Number one is that the immunity starts to wane in the population. And we're not seeing that right now. The immunity is the data I just shared with you about deaths in the country. It's still protecting.

And the second reason would be if we find that a new strain comes out, something different than Delta, Gamma, et cetera. And we haven't seen that yet.

I'm excited, though, that Pfizer and other companies are developing a booster, so if we get to the day where we need it, it will be available. And that is good news. WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Mike Saag, thank you so much. Be well.

DR. SAAG: Thank you. You, too.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, the death toll rising from that condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. We'll have the latest on the investigation. And we'll also hear from a rescue worker about the emotional and physical challenges of working at that site.

Plus, right now, crews are taking down the fence that surrounds the U.S. Capitol as the fight over security and funding intensifies.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Last hour, officials in Surfside, Florida gave an update on the ongoing search efforts there. 86 people are now confirmed dead after a condo building collapsed 17 days ago. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava delivered this message to the community.


MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE, FLORIDA: Pray for all those who lost loved ones and whose hearts are broken from this unspeakable tragedy, and for those who are still waiting.


WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen joining us live now from Surfside.

Boy, what a tough time today and the last 17 days have been. What is happening there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Fred, a tough time, especially for the families of those 86 people confirmed dead. 43 still potentially unaccounted for.

We do notice that the pace of finding people has really picked up in the last week, ever since the demolition of the remaining part of the building last weekend.

That's because the rescuers have been able to get and access more of the pile. The people being found -- I asked about whether there's any pattern to where in the rubble they're being found and where, potentially, what floors they might have lived on.

There is no pattern, I'm being told. They're being found throughout the entire site. And also, there are two efforts going on here, not just finding the victims but also removing the rubble from the demolition area from last weekend. And that's going at a faster pace than expected right now.

There was a brief stoppage this morning at 7:00 a.m. because of lightning strikes. And they resumed quickly thereafter. It's just an example of the many challenges that they have faced during these two plus weeks.

One of the rescue workers talked to our colleague, Randi Kaye, about the emotional toll it's taking.


CHIEF NICOLE NOTTE, FLORIDA TAS FORCE 2: I feel like I'm physically digging, but I'm also emotionally digging for more strength to continue.

I try -- I bring back into mind the families and friends that want some closure and are just desperately waiting for any information. and that gives me the strength and motivation to keep digging, per se.


CHEN: We still see crews switching shifts even as we speak, walking past us. Just that they've been working around the clock.

In the meantime, of course, there've been concerns about other buildings throughout the county, including Champlain Towers North, a sister building to the one that collapsed where there have been samples being taken.

Our colleague Rosa Flores was given a tour yesterday by the structural engineer. They're really taking a look at how closely the building was constructed compared to the blueprints. They're sending the concrete to labs to be processed.

Officials say that it's being examined for potential salt contamination, to see if that happened.

And then also, a Miami-Dade County building, the courthouse, those employees have now been sent back to work from home, just like they did during the pandemic, because of concerns with that structure after an engineer's report.

Just a glimmer of good news, though, yesterday we were told that a cat was found near the site of the collapse. This is Binks who lived on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South.

A volunteer recognized the cat and brought it to the animal schedule. It was positively identified, and Binks is now back with his family, Fred.

WHITFIELD: A little glimmer of hope that was appreciated and in really so much distraught over the last couple of weeks.

Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

All right. Still ahead, burned out cars, bullet holes, and bloodstain. More fallout after Haiti's president was assassinated. We're live in Port-Au-Prince.



WHITFIELD: Missouri has become ground zero in the COVID-19 battle, as health experts there warn the Delta variant is spreading fast. The surge in new cases in Missouri is happening with less than 40 percent of the state's population fully vaccinated.

CNN's Miguel Marquez traveled to Missouri where hospitals are being overwhelmed by a surge in new COVID patients.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Louie Michael and Patty Bunch held off getting vaccinated. Not anti-vaxxers, it just wasn't a priority. Then they got sick.

(on camera): How sick did you two get?

PATTY BUNCH, RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: I remember I was working, and then I just -- it felt like a bomb dropped on me. I just wasn't feeling good at all, and I thought, oh, no.

MARQUEZ: You're still recovering?

BUNCH: I'm still recovering.

MARQUEZ: This is not your normal voice?


MARQUEZ: This is a month later.

BUNCH: This is a month later. It has totally devastated me.

MARQUEZ (voice over): So sick, she thought she'd never see her daughter, Ashley, again.


BUNCH: I remember looking up at the ambulance, and I could see our daughter, Ashley, driving, you know, behind us. And I just thought, I knew that once they took me there, I wouldn't see her. I wouldn't see my family. And you just have no control.

MARQUEZ: This is Louie and Patty holding hands in the ICU. He thinks he picked up the virus in Las Vegas, then without knowing it, gave it to his wife of 30 years.

LOUIE MICHAEL, RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: We got to that point where she needed to go first. I thought I was going to be tough and hold on, and stay home and try to recuperate. But it wasn't the case. I immediately went downhill.

MARQUEZ: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths again on the rise in Missouri. The state's Health Department estimates more than 70 percent of the virus circulating in the state is the more infectious, possibly more dangerous Delta variant.

DR. MAYROL JUAREZ, VP, HOSPITAL PROVIDERS AT MERCY HOSPITAL: We are seeing more people 30 years and older getting sicker and requiring hospitalization. Also, we have seen that in this wave, people getting sicker faster.

MARQUEZ: Springfield's Mercy Hospital has seen hospitalizations rise so quickly, they've brought ventilators in from other hospitals. At Springfield's Cox Health 90 percent of coronavirus patients tested have the Delta variant.

DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT AT COX HEALTH: This is going to keep happening. You know, it may peak here, and then it's going to spread to other places. If we don't get enough vaccinated, there's going to be another variant that's probably worst. It's just -- that's the way, you know, that's the way viruses work.

MARQUEZ: In Greene County, population nearly 300,000 health officials sounding the alarm.

(on camera): How concerned are you about the weeks and months ahead?

KATIE TOWNS, ACTING DIRECTOR, SPRINGFIELD GREENE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Terribly concerned. I mean, yesterday we reported another 240 cases in one day.

We're not a huge community. That's a really large number, and we haven't seen these numbers since we had a surge back in December and January.

MARQUEZ (voice over): In nearby Branson, a huge tourist draw, it is business as usual. Vaccinations here in Taney County even lower than the state, just 25 percent of all residents here vaccinated.

(on camera): What is the biggest barrier you hear to people not getting vaccinated?

LISA MARSHALL, DIRECTOR, TANEY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: It runs kind of the gamut. Maybe they feel like they just want to wait and see. They're just not quite ready yet. Maybe they're just not someone that vaccinates.

We've also heard a little bit of concern over how quickly the vaccine was developed.

MARQUEZ: Louie and Patty think of it this way. The unknown possibilities of getting the vaccine far outweigh the known horrors of the virus.

BUNCH: The vaccine, I feel personally, is nothing compared to taking your chances and getting --

MICHAEL: It's Russian roulette really, if you want to take your odds and see, you know, if you get it and how well you do with it. Unfortunately, you're not going to do as well as you think you are.


MARQUEZ: Just why is there such a big outbreak in this part of Missouri right now? Probably down to several different factors. When the vaccines came along, social distancing, masking rules -- all those went out the window for many people.

Branson which brings in people from all over the country is right down the road from Springfield. So there's a lot of tourists coming into this area.

And then that Delta variant. It was first identified here in Springfield and in Branson in May. It is now circulating widely in this area. And the concern now is it is going to stick around into the fall when they will have an even bigger outbreak.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still some serious business. All right. Thank you so much, Miguel.

All right. Coming up, six months after the deadly Capitol insurrection, the last of the security fencing may be coming down. But the fight to investigate what happened that day is just beginning.

We'll go live to Capitol Hill in minutes.



WHITFIELD: Fear and chaos are intensifying in Haiti this morning. People are gathering outside the U.S. embassy in Port-Au-Prince right now with their belongings. They're desperate to leave the country after that shocking and brazen assassination of the president there.

At least 28 people are suspected in the killing, including two Americans. 20 of those have been detained. A massive manhunt is now under way for more suspects.

The Haitian government is asking the U.S. and the U.N. to send troops. The White House says FBI and DHS officials will travel there as soon as possible.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Port-Au-Prince.

So Matt, what more are you learning about the suspects, the motivation?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are so many more questions than answers at this point, Fred. I mean yes, we have this information from the Haitian government about the suspects involved.

What they're basically telling the public here to believe is that there were 28 foreign nationals with no Haitian help, at least so far in this investigation. And frankly, a lot of people are having trouble believing that. But we don't know the motive. We don't know who financed it. There are so many mysteries surrounding this assassination.


RIVERS (voice over): Haitian police wasting no time as the countrywide manhunt for the final suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise intensifies.

Less than 48 hours after his murder, authorities released details about the suspects, some whom they claim are in this video.


RIVERS: Police say there are a total of 28 people involved in the attack. Three were killed, 20 are in custody, and now they're looking for the final five. Authorities say they have identified at least 18 of the arrested suspects as Colombian and two as Haitian-Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operation, everybody stand down.

RIVERS: This audio recording that CNN has not been able to independently verify allegedly captures the moment when the assassins gained access to the private presidential residence the night of the attack.

Officials say the men posed as U.S. Drug Enforcement agents to get in. As police clean up the scene of a shootout they had with some of the assassins, all that remains -- burned out cars, bullet holes, and bloodstains.

(on camera): So this is all that's left of one of the cars that officials say suspects in this assassination were using when they engaged in a shootout with police. This car, as well, was involved. And you can see a bullet hole here that was left over as a result of that shootout.

(voice over): The aftermath of that night shaking the country's already fragile political state. Confusion abounds over who is actually in charge.

In the hours after Moise's murder, Haiti's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, assumed power and took command of the police and military, declaring a, quote, "state of siege", temporarily putting the country under martial law. Experts say it's not clear if he can do that.

But Moise appointed a new prime minister just days before he died, Ariel Henry, who was supposed to be sworn in this week. Henry says he should be the one leading the mourning nation right now, though it looks unlikely Joseph will step aside.

CLAUDE JOSEPH, ACDTING HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER: The constitution is clear. I have to organize elections and actually pass the power to someone else who is elected. (END VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS: Look, the fact of the matter, Fred, is that there remains a political vacuum in this country right now. We aren't really sure who is running things. And what happens through the rest of the day today, tomorrow, the following day will have huge impacts both in the short term but also on the long-term future of this country.

WHITFIELD: And Matt, this assassination is huge, but there are other problems facing the country right now. Walk us through some of those issues.

RIVERS: Yes. I mean, Haiti's problems did not start this week. This is a country that had been ongoing -- that had been experiencing ongoing political unrest because President Moise was not a popular president.

Many people believe that he illegally overstayed his term in office. Parliament had essentially been dissolved because there haven't been free and fair elections here in some time. There's only ten senators currently sitting in this country of the 30 that are supposed to be sitting because 20 have seen their terms expire.

On the other side of parliament, of the House, all members there have seen their terms expire.

And then you have COVID. Not one single vaccine has been administered in Haiti so far. That is a staggering thing when you think about it. You combine that with pervasive gang violence, poverty, corruption at the highest levels of government for well over a decade now. Many communities still haven't even rebuilt from the earthquake back in 2010.

are so many reasons why, as you mentioned off the top, Fred, Haitians are outside the U.S. embassy. Maybe this assassination put many people over the edge. But the fact is, people aren't leaving this island just because of an assassination. That's just kind of the cherry on top of this sundae here in Haiti, which has just been a horrific situation for so many years now.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Haiti under siege for a host of reasons.

Matt Rivers, thank you so much, in Port-Au-Prince.

All right. Still to come, 30 million people out west under excessive heat alerts this weekend, and more than a hundred daily temperature records could be broken between now and Tuesday. A closer look at the forecast next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Happening all weekend, crews are taking down the final links of fencing installed around the U.S. Capitol after the January 6th insurrection. This comes more than six months after the deadly attack by Trump supporters. But there are still plenty of concerns about how to protect lawmakers and the Capitol Hill campus going forward.

CNN's Daniella Diaz joining us live now from Capitol Hill. So Daniella, you know, are lawmakers any closer to reaching an agreement on funding for security at the Capitol?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Fred, the answer is no. Look, there's still a lot of concerns. It's just been six months after the insurrection, and there has been no agreement on how to provide additional funding to U.S. Capitol police. Funding that is necessary to be able to protect this Capitol campus.

Look, the House passed a $1.9 billion supplemental funding bill earlier this year, but it's hit roadblocks in the Senate. Senate Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on this funding.

Look, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Patrick Leahy said this is Republicans' fault for why this bill had hit roadblocks in the Senate, but Senate Republicans say that they counter offered with a more stripped down version of a supplement bill that Democrats did not respond to.

So we'll wait to see how this plays out when the Senate comes back from recess next week.

But this is just one of many things that are on the senators' lists when they come back. Not only, you know, the supplemental funding for Capitol police, but police reform, infrastructure negotiations, and voting rights.

So there's a lot of -- on their list when they come back from recess next week in this July month, Fred.


WHITFIELD: And then Daniella, there's this. I mean what is the latest on the select committee charged with investigating the January 6th insurrection? I mean the ball is in McCarthy's court, right?

DIAZ: That's exactly right. But Democrats will proceed without McCarthy's appointments to the committee anyway.

Look, chairman of the House that's (INAUDIBLE) committee, Bennie Thompson said on MSNBC yesterday, that they will start to have hearings as soon as this month.

Take a listen to what he said.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We expect to have a hearing within ten days to talk to the rank and file of the Capitol police, to talk to the support staff who had to hide in closets and other things. And then had to be tasked with cleaning up the mess after the riot occurred. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAZ: Chairman Thompson and the members that are currently on this committee, including one Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney who was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they want to hear from Capitol police officers as soon as possible about what they witnessed on January 6th.

And look, House Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy has yet to appoint anyone to this panel. But we know he will. It's just a matter of when.

So bottom line here is, Democrats and, of course, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the only Republican currently on this committee, they want to proceed with this investigation on what happened on January 6th, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Daniella Diaz, thanks so much for all of that. Appreciate it.

All right. Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, the good news, Americans are traveling again. The not so good news, prices at the gas pump.

Next -- what's behind this surge in gas prices?

But first, Arizona is home to many amazing canyons, especially the Grand Canyon. But here are some ways to avoid the Grand crowds in this week's "Off the Beaten Path".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It's a difficult place to get to, but it's really worth the trip. The north rim gets 10 percent of the visitors that Grand Canyon gets. That means that you have a little more space to find a place for your own and enjoy the canyon views.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just like the fact that it's less crowded. It's magical. It's just a whole different level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome. We're on Lake Powell (ph) right now. To show people a different way into Antelope Canyon that most people don't know about. Paddling into the canyon, you get to experience reflections in the water of the canyon walls. It'll make it so you can't even tell what's up and what's down.

There's hundred-foot walls that close in as you get farther back. This is the only way to get here is by paddleboard or kayak. So it makes for a crazy, unique experience.

This is the end. This is where the hike starts. This is where it really gets beautiful. It's going to get more narrower here. The farther we go back, you're going to have to duck.

This is the reason people come here, to see this carved out sandstone. The waves and the lines are ancient deposition of sand getting compacted into sand stone. That's just what makes this area so beautiful, and so unique, and why people come from all over the world.




WHITFIELD: As the summer travel season heats up, millions of Americans are returning to the skies and roadways but those long-awaited vacations are coming with some major sticker shock. Soaring gas prices all across the country. they're averaging well over $3 a gallon. Higher than they've been since late 2014 and there is no easy fix.

CNN Business lead writer Matt Egan joining us right now. So got to dig a little deeper if you want to go anywhere but explain if you could, Matt, you know, what is causing prices to spike?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Yes Fred, this is all about supply and demand. Gas prices were dirt cheap in the spring of 2020. That's because no one was driving. Roads were empty as the pandemic raged.

Thankfully, because of the successful rollout of vaccines, people are driving again. They're taking road trips. They're even commuting to work.

Demand is at levels that we haven't actually seen before. Just during the last week that included the Fourth of July holiday, weekly gasoline demand went to an all-time high on records that go back to 1991.

So not only is demand high, supply is not where it could be. U.S. oil companies, they got crushed during the pandemic. Remember, oil prices actually went negative at one point so U.S. oil production is not back to pre-prices level and OPEC -- OPEC is actually intentionally holding back supply.

They were supposed to agree to a deal to add much-needed oil but they were unable to do that because of bickering between some of the countries.

So you add all that up and you have gasoline at $3.14 a gallon today. That's up from $2.20 a year ago. We haven't seen prices like that since 2014.

Just to give you some context, back in 2014, future president Donald Trump, he was still hosting "The Apprentice" back then.

WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness. So does the current president have any options on trying to fix this?


EGAN: Well, listen, the White House is definitely under some pressure. No one likes high gas prices except for maybe OPEC and some oil CEOs. And it has become a political issue. I mean Republicans are attacking President Biden for this. Look at this tweet from Ohio Republican Jim Jordan. He said "Make gas cheap again." There was a great response from an analyst at GasBuddy who said "Make demand plunge again."

But listen, President Biden, he does not have a magic wand here. In theory, he could tap America's stockpile of oil. It's called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but that's really for a break-the-glass moment like a conflict --

WHITFIELD: Yes, you do that in a crisis.

EGAN: -- exactly. And this is not a crisis. An economic boom is not the reason to do that. so the best bed for President Biden is to focus on energy diplomacy. He's got to try to forge a (INAUDIBLE) at OPEC. And if he is unable to do that, we could see prices go even higher here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. Good morning on that one.

Thank you, Matt. Matt Egan, appreciate it.

EGAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Meantime, it's another scorching weekend out west -- dangerous heat, extreme heat -- Threatening to break records in California and Nevada.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar with more on this, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right, Fred. And this is a pretty widespread heat wave that we're dealing with. The alert stretched basically from northern Washington all the way down toward the Arizona-Mexico border and a lot of those areas in between.

This, a day after so many records were broken. Take a look at this. Needles, California topped out at 120 degrees yesterday breaking their record. Las Vegas hitting 116 degrees. Even Grand Junction, Colorado hitting 107 degrees.

That wasn't just a daily record. That was breaking their all-time record they had there. And more records likely to be broken today.

One of those could be Death Valley hitting 130 for the second day in a row. They topped out at 130 yesterday. Yes, Death Valley is a very hot place. We get that. But even for them, this is exceptionally rare.

In fact, they've only ever hit 130 or higher two other years in recorded history. And they could do it not only yesterday, they could break it yet again today.

Here's a look at some of those high temperatures. Las Vegas could top out at 117 today. If they do that, it will break their all-time record as well.

So again, these are just some daily small records. For some of these areas, it's all-time records.

And another thing to point out, Fred too, are the overnight low temperatures. Take a look at this. Las Vegas only getting down to 90 tomorrow morning. Death Valley, only 100. That's a concern because you really ideally want that overnight low to get down to at least 80 to give the body a chance to recover.

WHITFIELD: All right. Very good. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. People have got to stay safe, be careful and, you know, sometimes that wet hankey around the neck is really, really effective. All right. Thank you.

All right. A brand-new "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES" premieres tomorrow night, "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM" shows how every show is trying at its heart to be a reflection of America's family.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is real life. This is really happening.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Though they rarely satirize politics quite like late night, sitcoms are a measure of our times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's me, Eddy. Only I'm Eddie now.

FOREMAN: And in many cases, they're fighting for reform.

PAMELA ADLON, CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "BETTER THINGS": If you put something in your show that's shocking and radical, the hope is in five years' time, it's going to become more normal.

FOREMAN: So here are five shows that blazed trails in social justice. Starting with "All In The Family".


FOREMAN: In the 1970s, the runaway hit held a mirror up to old dated views and all that demanded change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I suppose you're going to tell me that the black man has had the same opportunity in this country as you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More. He's had more. I did not have no million people out there marching and protesting to get me my job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. His uncle got it for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Archie Bunker was saying things that you just don't say on television.

FOREMAN: Number four, "The Cosby Show". The Huxtables were inspirational, funny, wealthy, despite the terrible accusations to come for Bill Cosby. JALEEL WHITE, ACTRO: With respect to what's happened of late, it's

like hugely disappointing to all of us, but he set the standard for what a family sitcom was.

FOREMAN: Number three --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening and welcome to FYI.

FOREMAN: -- Murphy Brown. Long before the MeToo Movement, this show engaged women's rights and when a real life vice president said the fictional single mom was undermining family values --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mocking the importance of fathers.

FOREMAN: Brown hit back.

CANDICE BERGEN, ACTOR: And in a country where millions of children grow up in non-traditional families, that definition seems painfully unfair.


FOREMAN: Number two, "Modern Family". As if fulfilling Murphy Brown's vision and answering "All in the Family's" myopia, this program has quietly championed inclusivity.

And number one, "I Love Lucy" began the modern age of sitcoms with a female star married to a Cuban man.