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Florida State Has Most COVID-19 In U.S.; Delta Variant Challenges Israel's Success; Tokyo 2020 Officially Underway; Alabama Least Vaccinated U.S. State; New South Wales Likely To Extend Restrictions Past July 30; Hungary Plans Referendum On Homophobic "Child Protection" Law; Wildfires Across The U.S. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 24, 2021 - 05:00   ET




ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Delta variant fuels a surge in U.S. COVID-19 cases as frustration at those not yet vaccinated begins to boil over. We'll ask, are mask mandates back on the table?

Also a blaze of light opens the Tokyo Olympics. As events get under way, a look at how teams are faring.

And firefighters are braving this monster fire in Oregon. We'll tell you just how many large fires are blazing in the western United States.

Live from CNN in New York, welcome to all of you watching here in the United States and around the world. I'm Alison Kosik and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


KOSIK: New coronavirus cases are surging across the U.S., driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. New COVID infections are up 50 percent or more in a majority of states. Much of that is among the unvaccinated.

And less than half the U.S. population has had all of their shots. Health experts are warning Americans, the rapid spread of the Delta variant is making vaccinations even more important. CNN's Athena Jones reports.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the biggest public health crisis in a century threatens to get a lot worse, the warnings to the unvaccinated are getting stronger. In Alabama, the state with the lowest vaccination rate in the country, 34 percent.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): The new cases in COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. JONES: Republican Governor Kay Ivey is fed up.

IVEY: These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.

QUESTION: What is it going to take to get people to get shots in arms?

IVEY: I don't know. You tell me. Folks are supposed to have common sense.

JONES: As the more contagious delta variant supercharges COVID-19's spread, especially in places with low vaccination rates, the country is now averaging more new coronavirus infections a day than during the first surge in spring 2020.

Cases up 65 percent over just last week and almost four times higher than a month ago. COVID hospitalizations rising nearly 30 percent nationwide in just the past seven days, almost all among the unvaccinated.

And with the daily pace of vaccinations at the lowest point since January, doctors and government officials are begging the unvaccinated to protect themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just seems like we're just fighting a losing battle here.

JONES: As experts warn the more the virus circulates among the unvaccinated, the greater the chance of so-called breakthrough infections among those who are fully vaccinated. Still, doctors stress.

DR. TANYA ALTMANN, PEDIATRICIAN, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE AMERICAN ACADEMY PEDIATRICS: There are some breakthrough infections. I've seen them in my practice but it's mild illness. So that's a huge difference. And that's what vaccines do.

JONES: And with millions of children set to head back to school, a CNN analysis finds less than a third of eligible kids are on track to be fully vaccinated against COVID in the next two weeks. And while public schools in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Chicago are mandating masks for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We parents should have the right to choose whether or not our kids are suffocated by these masks all day.

JONES: Debates over masking in schools becoming heated from Virginia to Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are simply making decisions based on your own fears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The experts have spoken. I would like the school board to continue universal masking.

JONES: Experts argue. DR. RICHARD BESSERR, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: We have to be honest that we're asking people who are fully vaccinated basically to sacrifice because it's so hard to enforce vaccination -- mask wearing based on vaccination status.

JONES (on camera): Now along with Alabama, Mississippi is the only other state to have fully vaccinated less than 35 percent of its population. And Alabama has also seen an additional roughly 500 people hospitalized with COVID over the past week, up 60 percent from last week.

That's according to the latest community profile report published by the White House COVID-19 response team -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


KOSIK: The White House says President Biden is getting regular briefings about the spread of variants and updated guidance. There's a heightened sense of urgency lately but the administration made no move to implement new restrictions like masks or lockdowns, saying only that they are considering all possibilities.


KOSIK: CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the latest from the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Heading into the weekend, with the Delta variant spreading more than ever before, the White House is sounding the alarm about the urgency of the COVID- 19 pandemic here in America.

No question now. This is a tale of the unvaccinated living with the pandemic much more so than the vaccinated. But even there's a sense of will there be new mask guidelines. More restrictions. Right now the White House says there will be no changes.

We know from President Biden he's directed his government health officials to study this data coming in, if there's a need for more protection for the vaccinated.

There's a sense from Republican governors across the country, like in Alabama, for example, the governor really throwing her hands up in the air and blaming this on the unvaccinated.

So there's a hope here at the White House there's a sense of, if not, you know, willingness to get the vaccine because of the Delta variant, perhaps a bit of trepidation, people getting scared into doing this.

Will any of this work?

The White House has stopped far short of mandating any type of vaccinations. They say it simply will not work and could backfire. They do want employers and other institutions and groups, like the NFL, for example, to put incentives on getting vaccinated. They believe that's how more people will get this shot in the coming

days. No question, President Biden keeping a very close eye on this; A, how it affects the country economically and also the spread of this deadly virus in many cases.

So in the middle of July, as we head towards the end of this month, more concern here than we've seen in several weeks and months. They do believe they have sounded the alarm. We'll see if Americans answer this call to get the shot.

The White House clearly engaging in this in new ways and even more to come next week -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


KOSIK: Los Angeles County COVID numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Hospitalizations are rising. On Friday the county recorded more than 3,000 daily cases for the first time since February.

So masks are once again required for everyone in all indoor spaces across the county regardless of vaccination status. But some officials are pushing back against the mandate and threatening to create their own public health departments.


KOSIK: Dr. Ying-Ying Goh is the director of public health and health officer for Pasadena, California, and she joins me live.

Thanks so much for your time today.


KOSIK: I'm curious what's happening in Pasadena. L.A. County, the health department reinstated the mask mandate. Pasadena is doing the same thing.

Are you encountering any resistance to that decision?

GOH: We have been hearing from both sides, including many people who are extremely grateful that we're implementing this additional precaution in the face of rapidly increasing case rates because of the Delta variant.

Some of the people who have been opposed to universal indoor masking haven't quite realized yet that our community has raced from the lowest level of community transmission in the CDC definition through moderate, up to high substantial.

It's happened in a short period of just four weeks. So we're really in a new situation because of the Delta variant, where we need to do more as we continue to vaccinate.

KOSIK: But California seems sort of, you know, split among -- between which city, depending on where they sit on the spectrum, on whether they agree to reinstate the mask mandate.

In Pasadena specifically, any backlash from people there?

GOH: You know, I think the people that I've heard from, who haven't been supportive, are feeling the way that all of us have been feeling, which is that we're really tired of the pandemic.

And with the vaccine we're feeling liberated and hopeful because, in Pasadena, we have a fully vaccinated rate of 80.5 percent for people 12 and older. So we were hopeful we wouldn't be seeing the surge and the rapidity of the increase of cases that we're seeing now.

In Pasadena, we have 42,000 people who are not vaccinated yet. Half of those are children under the age of 12. And Delta has been swift and efficient in finding unvaccinated people to infect.

And what -- I have two of those children in my household. And what that really tells us is that we aren't two separate cities, vaccinated or unvaccinated, we're intertwined and dependent on one another.


GOH: And the actions that each individual takes and the choice they make to get vaccinated really impacts the whole community.

KOSIK: How effective is the mask mandate if not all the cities reinstate the mask mandate, if only some do?

Where do you go from there?

GOH: So it is a little piecemeal right now and there could be an argument to be made -- and there's a discussion with the state from the local jurisdictions on whether it makes sense to have a statewide indoor masking mandate, for example.

Right now in L.A. County, the city jurisdictions, Long Beach and Pasadena and L.A. County are on the same page because of this requirement because our case rates mirror one another. And it reflects the pattern of people moving in and out of our cities throughout the county.

And the way the virus works, spreading among people who are unvaccinated, moving between jurisdictions.

KOSIK: Why do you think communities that are, in general, politically liberal leaning, why are they in such an uproar over reinstating this mask mandate?

GOH: Again, I think it's really related to -- for some, I think putting on the mask again, which some of us never stopped doing -- but doing that action really hits home as far as the reality that the pandemic is not over. We're in the thick of it.

And the Delta variant just threw a wrench into things, where we thought, after June 15th, with the lifting of restrictions, we wouldn't be seeing so soon this surge. So I think that's a difficult reality to accept. And so we're moving through this phase of acceptance.

KOSIK: What are your concerns in general about just what you're seeing as this pandemic continues?

GOH: I'm really concerned about the next, in the next couple of weeks, the re-opening of our schools. It is our top priority to make sure that every student is back in the classroom in person and safely.

But when we see an increase in case rates in the community, those cases end up on campuses. There's so much at stake that we really need to protect. And that's why taking additional measures, in addition to continuing to vaccinate our community is so important.

Mask wearing, if everybody adheres to that, we're hoping it will lead to a blunting of the increase in cases, hopefully a decrease, so we don't need to implement any other restrictions and will have a successful re-opening of schools.

KOSIK: All right. Doctor, thanks so much for your time.

GOH: Thank you so much.

KOSIK: The first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics goes to China. And so does the second gold medal. Highlight of day one of the competitions when we return.





KOSIK: Fireworks announced the start of the long delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Officials say 127 COVID cases are now linked to the games, including 17 in the past day.

The brand-new 68,000-seat Olympic stadium was mostly empty, as Japanese tennis champ Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic caldron. Only a fraction of the athletes were present.

Soon after the opening ceremony, China claimed the first two gold medals of the games in women's 10-meter air rifle and women's weightlifting. CNN's Blake Essig is just outside of Tokyo.

Blake, I know you are there and feeling it. Tell me about the details.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not bad, despite how unpopular these games remain. There's a curiosity here. A lot of people are mixed about supporting the Olympics, given the obvious health and safety concerns.

At the same time there's excitement that these games are under way and a desire from some to experience the Olympic atmosphere anyway they can. Yesterday that meant taking pictures from outside of the national stadium. Today it meant sitting in an auditorium for seven hours to watch the games.

As a community, while they couldn't vocalize their excitement, it didn't stop them from making a lot of noise by using wooden clappers to cheer on competitors. And that's why I'm wearing this borrowed colorful outfit. It's called a happi and it's and worn at Japanese festivals. I'm digging it. Looking good. I feel good. That's what's important now.

This was one of the only live public viewing sites in the country, 2,000 people applied but, given social distancing requirements only 500 received tickets. With COVID-19 cases surging in Tokyo and rising, public viewings like this are incredibly rare.

It's for that reason essentially that there was a ban on spectators, 97 percent of events, that many people are saying that, even though Japan is hosting the games, it's hard to feel that connection.

But with the flame now lit and competition under way that perception is starting to change. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've really started to feel like the Olympics is taking place in my country because I saw the opening ceremony yesterday on TV and I was lucky enough to come to a live viewing site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think Naomi Osaka was the best choice to be the last torchbearer because she is one of the world's top athletes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She is also mixed race and has faced a lot of challenges. It is amazing she can represent Japan like this. It sends out a great message from here to the world.


ESSIG: That was a big moment last night during the opening ceremony when Naomi Osaka, a mixed race person, lit the Olympic caldron. It's a moment that's significant here in Japan, considered one of the most racially homogenous communities in the world. But Japan is slowly shifting views on identity.

And what we saw last night shows how this society is adapting to changing times.

KOSIK: All right, Blake Essig, thanks for your great reporting.

China wasted no time claiming the first two gold medals of the games


KOSIK: One group of athletes has endured enormous hardship and hope to turn that into Olympic glory. That group is Refugee Olympic Team and they're providing a vision of

hope and inclusion for millions of displaced people around the world; 29 athletes from Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Venezuela and other countries are united under the same flag. Olympic historian Philip Barker explained why this is so significant.


PHILIP BARKER, OLYMPIC HISTORIAN: The important thing in the Olympic Games is not so much the winning but the taking part.

And it's that not so much -- yes, everybody's trying to win and these refugee guys and the men and women will be trying to win at the games and they will be giving it their best shot. No refugee has yet won a gold medal. But that's, of course, the dream.

If that were to happen, that would be an inspiration to others. And it is -- it is something that has the power to inspire because everybody will be looking at these athletes. People in displaced camps before the 2016 games, they actually had a torch bearer in one of the refugee camps in Athens at the laoness (ph) camp.

And I was there to see him run with the torch and all the children were out and they could see all the event going on. Yes, it was a little bit of a diversion but maybe in a few years' time they'll remember that moment.

And it's the same here. If they get a chance and those who are somewhere they can watch somebody else who's like me and they're achieving their Olympic Games. And they're fueling their dreams. So it does have a very strong inspirational message.


KOSIK: Olympic historian Philip Barker there from Tokyo.

U.S. health officials are working to raise the nation's dwindling vaccination numbers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of family is now vaccinated and you know, they have been pushing me and pushing me and I've been putting it off. But the Delta variant kind of scares me, so...


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's why you got it today.


KOSIK (voice-over): After the break, we'll take you to a clinic in Alabama, the state with the lowest vaccination rate in the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: Plus Indonesia tightens COVID restrictions as case numbers soar. But the death toll is still hitting new records. That story and the latest from other Asian nations coming up in a live report.





KOSIK: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Alison Kosik and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

COVID case numbers are ticking up in the United States, driven by low vaccination rates and a Delta variant. The highly contagious strain is spreading quickly among the unvaccinated, who make up the vast majority of deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S.

Many experts say these factors leave the nation vulnerable to another pandemic surge and warn that even those who are vaccinated need to be concerned.

Alabama is at particular risk from the Delta variant, thanks to its low vaccination numbers. According to the CDC, it's the least vaccinated state in the country. CNN's Gary Tuchman takes us to Mobile, Alabama, to see what people are doing to turn those numbers around.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's 5:00 pm and a pop up COVID vaccine clinic has just opened at Mobile, Alabama's annual Bay Bites Food Truck Festival. There's the choice of all three vaccines but there were no takers. Only the workers for the Mobile County Health Department. But 10 minutes later...


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The CEO of the Soul Heaven Cafe leaves their food truck and becomes the first visitor choosing the Pfizer vaccine.

TUCHMAN: Well, you're done.


TUCHMAN: That's pretty easy, right?

MCCOY: It was, very easy.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mobile County is more than 400,000 people. And it's one of the lowest vaccination rates of any large county in America, 37 percent. In a state that's the lowest in the country at 34 percent.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The county health department is striving for more frequent outreach to get people vaccines. And that's why its employees are here. Ten minutes later, another woman gets a vaccine. Cindy Renkert, she chooses Moderna.

TUCHMAN: You told me you have multiple sclerosis. And your doctor has given you the OK to get the vaccine. How do you feel about now getting it?

CINDY RENKERT, VACCINE RECIPIENT: I feel (INAUDIBLE), my husband's been asked me to do it. And I know that I need to be done. So I'm really glad that I got and I thought they're here doing this today. Because otherwise, I'd still be dragging my feet.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Forty minutes passes by with no more vaccine customers. But two people then show up, Don Bates on the left and Brittani Williams on the right.

DON BATES, VACCINE RECIPIENT: The reason I'm doing it is because I can do it.


BATES: Yes, yes.

WILLIAMS: And it's free. Most of my family's been by fascinated and, you know, they've been pushing me and pushing me and I've been putting it off and the Delta variant kind of scares. So.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): That's why you got it today.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): It's now six o'clock, for one hour into the vaccinating. The curiosity level is high. But the vaccinating level is not. You've met four people have gotten the vaccine. Those are the only four who came over the first hour.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Health Department is sponsoring other vaccine events in places such as truck stops, coffee shops and car dealerships. The department's director of Disease Surveillance is Dr. Rendi Murphree. She says the department must be creative

RENDI MURPHEE, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, MOBILE COUNTY HEALTH DEPT.: Since July 4, we have just had an explosion of cases. You know, a doubling or tripling of the number of cases every seven days. It's accelerating greatest and the age groups of 18 to 49.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back at the food truck festival, Jacqueline Battaglia is 22 and says no vaccine for her.

JACQUELINE BATTAGLIA, DOESN'T WANT VACCINE: I just don't think that I need it, so I'm not going to get it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Do you know though, that almost everyone who's dying or being hospitalized, is somebody who hasn't been vaccinated. The people who haven't vaccinate, almost all of them are not going to the hospital or not dying. Does that concern you?

BATTAGLIA: Not really, I'm a healthy person. I don't have any underlying health issues. I'm not really concerned about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll just do the job (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that's perfect.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But those who are concerned continuous slow trickle to the vaccination tent. Jason Sullivan says he wasn't planning to get a vaccine until coming to this festival.

TUCHMAN: How come you waited this long?

JASON SULLIVAN, VACCINE RECIPIENT: Oh, based off a lot of stuff that I heard on the internet, what people were saying about the COVID shot.

TUCHMAN: They're basically rumors.

SULLIVAN: Rumors, rumors.

TUCHMAN: It's now 8 o'clock the vaccinations at the food truck fair are over. The final number of people who got vaccinations 12, that's an average of four an hour.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's not a big number. But the Health Department workers will tell you the numbers are getting higher at their various outreach events over the last week, good news, amid the Delta variant, bad news -- Gary Tuchman, CNN, Mobile, Alabama.


KOSIK: Many people in Southeast Asia can only wish for that kind of vaccine access. The region is struggling with surging COVID case numbers, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. Anna Coren is tracking developments across the region. She joins us now live from Hong Kong.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: We've been seeing an explosion of the Delta variant here in Asia. And governments really are scrambling to try and stop the spread of this highly contagious strain of the virus.

You know, Australia is seeing that virus really take hold. In New South Wales, where there was an outbreak last month, that just has skyrocketed. Today they recorded 163 cases, up from 136 yesterday. And we know that New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are in lockdown.

This is the way that the government is trying to handle the pandemic. But, interestingly, Alison, thousands of people took to the streets in Sydney today, to protest against this lockdown.

The anti-lockdown protesters, they are called freedom protests, and it is just mind-boggling, the images that we've been seeing today, people not believing in the virus, not wearing masks, certainly not social distancing.

They clashed with police. One man punched a police force. Dozens of people were arrested. That was in Sydney. There were protests also in Melbourne. It's just mind blowing to think how selfish and ignorant these people are.

It may not seriously affect them but it could affect their parents or their grandparents. These are the ones who are susceptible to COVID.

But you're talking about a country, a very privileged country, where the vaccine rollout has been woeful. The prime minister has apologized for the slow rollout of the vaccine. You know, just over 11 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. But this is not a problem just immune to, I should say, not just in Australia.


COREN: This is a problem many countries are facing in the region.


COREN (voice-over): A taxi graveyard, the colorful cars that once zipped tourists around Bangkok, now sit idle in a field. There are fewer customers these days, as new cases of coronavirus in Thailand reach record highs. But for those lucky enough to pick up a fare, it's no longer a routine ride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We had passengers getting on and off our cars every day. And we don't know if they are at risk or not. We need to protect ourselves and the passengers also need to protect themselves. Both sides are just scared.

COREN (voice-over): Those fears keeping more people at home. Volunteers bring food to those isolated along Bangkok's canals. The government says there is a shortage of vaccines along with the surge of infections, though supply is just one of the obstacles preventing people from getting shots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can't go. I only stay like this because, if I go for a vaccination, I'd have to take a boat, walk and commute by car. I have no money to spend for that.

COREN (voice-over): Experts say vaccines are a critical weapon in fighting this outbreak that has spread across Asia. Some health care workers in India hiking into the remote countryside to dole out the doses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They moved to door to door in my village, collected swabs for testing and gave vaccines to the villagers. Our village is a tribal village and no one visits here.

COREN (voice-over): Vietnam is also trying to accelerate its vaccination program, as cases sharply rise there, too. The outbreak in Ho Chi Minh city is so bad that soldiers in hazmat suits hose down the streets with disinfectant.

But even as countries across Southeast Asia tighten their COVID-19 restrictions, the virus still seems to be a step ahead. In one of the hardest hit nations, Indonesia, the death toll crossed 1,500 a day for the first time during the pandemic.

Singapore says even the vaccinated are impacted. Government data over the past 4 weeks shows vaccinated people made up three quarters of new infections, though they did not become seriously ill.

The empty streets of Sydney, Australia, a sign a lockdown is in effect but with cases still rising, some officials say it's not enough.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIA PREMIER: We need a ring of steel around Sydney, so that this virus is not spreading into other parts of our nation.

COREN (voice-over): But spreading is what this virus does very efficiently, so much so, the state of New South Wales asked the federal government for more vaccines, a request that was denied. Prime minister Scott Morrison saying it would disrupt the vaccination program for the rest of the country.


COREN: Now Indonesia is without doubt now the epicenter of the pandemic here in Asia, overtaken India in regard to being ground zero. The cases are exploding.

The health ministry says over the past month they recorded more than a million new cases of COVID-19 and they are blaming the Delta variant. The death toll, as it stands at the moment, is more than 80,000. But the experts say that's vastly underreported, that the true number is much, much higher.

KOSIK: Anna Coren in Hong Kong. Thank you.

Hungary's prime minister raises the stakes in a battle over a controversial LGBTQ law. But in a couple of hours, his opponents will take a stand against it on the streets. That's ahead.

Plus wildfires are raging across the western United States. Why some people thousands of miles away are experiencing the effects.





KOSIK: In just over two hours, some people in Budapest will take a stand against Hungary's controversial new LGBTQ law. They are expected to hold a pride march and push back against the law that many E.U. leaders call homophobic. But the prime minister Viktor Orban said he's standing firm and plans

a referendum on the issue. Melissa Bell joins us live from Budapest.

What are you hearing from those expected to march?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they expect this march to be bigger than usual because it's not the usual celebration but this time it will be a protest against a law that many here told us is straight out of the prime minister's playbook, targeting a group.

We've seen it with the migrants a few years ago, the homeless, the transgender. The question is this time whether the group he's targeting isn't too big and representative of too many people within the country.


BELL (voice-over): It is a picture of family life built on love and surrounded by love. Monica and Reka say they have never faced anything but acceptance raising their two daughters in southern Hungary. Now they fear they may have to leave the country altogether.

REKA SPOHN, GAY PARENT: They act like we are a hazard for children so that we are dangerous for children. And I think if they say it enough times, some people will start to believe it.

BELL (voice-over): On June 14th, they joined thousands outside of the Hungarian parliament to protest a controversial new bill that would all but ensure that many of the country's youth would never see pictures of families like theirs, the culmination of a gradual campaign of demonization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have always been people that were homophobic and transphobic. But now with this law they feel encouraged. They feel they are entitled to attack us.

BELL (voice-over): Krisztian and Lauren (ph) say they were victims of homophobic attacks when they were younger. Now, they fear there may be worse to come.


So maybe next week, they will just put me in jail because I am gay. Or maybe in one year, they will just kill us on the street.


BELL (voice-over): Brussels announced proceedings against Viktor Orban's government over the new law. This week, he responded by announcing a referendum.

VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Hungarian law does not allow sexual propaganda in kindergartens, schools, TV shows and advertisements. BELL: What Hungarian law does allow, apparently, is government funded

propaganda and on a massive scale. All over the country right now, billboards like these, asking whether people are angry at Brussels and whether they are worried that their child may face sexual propaganda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People love to hate something.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And while the population of Hungary is hating a group, they don't really care what the government is really doing.

BELL (voice-over): But this prominent entrepreneur believes that Viktor Orban may this time have picked the wrong target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gays are everywhere, sitting, all the companies, all in the government. Ministers are gay and everybody is just silent. It is going to come out because the truth will win in the end.

Who will be the next?

The gypsies or the Jews again?

BELL (voice-over): Hubert (ph) is part of the Family Is Family Campaign. Launched in November by Balazs Redli, a stay at home dad and journalist, who is worried about the future his son will face.

BALAZS REDLI, CO-FOUNDER, FAMILY IS FAMILY: The very existence of rainbow families isn't propaganda. It's the reality. We just want to live in this country like everyone else does.


BELL: For years now, the prime minister has skirted close to the limits of what European law allowed, angering Brussels time and time again. This time they decided to act. The question is much more the electoral test that will present itself next year.

It's understood this campaign has been going on for the last few months culminating in this latest law is that the prime minister is looking ahead next spring to what's set to be the tightest election he's faced in the 11-year rule, with the opposition preparing to get- together to take him on.

And this campaign is about galvanizing his base, making sure they get out to vote. The question is, given how representative those communities are within Hungarian society and how tolerant and accepting this society has been, it will work in his favor or be a fatal miscalculation.

This is something we've heard over and over again, not just from people in the community itself but people who say, look, we have family and friends who've been out for years.

And our family and friends who have been on fence about this issue are now outraged about the propaganda campaign they are facing. And it is extremely damaging to the community.

Will his calculation pay off or, on the contrary, play out against him?

An important test today, how many people come out and support and whether there's far-right groups who come out to counterprotest, in numbers great enough to cause trouble.

KOSIK: Melissa Bell in Budapest. Thank you.

Coming up, digging for answers. NASA's Mars rover is getting ready to start its rock collection and hopefully find out if life ever existed on the Red Planet. That's next.





KOSIK: The Bootleg wildfire in southern Oregon has grown to more than 400,000 acres. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 13 states are dealing with large fires. Almost 22,000 firefighters and support personnel are working tirelessly to put them out.


KOSIK: NASA's Mars rover has begun its search for signs of ancient life. It's set to dig up its first-ever sample of Martian rock in the coming days. Scientists back on Earth hope it will give them important clues to the Red Planet's secrets. Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): NASA's rover on Mars is set to begin one of its top missions to search for signs of ancient life.


HOLMES (voice-over): After settling in and testing its gear for nearly seven months, Perseverance will reach out with its robotic arm and pick up some rocks. It will begin extracting the samples. Those will help scientists determine if there was once life on the Red Planet.

Like any tourist, Perseverance has been busy taking photos. The crater was created by a meteor impact. The rover has been sending those photos back to NASA headquarters, where scientists have been studying them. According to NASA, the crater contains clay. It's led to the assumption this was once a lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a lake and a lake about 40 kilometers across. So we're not looking for things that would have been growing in the sea. The other important aspect of this is that we are looking very, very far back in the history of the solar system.

And what that means is life would not have had much of a chance to advance very far. And that's why we always say we're looking for evidence of potential microbial life.

HOLMES (voice-over): The robotic arm will dig out samples and store them in cubes and analyze them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The front of the rover then has another sample handling arm, which manages those tubes and the samples inside of them to do imaging and measure the volume. And then we'll seal those and store those for planned future return to Earth.

HOLMES: Although it's still unclear if Perseverance will be back, its possible its collection of rock samples could be back on Earth in a decade -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


KOSIK: I'm Alison Kosik in New York. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. For viewers in North America, "NEW DAY" is next. For the rest of the world, it's "MARKETPLACE ASIA."