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Surging COVID-19 Cases Throughout The U.S. Because Of The Delta Variant And Stalled Vaccinations; Rep. Adam Kinzinger Chosen As Second Republican To The January 6 Select Committee; Conservatives Shift To Pushing For Vaccinations; President Biden's Final Push For The Infrastructure Deal; Arkansas COVID-19 Cases Soaring; Impact Of Delta Variant And Inflation On Wall Street; NFL To Fine Unvaccinated Players. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 25, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles in Washington in today for Jim Acosta. COVID cases are on the rise. So are hospitalizations, but vaccinations are stalling. It's not where we should be right now at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic with three vaccines readily available.

But that's exactly where we are, with COVID infections rising in nearly every single state. That sea of deep red that you see represents infection rates going up by at least 50 percent over the prior week. Hospitalization rates, they're also moving in the wrong direction. And due to the staggering number of Americans still opting out of getting a life-saving vaccine. There's even an active discussion happening right now to reverse the CDC's mask guidance for vaccinated Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NAITONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're going in the wrong direction.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think masks should be brought back for vaccinated Americans?

FAUCI: You know, Jake, this is under active consideration. If you're asking, am I part of the discussion? Yes, I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So the surge may seem familiar, but one factor that sets it apart from the others is that it was fully preventable. We have multiple vaccines available that would enable the country to reach herd immunity and return to normalcy. But instead, the U.S. is not even at the 50 percent fully vaccinated mark.

And the figures are even more sobering when you stack them up against other countries. Joining me now, CNN's Harry Enten. He's looking at this. So Harry, let's just talk about how far back the U.S. has fallen behind Canada and the U.K. among the adult population.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: This is stunning because if you go back a few months ago, the U.S. was kicking Canada's butt. But now take a look at the stats. This tells you everything you need to know. Among adults, the U.S. at 69 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose.

Now, Canada is all the way up to 80 percent. Look at where England is, 88 percent! And it's not like we don't have the vaccine doses available, Ryan. We do. We have just stalled over the last few months because people are not on the uptick right now. It's quite honestly very disappointing.

NOBLES: Yes. And you point out that in Canada, it's in part, because here in the United States, Trump voters are far less likely to get vaccinated than are conservative voters to our north and in the United Kingdom. It's not as if there aren't conservatives in those countries.

ENTEN: There absolutely conservatives in those country, but take a look at Canada, right? And what do we see there? What do we see? Well, take a look by vote in the last national election. Look at that. The liberal new Democratic average in Canada, 85 percent. Very similar to the percentage of Joe Biden supporters who have at least one vaccine dose at 84 percent.

But look at the conservatives. Yes, they trailed the liberals in Canada but they're at 69 percent versus the Donald Trump supporters here with at least one vaccine dose, just 52 percent. Now take a look at the United Kingdom. Does that pattern old there? Take a look here. Again, by winner in the last national election.

In the England constituencies, what we saw is that 90 percent, in the ones the conservatives won, 90 percent of those age 18-plus are vaccinated. Among those that the conservatives didn't win, it's just 82 percent. So it's, in fact, a reversal of what we see in the United States where the states that Biden won, 15 points more the population is vaccinated in those states.

So, this isn't just a conservative thing across the board. It's really unique to the United States where the conservatives are so much less vaccinated than the liberals are.

NOBLES: And led by someone by the name of Donald Trump. And lastly, there's been a recent push by some Fox News personalities to urge people to get vaccinated. You have any theories as to why, Harry?

ENTEN: Yes. I have at least one good theory. And that is that the Fox News audience is far less vaccinated than the other audiences who watch television news. Look at this. Age 18-plus with at least one COVID vaccine dose by main source of news. CNN/MSNBC, 83 percent. ABC/CBS/NBC, 79 percent. Fox News, just 62 percent, Ryan. That's so disappointing because this should not be a partisan issue.

Everybody at this point should be getting the vaccine if they're adult and especially if their doctor recommends it. And most doctors, in fact, do. There are very few case where you shouldn't get vaccinated. [17:05:00]

It's just so disappointing. And that is why I think you're seeing the Fox News hosts at least some of them are saying go get that vaccine because the truth is, the Fox News audience is just trailing behind so many different news audiences, Ryan.

NOBLES: All right. Harry, we'll have to see if it makes a difference. Thank you so much for breaking down those numbers. And it offers us the opportunity now to bring in Andy Slavitt, of course, the former White House senior adviser for President Biden's COVID response team.

So Andy, it's pretty clear that this has become the pandemic of the unvaccinated. And you heard Harry talk about the difference between Fox News viewers and viewers of other news outlets. When you were at the White House, did you ever personally have a discussion with anyone from Fox News about the role they need to play in helping to save lives?

Okay. Sorry. Obviously, we're having an issue with Andy's audio right now. We are going to see if we can work out that technical difficulty and try and get Andy back here in a second. Actually, Andy is back. So Andy, I believe I can hear you now. Can you hear me?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: It was not the mute button, I promise. It was not -- pressed.

NOBLES: All right. No problem. So, answer that question for me if you remember.

SLAVITT: Sure. Yes, well, I actually went on Fox News a number of times and I think most of us believe that this should not be and doesn't need to be a political conversation. I think we started out that way. And as with masks, I think there were people who had other ideas and thought that, no, your decision on whether you should get vaccinated should be part of your political identity.

And that's happened to a large extent as a U.S. phenomenon as I think you just showed in the prior data you showed. But there really is no need for that and there really is no need for different messages for different people. We all care about our family. We all care about our community. And, you know, we all need to make sure that we are just giving people the straight information. The straight information is we got very high quality, very safe vaccines.

NOBLES: So do you know right now if anyone from the administration is behind the scenes having conversations with the leaders at some of these conservative news outlets to try and get them to send a different message?

SLAVITT: I don't know specifically, but I will say we spent a lot of time and I imagine they still are talking to leaders in the conservative communities, talking to evangelical leaders. I spent a lot of time with Hugh Hewitt. We spent time with conservative pollsters like Frank Luntz. And you know, I think the first principle is try to understand before you seek to be understood. And if we wanted to communicate to people, we needed to understand

where they were coming from. And in general, I think what we heard is to try not to ostracize people and shame them into getting the vaccine that that doesn't work, but to help them point them to people that they trust in the community, to their own doctors and to other local people and to try to depoliticize the issue as much as possible. I think the president has tried. I think, you know, you can only get so far with that issue now.

NOBLES: Yes. You know, when you actually talked to people who refuse to get the vaccine, it seems that one issue that comes back often is that it has yet -- the vaccine itself has yet to get full FDA approval. It's only under emergency use authorization right now.

A lot of people cite that as part of the reason for not getting vaccinated. This is what Dr. Fauci told Jim Acosta recently regarding that potential timeline of full approval. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: The final decision is going to be up to the FDA and I would imagine that likely will not happen until we get well into the winter towards the end of this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So, President Biden, though, recently said that it could happen by the end of next month. And I also want to compare these timelines with the former surgeon general under former President Trump. This is what Jerome Adams said about that timeline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME ADAMS, FORMER UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL: The quickest way to get people vaccinated is through mandates. And we can't have mask mandates. We won't. You're hearing this from the military and from other businesses, until you have full licensure of these vaccines. So, if you want to get a bunch of people vaccinated really quickly, get these vaccines licensed and then you'll see the military make it mandatory. You'll see businesses make it mandatory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: All right, so let's unpack both of these. First, do you believe vaccine mandates should be on the table? It's very controversial, but is it something that the government should be considering?

SLAVITT: Well, look, I think whether you are the government, whether you are municipal government, whether you are business, whether you're a venue, you should absolutely be considering every way you can to make it safe to be in your business and in your location.

And if that means to tell people, look, you can -- we require you to have a vaccine or if you choose not to get vaccinated, you need to take a test multiple times a week and demonstrate that you're negative for the virus. And I think that's the fairest way to do that and it can be done now. That doesn't need to wait on the FDA.

[17:09:57]

I think with all respect to Jerome Adams and everybody else, it's important that the public trust the FDA and that the FDA take the time they need. And if it takes an extra couple of weeks, I don't think it will take us until the end of the year, at least I hope it doesn't. But if it takes a couple more weeks for them to do a thorough job it will only have the desired impact if people know that they weren't bowing to political pressure.

You know, the last administration spent a lot of time pressuring the FDA. I think it's wise that what Dr. Fauci said, which is let the FDA get their work done when they need to. But in the meantime, I think we should be aggressively considering requiring people to be vaccinated or at least have a negative test to come on site.

NOBLES: So, just too kind of pin you down a little, do you think end of August, fall? Like, how soon do you think that full authorization could come?

SLAVITT: Well, I can only say what I hope. And by hope is some time in August if not September. They have lots of data. There is more data on these vaccines than has existed for any other FDA decision ever. That's both good and bad. The good is they can be very assured of the quality and efficacy of the vaccine.

The bad is there's just a lot more to go through and, you know, the best scientists in the world going through it and I hope they do it quickly, but I also don't think they need to bow to pressure from me or anybody else.

NOBLES: All right, let's talk now about masks and the future of masks. Obviously, many of us thought that we'd put the masks away for good. But Dr. Fauci saying that there is a consideration right now for the CDC to change their recommendations, meaning that the fully vaccinated may have to begin wearing masks again in public settings.

You were still a senior adviser with President Biden's COVID response team when the CDC pulled back on that indoor mask guidance in May. In retrospect, do you think that was a mistake? Did you move too quickly?

SLAVITT: Well, here again, we let the FDA review the science and make their own decisions. So, as unusual as it is, we at the White House did not make that decision. But I would say is this. When there's a low prevalence of cases and there are a lot of people vaccinated, there's very -- there's a lot less reason to wear a mask.

So, I think that was the case before and I think in parts of the country, that's still the case. And if you go into a room with people you know are vaccinated, very little reason to wear a mask. Having said that, now that we have the delta variant spreading and we have a lot of people in different parts of the country that are testing positive. In Missouri, we've got, I think close to 15 percent positive rate, it does make sense to wear a mask. And I liken it to this, you know, wearing -- carrying an umbrella --

getting vaccinated is equivalent to carrying an umbrella. It keeps you mostly dry, but doesn't mean that in a bad storm you shouldn't also wear a rain jacket if you really want to ensure you stay dry. So, it does make sense to have layers of protection when you need them.

NOBLES: So don't get rid of those masks yet is what you're saying, Andy Slavitt. They could still come in handy as we get through this situation with the coronavirus. All right, Andy Slavitt, thank you so much for your perspective. We appreciate you being here.

And still to come --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON DESANTIS, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: These vaccines are saving lives.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Get vaccinated.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Apologies for the whiplash. Conservatives suddenly urging Americans to get vaccinated. We'll talk about the why, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

NOBLES: On Tuesday, hearings begin for the House Select Committee investigating the violent U.S. Capitol insurrection that happened on January 6th. And today, a second GOP lawmaker bucked the party and joined that committee.

Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger joins fellow Republican Liz Cheney. And here's how he explained the decision to accept that appointment from the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "We are duty bound to conduct a full investigation on the worst attack on the capitol since 1814 and to make sure it can never happen again."

And I'm joined now by CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover. Margaret and John, thank you for joining me on a Sunday. Margaret, let's start with you. Do you think that this is a political risk for these two Republicans, and if so, just how much of a risk is it?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Ryan. Hey, it's great to see you. It breaks my heart to say, yes, it is a political risk. I mean, they are taking a real political risk by joining this commission but it's a risk that among many other risks, noble, brave, and morally courageous risk that they've already taken.

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have proved that they have absolute backbone to stand for their positions. The way the January 6th Commission has been treated by the House Republican leadership, going around undermining it, pretending like they want a bipartisan bill, undermining it and lobbying in private against it, and has really -- and then having it pass and suggesting that it's partisan while doing everything they can to make it completely partisan has frankly succeeded in undermining the mission of the commission itself and diminishing it to what is perceived by Republicans now as a completely partisan witch hunt.

So that even republicans who are the good guys, the ones who voted for impeachment, some of them who are in really tight races, and by the way, they're all in tight races. They all have primaries, some tougher than others. But it's very difficult for a Jaime Herrera Beutler for example or a Dan Newhouse or a Peter Meijer to volunteer and sign up for this if they are really going to fight for their seats. And what we've seen from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger is they just don't care. They're willing to risk their seats and they might.

NOBLES: Right. I think of John Katko, too, who authored the independent commission --

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

HOOVER: Absolutely.

NOBLES: -- who wanted no part of this select committee. So, let's expand on that, John, Kinzinger is there because Pelosi kicked out two of Kevin McCarthy's two picks. This was a political risk for the speaker, to Margaret's point, about how it's now become hyper- partisan. Did Pelosi make the right call here?

[17:20:07]

AVLON: I think so. You know, look, McCarthy was obviously not operating in good faith. And, you know, you had three folks who voted against the commission. You know, two people -- who overturned the election, two votes -- folks who signed to the amicus brief. And when you come out of the gate trying, saying that your job is to undermine and attack the ideas behind the commission, you know, that's not bipartisanship.

You know, you don't put 9/11 truthers on a 9/11 commission. And so, I think to some extent Pelosi has outflanked him by adding Kinzinger to Liz Cheney. Makes it more difficult to call this partisan. And at the end of the day, you know, some things are beyond bipartisanship, one is democracy.

Do you support democracy or do you, you know, or do you support trying to overturn elections? Members of the sedition caucus shouldn't go shredding crocodile tears about this. These two people are honorable. It adds to the credibility of the commission. They should go on and do their work in as non-partisan away as possible to put forward the facts. And that's what some are afraid of.

HOOVER: And Ryan, I would just say one more thing. When Nancy Pelosi, instead of compromising the -- or risking for other Republicans who really do need to fight for their seats because this has become so partisan, I would suggest that she reached out to Republicans who are not serving in Congress now, who have stature in order to make this truly bipartisan because that will actually help to undermine this narrative that it's just -- you like that idea --

AVLON: I like the idea from my bride. This is good.

HOOVER: He likes the idea a lot. You know, reach out --

NOBLES: Listen (inaudible).

HOOVER: Because that's what the 9/11 Commission did if you recall.

NOBLES: And the Speaker has actually already done that. She had Denver Riggleman in her office on Friday. So there is some talks about --

HOOVER: Finger-crossed. Yes, that's great.

NOBLES: -- yes, some of these former Republican members perhaps serving, not necessarily on the committee but in some sort of an advisor capacity. Let's turn the page on talk about COVID. And we're seeing the right coalesce around a pro-vaccine message. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DESANTIS: These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): We should be getting the facts out there and encouraging people to take it.

MCCONNELL: Get vaccinated. I want to encourage everybody to do that and to ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.

HANNITY: Please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died.

I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So that's a lot of conservative leaders, encouraging people to take the vaccine, but in reality, is there really only one person that is important when it comes to this discussion, and that's the former president? Listen to what he said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How about the vaccine? I came up with the vaccine. They said it would take three to five years. Going to save the world. I recommend you take it, but I also believe in your freedoms 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NOBLES: So he kind of said you should take it. Margaret, positive

development overall, but you know, can you explain the about-face from all of these Republicans that have been kind of putting the vaccine at an arm's length and now are kind of bear hugging it?

HOOVER: Look, I think -- I think the rubber hit the road in terms of this delta variant and where it started hitting in red states. I mean, the fact that you had much bigger majorities of people that weren't vaccinated in red states and you saw those numbers in Arkansas and Missouri and the delta variant becoming the widest and quickest spreading variant. Of course, pernicious and lethal to people who are not vaccinated.

I think everybody got the message all at the same time. I just wish it had happened six months ago. And for the sake -- for the -- truly, for the sake of people who have suffered and died and lost lives. And this isn't political, but it has been made political by Republicans who wouldn't take that stand earlier, and I'm glad they're doing it now. It will save lives. But, man, this was too late.

NOBLES: All right, we're going to have to leave it there, John. Sorry, Margaret gets the last word. You're probably used to that. That's okay.

AVLON: I'm used to that.

NOBLES: We'll let you have the first question next time around, okay. Thank you guys so much for joining me. I appreciate it. Make sure to catch Margaret on PBS' "Firing Line." And a quick note about the January 6th committee, Wolf Blitzer will have special coverage of Tuesday's hearing beginning at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

And we're told President Biden making calls today trying to reach a deal on infrastructure as one of the deal's broker's teases that they are incredibly close to getting there. We'll take you live to the White House when we come back.

But first, a quick programming note. When it comes to the sitcom, there's one thing we can all agree upon. The workplace has some horrible bosses. From Michael Scott in "The Office" to Jack Donaghy of "30 Rock," find out the inspiration to some of your favorite characters on the next new episode of "History of the Sitcom" tonight at 9:00 only here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:03]

NOBLES: President Biden is back at the White House. Today, he's been calling up key members of Congress who are at the office on a Sunday trying to bring a major bipartisan infrastructure deal across the finish line. CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz joins me now live from the north lawn. Arlette, tell us where things stand right now.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan, President Biden has been working the phones today as they are getting closer and closer, those senators up on Capitol Hill, to trying to reach an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

[17:29:57]

The president and his team have kept in close touch with these senators as many are hopeful that they could get closer to an agreement by tomorrow when heading into this week, there's really going to be another key test vote hopefully is what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is hoping for with this plan.

But we are also learning that there are some still major sticking points when it comes to that bipartisan proposal. One of those being exactly how to pay for it and then also things like water projects and transit funding. But a little bit earlier today, two of the senators who are involved in those negotiations expressed some optimism about where things are heading. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R-OH): We're about 90 percent of the way there. I'm here this weekend working on legislative language with colleagues and staff and I feel good about getting that done this week.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): We're down to the last couple of items and I think you're going to see a bill Monday afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASENZ: So those senators hopeful that there will be some type of agreement potentially tomorrow and they've been working with their teams over the weekend, including today to try to hammer out some of those final details.

But even as those lawmakers are working towards that bipartisan infrastructure proposal, there is also that element of the larger $3.5 trillion sweeping package that Democrats are expected to pass just on democratic lines. And the president as he was arriving back here at the White House just a short while ago, he was asked about immigration, whether that might be part of that reconciliation proposal.

The president saying that he does want to see a path to citizenship, but said that it remains to be seen whether that will be pursued in reconciliation. There are, of course, some questions when it comes to the parliamentarian and whether that will be allowed to be part of a reconciliation package.

But this week is of course, just another critical week for the president when it comes to that infrastructure proposal as he is really trying to find his first major bipartisan legislative win hopefully, he thinks, in the coming months, Ryan.

NOBLES: Arlette, immigration is such an important part of this conversation. You may not get the bipartisan package without that big reconciliation package and many progressives consider, including immigration, a very important priority. Arlette Saenz live at the White House. Thank you so much.

In Arkansas, it has the third lowest vaccination rate in the country. We went there to ask why people there are not getting a life-saving shot free of charge. We'll hear from them, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You got COVID?

RONNIE ROGERS, BARBER: I did. That's the reason I want to get it, but then after I got over COVID, I had a heart attack.

REEVE: So why would you not get the vaccine?

MIKE CLARK, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: I might have a bad reaction to it.

REEVE: I see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:35:00]

NOBLES: Arkansas is one of the nation's main COVID hot spots right now. Health experts describe the pandemic there as "a raging forest fire." Not surprisingly, it's also a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Just 36 percent of the state's residents are fully vaccinated. CNN's Elle Reeve went there to find out why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNNY, ARKANSAS NURSE: Yes, I'm outside.

It was extremely difficult to watch so many people die and then have people tell you, you know, on Facebook or in Walmart that you're a liar.

REEVE (voice-over): Sunny worked on a COVID floor at a hospital at the height of the pandemic. Being a nurse was hard, but what made it surreal was living in western Arkansas where many people, even some in her own family said COVID was overblown. Just a flu.

SUNNY: Nurses were really the symbol for this whole pandemic and almost all of the hate has centralized around us. There's a PTSD. A lot of us are suffering from it from last year and now we're having people come in and look us in the face and be like, no, I didn't get the vaccine and now I'm sick.

REEVE (voice-over): Arkansas has the third lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country. Just 36 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Like many places with low vaccination rates, it's now seeing a spike in cases.

(On camera): Are you going to get the vaccine? MIKE CLARK, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: I have not and I will not. I'm not a

guinea pig. There's not a chance.

REEVE (on camera): You got COVID?

ROGERS: I did. That's the reason I didn't get it. Then after I got over COVID, I had a heart attack after that.

REEVE (on camera): So why would you not get the vaccine?

CLARK: I might have bad reaction to it.

REEVE (on camera): I see.

CLARK: That's good. That's better. You know, I believe that it's a freedom issue and I've worn a mask probably a maximum of one hour in the entire whole thing since this COVID came about. If it's so communicable, why am I still standing?

SUNNY: We had people accuse us of giving their loved one something else so that they would die and we could report it as COVID. We heard it more than once that we were just fudging the numbers or we were killing people on purpose to make COVID look like it was worse than it was or make it look real when it wasn't.

For the first majority of the pandemic we wore the same N95 for like one to two weeks at a time.

REEVE: Tell me what you think about the term health care heroes.

SUNNY: I think it sucks.

REEVE: Why?

SUNNY: So they dubbed us health care heroes. It just gave the public this really wrong impression that we were sacrificial lambs and willing to die for them. We want to help people like, you know, I want to save lives. I want people to get better, but not, you know, at the expense of my family's lives either.

[17:39:59]

Then you have the public going, well, you signed up for this. No, I didn't. When I was 17, I enlisted in the Army. I knew that I might die for my country when I was 22 and went to nursing school. That wasn't on the agenda. You know, like I didn't volunteer to die for everybody. And even with the vaccine now, it's still a highly politicized thing for no good reason.

REEVE: Last year, Sunny started venting on TikTok.

SUNNY: You're just trying to spread fear.

If that's what it takes to get you to listen to me, sure.

I had avoided posting about COVID for a long time because of the negative reactions I got. Like it hurts my feelings, but just a couple of weeks ago I had people in my inboxes threatening to kill me, calling me a murderer saying I helped kill those people. I get called a crisis actor all the time. It's my thing now to respond to hate comments with for just $10 into my Venmo account, I'll tell you about the truth about COVID-19 and crisis acting. I've made about $100 so.

REEVE: Wait? Really?

SUNNY: Yes.

REEVE: Wait. And people like send you $10 and you're like, yes, I'm not a crisis actor.

SUNNY: Hello. I'm just like crisis acting isn't real and COVID is real, so like, surprise. I said I'd tell you the truth. Not the truth you wanted to hear, but.

REEVE (voice-over): Sunny says dark jokes bring some relief from a darker reality like that her own health is at risk. Her fellow nurse Hazel Bailey got COVID last August and was on a ventilator for 42 days.

HAZEL BAILEY, FORMER NURSE WHO GOT COVID-19: It's real. COVID is real. I nearly died from it and will probably have issues from it for the rest of my life. I have family that they believe that it's real, but they're not concerned with taking the vaccine. They understand some people get it and it's not bad. But I got it, and it was bad. And now we're seeing this new variant hit and it's really hitting Arkansas. Sorry. Sorry. My sister doesn't have the vaccine.

REEVE (voice-over): Sunny says that recently COVID patients have been telling her they got it at church. This week, Arkansas had its biggest spike in cases since February and it has the worst case rate in the country. The state is offering vaccination incentives like free lottery tickets. It hasn't convinced many.

REEVE (on camera): Did anyone you know get COVID?

JOY STARR, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: My son had COVID.

REEVE (on camera): How old is he?

STARR: Eight.

REEVE: Wow. So that's like pretty rare for like a young kid. What was that like?

STARR: He was sick a lot. He's been sick a lot for a while and is still sick. So, I'm going to have to go to get him looked at and see if there's further damage. I don't know. I mean, he got real sick.

REEVE (on camera): Yes.

STARR: Fever every day for weeks.

REEVE (on camera): Are you guys going to get the vaccine? STARR: No, no vaccine.

REEVE (on camera): How come?

STARR: I just don't trust the government.

REEVE (on camera): Are you going to get the vaccine?

UNKNOWN: Absolutely not. My kids are not going to get it. None of us.

REEVE (on camera): How come?

UNKNOWN: I mean, I'll figure I'll just let the world work its natural ways.

REEVE (on camera): Okay.

UNKNOWN: We've taken other vaccines, ever so.

REEVE (on camera): Are you able to get like religious exemption at school for your kids? Is that how --

UNKNOWN: No, I mean, we take the stuff that you have to.

REEVE (on camera): So what do you mean when you say you don't usually get vaccines?

UNKNOWN: We didn't do the pig flu swine thing or whatever that was. We didn't do any of the (inaudible). It's something that I don't -- I don't believe in. You know, I mean, I haven't ever. It seems it only comes about every presidency and it seems like it's either crowd control or whatever you want to call it, but I want my family to have nothing to do with it. We've always been healthy and it just seems to work better that way.

REEVE (voice-over): Not everyone around here feels this way.

TERRY "COWBOY," ARKANSAS RESIDENT: I think you need to get it because it's not only helping you. It can help your whole family. Everybody around you. It's better to take a chance on the shot than it is to take a chance on the COVID. Cowboy up and go in there and get a shot and come out of there like a grown-up, you know?

SUNNY: Come here. Come here.

One of my biggest fears is like this new wave of COVID. We're seeing a lot of nurses with compassion fatigue and I am really scared how that's going to play out because a lot of the cases that we're seeing are in non-vaccinated individuals.

If I had a patient come in that wasn't vaccinated with COVID like I have, like I'm obviously still going to treat them to the best of my ability, but I know some nurses that had to quit because they just don't have it in them to do that.

A lot of Arkansans, you know, would give you the shirt off their back to help you out for a stranger, like, you know. I think that a lot of people being anti-COVID and anti-vaccine is just a product of the way that we were raised here. But they're not bad people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: Coming up next, COVID vaccinations dividing the sports world. At least one NFL player says he might leave the league over the new rules about the vaccine.

But first, here is CNN's Julia Chatterley with COVID's effect on the stock market.

JULIA CHATTERLY, CNN HOST: Hi, Jim. Well, I can tell you investors are bracing for more volatility. This week, the delta variant, inflation concerns, and corporate earnings are grabbing the headlines and driving whiplash on Wall Street.

Just this week, you can add the Federal Reserve now to the mix, too. The Central Bank releasing its latest policy statement on Wednesday.

[17:44:58]

Last meeting the fed indicated interest rate hikes are coming in 2023, one year sooner than expected. Investors are looking for any change to that messaging and also want to know when the Fed will begin rolling back its massive bond purchases.

Also coming this week, one of the most eagerly awaited IPOs of the year. Stock trading app Robinhood goes public on Thursday. The company expects to sell shares to between $38 and $42 each. At the high end, that translates into a market value of $35 billion.

Robinhood, of course, hugely popular but also controversial. Regulators are scrutinizing its business model which critics say is rife with conflicts of interest. In New York, I'm Julia Chatterley.

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NOBLES: Only one professional sports league managed to play every single game last season, and that is the NFL. This season, the league is focusing its efforts on getting players vaccinated. It's the carrot and stick approach. Teams with an 85 percent vaccination rate will enjoy significant easing of COVID protocols.

But this week we learned that if a team experiences an outbreak among unvaccinated players, they may have to forfeit a game. Not only are those game checks on the line, but according to the Bleacher Report, unvaccinated players may even be fined for breaking COVID protocols.

Now, players are criticizing this move. Some superstars like wide receiver Deandre Hopkins who wrote, "Being put in a position to hurt my team because I don't want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL." Sports analyst Mike Golic joins us now to talk all about this. Mike, you are such a great person to have perspective on this. Of course, you played eight years in the NFL, but you've also been around the game forever.

Basically, the NFL is essentially saying that unvaccinated players could cost their team a win. You know in the NFL one loss could be the difference between going to the playoffs and not going to the playoffs. How much pressure do you think is being exerted in the locker rooms from coaches, team leaders, and other players to get their fellow players to get the vaccine?

MIKE GOLIC, SPORTS ANALYST: Well, I don't think there's any doubt there's going to be pressure to do that. Listen, we know what this is about and a lot of things are about. This is about money. The NFL, while they didn't have any cancellations last year, they normally make about $14 billion to $15 billion. They made $9 billion, because remember, all the games, there were no fans so they lost a lot of money that way.

So, while they still make a lot of money, they're basically telling the unvaccinated, if you're going to cost us money, we're going to cost you money. Now, understand one thing. They're the exact same protocols last year and the big, big thing to remember here is, this is negotiated by the NFL and the union of what would go on last year before there was a vaccine if guys broke the protocol.

If they went out to night clubs, if they went out in public, if they did things at that, both sides agreed you shouldn't do expose yourself to COVID, you would have been fined. Now they're saying, if you choose to, and they're not mandating the vaccine, though, it is a bit -- it can be a bit of a strong arm for sure.

They're saying if you're the reason your team has to forfeit, neither team is going to get a game check. Your team is going to get the loss and your team may have to pay some other money as well.

NOBLES: Are you surprised and I don't want to make it seem as though there's a ground swell of NFL players that are saying they don't want the vaccine, but there have been some pretty prominent players who've been very passionate about saying they don't want to get the vaccinate or that they just don't want to talk about it. Are you surprised that we've seen so many of these high profile players say that they don't want any part of the vaccine?

GOLIC: Oh, no, not at all. There has been animosity between players and league forever just given whatever the situation is, being about money, being about T.V. contracts, being about drug testing. There's always been that animosity, kind of like if the league says something that you have to do it, a lot of players are saying I don't want to do it.

Now, this is one of those. Again, free choice. I'm fully vaccinated. It was my choice. They have the choice to get vaccinated or not, but with choices come consequences. The NFL is a business that has now set some rules that they want followed. So, you don't have to get vaccinated and it may not cost you anything.

You may not, you know, test positive. You may not have a forfeit. So, it may be a moot point. So, it doesn't surprise me at all that some players are speaking out. But I will say this about a term I used to use on air a lot, that I don't think there's any way on God's green earth that a player will retire over this.

I know I heard Deandre Hopkins, great wide receiver, tweeted that out and he took it down almost immediately. It was a quick reaction. I do not think you're going to get a high profile player unless you are making a whole lot of money that is going to retire over this. I do not see that happening.

NOBLES: Another one from my favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, cole Beasley making a similar threat and you're saying that's probably not going to happen.

All right, just quickly before we go. Your take on the Cleveland Indians saying good-bye to their nickname and coming up with the new nickname called the Cleveland Guardians as Major League Baseball is going to change it or going to change that team next year.

[17:55:02]

They're saying they're being respectful. A certain former president saying last night that he's not buying it, former President Trump. Do you think that Cleveland is making the right move here?

GOLIC: Well, we've seen so many sports teams change their names. We're seeing the Washington football team do the same thing. So, my answer to this, I'm not this hot take guy. I grew up in Cleveland so I grew up on the Indians. That was my team.

So now that they change it, everybody is asking me, what do you think? I said, you know what, it doesn't matter what I think. They changed it. In two years, nobody's going to care. Everybody's going to call them the Guardians and they're going to move on.

Some guy tweeted I'll always call them the Indians, always be the Indians. But you know what, you're still going to watch them and at this point, they're going to be the Guardians. Everybody will be used to it over a matter of time.

NOBLES: OK. All right, Mike Golic, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it.

GOLIC: No problem.

NOBLES: Reporting from Washington, I'm Ryan Nobles. Pamela Brown takes over the "CNN Newsroom" like after this quick break. Thank you so much for watching.

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