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Biles Withdraws From All-Around Final; Biden, GOP Governors Clash Over CDC's Reinstated Mask Guidance; Biden Warns Cyberattacks Could Lead To War. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 28, 2021 - 09:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Really big news, really meaningful news out of Tokyo this morning. Phenomenal gymnast superstar Simone Biles has announced she's pulling out of tomorrow's All-Around Final. The four time Olympic champ says she needs to focus on her mental health. USA Gymnastics says she has their full support. Coy Wire is with us in Tokyo this morning.

Coy, a, of course people want to know what does this mean for Biles. But, b, what a big deal to see her and so many prominent athletes speaking publicly openly vulnerably about their need to focus on their mental health?


COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As much needed, it's admirable what they're doing because you can't quantify the impact it's going to have on so many others out there. Mere mortals, if you will, who are going through tough times mentally.

There are some positive signs I will say, Poppy, here in Tokyo that Biles is mentally moving in a good direction. She was at the Men's All-around Individual Final tonight here in Tokyo cheering on Team USA. So that's a positive sign. If she can get to a better place mentally, Poppy, there'll be several opportunities for her to compete if she chooses to do so.

Biles is 24 years old. She's posted on times at social media about her nickname within the team, Poppy, OG, which stands for Olympic grandma. So, could this be the last time we see Biles competing in the Olympics? She's talked about how she feels more physical pain than she used to. She's been asked about the best times of her career by the New York Times. She said her off time. The world is waiting to see if she'll be OK, if she'll be able to compete again here in Tokyo, Poppy.

Michael Phelps maybe understands Biles' situation more than just about anyone else. The 23-time Olympic gold medalist has been incredibly outspoken about his struggles with mental health when he was the face of Team USA. I spoke to him, Poppy, here this past weekend in Tokyo before Biles' announcement, and I asked him how do athletes get mentally prepared for all the stress that comes with an Olympic Games. Listen.


MICHAEL PHELPS, 23-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: The mental preparation for these games I can't I can't even imagine what it was like going through this, heading into this, especially last year. Because there's so much that's out of our control, right? So I think at that point, the only thing you got to do is make sure you're doing what you need to. If you're tired, make sure you sleep Take care of yourself as much whenever you possibly can.


WIRE: Simone has talked about the year-long delay of these games for them to arrive, Poppy, and how it's impacted her. She has a few more days mentally to prepare for those four individual events for which she qualifies starting with the vault and uneven bars. They take place on Sunday.

HARLOW: OK. Whatever she does, let us all, the world, be behind her and not just have the weight of the world on her shoulders. Coy, thank you so much.

If you or anyone you know are dealing with mental health issues, here are a number of resources on your screen. We will also tweet it out phone numbers you can call, places you can reach out to for help.

Well, Florida is one of the states at the center of this latest surge in COVID cases. It is also sadly at the center of this mask debate. Wait until you see some of what has happened from some parents in the state ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Despite alarming data about the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC's new guidance calling for everyone to wear masks in K through school when it begins shortly in some states. Florida's governor is doubling down on his anti-mask message. It's worth-noting, his state is completely red on this map that you're looking at right now, marking high transmission rates there. Leyla Santiago joins us from Miami. Leyla, good morning.

Let's talk about how this new CDC guidance is being received across the state of Florida.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy. You mentioned the governor. He actually just spoke in front of the press minutes ago and did not mention once anything about COVID or masks. That being said, he has certainly doubled down this week when it comes to his position. You know, it seems like he quickly sort of goes against anything Dr. Fauci says and is quick to also say that there is no potential for any mask mandates or any sort of a lockdown mandate in the state of Florida. But let me show you what happened last night in Broward County, where the school board was just about to meet to discuss the masking policy for the new school year. And then, protesters interrupted that forcing the board to postpone that meeting. Protesters shouting with signs, even burning masks. So clearly, in the state of Florida, this is a very controversial issue that that will get a lot of attention from parents that feel strongly about what the right thing to do is for their child.

Now if you listen to the CDC, the CDC will tell you their guidance is any child vaccinated or not K through 12 should be wearing that mask especially in a place like Florida. I can tell you I am right now at a vaccination and testing site, where they are averaging 2,000 tests, 300 vaccinations. And the state as is roughly at 48% of its residents fully vaccinated. Poppy.

HARLOW: Leyla, thank you. It's stunning to see that video of those parents doing that. Thank you for the update.

As COVID hospitalizations are spiking in so many places around the country, more than 50 health and medical groups are calling for all health care and long term care facilities, and employers in the United States to mandate that anyone who works there be vaccinated against COVID-19. Joining me to talk about it is Dr. Rachel Villanueva, an OB GYN and the President of the National Medical Association. Her organization is one that signed on to this and represents more than 50,000 black physicians across the country. Good morning, doctor, and thank you.



HARLOW: Explain the urgency of this call. Because it's stunning to me but it's a reality that there are ER nurses, doctors, employees across the country who are non-vaccinated and some of whom have died from COVID as a result.

VILLANUEVA: Right. I think the urgency of signing on to that statement was just what you highlighted in the segment before. The Delta variant is aggressive, surging and targeting unvaccinated individuals. I think it's a very powerful statement that you had almost 60 healthcare organizations, professional societies, coming from all segments of the healthcare system, advocating for universal mandate of healthcare workers.

We know that in order to keep our patients safe, which is a priority for us, we need to have all workers vaccinated. And this is not an unusual concept. We are required to have vaccinations for many things as healthcare workers in hospital systems, influenza, hepatitis B. So this is very common for us.

HARLOW: You're an OB, as I mentioned at the top, and there is very troubling data when it comes to how many pregnant women have chosen not to get vaccinated. A CDC study that came out in June, so not that long ago, show that just 11% of pregnant moms at that time were fully vaccinated.

I want to show people this tweet or an Instagram post I think it is from actress Emmy Rossum, who just has a newborn daughter there. And she shared that she got vaccinated while she was pregnant, how safe it was and that she just learned her daughter now has antibodies protecting her from COVID-19. What is your message to pregnant women who still have not gotten vaccinated?

VILLANUEVA: I think my message to pregnant women and to all that are eligible to get the vaccine that are not vaccinated is to get vaccinated. The Delta variant is not something that we can play with. I see patients every day and I ask every single patient pregnant or not, have they been vaccinated and encourage them to get vaccinated if they haven't.

We understand why, especially pregnant women, may have concerns about vaccination, about receiving the vaccination. Our pregnant women were not included in the original studies. But we have an extensive, the manufacturers have had an extensive safety system that has been collecting data about women who are vaccinated in pregnancy. The data does not induce any fear about safety concerns. So there was no adverse outcomes for pregnant women who received the vaccine that's out of proportion to what would normally happen in a pregnancy.

So there's no safety concern there thus far. They're still collecting data, obviously. But what we do know is that pregnant women, although the risk is not high, are at higher risk for severe disease in pregnancy, if affected by COVID. So they go to the hospital more. They undergo mechanical ventilation or have to be on a ventilator to breathe. And, unfortunately, die at a higher rate. So it is very important.

HARLOW: It's such an important message from the expert. Thank you very much, Dr. Rachel Villanueva. We appreciate it.

VILLANUEVA: Thank you.

HARLOW: President Biden is warning that escalating cyberattacks could lead to war. Hear more of his comments ahead.



HARLOW: A stark warning from President Biden, he says an increase in cyberattacks could ultimately lead to war during an address to the members of the intelligence community. President Biden noted that Russia is already interfering in the 2020 midterm elections. Alex Marquardt car joins me now.

Wow. I mean, that's a big deal given the warning he says he gave, Putin and has said over and over again. What else did we hear from the President?

ALEX MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Poppy, this is a pretty remarkable speech. It was designed to thank the intelligence community, essentially patch up the relationship between the White House and the intelligence community after four years of politicization under Trump. But President Biden also talked about the threats that he sees around the world. And said that with cyberattacks on the rise, ransomware attacks on the rise, that if the United States were to get into another war, a shooting war, he said, with another major power that it would likely come about as a result of what he called a cyber breach of great consequence. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We've seen how cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption in the real world. I can't guarantee this, and you're as informed as I am, but I think it's more likely we're going to end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power. It's going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach.


MARQUARDT: So he didn't elaborate on that. But, Poppy, it does indicate that we are in this new age where the President of United States believes that cyber activities can lead to war. Now, Biden also talked at length about Russia and said that Russia is already mounting a disinformation campaign around the 2022 midterm elections. And he called that a pure violation of our sovereignty.

Now, that is not surprising, but it's certainly notable that Russia is up to its old activities. Its old tricks around US elections ahead of those midterms next year, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, it certainly is. This was also his first visit, face to face, especially with the intelligence community. Can you talk about what the goal was here in terms of every four years that he followed and the fraught relationship between former President Trump and much of the intelligence community?


MARQUARDT: Yes. This speech really came off as a real rebuke of the relationship between President Trump and the intelligence community. President Trump expected loyalty from his intelligence officials. He installed loyalists at the head of the intelligence committee as the directors of National Intelligence.

President Biden now, six months in office, went to the Office of Director of National Intelligence speaking to the intelligence community workforce to say that they will not feel any political pressure. They will not feel partisanship. That he wants unvarnished information.

He said he wants to get back to basics. And, Poppy, that will be welcome news, a welcome message for many in the intelligence community.

HARLOW: Alex Marquardt, thanks for the reporting this morning. OK. Well, new information out from Pfizer about their data on a third dose of their COVID vaccine. We'll tell you what it means for you, what you need to know this morning with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead.