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Mask Debate Intensifies in Florida As Covid Cases Surge; Florida Parent Urges Caution As Cases Spread among Children; WHO Says Global Cases Rise for Fifth Consecutive Week; England Ends Quarantine for Vaccinated EU, U.S. Visitors; Officers Want Support from Federal Order of Police; Covid Patients, Families Expressed Regret Over Refusing Vaccine. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Now Florida has reemerged as the COVID hot spot in the United States. I want to show you this, you can see the state in the bottom right corner in dark red. That basically means currently has a high rate of transmission. In response to the latest surge, Disney World announced that beginning Friday it will require all guests regardless of vaccination status to wear face coverings when indoors. But Florida's governor is still resisting mask mandates, even hinting that he may call a special legislative session to protect children against mass requirements in schools. But now some parents are speaking out saying the risk of COVID is just too real. CNN's Rosa Flores has more for you.


AGNES VELASQUEZ, DAUGHTER HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: Yes, I come here and ask you for the healing for my baby.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Agnes Velasquez has not left her 15-year-old daughter's side since she was placed on a ventilator in a Florida hospital about 10 days ago.

VELASQUEZ: She's in induced coma and she's also medically paralyzed.

FLORES (voice over): Her daughter, Paulina, was not vaccinated. Agnes was fully vaccinated, and they both got COVID around the same time.

VELASQUEZ: The toughest part for me being -- seeing how she suffer.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If you are vaccinated, you could potentially give disease to someone else.

FLORES (voice over): In Florida, which makes up 20 percent of the nation's COVID cases reported in the last week, Governor Ron DeSantis has maintained an anti-mask stance, especially in schools.

Saying through a spokesperson, experts have raised legitimate concerns that the risks of masking outweigh the potential benefits for children. Fortunately, the data indicate that COVID is not a serious risk to healthy children. But there is no evidence that the risk of wearing masks outweigh the benefits. And CDC evidence shows COVID can be a serious risk to children.

WALENSKY: If you look at the mortality rate of COVID just this past year for children, it's more than twice the mortality rate that we see in influenza in a given year.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: Hello, I'm Gov. Ron DeSantis. We have a panel here today ...

FLORES (voice over): DeSantis defiant on the facts holding a private roundtable discussion this week with hand-picked out of state experts. Parents and students who effectively reinforce his anti-mask ideology.


The press was not invited to the event and when CNN asked why his office didn't respond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you again, Governor.

FLORES (voice over): So, we tracked down the Governor at a press conference today, but after the last speaker finished talking, DeSantis walked away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, could you take a question please about COVID.

FLORES (voice over): Not taking questions from the press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're all wondering why the press was not invited to the roundtable on masks?

FLORES (voice-over): Perhaps because reality in his state is not as cut and dry as DeSantis' closed-door roundtable made it appear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Masking is a simple risk mitigation that we can and should use.

FLORES (voice over): With parents and students across the state ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're for freedom, baby. Don't use the mask at work.

FLORES (voice over): On both sides of the issue.

HOPE BRILLHART, HILLSBOROUGH PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT: The Hillsborough COVID positivity rate is at 18 percent. Do you remember the last time it was that high? Trick question. It never has been. Requiring mask is the least you can do.

VELASQUEZ: The blue one is what I explain all they told me it's the oxygen.

FLORES (voice over): Agnes doesn't know exactly how Paulina got COVID. But she knows she's part of the growing number of unvaccinated people who are getting the deadly disease.

FLORES: What was the last thing that she told you?

VELASQUEZ: She told me that she loved me.

FLORES (voice over): And she hopes telling her and her daughter story saves lives.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.


SOARES: Well global coronavirus cases rose for a fifth straight weekend and the delta variant is now being reported in eight additional countries. The W.H.O. says COVID cases worldwide were up by 8 percent last week, about 3.8 million new cases. It includes a surge in infections in Asia. That's being largely attributed to the highly contagious delta variant.

Parts of Europe are also seeing an uptick in cases, but England is planning to make travel hassle free. For some people it will allow fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. and the EU to avoid quarantine from Monday. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is here in London following these new travel developments.

But first I want to go to Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Kristie, talk us through the countries seen a spike in infections and critically what governments there are trying -- what they're doing to try to keep a lid on the delta variant.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Isa, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant as well as the low really of vaccination, we're seeing a COVID horror story unfold across the Asia-Pacific region including Thailand. Thailand today reported yet again a record number of daily coronavirus case, over 17,000 new cases of the virus. It also reported a record high in the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19.

Amid the surge of infection there, there is not enough beds. And authorities have resorted to turning a cargo warehouse at an airport in Bangkok into a COVID-19 field hospital with 1,800 beds. Here are just some of the scenes desperation in Thailand.


STOUT (voice over): He collapsed and died on the Bangkok back street. A 54-year-old motorcycle taxi driver suffering from COVID-19. He didn't know until it was too late. His niece tells CNN.

CHONLADA U-TARASAI, NICE OF COVID-19 VICTIM (through translator): I was speechless when I saw those photos. I was shocked. I was looking for the answer as to why my uncle had to die in such a way. Why did he have to die on the street like that? How did Thailand come to this point?

STOUT (voice-over): Thailand's capital is known as a regional healthcare hub, a destination for high quality care. And now, makeshift COVID wards are necessary.

The government will repurpose train carriages to isolate positive patients. Nationwide cases climb still over 16,000 announced on Wednesday, and faith in the country's unelected leaders is faltering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, BANGKOK RESIDENT (through translator): I'm not a hundred percent confident in this government. They're so slow, which has led to a lot of people dying. A lot of people have been infected now. I want them to do better.


STOUT (on camera): And cases rising in Myanmar, in China, in Australia and in Vietnam, once a COVID-19 success story we're seeing 6,000 new cases a day for seven consecutive days. Back to you -- Isa.

SOARES: Kristie LU stout for us in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Kristie. Let's turn to Salma in London. Salma, explain to our viewers why those in the United States should want to come to the U.K., what it means for them in these new restrictions or ease of restrictions, I should say.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Isa. For months now it's been very difficult to travel to the U.K. especially if you come from an Amber list country, as the United States is, and as many countries are in the EU. It previously meant that you would have to pay for multiple tests. That you would have to quarantine for at least five days if not more. All of that now set to expire Monday, 4 a.m. British standard time.

From that period, anyone who is double vaccinated and can show proof of that double vaccination from the authorities coming from the United States or coming in from the EU except for France can now enter the U.K. and they do not have to quarantine. Now you still have to take a PCR test before you depart from the U.S. or from the EU into the U.K.


You're going to have to show that to the authorities, to show that you have a negative test, and you will have to test again two days after you arrive.

But this is a significant easing of restrictions. It's something that the airline industry, the travel industry, the hospitality industry has been urging the authorities to take so that they could allow more tourists to return to the U.K. Take a listen to what the Heathrow CEO said after this announcement.


JOHN HOLLAND-KAYE, CEO OF HEATHROW AIRPORT: Well, this has taken the number of markets that we serve, about 20 percent of the pre-pandemic levels to about 65 percent. So, this is transformational for us. And so, we're all set up here to welcome passengers back. We've opened three of our four terminals. All of our colleagues are back and the shops are open and we're just looking forward to welcoming the Americans back here to the United Kingdom.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): So, as you heard there, Isa, many businesses are ready to welcome tourists back. For those of us who have family back in the United States or across the EU, excited finally to be able to be reunited here. And it does begin to normalize the system of proving that you are double vaccinated, give one more benefit to people to go out and get that vaccination, Isa.

Now there has been a spike in COVID cases recently, that started to wane, so there is concern there. But the authorities say this layer of protection should ensure that any tourists coming to the country can be here safely -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, unfortunately, it is not reciprocated in terms of England to the United States. But we shall keep our eyes on that. Salma Abdelaziz, thanks very much.

Now for the police officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The police unions relative silence is adding insult to injury. Coming up, the pressure on the fraternal order of police. That's next.



SOARES: Now at a critical moment for police officers, there is an expectation of support from a national organization representing them. But officers who battled the riots at the U.S. Capitol say they're not getting what they need from the fraternal order of police. Josh Campbell reports.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Traumatized by the horrific experience of January 6th, those who are on the front lines want support from the nation's largest police union, which represents over 300,000 officers nationwide.

OFC. MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: After January 6, neither myself nor any other officer that I spoke to that experienced that day ever had any outreach from the National Fraternal Order of Police, zero.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Officer Michael Fanone says he decided to contact the Fraternal Order of Police six months after the insurrection.

FANONE: I'll be honest with you, I wasn't particularly impressed with that conversation.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Fanone tells CNN he asked the police union to publicly denounce those who lied about the severity of the January 6 attack. FANONE: Some that I found specifically offensive were the former president's remarks that it was a love fest between law enforcement and the insurrectionists.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (voice over): There was also a love fest between the police, the Capitol police and the people that walked down to the Capitol.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): But while the nation's largest police union have shied away from publicly condemning Republicans who have downplayed the attack on officers at the Capitol, the organization has, in the past, been willing to condemn some progressives who have called for significant policing reform.

PATRICK YOES, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: I don't think anybody should be surprised that at cities that are allowed -- trying to defund police and trying to eliminate they're police departments are the ones that are having a highest crime and struggling with coming back.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): An attorney for two of the officers who testified this week, Officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell, echoed Fanone's sentiments, blasting the FOP in a statement for not adequately supporting the officers involved in the insurrection.

Adding, there should be nothing to debate on these points. You either stand with the officers or you stand with the terrorists.

The organization did issue a statement on January 6 praising officers and condemning the lawlessness. In a new statement Tuesday, the FOP again reiterated its support for the officers who fought back against the Capitol rioters.

Adding, we will be with them as they grieve and recover, however long that may take.

Other requests Fanone said he made to the FOP president, included denouncing Republicans who voted against giving Capitol Police officers medals for their heroism on January 6, and those he believes mischaracterized the shooting of one of the insurrectionists.

FANONE: And finally, I ask him to publicly denounce any active duty or retired law enforcement officer that participated in an insurrection at the Capitol. I have received no commitment as to any of those things, none whatsoever.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The officers have gotten support from newly appointed Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger who sat down with CNN on his first day on the job.

TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: I know what the men and women of this agency went through. I know the challenges that they faced. I also know the courage that they displayed that day. And it was a horrific time. We're going to work hand in glove with the Department of Justice to make sure that these folks are held accountable. CAMPBELL: Now these American police unions wield significant power,

particularly in Republican circles, which is why so many of the officers who were there that day at the Capitol during the insurrection are calling upon the unions to speak out, to speak up, to denounce those who have been downplaying the severity of the violence. Otherwise in the words of officer Michael Fanone who is always frank in speaking his mind, I don't know why the hell else I paid my dues.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Now they refused to get the vaccine, now some patients sick with COVID-19 are expressing their regrets. We'll hear from them next.



ZZ Top fans around the world are mourning the death of bassist Dusty Hill.


ZZ TOP, SINGING: Give me all your loving and don't let up until we're through.


SOARES: Over five decades the band recorded a succession of hit songs such as "Give Me All Your Loving." You can hear there. Hill and guitarist Billy Gibbons grew the beards that propelled them stardom. Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. According to the band's website, Hill died Wednesday at his Houston home after being sidelined by hip issues. Dusty Hill was 72.

Now across the United States, less than 50 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the delta variant is now surging through unvaccinated communities. For some the decision to refuse a vaccine has led to deep regret. CNN's Jake Tapper has this story.


LINDA EDWARDS, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: I just thought, if I lived through this, I want to go on a mission to try to help people to see that it is not worth not taking the vaccine.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER (voice-over): Emotional pleas one after another.

CHRISTY CARPENTER, UNVACCINATED SON DIED OF COVID-19: If it can take a healthy person, you know, and do what that happened to my son and it takes his life, then, why wouldn't you want to take the vaccine. TAPPER (voice-over): Unvaccinated Americans who got sick and regret their decision, or relatives of unvaccinated Americans who died of COVID-19 now warning others to learn from their lost loved ones' mistakes.

AARON HARTLE, HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: I didn't think I was going to get it.

TAPPER (voice-over): Nurse Practitioner Aaron Hartle wanted to wait to learn more about the emergency vaccine before getting it.

HARTLE: Never occurred to me that it was a choice between getting vaccinated and getting really sick.

TAPPER (voice-over): Now after a fight for his life, he worries about his patients who decided against to getting the shots.

HARTLE: I worry that my example to them was the wrong example.

TAPPER (voice-over): Currently, 43 percent of all Americans have not been vaccinated, according to the CDC. Some don't believe medical experts. Some hate the news media. Some are worried because the vaccine is so new and nothing is without risk.


34-year-old Stephen Harmon made fun of the vaccine, posted once, he has 99 problems, but a vax ain't one. Harmon died from the virus last week. Or Linda Zuern, whom the "Cape Cod Times" reported was not vaccinated and protested against a mobile vaccination program in her state. She passed away from severe COVID complications, the Times said, citing Zuern's friends and family.

PHIL VALENTINE, RADIO HOST: How's everybody doing.

TAPPER (voice-over): Conservative radio host Phil Valentine not only openly dismissed the vaccine, he gave false advice to his listeners about it, even writing a parody song mocking it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's have the vax man.

TAPPER (voice-over): But there's nothing funny about what happened to Valentine, who nearly died from COVID. His family now says while he, quote, has never been an anti-vaxxer he regrets not being more vehemently pro-vaccine. His brother tells CNN he's determined to get that new message to his listeners.

MARK VALENTINE, UNVACCINATED BROTHER BATTLING COVID-19: The very short assessment of this is he got it wrong, and he wants to do everything he can to make sure that as many people get vaccinated as can. We want as many people as can hear my voice this morning to put the politics aside and go get the vaccine.

TAPPER (voice-over): Valentine may end up being one of the lucky ones. His family says his condition is improving. For other unvaccinated Americans, nurses and doctors say some of them are now begging for a shot when it may be too late.

TAMMY DANIEL, CHIEF NURSING OFFICER, BAPTIST HEALTH: They're getting ready to intubate the patient and I see which means putting them on a ventilator. And they said, if I get the vaccine now, could I not go on the ventilator? So, I mean, they're begging for it.

TAPPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Thanks very much for your company. I'm Isa Soares in London. Have a wonderful Thursday. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett is next. Do stay right here though with CNN, bye-bye.