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CNN NEWSROOM

USA Gymnast Sunisa Lee Wins Women's All-Around Gymnastics Gold; House Republicans Revolt over Reimposed Mask Mandate; E.R. Doctor: Patients Listening to Misinformation "Instead of Me"; Update on Coronavirus Reponses Around the World; Stabbing of Women & Dog in Atlanta Park Underscores Surge in Violent Crime Nationwide; Biden Facing New Pressure from Immigration Activists. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00]

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And in a tweet, she said she is thankful for that support and it makes her realize "that she is more than just gymnastics and her accomplishments," something she said she didn't truly believe before -- Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Oh, my gosh. What a story just on every level. I mean, one door closes, another opens. Sunisa Lee has this incredible experience.

By the way, scientists need to study her and her family for resilience. I mean, they're just the models of that.

But, Selina Wang, thank you very much for that inspiring story.

So the U.K. is reopening and seeing packed nightclubs and busy bars. So why are cases there dropping? And what can the U.S. learn from this?

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[14:35:22]

CAMEROTA: Fights over masks playing out in Washington. Just one day after the Capitol Hill physician reinstated the mask mandate for the House of Representatives, scores of Republicans defied the rule by showing up maskless.

Congressman Chip Roy even tried to redirect the problem.

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REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): We have a crisis at our border and we're playing footsie with mask mandates in the people's House. We have people infected with COVID coming across our southern border

into Texas and you all put masks, masks up front here?

Which is it, vaccines or masks? Either the vaccines work or they don't work. Either the masks work or they don't work.

This institution is a sham. And we should adjourn and shut this place down.

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CAMEROTA: It is both, Congressman, vaccines and masks. They both help.

Meanwhile, as emergency rooms fill up across the country, front line workers are battling mask hesitancy and vaccine misinformation, misinformation that is masquerading as a question, like this:

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TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": Americans were promised that if they took the vaccines they could have their lives back. So by the millions, they did that.

Now they have learned in the clearest possible way that they were lied to. They got their shots but the Biden administration has decided to continue to control what they wear, where they go, and who they talk to.

Why are they doing that? What's happening here exactly?

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CAMEROTA: Joining me now, Dr. Rob Davidson. He's an E.R. doctor in west Michigan and the executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care.

I see you shaking your head. Listen, misinformation like that works to get good ratings for a TV show.

But what is the real-world impact of that misinformation that you deal with every day?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, E.R. PHYSICIAN & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE: Well, the real world is my patients are listening to that instead of listening to me, instead of listening to my family doctor wife who has been doing her job for 20 years like I have, whose patients trust us on any number of things.

People come in having heart attacks, they trust me to give them drugs that thin their blood, that could cause complications.

But when they come in with symptoms of COVID or suggest COVID -- I had a patient this week yell at me in the E.R. Didn't want the test because she swore we were getting paid $100,000 for every positive test and we were giving people COVID-19 with the vaccine to increase the profits. It is just maddening.

And to hear Tucker talk about people not getting their lives back, you know, these vaccines are protecting lives. They're allowing people not to die, unlike the unvaccinated we are seeing across the country.

CAMEROTA: I don't even understand his -- I don't even understand his logic. I don't even understand the logic.

And 160 million people or something -- I haven't looked at the latest numbers today -- have gotten the vaccine.

It is keeping people from dying. We know that. That is proven. It is keeping people from getting terribly ill. So the fact that people are unvaccinated is what the problem is.

But I just feel for you, doctor. I feel for you that you are having to be on the receiving end of all of this vitriol.

What else are patients saying to you?

DAVIDSON: Well, you know, most patients who I talk to about the vaccine -- and I do with almost every patient who isn't vaccinated -- most of them just shut it right down. Tell me, I'm not interested, I don't need that, I'm not worried about that, and it sort of ends it there.

I'm a little persistent. I'm old enough and seasoned enough that I'm not afraid of a little bit of a confrontation, you know. If it starts to really ramp up, I let it go.

I've had a few who said, yes, I want it now. But, honestly, in about a month, a handful of people who have accepted the vaccine in the moment.

Another few said, I will think about it and talk to my doctor. I consider that a victory if we are breaking through.

But, you know, they just come to you with the information that Tucker Carlson talks about, the self-reporting of complications that the CDC investigates and has found no significant complications, beyond those few blood clots associated with J&J that they've issued guidance on.

It is just, you know, impossible to do the job that I want to do, is protect my community.

CAMEROTA: How frustrating is that, Doctor?

DAVIDSON: Yes, I mean I have never experienced it.

Listen, people come in with -- in mental health crises, people come in intoxicated or with dementia who may argue with you or accuse you of things that are outlandish, and you brush it off as the disease speaking.

But these are people with all of their faculties about them and accusing you of trying to hurt them.

I told this person, I said, listen, that really hurts. I have thick skin. I can handle it. You move on to the next patient and do your job.

But I feel for the individuals being duped by a network, duped by, you know, politicians who are trying to sow doubt about vaccines, about masks, about the CDC and everything else we have told people for a year and a half.

[14:40:06]

And it is coming home to roost in the states with high unvaccinated numbers. We're seeing in now in my community. I've seen about two -- with COVID and none of them vaccinated.

But we're a small, rural community. This is going to be whack-a-mole for years and years if we keep up like this.

And rural communities without high vaccination rates will see flare- ups periodically. I am just bracing for when it comes to my neighborhood.

CAMEROTA: It is not just, you know, prime-time TV hosts who are doing it for ratings, as you point out. It is also politicians.

So the congressman from your state of Michigan, Peter Meijer, here is what he tweeted:

"The CDC's reversal on viral load among breakthrough vaccinated cases is based on an Indian study involving a study those with a non-U.S.- approved vaccine. Mask mandates coming back based on research that's unapplicable from the get-go."

The CDC didn't say that. Do you have any idea where he is getting this information or is it misinformation?

DAVIDSON: I think it is misinformation. Representative Meijers is in the neighboring district. I have followed him and he has accepted reality about COVID, about the election, about many things some in his party have not.

He tweeted a retweet of his retweet of a historian and political commentator, now a member of Congress, commenting on public health, trying to oppose Dr. Walensky and the CDC, who is the preeminent public health agency in the world.

The data that the CDC is using is, in the past few weeks, showing over 1,000 times the viral load in patients who are breakthrough cases compared to the original strain. And they're showing that those are leading to infection chains.

You know, the guidance is only changing because the virus is changing. The Delta variant is different.

And in low-vaccination areas with high transmission, people should be wearing their masks even if they're vaccinated.

It is not abridging their freedoms. It is trying to protect them.

I wish that he would just recognize that and not be so quick to hit tweet when he -- you know, the real information is out there for him to get.

CAMEROTA: On a personal level, with this new CDC guidance, it is confusing to people in terms of whether or not they are supposed to be masking back up indoors.

Have you adjusted your behavior and your family's yet?

DAVIDSON: I have. I did it two weeks ago. And I'm not in a high- transmission area.

Before anyone loses themselves, I'm not virtue signaling. This is not to try to make anyone feel bad.

I just feel like, listen, the analogy I like best from Andy Slavitt is that the vaccine is like an umbrella. You go out in the rain, you use an umbrella. If the rain is coming at you sideways with winds, you might put on a raincoat to keep yourself from getting wet.

So if I'm going into a small store with lots of people and I just don't know who is or isn't vaccinated, I put on the mask. If I'm outside amongst any number of people, I don't.

It is just simple. And it is -- you know, we have made it such a big deal.

And so many Republicans are suggesting masks are an affront. I wish they would step back and realize it is a piece of cloth that can't hurt them.

I wish people would teach their kids, like we have, like so many people have, and we wouldn't have to have an endless discussion about a simple thing that can actually save your life.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Rob Davidson, we really appreciate your perspective. And we're thinking of you and all you have to tackle in the emergency room.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us.

DAVIDSON: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: As U.S. cases go up, the infection rate in the U.K. is on the decline. It is a welcome change that has the medical world scratching their heads. CNN reporters bring us that story and other major developments from around the world.

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PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Phil Black in London where scientists are trying to understand why confirmed coronavirus infection numbered plummeted during the last week. They are now down 36 percent compared to the week before.

They admit they did not see it coming and only have theories to explain it, like warmer weather, encouraging people to stay outside, closed schools for summer.

The possibility or suspicion that people are still being infected in vast numbers but many are no longer following up and getting tested.

They do not believe the U.K. has hit a herd-immunity threshold although they think vaccines are helping.

Crucial to understanding this will be hospital admissions numbers over the next couple of weeks.

If this is a real downturn, then the number of people falling seriously ill and requiring hospital treatment should also drop. At the moment, those numbers are still going up.

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: I'm Hadas Gold in Jerusalem. Israel will begin offering a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to anyone over the age of 60 who received their second dose more than five months ago.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made the announcement this evening, saying that the data is showing that the efficacy may wane over time, especially in light of the Delta variant.

Data shows Israelis who receive the second dose of the vaccine by the end of January, which tends to be the older population, their ability to fend off infection has dropped to 16 percent.

[14:45:05]

The prime minister urged all Israelis to call their parents and loved ones to get them vaccinated, saying that the first person to receive the booster shot tomorrow will be Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Patrick Oppmann in Havana where COVID cases and deaths have surged here despite the Cuban government's claims that they've done a good job handling the pandemic.

Certainly, it does not help that the historic protests and pro- government demonstrations have taken place over the last few weeks.

The government is actually arrested some protesters, saying they violated COVID protocols, but then held their own large pro-government demonstrations to show that the support of the people is still with them.

The government is vaccinating here with their own vaccines but it likely will be weeks or months more before we see a dip in the COVID numbers.

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CAMEROTA: Our thanks to all of our reporters around the globe.

So, next, the gruesome murder of a woman and her dog in a popular Atlanta park. It underscores the surge in violent crime and what is happening in cities across the country.

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[14:50:40]

CAMEROTA: Cities around the country grappling with a wave of violent crime. A new report shows a 16 percent increase in homicides in many American cities during the first six months of 2021.

That's up even from last year's spike, which was the highest on record.

One of these cities is Atlanta, Georgia. Shootings in Atlanta have increased by 32 percent.

Last week, the city shut down all public pools after a teenager was shot and killed at one of them.

Today, police are investigating the murder of a woman and her dog inside Atlanta's largest city park.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins me now.

Shimon, apparently this latest murder of this woman walking her dog in the park was particularly gruesome?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: It was particularly gruesome. That's how the police are describing it.

She was stabbed multiple times. Some local reports say she was disfigured. That's how gruesome and violent this crime was.

She was walking her dog about 1:00 a.m. in the morning. When her wife couldn't reach her, she went to the park and she found her there.

Police looking for a suspect. They haven't released a lot of details on the motive. They don't seem to know much at this point. We are still waiting to hear more from police.

And, Alisyn, this all comes on the heels of this report from the Council on Criminal Justice where they looked at homicides and violent crime all across the country, specifically at 22 cities.

What they found is that, compared to last year, there's a rise in homicides, 16 percent rise in homicide. In 2019, there's a significant rise of 42 percent.

Of course, all of this having to do with guns. They also say that gun assaults are higher this year than last year, 5 percent higher.

One of the interesting things they did find is that the rate of homicides rose sharply after the George Floyd murder. It's unclear as to why. Perhaps that has something to do with

policing, whether or not police were aggressive enough, whatever it may be. But that was interesting.

They also interestingly found that burglaries and robberies are down.

So the question is, what's going on, because this has to be about guns.

A lot of what we're hearing from law enforcement officials is that guns are a big problem. That's the issue right now across many of these cities that there are too many guns on the streets.

One thing I'm working on now is a case out of Minneapolis where a woman was buying guns for gang members. She was allowed to buy guns. She had a license to purchase guns. She was buying these guns and giving them to gang members for whatever reason and they were using them in shootings.

This is a phenomenon.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: These are straw purchases where people go in, can buy guns and they give them to gang members. And that's what we're seeing all across the country.

This is something that law enforcement, that we see from the Department of Justice, they're trying these efforts to bring law enforcement together to crack down on this.

But guns, in the end, seem to be the thing driving a lot of these numbers.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But as you point out, just raises a lot of questions --

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- about what's happening with these spikes.

All right, Shimon, thank you very much for that reporting.

OK. So a new challenge in the border crisis. Will the Biden administration reverse the immigration policies of the Trump era?

And a programming note now on an all-new episode of "JERUSALEM," how the battles between Christians and Muslims changed the city forever. Watch "JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY," Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

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[14:54:02]

CAMEROTA: President Biden facing intense pressure from pro-immigration activists. Several groups say they're cutting ties with the administration and accusing the president of using a Trump-era COVID policy to prevent migrants from entering the country.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

Priscilla, tell us more about why the activists are so angry.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Alisyn, this is the latest sign of tensions bubbling up between the immigrant advocacy organizations and the Biden administration over this Trump-era border policy.

Just to rewind here, this is a policy that was implemented at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

It allows border authorities to turn away migrants they encounter at the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is criticized that's been criticized by advocacy orgs and by health experts who say there's no public health basis for this policy.

But even so, the Biden administration has continued to lean on it and turned away hundreds of thousands of migrants at the border.

[14:59:57]

Now, a few months ago, they worked with immigrant advocacy organizations to identify vulnerable individuals, those who shouldn't be subject to the policy.