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Mask Mandates Back On The Table As COVID-19 Surges Nationwide; Vaccination Rates Lag As Delta Variant Surges Across U.S.; Alabama Governor: Unvaccinated Folks Are Letting Us Down; FBI Warns Of Potential Hacker Attacks During Games; Bumble Match Turns In January 6 Suspect Who Allegedly Whipped Police; Joris Ray, Superintendent, Shelby County School District, Discusses Parent Anger Over Mask Mandate For Students; Pandemic Worsens America's Teacher Shortage; Report: Trump's PAC Not Funding Election "Audits" He Touts. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 24, 2021 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with the U.S. rethinking its approach to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Two major developments in the works at this hour. The latest wave of new cases is being fueled by the deadly Delta variant. New cases are now trending up in 49 states. That rise pressuring many cities and states to enact new mask mandates.

On Monday, St. Louis, Missouri will enforce an indoor mask mandate in public settings. But the State's Attorney General Eric Schmidt plans to file a suit Monday to try to stop it.

Meanwhile, the FDA and CDC are said to be exploring multiple options for a third COVID-19 dose of vaccine, but only for immunocompromised people if needed. This, even as vaccination rates in the U.S. remain low.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is looking into all of this. And Polo, Florida is one of the states seeing the most dramatic increases in no -- new COVID cases. And oh, by the way, with that whole third shot, that booster. It would also be for people over 65. So, what do you learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): And that's why so many people are asking right now, Fred about the need for potential booster later this year. And when it comes to Florida, no doubt that the numbers there are certainly alarming. And one thing is to hear about it, but when you just see them alone, they certainly tell a story of obviously why health officials there are concerned.

You can see that 208 percent increase in coronavirus cases. As you just take in these numbers, just consider this alone in Florida, the cases, the new positivity case, or at least new case positivity, that went from eight percent the week of July 12 to 15 percent of this week. So, that is -- that 280 percent increase that we've seen here. So, that's certainly concerning for officials there.

Meanwhile, vaccination numbers, those aren't necessarily going up. And that's what's feeling those fears that obviously as infections continue to spread, that more people are not protected against the virus.

That when it comes to the national number at this point, less than 50 percent of the U.S. population is fully protected with the COVID vaccine. And that's because -- and this is after vaccine efforts started what some eight months ago. And yet, we haven't been able to cross that 50 percent threshold.

Now, only about 20 states have fully vaccinated over half of their residents right now. Mississippi and Alabama seem to be the only states that have vaccinated less than 35 percent of the residents when it comes to Alabama.

That's why even the state's own republican governor now placing the blame on the unvaccinated for, you know, why these numbers continue to rise. And that is why we're seeing more major cities, more and more of these cities turn to COVID measures that we saw, perhaps, during previous spikes, maybe during the last one, during this winter. And that includes St. Louis, starting on Monday mass will be required in public indoor spaces as well as public transportation.

That's certainly sparking some criticism from some of the -- some of the Republicans in that state, including the attorney general that is promising to file a lawsuit to stop that from actually kick into place.

But look, when you actually look at the situation here, and what Biden administration officials that's actually what the attorney general tweeted yesterday in response, again, planning to file a lawsuit to stop that from being put into place.

But when you hear from Biden administration officials, it is clear that they are concerned here, the U.S. surgeon general addressing this rise in numbers calling right now and all in moment for the nation, especially as they consider possibly implementing some of the measures that we saw just a few months ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL: We also know that risk is also based on individual circumstances. So, if you are living in an area where there's a lot of virus circulating, if you happen to have somebody at home who's unvaccinated like you and I do, Erin.

Young kids who are too young to get vaccinated, or if you yourself, are immunocompromised, which means that you may be at greater risk. Those are all circumstances where people may make the decision to actually go the extra mile, be cautious, and wear masks, especially in indoor settings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Now, we should remind viewers at this point that CDC guidance since a change recently has not been modified. At this point, White House officials as we're talking about it.

But if that does happen, obviously that is something that comes with a lot of political baggage, Fred, as we could potentially see the big debate about masks come back yet again.

WHITFIELD: It's like a broken record and were certainly on repeat mode. All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, in Florida, the seven-day average of new COVID cases is on the rise. So much so that in fact, right now, it is the highest in the nation. This, despite the state's Republican governor, urging people to get vaccinated.

And today's CNN's Randi Kaye introduces us to a Florida mother who decided against getting the shot and then found herself in the fight of her life.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

GANEENE STARLING, UNVACCINATED MOM WHO GOT COVID: It was horrifying. I've never in my life felt like I was going to die until that day.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This mother of eight from Lake Butler, Florida is opening up about how close she came to dying from COVID-19.

[13:05:02]

KAYE: Ganeene Starling had chosen not to get the vaccine. Her husband wasn't vaccinated either, or their children.

KAYE (on camera): What was it about the vaccine that concerned you that made you not want to get it?

STARLING: Just that it had not been around long. And honestly, I think I listened -- I think I, I think I let people influence me. Like saying, oh, you know, this is the government just trying to fill our bodies with stuff. And, you know -- and, you know, they're trying to push the shot on us.

KAYE (voice-over): But earlier this month, Ganeene's husband got COVID, then, it spread to Ganeene and their four kids living at home, including their youngest, who was just six.

Soon, Janine was struggling to breathe. So, they rushed her to the hospital.

STARLING: I remember being very desperate, grabbing the mask and, and then, filling, you know, the oxygen come in.

KAYE: Ganeene spent nine days in the hospital, six of them in the ICU.

STARLING: And those moments when you can't breathe like that, even with all the oxygen they were given me, it feels like you have a Ziploc bag over your head and somebody is holding it. And, I mean, I had oxygen when I was still feeling that way.

KAYE (on camera): At 43, did you ever think that you would get that sick from COVID?

STARLING: 100 percent, I had had conversations on my husband, and said we probably already had it, just didn't even know it. And honestly, he agreed that we had probably already had it. There have been times I've been sick, and I was like, oh, it's probably COVID. No big deal.

KAYE (voice-over): No big deal, not exactly. Ganeene's oxygen had dropped to dangerously low levels, just 68 percent. She says she was told she had about a 20 percent chance of survival.

STARLING: My youngest baby is 6 years old. And so, when you're told that, and you have a 6-year-old, you know, like, he's probably -- if I die, he's not going to remember me.

KAYE: Ganeene is speaking out now because she wants people to know how much she regrets not getting the vaccine, a decision that nearly cost her, her life.

STARLING: I was one of those people that was like, I can't believe people are just going to just inject their body with this medication. There's -- we don't know enough about it. Now. I'm just like, is just a shot, just get the stupid shot.

That vaccine could have stopped all of this. Just one little shot. And I feel foolish that I didn't get it. I wish to God I would have got it. It could have say it's not just about what it could have prevented me from experiencing physically in my life right now, but it could have saved my family so much heartache, my children from seeing me go through that, my husband, and you know, my siblings from saying it.

KAYE: Can you're full of regret.

STARLING: So much regret.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WHITFIELD: Wow, some powerful lessons learned there. Let's discuss further. Joining me right now, Dr. Greg Poland. He is the director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. Doctor, so good to see you.

Oh, oh, I didn't hear you. Do we have his audio?

GREG POLAND, DIRECTOR, VACCINE RESEARCH GROUP, MAYO CLINIC: As if this -- thank you.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yes, there you are. Ok, that was a test. OK. So, you know, this pandemic, Dr. Poland, you know, is really become a pandemic of the unvaccinated and, the numbers prove it, they are the most at risk of getting sick and dying. We just heard her story. So, what do you want to convey to people who are still not convinced about the efficacy, the safety of the vaccine?

POLAND: It is, of course, very hard to convince them. We're a year and a half into this. And they're still waiting for information that they don't really even understand. I think the issue here now becomes one of human behavior and decision-making.

We've lost one out of every 524 Americans to this disease. It's unfathomable. I feel very sorry for Miss Starling. She happens to be in a state that coronavirus is basically out of control.

So, you got to get across to people. Listen, don't listen to politicians and celebrities. Go to trusted sources. You wouldn't ask your grocery store clerk what should you do about fixing your car's transmission. Why would you listen to a neighbor about what they think about vaccine?

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about Alabama right now getting a lot of attention. It's the -- it has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. Just 34 percent of the state is fully vaccinated. And even the governor of Alabama is justifiably frustrated. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[13:10:03]

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): Folks supposed to have common sense. But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And Governor Ivey was pressed on -- you know, do you feel like you're doing enough, you know, to get the message across? And she was like, I am out of ideas. I've said and done, done everything that I can think of.

So, if there is yet one more thing to do out there to convey to people the messaging that you're sending, what would that be?

I mean, so many in the medical community, and even, you know, elected officials are -- their hands are being thrown up in the air, like, I don't know what else to say to convince you to do the right thing.

POLAND: You're right. It's very frustrating. And I guess I would be very clear, you are going to become immune to this virus one way or another. You're either going to get infected and run the risk of death. And Ms. Starling's case, she had a tenfold higher risk of dying than, say, a child with this infection.

Can you get up in your 80s, you're talking about 600 fold higher risk of death. So, you got to choice. Your fears and get infected, or go with the science and get a vaccine. And as Ms. Darling said, save yourself all that misery.

WHITFIELD: Where are you on mask mandates? Do you believe it was a mistake to remove some of the mandates that were in place? Or is it time to reimpose some? Where are you on this?

POLAND: Yes, absolutely. Mask are a helpful mitigation effort. Like every man-made product, nothing's 100 percent effective. But they are very effective in cutting down the risk of infection. So, I absolutely do endorse mask-wearing and wear one myself.

WHITFIELD: So, Dr. Poland, I understand you told him some of our producers that you were concerned about the misinformation, as is everybody, you know, that it's being spread about the vaccine efficacy.

How much do you think that is contributing to the hesitancy? I know, you mentioned friends.

(CROSSTALK)

POLAND: Yes, no --

WHITFIELD: You know, some people are listening to their friends but what about the misinformation that they see on various social media sites, for example?

POLAND: Yes, no, no question about it. You know, I marvel. You can't go into a crowded movie theatre and yell fire when there's no fire.

Why can you go on social media? Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion, but give deliberate misinformation counter to any of the known science and have this kind of devastation occur in a population's health.

You know, we -- we've lost 1-1/2 years of life expectancy in the U.S. For blacks, it's almost three years. The last time this happened was in the middle of World War II. And what did we call it? A war?

WHITFIELD: Yes, very powerful and sobering. Dr. Greg Poland. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it. Stay well.

POLAND: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, going for gold. The pandemic isn't the only problem lurking over the Olympics. Find out why the FBI is worried about hackers.

Plus, should children have to wear masks when they return to the classroom? A school superintendent joining me live. Then later, busted on bumble. An insurrection suspect gets more than he bargained for when he goes looking for love on an app.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:17:42]

WHITFIELD: All right, we're now into the first full day of competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, and we've already seen some medals awarded. Friday's opening ceremony kicked off the competition in dazzling fashion, along with the parade of nations. The ceremony also featured a drone display high above the arena. Right there.

And First Lady Jill Biden is in Tokyo to cheer on Team USA. There she is. She's already been spotted at several events, in fact, today. And with the Olympics now in full swing, there's a new warning from the FBI that hackers could try to disrupt the games. Here is CNN's Alex Marquardt.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a global spectacle unlike any other. For a few weeks, every two years, billions around the world tune in to watch their countries compete for medals and national glory. That's what makes it such a ripe target for hackers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH JONES, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I am very confident that there will be some kind of cyber-attack against these games. It may not be publicly visible, but you can bet that it's going to happen. That's the world we live in today.

MARQUARDT: The FBI warned this week that "Malicious activity could disrupt multiple functions, including media broadcasting environments, hospitality, transit, ticketing or security."

There's currently no known threat. But with no fans in the stands because of COVID, the most obvious target is how we watch.

BENJAMIN READ, SENIOR MANAGER FOR CYBER ESPIONAGE ANALYSIS, FIREEYE: With everything being remote and there being so few people in person, the place where a disruption would be most noticed would be in the broadcast.

MARQUARDT: And when it comes to potential attackers, right at the top of the list is the country that has been banned, Russia. After a doping scandal got them barred from flying their flag and singing their anthem for the next two Olympics.

JONES: Russian leaders including Vladimir Putin are still extremely angry about the way they've been treated. They've called it unfair.

MARQUARDT: Russia has taken out their anger on the games before. Three years ago, Russian military hackers carried out an attack before the opening ceremony. Targeting athletes, officials, and citizens in the host country South Korea. They took down the games web site and deleted data from 1000s of computers. They also tried to pretend they weren't North Koreans.

JOHN DEMERS, UNITED STATES ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: Their cyber-attack combined the emotional maturity of a petulant child with the resources of a nation-state.

[13:20:03]

MARQUARDT: in 2016, after Russia was accused of a systematic doping program, Russian hackers breached the world anti-doping agency.

The medical records of Serena Williams and Simone Biles were hacked and released, along with those of around 250 other athletes from almost 30 countries.

After the Tokyo Games were postponed last year, the U.K. accused Russia of spying on Tokyo Olympics' officials and organizations. Experts say there's no reason they won't do something again.

MARQUARDT (on camera): What have you seen in the way of indications that something may happen?

READ: We've seen sort of Russian espionage groups be interested in Japan. Over the last few years, they definitely still have the people that work for them. And if they've made the decision that this is something they want to do, they're able to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for that.

Let's talk more about security concerns at the Olympics. With me now, Juliette Kayyem. She is a CNN national security analyst and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

All right, so good to see you. Gosh, can't we just enjoy the games? Now, people have to worry about all of this. Good golly.

(CROSSTALK)

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (on camera): I know -- I know.

WHITFIELD: OK, so, let's talk about the forms in which, you know, this kind of security breaches could happen.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: I mean, we heard it there in Alex's piece that, you know, there's some real confidence that there will be cyber-attacks during the games.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Are you that confident too?

(CROSSTALK)

KAYYEM: Yes, I think -- I am. And mostly because we've seen it before. And I will say, I am -- I am thrilled to be on CNN talking about the Olympics, but it's your mind state that we're talking about this about the Olympics. And, that look, the biggest concern would always be crowd issues.

Once in which the crowd was targeted, you would worry about stampedes. We don't have that this year.

So, the next best thing, of course, with COVID lingering over the safety of the entire Olympics is the cyber-attacks. This is a -- this is a strained Olympics. And so, for the Russians to do anything to impact global viewership would make the Olympics look vulnerable, and would just give Russia that sense of, you know, controlling chaos that they love throughout the world.

WHITFIELD: So, you went there right away. You think the culprits would be Russia?

KAYYEM: Oh, yes.

WHITFIELD: And particularly because they as a country were banned. There are Russian athletes at the games.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But as a country, they are banned.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So, this is just to get out of everybody possibly?

KAYYEM: That -- yes. And it's -- you know, this is part of the sort of general disruption that we've seen by Russia throughout. They don't -- you know, this is not a powerful country. And so, it's using the sort of chaos that can come from cyber-security.

Also, the Chinese incentive would not be that great, at least not for the Olympics, given their stature and they're competent -- and their competitive posture right now, they are -- they are likely to win lots of gold as well.

So, it would be -- one would suspect it would be the Russians, they've done it before. They like doing it, we saw a little bit of a disruption when Akka my (PH) service went down Akka my (PH) feeds the Olympics and their programming.

And so, we saw a little bit of a blip a couple of days ago.

WHITFIELD: OK. Yes. So, often, when it's cyber-attacks, it's Russia and China who are blamed.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And so, that's why we're kind of singling them out, except maybe in this case, not really China.

(CROSSTALK) KAYYEM: That's right.

WHITFIELD: Because they're doing so well. Or likely to do so well during the Olympic Games.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So, in what other forums, I guess, with these cyber- attacks, you know, cause problems? We saw in Alex's piece, medical records of some of the athletes would might be tampered with.

KAYYEM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: In what other ways?

KAYYEM: Timing. I mean, a lot of it could be the competition itself. So, of course, you have the personal security and safety of the athletes there. There are privacy issues, which we know, but then you have -- and you have the various National Olympic Committees that will have information about the athletes.

But then you also have issues about timing and who won and, all these, you know, just data, its data management, that's what the Olympics are. We're used to track which is a familiar sport where people run against each other, and you know who wins.

A lot of the summer competitions, take surfing, take skateboarding or sort of timed an individual. And so, you want to protect that data as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. OK. You know, and then there's COVID. I mean, that's the lingering, you know, threat that's like there in a big way.

KAYYEM: COVID is right. Yes.

WHITFIELD: But you've -- you have commented that you think it was a big mistake for the U.S. --

(CROSSTALK)

KAYYEM: Oh, yes.

WHITFIELD: To not make it a requirement that American athletes be vaccinated. Why?

KAYYEM: I think it's such a missed opportunity for so many reasons, but mostly for the security of those -- the safety of the vaccinated athletes. It's where the United States -- we have the vaccine, we can show the world that we're willing to use the vaccine.

The USOC sets the conditions as we now know related to pot-smoking, sets the conditions of how and who gets to play. And they could have done this literally with a snap of the finger. There's about 100 athletes that are not vaccinated.

Similarly, the International Olympic Committee could have done the same. I will tell you, we have heard so much about the International Olympic Committee designing beds, right? So that these young athletes don't get together, you know, because of COVID.

[13:25:12]

KAYYEM: I know, I mean, just let them get together but just have them have the vaccine. This is -- this is madness in terms of priorities.

I guess I can say let them have sex and put the vaccine, and then we'll go from there.

WHITFIELD: Lead, I got you. All right. Juliette Kayyem --

KAYYEM: And like watching finally on (INAUDIBLE)

WHITFIELD: I got it. I got it. Not mincing words.

KAYYEM: Exactly, exactly.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

KAYYEM: Bye, see you later.

WHITFIELD: Be well. Juliette Kayyem, I appreciate that.

All right, coming up next. Dating drama. Yes, we're taking a turn but then not really.

A man looking for love online gets arrested. This is where the turn is. Find out what he allegedly told a match about the capital insurrection.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:30:25]

WHITFIELD: Another capitol riot suspect has been arrested after looking for love.

CNN's Marshall Cohen joins us now.

Marshall, a strike on the dating app Bumble leads to an arrest? Explain.

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Fred, wasn't I here a few moments ago talking about the same exact thing?

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Yes. It's happened again. This time, I would say it is equal parts funny, cringy and scary. Because this rioter is accused of attacking police.

According to prosecutors, Andrew Taaka, 32-year-old from Texas, went to the capitol January 6th. You see his Bumble profile.

According to the complaint, he attacked police officers with pepper spray.

That's him, according to the feds, spraying police who were protecting the capitol. Later, 30 minutes later, they say he used a metal whip. It's circle on the screen. This is captured on police body camera footage.

Seriously violent attacks. I don't want to glaze over this. This is serious stuff. Pepper spraying against police, beating police officers with a metal weapon, this is what the man is accused of doing, according to the feds.

While in Washington, D.C., he was on the app, Bumble, looking for a match. He found a match, and the person he was talking to talked to him about the insurrection.

He claimed he was there. He claimed he was peaceful. Even sent his match a few pictures. They went straight to the FBI three days later. And this week, the man was arrested in Houston.

Fred, this is just one person. It is a large investigation.

Here's where everything stands. So far, 500, more than 500 people have been charged. An additional 21 guilty pleas, two more of them secured yesterday in federal court. Three rioters were sentenced, and two of the three got prison or jail.

Clearly, you can tell, Fred, there's a long way to go in terms of working these people through the court system. Each week, we see new cases. Sometimes they're funny ones like this.

WHITFIELD: Yes, funny and so sad.

Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.

Still to come, parents sound off about masks in school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are masks political theater? Seriously, I'm mad and I have a reason to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: I will talk about all of that with the superintendent of the Memphis-Shelby County school district.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:37:33]

WHITFIELD: To mask or not mask, that's facing school districts across the country as they prepare to open up this fall.

A flurry of schools announced this week that they will require masks for students, prompting a wave of outrage from parents.

Look at this reaction during a school board meeting in Virginia Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me and my wife decide what's best for my children medically. Being a faithful husband, a kick butt dad, that's my wheelhouse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are masks political theater? Seriously, I am mad and I have a reason to be. Are they? It sure seems that way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We parents should have the right to choose whether kids are suffocated by masks all day. Numerous schools across the country have already lifted mandates. Time for you to do the same. Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: One school district that will require masks is Shelby County in Memphis, Tennessee, and that's because the superintendent is requiring students to wear a mask.

He is with us now, Shelby County superintendent, Joris Ray.

So good to see you, Superintendent.

I love the smile. You're happy about the decision. But are you getting all smiles from parents in your school district?

JORIS RAY, SUPERINTENDENT, SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Thank you, Fredricka.

We are reimagining education, schools, communities, and we want all takers to join us as we return stronger.

Our parents are very supportive. They understand that in the state of Tennessee, there's a 200 percent increase of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant, 700 new cases per day.

I have stated before and I am going to continue to see it, I am going to keep students safe.

WHITFIELD: What about from the kids? What do you hear from young people about what their experience is like in the last school year about wearing masks?

RAY: So we've had, we started in the spring. We've had a great time this summer. We had a summer learning academy. Our students are operating fine. They understand this is for safety.

We build in mask breaks. Students get an opportunity to take the mask off so they can get fresh air. At the end of the day, safety is first.

I am reflecting, listening to parents, we saw out of Virginia Beach, obviously, that's not your school district, but that does exemplify angst parents have across the country.

[13:40:04]

To hear one parent talk about, I am tired of my kids suffocating. Suffocating was a word used.

And then parents who are saying they want to be the ones to make decisions about the health and welfare of their kids and not school districts, imposing mask mandates.

Does it seem as though to you it is the parents handling the wearing of masks far differently from the student body who have been honoring wearing the masks.

RAY: Well, Fredricka, it is like this. It's about safety.

You have a look at the local context. Here, only 37 percent of people actually have been vaccinated. I just don't want to put students at risk.

We can't just ask the question, have you been vaccinated, are you vaccinated. You can't ask that because of HIPAA reasons.

At the end of the day, it is about student safety. It is an honor to have a dynamic school board that's very supportive.

And not only that, the public at large, they're supportive because they understand this virus is attacking black and brown children and people at a higher rate.

We've always, always put safety number one.

WHITFIELD: And then, of course, in terms of vaccinations, all the kids under 12 are not eligible, thus far anyway, to get vaccinated.

How complicated is this for you as superintendent of Shelby County schools that you are advocating mask wearing but your governor has not necessarily been behind the idea of mask mandates.

However, he is all for and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

RAY: We follow the science. Not going to politicize mask wearing.

The governor, we have a great working relationship. And American Pediatric Academy says, back in class, wear a mask. So we're going to do just that here in Shelby County.

And the government understands local context. And again, the parents and students and great teachers of Shelby County schools want to be safe, and going to continue to do so.

WHITFIELD: Any lessons learned on the last school semester that you all are applying to try to make the incoming semester safer? Besides mask wearing, anything you learned from what you did impose, what you need to strengthen on, do better, do away with.

RAY: Fredricka, I am so honored to have 99 percent of teachers return stronger. What we did is we used our extra dollars to look at our

infrastructure, to look at air quality within our building. Most of all, we reduced class size with extra dollars.

We want to give teachers and students and parents every opportunity to have a high-quality education and we do that by keeping them safe first.

Mask laws, you've got to have safety and just basic things in place for students to learn at a high level.

WHITFIELD: And keeping the smile throughout.

Shelby County --

RAY: And, Fredricka, I must say this. This galvanized our community. Together, we must believe. Together, we will achieve. Together, we are reimagining.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shelby County, Tennessee, Superintendent Joris Ray, with a smile throughout.

Thank you so much.

RAY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. The pandemic is making America's existing teacher shortage even worse.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus spoke school officials outside of Chicago about why they're having trouble getting teachers in classrooms.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. STEVEN WROBLESKI, SUPERINTENDENT, LASALLE PERU TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL: We have a chemistry, physics teaching position we have zero applicants for right now.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steven Wrobleski is now the superintendent of a district he once attended, LaSalle Peru Township High School, an hour and a half southwest of Chicago, dealing with a teacher shortage.

WROBLESKI: I am really concerned about how we're going to be able to fill that position.

BROADDUS: A problem he says the COVID-19 pandemic made worse.

WROBLESKI: Six years ago, we had an English or social studies position posted, within five days we had 75 to 100 applicants. The past school year, for one of our math positions, we had three applicants.

[13:45:02]

BROADDUS: A survey by Frontline Education polled 1200 school and district leaders in the country. Frontline is a company helps K-12 schools recruit and train educators.

It revealed two out of three reported a teacher shortage. And 75 percent of city school districts are dealing with a shortage, compared to 65 percent in rural areas and 60 percent in suburban districts.

WROBLESKI: Where are we going to find science and math teachers?

SHARON DESMOULIN-KHERAT, SUPERINTENDENT, PEORIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We had to go international because the pool in the United States, it is very, very dry.

Yes. They're going to be there.

BROADDUS: To fill openings in Peoria, Illinois, Sharon Desmoulin- Kherat hired teachers from other countries.

DESMOULIN-KHERAT: We have 27 that are coming from Philippines, two from Dominican Republic, one from Cameroon. It's a three-to-five-year program. It is a cultural exchange program.

BROADDUS: Desmoulin-Kherat said, in 2015, the district had 79 openings. Now there are three because of aggressive recruiting strategies.

DESMOULIN-KHERAT: We're also doing bonuses, signing bonuses. If you refer a candidate, there's a stipend for you.

Where you are utilizing at least eight different strategies simultaneously to really combat this national crisis.

BROADDUS: And the Frontline study shows other reasons behind the national teacher shortage, a lack of qualified applicants, salary, and fewer new education school graduates.

Wrobleski hasn't hired anyone from other countries but is working with colleges and universities to help fill the jobs.

And he is already concerned about the school years ahead.

WROBLESKI: I am worried, though, as I look at my own staff, see a population getting near retirement.

BROADDUS: Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up next, a new report finds former President Trump isn't putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to election fraud.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:34]

WHITFIELD: Later today, former President Trump will hold a rally in Arizona. It will take place in Maricopa County where a sham election audit has made the state ground zero for Trump's Big Lie.

It comes as "The Washington Post" reports that Trump's PAC raised $75 million this year.

And none of that money has gone to Arizona's audit or similar efforts in other states, despite Trump saying that they are key to overturning the election that he falsely claims was stolen from him.

Here's CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were doing so well until the rigged election happened to come along.

SERFATY: -- remaining fixated on the baseless claims of election fraud, pushing hard for state ballot reviews of the 2020 election results.

In a steady stream of public statements and comments, promoting the so-called audit of Maricopa County ballots in Arizona.

TRUMP: I want to congratulate, by the way, Republican state Senators in Arizona and other places for their great work.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: That they are doing and exposing this fraud.

SERFATY: But privately, Trump isn't putting his money where his mouth is.

"The Washington Post" reporting that, of the $75 million, Trump's Save America PAC has brought in the first half of this year, the group has not put any resources into helping finance the ongoing ballot reviews he's been pushing so hard for, citing sources familiar with the finances.

Instead, according to "The Washington Post," that money is actually paying for some of the former president's travel, legal costs and staff, along with other expenses.

And noting the PAC has held on to much of its cash.

TRUMP: They have so many discrepancies, so many problems and they've heard from so many people about the corruption and what took place.

SERFATY: There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

But Republicans in several states are responding to the former president, pushing for audits with other ballot reviews like the one in Arizona. But who is actually funding the Arizona effort is largely shrouded in secrecy, with private fundraisers boasting they have directed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the audit.

Which has been run by a little-known Florida-based security consulting firm, Cyber Ninjas, not previously known for election auditing.

A group with ties to Overstock founder, Patrick Burns, said it's raising funds to support the Maricopa audit in helping with future audits.

Another group established by One America News personality, Christina Bobb, has also touted receiving donations for the audit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.

All right, tomorrow on CNN, catch all new episode of "JERUSALEM "JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY." Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Hasmonean Dynasty was the Jewish dynasty. It was established by a group of Jewish conservative rebels that overthrew Greek rule in Jerusalem and in Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That revolt in 167 B.C. is commemorated by the modern Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Over the course of time, they expanded the size of their kingdom by conquering other peoples around them who were not Jewish.

[13:55:04]

They ruled the big kingdom for about 150 years.

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: But now, Hasmoneans with the full might of the Roman Empire.

A native of Palestine, who longs to claim the Holy City for himself -- Herod.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Oh, intriguing. The episode airs tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.

We'll be right back.

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