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CDC Changes Guidance For Vaccinated Americans To Sometimes Wear Masks Inside Due To Highly Contagious Delta Variant; Senate Continues To Work Through Weekend On Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill; House Goes On Recess Before Extending Federal Eviction Moratorium; U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles Withdraws From More Olympic Competitions Citing She Is Suffering From Twisties; Flight Attendants Taking Self-Defense Classes Due To Spike In Unruly Passengers; Cuban Foreign Minister Criticizes Latest Sanctions Issued By U.S. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 10:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (Voice over): Happening now in the Newsroom.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The science continues to change, and while that is neither simple nor easy to convey, it's my responsibility.

SANCHEZ: The CDC issuing new mask guidance after a pivotal discovery on the Delta variant. Details on the data that's leading health experts to recommend millions of vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's a requirement for me to wear it, I may not go.

SANCHEZ: This as one of the largest music festivals in the country is under way with new COVID protocols.

The Senate working through the weekend, hammering out the text of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, one of President Biden's biggest legislative goals. Where do things stand now?

Gymnast Simone Biles pulling out of two more events in the Tokyo Olympics, saying she literally cannot tell up from down. We'll talk live to a former Olympian who says she knows exactly what Biles is going through.

The federal moratorium on evictions ending tonight after the Supreme Court rules the CDC does not have the power to extend it. We're joined by one woman who fears she could soon lose her home.

Newsroom starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ (on camera): Good morning. It is Saturday, July 31st. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Boris. I'm Christi Paul. We are live in the CNN Newsroom and so grateful to have you with us here. You said it, July 31st. How did the whole month just go by already? I think it's flying by for a lot of people. And we're heading into now this last full month of summer, beginning tomorrow. And the United States at this point is facing a critical moment in the fight against COVID.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right. This week, an internal CDC document warned that the war has changed as the Delta variant spreads as easily as chickenpox. Again, experts are stressing that getting vaccinated remains your best defense against the virus.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: If you're vaccinated, you are one-eighth as likely to get a case of COVID as if you're not vaccinated, and you're one-twenty-fifth as likely of getting hospitalized. So if someone told you, hey, jump onto this airplane, but if you put on a parachute, you have one-twenty-fifth a chance of getting injured when you land, we'd all put on the parachute.


PAUL: Still, the Delta variant is driving case levels to numbers that we really haven't seen in months. The U.S. now averaging more than 77,000 new cases per day. Hospitalizations also on the rise, and fears are growing that some medical systems could be overwhelmed soon. A lot of cities and counties across the country are reinstating mask mandates to try to prevent that.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, President Biden also taking a more somber tone, warning that the United States, quote, in all probability, will soon see more restrictions and guidelines.

PAUL: So the variant is spreading rapidly across the country, means the effort to boost vaccinations has become increasingly urgent here.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It is starting to pay off. The average daily number of vaccinations is at its highest level since July 5th. Some communities are offering new incentives in order to encourage people to get vaccinated. Let's go live now to CNN's Natasha Chen. She's live at a vaccination site in DeKalb County, Georgia, with that story. Natasha, what kind of incentives are being offered there, and are they working?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris and Christi, this is billed as a back-to-school vaccination event, so they're giving out backpacks as well as $50 prepaid debit cards. And I can tell you, the $50, that is working, because there were people lined up even before this event began.

It's been going on for just about two hours now, and they have vaccinated about 100 people. And that's definitely more interest than they've been seeing in the past. So something as simple as a gift card could be the trick here.

In Georgia, the seven-day average of a new vaccination dose administered, that has also increased just as it has across the country, as you were saying. Here in Georgia, it is 85 percent higher than it was three weeks ago, that average dose administered to people in the state here. So that is a positive sign.


But it is a race against time. And it is also still a challenge convincing people to come here. We spoke to the first person in line today who actually showed up in his wheelchair, taking public transit to get here. He said the gift card was what brought him to this event today.


CHEN: If you are unvaccinated, you're 25 times more likely to end up in the hospital or die from COVID.

VINCENT JAY, VACCINE RECIPIENT: Right, right. That, too.

CHEN: That's an incentive.

JAY: I've been listening to all that. But really, like I say, the money is what got me here, bottom line. But I know, eventually, they're going to have to go up, because some people are only going to come for an incentive. They just don't care or are scared of the vaccine, whatever. But you throw an incentive behind it, and people will do it. It's like some things people wouldn't do because it's dangerous. But if you pay them enough money, they'll try to do it.


CHEN: Now, the DeKalb County CEO heard us talking to him about that, and because he was first in line, he did give him two of those gift cards. So he walked away with $100 today. And the DeKalb CEO talked to us as well about how this is a worthy investment to save people's lives. Granted, the county is buying these gift cards. But he says it is well worth the effort.


MICHAEL THURMOND, DEKALB COUNTY CEO: It's a low cost way to save lives. What is the value of a human life? And I can tell you this, Natasha, it's a heck of a lot more than $50. So far, we've invested just overall about $10,000. It's not a lot of money. We've been giving $50 debit cards. The president suggested $100. His bank account is bigger than mine. Mr. President, you want to help us out, we'll be more than delighted to do it.


CHEN: Mr. Thurmond said that if more people show up today and if they run out of gift cards, he's happy to try to go out and buy more if that's what works here. He is definitely also concerned because school starts on Monday for his county here.

And of course, people under 12 can't get the shot yet, so there's a real push to make sure those 12 and older and those teachers, those educators, are all vaccinated. That is a real concern right now, to try and make sure in-person learning can happen safely.

SANCHEZ: Natasha, I love that you were telling that first gentleman, you were sharing the data with him, how safe the vaccine is, how effective it is, and he's like, no, no, no. I did it for the money. Cash rules everything around me.

CHEN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

PAUL: Thanks, Natasha.

SANCHEZ: So one of the biggest music festivals to take place since the start of the pandemic is happening this weekend in Chicago.

PAUL: Lollapalooza, it started yesterday. Crowds were packed. There was little to know social distancing, we're told. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Chicago this morning, joining us now. Omar, good morning to you. So I know the festival organizers, they changed one piece of COVID protocol mid-festival. So what is that modification that does go into effect today?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Christi. So today, for the first time over the course of this festival, masks will now be required in all indoor spaces here at Lollapalooza, which is, of course, different than what they envisioned when they initially announced Lollapalooza would be going at full capacity earlier this year. But even more so, further than what they envisioned when the festival began earlier this week.

To give you an idea of the protocols they already had in place, this is the checkpoint that many people are going to be going through. The hundreds of thousands that are expected over the course of this. And you see, they've got the health screening there. You have to show your proof of vaccination, full vaccination to get in, or proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours.

So those were already in place. And they're encouraging those who are unvaccinated to wear a mask when they're inside. But of course, it is tough to enforce that, if we're being honest, and if you've ever been to a music festival.

But the context around these mitigation efforts comes within a city here in Chicago that has seen numbers, COVID numbers rise tremendously over the course of the past month. You look last month, the positivity rate here was 0.4 percent. Now, it is over three percent. And again, overall, while that may seem small, it's not the direction people here want to see the numbers headed. And crucially, we are over 200 average cases a day. And the reason

that is significant is because that's the threshold that the mayor here said she may have to reconsider reinstating a mask mandate. Hasn't happened just yet. Seems like they're going to try to get through this music festival first. But right now, Lollapalooza is basically trying to make sure they are remembered for the music, not necessarily as being a super-spreader event. Boris, Christi.


PAUL: Omar Jimenez, take good care out there. Thank you so much.

Dr. Leana Wen with us now, a CNN medical analyst, former city of Baltimore health commissioner, and "Washington Post" contributing columnist. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us. I also want to point out, she is the author of "Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

Congratulations on the book. Thank you so much, again, for sharing your time with us this morning. I think a lot of people are still confused about some of the guidance that came from the CDC. What was your biggest takeaway, and what do we need to know?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What people need to know is that the vaccines still work very, very well. So the vaccines are designed to reduce your likelihood of severe illness, of getting hospitalized and dying from coronavirus. They're still doing that with the Delta variant. What we know also is that the vaccines reduce your chance of becoming infected with COVID-19 and, therefore, of transmitting it to others.

What the CDC has found this week in their new data is that there is a chance that you could still be infected even if you're vaccinated. That chance is lower than if you are unvaccinated, but the chance exists. And therefore, if you live at home with unvaccinated children or an immunocompromised family member, you should wear masks in indoor public spaces to reduce the likelihood of your bringing back COVID to your family.

I also think that the CDC is right in saying that we now need indoor mask mandates across the country. But it's not because of the vaccinated. The issue is that the unvaccinated are the ones who are predominantly spreading COVID-19.

And because we generally don't have a way to distinguish who is vaccinated versus who is not, that's the reason why we need the indoor mask mandates. It is not so much to protect the vaccinated. It is to prevent the unvaccinated from spreading COVID-19 to everyone.

PAUL: So are you saying that if people -- if everybody was vaccinated, there would not be a need for masks?

WEN: If everybody is vaccinated, the likelihood of someone who is vaccinated spreading it to somebody else who is vaccinated is much lower than if you have unvaccinated people in that mix. And I think that's the critical component. We need to think about the vaccine as a really good raincoat.

It protects you very well in a drizzle, but if there's a lot of virus around you, a lot of rain around you, so if you're vaccinated but you're surrounded by lots of unvaccinated people, you could end up getting infected. But if everybody is vaccinated, that reduces your likelihood of getting infected.

PAUL: So based on what we've seen, do you believe -- is it too late at this point to get to herd immunity? And what will that even look like, I guess, now?

WEN: It's going to be much harder, frankly, with the Delta variant, and that's because the Delta variant is so much more contagious. If you have a more contagious virus, you're also going to need a higher threshold of people who are vaccinated or who have immunity in some way in order to reach herd immunity. I don't think it is too late.

I do think that it is time, though, for vaccine mandates. We have seen that the other methods that we're using, including with incentives, with education and outreach, yes, they are convincing some people. But there is a huge middle group, if you will, that's not yet moved. But we know based on polling that if there are requirements, that these individuals will get vaccinated. And I think it's time for us to do that in the interest of the public's health.

PAUL: There is this charter school in Georgia we were talking about that required masks and, yet, they still had 100 students in quarantine after the first week of classes because too many people had tested positive. How effective -- there are people out there that are going, why do I need a mask? If the school, they had a mask mandate, and they still have that many people in quarantine. To that, you say what?

WEN: To that, I would say that the kids are not getting infected in the school. They're getting infected outside of class. And then, because they're now coming into class, that's the reason why so many people are being exposed. And so the takeaway here is not that masks don't work. The takeaway here is that we need to reduce the overall level of infection.

Going back to the raincoat analogy, we need to stop the thunderstorms, right? If you are in the middle of a thunderstorm all the time, the raincoat is not going to protect you. You may need a raincoat and umbrella, but the ultimate answer to keep you dry is to stop the thunderstorms.

And so the answer to all of this, our best and only way out of the pandemic is vaccination. And I really hope that people will take this moment to think about not only themselves, because, yes, vaccines protect you, but also vaccines protect other people around you. And in a way, this is similar to not driving while intoxicated. We have an obligation to keep others safe in our society.

PAUL: So speaking of that, your new book, "Lifelines," is it, in part, based on what you've learned through this pandemic and through the process, what do you think is the biggest takeaway you have had that you will put into some actionable sense in the future? What does it mean for public health?


WEN: Sure. In "Lifelines," I talked a lot about my experience leading Baltimore's health department. One of the lessons, for example, is that you have to start somewhere. You can't let perfect be the enemy of the good. I think sometimes, and also right now in the middle of a pandemic, so often we're thinking, what can I do? What is the role that I can play?

Well, there's a lot that each individual person can do, even if it means talking to your neighbor, talking to your friends, about the importance of vaccination, or the importance of masking. You can also talk to your employer and try to get them to implement masking indoors and ultimately vaccine requirements, as well.

I think one other critical lesson from the pandemic is how this is not the virus that's doing the discriminating. We are seeing these unequal impacts on communities of color because of systemic inequities. And we do really need to address these inequities because they're not going to go away on their own.

PAUL: Dr. Leana Wen, again, congratulations on the book. Thank you for taking time for us this morning.

WEN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead this hour, a lot of news coming from Capitol Hill this week. Senators still meeting up for a rare Saturday session to work out the details of the president's massive infrastructure bill.

PAUL: Also, listen, they have been cursed out, grabbed, punched. We'll tell you how flight attendants are fighting back to keep unruly passengers in check.



SANCHEZ: The Senate is working through the weekend on Capitol Hill, ironing out that massive $1 trillion infrastructure bill. It is a bipartisan agreement that would fulfill one of President Joe Biden's top priorities and providing much-needed money to fix the country's roads and bridges.

PAUL: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bipartisan group is still working on the final text of the bill. CNN Congressional reporter Daniella Diaz live for us from Capitol Hill, watching this very closely. So Daniella, good to see you. What is the expectation and the confidence level that this is going to get done?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: We're really expecting this to pass. It is just a matter of when. Look, this bill, it has a lot in it. It is filled with Democratic priorities of this administration, and bipartisan priorities, as well. You know, $550 billion of federal funding, new federal funding included in this package. And I just want to talk a little bit about what is going to be in it.

It would include $73 billion to rebuild the electrical grid, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access, $55 billion for water infrastructure, among many other things. This bill is packed with priorities for this administration.

But as you guys mentioned, the problem here, Christi and Boris, is this text has not been finalized. So how can senators vote on a package where the text isn't even written yet? So right now, we're expecting Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer around 11:00 a.m. to brief the floor on what is going on with this text, whether they're done with this legislative text yet.

Of course, after that, when it's finalized, they can substitute -- he can add it as a substitute amendment as part of this legislation. And then other amendments are expected to be voted on after that.

So it's just a waiting game here at the Capitol on this Saturday, a rare Saturday session. Take a listen to what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said about the process yesterday.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Given the bipartisan nature of the bill, the Senate should be able to process this legislation rather quickly. We may need the weekend. We may vote on several amendments. But with the cooperation of our Republican colleagues, I believe we can finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill in a matter of days.


DIAZ: The bottom line here is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is confident that they have the votes to pass this. It's just a matter of when. The clock is ticking. They're trying to pass this bill before all the senators go to August recess. They're off for a couple weeks in their home districts, so that's the goal right now. Christi and Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes. And it's an open question if they're going to be able to meet that recess with that reconciliation process in that other bill on the horizon. Daniella Diaz, thank you so much, from Capitol Hill.

So let's talk about the infrastructure deal and more with CNN political commentator David Swerdlick. He's also an assistant editor for "The Washington Post." David, good morning, and thanks for joining us. Even if this massive infrastructure bill makes it through the Senate, which would be an impressive feat considering its bipartisan nature, it's not at all smooth sailing in the House, right?

A lot of Democrats aren't happy with the bipartisan bill, and they want to change it before they vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also made clear that they won't vote on it until the Senate moves forward with reconciliation. Intense debate about that. How does all of this get across the finish line, especially for Pelosi? She doesn't have much room for error here.

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Good morning, Boris. Yes, the good news here is the bill is expected to pass. It's gotten past the cloture vote, and senators on both sides of the aisle are saying that they're working toward a deal.

The bad news, as you say, is that the Senate bill has been pared down from what Democrats wanted initially, in part because they wanted to get Republican senators on board, and that's what it took. Ultimately, I think for Democrats the victory will be getting something across the finish line in the Senate and the House with some Republican votes. Yes, the details are important. And Daniella laid out some of those priorities there.


But they're going to move forward on the things like roads, bridges, water, electrical grid that are popular on both sides, or have support on both sides. And at the same time, they're still going to wrangle over some of those things like broadband access that are a little more of a priority for Democrats, a little less of a priority right now for Republicans.

SANCHEZ: David, I do want to ask you about COVID and specifically the way that some lawmakers are still dodging questions about whether they've been vaccinated. Watch this clip. This is North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer on CNN just yesterday.


SEN. KEVIN CRAMER, (R-ND): This is a health care privacy matter that they have to work out for themselves, and I understand why they might feel differently than I might feel about the efficacy of the vaccine.


SANCHEZ: David, why do some Republicans like Cramer continue to play coy? Shouldn't they be setting an example for those who are hesitant?

SWERDLICK: Boris, they should be setting an example. Everyone, including members of Congress, has a right not to get vaccinated. But it is pretty squirrely for someone who has been elected by their constituents, someone who sits in the nation's highest legislative body, not to just answer directly whether or not they did indeed get vaccinated.

This is not a HIPAA issue, and it's not a moral issue to just answer the question. You can have a debate about whether people should or shouldn't get vaccines, but that people won't answer the question when they are supposed to be leaders is striking, months now into this vaccination rollout.

SANCHEZ: It is kind of assuming how many people suddenly cite HIPAA, clearly having no idea what HIPAA actually does.

SWERDLICK: Right. SANCHEZ: I have got to ask about the federal eviction moratorium. It

expires tonight at midnight.


SANCHEZ: We've known for several weeks that the Supreme Court said that any further extension has to come from Congress, not the CDC.


SANCHEZ: The White House said last month that the extension to July 31st would be the last one done by the executive branch. House leadership up to yesterday was scrambling trying to reach a deal, and ultimately they headed out for vacation and pointed fingers at the White House for not issuing a statement, basically, calling for Congress to act sooner. They got nowhere. What went wrong?

SWERDLICK: Well, reasonable people, Boris, can disagree on how long the eviction moratorium should go on and what the bill should look like now that it's out of the hands of the administration and it's in the hands of Congress.

But I think that the members who slept on the Capitol steps overnight have a point, that it's unreasonable when people are facing evictions, when landlords want to know what they're going to do with tenants who can't pay rent, that members of Congress go home for recess without addressing this legislation. You look at it this way -- this is the issue where maybe next year, during an election year, members of Congress would feel a more pressing need to get home in August or to get home at other times to see and talk to their constituents.

But a year-and-a-half out from Election Day, or almost a year-and-a- half out from Election Day, the idea that they wouldn't act on this before going home does strike many Americans as not fulfilling their leadership duties. And I think members like Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman Cori Bush, no matter which way you stand on the bill itself, have a reason for going home for recess.

One more thing, Boris, my colleague Rachel Siegel, my colleague, is reporting this morning in "The Washington Post" that back in December and in March billions were approved by Congress for tenant assistance, and most of that money has been spent. Congress needs to get its hands around this and make a move sooner.

SANCHEZ: Yes, sooner rather than later as we get past this deadline and potentially millions of Americans wind up on the street. David Swerdlick, thank you, as always.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: So gymnast Simone Biles says she still has the "twisties," that's what gymnasts call the condition when they suddenly lose track of their position in the air. Our next guest is an Olympian, and she says she can relate to how Simone is feeling. She's experienced this condition herself. Listen to what she says after a quick break. PAUL: Also, as Boris mentioned, the federal eviction moratorium is at

risk as of midnight tonight. We're talking to someone who is also at risk of losing their home when the clock strikes midnight.



SANCHEZ: U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles will not compete for the gold in the two individual events scheduled for tomorrow in Tokyo. Biles withdrew herself earlier this week from competition because of concerns with her mental health. She later admitted she had been struggling with the "twisties."

It's a mental block where gymnasts lose track of their position in midair. And it can be dangerous. USA Gymnastics says that Biles continues to be evaluated to figure out if she can compete in any events on Monday or Tuesday.

Joining us now to talk about what Biles may be feeling, retired gymnast Missy Marlowe, who competed for the United States in the 1988 Olympics. Missy, we appreciate your perspective this morning. In your own decorated gymnastics career, you suffered from the "twisties." It's this disorientation. I've heard it described as a disconnect between your mind and your body while you're moving in space. For our viewers, what is it like? And what could be a cause of it?


MISSY MARLOWE, 1988 OLYMPIC GYMNAST: Well, it's really hard to describe because most people don't relate to gymnastics on just a casual level the way that maybe they do with trying to golf or play tennis or play in a baseball or softball league. But this phenomenon happens with everybody, really, that performs in any kind of capacity.

And it's very, very real, first of all. And I think that's what some people are discounting. It is -- I don't know how else to describe it other than just a disconnect between what your body has trained to do, quite oftentimes for years and years and years on end and knows by rote muscle memory what to do, and your brain knows what to do, and it's like everything just goes haywire.

And I have had it happen to myself, so I understand, but I would say that probably every gymnast that has ever gotten to any certain level also knows this feeling, as does anyone that has ever coached a gymnast. It's where you move into a skill, a very difficult skill that involves flipping upside down and twisting at the same time, and you just get lost.

And at that point, it's like a light goes off. And it takes a really long time to get that connection back. It usually includes going back into the gym, breaking skills back down to their most basic levels, using a lot of mats, using the foam pits for a long time, until everything kind of comes back into sync. I would equate it to a writer's block where the words are flowing and then they just stop. Or it's called the "yips" in golf and baseball, which is not a term that I knew until a few days ago. But this is not an unusual phenomenon. It's just not something that we see at this level very often.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It sounds like a lapse between muscle memory and proprioception. And you could really get hurt, like, if you're Simone Biles doing moves that literally no one on earth can do other than her. How does that play into the mental health aspect, the stress that ultimately sidelined her?

MARLOWE: Right. First of all, no one is more frustrated about this and more upset than Simone herself. So I can't imagine what it's like. Yes, I was in the Olympics, but I was never the best gymnast in the world. Simone has some titles that are uniquely her own.

So to come in and have everything go so different than what was expected so quickly, I can't imagine what her frame of mind is like. I think she's done a fantastic job supporting the team, and they, of course, have rallied around her, which tells you that they are fully supporting her and believing her.

But for her to start to get into a skill that's very difficult, I think what people forget is that this is not just a case of extreme stage fright. Gymnasts are 10 to 15 feet in the air. They're upside down, and they're twisting. And so it's not just a matter of not getting a good score. It's a matter of a catastrophic fall onto the head or neck or back. And that's really the difference with gymnastics versus some other sports, is it's not just an issue of not scoring well. It is an issue of getting pretty seriously injured.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and I want to ask you about some of the criticism that she's received, because as an Olympian, I'm sure that you have had to deal with the public in your own athletic career, and a lot of people either don't know Simone's story and perhaps have judged her too harshly, or are simply people that -- I can't use these words to describe them on television. My mom would get really angry at me. What's your message to those people?

MARLOWE: Well, armchair quarterbacks are a dime a dozen. And we're living through an age right now where it seems like throwing out the harshest criticism that you can possibly find in the heat of the moment somehow makes you a real tough guy. And it's pretty pathetic, to be honest.

Athletes all over the world in every sport know exactly what Simone is going through, just not at this particular time in their career. Coaches know exactly what she's talking about. They've all tried to deal with their own athletes who are going through this. So it is very hurtful, even for someone like me who hasn't experienced anything like this since my career ended a very long time ago, but I remember it distinctly.

And knowing how much pain Simone is in and how she is trying to just -- she's doing such a good job holding it together in front of the public eye, and supporting her teammates and being seen there screaming for them, hugging them, having her own teammates, like MyKayla Skinner did yesterday, saying, "I'm going to do this for you, Simone. I've got this for you." She's taking her place on vault. I think that's what people need to focus on. If her team isn't upset with her, and if her team is supporting her, then, for goodness' sake, the general public can.


SANCHEZ: Yes. I think, as you said, some of the criticism is just pathetic, given that she's the greatest gymnast of all time. She can do things literally no one has ever done. And she's overcome so much in her life. Missy Marlowe, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and giving us an idea of what she might be feeling. Thanks.

MARLOWE: Welcome. Thank you.

PAUL: So we're watching midair misbehavior. Flight attendants are now being forced to learn self-defense to protect themselves from unruly passengers. We're going to show you how far they're going to keep the skies safe.



SANCHEZ: The return to travel has led to an increase of bad behavior on planes. You've likely seen some of the ugly scenes on social media. The FAA says that already this year, it's received more than 3,600 reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights, mostly making trouble over the mask mandate.

PAUL: And now the federal government has relaunched a class, showing flight attendants basically how to defend themselves. CNN's Pete Muntean has more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 is sad that it needs to happen.

MUNTEAN: Flight attendant Carrie is taking the 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 very 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 incidents that the FAA says are skyrocketing. Federal documents detail how passengers have shouted down, grabbed, and struck flight attendants thousands of times since the start of a 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 backup at 30,000 feet. So that plane is in the air that has a crew that has to deal 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: Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants say 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 life- saving, 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 (ph) O'Neil (ph) says more like her should take this class to deal with the type of passenger becoming too common.


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

MUNTEAN: CNN, Sunrise, Florida.


SANCHEZ: I would not mess with her. Thanks for that report, Pete Muntean.

There's still plenty ahead in the CNN Newsroom. But first, a quick programming note. How has the role of race, diversity, and inclusion changed in the modern-day sitcom over the years? The next brand-new episode of "History of the Sitcom" attempts to answer that question. Watch the premiere tomorrow tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.



PAUL: Coming up on 53 minutes past the hour, here are some of the top stories we're following for you.

First of all, Cuba's foreign minister is now responding to the latest sanctions issued by the U.S. In a tweet, he wrote this, quote, "These arbitrary measures are added to the misinformation and aggression used to justify the inhumane blockade against Cuba," unquote.

This is happening after President Biden met with members of the Cuban American community and key members of Congress yesterday to outline several efforts related to the Cuba policy, including new sanctions targeting National Revolutionary Police and assistance to Cuban dissidents.

And the Department of Justice is dealing a major blow to former President Trump's efforts to keep his tax returns private. The DOJ now instructing Treasury Department to turn over his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. That panel first requested the returns more than two years ago. Committee Chairman Richard Neal says their case is strong, and he's glad they can finally move forward with the investigation.

SANCHEZ: More COVID mandates. Two of the largest colleges in Michigan have joined a growing list of universities that will now require all students and staff to get vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester. On Friday, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan both announcing new changes to their policies because of the rising number of cases on campus due to the highly infectious Delta variant. Both universities also have mask mandates in place requiring that masks be worn indoors in all campus buildings and facilities.

Meantime, in Hollywood, one of Marvel's biggest stars is suing Disney. Actress Scarlett Johansson says Disney breached her contract when they released the film "Black Widow" on its streaming service, Disney Plus, and in theaters at the same time. The actress claims that she was promised a theatrical release.


Disney claims they fully complied with the contract. They say there is, quote, no merit whatsoever to the filing, and that it's, quote, distressing in its callous disregard for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you all so much for tuning in and joining us today. Christi, always great to be alongside you.

PAUL: You, too, Boris. We are just so grateful for everybody who decided to wake up and spend some time with us. The next hour of CNN Newsroom is coming ahead for you. Jessica Dean in for Fredricka Whitfield. Go make some great memories today.

SANCHEZ: The news comes after a quick break.