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Biles Withdraws from All-Around Final to Focus on Mental Health; Baltimore Sees 151 Percent Spike in New COVID Cases in Past Month; Flight Attendants Take Self-Defense Training as Incidents with Aggressive and Violent Passengers Spike. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 28, 2021 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Many are asking this hour if we will see Simone Biles compete again at the Tokyo Olympics. The four-time Olympic champion, for now, has dropped out of the all-around final, saying her mental health is what she needs to focus on right now. Still, she could compete in individual events next week. It's just not clear at that time if she will. Her teammates and other athletes around the world are showing immense support for her.

Our Coy Wire joins us again this hour in Tokyo. Coy, you played in the NFL and you know the importance of mental health on an athlete, on humans. But when you were playing, people couldn't talk or didn't -- there just wasn't this much support at all for speaking out publicly about mental health. What is it like to see this right now at play, Simone Biles and beyond?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Simone Biles has talked about feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. And I can't fathom what a superstar like Simone Biles might be feeling, but I can relate a bit from my playing days when, Poppy, those lights came on, the stakes are high. I've seen NFL players cry after losses when they thought it was their fault that they had lost the game.

The mantra was always though, Poppy, is pick your head up, next snap, move on, and we did. But now we're seeing this shift from that mindset from some of the biggest sports stars on the planet in Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka before or during those pressure cooker situations. They're removing themselves from it, saying that it's okay that I'm not feeling okay right now. They're protecting their mentals, as Simone called them.

Now, Poppy, seven-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller, part of the 1996 magnificent seven Olympic team, spoke to CNN this morning, saying that gymnasts could face dangerous consequences if they're not in a good mental space. Listen.


SHANNON MILLER, SEVEN-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: It looks like we're dealing with here is something here that gymnast happen upon fairly often. Any young gymnast will tell you they have come to mental blocks. And a mental block could be you suddenly not wanting to go backward on a scale, suddenly not to wanting to let go of the bar on a release move, suddenly losing your spot in the air.

And, again, that just comes back to the importance of knowing your body and knowing where you need to kind of draw that line and step away.


WIRE: Simone Biles, we're seeing good signs here in Tokyo today. Just a bit ago, Poppy, she was at the men's individual all-around final, she was cheering on Team USA. It seems to be a step in the right direction mentally. She has a few more days to mentally prepare for the four individual events for which she qualified, starting with the vault and uneven bars. They are on Sunday. That, Poppy, is if, of course, she feels well enough to go. And I think the world is waiting, hoping she that is able to compete here in Tokyo again.

HARLOW: What a gift she's given the world through her immense skill, but what perhaps even greater gift she's giving the world now, speaking out so candidly about this. Coy, thank you so very much. We'll be watching.

Well, if you or anyone you know is dealing with mental health issues, if you need help, please reach out. These are resources, four of them on your screen. I also tweeted them out, four places that can really help right now.

Ahead the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, has a harsh but true message. Getting vaccinated is matter of life and death. What is happening in his city, next.



HARLOW: This just in. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just called Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a, quote, moron. This is after -- well, she's responding to McCarthy's criticism of reinstating the mask mandate in the House.

Let's get to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Yes, this is about a back-and- forth between them, but this is about a lot more than just words between the two, right? This is about safety and health and where we are with COVID.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it is certainly about tension between the two most powerful people in the House, the speaker of the House, the Republican leader, who have seen their relationship devolve over the last six months in the aftermath of January 6th, and really before then, but even worse as McCarthy has aligned himself with Republicans on this, has battled Pelosi's effort to investigate what happened here. And you're seeing this war of words reach new levels. And Pelosi just moments ago said, quote, he is such a moron, about Kevin McCarthy after McCarthy said -- he sent in a statement last night the threat of bringing back masks is based on -- is not a decision based on science but a decision conjured by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.


Now, when she was asked about those comments moments ago, she did call him a moron. It's hard to hear but take a listen to her response.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): And I said (INAUDIBLE) from him. I have nothing to say about that. It's simply (INAUDIBLE).

REPORTER: Leader McCarthy --

REPORTER: But McCarthy says it's against the science.

PELOSI: He's such a moron (ph).


RAJU: So, again, she said he's such a moron. Those are the exact quotes from the reporters who were around there. It's a bit hard to hear. But, regardless, people may dismiss it as a petty back-and-forth and perhaps, to some extent, it is here, but pretty striking comments. You really don't hear that level of personal insult being leveled from one side to the other unless that person believes it rises to that occasion.

And here, you have the speaker of the House making this call about the Republican leader in the aftermath of his pushing back on the mask mandates in the House, and the mask mandates are coming back. They are required to be in the House, to wear them on the floor of the House. If members are not wearing them, they are subjected to a fine.

And we're already hearing reports of tension between House Republicans and Democrats over this issue, so just adding one thing after another between the two sides of just a polarized environment in that chamber at the moment, in the aftermath of January 6th, add the pandemic here, and now you're hearing the war of words between the two leaders escalate. Poppy?

HARLOW: It's such a sad reality, right? Manu, thank you very much for your reporting on that.

COVID cases are speaking everywhere. They are speaking in Maryland as well, up more than 42 percent over the last week. But listen to this. The city of Baltimore is seeing a 151 percent increase in new COVID cases over the last month, this as a little under 47 percent of the total city is fully vaccinated.

My next guest says, quote, "It's becoming increasingly obvious that getting vaccinated is the difference between life and death," that coming from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and he joins me now.

Good morning, Mayor Scott, and thank you.

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT (D-BALTIMORE, MD): Good morning. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: 151 percent, as you sit here as mayor knowing it didn't have to be this way. What is your next step for the city of Baltimore?

SCOTT: Well, I think it's to continue our efforts. And for those who are unvaccinated in Baltimore or otherwise, if you are looking for a sign to talk to your doctor, delta is that sign. If you are unvaccinated, and I implore you to take the steps to get the questions you need answered now before it's too late.

Contracting the disease itself is far worse than a temporary side effect. And you don't want to be on that hospital bed as COVID, some patients have saying, can I still get the vaccine. Don't wait until it's that late.

We're going to continue, as we have been, going directly into our zip codes that have the lowest vaccination rate, using our credible messengers, using our partners, taking our mobile vaccinations to those communities so that we are having an impact where we're most needed. Because this is about keeping people alive.

We also have an increase over the last four months of positivity rate of 95 percent, and 100 percent of fatalities due to COVID in the month of June in Maryland were from unvaccinated residents. It's that plain simple. Women lie, men lie, numbers don't.

HARLOW: What does this mean for your schools? As I understand it, you already have a mask mandate in your schools. Do you believe that this could mean yet another return at least to partial remote learning for kids starting in the fall?

SCOTT: Yes. Well, we know that our school system, which is actually a separate entity from city government, is going to have a mask mandate. We know that they're pushing for our young people to go back to school. There will be a virtual option, but it won't be a hybrid.

What I am worried about with the delta variant is how it's going to impact not just our young people's ability to go and learn in person, which we know we absolutely have to have them do but in a safe way, but for all these folks who are clamoring for us to return to normal or return to the things we love, right, and they're not vaccinated.

You cannot continue to have folks to think that we're going to back to normal first. We're never going back to what we knew exactly because the normal didn't work for far too many in our city, in our state and in our country.

But also, be responsible. The misinformation about the vaccine that's being driven by folks, elected officials whose responsibility is supposed to give our residents the best information possible, who are driving a wedge, saying that the vaccine and that the pandemic is really made up, are being so irresponsible, that they have to have soul searching, in my opinion.


Because we know that getting the vaccine keeps people alive, and that's the number one duty of any branch of government.

HARLOW: Yes, for sure. When I mentioned that 46.6 percent of Baltimore is fully vaccinated, it doesn't really tell the whole story because you have pockets where the numbers are much more troubling than that. There are certain parts of the city where 70 percent-plus of folks are not vaccinated.

And you guys even have people reaching out, going to homes where people are housebound and can't get out to get vaccinated. I mean, I guess my question is, what more can you do at this point, especially for those pockets?

SCOTT: Yes. We know that our zip codes, like 21223, 21216, 21213 have more than 70 percent of residents that haven't been vaccinated. We're going to continue to just double down our efforts. We go door to door. Members of my team, my office personally goes out and canvasses and knocks on doors. We're working with our colleges. We're working with some of our local artists and musicians and all, everybody that we can, advertise on our local radio stations, using every credible messenger to go to where people aren't vaccinated to get them vaccinated. And we're going to continue to do that and continue to break through.

We see the breakthroughs happening time and time again but we also need people to be responsible. When you think of the amount of people that have died in my city alone from COVID, who didn't have to die, who got it because someone younger in their family just didn't get the vaccine or was being irresponsible about them and now they've lost a parent or a grandparent. That's where we really should be thinking about, how can we keep the loved ones around, the people that we work with, the people that we call our friends, our family, everyone that we know, safe from this deadly virus.

HARLOW: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, thank you. And, really, good luck to you and your teams doing that. I hope it improves.

SCOTT: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks a lot.

Well, next, new rules just out for Americans who want to travel to the U.K., we'll tell you what they are.

Also, flight attendants forced to learn self-defense, can you believe it, to protect themselves from aggressive passengers, and the main reason for the bad behavior is people reacting to these mask mandates.


[10:50:00] HARLOW: Well, this just in. The U.K. is fully reopening its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and the European Union. Starting next Monday, people from those areas will no longer have to quarantine when they arrive in the U.K. You will have to get a COVID test before departure and within another couple of days after arriving in the U.K.

Well, the return of travel has also led to an increase of bad behavior on airplanes. The FAA says already this year that it's received more than 3,600 reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights mostly over mask mandates. And now, the federal government has re-launched a class showing flight attendants had to defend themselves. Wait until you see this reporting from our Pete Muntean.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are taking a defensive stance against a growing problem in the air. Flight attendants are training to hit, elbow and gouge simulated aggressive passengers with actual passengers getting more violent than ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to possibly die. You need to defend yourself at all costs.

MUNTEAN: Undercover federal air marshals are guiding eight flight attendants through this self-defense course, the first class offered by the TSA since training was paused by the pandemic.

CARRIE, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: It's sad that it needs to happen.

MUNTEAN: Flight Attendant Carrie is taking this class having just returned to her airline following a leave of absence.

Are you scared?

CARRIE: Sometimes, a little bit, yes. You get on a plane full of people and some of them aren't happy and you just never know what's going to happen.

MUNTEAN: A brawl breaking out on a Frontier Airlines flight is among the latest unruly passenger many incidents that the FAA says are skyrocketing. Federal documents detail show passengers have shouted down, grabbed and struck flight attendance thousands of times since the start of the zero tolerance policy earlier this year.

In May, a passenger punched a Southwest Airlines flight attendant causing her to lose two of her teeth, according to her union.

NOEL CURTIN, ASSISTANT SUPERVISOR OF AIR MARSHAL IN CHARGE, TSA MIAMI FIELD OFFICE: There's no back up of 30,000 feet. So that plane is on the air that has a crew that has to do with the issues. And it's incumbent on us to make sure they're fully equipped.

MUNTEAN: Federal officials say some passengers are fueled by alcohol but most are fighting back over the federal transportation mask mandate, which make up three-quarters of all incidents reported just this year.


MUNTEAN: Sarah Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants says airlines should pay their people to take these classes and the federal government should require that flight crews attend each year.

NELSON: That we can have that muscle memory and be able to respond when someone is immediately attacking us.


MUNTEAN: Here, instructors are teaching techniques that could be lifesaving, like pinning an attacker who is armed with a knife. But the TSA says only a few hundred people have enrolled in this course after it reopened training in late June.

Veteran Flight Attendant Donna O'Neil (ph) says more like her should take this class to deal with the type of passenger becoming too common.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Ready? Move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't ever want to have to use any of this, but if I had to, I certainly feel much more confident.

MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Sunrise, Florida.


HARLOW: Wow, what a story, Pete, thank you for that reporting.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today. I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan -- it's her birthday, by the way, happy birthday, Kate -- starts next.