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Barrack Pleads Not Guilty to Illegal Foreign Lobbying Charges; St. Louis County Official Says COVID Numbers Too Alarming to Ignore; Wildwood Mayor Plans to Fight Mask Mandate; Outbreak in Massachusetts Town Infected 380+ Vaccinated People; California Dixie Fire Now 15th Largest in State History; Officers and Bystanders Lift Car to Save Pinned Baby. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 15:30   ET



KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Barrack saying that, you know, he's going to fight these charges that he is innocent of these charges. Being back next in court in September -- Victor, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I appreciate that endorsement of the Statue of Liberty

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Beautiful statement. Kara Scannell, thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, not to this, this popular tourist spot in the U.S. seeing a cluster of COVID cases that's even affecting fully vaccinated people. So, they've just issued an emergency indoor mask mandate. I will speak to the town manager of Provincetown, Massachusetts, next.



BLACKWELL: Well, starting today the City and County of St. Louis is requiring anyone age five or older to wear mask indoors in public places and on public transit. Now that includes the vaccinated. Officials say -- there in Missouri say -- that the delta variant is driving up infections and hospitalizations and the increase just cannot be ignored.


MAYOR TISHAURA JONES (D) ST. LOUIS: The reality of this virus has changed from a year ago.

DR. SAM PAGE (R) SAINT LOUIS COUNTY EXECUTIVE: On June 1st, the number of COVID positive cases in St. Louis County was 40 a day. Two months later on Saturday, the number of cases was at 218 a day. On June 1st, the positivity rate was 2.9 percent in St. Louis County. And two months later on Saturday, it's 9.9 percent. These numbers are too alarming to ignore.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: So, on Sunday, Missouri reported the third highest number of COVID cases just behind California and Alabama.

Joining us now is Jim Bowlin. He's the mayor of Wildwood in St. Louis County, Missouri. And he wants to stop the mask mandate in his city. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being with us. I just want to give people a status report of where your county is.

Hospitalizations are up. The number of people in ICUs are up. The number of people on ventilators are up. So why not make people wear masks indoors for a little while until you get the numbers down?

MAYOR JIM BOWLIN, WILDWOOD, MISSOURI: Well, that's a great question. I have several reasons. First of all, I have faith, Wildwood is a city. it's one of the largest in St. Louis County of 35,517 residents. And I have faith in our residents to do what is right as to others and for themselves.

Secondly, my concern is that if the standard is now going to be that every time there's an uptick in COVID and without vaccinations and so forth and it stays around in perpetuity, presumably, we'll be doing masks in perpetuity, forever.

And third, the statistical data in counties adjoining St. Louis County demonstrate that the residents and the citizens do exactly that without being mandated. They didn't have all the mandates that St. Louis County has had and yet the infection rate for all four counties is statistically the same.

BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you, and I don't mean this to be insulting but we have had people who have been against local mask mandates answer this question in way that would lead us in a different part of the conversation.

Do you believe that masks work to block and mitigate the virus?

BOWLIN: I do. And so, my point isn't that masks should not be worn. My point is simply that our residents and the citizens in this region are fully capable of making those decisions. I mean again, the statistics in the three counties in Missouri abut St. Louis County, you know, as they say the numbers don't lie. And the infection rate for each of those counties is exactly the same as St. Louis County's. And yet those counties have virtually no, if any at all, restrictions since this began.

CAMEROTA: But here is the problem. People are dying in St. Louis County. They are on ventilators. They are in the hospital. And so, if you don't believe in mask mandates and you don't believe in vaccine mandates, then how are you get out of this this?

BOWLIN: Well, I think one of the key answers to that would be vaccinations. We had just recently a pop-up vaccination event at our city hall. It was well attended and received. And I encourage those things. So, I think that the issue is that's where the answer to that question lies. But I don't think that it rests in mandating people to something that statistically it appears that they are fully capable of doing in terms of making their own decisions.

CAMEROTA: But it's just not working, mayor. I mean the problem is it's just not working. I understand personal freedom. In St. Louis County it's not working. The ICU rates up. The ventilators are up. Personal choice is not working in St. Louis County right now.

BOWLIN: Well, statistically it's working exactly the same as the three counties next to us and those counties, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin didn't have and have not had nearly the restrictions and mandates that St. Louis County's had. And again --

CAMEROTA: I mean I know you keep saying that. You keep comparing it to the county's next to you, but what about the people who are on ventilators. What about the hospital staff who are caring for the people on ventilators right now? They think, they know, from the science that masks would help bring those numbers down. Why not do it for a couple of weeks?


BOWLIN: And I'm not arguing that. I'm not arguing that masks wouldn't help that situation. I'm simply saying that I think the population, certainly in my city, is fully capable of making that decision for themselves without being told to do it.

BLACKWELL: So, this has been mandated before. I mean we know that in 2020 there was a mask mandate. We've got the numbers from St. Louis County. On July 3rd, in 2020, there were 134 new cases when the first mask mandate was in enacted. It ended in May of this year. Friday there were 266 cases. So, if people are doing the right thing even when the mask mandate ended in May and the vaccines were available, clearly the virus is still spreading since the mandate ended. You've got twice as many cases on last Friday.

So that seems like people are not doing the right thing. They're not getting the vaccines. We've looked at the numbers. And the masks have left in May. And you're double the numbers than you were last year.

BOWLIN: So, you're questioning me in regard to that would be --

BLACKWELL: The question is when the first mask mandate was enacted, there were 134 cases, there are now 266. If 134 cases were enough to enact the mask mandate, twice as many is not enough?

BOWLIN: So again, I think the issue relates to not whether the mask helped against the transmission of COVID.

CAMEROTA: That is the issue.

BOWLIN: Well, that's not my issue. So, I'm not saying that masks don't work. What I'm saying is that if you look at the data, the statistical data of the three counties adjoining St. Louis County.


BOWLIN: In the case of at least I believe two of them that did not I don't believe have ever had a mask requirement, and one of them did briefly, the infection rates for four of the counties is the same. So --

CAMEROTA: But you believe masks work, you believe masks work. What harm is there in wearing a mask indoors?

BOWLIN: Unless someone has a medical condition that prohibits them from doing it or some other similar cause, I don't think that there's any harm in wearing the mask. I think there's harm in mandating citizens do it when they can do it on their own and if this is going to be the standard that every time there's an uptick in COVID and it's not going away, we'll be wearing masks in perpetuity. And I don't find that to be practical or workable.

And I think when governments -- go ahead. I was going to say I think when governments make rules, one of the first things I look at is whether that rule is based on data and is it practically workable and will it, you know, achieve the effect that is intended. And I think the concept of having a mask mandate in perpetuity every time --

CAMEROTA: They're not saying in perpetuity. You're injecting that. They're not actually saying that, and if you're a data guy and a science guy, masks bring down transmission, masks work. That's what the science says. And we have all seen evidence of that. So, Mayor Bowlin --

BOWLIN: I'm not disputing you.

CAMEROTA: OK, thank you. Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate talking to you. We'll be watching closely what happens in St. Louis County.

BOWLIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this, a super popular vacation spot in Cape Cod, Massachusetts is seeing a cluster of COVID cases. Provincetown, Massachusetts, reporting 551 positive cases, 70 percent of them in fully vaccinated people. So, on Sunday, the Provincetown Select Board issued an immediate emergency indoor mask mandate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I hear that the cases are climbing. I'm a bit nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're already vaccinated but you know there's that delta variant out there that people are kind of weary of. So, we'll mask up when it's appropriate.


CAMEROTA: OK, joining me is Alex Morse, he's the town manager for Provincetown, Massachusetts. Alex, first of all, Provincetown is one of my favorite places on earth. I'm supposed to be vacationing there next week. So, I'm very interested in what's happening in Provincetown. How did this cluster of 551 positive cases spring up in Provincetown? Was there some sort of super-spreader event?

ALEX MORSE, TOWN MANAGER, PROVINCETOWN, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, first off, thanks for having me. And please continue your vacation next week. It's still very much possible to have a safe and fun time in Provincetown.

And so, we started seeing cases uptick in early July following the Fourth of July festivities. And it's important to remember we're a town of 3,000 people year-round. But we have upwards of 60,000 people a day in the summer. We're a small town, thousands of people and small indoor settings, with the number of unvaccinated individuals, likely caused this cluster to go. And so, the cluster has grown to about 550 cases.


Remember, that doesn't mean 550 residents of Provincetown have COVID- 19. That's inclusive of the cumulative number of cases related to what happened here in Provincetown and we are beginning to see the daily positivity rate go down.

CAMEROTA: OK, that's good news. But so basically tourists. I know that Provincetown itself has a very high vaccination rate. Something like I mean close to 100 percent of residents there are vaccinated. So basically, tourists --

MORSE: Yes, we have (INAUDIBLE) vaccination rate in the Commonwealth, in the state.

CAMEROTA: OK, so congratulations on that. But then I mean this is just living proof of what happens when unvaccinated people mingle with vaccinated people and so when we heard that 70 percent of this cluster were people who were vaccinated, obviously it got our attention. But tell us, are these people who were vaccinated, are they symptomatic or asymptomatic?

MORSE: So, I will say the silver lining of all of this news is that even though there are 70 percent of the folks are breakthrough cases, they have been fully vaccinated, all of the symptoms, the vast majority of symptoms are incredibly mild or moderate. We haven't seen a spike in hospitalizations. And so those are indicators we've been looking at. But haven't seen.

But we have confirmed now that it is the delta variant which is more contagious and you're more likely to have breakthrough case of COVID. And so, because of that, we initially did an advisory a week ago and last night we adopted an indoor mask mandate because we want to accelerate the decline in our daily positivity rate so we can get back to normal more quickly.

CAMEROTA: OK, so I just want to underscore what you just said. No one who was fully vaccinated was hospitalized. They are very mild symptoms, if any symptoms. Most asymptomatic. In other words, the vaccines are doing their job. That's what the doctors and the scientists promised us. That it would save you from hospitalizations and save you from death. So even though they are testing positive because you're doing contact tracing --


CAMEROTA: -- they are asymptomatic primarily and not getting very sick. And so that is the good news. But still, you're doing an indoor mask mandate. Have you gotten push back from business owners in the community?

MORSE: By and large, Provincetown is a community that takes its public health very seriously. It had great response to this pandemic last year. This year obviously we know much more about the virus. We have a vaccine which we didn't have but we didn't have a delta variant. And so, as you know the delta variant is most dangerous for unvaccinated individuals. There are a number of business owners here who did the responsible thing at the beginning of the summer and that is require proof of vaccination for entry.

We've now put it under an advisory last week that encourages businesses to also require proof of vaccination because at the end of the day, it shouldn't be the vaccinated responsible individuals that have to pay the price for a number of folks that have chosen not to trust the science and trust the facts here. So, it's a little bit of a balance but I think businesses understand that we want to that I can this action in the short term to have it more long-term normal summer.

This is not doing to be mandate that exists in perpetuity. This is again to respond to the growth of the cluster and get back normal as soon as we can.

CAMEROTA: Funny that you say that Alex, because I don't know if you were just listening to our last guest who was the mayor of a town called Wildwood in St. Louis County, but he is very against mask mandates. I mean he says that it's about personal freedom. People should have the choice to make their own personal choices. What would you say to that?

MORSE: Listen, I mean you could use that metaphor for almost everything the government has if terms of a rule and regulation. And at the end of the day, we're in public office and in government to protect the public health of the people that we represent. And we listen to data, and we listen to the science and last night we listened to our Board of Health experts, Barnstable County experts and experts with the Department of Public Health.

Our decisions will not always be popular, but Provincetown again, is a wonderful community that values public health and public safety and if we all are in this together the next couple of weeks, we'll be able to get back to place where we no longer have an indoor mask mandate.

CAMEROTA: Alex Morse, thanks for joining us. I hope to see you in P- town next week.

MORSE: See you next week. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, thanks so much.

OK, I mean he said I should go. I was truly on fence. I was on the fence until I talked to him. He says I should go.

BLACKWELL: I never believed you weren't going.

CAMEROTA: You didn't?

BLACKWELL: No, I did not.

All right let's go to Northern California, more evacuations there. Thousands of firefighters trying to contain the Dixie Fire. We'll talk about the areas most at risk, ahead.



CAMEROTA: Huge wildfires out West continue to ravage that region. This was the view from the International Space Station on Sunday. More than 1.5 million acres have burned in more than a dozen states, and 22,000 firefighters are on the ground.

BLACKWELL: California's Dixie Fire is the state's 15th largest fire, ever. And it's threatening thousands of buildings. Officials say it's already starting to show signs of what experts call "Extreme Fire Behavior."

CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal is watching the Dixie Fire from Chico, California. What's the latest on that one?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey Alisyn and Victor, so firefighters are making some progress, but they are very concerned about the dangerous conditions today. They say there is a potential for spot fires and for rapid growth in this fire. Already,18 structures have been destroyed by the Dixie Fire.

But officials here told me that they expect that number to go up. And that's because the damage inspection team hasn't even been able to go into some of these areas that are most affected by the fire. And they say that it's just too dangerous for the firefighters to go in there.

Already about 16,000 people are under evacuation orders. But they also were telling me that some of them are not evacuating, they're wanting to stay home. So, it's making it harder for firefighters and the sheriff's department.

The fire is at 22 percent containment. But already about 200,000 acres burned. But it's not the largest fire. The largest in the U.S. is the Bootleg Fire. There is progress there in Oregon, it's about 53 percent contained.


But a lot of work to be done not just here but all over the country. This is going to be a difficult fire season -- Alisyn, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Already is. Camila Bernal, for us in there in Chico, thank you. CAMEROTA: Wait till you see this. A dramatic rescue of a mother and

baby caught on tape, and the hero cops who saved them. We'll bring you that next.


CAMEROTA: A group of police officers and bystanders in New York being hailed as heroes after saving a baby. We want to warn you, the video that we're about to play is disturbing.

BLACKWELL: So, authorities say a woman was holding her 8-month-old baby, was crossing the street when a suspected drunk driver you saw there spun around the corner, lost control and ran right into her. They say that car dragged that mother and the baby into the barbershop, pinned the baby underneath the car. Here's what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: We got a baby under the vehicle.

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

Look out, look out, look out.

Somebody's got to pull the baby out.

Grab the baby. Come on, come on.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got the baby. Hold on hold on. OK.



BLACKWELL: Oh, my gosh. CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras has an update for us.

CAMEROTA: Yes, God --

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I saw you flinch Alisyn, you can't help it, you're just --

CAMEROTA: At every point --

GINGRAS: I know.

CAMEROTA: -- in that video it's horrifying. And oh, my gosh, those heroes, they were strong and calm somehow.

GINGRAS: Yes, strong and calm, but let's first say that the baby and the mom, they're doing OK, they're in the hospital. But we're hearing they might be released by the end of this week. So that's the good news there. But what heroes, not just those police officers but those bystanders. The police officers actually said they walked into the barbershop after all of that chaos. They were just nearby getting breakfast and they essentially were told there's a baby. They couldn't hear one, they couldn't see one.

They had to ask the mother who was still in shock. And she basically just pointed to underneath that car. And that's when their adrenaline, I'm guessing, just kind of went into action where they lifted up the car because they couldn't actually get under the car to save that baby. You could see the little girl's legs there in her Minnie Mouse dress being pulled out. She had oil all over her. She actually has a skull fracture and some burns. But, again, she is expected to be OK. I do want you to hear from one of these officers quickly.


OFFICER PAUL SAMOYEDY, YONKERS POLICE OFFICER, HELPED RESCUE BABY PINNED UNDER CAR: As a father of four kids, it was really intensified the situation for me when I saw the baby under there and the arms moving and not able to move any other direction away from the car.


GINGRAS (on camera): Those two officers are heroes, veterans of the force. The driver of that car behind bars right now on many charges including driving while intoxicated.