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COVID Surges in 48 States; Lawsuit to Stop St. Louis Mask Mandate; GOP Group Wants Kinzinger and Cheney Punished; New Capitol Police Chief Comments on Threat. Aired 9-9:30a ET.

Aired July 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe you're alive. I can't believe you made it through this. You're so lucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This was a pole that fell off the load of a pickup truck that was driving in front of the woman's SUV, missing her face by inches, as you heard there. Really a miracle she's alive.

That's my nightmare, John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I have that phobia.

All right, thank you very much, everyone.

CNN's coverage continues right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. So glad you're with us. Hope you had a nice weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim has this week off.

As far as this country and COVID, we are going in the wrong direction. Those words coming from Dr. Anthony Fauci as less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Cases are still on the rise.

The highly contagious delta variant infecting large numbers of unvaccinated people. Right now the rate of new infections in the past week jumped by at least 10 percent compared to the previous week. In all but two states. 34 of those states saw cases jump more than 50 percent.

Meantime, doctors in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Missouri say hospitals are filling up again, except this time the patients are younger than before. Even unvaccinated patients in their 20s and 30s are now dying there from COVID.

Some experts are warning a return to mitigation measures may be soon to come, like the ones we saw in the early days of the pandemic, like mask mandates. But some cities and counties are not waiting. Officials in St. Louis, Missouri, have gone one step beyond that, instituting an indoor mask mandate in public places starting today. Los Angeles County did the same last week.

So let's begin in one state where COVID cases are surging.

Our Leyla Santiago joins me now from Miami, Florida.

Leyla, good morning. What is the situation on the ground?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy.

We are at a vaccination and testing site. And you can see, there is a steady flow of cars lining up. I will note that those cars are mostly going into the testing tent, not so much the vaccination tent, though both are available here. Florida still standing at about roughly 48 percent when it comes to vaccination -- full vaccination of its residents. And it's also one of two states in the country where every single county is listed as high transmission for COVID.

So the mayor here in Miami-Dade has opened up some more sites and extended hours for vaccination, as well as testing. But I've got to tell you, as I've spoken to some mayors, there is a sense of frustration in the state of Florida because, remember, back in May, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that really limits -- well actually doesn't allow local municipalities to put in place their own restrictions when it comes to masks or vaccinations.

Listen to the mayor of Hialeah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CARLOS HERNANDEZ (R), HIALEAH, FLORIDA: I did not agree with some things the governor -- the governor was doing. But, you know, the law was passed and now we have our hands tied as local government. And all we can do is inform our citizens and let them know how important it is to get vaccinated and to take care of each other. Use a mask. I mean we've got to start going back to basic fundamentals. If not, it's going to get worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: So Florida continues to lead the nation when it comes to cases. Johns Hopkins saying that Florida in -- over the past few -- over the past two weeks has tripled in the number of cases. And we're seeing that in the hospitals, Poppy. I checked in this morning with Jackson Health System, and they have seen a steady increase over the weekend, now treating 205 patients testing positive for COVID. And as one epidemiologist warned last week when I spoke to him, he said, if something doesn't change, this is a system that will break soon.

Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow, Leyla, thank you so much.

And you can hear the desperation in some of those local leaders' voices in terms of their hands being tied.

Let's talk about St. Louis, where they are now reinstating their indoor mask mandate. That happened this morning. This, at the same time, as the Missouri attorney general says he will take legal action to try to stop that mandate.

Our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins me this morning from St. Louis.

Suzanne, good morning to you.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

HARLOW: How are people on the ground reacting to the reinforcement? Do they welcome this, largely?

MALVEAUX: Poppy, there are really mixed feelings about this because there's a great sense of urgency on the -- on the care -- on the side of health care workers, as well as city officials, who are pushing this. At the same time there's a great sense of unease here.

We've spoken to restaurant owners, bartenders, people who want to go out to eat and they really describe it as something like the wild, wild west before where they were trying to get people to be -- wear their mask, enforce this mandate here.

And there's some resentment here from those who are vaccinated.

[09:05:00]

There's a sense of unease for those who have to enforce this inside their businesses. And so there's going to be a press conference later where city officials are going to try to explain and convince folks that they must wear their masks. I mean this is mandatory now. This has been two months where they've been able to get rid of them. That is at least the vaccinated.

But this is now, for all indoor public spaces, including public transportation, this is for the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated, five-year-olds all the way up. There are few exceptions for those who are like eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant.

At that very moment you can take off your mask but you have to put it back on. For those who have disabilities, who cannot put a mask on or off, they are an exception. And there's even a strong recommendation that if you can't socially distance, you actually have to wear a mask outdoors.

This has caused fierce backlash, Poppy, from politicians and from some who just feel that this is a freedom issue, that this is a free will issue. The attorney general, Eric Schmitt, tweeting this out, saying, the citizens of St. Louis and St. Louis County are not subjects. They are free people. As their attorney general, I'll be filing suit Monday to stop this insanity.

He is running for U.S. Senate for the GOP nomination, hoping to get that. So he is now saying that he will actually sue the mayor, calling him out, saying this is political. She tweeted saying, our top priority is protecting the health, safety and well-being of the people of St. Louis City and County. Nobody is surprised that the attorney general plans to file yet another frivolous lawsuit to serve his own political ambitions.

Poppy, take a listen to the people who are caught in the middle here, the folks who are going to have to enforce this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY HAMMERSTONE, OWNER, HAMMERSTONE'S: Whenever we had the mask mandate, we had to fight a lot of people who didn't want to wear mask.

We had a customer pull a gun. We've had customers like threaten to fight and just go crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So there's a sense of dread but there's also a sense that this is vitally important here in this state. It is a dire situation when it comes to the fourth surge of the COVID-19 virus here. And so people want to get on top of this once again.

But the question remains, too, is if you -- if it's so targeted to St. Louis and St. Louis County and you don't have the enforcement or the buy-in from neighboring counties, neighboring cities or even neighboring states, how impactful will it be? That question is still unanswered, Poppy.

HARLOW: Suzanne, thank you very much for the reporting on the ground.

Let's talk through all of this with Dr. Megan Ranney. She's a professor of emergency medicine and the associate dean of public health at Brown University.

Good morning, Dr. Ranney.

Moments ago, more than 50 healthcare groups released a joint statement calling for mandatory COVID vaccination for all health care workers and all long-term care workers. This includes, among those recommending this, really well-known groups like the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the APA, the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Let me read you part of their statement. Quote, this is a logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all healthcare workers to put patients, as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to insure their health and well-being.

Do you agree with them?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: I agree 100 percent with this statement. We, in health care, are mandated to get vaccinated against multiple things. We have to show that we're immune to measles, mumps and rubella. We have to get yearly tuberculosis tests in order to keep our patients

safe. It is inexcusable for a healthcare worker on the front lines to not be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to put their venerable patients at risk if they're asymptomatic and transmitted to them. This is a no- brainer for health care facilities.

HARLOW: We are seeing some private businesses mandate vaccinations. We saw the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, so that government entity chose to do the same.

The Biden administration has not so far called for a mandate for federal employees, right, or even for White House events, right? That July 4th event, they said if you're not vaccinated, you need to wear masks.

I wonder if, at this point, Doctor, you think it is time for the Biden administration to take those steps where it does have the power to mandate vaccination?

RANNEY: You know, my sense is, is that the federal government, like many state governments, are waiting for full FDA approval in order to mandate vaccination. I would say that each workplace should make its own decisions. My own university has mandated vaccination for not only our students but also our staff and our faculty. Health care facilities, schools, those can all mandate vaccination. For the federal government, I think they're probably going to wait for that full approval, which, you know, many of us are calling for.

HARLOW: How far off is that, do you think?

RANNEY: Great question. It really shouldn't be far off. They have all the data. They've had it for months.

[09:10:01]

We have hundreds of millions of doses that have been administered, demonstrated safety of this vaccine far beyond -- or these vaccines far beyond what seemed for other vaccines that have been approved. It's really unclear to many of us why we are still waiting.

HARLOW: But we don't have any heads up, like, you know, two weeks, three weeks, a month?

RANNEY: No, they're saying at least -- yes, that's exactly -- somewhere between a month and six months depending on who you talk to.

HARLOW: OK.

You're outraged -- you've been very clear about that -- that we are where we are now because so much of this is preventable with the vaccine. But you also wrote something a few days ago that I thought was really interesting, both as a physician but as a parent. And you talked about the importance of nuance in the conversation about our kids that can't be vaccinated below 12 years old and going back it school.

Can you explain that nuance?

RANNEY: Yes. So, as with so much in COVID, Poppy, this is not a black or white situation. You can both think that COVID is dangerous to children, which it is -- there was reports out just today about the number of kids that have died in Indonesia from COVID in just the last week. One of the reasons we've seen so few deaths from COVID in kids here in the U.S. is because the kids have been masked and largely, unfortunately, were out of school last year. So you can both think that COVID is dangerous for kids and think that kids can safely be back in school. It's not an either/or.

And so many people across the country right now are trying to make this a decision between you're either for zero COVID and don't want to do anything or you should release all restrictions right now.

It's not that simple. Can you have both. You can both put kids back in school safely and have them mask up to keep themselves and their classmates safe. You can both say that we should be reopening and trying to get people back to workplaces and say vaccines are safe and maybe we need to mandate masks when there are acute surges in cities.

It is about having a little bit of nuance, allowing there to be gray areas, and allowing ourselves to meet somewhere in the middle that's going to get us through this pandemic.

HARLOW: Like so much of life, right, let's meet in the middle on this stuff.

RANNEY: Truth.

HARLOW: Dr. Ranney, thank you.

In just a few hours, the Iraqi prime minister will be at the White House as President Biden shifts the mission of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. Details ahead.

And a growing number of House Republicans this morning are calling for retaliation against their own colleagues, punishment for joining the committee to investigate January 6th.

And an incredible rescue of a mother and her eight-month-old baby who were hit by a drunk driver, then trapped underneath this car. They survived and the police officers who helped lift the car off of them just spoke to CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:17:04]

HARLOW: This morning, sources tell CNN a group -- a growing group of House Republicans are calling on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican leadership to punish Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Congresswoman Liz Cheney for accepting Speaker Pelosi's invitation to serve on the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection on January 6th. That hearing, the first one in a series, is set to be held tomorrow morning. Let's get to our colleague, Melanie Zanona. She joins us now.

Melanie, good morning.

This is your reporting. So what -- what -- what do they think should happen? Because if -- if, you know, McCarthy were to remove Kinzinger and Cheney from panels, I suppose, or committees, other committees, Pelosi actually has the power to just put them right back on.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Right. You're exactly right.

Look, so last night my colleague Ryan Nobles and I started to hear from a growing number of Republicans who specifically want Kevin McCarthy to kick Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger off of their other committee assignments because they agreed to serve on the select panel on January 6th.

Now, as you point out, of course, Pelosi could just reinstate them. That is one of the reasons why GOP leaders are very reluctant to go this route. But the right flank in the party is really fired up. They are itching for payback in some way, even if it's just to prove a point, and they could put pressure on leadership in the coming days to go this route.

And, you know, keep in mind, Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker one day. And so ultimately if a growing number and groundswell of Republicans push him to do this, he might feel like he has no choice but to pull the trigger.

HARLOW: And then just wait for them to potentially get reappointed?

ZANONA: Exactly. Exactly.

HARLOW: OK.

Tomorrow is really important. We're going to have special, live coverage here on CNN. Wolf Blitzer will be anchoring it. It's the first committee -- not just committee, it's the first public hearing in this work that this select committee is getting ready to do. And in it we're going to hear from, I believe, four of the officers on that day. And, as I understand it, we're going to see -- here they are right there -- we're going to see new footage that people haven't seen before.

ZANONA: Yes.

HARLOW: From their perspective, right, their vantage point? What can you tell us about that?

ZANONA: Yes. Well, we know the select committee is planning to play body-worn camera footage from these officers. So it would be a firsthand sort of perspective of what they went through that day. And a lot of these officers have been public about what they went through. They were dragged, beaten, maced, tased. One of them suffered a heart attack. Another was crushed in a set of doorways. And this is all part of an effort by the committee to paint a vivid,

firsthand account of what happened that day, which they say is even more important to establish given that there are attempts in the Republican Party too whitewash or downplay what happened that day.

But, look, the bottom line, it's going to be an incredibly emotional day tomorrow. You know, these members were in the House on January 6th. They were a part of it. These officers saved their lives, my lives, many of the lives in the Capitol that day. So it's going to be pretty powerful stuff.

HARLOW: Right. Melanie, we can't forget you, so many other reporters were there in the middle of all this.

ZANONA: Yes. Yes.

[09:20:03]

HARLOW: Before you go, there's one part of McCarthy's statement on this yesterday that -- it leaves something big out. He says basically, the Senate already did this, right? A bipartisan Senate committee already did this. That's not exactly right. That was limited in scope.

ZANONA: Yes.

HARLOW: Can you explain to people why it's not correct?

ZANONA: That was very limited in scope. They only looked at the security failures and sort of what happened and they did not dig in to why it happened. So, yes, the select committee is going to look at the same things, security failures, tomorrow, for example, setting up what happened with these officers.

But they are planning to look at the root causes of the insurrection which Democrats and Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, Republicans on the panel, say is so important because that's how they can try to prevent this from ever happening again.

HARLOW: Melanie Zanona, thank you for your great reporting. We'll see you soon.

ZANONA: Thank you.

HARLOW: Ahead of the House Select Committee's first hearing tomorrow, the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Tom Manger, spoke with our very own Josh Campbell about the threat of more attacks on the Capitol, especially given the amount of online chatter about a fresh wave of pro-Trump violence next month.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I'd be a fool to not be concerned about that. I mean that -- that, obviously, the safety and security of the U.S. Capitol, the Congress, that legislative process, those are top priorities. And -- and I'm absolutely concerned about all of those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Let me bring in former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer.

Chief, your voice is so important today. Thank you for being here.

TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: You have known now Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger for a long time and I wonder what you -- what you make of him saying, look, I'd be a fool to -- to not be concerned about, you know, ongoing threats to the Capitol.

What do you make of him in this position at this moment and that statement from him?

GAINER: Well, I think Tom is in the right place at the right time. All the years he's spent in Fairfax County and Montgomery County really puts him in a good position to understand policing in the District of Columbia area.

But he also is important because of the message he's giving to the officers, that he cares about them, he trusts them. And I know that today, Poppy, he was at the morning roll call, spent about 40 minutes with the officers, not in a prepared speech, but answering their questions. So he's -- he's a necessary person at this time to boost their morale and get them heading in the right direction.

HARLOW: So, let's talk about tomorrow. Our Melanie Zanona just reported about some of the video that will be shown to members of the committee, but also to the public for the first time tomorrow from the vantage point of those four officers. And we heard Chief Manger talk to Josh Campbell about the importance of having those officers' voices heard tomorrow that are going to testify, how much he supports them, saying, they need to be heard.

What do you think it means to hear from them on this platform together in this hearing?

GAINER: I think it's an opportunity for both the members of the committee and the public at large to know exactly what they experienced. Not only will they see video from that, but they'll hear their --

HARLOW: Looks like we lost the connection.

We're going to get to a quick break and see if we can get him back.

But my thanks to Terrance Gainer.

Ahead, heroic officers and bystanders recuse a mother and her eight- month-old baby after they were pinned underneath a car. Watch from this terrifying, dramatic video head. They are OK. They are OK. We're also moments away from the opening bell. Futures lower this morning. This ahead of a busy week for earnings. We're going to get quarterly results from tech giants like Apple, Google, FaceBook and Amazon. Stocks finished last week at record highs. The Dow closing above 35,000 for the first time ever. We'll keep a close eye on markets today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:54]

HARLOW: A mother and her infant child are in the intensive care unit this morning in Yonkers, New York, after an alleged intoxicated driver hit them as they were crossing the street. The harrowing moment was all caught on surveillance camera. And this is very hard to watch, I want to warn you.

The mother can be seen walking with her eight-month-old baby when a vehicle turns the corner and slams into them. The car pushes the mother and her child into a neighboring barber shop, crashing through the glass and pinning them under the car. Then two police officers and several bystanders who were nearby rushed over to help.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), we've got a baby under the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's lift it up. Let's lift it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look out. Look out. Look out. Look out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody pull -- somebody's got to pull the baby -- you've just got to pull them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab -- grab -- grab --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, grab the baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab the baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it. I got it. I got the baby. I got the baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We got it. We got it.