Return to Transcripts main page


CDC Data: Delta Variant as Contagious as Chicken Pox; U.S. Service Members May Be Required to Take Vaccine; Corporate America Tells U.S. Workers to Get Vaccinated; Doctors Group in Japan Warns of Medical System Collapse; Multiple Serious Crashes in BMX Racing; January 6 Committee to Hold a Strategy Session Friday; Thunderstorms and Tornados Hit Northeastern U.S.; Millions of Americans Face Prospect of Evictions. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 04:00   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: The CDC now says the COVID delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox. And health experts predict that as we saw in 2020, closures are coming.

Plus, COVID vaccine booster shots, how Israel is allocating them and how the U.S. could do the same.

Also, one American's gold medal performance at the Olympics that has her family, a refugee community and America cheering.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

We're now getting a much clearer idea of just how alarmed the U.S. government has grown over the delta variant of COVID-19. First identified in India in February, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention now says the delta variant is as contagious as measles and chickenpox and it could make you much sicker. "The Washington Post" was the first to report this story under the headline "The War has Changed."

The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccinations as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

Now other findings are just as unsettling. Investigations of breakthrough cases found that vaccinated people can carry and spread as much virus as unvaccinated people. The data provides some insight into why the CDC is again recommending mask wearing indoors. Here's what the director told CNN, quote: I think people need to understand that we're not crying wolf here. This is serious. It's one of the most transmissible viruses we know about. Measles, chickenpox, this -- they're all up there.

Dr. Jerome Adams served as U.S. Surgeon General under President Trump. He told our Chris Cuomo the delta variant is unlike anything seen before. Here it is.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: At this point if you look at the trajectory of the delta variant in India and in the U.K., and you look at how we're busting the curve compared to where they were not in a good way, I do expect that you will see closures in certain places because health care systems are already starting to be overwhelmed.

And I just want to be honest with people. And that is one of the problems we've had, Chris, is that we always want to sugarcoat it for people. We always don't want to scare people, but this delta variant is really, really nasty. It is very different than the COVID that we dealt with last year. And just in a week, we went from no masks to all of a sudden everyone is saying that this is where we're going.


BRUNHUBER: Now as the U.S. fights a surge of COVID cases driven by the delta variant, President Joe Biden is taking steps to push more Americans to get vaccinated. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has a look at the choice government workers will soon face.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Biden delivering some of the strongest words yet about the need to get vaccinated. Taking several steps that his administration can do simply that goes beyond asking Americans to get a vaccine but by requiring some who work in the federal government, some 4 million or so federal government workers now will have to disclose if they are vaccinated or not. If they are not, they will have to submit to routine testing up to twice a week. They will not be able to travel for work. They will have a hard mask requirement.

So clearly this White House is trying to make it more difficult for people to not be vaccinated in the federal workforce. But what this requirement also is doing is sending a message to private companies that they too should weigh in and step up and that's exactly what they have been doing. We've seen one company after another adding their names and voices to this, but the president clearly talking about this in the starkest terms yet.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, what's really happening today? After months and months of cases going down, we're seeing a spike in COVID cases. We're going up. Why? Because of this new form, this new variant called the delta variant. This is a much different variant than the one we dealt with previously. It's highly transmissible, and it's causing a new wave of cases in those not vaccinated.


Our experts tell me that cases will go up further before they start to come back down. ZELENY: The president also directing his Defense Secretary Lloyd

Austin to study how COVID-19 vaccinations can be added to the vaccinations already required of service members. About 70 percent or so of service members already have gotten the vaccine, but clearly that means 30 percent have not and there is deep resistance inside the military. So that of course, is one other thing that the commander in chief, the president, can do.

But make no mistake, we heard the president say for one the first times there is going to be a rise in cases because of the delta variant. So, the president sounding the alarm, trying to shake the conscience of a country. Clearly the pandemic now in an entirely new phase.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. Defense Department will require all military and civilian personnel to prove their vaccination status. The DOD says those unwilling to do so will be required to wear a mask, social distance, submit to regular testing and obey all travel restrictions. The department is also considering adding the COVID shot to a list of required vaccines for military workers.

And that dangerous delta variant has led many big businesses to insist their workers get the COVID-19 vaccine or find another job. Facebook, Google and Netflix are among the major companies requiring employees in their workplaces to have the shots. Our Richard Quest has the latest from New York.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: It is the increase in COVID cases from the delta variant that is causing the greatest alarm. So, from Silicon Valley to Hollywood, to hospitality, to Wall Street, executives and HR departments are now telling people get vaccinated or face the consequences. And those consequences could include strict testing, unpaid quarantines, even being fired, termination.

Some business leaders are giving their workers the ultimatum, get vaxed or get out. Danny Meyer runs Union Square Hospitality, a major presence in New York City's restaurant scene and he says his restaurant staff must be vaccinated in 45 days or they will lose their jobs. And the customers aren't getting off scot-free. If you are not vaccinated, find somewhere else to eat.

DANNY MEYER, FOUNDER AND CEO GROUP, UNION SQUARE HOSPITALITY GROUP: Look, in a city that's got 26,000 restaurants, if you really want to smoke, you are welcome to do that somewhere else. And I would say the exact same thing here. If you really want to go unvaccinated, you can dine somewhere else, and you can also go work somewhere else. I really hope that the small number of our employees who have yet to be vaccinated will say, I actually like this place even better because they cared about me. QUEST: And as artificial date for many people returning to offices

gets even closer, the beginning of September, so this is an issue that's going to become an ever more present as workers are told vaccinate or face the consequences.

Richard Quest, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: Some people in Israel are getting COVID vaccine booster shots. At this hour will take you live to Jerusalem for the latest and explain how booster shots could work in the United States as well.

It's day seven of the Tokyo Olympics and athletes are competing for gold in 29 sports. Outside their bubble Japan's largest doctors' association is warning the medical system will collapse if the spread of COVID-19 continues. Japan reports more than 10,000 new infections for the first time since the start of the pandemic. And Tokyo set a record for a third consecutive day with nearly 4,000 new cases.

CNN's Blake Essig is standing by live in Tokyo, but we're going to start with WORLD SPORT anchor Patrick Snell here in Atlanta. Patrick, records falling, athletes crashing, lots of action to talk about.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, 21 gold medals, Kim, up for grab this is Friday. Let's start in the aquatic center in Tokyo where South African star Tatjana Schoenmaker has had a day to remember. Not only winning gold in the women's 200-meter breaststroke earlier, but also breaking the world mark with a time of 2:18.95. The 24-year-old from Johannesburg just overcome with emotion upon realizing just what she had accomplished there. Those images are priceless, aren't they? The USA's Lilly King led until the 150-meter turn but that's then the South African just surge forward powering away to a famous victory, yet King with the silver medal.

Meantime the Russian Olympic Committee Evgeny Rylov, well he's another gold-medal to his name. The 24-year-old now the first swimmer not representing the United States to win gold, this in the men's 200- meter backstroke at the Olympics. Get this, since 1992. His winning time, 1:53.27. That's the new Olympic record. Earlier in the week he won the 100-meter backstroke gold medal. The American Ryan Murphy taking silver.


And in the BMX bike racing, we've been following this closely all day. The 2016 gold medalist from the U.S. Connor Fields. He was involved in a crash earlier today. Failing to finish during the third round of the men's semis. Fields taken away in an ambulance. We've now learned -- this is the update for you -- the 28-year-old is now awake thankfully and awaiting further medical evaluation. The final for the record won by the young Dutchman, Niek Kimmann, despite the fact he may have suffered a fractured knee en route to his gold medal.

Also, another crash in BMX racing Friday. This in the third round of the first women's semifinal, the Australian competitor Saya Sakakibara stretched it off after being involved in the crash. She was leading at the time, didn't finish the run. According to team Australia, she did initially show signs of a mild concussion, Kim, but has since been medically cleared.

And how about this for a great story. Because Great Britain's Bethany Shriever, a 22-year-old who needed crowd funding support to get to Japan in the first place to compete, holding off two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariana Pajon of Columbia, to win gold by the finest of margins -- on a busy Friday so far in Japan. Back to you -- Kim.

Yes, that's a great story. Thanks so much, Patrick. Patrick Snell, appreciate it.

And we still didn't though if Simone Biles will compete in anymore events in Tokyo, but the American gymnast posted, then deleted some videos on Instagram which might be a clue. So, they show her practicing here at a gym and Tokyo struggling with her dismounts and saying she still has the twisties. Biles withdrew from two events earlier this week.

All right, so we're going to have more now on the surge in COVID cases. And we're going to go to CNN's Blake Essig live in Tokyo. Blake, we heard a stark warning from physicians there in Japan. Explain for us why they are sounding the alarm now.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim, you know COVID-19 cases across Japan are soaring that is why. Just within the past 24 hours, the infection rate nationwide, here in Tokyo in cases linked to the Olympics have all set records. Here in Tokyo, cases reported yesterday were up nearly 100 percent compared to the same day last week. And according to the National Institute of Infectious Disease, the delta variant is responsible for about 70 percent of the cases being reported here in Tokyo.

Although Olympic-related cases remain relatively low, a public health expert tells CNN that the Olympic bubble has already burst and the more transmission outside in the general population, the more likely the opportunity for those within the bubble to get infected.

So, at this point, a fifth wave of infection continues to swell across the country and public broadcaster NHK is reporting that Osaka and several other prefectures near Tokyo have asked the central government to declare a state of emergency in an effort to contain the spread of infection. That request is expected to be approved by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga here within the next couple hours. This comes just a day after the Prime Minister asked people to stay indoors and watch the Olympics from home as cases continue to rise. That request is being taken seriously by some. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm a bit scared of COVID-19 so I personally wouldn't have wanted to go to the stadium and just plan to watch the games on TV. If there were no pandemic, I would have definitely bought a ticket. All my friends and I are cheering on the athletes from home in front of the TV and enjoying the games. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ESSIG (on camera): And with the state of emergency already in place for Tokyo, an order that has done nothing so far to slow the spread of infection. Japan's medical association fears that if the surge continues, the medical system will collapse. A concern echoed by Japan's top coronavirus adviser yesterday who said that the greatest danger is the fact that the general public does not share a sense of crisis -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much for the update, Blake Essig in Tokyo, appreciate it.

Coming up, it is a big win for U.S. gymnastics, but Sunisa Lee's gold medal is an even bigger win for a community of refugees in Minnesota. That's ahead.

Plus, the January 6 committee will soon meet to discuss what's next in the investigation into the Capitol Hill insurrection. We'll have the latest from Washington after the break. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Members of the U.S. House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection will hold a strategy session in the coming hours to discuss next steps including subpoenas. Jessica Dean has the latest from Washington.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN is learning from a source familiar that members of the January 6 House Select Committee plan to meet on Friday in speaker Pelosi's office as they strategize what their next moves will be. Of course, this meeting is coming after that blockbuster testimony from the four officers who risked their life defending this Capitol and the people inside of it on January 6 during that deadly insurrection.

We're told that members are considering what they will be doing about subpoenas, who the next witnesses will be. The chair of that committee Benny Thompson has said that they might come back during their August recess do more business or potentially hold another hearing.

Jessica Dean, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. space agency NASA says that there was a spacecraft emergency on Thursday in low orbit.


One in the (INAUDIBLE) in the centers, the crosshairs are aliened. Copy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: A Russian space module misfired its thrusters during a docking maneuver pushing the International Space Station out of position in a kind of tug of war. Communications went down for 11 minutes between the ground and the ISS. They eventually got things under control. The U.S. and Russian space agencies are investigating. But NASA down played incident calling it a pretty exciting hour.

Severe weather hit the northeastern U.S. Thursday with several states are under thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Now check out this video of Pennsylvania. The person who shot this says that he was at a youth football practice when the weather changed out of nowhere.


Now that's when they saw what appears to be a tornado, though that hasn't been confirmed by the National Weather Service. All right, joining me now is meteorologist Gene Norman. Gene, are we going to see more of whatever that was?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kim, it depends on where you are. Parts of the Ohio River Valley, you're not out of the woods yet from seeing more pictures like this. Pretty destructive from the tornado that did strike just northeast of Philly, near Bensalem. Our weather service will go out tomorrow and do a damage assessment. But this is one of 15 tornados that has struck over the last two days stretching from the Great Lakes down across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Also, over 200 reports of wind damage and nearly two dozen reports of large hail. Now, the remnants of that storm system continue to push its way into the lower part of the Ohio River Valley, sections of Kentucky and Tennessee still seeing a couple rumbles early, early this morning.

But there could be more later on today. Along that same front that's trying to sag, or as it sags into the hot and humid air mass that has been in place over the mid-south and southeast for the last couple of days, making it just oppressive.

Meanwhile, monsoon storms continue out across the West and yes, believe it or not, that smoke is still a problem for places like Minnesota and Iowa. But the severe storms will stretch from Nebraska down into southern sections of Iowa and over toward Missouri. The potential for maybe a few isolated tornados and maybe even some strong winds with those storms as they move on through.

The forecast shows a lot of those storms rolling down from the central plains all the way down into the mid-Atlantic and at least portions of the Ohio River Valley tomorrow. And that's where they will be. There will also be some heavy rains associated with these storms anywhere from 2 to 4 inches falling in the areas that you see shaded in yellow.

But how about the northeast, getting a break from the hot weather, 80 degrees in New York City, 75 Chicago. Big D still knocking on 99 where the heat advisories are still in effect. So, Kim, kind of a mixed bag. If you are in the south, sweat it out.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that's what we're seeing here. All right, thanks so much, meteorologist Gene Norman, appreciate it.

In Washington, President Joe Biden is calling on lawmakers to extend a nationwide eviction moratorium. It was designed to help people who fell behind with their rent because of the pandemic stay in their homes, but the moratorium is about to expire. And millions of Americans could end up on the streets. But as Nic Watt reports there is help out there, but many don't know about it.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas looks like a post-pandemic playground these days. Woo-hoo.

In the cold light of day, around the corner at the lead late office in the courthouse? Pain.

LESLIE, FACING EVICTION IN NEVADA: Well all of us lost our jobs, and it was on the Strip.

WATT (voice-over): Apparently, nearly, 12 million Americans are now behind on their rent, in the federal COVID era eviction ban, for now, expires on midnight, Saturday.

BARBARA BUCKLEY, LEGAL AID CENTER FOR SOUTHERN NEVADA: You are going to see nationwide, on the first eviction notices, being issued.

WATT (voice-over): And here in the state of Nevada?

BUCKLEY: Seven days later, if you don't respond, you're out.

WATT (voice-over): Congress has approved nearly $47 billion to help people across the country.

LESLIE, FACING EVICTION IN NEVADA: I didn't know that. And I bet you a lot of people do not know that as well.

WATT (voice-over): She's right. Only about $3 billion was actually dished out through the end of June. Spreading the word is hard, and bureaucracy gets in the way.

Now, in Nevada --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot be evicted --

WATT (voice-over): As soon as you apply for the federal money, you cannot be kicked out, while it's in process.

WATT: That's a state law?

BUCKLEY: That's a state law.


BUCKLEY: That every state should pass.

PROTESTER: We can't work, we can't pay.

WATT (voice-over): A few other states like California will keep some of eviction protections in place.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Anyone who that's been impacted by this pandemic, and cannot pay rent, 100 percent of that rent, will be paid for.

WATT (voice-over): And there is one group that will benefit when the eviction band disappears. Squeezed landlords.

SUSY VASQUEZ, NEVADA STATE APARTMENT ASSOCIATION: We have many, many members that have exhausted all of their savings. I don't know how long that road will be, before we can be solid again. But certainly, on the road to it depending on whether or not July 31st truly is the end of the moratorium.

WATT (voice-over): But lifting some state level eviction bans last summer, say researchers, lead to more than 10,000 COVID deaths.

BUCKLEY: If families are forced to go to a shelter, or double up, you risking more exposure. Doing it when the delta variant is out of control is a really bad idea.


WATT (voice-over): Leslie says she was evicted once already, moved in with her mom.

WATT: And now, you and your mom are --?

LESLIE: Yeah, are getting evicted as well.

WATT (voice-over): Nick Watt, CNN, Las Vegas.


BRUNHUBER: A giant of the U.S. Senate has passed away. Michigan's Carl Levin died Thursday at the age of 87. He was the state's longest serving senator, retiring in 2013 after 36 years in office. Levin was a staunch defending of civil rights and champion of the Democratic Party. His family issued a statement calling him a, quote, tireless advocate for the positive role that government can play in the lives of the American people and a relentless watchdog ensuring that government programs meet their commitments.

All right, coming up, the delta variant is much worse than anybody thought. The latest data from the CDC reveals a virus as contagious as measles that's even being spread by people who are vaccinated. And Israel will soon become one of the first countries in the world to offer a third shot of the COVID vaccine. Coming up, why the government is pushing for boosters. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BRUNHUBER: All right, more now on the chilling internal report from the Centers for Disease Control highlighting just how threatening the delta variant has become. New data says the strain is as contagious as the chickenpox and caused more severe disease. It also suggests vaccinated people with breakthrough infections can carry just as much of the virus as the unvaccinated. Health officials are urged to acknowledge that the war has changed.

The "Washington Post" first reported on the new CDC data saying that the agency knows that it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus.