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Mask Mandates Back On The Table As COVID Surges Nationwide; U.S. Fails To Win Medal On Day One Of Tokyo Games; NFL Chief Medical Officer On COVID Rules; Alleged Rioter Arrested After Bumble Match Alerts FBI; Trump Returns To Arizona To Peddle Election Fraud Claims; Biden White House Promise Of Transparency Clashes With COVID Response. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 24, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): New cases of COVID because of unvaccinated folks.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: You're just watching this freight train coming, that delta is going to sweep across the south.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could all bring this to a close if everyone who were unvaccinated would just come in, get vaccinated tomorrow.
DR. JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We are more than our jobs are our political parties. We are first and foremost, Team U.S.A.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tokyo Olympics now underway and a new controversy is swirling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire itself is faster than the firefighters can get control over it no matter how many people were throwing at it. It outpaced us for several days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I am Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.
A harsh new reality check is setting in across the United States, and it's a question that pandemic fatigue Americans may not want to hear, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Is it time to return to stricter COVID measures?
The question is taking on new urgency with new cases trending up in 49 states, only Utah is holding steady. The rise caused by the highly contagious delta variant and the highly politicized anti-vaccine crusade.
In Missouri, St. Louis County and City have announced a mask mandate for indoor public setting starting Monday, but the State's Attorney General is planning an immediate lawsuit to block it. Republican Eric Schmidt says he wants to stop the insanity to protect free people.
The partisan divide is heavily contributing to the so-called pandemic among the unvaccinated. Just under half of all Americans are fully vaccinated, making herd immunity for now a pipe dream. Meanwhile, the F.D.A. and C.D.C. are exploring a possible third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but as of now, only for immunocompromised people.
Let's begin our coverage in Louisiana, one of the least vaccinated states in the nation. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is in Gretna just south of New Orleans. So Suzanne, the state is also seeing a spike in new infections. What actions are being taken there?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, I talked to a lot of people here at Jefferson Parish at the mall, and they expressed a lot of fear. There is fear over the vaccination, fear over the delta variant, and then also a lot of misinformation that people have.
So there's lots of questions and health officials trying to address them at this vaccination site. But Pam, make no mistake, Louisiana as a state is in a dire situation here. It has the highest number of new COVID cases per capita than any other state in the country currently. We're looking at figures where it is a 208 percent increase over the last two weeks, 80 percent of that due to the delta variant.
And then take a look at these statistics with those who are vaccinated, only 40 percent of Louisiana residents have one dose of the two-dose vaccinations who have at least started this regimen, despite the fact that you have 1,400 different types of vaccination sites that are free of charge.
And the more alarming statistics, Pam, if you take a look at this is the new COVID cases here, 92 percent of them are not fully vaccinated. Of those hospitals, you have 90 percent not fully vaccinated. And of those who have recently died, it is 91 percent of those not fully vaccinated.
I've had an opportunity to talk to many people here. One in particular, a bus driver who says that now she is going back to work as she has been watching the news, she has been studying, and she has changed her mind. She got vaccinated today and wants to be really an example for the rest of her family. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEONTINE TAYLOR, SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: But if I go back to work, I definitely need to protect myself. So, my daughter and her family, you know, they are skeptical about the shots, too, but once since I took it, hopefully that would get them to take it.
MALVEAUX: What will you tell them?
TAYLOR: For them to get it.
DR. SHANTEL HEBERT-MAGEE, STATE REGIONAL MEDICAL DIRECTOR, GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA: There is a fear that exists, and so part of our initiative is to actually bring vaccines to neighborhoods. So whether it's a mobile unit, whether it's a fish fry at an apartment complex with a DJ, we want people to feel comfortable and in familiar environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Pam, so far there are 72 people that had been vaccinated today at this site. That might sound like a small number, but it is actually very significant in this community. It is really targeting those 18 to 40-year-olds who are part of the group who have been most hesitant about getting vaccinated -- Pam.
BROWN: And it is great to see people coming now to get those vaccinations after being hesitant, but it is also important for people to remember, too, it takes a while to build up the immunity. I think it is 14 days after the last shot.
Suzanne Malveaux, thank you for bringing us the latest there on the ground in Louisiana.
And Florida leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases mainly among the unvaccinated. More than 73,000 new infections this past week and that is only part of the story. Cases have more than doubled compared to two weeks ago. Deaths are up 64 percent during that same timeframe, and hospitalizations have more than tripled.
And joining me now is Dr. Jason Wilson. He is the Associate Medical Director for the Tampa General Hospital Emergency Department. Dr. Wilson, thank you for joining us. Those numbers paint a really bleak picture. Tell us how much the unvaccinated are driving this.
DR. JASON WILSON, ASSOCIATE MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT: These are very concerning numbers, and we've seen a rapid shift of the last two weeks at our hospital for hospitalizations, and these hospitalizations are nine to one unvaccinated people versus vaccinated patients.
For the most part, we see a case of a person who gets COVID and they are vaccinated, we're able to send that patient home or we found it by surveillance. But right now our hospitals are filling up with unvaccinated patients who are sick and much younger than the patients that we saw just a couple of months ago. These are people in their 40s and younger.
BROWN: Forties and younger. I mean, how young are we talking?
WILSON: These are young adults. These are people who have gone back and began doing you know, all the things we had mitigated against for so long while we waited for these vaccines. We need to go out and get those vaccines, but basically things have returned to normal, especially amongst young adults. But that young adult population has not had high uptake of vaccines. We've got good uptake in people over 70, but really between, you know,
people from 12, all the way through their middle ages, it is just really not seeing it uptake. We're kind of stuck at that 50 percent number right now.
BROWN: And have you talked to any unvaccinated patients that regret not getting the vaccine? What are you seeing? What are you hearing from them?
WILSON: You know, we take every opportunity to engage with a patient around what is best for them that we can. Sometimes when you have COVID and we're trying to treat the illness, you know, talking about the vaccine with that specific patient may not be the best strategy, but family members, other people around that patient. Certainly, we look for those opportunities, and we look for opportunities to engage patients that we know for a long period of time.
So patients I know who are immunocompromised, things like sickle cell disease, or multiple sclerosis, or chemotherapy, or transplant patients, every time I see those patients, I talk to them about vaccines and try to relay their worries and remind them I see lots and lots of patients come into the hospital into the Emergency Department and I am really not seeing patients come in with side effects of the vaccine and that's really important for viewers to understand.
I see lots of people who are unvaccinated with COVID. But I don't see any problems with the vaccine six months into this vaccine campaign.
BROWN: And that's really important, because studies show that normally if there were severe side effects, those would show up within the first, I think what, four to six weeks of a vaccine being taken. Now, we are many months into that, and yet so many people are still not getting the vaccine, ending up in the hospital.
If you would bring us into the hospital, I mean, to the extent you can, what exactly are you seeing among these young patients? How young are we talking? Are they on intubators? Just help us -- help paint a picture for us on what is really going on there behind the scenes.
WILSON: Sure. So if you go back just two or three weeks ago, things seemed to be much more stable. We kind of reached a place of consistency and stability. We might have had 10 to 15 people at the hospital any given time with COVID. Now, what we've seen is really a tripling to quadrupling of those numbers, you know reach over 70 patients in the hospital right now with COVID.
Now at the same time, you know this is much different than last summer because we are able to figure out where to put each patient, some are getting monoclonal antibodies, some are coming to the hospital and are much more sick. Again, it's those unvaccinated patients who are much more sick, some requiring ventilators and some requiring intensive therapy in the ICU like proning and steroids and oxygen support. Really, it is the requirement for oxygen that brings you into the hospital setting.
BROWN: And you know, you talked about how bad things have gotten just in the last couple of weeks. Do you think things in Florida when it comes to COVID are going to get worse?
WILSON: Well, here's what's really important to understand, whether we're talking about the delta variant or some unknown variant that's going to arise in the future, we are going to keep on having this same conversation over and over again, until we move those vaccination numbers up from 50 percent to over 70 percent.
There is not a magic bullet, but there is a scientifically produced vaccine that has millions and millions of people who've gotten it and we've got enough experience with the Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J vaccines to know these are safe, they are effective. They work against these variants that keep people from getting very sick.
We've just got to go out there and get those vaccines.
BROWN: Pretty simple message, such an important message, Dr. Jason Wilson, thanks so much.
And next hour, our CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen will be here to answer your questions. Send them to me on Twitter or Instagram @PamelaBrownCNN. We've already gotten some great ones and looking forward to getting some more.
Well, the NFL is now slapping hefty fines on players who flout its COVID protocols. NFL Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills joins me for a TV exclusive later in the hour.
Also tonight, I'm going to ask former FOX correspondent, Carl Cameron if he thinks his ex-employer is killing people with COVID misinformation.
And then a top scientist tells me why climate changes impacts on extreme weather is even worse than we thought.
But before all of that, the Tokyo Olympics starts with a bang, but it's a bust for Team U.S.A. after they failed to win a medal on day one of The Games for the first time in nearly 50 years. Our Will Ripley is live in Tokyo for us tonight when we come back.
BROWN: The second official day of Olympic competition is about to get underway in Tokyo. China leads the medal count so far. The U.S. failing to get any medals on day one of the Summer Olympics for the first time in nearly half a century.
CNN's Will Ripley joins me now from Tokyo. Needless to say, not an impressive start for the U.S. this year. What happened, Will?
RIPLEY: I don't know, for the first time since 1972, no gold for Team U.S.A. on day one and it is not because of the lack of enthusiasm because I was at the men's and women's swimming heats last night and Team U.S.A. socially distanced was the loudest cheering section by far when the U.S.A. swimmers were there.
So look, there are swimming medals up for grabs today. I think a total of 18 medals are up for grabs today. Swimming events, there is going to be the first debut of Olympic skateboarding and surfing. We are about to head to the beach to check out the Olympic surfing. So, hopefully Team U.S.A. will have a better day two than they did on day one.
I said 18 medals up for grabs, there were 17 new COVID infections tied to the Olympics reported in the last 24 hours. So, let's hopefully keep the medal count higher than the COVID numbers. There's about 127 or 128 infections that are now tied to the Olympics. We have more than 20 athletes that have had their Olympic dreams kind of extinguished by this virus, but it is not a major big outbreak situation.
The cases are being detected, relatively small numbers, all the athletes are getting tested every single day. And there's a lot of hope. There are some big names that are going to be competing today. We're going to see Simone Biles make her debut at The Games. We'll see her compete in the coming hours and we're also going to see the tennis star and cauldron lighter, Naomi Osaka, who is going to be competing as well.
But some of these tennis players have been really complaining, Pamela, about the heat here. It is really hot. In fact, you know, some of them are saying that their matches should be moved into the evening hours when it gets a lot more comfortable.
There will be some relief from the heat in the form of a major typhoon that is going to be approaching Tokyo in the coming days. In fact, when we go check out the surfing, we're going to a beach that's normally not really known for its great waves, but because this typhoon is approaching, the waves could actually be pretty great for the surfers competing today.
But it's also going to mean some major weather potential delays like Monday into Tuesday here locally, Pamela. So, lots happening. Let's hope for some gold medals for Team U.S.A. in the coming hours. I will keep you posted.
BROWN: Talking about a perfect storm though. You've got COVID, all this going on. Now, this big storm or weather changes, the typhoon. Wow. All right, Will Ripley, I know you will always bring us the latest there from Tokyo. Thanks so much.
Just a few weeks now until the start of the NFL season, players are already starting to report to training camp and the NFL is doubling down on efforts to get more players vaccinated. This week, we learned that if a team experiences an outbreak among unvaccinated players, they may have to forfeit a game.
And tonight, according to "Bleacher Report," unvaccinated players may even be fined for breaking COVID protocols.
Joining me now is the Chief Medical Officer for the NFL, Dr. Allen Sills. Dr. Sills, thanks for joining us. DR. ALLEN SILLS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Hey,
thanks for having me.
BROWN: So, the question is off the bat here is why go through the circus of fines and forfeits? Why not just mandate the vaccine for players like you do for coaches?
SILLS: Well, all of our COVID protocols are collectively bargained between the NFL the NFL Players Association, and so this is the agreement that those two groups have come to. We've elected not to mandate vaccines at this point, but we're doing all that we can to educate and hopefully persuade all of our players to take the vaccine.
BROWN: And how is this COVID policy being received so far by coaches, staff, players, and fans?
SILLS: Well, I think that everyone references back to last year, and they know that there's a lot of aspects to this, but that's what allowed us to be safely on track last year. And so, I think there's a trust that we earned last year with what we were able to do. Clearly, we know we've got a big challenge in front of us.
But one of the things that made us successful last year was everybody pulling in the same direction -- coaches, players, staff, league officials, players association, we all were dedicated to the task of staying safe and moving forward, and that's what we're aiming to do again this year.
BROWN: Understandably, but when it comes to the vaccine, clearly not all the players are moving in that same direction. There are a number who are speaking out against these new rules. Why don't they want to get vaccinated? What is your message to them?
SILLS: Well, I think my message to them is the same as it is to my own patients. I mean, I'm still a practicing physician, so we have these conversations and that is, let's understand the risks, but also the great benefits of the vaccine.
And I think, personally, these are some of the safest and most effective vaccines we've ever developed in Medicine. I think they clearly do a fantastic job of protecting us against serious illness or death, which are the things that we most worry about, and so we just want to share that information to make sure that people have accurate information.
SILLS: We also now have over three billion vaccines around the world. So, we've got a lot of experience to reference about what the side effect profile may really be, and I am very confident that as we continue to share that information, we continue to gather data, people are going to understand just how important these vaccines really are to allow us to move forward.
BROWN: And as a doctor, your focus just on the science, what the data shows. What do you say to players who have been tweeting out to their millions of followers about this saying that they are being forced to get vaccinated? What is your message to them?
SILLS: Well, again, as we said a minute ago, we're not mandating this. We're trying to share information. We truly believe collectively as a league and the players association together, that being vaccinated is what will keep us in the safest possible position for all of us in the league, and all of us as a country.
So, we want to share that information. We want to address misinformation that is out there and just make sure that people really have the medical facts and understand how it affects them and their families.
BROWN: And understandable that you are not mandating it. It's worth repeating that, but some of these players have tweeted that they feel as though they are being pressured into it. So, have you talked directly with any of these vaccine skeptic players? What are you hearing from them?
SILLS: Well, I've spent a lot of time talking with our clubs, with individual players, with family members, obviously, with our team, medical staffs and others. And again, our policies and protocols are not about punishing people. They are about trying to be as safe as we possibly can.
And we believe, as do medical experts that being vaccinated does put us in the position to be as safe as possible. So, that's really our focus is. How do we maintain the safety of our club environment to allow us to move forward through our season just like we did last year? And so everything we can do to incentivize vaccination is something we want to do.
But our protocols are built around that idea of let us be as safe as we can, not about punishment or disincentives.
BROWN: Right. I saw you talked to reporters yesterday, and you said, you know, we shouldn't be paying attention to Facebook and Instagram, and it raises the question, how much is social media to blame for vaccine skepticism for some of these people, players getting their information from social media on the vaccines rather than trusted scientific sources?
SILLS: Well, I think that's our focus. You hit the key word there, which is trusted scientific sources, and so we all know that we look to influential people who we trust, again, that's what we do as patients. That's what we do as family members.
And so we just want to make sure that people have access to reliable and accurate scientific information. That's what we, and the players association together, are trying to provide to our players, coaches, and staff.
BROWN: But how will you be able to get them to put more weight on this trusted scientific sources rather than you know, what they're seeing online? Do you see any movement on that front? Do you see that your efforts are actually working and that you are getting more vaccine hesitant players to get vaccinated? SILLS: We are seeing a daily uptick in the number of vaccinated
players. As of yesterday, 80 percent of our NFL players have started the vaccination process. And so, we are seeing those numbers go up literally day by day. And so, I think the message is resonating.
We still have got more work to do, but we're off to a good start. And so, we'll continue to have those conversations. I've often said, I don't believe you shout anyone into changing their opinion here. I think you just have to thoughtfully address concerns, share accurate information, and help people as they make these important decisions for themselves.
BROWN: You are certainly making progress. I read that two weeks ago, I think there were two teams that had less than 50 percent of the players vaccinated. Now every team in the NFL is over the 50 percent. But of course, you want to get to that 85 and above threshold.
We've seen outbreaks among vaccinated players, though, within Major League Baseball. So, what are the consequences if there are outbreaks among vaccinated players? In the NFL, we are seeing breakthrough cases among vaccinated people. I point out to our viewers, they are rare and people who have a breakthrough case in your vaccinated, you likely won't end up in the hospital or die.
But what about vaccinated players getting breakthrough cases?
SILLS: Well, we all know that you can still get COVID infection if you have a vaccination. But clearly, being vaccinated protects you against more severe illness and certainly severe outcomes of hospitalization or death.
So again, same principles apply with last year. We have an infection, let's quickly identify it, isolate that person, and try to keep that entire team environment safe. But I think the message is clear, you're much less likely to get a COVID infection when you're vaccinated. If you do happen to become infected, it's much likely to be a less severe -- or I'm sorry -- it's likely to be a less severe form of illness. And again, we think it's much less likely to transmit around to your colleagues as well.
So again, vaccination, the best weapon we have to keep everyone in the team environment safe.
BROWN: And another tool of course, is testing and I know if you're unvaccinated, you're tested on a regular basis, every day I believe. If you're unvaccinated, it's more surveillance testing. Why not though, given what you just laid out there were the breakthrough cases and so forth, test everyone every day, no matter their vaccination status?
SILLS: Well, I think, again, this is something we have active conversations with our medical experts around, with the C.D.C., with other government officials, with the players association and their medical experts, and it is something we may be evolving. We'll just see what the data shows us.
But you know, at present, C.D.C. and others are not recommending routine testing of vaccinated individuals. So, by doing some surveillance testing, we're already doing more than what is recommended currently, certainly more than what we do in a healthcare environment.
But again, we'll follow the data, we will follow the science, and if it seems that we need to test more frequently, then we'll adapt and adjust our protocols around that idea.
BROWN: Okay, just last question for you. You've said that five clubs are under the 70 percent vaccination rate. Do you expect them to hit the threshold by the time the season begins? And can you tell us which teams they are?
SILLS: I won't get into specifics, but I do think they will reach that threshold. I think, as I said, we'll continue to see our numbers go up and I'm excited about the start we've made, and I think we'll continue to see progress there because we are seeing day by day movement on that.
So again, all credit to our players, to our coaches, to our medical staffs, our players association, everyone is pulling together to try to help us increase these numbers and I'm very optimistic they'll continue to increase.
BROWN: All right, Dr. Allen Sills, thank you so much for joining us and for your time on the Saturday. We appreciate it.
SILLS: Hey, thanks for having me.
BROWN: Well, up next, swiping right to jail. A Bumble user turns a match into the F.B.I. after he revealed he was at the Capitol on January 6th. That story is just ahead.
BROWN: Yet another alleged capital insurrectionist has been caught, all because he couldn't help but brag about it to his Bumble match.
Andrew Taake of Texas was charged this week with assaulting officers on January 6th. He even sent selfies to his match that show him at the Capitol during the insurrection. CNN's Marshall Cohen is following the details for us.
This is not the first time, Marshall, that authorities can thank a dating app for tracking down these alleged rioters.
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, believe it or not, this is the second time that this exact scenario has happened, and the details here are even scarier than that first example.
This guy, Andrew Taake from Texas, he runs a power washing company in the Houston area, but they say -- the authorities say that he came to Washington on January 6th armed with pepper spray with a metal whip, and the Justice Department says he used those weapons against police officers that were trying to hold the line and stop those pro-Trump rioters from getting into the building.
That's not the only thing he did while he was in Washington. He was hitting the dating apps. He was swiping on Bumble, found a match. The conversation turned to "Oh my God, were you there?" And he said, "Yes, I was there. I was pepper sprayed. I was on the front lines." He claimed to his match that he was peaceful.
The F.B.I. says that the video tells a different story, and that match of his quickly went to authorities three days later, and now he has been arrested -- Pam.
BROWN: I mean, to think he went to Washington with pepper spray allegedly and a metal whip, you say. Wow. Authorities have also arrested a former D.E.A. agent who participated in the riot that day. What can you tell us about that?
COHEN: This is another really interesting case. This guy Mark Ibrahim, he was working for the D.E.A. on January 6th. A few months after the riot, he went on FOX News and told a story about how he was asked to go there by a buddy of his who worked for the F.B.I., supposedly to document what was going on and sort of keep an eye on things. Of course, he is a Federal agent who works for the D.E.A.
He was charged this week and the Justice Department said that was a totally made up story. They interviewed his buddy. His buddy told them that he was just making things up so that he could protect himself from legal jeopardy. He has now been charged.
He has been charged with bringing his service weapon onto Capitol grounds, and also with lying to investigators because when he was interviewed by the F.B.I., Pam, they asked him, did you flash your D.E.A. badge? Did you flash your gun? He said no.
The pictures prove that he did. So, he now has got to face the music.
BROWN: Yes, Federal agents should know better, know how investigations work. They are going to find the evidence to show that you're lying.
All right, Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.
Well, be sure to join Wolf Blitzer for our special coverage of the January 6 Select Committee's first hearing that begins at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday right here on CNN.
Former President Donald Trump is on the road again, not to promote the vaccine to his supporters, but instead to spread his stolen election lie and he is speaking at a rally in Phoenix where the never ending audit is happening.
I'm going to speak to the Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, up next.
BROWN: Donald Trump is headlining a rally in Phoenix this evening. It is his first post presidential trip to Arizona aka the scene of the crime in his mind at least since he famously lost the state in November. Arizona has become ground zero for people who believe Trump's completely false claims that the election was rigged and victory was stolen from him.
The ongoing so-called audit of ballots there is attracting political wannabes from other states feeding into the big lie to impress Trump and his base for their own campaigns.
Isn't that just so lovely? But if the ex-President is so sure fraud happened in Arizona, why isn't his Political Action Committee taking any action? Putting money towards it? It certainly has the means.
"The Washington Post" reports that the Save America Leadership PAC has raked in around $75 million this year, but hasn't spent any of it on ballot reviews in Arizona or anywhere else. Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs joins me now. She is also running for Governor in 2022. Thanks for joining us. What is your reaction to Trump not putting his money where his mouth is?
KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think we've seen this played out many times with this former President. The bottom line is that this whole exercise is just something designed to feed his ego, to placate has hurt feelings because he lost the election. And he is grifting a whole lot of people to pay for it instead of paying for it himself.
BROWN: Yes, I mean, he has raised millions off the big lie, and even if this is to feed his own ego, so many people believe this. Trump is speaking tonight in Phoenix, our reporters there say the "Lock her up" chant is back, but this time, it's not about Hillary Clinton, it is in reference to you. What is your response to that?
HOBBS: Well, I mean, good luck. I don't know what they are intending to lock me up for. The truth about the 2020 election is that we did our jobs. It was fair, secure, and the results that were certified on November 30th, eight months ago, were accurate -- an accurate reflection of the will of the voters of Arizona.
What's going on right now really is dangerous. And, you know, the former President is continuing to incite his followers to action that could end up with another insurrection and needs to be held to account for that.
BROWN: But how, for you personally, I mean, is that scary for you personally? You're an election official there. You're running for governor. You've already received threats, and you've had security. And now they're saying "lock her up"? What does that feel like? HOBBS: I mean, it's certainly not comfortable. But these last eight or
nine months have not been comfortable in terms of the level of people who think that, you know, I did something wrong, which is just absolutely baseless. And the fact that they potentially don't see justice getting done, what kind of action are they going to take on their own?
BROWN: The contractors hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to oversee the election review claim they don't have enough information to finish and they want legislators to subpoena more records and survey thousands of voters at home. What is your reaction to that?
HOBBS: Well, we knew from the beginning that these folks had no idea what they are doing. They are not experts in elections or even auditing, and they have been making this up as they go along.
We've seen problem after problem that really indicate that there is no way that this is a valid review. And you know, quite honestly, we talked about the grifting going on, and the longer they drag this out, the more they can raise funds from it. And so, I honestly don't think there's an intent to complete it anytime soon.
BROWN: How can you convince Arizona voters that the 2020 election and every election is was and will be free -- likely free we should say because you never know a fraud -- and legitimate.
HOBBS: Well, the fact is that what you just said is the truth, and most Arizona voters, but the majority of Arizona voters believe that. They don't support this ongoing fake audit. They see it for the sham that it is and they are tired of these political games.
They want leaders who are going to put the partisan games aside and get to work on real issues that we're facing, funding our schools, investing in infrastructure, rebuilding the economy. That's why I'm running for Governor and folks can join me at katiehobbs.org.
BROWN: President Biden is reportedly more and more at odds with leaders of the Voting Rights Movement. They don't think his words are squaring with his willingness to push Congress to pass Federal legislation. Do you think they're doing enough?
HOBBS: Well, the bottom line is that we need to have action taken at the Federal level to protect access to the ballot for all Americans. Here in Arizona and across the country, we are seeing unprecedented attacks on Americans right to vote, and we can fix that with Federal legislation. And I think this is an all hands on deck moment to do that.
BROWN: All right, Katie Hobbs, thank you so much for joining us.
HOBBS: Thank you.
BROWN: Practice what you preach. The Biden White House vow to be fully transparent, but when it comes to coronavirus, the reality is, they don't appear to be. That's next.
BROWN: So, remember these pictures from December when then President- elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris got their vaccines. They wanted the world to see this, a photo-op followed by a promise on day one of the administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government, to share the truth even when it's hard to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: On July fourth, President Biden touted independence from COVID- 19.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence, America is coming back together. Today, we are closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: But here's the thing, the 49 percent of fully vaccinated people in this country don't have independence because of the unvaccinated who still make up the majority and some don't have a choice like young kids.
A lot has changed because of that hesitation among many Americans, millions, and the misleading claims that helped fuel it. But for the record, it sure doesn't appear the White House is being fully transparent now when it comes to COVID, at least when it comes to what's happening behind the scenes when the cameras aren't around.
Now that, doesn't mean the numbers we show you all day every day aren't accurate, we have every reason to believe the C.D.C. is putting out the most reliable information possible on the spread of coronavirus, the variants and the vaccines' positive impact in this country, which is why we are baffled at some of the administration's responses this week, like when Press Secretary Jen Psaki, whom you just saw talking about transparency, discussed the White House not requiring all staffers to get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you have a -- can you offer any confirmation to us on the percentage of employees who are vaccinated?
PSAKI: I'm not going to provide that. I will see if there's more information to provide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: She wasn't asked for names, just a percentage, strike one. Strike two, breakthrough cases of COVID at the White House, meaning the extremely rare cases among those who are vaccinated.
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QUESTION: Why don't you just release the number of breakthrough cases you've had of vaccinated staffers?
PSAKI: Well, I think first we're in a very different place than we were six to seven months ago as it relates to the virus.
QUESTION: Why not just provide the number? Are you trying to hide something?
PSAKI: No, but what is the -- why do you need to have that information?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, one obvious answer to that beyond just living up to the pledge of transparency is that the most powerful man on Earth and the oldest President in U.S. history works in that building and the American people have the right to know if all precautions are being taken to ensure his good health and safety.
Now, we should note in the past week, the White House did say the recent breakthrough cases had no close contacts with the President or any other principals. But now sources tell us top administration health officials are talking about whether it's time to change mask recommendations for the vaccinated.
Some worry the current policy only encourages the unvaccinated to go without masks. But when pressed, the head of the C.D.C. isn't relaying any of what I just told you.
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DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: So overall, the C.D.C. recommendations haven't changed.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is the C.D.C. considering right now changing its mask guidance for people who are fully vaccinated?
WALENSKY: We are always looking at the data as the data come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: I mean, obviously, they are looking at the data and we understand the administration doesn't want to send the wrong message to deter vaccine use. But what is clear is that the pandemic has changed course dramatically since the C.D.C. said you don't need to wear masks indoors if you're vaccinated. And the last few weeks, several localities have recommended or required masks indoors for everyone.
Even the former Biden White House adviser on COVID tweeted this week acknowledging his view from weeks ago when he said vaccine people can go out mask free saying now, "There's also no doubt that the unwillingness of so many to get vaccinated and delta combined should make us all more cautious and getting back to life can be done while wearing the occasional mask and balanced with plenty of empathy and concern for others."
So, why isn't the C.D.C. also acknowledging the changing circumstances and clarifying whether say vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids at home should mask up indoors at least? Why not just be open and transparent about these discussions?
We trust the scientists to keep politics out of their decisions. We've seen them fight to maintain that neutrality since the start of the pandemic.
For the record, the administration as a whole needs to keep politics out of its responses as well and it can't let fears of backlash keep it from being straight with the American people about every step in this battle.
Or someone once said, share the truth, even when it's hard to hear.
And stay with us, in just 10 minutes, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen will join me on the White House not mandating vaccines. I'm going to ask her about the current mask guidelines with the delta variant, and she'll take your questions, so tweet me @PamelaBrownCNN.
We'll be right back.
BROWN: In Budapest, tens of thousands of people took part in the annual pride celebrations, but this year the march is also a protest against Hungary's increasingly hostile policies toward their communities. The hard line government recently passed a homophobic law that ban schools from discussing any LGBTQ issues. Hungary has announced that it will hold a national referendum on the law.
And this week on an all new "Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury," learn how the city's people pay the ultimate price when three empires collide.
The all now episode of "Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury" airs tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.
Mask mandates are back on the table as the delta variant drives new COVID outbreaks, and vaccinations stall.
Also tonight, I will ask former FOX correspondent, Carl Cameron if he thinks his ex-employer is killing people with COVID misinformation.
And then, a dire teacher shortage that's now so bad schools are being forced to find applicants overseas.
I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Great to have you along with us on this Saturday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, new cases are up and vaccination rates are down, absolutely the wrong equation, not what we want to be hearing as the coronavirus delta variant sweeps the country, particularly among the unvaccinated. Important to emphasize that.