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Experts Warn The Unvaccinated COVID Surge Is Only Beginning; Thousands Protest Mandatory Health Pass In France; Interview With Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); Simone Biles Withdraws From Vault, Uneven Bars Finals; Novak Djokovic Leaving Tokyo Olympics Without A Medal; FL Governor Vows No Restrictions Or Mandates Amid State's COVID Surge; Interview With Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D); W.H. Fails To Land On Clear Message As Virus Rips Through U.S. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:21]

RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: Tonight, muddled messaging causes confusion and hysteria about the delta variant surge. Former C.D.C. Director Dr. Tom Frieden sets the record straight.

And a woman in Florida say she lost her mother, her fiance, and her grandmother to the virus in a single week, and only one of them had been vaccinated.

Also tonight, mass protests in Paris against a so-called COVID Health Pass that will force people to prove they are vaccinated.

And as a new day of events dawns. We're live at the Tokyo Olympics with news on whether or not we'll see Simone Biles compete again.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ryan Nobles in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Experts warn that the increase of COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated people is only beginning. Already, cases are up in every state, way up in most of them. Hospitalizations and deaths, which typically lag behind those case counts are now rising again in many states as well.

Right now, the C.D.C. says just 49.5 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, fewer than half of the U.S., but there is some good news. People are paying attention to the threat of the delta variant. The pace of new doses is up 26 percent from just a week ago; still, more than 80 percent of us live in a county, considered to have substantial or high rates of COVID-19 transmission right now.

Now, if you're vaccinated, the good news is it works. You're unlikely to get seriously ill. In fact, brand new data from the C.D.C. says that less than a 0.01 percent of fully vaccinated people have actually died from a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Now, vaccinated people can still get infected, but the real risk right now is spreading this virus to someone who hasn't had or cannot get the shot. So, if you haven't gotten your vaccine yet, would 50 bucks change your

mind? In Georgia, where the case rate has more than tripled in the past two weeks, and schools are about to reopen, one metro Atlanta county decided it was time to start offering cash as an incentive.

CNN's Natasha Chen joining me with more.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ryan, the bad news is that the number of new COVID cases have been rising in the State of Georgia, but the good news is so has the vaccination rate. The seven- day average of new vaccine doses administered is up at 85 percent since three weeks ago, and one thing that we're seeing that's working today at this site is that incentives work.

They are giving out $50.00 prepaid debit cards, and we've seen lines of cars even before the event started at 8:00 a.m., and today, they have vaccinated more than 200 people. Now, we talked to the very first person in line who showed up in a wheelchair, he arrived by public transit. I talked to him about the dangers of COVID. But here he is talking about what really drove him to get here today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: If you are unvaccinated, you're 25 times more likely to end up in the hospital or die from ride COVID. So, I mean, that's interesting.

VINCENT JAY, GETTING VACCINE BECAUSE OF $50.00 INCENTIVE: Yes, I've been listening to all of that. But really, like I say the money is what got me here. You know this 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.

You know, they just don't care or are scared of the vaccine or whatever. But you throw an incentive behind it, and you know, people will do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: Now, since he was first in line, the DeKalb County CEO saw that and did give him two of those cards. So, he walked away with $100.00 today. Someone else who came through the line later on said that he actually saw the clip of the veteran in the wheelchair and said that if someone in a wheelchair could get down here, then so could he.

So, hopefully that message is spreading. The DeKalb County CEO also said there is great concern with vaccination rates in minority communities. In this county, it is particularly lower and the percentage rate is in the 30s for people in the African-American, Hispanic, and Latino communities, so there's a targeted effort to reach them here.

School is also starting up again next week in certain parts of the Atlanta metro area. We already saw last week with a charter school that started class on Tuesday, more than a dozen cases already causing more than a hundred students to be in quarantine there. That's prompting conversations across some school districts on whether it is possible to mandate that employees be vaccinated before going back into class in person -- Ryan.

[18:05:05]

NOBLES: Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

Around the world now, in Paris, pandemic frustration is boiling over for the third weekend in a row. It's over the government's decision to mandate a so-called COVID Health Pass that shows proof of vaccination or a negative test and will soon be required to enter most places including restaurants. The bill has also mandated vaccine shots for all healthcare workers by mid-September.

Now, the protest marches were largely peaceful, but three police officers were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. CNN reporters have more headlines from around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Phil Black in Essex, England. From Monday, citizens of the United States and European Union will be able to visit the United Kingdom without having to quarantine. It is some good news for the local travel industry, which is desperate to welcome back American tourists.

But it's likely only the very keenest of travelers will take advantage of this new freedom. Both the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control advice against traveling to the U.K. because of COVID- 19. And the U.S. isn't ready to reciprocate with British travelers, the border remains closed to U.K. citizens regardless of vaccination status.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Kristie Lu Stout from Hong Kong. The highly contagious delta variant is spreading across China. On Wednesday, Beijing recorded its first COVID-19 case in six months, and tens of thousands of residents there are on lockdown as authorities scramble to control an outbreak linked to an airport in the eastern city of Nanjing.

On Friday, Nanjing C.D.C. confirmed that the origin is an Air China flight from Russia. Now, the virus has been detected in a number of provinces including Guangdong in the south, Liaoning in the northeast, and concern is also growing over a possible secondary cluster connected to a popular live show in a national park in Hunan Province.

Officials say, the Beijing cases are linked to the Hunan cluster.

The outbreak is a test of China's virus suppression tactics. China takes a zero tolerance approach with mass testing and tracing operations. It's also a test of the efficacy of China's massive vaccination program. China has administered more than 1.5 billion doses so far.

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

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made the announcement in a televised speech to the country on Thursday evening, saying that the evidence has shown that the vaccine efficacy may be waning over time, especially in light of the delta variant.

Recent data released by the Israeli Health Ministry showed that for those people who received their second dose of the vaccine by the end of January, the vaccine effectiveness at being able to fend off infection dropped to 16 percent although those people were still very well protected against severe illness.

This decision is not being made without controversy, though, as Israel is making this move ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation which Israel normally follows essentially making Israel a test case for boosters that the rest of the world will be closely following.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia where 1,000 police and 300 soldiers enforced a strict lockdown in Australia's largest city Saturday managing to avoid the violent scenes of an anti-lockdown protest expected in Central Sydney.

Those were the scenes last weekend as people turned out frustrated with a lockdown that's gone on for five weeks now and still has at least four to go. The delta variant spreading through a dangerously under vaccinated population, just under 20 percent of Australians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The government of Australia saying on Friday that that needs to get to 70 percent of all adults vaccinated to avoid lockdowns like the one being felt in Sydney right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And a special thanks to all our correspondents for those reports, and clearly, the world is very much in the grip of the COVID pandemic. Dr. Tom Frieden joins me now and is of course the former Director of the C.D.C. He is also the President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a group whose mission is saving people from cardiovascular disease and preventing epidemics.

Welcome, Doctor. It's always good to talk to you.

Now, you recently tweeted that you were hearing from a lot of vaccinated people that they were worried about these breakthrough infections, but you actually say it is the unvaccinated people who need to be worried. Tell me about your concerns.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Absolutely, Ryan. What we're seeing is a pandemic that is coming to get people who aren't vaccinated basically. The delta variant is more than twice as infectious as the COVID we've been dealing with for the last year and a half. And so many of us, all of us, I think, are just sick and tired of dealing with it. We wish it were over, but it's not over, in fact, it is gaining strength.

And when the virus adapts and doubles its infectivity, we have to double down and add layers of protection

[18:10:10]

FRIEDEN: Fundamentally, that means, let's vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. And, yes, wear masks in indoor locations where the virus is spreading.

NOBLES: So, talk to me just about how common these breakthrough infections are with the delta variant? Is it a bigger problem with the delta variant than it was previously?

FRIEDEN: There's some evidence that the delta variant is a little better at getting around the immunity from the vaccine, not definitive, but it does look suggestive. But still, these vaccines are astonishingly effective.

If you think back to before they were trialed, we were hoping for a 70 percent efficacy against illness. We've got a 90 percent efficacy against infection, 95, 98, 99 percent efficacy against severe illness, and that's holding. So, if you get the vaccine, you are very unlikely to get severely ill or die from this disease.

Now, with 170 million vaccinated people, there are going to be people who have been vaccinated and get the virus, even if that rate is extremely low. And of course, the more virus there is out there, the more infections including the more breakthrough infections, there will be. That's why masking up is a really small price to pay to get our economy humming again, to get our schools open, and staying open, and to save lives.

NOBLES: You see, those who for some reason, want to spread misinformation around the vaccine point to the fact that there are, you know, a very small percentage of people that do end up in the hospital with these breakthrough infections, despite being vaccinated. Put that into context for us, though, what is the actual percentage of someone who has been fully vaccinated, that ends up in the hospital and then could even die from COVID if they take the step of being fully vaccinated?

FRIEDEN: Well, to put it simply, Ryan, if you get vaccinated, you're somewhere between 25 and 100 times less likely to die from COVID than if you didn't get vaccinated. It is true that some people who have been vaccinated are getting sick, and we need to learn more about who is getting very sick.

It may be people who are over age 85, it may be people who have organ transplants, kidney transplants, and maybe they would benefit from a third dose. That's not a booster. That's a different vaccine series for people who have weaker immune systems.

But really, even for people of every age with every health problem, the vaccines are astonishingly effective at protecting them from serious illness and death.

NOBLES: I want to go back to the point you made about everyone wearing masks, again, particularly in indoor settings. If you're like me, if you've gotten both the vaccines, you feel like you've gotten over this hill. The mask is frustrating for you. Explain -- you know, convince me why it is so important for someone like me to wear the mask inside, even if I've already taken the step of getting both shots.

FRIEDEN: Well, there are a few reasons. One of them quite frankly, is that we don't have a way of telling who has been vaccinated and who hasn't been. So, if you go into a supermarket or a healthcare facility, and you're not wearing a mask, there's no way practically for someone to say, oh, it is okay for them not to wear a mask because they have been vaccinated.

But also, there is new data emerging that with the delta variant, some fully vaccinated people do spread the infection to others, and that the amount of virus that they hold when they're sick, when they have an infection in their nose, in their mouth is higher than we expected.

We thought that people with breakthrough infections would be less infectious, and they may be, but what we're seeing so far is some people with breakthrough infections, even if they're not getting very sick, might be able to infect many others.

NOBLES: Now, I want to ask you about outdoor settings because obviously the step has been taken in a lot of cities already moved to requiring masks indoors. We saw thousands of people gather in Chicago this weekend for Lollapalooza. Major League Baseball is playing to full pack stadiums now. We're on the verge of the NFL season starting again, and there are so many fans that want to be back in football stadiums.

Do you think we are going to get to the stage where you're going to advise people wearing a mask in outdoor settings, particularly when they are going to be around a lot of other people?

FRIEDEN: Well, first off, as a general rule, outdoors is extremely safe. Ventilation is important if you're walking on the street, if you're hiking somewhere, if you're biking somewhere, the chances that you'll inhale or spread COVID are extremely low.

On the other hand, there are some circumstances where people are packed together. There is very little ventilation, you're there for a long period of time, and then maybe a lot of people spreading COVID. At a minimum, if you're someone who is more susceptible to severe illness, you may want to mask up even indoors using N95 or KN95 mask, which is more protective against this.

But for those really packed venues, I think it'll depend on how much COVID is spreading and really, I'd go back to the basics.

Yes, we'd all rather not have to wear a mask ever. But how much really does it hurt you to wear a mask, if that's going to save someone's life, allow us to get our economy back, and get our kids back in school, in person learning? Because that's what concerns me really, most in the next month.

Schools are reopening at the same time cases are spiking. The only way we're going to be able to get those schools to open and stay open is with a layered approach -- vaccination, masking, ventilation, other measures that will keep our kids in person learning because that is so, so important.

[18:15:43]

NOBLES: Right, and millions of those children including all four of mine, 12 and under, don't have access to that vaccine yet. So, it's so important to keep that case count down.

All right, Dr. Tom Frieden, excellent information. As always, sir, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

NOBLES: The House adjourned Friday for August recess without voting for an extension to the eviction moratorium that expires at midnight. Millions of Americans now face homelessness.

Some Democratic lawmakers slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last night. Representative Ayanna Pressley was one of them. She joins me live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:24]

NOBLES: Millions of Americans could potentially be homeless within days after the House failed to reach a deal to extend a ban on evictions. The C.D.C. order which prevents landlords from evicting renters for failing to pay their rent expires at midnight.

In a last ditch effort to get their colleagues to vote to extend the moratorium, some Democratic lawmakers slept on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last night. One of those lawmakers Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts joins me now.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. You know, just tell us about the experience last night and then what you hope to achieve by making this kind of show of force with those who you are concerned maybe evicted from their homes?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, I think the point here, Ryan, is that many families are on the precipice of devastation, and the fact of the matter is that families are running out of options, but government has many still on the table that have not yet been exhausted.

Pre-pandemic, there were 6.7 -- 3.7 million eviction filings. So, there are already so many families that were vulnerable and that has only been exacerbated by this pandemic-induced recession. And so, we have three options remaining.

The Senate is still in session and they can act and extend this eviction moratorium. Secondly, the House can reconvene and we can pass Chairwoman Waters' emergency bill to extend the eviction moratorium. And finally, the White House and the C.D.C. can act. The reason why we are here and why we came last night is because we

want to affirm that we are one human family and that our destinies are tied. And eviction is a policy choice. And the fact that we fail to act, not out of an inability to do something to stave off this crisis, a national tent city, an eviction tsunami. It was an unwillingness.

I agree with Chairwoman Waters, the author of the emergency bill -- I serve on Financial Services Committee -- we should have fought harder. So again, families are running out of options, but we still have many available on the table, and we need to exhaust every single one of them.

We're talking about projections of anywhere from seven to 11 million people -- people -- who could be evicted, and still in the midst of a pandemic, while the variant is surging. Eviction is already violent, but to evict people in the midst of a pandemic is cruel, inhumane, unacceptable, and 100 percent preventable.

NOBLES: So, Congresswoman, you mentioned that you believe the C.D.C. should extend the moratorium. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the same thing. The White House disagrees. Their legal team says that's not an option because of a Supreme Court decision last month.

Do you disagree with the White House legal team? And do you think the President has done enough to try and prevent this crisis from happening with, you know, very little time left to go?

PRESSLEY: We absolutely should have received word from the White House much earlier than we did. We simply ran out of time. There is still time, though to right this wrong. I do believe that the White House and the C.D.C. can act, should act unilaterally. And if we are challenged by the courts, that will still buy these families time and that is what we need.

The other reason why we need to extend this eviction moratorium is because, yes, the states have the money and they need time. They still need time to get these funds out. So, since January, I have been with my progressive colleagues, organizing, lobbying, writing bills, lobbying the White House.

Just weeks ago, I led the letter with progressive colleagues to extend the eviction moratorium by that additional month, and then again, we heard very late that the White House would not be extending that eviction moratorium, and Congress was not given the time needed really to act.

And I agree with Speaker Pelosi that a failure to act to extend the eviction moratorium is a moral imperative and the fact that we did not do that is a moral failing. It was a moral imperative to act, to disrupt and prevent this crisis and it is a moral failing that we did not act.

NOBLES: So, you tweeted recently that you said quote, "Eviction is a policy choice," and a violent one at that. And the indifference by many is heartbreaking. You know, I know many of your fellow progressives believe that it's your movement that led to Democrats controlling the House and Senate and maybe even putting Joe Biden in the White House.

Do you feel that it is your party, the Democratic Party that right now is failing the very people that they promised to protect in this last election?

[18:25:23]

PRESSLEY: I absolutely believe that in this moment, yes, we are failing the American people and the most vulnerable. Eviction is a policy choice. We can disrupt this eviction tsunami. We can prevent this national tent city, this public health crisis.

Our families have already experienced unprecedented hardship. We should not be evicting anyone. Housing is a human right that we certainly should not be doing that in the midst of a pandemic, and we have tools available to stop it.

There is not a deficit of resource or opportunity or tools, I do believe there's a deficit of empathy. And that is across both aisles. And that's what we're here for today. That's why I slept here last night. Was it uncomfortable?

Absolutely. But nowhere near as uncomfortable as the families right now who are in limbo, who don't -- who are wondering how they will -- how they will survive, who are living in real fear, who are looking to us to intervene and to stand in the gap, and we still have time.

So, the Senate is still in session. They can they can extend this eviction moratorium. By midnight, the White House and the C.D.C. can act unilaterally or the House can be called back into session so that we can pass the emergency bill offered by Chairwoman Waters to extend this eviction moratorium.

Again, the American people have run out of options, but those of us in positions of leadership and power, we have not and we must act and we must act urgently. And we have to meet the needs of this multiracial, multi-generational movement of the most marginalized who made this Democratic majority possible.

This is the moment. We must meet the moment and meet the needs of the most marginalized, a movement of people who made this Democratic majority possible. This is about us being responsive to the most basic needs of the human family in the midst of unprecedented hurt, and so that's why we're out here.

NOBLES: Okay, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, as this deadline looms, you spent the night outside the Capitol trying to impress upon leaders in Washington to take action. We so much appreciate your time, Congresswoman, and we'll have to see. This deadline is fast approaching. We'll see if anyone, if that -- if the will, as you mentioned it is there to take the responsibility needed.

All right. Thank you, Congresswoman.

And gymnastics fans are still wondering if they'll get to see Simone Biles compete again at the Olympics. CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan is live at the Tokyo Games. She's going to join us live from there when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:32:18]

NOBLES: The final round of competition for some individual gymnastics events begins in just a few hours in Tokyo and Team U.S.A. will go into them without superstar Simone Biles. Biles pulled out of the vault and uneven bar events just days after suffering a mental block that gymnast call the twisties. It could send her home without any medals. CNN Sports Analyst and U.S.A. Today Columnist Christine Brennan joins me live from Tokyo.

Christine, first tell me what the twisties are. I have a feeling it has nothing to do with the soft serve ice cream I ate as a child. It's probably something gymnasts want no part of.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Exactly, Ryan. Yes, a new word that all of us have learned over the last few days. It's basically getting lost in the air as Simone Biles doing things that no one else could do. As she's twisting and turning in the air, you lose your place in the air and that is incredibly dangerous, because that means you could land in a horrible position. You could injure yourself. You could potentially really hurt yourself. You can paralyze yourself.

So that's the danger here and she felt that in that one fall. That's the only event of her Olympic Games just a couple seconds is all she's competed in these games. The other night, that's what she felt. She said on Instagram on Friday, she still is experiencing the twisties getting lost in the air and that's why she's not in these two event finals that are today here Tokyo time and it is I think doubtful that she'll be competing Monday or Tuesday in the other two events.

NOBLES: So it's so heartbreaking not to have her competing. What are the odds for the rest of the gymnastics team? Are there opportunities for them to take on more medals without Biles as part of the competition?

BRENNAN: Absolutely Ryan. As Americans are learning, this gymnastics team is deep and when Sunisa Lee came right in and replace Simone Biles and won the all around, the most prestigious gold medal in gymnastics and one of the most prestigious gold medals at any Summer Olympic Games, the gold medal that Mary Lou Retton one and that Simone Biles won four years ago, five years ago, Sunisa Lee wins that.

And she absolutely could win on the uneven bars. She is a force. There's also Jade Carey. There's MyKayla Skinner on the vault. So the United States is loaded as always in gymnastics and there certainly are many medal opportunities for the United States in these four final events.

NOBLES: And so you had to tell us about what happened with Novak Djokovic, had somewhat of a John McEnroe moment. It was like we were watching tennis in the '80s again.

BRENNAN: He came here and he's a gold medal favorite. And you want us to complete that golden slam and get the Olympic gold medal. And yes, he lost it. I think he was very, very surprised to not be moving on in the competition. He has been a favorite.

[18:35:05]

For a lot of these professional athletes, Ryan, who are in the middle of seasons, the Olympics isn't as big a deal. It's a big deal. But it's not as big a deal for Katie Ledecky or Caeleb Dressel or Simone Biles, which is really it's a Super Bowl for them. And so, another story to put in the Djokovic file and obviously not exactly the way you want to leave the Olympic Games.

NOBLES: It's fun to see him with a little bit of fire, he's just so even-keeled, so it was something a little bit different that we're not accustomed to with Djokovic. Unfortunately, Christine no time for swimming, which will disappoint my All-Star daughter from the Northern Virginia Swim League. But we've got to move on. We appreciate your coverage from Tokyo. Thank you so much, Christine Brennan.

BRENNAN: My pleasure, Ryan. Thank you.

NOBLES: All right. And as more communities consider mask or even vaccine mandates to keep residents safe from the Delta-driven COVID surge. The Governor of Florida is vowing to fight off any new pandemic rules. But will the cities fight back? I'm going to ask the Mayor of Miami Beach that question. He's going to join me live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:44]

NOBLES: Yet another devastating example of the resurgence of COVID-19. A Florida woman says that she lost her mother, her fiance and her grandmother to the virus all in the past week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIFFANY DEVEREAUX, LOST 3 FAMILY MEMBERS TO COVID IN A WEEK: I had to skip going to my meemaw's (ph) funeral yesterday, so I could get to the hospital to say goodbye to my mama (unintelligible). I don't know what to think or how to feel right now. I want my loved ones back. They're the ones that always got me through the hard times in my life and now they're all gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: That was Tiffany Devereaux. Her life was turned upside down this week after she and her family became infected. Her 85-year-old grandmother was the only one who was vaccinated. Devereaux says her mother and her fiance's dying wish was for her to get the vaccine.

And in Florida, the new numbers from the State's Department of Health show a 50 percent jump in cases over the last week. More than 110,000 new cases reported. The average of new people now partially vaccinated, though, is ticking up again. But the State is still shy of having half of its residents fully vaccinated. Yet in the face of those numbers, this is the message from the State's

Governor Ron DeSantis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: There will be no restrictions and no mandates in the State of Florida. Floridians have been, are and will remain free to choose what's best for themselves and their families and we will protect their right to work. We'll protect the right of businesses to operate. And we will protect the right of our kids to attend school in person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Well, nearly every county in Florida right now is considered by the CDC to have a high level of community transmission. That's the red on this map and it includes Miami-Dade County.

The mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber joins us now. Mayor, thank you for being here. So tell me, you heard your Governor there. Where do you currently stand on mandating masks and also on mandating vaccinations for your city employees? I know this is something that you've been considering.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: But we're not allowed to have mask mandates right now. We were one of the first cities to require it and we charged a fine just to get people to do it. And the Governor stopped allowing us to do it and then immediately, we saw a surge across our county and state when he did that, so we're in a very tough throws.

Today was the statewide, the 21,000 infections, that's the most in a single day since the entirety of the pandemic. We are trying to do everything we can to get around the Governor's very wrongheaded desires. We're trying to get all of our guys vaccinated.

They don't, I think, we're going to probably have to require that they get tested every week sort of encouraged them. We're paying people money to get vaccinated. Governor has made it as difficult as possible to make people safe.

NOBLES: So tell me about that frustration and you mentioned the surge these cases. We just showed the seven day average. It's really staggering. I mean, what kind of level of communication do you have with his office? Are you able to play with him to try and give you a little bit of flexibility to make these decisions on a local level? Generally, Republicans believe in local control on things like this. What kind of guidance are you getting from his office?

GELBER: Well, interesting, local Republican mayors I think are all on this side that I'm on, which is they want to save the lives of their residents. I sent him a letter the other day asking to do three or four things that I thought were important. He's not responding.

Like this Governor has become a champion for people who don't want to wear masks and don't want to follow the CDC. That's who he is feeding dogma and ideology too. He should be screaming for people to get vaccinated. He should be urging them to wear masks. He creates a false choice that if you wear a mask, it's going to shutter the economy.

Of course that's not true. But it feels like he's doing everything he can to make it hard and will do everything we can in spite of him to try to help our residents.

[18:45:05]

NOBLES: All right. So what can you do? What's your plan B if you can't take the measures that you'd like to take, what can you do to keep your residents safe? And do you feel confident that you're going to be able to do that with this inability to take the action that you'd like to take because of the rules at the state level?

GELBER: We're going to do everything we can. I mean, the problem is he's really hamstrung us. With that said, I had a meeting with the business community the other day. I know other mayors are doing the same thing, urging them to do everything they can to create a safe environment, requiring masks in their businesses, urging some kind of incentive program for vaccines, having them require their employees to be vaccinated.

The truth is I'm the Mayor of a hospitality town, I think most people coming here would rather be in a place that they feel safer than a place that they feel like they may be getting the virus. So for me, I think it's a smart thing to do and he just seems to be doing every -- he's like the pied piper just leading everybody off a cliff right now by letting them know that they don't have to like the CDC, they don't have to wear masks and they can do whatever they want when we're in the midst of a enormous pandemic in Florida.

By wide margin, it's easily the worst state in the country in hospitalizations, in deaths, in positivity and percentages. Florida is leading the nation right now in all of the worst data points.

NOBLES: I mean, expand on that in terms of your concerns about tourism. What message does it send to the Visit Florida campaign if the stories are that the widest spread of COVID is in your State? That must be very difficult when you're trying to lure people there to spend money on a vacation?

GELBER: Yes. Listen, I've had pretty good clarity about this from the beginning. I love our hospitality industry, but we have to provide a safe environment for them. And by the way, they've been great partners. I think many of them probably wish the governor created some mandates for mask usage. I think it would make people feel safer. I think Universal or Disney just did it. A lot of places are doing it because it's good for business.

The Governor is just trying to curry favor with a group of supporters. They'd like to hear this red mean ideology. He should be focused on delivering really what it would be good advice and he could save thousands of people if he did that because the people most likely to avoid wearing a mask and not want to get a vaccine or probably the people who are among his most ardent supporters. NOBLES: OK. Mayor Dan Gelber from Miami Beach, thank you so much for

being here. Mayor, we really appreciate it.

And muddled messaging from the top causes confusion about the Delta variant surge. The White House now reportedly pointing the finger at the media. CNN Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy, is going to join us next to discuss this.

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NOBLES: From coast to coast, the Delta variant is tightening its grip on this country and Americans especially those who are vaccinated are looking for more clarity on how to remain safe. The surge in cases has forced the White House to shift to a more urgent tone. But when it comes to actual messaging, it's really been anything but clear.

CNN's Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy joins me now. Oliver, Americans are certainly frustrated about this. But you have some new reporting that the White House is also annoyed. What can you tell us?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: That's exactly right, Ryan. I've been talking to a couple senior Biden administration officials and I can tell you the White House is incredibly frustrated and they are frankly concerned that the media has been too overly focused on these breakthrough infections. These cases in which someone is fully immunized against COVID-19 but still managed to contract the disease.

Their worry is that by focusing on the threats, the rare threats to vaccinated Americans that it will deter people from wanting to go out and seek a vaccine. If you watch the coverage over the past week, it might have presented a message to people that said vaccinated Americans are still very likely to get the disease and spread it to others.

Obviously, that's not true. They're much less likely to get the disease and spread it to others. But that might have been the message that people took away from some of the coverage. And so the White House is concerned about this. They've actually reached out to news organizations and ask them to dial back the coverage and focus on the real issue here, which is unvaccinated Americans and millions of vaccinated Americans who are quite likely to contract COVID and spread it to their friends and loved ones.

NOBLES: Yes. It's also because those who would like to peddle misinformation can take those reports and then blow them up and make them into something that even would be beyond what the traditional media outlet may have intended.

DARCY: Exactly.

NOBLES: Yes. And how are Americans rating the President's response today to this pandemic?

DARCY: Well, since he took office, most Americans have actually supported Biden's handling of that pandemic. It's about two-thirds approval for the President. It will be interesting, however, to see whether that number holds after this week. The CDC announcing that fully vaccinate Americans, they're recommending them in many cases to wear masks indoors again and so that's a big change. It'll be interesting to see if he continues to have that consistent approval rating moving forward.

NOBLES: OK. Oliver Darcy, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

DARCY: Thank you.

NOBLES: And with the change in mask guidelines and a Delta variant spreading among mainly unvaccinated Americans, you've got a lot of questions. We're going to try and answer some of those in next hour with Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Stay here.

[18:54:59]

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[18:59:23]

NOBLES: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to be a dad again. Johnson's wife, Carrie, announced on Instagram that she is pregnant with the couple's second child and is due in December. In her post, the 33-year-old revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage earlier this year writing quote, "Hoping for our rainbow baby this Christmas. At the beginning of the year, I had a miscarriage which left me heartbroken. I feel incredibly blessed to be pregnant again but I've also felt like a bag of nerves."

Carrie and Boris Johnson welcomed their first child, a son named Wilfred in April of 2020.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've under estimated this. It is time to consider this as very long haul.