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CNN NEWSROOM

Highly Contagious Delta Variant Tightens Grip On U.S.; Confirmed Death Toll In South Florida Rises To 90; Billionaire Branson Successfully Rockets Into Space; Trump's Election Lies Loom Large Over CPAC Agenda; Americans Struggle To Afford Rising Cost Of Child Care. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:21]

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: To the edge of space and beyond. Richard Branson becomes the first person to ride into space on the rocket he funded.

Plus, to booster or not? One country is now offering COVID booster shots. Could the United States be far behind?

And the pandemic has made child care costs a whole lot more.

I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday, and it's great to have you along with us.

Well, as the Delta variant prompts concerns of a coronavirus resurgence, drugmaker Pfizer will brief U.S. government officials tomorrow evening on COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Last week Pfizer- BioNTech said they are seeing waning immunity among people who got their vaccine and would seek Emergency Use Authorization for a booster from the FDA in August.

Now the FDA and CDC said there's no evidence that boosters are needed yet, but a short time ago, Israel announced it's immediately going to allow third doses of the Pfizer vaccine for people with compromised immune systems.

Joining me now with more is Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician at Brown University and co-founder of Get Us PPE.

Dr. Ranney, great to see you. So what we're really talking about here is people who were vaccinated a while ago where there may be some declining efficacy, where they may have some underlying health problems. Do you think that a booster shot would be necessary right now?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN AT BROWN UNIVERSITY: So let's be clear that for almost all folks who have gotten both Pfizer shots or both Moderna shots or their single Johnson & Johnson shot, they are fully protected from COVID-19, even this new Delta variant. Study after study from the U.K., from the U.S. and from elsewhere across the globe shows that these vaccines still work even against this novel variant.

Now there is one small exception, and those are people who are immunosuppressed, people who are on biologics for rheumatoid arthritis or who are getting chemo, who are organ transplant recipients. We know that those folks are less likely to have an adequate immune response after their first set of vaccines.

That might be the one group for whom a booster might be indicated at this point, but for right now, honestly, I don't want to focus on getting people a third shot of a vaccine. I want more Americans to get their first shots of vaccine. That's the problem we're facing, not waning immunity.

BROWN: And we're actually talking later in the show to someone who is fully vaccinated and is immunocompromised. He actually ended up in the hospital. But it's one of the rare cases. And just to be clear, when we say you're fully vaccinated, if you have gotten either the two dose or the Johnson & Johnson, that means that you're not going to end up in the hospital, you're not going to die, right? I mean, that's what that means.

RANNEY: Yes. That's exactly right. That after the first dose of Johnson & Johnson, once you get two to three weeks out, once you get a couple of weeks after your second shot of either Moderna and Pfizer, what it means is that you are pretty much fully protected from severe disease, hospitalization and death, and you're still somewhere around 85 percent or 90 percent protected from catching COVID at all.

Again, even the Delta variant, which is more transmissible, which does spread more easily in general. So these vaccines still work really nicely for those of us that have followed through and gotten our shots as we were supposed to.

BROWN: And the Delta variant, as you mentioned, is spreading rapidly in these states with low vaccination rates. There is one hospital in Springfield, Missouri, that was forced to borrow ventilators this week. I mean, the hospital's chief administrator told CNN the current crisis is much more than last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIK FREDERICK, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, MERCY HOSPITAL: Ninety- one percent of our ICU patients today are on ventilators and that's shocking to us to have that kind of number. Last year during the peak it was around 40 percent to 50 percent of ICU patients would be on ventilators and these are young patients -- in their 20s, 30s, 40s and it's -- again it's alarming.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So what are you seeing, Dr. Ranney, in the E.R., with adolescents impacted by the Delta variant?

RANNEY: So here in Rhode Island, we've been really successful with getting vaccines out. We are one of the states that met President Biden's goal for that July 4th 70 percent of adults being vaccinated. So we haven't seen a huge rise in Delta variant here, but I'm talking to my friends across the country and my goodness, it's like a bad dream. We've been through this before, right? We know how COVID spreads and what makes me so sad about this one, Pamela, is that these folks don't have to be sick.

The people that are filling the hospitals in Missouri and Arkansas and Nevada, they're all people who could have gotten vaccinated, who didn't have to end up there.

[19:05:09]

BROWN: I mean, that's the sad part. Basically people are ending up in the hospital or dying by choice because they are choosing not to get the vaccine and you have lawmakers, politicians, people in the media who are continuing to put out misinformation about the vaccines. People listen to it and you're seeing what happens in parts of the country.

In those parts of the country where there's high un-vaccination rates, what do you think the fall will look like, as you head into the fall where schools will be re-opening?

RANNEY: Yes, I'm quite worried about the fall. And I'll say that, misinformation is everywhere even today in my own E.R. I had a conversation with a patient and their family member who had heard some of these lies about vaccines. We were able to correct them and get them ready to get a vaccine, but it takes those one-on-one conversations.

There's also misinformation, people think that just because you're young that you're somehow not going to get really sick, and your question about schools, that's exactly what worries me. You know, there are some states where they're seeing that they won't let kids wear masks in schools.

I'll tell you, I've got a nine-year-old, you better believe he's going to be wearing a mask in school if he's not vaccinated yet because I am worried about this fall. Kids deserve to be back in school, but they also deserve to be safe and there are ways to do that, but it's about masks and vaccines for those for whom it's approved.

BROWN: Because again, this virus and it's crazy that I even have to repeat this, but it's not just about you, right? It's not just about a personal choice, it's about other people, too, in that case other kids who probably won't be eligible to get vaccinated in the fall if they're under the age of 12.

Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so much.

RANNEY: Thank you.

BROWN: Turning to Surfside, Florida, now. Today marks the 18th day of tireless round-the-clock work by crews, poring through the rubble of that collapsed condominium. And with those grim efforts, the confirmed death toll climbs.

CNN's Natasha Chen is there in South Florida. So, Natasha, what progress are recovery workers making today?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, the death count is now at 90 confirmed people dead, and 31 people still potentially unaccounted for. And the officials today told us that they had hoped that the stairwells might be a place that they would have found more people, sometimes there at those create voids where people are located but that was not the case during this search. They are just combing through the entire area of debris. They are using heavy machinery to lift the pieces off the pile.

Fourteen million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed so far from the site. And as they are looking for people, they're also finding their belongings, signs of the lives they led. They're actually lifting the pieces so carefully that they told us they found an undamaged bottle of wine. They found someone's ring. They found heirlooms. And the Miami-Dade County Police director explained they've even brought rabbis to the site to help them understand and identify pieces that might be religiously important. Here's what he said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDDY RAMIREZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY POLICE DIRECTOR: It could be the smallest little thing that to a common person it just looks like a little container, but really it means generations. It's very spiritual, and I'm just so impressed about our officers are learning so much about culture that there are so many dynamics here with the sadness and the sorrow. There's like a unity component. We learn about each other so we would definitely respect that and honor that.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: He also said that there is a database where families can upload information about significant items that they are looking for. Meantime, the search teams who are finding items are carefully logging those and then they go to a storage area so later on the families can be reunited with their belongings that are important to them.

Meanwhile, the search team, some of them are leaving. The Israeli Defense Forces left today. The Virginia team is on its way out, but the fire chief said overall on average the number of personnel have stayed the same, and Pamela, this is still a 24-hour operation.

BROWN: It is, and it's just incredible that they are still taking such painstaking care in what they do, that they are able to recover wine bottles and tiny little pieces and wedding rings, as you point out. I mean, they are taking this so seriously and they are working tirelessly and we just commend them.

Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

CHEN: Thank you.

BROWN: Coming up, a California man is one of the rare fully vaccinated people who nearly died from COVID. Tonight, you'll hear his appeal to the unvaccinated and why he thinks wearing a mask indoors no matter what is still important. Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an historic moment that Richard Branson and his team at Virgin Galactic have been waiting for, for nearly two decades and we have release.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

[19:10:05]

BROWN: The world has a few new astronauts and one of them happens to be a billionaire. We're going to talk more about Richard Branson's historic flight with CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: Well, I've done some ridiculous things in my lifetime. That was truly, truly ridiculous. I just can't wait for (INAUDIBLE) one day to be able to experience this. It's a complete experience of a lifetime. And now I'm looking down at our beautiful Spaceport, and congratulations to everybody for creating such a beautiful, beautiful place. Congratulations to all our wonderful team at Virgin Galactic for 17 years of hard, hard work to get us this far.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What a life. That was Sir Richard Branson as he went where no billionaire has gone before, traveling to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic's Unity spacecraft.

[19:15:08]

And there on your screen, you can see the passenger plane detaching from the mothership and then rocketing to the final frontier with Branson and his crew along for the ride. The team reached zero gravity for just a short period, and then made a safe return to earth roughly an hour after takeoff.

Here's CNN's Kristen Fisher on this short but historic mission.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pam, what an exciting here at Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. An absolutely textbook test flight for Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team. And this is a big deal because it is the first time in the history of planet earth that a human has built and funded a spaceship and then flown it into space.

And the ultimate goal here, of course, is opening this up to humanity, allowing more and more humans to eventually get the experience of seeing earth from outer space, and so this all started in the morning after a brief delay due to weather. SpaceShipTwo taking off from Spaceport America, attached to the belly of mothership Eve which is named after Richard Branson's own mother.

And then at the proper altitude it detached from the mothership, the rockets fired, piloted by two test pilots, and the ship then rocketed up to the edge of space. And that's where the six people onboard the Unity 22 mission officially became astronauts and experienced several minutes of weightlessness before SpaceShipTwo glided back down and landed back on the same runway right here at Spaceport America.

And then shortly after that there was the victory celebration. Everyone onboard got their astronaut wings. There was champagne. And Richard Branson who normally so eloquent really had a tough time putting his words together in accurately describing what the moment felt like. He apologized for it a few times, but then he came back around and summarized quite well exactly what his mission statement was when he took off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRANSON: So the mission statement that I wrote inside my space suit was to turn the dream of space shuttle into a reality for my grandchildren who are here, for your grandchildren, and for many people who are alive today, for everybody. And having flown to space I can see more clearly how Virgin Galactic is the space line for earth. We're here to make space more accessible to all, and we want to turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

FISHER: Now Richard Branson is not alone. Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is going to attempt to ride into space on his own rocket, Blue Origin's New Shepherd rocket and capsule in just nine days on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. And there's been so much talk about this rivalry between these two big billionaire space barons, and make no mistake, there probably is a little bit of competition.

But at the end of the day, today you had Jeff Bezos wishing Richard Branson a safe flight at the end. He congratulated him and said he hoped to join the club in just a few days -- Pam.

BROWN: Thanks so much, Kristin, welcome to CNN.

Joining me now is CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien.

Great to see you, Miles. Wow. You know, it's so interesting because Sir Richard Branson, as he said he's had all these incredible life experiences but he was literally speechless after this experience going into space.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. It's pretty amazing for a guy who has had so many near-death experiences whether capsizing in fast boats or being fished out of the water in hot air balloons, for a guy like him to come back and not have a real meaningful word to say says something about the experience. And I think, Pamela, what you have there is just a few minutes in weightlessness and just sensory overload, right?

First of all, your body and your inner ear is kind of messed up. A lot of people get a little bit sick in that environment. He didn't mention that, but then you've got -- you look out the window and you've got this vision of this beauty that is our spaceship, the one we're on. We call it earth. And the colors and the vivid nature of it and the dark sky. I'm sure he had a hard time putting that all into words. I'm sure I would, too, and, you know, words are my thing.

BROWN: Yes. Words are your thing. You know, it's like after that experience, how do you just like wake up and go through a regular day once you have been to space? But you know, it's funny, as a former astronaut said recently, look, if you're on earth you're in space, but all of this puts more attention on the importance of more people getting this opportunity to go into space.

[19:20:03]

How do you think today represents that? The importance of people that aren't trained astronauts. I mean, obviously, in this case he's a billionaire. We're not all billionaires unfortunately, but why is it so important for everyday people to get this opportunity?

O'BRIEN: Well, why is it important for us to be able to get on Southwest Airlines and fly cheaply to Cleveland? That's just kind of the same question. Back in the '20s when aviation was young, it was all the millionaires that flew. No one else could afford it. We couldn't have imagined flying at minimal expense across the country or across oceans. And today we do it without even thinking twice.

We might complain about taking our shoes off at the airport or the Internet connectivity. Imagine that. So you couldn't have imagined all that, you know, not too long ago really in the grand scheme of things. So you have to wonder what this moment means in the future.

Space is a little bit harder than aviation. Aviation had sort of a built-in constituency for commerce and for pleasure. And so -- and frankly war. And so it progressed a little more rapidly than space has. But I still think the ability to get there and be in space is going to open up an economy that we can't fully imagine just yet.

And, Pamela, you pointed out a good thing. We're all going to be able to go to space potentially and look back and see this fragile planet and appreciate it in a way that I think we all may take for granted.

BROWN: Right. And it's so interesting talking to Leroy Child, former astronaut, yesterday who talked about the philosophical aspect of being able to look down at our beautiful planet, see it like. You come back down to earth and you just have a different perspective, a transformed perspective. And I think that that carries a lot of value.

So let's talk about this sort of battle of the billionaires. Branson went up today. Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin team will launch in nine days. How are those two spacecraft different?

O'BRIEN: There's quite a few significant differences here as we look at the battle of the billionaires. It's interesting, the billionaires have done little to dispel this because I think it's good copy as it were, right?

BROWN: Right.

O'BRIEN: I think the media has enjoyed this a little bit. And it's not really a competition. They all have concurrent goals and they're not really robbing each other of customers necessarily. But basically what you have with Branson is kind of a mini space shuttle, it's a space plane. It has its first stage as essentially that mothership that we call Eve that takes to it about 40,000 feet, then off it goes to space and it lands like a glider. That was pretty much the space shuttle profile.

Critical thing in that, a couple of thing, it needs two pilots. It's kind of an analog system, and there's no crew escape system. That's a key point. The shuttle didn't have that either. Now Jeff Bezos, he's got a rocket that's going to take a capsule to space directly, much shorter trip to space. You're not going to be spending 30, 40 minutes trying to get to altitude on that plane. And critically, it has a crew escape system.

In other words, the capsule can separate from the rocket stack if something goes wrong. And here's the one that maybe people would be a little uncomfortable with, maybe not. There's no pilots on board. It's all completely autonomous, all completely flown remotely from the ground and using artificial intelligence computers.

So, you know, the truth is, we hate to admit it. We pilots hate to admit this, but we usually are the weak link in the chain. And so taking the pilots out of it actually adds a measure of safety. Once you get used to that idea.

BROWN: Wow. Yes, but I would still be nervous. I would still be nervous to think oh, it's automated? I'm going to space, there's no pilot?

Miles O'Brien, fascinating conversation. Thanks so much for joining us.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, Donald Trump is checking all the usual boxes in front of an adoring crowd at the annual conservative conference. But can the larger Republican Party pry itself loose from his grip? We're going to talk it out with our political expert Ron Brownstein, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:25:30]

BROWN: Former president Donald Trump again peddling the big lie as he took center stage today at the conservative conference in Dallas. Trump playing to his supporters calling the 2020 election rigged against the American people and taking aim at his usual targets. The left and the so-called fake news media. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is in Dallas.

So, Donie, there was this remarkable moment of honesty for Trump earlier when he talked about the straw poll. And he said if it's bad, I'm just going to say it's fake. And if it's good, I'm going to say it's the most honest straw poll ever. And yet what are you hearing from his supporters there about all of his false claims that he's made on things that were bad for him like losing the election?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a remarkable moment of honesty there from the former president. And you're right, he won the straw poll here as a potential contender for 2024 with 70 percent of the vote here. Interesting, though, they also asked attendees a second question, which was if Trump wasn't in the equation, who they would like to see as the candidate in 2024? And 68 percent of people here said Ron DeSantis which actually tracks with what we've heard from many people we've spoken to here this weekend.

The name DeSantis keeps on coming up, many folks here wanting to see him run in 2024. But have a listen to some of the people we had talked to over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'SULLIVAN: Do you accept he lost the election?

[19:30:00]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I accept that on paper, things happened to make it appear that way. I don't know what would have happened. I find it very questionable that he lost given the support that he had.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you think what happened on January 6 was a stain on Trump's presidency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. Yes, he didn't invoke any kind of violence. He didn't say anything that was making that was all just -- just honestly, ridiculous. A few people acted out, out of millions of people that attended, or well, I wouldn't say millions, but most close to a million, multiple people attended and a few crazies got crazy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'SULLIVAN: And so you hear there absolute denial about the election, also about the insurrection.

I think one thing that's also worth mentioning Pam, is, you know, this is a political conference. It's the main conservative political conference of the summer. But the amount of people we saw walking around this weekend, both inside and outside the venue, wearing Proud Boys t-shirts, also members -- apparent members of the Three Percenter militia who were allegedly involved in the Capitol insurrection, a lot of those folks walking around the place, which I think is illustrative of where the Republican Party sort of finds itself right now.

BROWN: And that is very disturbing. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you. Ron Brownstein joins me now. He is senior editor for "The Atlantic"

and a CNN senior political analyst. You heard there Donald Trump running through the same old line, same old lies today calling the election that he lost rigged.

Trump won the straw poll at CPAC. But the question is, does it mean anything? How does the straw poll results and what we're seeing there on the ground, relate to real life?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, CPAC is kind of the most conservative element of the Republican Party. But in this case, it's really supported by polling. I mean, there's no question that the Trump faction within the Republican Party remains the dominant branch.

I mean, three quarters of Republicans say the election was stolen. You know, roughly only a fifth to a quarter say that Trump did anything wrong on January 6th, and this is not just a kind of an expression of attitude. I mean, this is actually driving policy.

If you look what's happening in these, as we've talked about many times, in these red states across the country, where they are making it harder to vote and increasing the ability of political appointees to try to subvert the 2020 result, that's a direct outcome of this view among Republicans, as is the lockstep resistance among Republicans in Congress to a full accounting of what happened on January 6.

As Donie said, this is the reality of what the Republican Party is today. There's another part of the coalition that's uneasy with all of this, but so far, they have been willing to give their votes and remain subservient to an anti (small D) democratic wing that is growing in strength.

BROWN: And it was so fascinating, that moment, where he said, if the results are bad for me, the straw poll, then I'm going to say it's fake. If they're good, I'm going to say they're the best ever.

I mean, he just outright said, what his game has been all along when he said the election was stolen and so forth, and people just laugh at that.

But yet they still believe him on these lies, his followers as those ardent supporters follow him and these lies about the election and so forth. What do you make of that?

BROWNSTEIN: I believe the answer to that -- I don't think it's that complicated. I think the answer to that is that he is pushing against an open door. I mean, what Trump has done is further crystallize the reality that the Republican coalition now is dominated by the voters who are most hostile to the way America is changing demographically, culturally, economically.

They believe that the America as they have known it, is being taken away from them by this diverse, urban secular, Democratic coalition. So, it is a very small step from feeling that the America that you know is being stolen to believing that it is literally being stolen.

I mean, for those voters, the idea that they are no longer the majority of the country is simply inconceivable. Ninety percent of Trump voters in polling by a conservative think tank this winter said Christianity in America is under assault. Three quarters, say discrimination against whites is now as big a problem as discrimination against minority.

So, when Trump tells them that the election was stolen, he is really confirming a much larger belief that the country as they know it, they believe is being stolen. And I think that is the essence of his bond to his voters, and something that is not going to go away, even if he personally doesn't run in 2024.

BROWN: Right. I mean, just preying on their fear, right? That is all driven by fear that everything that they think is right in the country is being stolen from them and that is a representation and extension of that. Such an interesting way to frame this discussion.

And you know, Ron, it's not just at CPAC that's preoccupied with election fraud. I mean, check out these ads being run by Republican down ballot candidates.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA TAYLOR, CANDIDATE IN ALABAMA SENATE: The left wants to keep lying and cheating so they can steal our elections.

[19:35:02]

JANE TIMKEN, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for the United States Senate to stand up for you. Just like when I stood next to President Trump.

VERNON JONES, FORMER GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: As your governor, I'll fight to secure our election.

ANTHONY BOUCHARD, WYOMING STATE SENATOR (voice over): I stand for the Trump agenda of America first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: "The Washington Post" reported this week of the nearly 700 Republicans who have filed initial paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run next year for either the Senate or the House, at least a third have embraced the big lie.

But do you think Republicans will ultimately pay the price for not moving on from this?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, there is -- as I said -- as I've just said, I think that elections have become the premier issue that Republicans use to kind of symbolically tell their voters that the America that they believe they know is being taken away from them. There are many different issues that fill that role over time. I mean, caravans, gay marriage in the early 2000s, even today, critical race theory, it kind of fills the same spot.

But elections have become the core of their argument that the left is taking away the country, as they have known and whenever I see those ads or what Donie was showing from those interviews, it's funny, my first thought is not about Republicans. It's about Democrats.

I mean, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are now -- have been in the position of saying that Washington should only act to reverse the assaults on voting rights that are happening in the red states if 10 Senate Republicans agree.

When you watch all this, Pam, you realize how implausible it is that given this kind of pressure in the party, given the way the party is rallying around this idea that stolen elections are really kind of the crystallizing point of a stolen America that there are ever going to be one or two much less 10 Senate Republicans willing to buck that.

And they -- and it kind of obscures the real choice that Democrats in Congress face. It is either to protect minority rights in the country or minority input in the Senate. And every time you see the kind of interviews that Donie just did, you realize the standard that Manchin and Sinema are setting, that Washington should only act to restrain Republicans in the states of Republicans in Washington agree.

How implausible it is that that standard will ever be met. By the way, this week was the anniversary of the 14th Amendment being ratified by the states. If the Manchin-Sinema standard had been in place, it never would have become law, because as I wrote on cnn.com, recently, every Democrat in both chambers of Congress voted against it as they did against the 15th Amendment.

And all of the major reconstruction Civil Rights laws, yet, the Lincoln era Republicans understood that what was being debated was important enough to do it alone on a party line basis, and that may be the place where Democrats ultimately find themselves in the next few weeks in Congress.

BROWN: That's a really, really important historical perspective there as we talk about this and voting rights and issues that really go to the heart of our democracy.

Ron Brownstein, as always, great conversation.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: The already high cost of childcare is going through the roof, thanks to the pandemic, and now many struggling parents are finding it impossible to pay the bill, creating even more problems. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:37]

BROWN: With COVID cases down over all, childcare centers are beginning to reopen and many parents are having to open their wallets wide. The mounting cost of childcare have become so unaffordable that many people are being forced to take drastic measures.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOMIA MITCHELL-HAAS, PARENT: I was quoted around $4,300.00.

BROWN (voice over): Tomia Mitchell-Haas is dealing with a growing problem for millions of parents -- child care costs.

MITCHELL-HAAS: Which is actually not the same price as my rent, but more than my rent.

BROWN (voice over): A problem made much worse by the pandemic. A model developed by the Center for American Progress estimates average annual daycare costs for a toddler in the U.S. pre COVID was just over $9,000.00, but during the pandemic, it almost doubled to nearly $18,000.00.

And experts say, relief may not be in sight for families anytime soon.

CARRIE CRONKEY, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, CARE.COM: We do think that costs will continue to remain high until these centers are able to operate again.

BROWN (voice over): Which is especially a problem for lower income earners who experts say have had to resort to more drastic measures to find affordable care for their kids, including sometimes leaving work altogether, and taking a massive financial hit.

CRONKEY: We saw over three million women leave the workforce over the course of the pandemic, and it is not hard to draw that line between the lack of affordable childcare and you know, their ability to work.

BROWN (voice over): So, what's behind the surge in tuition costs? Experts say, it's out of necessity.

CRONKEY: There are a variety of factors in play there.

BROWN (voice over): Childcare centers have increased expenses due to COVID-related protections like hygiene products, while also losing workers forcing many to decrease class sizes according to experts.

And now Washington is trying to help.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): I can't tell you how many people have said to me in the last year plus that childcare is the one issue that is keeping their family from being stable.

BROWN (voice over): Under this year's COVID relief package, families could get up to $3,600.00 for each child under the age of six in their household and up to $3,000.00 for any others up to the age of 18. It also gives a $39 billion to child care providers and some of that must be used to help struggling families.

Health experts say is key to truly getting America back to normal. [19:45:04]

CRONKEY: In order to really fuel our economic growth, care is an imperative.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: If you think cost of childcare is high, what about the cost of rent or a house payment? Next hour, I'm going to talk to a City Councilor in Idaho who can't afford rent or mortgage payment in his own city even with a government position and a part-time job.

Well, everybody has a favorite spot to sit in their home. Hopefully you're in yours because we are going live to Hollywood to the set of the one of the biggest TV shows of the last decade. Do you recognize this set?

Our Stephanie Elan takes us on a personal tour hopefully without sitting in Sheldon's seat as we look ahead to tonight's premiere of "History of the Sitcom." Oops.

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[19:50:14]

BROWN: Well, of all the television genres, the sitcom might be the most enduring. Tonight, another brand new CNN original series is coming, "History of the Sitcom" explores the stories behind all of your favorite shows, and it features interviews with more than 180 stars and looks at the sitcom through different lenses including its connection to American history over the past 70 years.

Here's a sneak peek.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): In New York, a student protest is met by construction workers.

And at Kent State in Ohio, four students are killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But some people didn't want to hide from what was happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were like no, we want to hear about all this stuff and how it is affecting our families. That's when shows like "All in the Family" came on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Norman Lear was at the beginning of his career and was looking to find a show that he could really make his own and he was turned on to a British series called "Till Death Do Us Part."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was about a bigoted father, and I said, "Holy moly. That was the way I grew up." And I knew I had a show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot the pilot at ABC, it featured Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker.

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BROWN: Stephanie Elam is at the Warner Brothers studio backlot in Burbank, California. She has a behind the scenes look at a sitcom that aired its final episode just two years ago. Give us a hint -- Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, well, it went out with a big bang, right? "Big Bang Theory." That's where I am, Pam. In fact, people who are big fans of the show know that I was sitting in Sheldon's seat, and Sheldon does not like that. So that's why, of course, I had to sit there.

And if you look at the couch, you can see that's where a lot of people are sitting, because that's the one that has the more dents in it, because this is something you can do on the Warner Brothers Studio tour here in Burbank. You can come and actually take your pictures on the set of "Big Bang Theory."

This is actually the real stuff from the set. They just moved it over here to be a part of this tour experience. And you can see over here, this would be Leonard and Sheldon's door and across the hall where they're taking pictures over there enjoying the tour, that would be Penny's apartment door.

Another fun fact for you about this stairwell. If you've watched the show, you know, they constantly have conversations going up and down the stairs. It's just this. This is it, right here. There really isn't more to it. So, they would have to stop down and re-do the shoot and make it if they had to come down the stairs. That's what they had to do. They had to stop and take each take one time because it just wasn't -- there's no more. That's it.

That's the stairs, and right now it's just a fake facade.

But I'm going to come around here because there's also the cafeteria, which is a big part of the show. Excuse me, everybody. Hello. No, you can stay. You guys can stay because I understand. Noreen, you're a big "Big Bang Theory" fan. So, what is it like to actually see the setup close?

NOREEN: I think it's so cool. But what's interesting is, I think it's so small compared to what you see on TV.

ELAM: That's so much about a lot of TV shows. So, this is really cool. You see, she brought her family here. A pretty family here to come and enjoy this and to see all the sets and see the clothing that maybe even Howard was wearing on the show. You can see their actual props that are there -- all of this just to TSF as we get ready for the big premiere of "The History of the Sitcom" premiering tonight on CNN at nine o'clock.

You can always come and do this, enjoy the tour, Pam, or I can just come and help you out and we can jump about it, too, later. BROWN: I love that virtual tour and seeing the stairs, how short they

are and how they would go up and down. Oh my gosh. I know my teammate, Brian, who said he's watched every episode five times, loved all these details.

Stephanie Elam, thanks for bringing it to us. We'll be right back.

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[19:58:47]

BROWN: What is something that you have done purely out of the goodness of your heart, but never told anyone -- that question was recently posed on the website, Reddit, and one New Jersey man shared how he donated a bicycle to a child in foster care through One Simple Wish.

This organization was founded by CNN Hero, Danielle Gletow. It helps donors purchase items requested by kids in the foster care system.

Reddit members responded by flooding the One Simple Wish website to fulfill all 220 wishes.

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DANIELLE GLETOW, ONE SIMPLE WISH: Somehow, it just blew up. There were just thousands of comments of people relating to the foster care experience and then it was just this like one after another of people saying you know, we should just clear their site. We should grant all of their wishes.

And then, it just snowballed until they crashed our site.

We got the site back up, they granted more wishes. Eventually, they cleared the site of all of the wishes. It is definitely given all of us a renewed sense of energy and hope and it certainly does remind you that there are so much more good in this world than anything else.

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BROWN: Danielle said, this outpouring of generosity helped expose One Simple Wish and so many people in the foster care community that that means that they have plenty of wishes on their site now waiting to be fulfilled.

For the full story and to nominate a CNN Hero, just go to CNNHeroes.com.

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