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CDC: Even Fully Vaccinated People Should Now Wear Masks Indoors; CNN: Biden To Require Vaccine Or Test For All Federal Workers; Pfizer: Data Show Third Vaccine Dose Boosts Delta Variant Protection; Rep. Thompson Says Subpoenas Coming "Soon" From Jan. 6 Committee; Kinzinger Says GOP Calls For Him, Cheney To Be Punished Are "Petty"; Officer: Many In GOP Have Trump "Above Their Country". Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2021 - 09:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim is off this week.

And big news this morning, a major reversal in guidance based on a change we now know in the science of COVID, the virus as it stands now. This morning, just moments ago here on CNN, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explain why mask guidance for vaccinated Americans has now changed. Listen.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The science that prompted this guidance is just days old. And in the coming days, you will actually see the published information on the science that motivates change.


HARLOW: That's a big deal. This reversal is a latest sign of the Delta variants growing foothold here in the United States. And resistance to the vaccine is largely to blame. It's now eight months after the first proven vaccine was made available, and less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And that is not due to a shortage in supply of vaccine, that's for sure.

But President Biden is taking action. CNN has learned tomorrow he will announce all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated or get tested regularly. Our team is following all the developments this morning. So let's begin with our Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, good morning to you. For everyone waking up this morning, tell us what exactly this means for them.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What this means is that if you live in an area of higher substantial tradition -- transmission, and you know more than like 45 percent of the country does or 60 something percent of the country does. You can see it's all in red and orange, that is a big chunk of the country or majority of the country lives in these red or orange areas. The CDC says wear a mask indoors.

And you know, we talked about this being a reversal of what was announced in May. But when this was announced in May, Dr. Walensky, who you just -- you know, we just had on the show said, you know, look, this virus is unpredictable, this virus does strange things, we may have to change things as time goes on. And that's exactly what's happened.

So look -- and also people are unpredictable. I'll add that as well. So let's look at this first graphic that shows us how the virus has been unpredictable. Back in early May, just a teeny, weeny part or a teeny weeny percentage of the coronavirus that was out there was the Delta variant.

And look how fast it's grown July 17, 82 percent. And by now it's even more than that. And this variant is highly, highly transmissible, it behaves very differently. One key part of that is that even if you're vaccinated and you get COVID, you might not get very sick, but you can spread it to others.

That's the difference with this variant. You're vaccinated, you get infected and you feel, you know, OK, maybe a little bit sick. Even so, your ability to transmit it to others is really quite high. Now let's take a look at how people are unpredictable.

A third of the country is eligible for the vaccine, but has not gotten a shot yet. I don't think that anyone dreamed that that number would be that high, a third of the country. And when a third of the country doesn't get vaccinated, that means that Delta variant can just run rampant and that's exactly what's happened. Poppy.

HARLOW: Jeremy, at the White House, you've got the news that's going to come tomorrow from the President in terms of federal workers. I think there are a lot of questions now as to some -- whether some of this and vaccine, you know, mandates for anything going on at the White House or anything in a federal building should have come sooner.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and listen, the explanation that I've gotten from people at the White House and people close to the White House is essentially that the Delta variant has created a different environment for this White House in terms of policy, and that's why we are seeing them take these far more aggressive steps. It began with that Veterans Affairs mandate that health workers at the V.A. be vaccinated in order to continue in their jobs.

And a source close to the White House told me at that time that that was a watershed moment that once the federal government starts to get in the business of requiring or mandating vaccines, that is a Rubicon from which you cannot return. And that is why we saw that as kind of a test case here. And in the coming days, tomorrow actually, we expect that President Biden will announce this requirement for federal workers to either be vaccinated or submit themselves to regular coronavirus testing.

And so, these are far more aggressive steps that we are seeing because of the Delta variants. And officials making clear that while for a long time they've resisted this idea of getting involved in either vaccine credentialing systems or in terms of mandates, they are now doing this because of the situation they're facing.

And one other thing, Poppy, they are hoping that this eggs on the private sector, a lot of this in terms of doing this at the federal level is about providing a model and an example for the private sector and local government to do -- to take similar measures. So we'll see if that happens.


HARLOW: OK, we'll watch for that.

And Elizabeth, back to you, just moments ago, Pfizer released data ahead of their earnings call today that showed that vaccines could be available for children age's five to 11. When?

COHEN: So, what Pfizer said was, look, we think we will have data from our clinical trials for ages children five to 11, we think we'll have that data in September. Now, if we look back at adults, we look back from the time that they had the data until the time the vaccine was OKed by the FDA, that was just a matter of weeks.

So, if they have data in September, it is possible there could be a vaccine for children that age, you know, let's say October, Novemberish. That is possible, but obviously not for the start of the school year, unfortunately.

HARLOW: OK. But that's helpful. It gives us parents --


HARLOW: -- you know, a little bit more of a condensed timeline in terms of when our kids may be eligible.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for the reporting, Jeremy diamond at the White House as well.

Let me bring in now, U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Doctor, thank you very much for being here, especially on a morning like this.

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, of course, it's good to be with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: So look, I think a lot of people are waking up this morning. I know I did. They're thinking, look, I got vaccinated, I did the safe thing for me, for my community, for my children under 12 who can't get vaccine, now the government is telling me to do the opposite of what they told me I could do at the end of April. How do you explain it to them? MURTHY: Well, Poppy, I can completely understand that people may have heard these recommendations that the CDC made yesterday for people, even those who are fully vaccinated to wear masks in indoor settings, especially if they're in areas with higher substantial transmission. And people may have heard that and said, are we taking a step back?

But here's what I would say to them. Number one, what has not changed in all of this is that vaccines still save lives and they prevent hospitalizations at a remarkably successful rate. It's one of the reasons why 97 percent of people who are hospitalized are those who are unvaccinated.

The reason this guidance changed, though, is because the science changed. Because what we learned about this new Delta variant is that not only is it remarkably more transmissible, not only does it generate 1000-fold greater levels of virus in your system, but for those people who have on the unusual breakthrough infections that sometimes happen in a small percentage of vaccinated people, they actually are able to transmit to other people, which is different than what we saw with breakthrough infections with other versions of COVID- 19.

And these mask guidance, even though we're putting your mask back on, I know is an annoyance and it feels like something that we had hoped we were all going to be able to leave behind, it is one step we can take to help prevent transmission and will get us closer toward the end of this pandemic.

HARLOW: I understand that completely. And in its annoyance that is just fine if it's going to keep people alive and keep more people safe, including our children. But that's a big change in science that you just laid out this morning, right? That this has mutated in a way that has made breakthroughs more dangerous to other people, to unvaccinated people especially.

So, what does that mean going forward? Does that mean that in less large swaths of the United States decide all the sudden to get vaccinated, and we get up to 70 plus 80 percent full vaccination that this is the new normal, more mutations, a more contagious and dangerous COVID and mask guidance on and off for the foreseeable future?

MURTHY: Well, it's a good question. And really, to get to a place where we can start to get, again, back on our track to normal of getting full mask off of people, what we're going to need to see is infections come down and stay down.

And the good point you're raising, Poppy, is about future variants. Right now we are dealing with the Delta variant, which we know is the most transmissible variant that we've dealt with today. But part of the key and get preventing future variants from developing, ones that perhaps may be more dangerous is to ensure that we vaccinate people as quickly as possible.

Because if there aren't -- the vaccine -- if the virus doesn't have people that it can infect and replicate, and then its chances of actually mutating are much, much lower. So yes, community immunity is our solution to future variants. We get there by vaccinating as many people as possible.

HARLOW: But what you're saying, Doctor, if we can't, as a country, majorly change the trajectory here and convinced 20 percent, 30 percent more of our population to get fully vaccinated. This is where we're going to be, and potentially in a worse place with more dangerous variants.


MURTHY: Well, I think, yes. If you don't make further progress on the vaccination effort, I think we are looking, you know, at ongoing restrictions like what we're seeing with regard to masks. But here's, and this is a very important but, I do think we will make progress. And I have several reasons to believe that.

One, because we are already in the areas of the country that had been hardest hit by Delta. We are seeing a significant increase in vaccination rates beyond the national average. That's encouraging. We're seeing more family and friends step up to encourage their family and friends to get vaccinated. And we're also seeing more businesses, more universities, more hospital systems set up to encourage and in some cases require their employees and staff to get vaccinated.

HARLOW: That's right.

MURTHY: And all of that is going to help us improve our vaccinations.

HARLOW: Yes. I'm glad you mentioned that progress, and we're glad to hear about it. There's a long way to go.

You mentioned the private sector. Biden will make an announcement tomorrow when it comes to the federal sector. But in terms of private businesses, is it the position, is that your position as a health expert and as the U.S. Surgeon General and the Biden ministration's position that they're strong preference is for all private companies to mandate vaccination for employees and customers?

MURTHY: Well, it's certainly the decision, and it's up to private businesses to decide what they're going to do in that regard. The administration is not going to tell them what to do.

But what I can tell you is it particularly, Poppy, when it comes to healthcare systems, including hospitals, that I think it makes good sense for them to require the vaccinations because that, first of all, is what we do in other settings. We require the flu vaccine in many of our hospitals around the country.

And the reason to do this, and hospitals in particular is because our responsibilities health care workers, is to protect our patients. And if we are not vaccinated, and if we can get essentially infected and transmit that to our patients, we are not doing everything we can to safeguard those who come to us for their care. That's why you're seeing so many hospitals move in that direction and gets very reasonable. And I think it will help us improve vaccination rates. HARLOW: Well, what about schools? Because you've got a handful of states now where the states have outlawed the ability of schools to mandate masks or vaccinations. But as you know, there are a host of vaccines that we give our babies and toddlers that are mandated for our kids to go to school. Is it time for COVID to be added to that list of mandatory vaccination?

MURTHY: Well, Poppy, I'm glad you asked about kids in schools because as a fellow parent whose kids will be starting school in the fall, you know, I really want my kids to be in an environment that's safe. And that's one of the reasons that the, you know, the CDC put out layers of precautions that schools need to take, which include testing and masking.

And it does worry me, Poppy, that when I see this and hear discussion in localities and states about trying to restrict the ability of schools to put mask requirements in place for their students and their staff.

What the CDC announced yesterday, in fact, was a further, you know, I would say, you know, again, a modification to their mask guidance for schools, which is there now -- and they're recommending that everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated schools, wear masks.

And think about it, for people like me who have children under 12, who can't get vaccinated yet, they require -- they really depend on the rest of us either being vaccinated or mask to protect them in the spread of the virus. So that's why it's so important.

HARLOW: We just got news this morning from Pfizer that they say third Pfizer dose of the vaccine makes people between 18 and 55 fivefold more protected from COVID. So I have two -- from the Delta variant. I have two questions for you on this.

What does that mean for everyone at home? Should people be going to get a third shot right now? I don't think so. But tell me if I'm wrong. And also, it's striking to hear that when you have countries around the world where people can't get any vaccine.

MURTHY: Yes, so this data from Pfizer, you know, we've been in talks with them about what they're seeing with regard to their studies related to boosters. But at this point, I want to be very clear, people do not need to go out and get a booster shot.

The decision about boosters will not be made by an individual company, it will be made by the CDC and by the FDA in particular, looking at the whole breadth of data that will come from companies, that will come from cohorts that CDC is now following, where they're tracking whether or not there is any waning in immunity or increase in breakthrough rates.

And ultimately, that collective information is what will drive any decision about boosters. But right now, a routine booster is not being recommended for people.

HARLOW: And just to the second part of that question. I mean, I wonder if there is a debate. And that -- it's really an ethical debate within the White House about, you know, should a third booster be recommended when there's still a major vaccine supply shortage in the developing world?


MURTHY: Yes, I'm Poppy. It's a critical question because if something we talked about earlier about the fact that our ability to reduce the likelihood of future variants developing depends on tamping down spread of the virus not just in the United States, but around the world. So, we as a country have a vested interest in getting the rest of the world vaccinated.

It's one of the reasons why, you know, we don't want to have to choose between giving our population boosters if it's required and vaccinated the rest of the world. That's why what we're doing is making sure we are increasing manufacturing capacity in other countries, working with Pfizer and Moderna and others to ensure that they are producing more for the rest of the world and they're actually donating excess supply that we have to other countries so that we can get the rest of the world vaccinated and get through this pandemic together.

HARLOW: One hundred percent. And the Biden ministration joining COVAX to work to do that is a big step in the right direction on that front.

Thank you so much and good luck to you and your entire team.

MURTHY: Thanks so much, Poppy. Take care and be well.

HARLOW: You as well.

We do our breaking news overnight. On Olympic gymnast, the phenomenal Simone Biles, she has now withdrawn from the individual all-around competition to focus on her mental health. Much more on that ahead.

Plus, several Republican lawmakers say they didn't watch the testimony of police officers, Capitol officers who saved their lives on January 6. One of those officers responded to that this morning, you'll hear from him.

And a Florida school board forced to postpone its meeting after a handful of parents showed up last night, look at this, to protest and actually started lighting masks on fire.





HARLOW: Big question right now, who will the January 6 House Select Committee called to invest -- to testify next in their investigation of the Capitol attack after the first public hearing that was so powerful and emotional yesterday where we heard testimony from the officers who risked their lives defending the Capitol?

Republican Committee Member Liz Cheney said subpoenas should be issued and enforced quickly. But she did not elaborate on who the committee is looking at for those subpoenas. Lauren Fox joins us from Capitol Hill.

Lauren, good morning.

So, it's a big reversal in terms of sort of process here, right, to impeachment of President Trump, for example, there were requests, letters, and then eventually subpoenas and some of this dragged out for years. It's different now according to the chairman, Bennie Thompson, they're not going to waste any time.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's very significant, Poppy. Look, yesterday was about setting the table, reminding people what officers, what staff, what members, what the country really went through on January 6. Those recounting of those harrowing experience is very emotional. And obviously the next step is really redefining what the timeline was.

And members are going to be having discussions on the select committee to try to decide who is most important to hear from. They aren't saying yet who they want to talk to. But of course, they haven't ruled anything out.

And we have consistently asked the chairman, Bennie Thompson, does he want to hear from Donald Trump? Does he want to hear from Jim Jordan? Does he want to hear from other Republicans who may have spoken to the former president that day? He said, they are going to follow this investigation wherever it leads.

And I think a very important point here is they're not wasting time. They're not going to send polite letters requesting people to testify. And then, those people say they're not going to testify and have a lengthy back and forth. They're going to issue subpoenas.

Now I'm told it's going to take some time to decide who those subpoenas are going to be sent to, decide when they're going to send them. But you heard Thompson yesterday say, look, these members on the Select Committee, they're not going to get a full August recess. They're not going to get seven weeks, like many other members in the House, instead, they're going to be continuing to do their work.

They have answers that they need to get to the bottom of, Poppy, and they don't want to waste any time. It is already been seven months. Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. It's a huge change. And you're right, the big question is who will they be subpoena? Thank you, Lauren, for the reporting for us on Capitol Hill.

Joining me now to talk about all this is the former House Intelligence Chairman, Mike Rogers.

Good morning, Chairman Rogers. Thanks for joining us. And let's just start where Lauren left off. What do you make of this process, subpoena right away?

MIKE ROGERS, (R) FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Well, I mean, they've got a lot of facts. Here's my thing where I think Republicans made a mistake by not trying to be a part of this, they could have been constructive in their approach. This is a lot of information I think America needs to know. Including, by the way, how you secure the Capitol the next go round if this, God forbid, ever happen again.

I think they need to be careful. I mean, subpoenas are a pretty blunt instrument for the government. And if this is where it gets dicey, if it looks too political, and I know Bennie Thompson, I worked with Bennie Thompson. He is a really solid, thoughtful guy. We, you know, we may disagree on a few things, but he's a solid, thoughtful guy who is going to try to do this right.

If it comes off too political, if they're going for Trump first, and members that they want to beat around the head and shoulders up front, I think it just -- it takes away from the seriousness of the committee.

HARLOW: That's an interesting point and certainly worth consideration.

Let me get your reaction to what we heard from Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, he was asked about a move by the Freedom Caucus, Republicans who tried to get his and Liz Cheney's committee assignments stripped just for saying yes to being on this committee, here he was.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), SELECT COMMITTEE ON JAN. 6 ATTACK: And if people want to get petty, that's fine. I think that reflects more on people than it does on the situation at hand.


This is a historic moment and this is a democracy defending moment. And no matter the consequences me, and I know Liz will stand and defend democracy.


HARLOW: Here we certainly see the emotion here in his voice, what do you make of it?

ROGERS: Well, there are matters of conscience for members of Congress, everybody faces them in their career. And if you don't face one, you're probably not doing that job very well. This is certainly a matter of conscience for both Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And I know both.

Listen, this is where I think Republicans are making a mistake. There has to be somebody on there to keep the guardrails on any government committee like this wants to lurch to a political conclusion. You need somebody who thinks a little differently, and I think they're going to think differently enough to get to the facts, keep it focused on the facts. Republicans are wrong about this.

Listen, this to me was a matter of conscience. Do I think, by the way, that the Speaker should have overridden the other party's selections even if you don't like them? No, I don't. I think that's a really dangerous precedent here.

HARLOW: Even though someone like Jim Jordan, given what he said on Fox News yesterday about, you know, when he talks to the president, former president, even though he could be a witness?

ROGERS: Well, anyone of those members could be a witness, they were all a part of the event. And again, remember, precedent setting is not if I agree or disagree, it's about those one party get to select everybody that agrees with them on any issue.

I worry a little bit about that.


ROGERS: I still think that we have two independent enough Republican members on there that they're going to keep the guardrails on. I just think it's a bad precedent, and it sets up fighting forevermore on any one of these selections.

And I just don't think that's helpful. Why?


ROGERS: Because you want this, I want this to be a fact-finding committee. I think it's really important for the country to hear some of the information even if it's hard to hear --

HARLOW: Didn't mean to step on you, but just one point here. Pelosi basically caved and gave McCarthy everything he asked for previously. And then, you know, in what was going to be a bipartisan committee not made up of current serving lawmakers, and he still said no to it.

Before you go, let me get your reaction to what we just heard from Officer Fanone who testified yesterday, and then was just on CNN this morning about Republican lawmakers, some of whom are still downplaying the insurrection. Listen.


OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE, TESTIFIED AT JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING: Many in the Republican Party, not all but many have chosen Donald Trump, not only above the law enforcement officers that fought that day, but they've chosen Donald Trump above their country. And in doing so, it's my humble opinion that they betray their oath.


HARLOW: Some of these are people you served with previously, Congressman. What do you -- do agree with Fanone?

ROGERS: Let me start with Marjorie Taylor, I didn't serve with bad gas (ph) I just don't understand her. But let me say this as a former law enforcement official who got trained. His testimony was very powerful to me. And I know a lot of law enforcement folks heard it because we're trained about how to protect your weapon in any bad situation.

And being overwhelmed with the sheer number of being hit with clubs and pepper sprayed and people around him saying get his gun and shoot him with it. Boy, it even rattles me a little bit thinking about that. And I don't know if anyone can understand the feeling of that.

What about one in 10 officers are killed with their own weapon or their partner's weapon that is taken away from them in an altercation? And you need to understand that, officers understand that when they show up, when they get in the cars, when they respond to calls. But boy, I don't know how that didn't move people to understand what was actually happening on the ground. Man, unbelievable.

HARLOW: Yes. Former Congressman Mike Rogers, former chair of the House Intel Committee, thank you for being here this morning.

ROGERS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, this breaking overnight, gymnast, the phenomenal Simone Biles withdrawing from the individual all-around competition, citing and focusing on her own mental health. We'll take you live to Tokyo.

We are also moments away from the opening Bell this morning. Futures, well, relatively flat ahead of critical Fed meeting. SOX close lower yesterday ending a five-day winning streak (ph). Some good news for several tech giants after the closing Bell. Apple, Microsoft and Google's parent company, Alphabet, all had huge profits. We'll keep a close eye on the markets.