Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Get Vaccinated or Get Out, Corporate America Requiring Shots; Israel Preparing to Offer Third Vaccine Dose; Outbreak at New York Summer Camp Fueled by Unvaccinated Kids. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:08]

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Thanks for joining us on Inside Politics today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Thanks for being us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And we are entering a new era in the pandemic fight in the U.S., vaccine requirements. Soon, President Biden is expected to say all federal employees will have to prove they are vaccinated or face strict routine testing.

Corporate America already going there. Facebook, Google, Netflix and more are now requiring or mandating shots. The resounding message here, get vaccinated or get a new job.

All as the delta variant is fueling COVID surges in less vaccinated areas, 63,000 new cases now happening daily.

Plus, we are following major news on boosters. Israel on the verge of offering a third dose. So what could this mean for Americans? We'll get there.

But, first, to the White House and CNN's Phil Mattingly who is standing by with more on the president's new vaccine requirement plan. Phil, this is going to impact millions of federal workers. What is the plan and what's the response so far?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I think there're really two pieces when you talk to White House officials. There's the policy but there's also what the policy signals and what the president is going to be using the remarks this afternoon to try and really underscore.

And that's the moment, the urgency of the moment that the White House is in and a recognition that the past efforts to get millions of people vaccinated, while it was certainly effective up to a point, the effectiveness has dropped off, and that worst time too, given, as you laid out, the emergence of the delta variant across the country. This is a signal that the White House is taking a harder line. The president has made very clear this is about the unvaccinated. If people would just get the shot, the country would not be in the problem that it's currently in, whether it's masks, whether it's mandates, any of those things.

Now, the policy itself has a couple points. It is a requirement that federal workers get or attest to vaccination status. And if they are unwilling or unable to do that, the, as you noted, they will be subject to strict protocols, protocols that, depending on the agency, could get stricter by the week or month, something White House officials see as an important kind of carrot to some degree to get people vaccinated. It was part of the process.

Now, it's important to note this will not apply to the military for now, though the president is expected to address that issue in his remarks. I think, overall, the president will also be laying out some incentives as well trying to push people towards this process.

But what this makes very clear, Ana, is something we've heard behind the scenes for the last couple of weeks, and there's palpable frustration from the president on down inside the White House right now that there's a solution and a solution that's just about at everybody's fingertips and yet, still, they are at case levels right now, they are at hospitalization levels right now, they are at death level right now and, frankly, nobody here thought they would ever see again. What they want to do, whether it's stick or carrot, is try to get people to get vaccinated and get back to where it seemed like the country was just a few weeks ago. Ana?

CABRERA: And ultimately save more lives. Phil Mattingly, thank you.

Let's talk about the big news out of Israel now on boosters. Israel's health care system preparing to give elderly patients a third vaccine dose, this pending a final government decision.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem. So, Hadas, when could we see a third shot in arms there and why? What was the trigger?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are expecting, as soon as Sunday, anybody in Israel who is over the age of 60 who received their second dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine more than five months will be eligible for a third booster shot.

Now, this is according to sources with knowledge of health care planning. And actually any minute now, we are expecting a national televised statement by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet announcing this new move.

Now, Israel has already been giving third booster shots to people with people with compromised immune systems. Those are people like organ transplants. But recent rising COVID numbers, and there is now concern amongst the health care experts here, that there could be a decrease in the vaccine efficacy over time. Because the first people to begin receiving their vaccines in Israel were this elderly population in December, and they received their second doses by the end of January. And data that was recently released by the health ministry here in Israel, they found that people who received their second doses by the end of January now at this point, the vaccine efficacy at preventing infection is only at 16 percent. That's compared to people who received their second doses by the end of April and their vaccine efficacy at preventing infection is 75 percent.

Now, there is still very good efficacy against preventing severe illness, even amongst people who received their second doses by the end of January. They're still at 86 percent effective at preventing severe illness. And it is that data that prompted the health experts here to recommend this third booster shot.

[13:05:01]

However, it's not without controversy because they're doing this ahead of the FDA recommendation in the United States. And Israel often looks to the FDA for sort of guidance on these sorts of things. But, essentially, Israel is now turning itself into a test case for the third booster shot and the rest of the world will be watching it closely. Ana?

CABRERA: Indeed. Hadas Gold, thank you for providing all the data in the backstory on this new step forward Israel is taking.

Let's turn to Dr. Paul Offit. He's the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. He's also a member of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee.

Doctor, she just spelled out Israel taking the lead here, maybe becoming a test study. Is it inevitable that we will have a third shot eventually here in the U.S.?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: It depends on the data. I mean, right now, as you said, the people who are over 65 who have gotten two doses of the vaccine still are highly protected against severe critical disease, having to seek medical care, go to the hospital or worse, die.

So I think as long as we're there, I don't see any pressing need for a booster dose right now. Still, 97 percent of people who were hospitalized, who are unvaccinated, 99.5 percent of people who die are unvaccinated.

And the vaccine in the phase three trials was highly effective in all age groups, meaning 90 to 95 percent effective even in those over 65. And I think memory, immunological memory is generally long-lived. So, I don't think we're pressed to do that now. Right now, what we're pressed to do is what you said at the top, which is vaccinate the unvaccinated.

CABRERA: Let's talk more about that, because as we await the president's announcement about these federal vaccine requirements, and as more private companies are now mandating vaccination, what's your reaction to this moment? OFFIT: Yes. I think this is where we are. It's amazing to me that you have so many people who are willfully unvaccinated. I mean, I was a child of the 1950 s. I watched the polio vaccine being developed, which was roundly picked and people quickly vaccinated and we were able to eliminate polio from the United States all the way by the 1970s.

The polio virus had no friends. It would paralyze 30,000 children a year. It would kill 1,500 children a year. That's not true of this virus. This virus has friends. I mean, by friends, I mean, sort of purveyors of misinformation or vaccine denial, conspiracy theorists or people who this bizarre sense of personal liberty enough so that it's made the virus much more difficult to get a hold of. This war against this virus, and it should only be against this virus, unfortunately, has its, on level, become a war against ourselves.

CABRERA: I've talked to other doctors who have suggested that when you look at the past, like polio and measles and how we were able to stop those diseases in their tracks, what was the role of vaccine requirements? How crucial was the requirement or mandate piece in stopping those illnesses?

OFFIT: Not so much for polio, which was vaccine was roundly taken up. Measles was different. I mean, because there were measles outbreaks, big measles outbreaks between 1989 and 1991, really, starting in the 1970s, we had a measles vaccine mandate for school entry. And that was critical, I think, in getting us on top of this virus. So those mandates meant everything.

And we took a virus which is the most contagious of the vaccine preventable disease. I mean, SARS-Cov-2 has a contagious index, if you will, of at least six. Meaning if I'm infected, I'll infect six more people who are susceptible during the day. Measles has a contagious index of 18. It's much more contagious, yet we eliminated measles from this country by the year 2000.

The reason measles came back at all was that a critical percentage of parents chose not to vaccinate their children. If we can eliminate measles from this country, we can also do a much better job at dramatically lessening the spread of SARS-Cov-2, but not with immunization rates in the 50 percent range. That's not going to happen. With measles, we had to really get into to the 90 percent range. And I think, frankly, in the end, that may be true at this virus still.

CABRERA: We have seen a recent uptick though in vaccinations, now averaging 382,000 shots a day. That's a 35 percent increase over last week's pace. And it is the highest it's been in three weeks. That's good news. This is all before new vaccine requirements or mandates. So, what do you attribute that to?

OFFIT: Maybe the delta variant has scared a critical percentage of people. And maybe people like Kay Ivey, the governor Alabama, stands up and does what she should do, which is point the finger directly at people who have chosen not to get a vaccine. Maybe that's shaken people. But remember we were at 3 million doses a day a couple of months ago. If we'd stayed on that pace, we'd probably be at least 80 percent population immunity from vaccination, which would mean we wouldn't have had to have these discussions about things like booster dosing and masking because it would have been obviated.

We have a school population that is now -- a young population, between 6 and 12 years of age, who are unlikely to get a vaccine when they go back to school, and it will be fall and winter when this virus spreads more easily.

[13:10:07]

And there's a very contagious variant out there. I just feel like we let our children down by not keeping up the vaccination rates we had a couple of months ago.

CABRERA: And yet a new survey finds 46 percent of Republicans who most trust far-right news, where we know there's a lot of misinformation, they say they will refuse to get vaccinated. And that number sadly is up from 31 percent in March. If this group is not swayed by mandates or requirements, what does that mean for us?

OFFIT: Well, I think they're going to have to be swayed by mandates. I mean, that's what mandates are, meaning you have to get the vaccine or else you don't get to work here. You're seeing that happen in the private sector. And those mandates are going to be enforced on Democrats and Republicans. And, unfortunately, sometimes you just have to compel people to do the right thing. Unfortunately, that's where we are right now.

CABRERA: Dr. Paul Offit, it's always great to get your insights. Thanks for being with us.

OFFIT: Thank you.

CABRERA: Let's talk more about the move to require mandate vaccines. Max Boot is a Senior Fellow with Council on Foreign Relations and a Columnist at the Washington Post.

And, Max, you were out front on this. You were calling for a vaccine mandate over a week ago. You wrote a piece saying this is madness. Stop making reasonable appeals to those who will not listen to reason. It's a waste of time. Make the case for mandates.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the case is that people are not getting vaccinated and the numbers that we need to stop the delta variant. And as a result of that, we are seeing more people getting sick, more people getting hospitalized, more people dying and we're seeing recommendation for a mask mandate across the country, which inconveniences everybody.

Clearly, this would not be necessary if we were at 90 percent vaccination levels. But right now, only about 70 percent of U.S. adults are vaccinated and the others are stubbornly resistant to all the arguments showing that vaccines are safe and effective. You've had President Biden. You've had every doctor and public health authority in the land arguing for more than six months you have to get vaccinated. If you don't, you're at risk of getting sick and even of dying.

And there are some people who just are not listening to reason here, because, instead, they're listening to conspiracy theories and just plain B.S. being propagated by people like Tucker Carlson and many other influencers on the right who claim that vaccines are some kind of conspiracy and that they're dangerous and are spreading myths and lies and just lots of misinformation.

And so there just no way to convince, I think, the holdouts that they need to get vaccinated. And so I think President Biden is on the right track now to say, hey, you don't have to get vaccinated, but if you want to come into an office, if you want to work with other people, then you do have to show proof of vaccination.

I think we need to go beyond this. I think forcing civilian federal workers to get vaccinated is a good start. He needs to impose the mandate on the military and, crucially, I think the FAA needs to impose that for anybody who flies. You have to show proof of vaccination.

CABRERA: We are seeing that in other countries, like France, for example, when they saw a huge uptick in vaccinations after they came out with an announcement to fly or go on a train or to eat inside a restaurant, you have to have proof of vaccination. But yet there's this big chunk of Republicans, as we just discussed with Dr. Offit, who say they just refuse to get vaccinated. And I talked to a doctor in Florida just yesterday who said he had a woman in his E.R. screaming in pain from COVID, still telling him that she would rather die from COVID than get a vaccine. So I wonder, will mandates even work with this group?

BOOT: I think they will work with some people, because even if you're very anti-vaccine, if you still want to fly, and then you have to then to show proof of vaccination to fly, people will get vaccinated. Or if you want to go to work and you have to show proof of vaccination to go to work, absolutely, I think it will work.

I think the problem is going to be that governors, while they have the power to mandate vaccinations, are not going to do that red states because so many Republican governors have bought into this anti- scientific, anti-medicine mumbo jumbo. And so you have people like Ron DeSantis in Florida who are more worried about vaccine passports than they are about a disease that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.

CABRERA: Hold your thought for a second, because I have sound from Governor DeSantis in Florida that I want you to listen to. It just goes right in line with what you are describing. This was yesterday at a conservative conference, as, again, Florida is becoming this epicenter for COVID in the U.S. right now. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Do you not get the CDC's memo? I don't see you guys complying.

I think it's very important that we say unequivocally no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no mandates.

[13:15:07]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Here's the thing. There is a spectrum, Max. There are the conspiracy theorists, certainly, who believe that vaccines are putting in microchips in us. That is out there. But then you also have a group of people that he may be echoing. Other Republicans who are thinking, you know, this is America. I value my freedom, my independence. Who are you to tell me exactly what I should do? That just seems draconian. How do you respond?

BOOT: Well, yes, you have a right to do what you want within certain limits but you don't have a right to endanger other people in our country. That's why, for example, indoor smoking is banned all over the country. You don't have a right to smoke indoors if you are going to cause other people to die from cancer. You don't even have the right to ride your motorcycle without a helmet if you're going to crack your head, or you certainly don't have the right to get loaded, get drunk and then go driving. That's a violation of the law.

There are all sorts of impositions that have to be made to protect public health and safety. That is completely part of freedom but you don't have the freedom to endanger other people. That's what Republicans don't seem to understand that, yes, within reasonable limits, everybody has freedom, but if we're going to live together and survive together, we have to impose certain limitations on freedom for the public good.

And we do that all the time, we accept that all the time, we have traffic laws, we have indoor smoking laws, and we also have vaccination laws, by the way. Nobody can go to school in this country without showing proof of vaccination. So, there's nothing (INAUDIBLE) or unusual about mandating COVID vaccines.

What's new and unusual is that this has become the sudden issue, and the culture wars. It's become this political hot potato. That's crazy. This is just a matter of pure science and protecting people by getting them to take a vaccine that is safe and necessary.

CABRERA: And, Max, quickly, if you will, Republicans are pro- business. That's how they build themselves. We're seeing more and more companies take the lead on these vaccine mandates or requirements. Do you think people will be more receptive to mandates coming from their employer versus the U.S. government?

BOOT: I think they'll have to be. I think the issue is whether states like Florida will succeed in banning so-called vaccine passports. If they do, it will be very dangerous. But I hope that's not the case. And as long as private employers can take the lead, I think that's another way to get a lot more people in red states vaccinated.

CABRERA: Max Boot, good to have you here. Thank you.

BOOT: Thank you.

CABRERA: What does this mean for your kids? Coming up, a COVID outbreak at a summer camp, more than 30 campers under the age of 12 test positive for COVID one week later. What lessons have been learned that can protect your unvaccinated little ones?

And then from one Olympic gold medalist to another, Simone Biles is receiving support from, really, so many Olympic gold medalists. We will be joined by Dominique Moceanu is going to join us live. She lived through a terrifying like this as a teen in front of the world. Who is there to protect her when did not feel able to protect herself?

You're live in the CNN Newsroom. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:20:00]

CABRERA: Kids nationwide head back to school soon, but summer camp has taught us a thing or two about COVID. In New York, 31 kids have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a sleep away summer camp about two hours north of New York City. All the infections were among those under the age of 12, which means they weren't even eligible for a vaccine.

And joining us now is Jack Mabb, he is the public health director in Columbia County, New York, where the summer camp is located.

Jack, this just underscores what can happen when a group isn't vaccinated, even kids. What have you learned? What happened here?

JACK MABB, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DIRECTOR: Well, I think it does underscore how potent this virus is among the unvaccinated. You can't vaccinate under 11 years old, so that's the issue and it's insidious. So this camp did a lot of work ahead of time, and when the campers first got there to try to keep it out and it still found its way in.

CABRERA: And can you tell us about what safety measures or rules were in place to keep these children safe, to prevent infections in the first place?

MABB: Well, the kids were required to turn in a negative test within -- done within 36 hours of coming to camp. All the unvaccinated kids were tested as soon as they got to camp. And then five days in, because three to five days is an incubation period for the virus, all of them were tested. We have 275 under the age of 11, and about 275 12 and up, and all those 12 and up were also vaccinated. But, nonetheless, they were also tested on that day five.

CABRERA: So where did this begin? How did the infection get in?

MABB: Well, I think if you start looking at the three to five and the breakdown on that, the virus doesn't obey the rules always. If a child has a strong immune system, they might have been negative on day five and then positive day six. And then with a lot of these kids, they don't have symptoms or they don't want to report the symptoms to the nurse because they're having too good a time. Then it spreads among the campers.

[13:25:00]

CABRERA: Was there anything that they could have done differently, do you think, to prevent this outbreak?

MABB: Well, again, when you look at the protocol and the testing protocol, I don't know how you do anything differently. I think maybe educating the kids or maybe the parents educating the kids at home about the importance of speaking up if you have symptoms might have helped. Again, a child could have no symptoms whatsoever and still be spreading the virus, but maybe educating the children a little bit.

CABRERA: And did you say was everybody wearing masks when they were inside?

MABB: Well, the protocol at the camp is you wear your mask when you're moving in between buildings. What they do is, the first two weeks, the camp started on the 26th of June. So, the first two weeks, essentially, there's a quarantine where all the campers stay in their bunk or stay with their bunk. So when they go to lunch, they go with their bunk. They establish this small cohort. So, in between buildings, they keep their masks on. At lunch, they wear their mask to lunch and take them off obviously to eat.

The one spot where you have some vulnerability is once they're in their -- back in their bunk at night, you can't expect a child to sleep with a mask on.

CABRERA: It is important to point out none of the campers older than 12 got infected, and I understand all but four of the older campers have been vaccinated, again, no infections in that group, as far as we know. Do you think what happened at this camp should be a warning, a warning sign of what we could see in the fall when classes start up? What are the key lessons?

MABB: Well, again, I think that the delta variant is very contagious. I think it's important for vigilance on the part of everyone. And there are some comparisons here. I think the differences are when you have children who are sleeping, when you have children who are -- there's downtime at the end of the day, maybe not as much supervision as you can have, whereas school, there's going to be a lot of supervision.

I do think though that kids need to be educated about reporting symptoms, whether it's -- nobody should think it's a summer cold. Everybody should suspect it's COVID.

CABRERA: Absolutely. And very quickly, if you will, any serious symptoms, conditions involving the campers?

MABB: No. As far as we know, the camp director has had contact with all the children. I should say we sent all the positives home as well as 134 contacts within those bunks were sent home as well. We have learned that some of the folks that we've sent home have become positive, so our numbers are probably close to 40 in this case, but, thankfully, no serious illnesses.

CABRERA: That's good to hear. Jack Mabb, thank you for joining us and sharing all that for us.

MABB: Thank you.

CABRERA: Bipartisanship, finally, an infrastructure deal cleared its first hurdle in the Senate. 17 Republicans voted with Democrats for it. But will it survive? The long road ahead in the House.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:30:00]