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Florida Accounts For Nearly One In Five New Cases Reported Last Week; Senate Expected To Introduce $1.2T Infrastructure Bill Today; Interview With Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Millions Facing Eviction After Moratorium Expires; USA Swimmer Dressel Wins 4th And 5th Gold Medals; Delta Variant Fuels Rise In Cases, Deaths Among Unvaccinated; Israel Begins Giving COVID Booster Shots To Some Residents; Special Day For Heroic Nurses In California. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 1, 2021 - 14:00:00   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Good afternoon, everyone. And thanks so much for joining me. I'm Jessica Dean in for Fredricka Whitfield today.

And we begin this hour with the COVID crisis entering a new dangerous phase and stark warnings from health experts that the worst maybe yet to come.

The increasing threat fueled by the delta variant is causing some people to finally get the vaccine. The seven-day average of new doses administered in the United States is up 26 percent over three weeks ago. That's good. That is encouraging news.

The vaccine is, of course, incredibly effective. More than 99.999 percent of people fully vaccinated will survive a breakthrough infection.

But with tens of millions of people still unvaccinated new cases, deaths and hospitalizations are also on the rise.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Cases have gone up about four-fold in the last couple weeks. We're pushing up toward 100,000 cases a day now. And particularly so in those hot spots where vaccination rates are still quite low, maybe 30 percent.

That would be Missouri and Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida. And those are areas of deep concern.


DEAN: You just heard, an area of deep concern. And the epicenter of this new COVID surge, Florida. That state now accounting for one of every five new infections in the U.S.

CNN's Randi Kaye joins now me from Rivera Beach, Florida. And Randi, how are officials there responding to this dramatic spike?

RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are still saying no restrictions and no mandates despite the surge that we are seeing here in the state of Florida, in the last week more than 110,000 cases. The daily average for new cases right now is 15,818.

And Jessica, just yesterday we set a record for the most new cases in a single day since the pandemic began here in the state of Florida. Yesterday we saw 21,683 new cases. So 19 percent -- 19.2 percent, in fact, of all new cases in the country reported around the country last week are coming from here in the state of Florida. Mostly here in south Florida.

And right now Florida is seeing the highest average number of new cases since mid-January. And in terms of who is vaccinated, about 49 percent of Floridians are vaccinated. So still less than half of the people in Florida are vaccinated. And many of those people are ending up in emergency rooms, in ICU wards.

I visited a COVID ward in Jacksonville recently at Baptist Medical Center where I spoke to a nurse who told me that 99 percent of their patients that they're seeing are unvaccinated and they are now begging for the vaccine. Listen to this.


TAMMY DANIEL, CHIEF NURSE OFFICER, BAPTIST HEALTH: We're getting ready to intubate the patient, and I see -- (INAUDIBLE) putting him the ventilator and they said if I get the vaccine now, could I not go on the ventilator.

So I mean, they're begging for it. They're desperate because they're gasping for air. They can't breathe. They are scared. They feel like they're going to pass away.


KAYE: This is also very concerning for children because schools open here in the state of Florida next week. So kids will be going back to school. And if you look at the numbers for children younger than 12, of course, we know that they can't get the vaccine. They're not eligible for it.

But 10,585 new cases in the last week among children under 12 here in the state. The positivity rate for those under 12 is 18.1 percent. That's in line with the state average of about 18.2 percent.

But still, none of this, none of these numbers or the surge that we're seeing has encouraged the Governor Ron DeSantis here to do anything except say that there are not going to be any mask mandates. They're not going to have any lockdowns.

In fact, he issued an executive order this week saying that schools cannot mandate masks in the classrooms. He says that it's about freedom for parents to decide, and he will not have the schools lockdown or issuing mask mandates, Jessica. DEAN: Yes. We're seeing those numbers for children under the age of 12

that you just told us about.

Randi Kaye, thanks so much for that.

And the data we have from the CDC paints a very straightforward picture.

Here it is.

If you're fully vaccinated, you have an extraordinarily small chance of being hospitalized or dying from COVID. We're talking about more than 99.999 percent of fully vaccinated Americans surviving thanks to the vaccine.


DEAN: Let's bring in our numbers with Harry Enten. Harry, first, could you translate those odds for us? It is more than 99.999 percent. If you're vaccinated. Those are your chances or surviving any breakthrough infection.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. I mean look, we've had over 160 million Americans fully vaccinated. Of those, just north of a thousand folks that died. It's so, so small.

And you know, what I'm interested in is comparing the fully vaccinated to those who are unvaccinated, and what we know is at this particular point if you are unvaccinated, your chance of dying is 25 times higher -- higher than if you're vaccinated.

So if you have the opportunity right now to go get a vaccine and you haven't gotten one yet, the numbers paint a clear picture. You should do so.

DEAN: Right. I mean, that data -- those numbers they just -- that's so concrete there. What do you know about recent polling? What is it telling us in terms of who is most concerned about the delta variant?

ENTEN: You know, it should be the unvaccinated. But the polling data suggests it's, in fact, the exact opposite of that.

There was an Axios/Ipsos poll that was done towards the middle, end of last month. And what did it show? Extremely or very concerned about the delta variant. Among vaccinated adults it was 54 percent. Among unvaccinated adults, it was just 25 percent.

And this might be part of the reason why these unvaccinated folks aren't getting vaccinated. It's because they're not afraid of getting the coronavirus, but the numbers we show they should be afraid. They should be afraid. And they should be going out and getting vaccinated.

DEAN: Right. I mean if you're unvaccinated with this delta variant doing what it's doing, you're at very high risk of getting sick and contracting that virus.

What about masking? Are we seeing a similar split there?

ENTEN: That's exactly right. You know, if you're not going to get vaccinated, then you should at least be wearing a mask. Right?

But what does the data show us? The data shows us that the unvaccinated folks, never wearing a mask when leaving the home, 35 percent of unvaccinated adults are never wearing a mask when leaving the home.

My goodness gracious, what are they doing? That is significantly higher than the percentage of vaccinated adults who are never wearing a mask when leaving the home.

So to me, this is all nutter-butter. It makes no sense. These unvaccinated people, first off they should get vaccinated. And if they're not going to get vaccinated, they should at least be wearing a mask. And one-third of them say they're never wearing a mask when leaving the house.

It's just -- it's mind boggling. It's crazy. I don't get it. But the numbers are the numbers.

DEAN: All right. Well, thanks for walking us through them. They're very persuasive. Harry Enten, thanks so much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

DEAN: And joining me now to discuss is Dr. Anand Swaminathan, an emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Dr. Swaminathan, great to see you.

99.999 percent of people who experience a breakthrough case do not die. How do you feel about those odds?

DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: I feel pretty good about it as someone who is vaccinated and who lives in a state where vaccine rates are really high. That makes me feel good not just for myself but for my community, for my kids who are going to be going to be back to school and for the patients that I take care of.

And I think that's reflected in what I'm seeing at work. What we're seeing is that there are people who have COVID symptoms, but very few of them are very sick. And a lot of that is because of how well we've done with vaccination in our state and in the states around us.

But, you know, one of the things that comes up over and over again that we have to really be careful about is that yes, the vaccine highly protective for me, highly protective for those who are vaccinated.

But it's not just a personal choice to get vaccinated or not because of how it affects everybody else around you. We're going to see spikes with kids. We're going to see going back to school that schools are going to get closed down again because there are going to be outbreaks. And this is the thing that maybe people aren't really as focused on as they should be. It's not just about protecting yourself. It's about protecting everyone around you, including those who can't be vaccinated or have immune-compromise and the vaccine doesn't work as well for them.

DEAN: Right. And so many of the people who can't be vaccinated are 12 and under. These are our children, right. I mean those are the kids and the people that are -- some of the most at risk because they can't be vaccinated.

Experts are warning that cases and deaths will continue to increase over the coming months in light of the fact that about half the country remains unvaccinated.

Here's what Dr. Fauci said about it this morning. We'll listen.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't think we're going to see lockdowns. I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country, not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter. But things are going to get worse.


DEAN: DR. Swaminathan, how worried are you about where this is headed? What the trend lines look like?

DR. SWAMINATHAN: I think as a country we're not going to see the same spike that we saw in the winter or if we go back to march, the same spike that we had in our area.

The problem is that regionally, we're going to see huge spikes. And talking to my colleagues in other states, they're already feeling it. Their emergency departments are full. The hospitals are full. There are no ICU beds.

I've talked to -- spoken within a couple folks who deal with transferring patients when there are no ICU beds. And they're like there's no ICU beds in my county. There's almost none in the state.


DR. SWAMINATHAN: And that's not just for adults. There's no pediatric ICU beds either. So that means that if a kid gets really sick, there's nowhere to go.

And it's not just about COVID. If you get in a car accident and you're really sick, there's no place to go. And so those states -- Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Florida -- they're going to see huge spikes in cases. They're going to see a lack of ICU beds. And they're going to see spiking deaths because of the lack of resources. It really is a very complicated layout when you have so many cases

coming up. It's not just about how lethal COVID is. It's about how lethal it is in the setting of reduced resources within what we're going to be seeing.

DEAN: Right. The strain on the health care system generally.

South Carolina's Republican Governor Henry McMaster is accusing U.S. health experts of, quote, "exaggeration and engaging in frightful hyperbole" in regards to the tone being taken to explain how serious the delta variant is. How different it is.

We should note Governor McMaster is encouraging people to get vaccinated. Do you think -- is anything being blown out of proportion?

DR. SWAMINATHAN: I'm very offended by the comment as a doctor and for my colleagues who are doing this work as well. And this is why we don't take our medical advice and our scientific advice from politicians. That's not how this works.

I think it's great that he's pushing for vaccines, but how confusing of a message is that to his constituents. Get vaccinated, but it's not as bad as everyone is telling you it is. And this disinformation is killing people.

Absolutely, it has been the whole way through and it's getting worse because it's hard for people to really tease apart the information that's coming at them, and know what to do with it.

This delta variant is terrible. It's spreading faster. There are hints that it could be more lethal. And even if, again, the virus itself isn't more lethal in this variant, with our waning resources because of how many cases we have, it will end up being more lethal.

And look what we in India. What we saw in the United Kingdom. This is not a good thing. And listening to a politician talk about science, it's absolutely embarrassing for him to be really putting these ideas out there that are frankly just -- they're lies.

DEAN: And you know, there is so much that changes, and I know people are tired of having to follow every tiny change, but this delta variant is different. And as you explained, why it's so different, why it's so serious.

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health expressed support for having businesses require vaccine credentials if that helps encourage people to get vaccinated. You said you think it's time for the U.S. to start moving toward vaccine mandates.

Have we gotten to the point where that's the only tool left in the box? Are there other things that can be done?

DR. SWAMINATHAN: I'm sure there are other tools that we can look to as well. But I think the time for vaccine mandates for vaccine passports is here if not, it's already passed. We should have started this a while ago. I think we absolutely do need to see this. and I think it's great that individual businesses, private businesses are requiring their employees to do this or to get tested very frequently.

My hospital just recently that said they're going to require everybody who works there to be vaccinated. I think that is a huge positive step.

But I think we need something that is a little bit more across the board. To really require this and, you know, the time for the carrots, the rewards for getting vaccinated, it's still there. Anything that we can do to get people vaccinated to convince them to do is great.

But it's time for us to also add some of the other ways that we can encourage people by taking things away. If you're not vaccinated, you can't do x, y and z. Yes, you've made a personal decision but you're also making a personal decision to put others at risk, others at harm and this is how you're going to be penalized.

Now we might even see insurance companies saying that if you're choosing not to be vaccinated, you're going to pay a higher premium. Similar to what they see for people who smoke.

And that's going to be another stick to try to encourage people that this is the right thing to do -- get vaccinated. And I can't really say it enough times. If you're out there and you have access, if you can get vaccinated, go get it done today.

DEAN: Start today. All right. Dr. Anand Swaminathan, as always, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up, major developments on Capitol Hill right now. Senators expressing confidence they can get an infrastructure bill drafted by the end of today.

I'm going to talk with Congressman Peter DeFazio who is a critical part of all of this infrastructure that's going on up there -- all the talks. We will talk more about that.

Plus an Olympian's dreams dashed. Why a sprinter says she's being forced to go home before she competes.



DEAN: The Senate is about to take a major step in addressing one of President Biden's signature legislative items. Right now senators are in session on that massive trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Details of what is inside the final text remain scarce because the text isn't complete yet. Despite months of negotiations between moderate Democrats, Republicans and the White House, this is far from a done deal at this point. But senators involved in the negotiations remain confident this is the best path forward. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think it will be introduced this week? Will it pass this week?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): That certainly is my expectation and my hope. I think we will be able to lay down the bill later today. And begin perhaps, consideration of some amendments. My hope is that we'll finish the bill by the end of the week.

TAPPER: And will it have at least 10 Republican senators to vote for it?

COLLINS: I believe that it will. This bill is good for America.


DEAN: And here with me now, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Oregon Democrat Congressman Peter DeFazio. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today.

The house passed a bill you sponsored earlier this month. It was $715 billion in spending. And I know you were hoping that would be a template for the Senate version.

The bipartisan group has written its own language, and you've been critical of this bipartisan agreement. Explain to us why.


REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D-OR): Well, I set out for several major objectives to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure to bring us into the 21st century.

Not do another iteration of the Eisenhower National Highway Program. But to actually begin to deal with current problems.

And so I set out to deal with both climate change, reduce fossil fuel consumption and transportation, largest single source to rebuild the system, rebuild it resilient with the materials that last longer. Rebuild it resilient to sea level rise, severe weather events, et cetera.

And in doing that, create millions of jobs and also add in a program for social equity which the president wants to deal with areas that were split asunder during the highway building boom of the 60s, 70s.

And all those elements are my bill. We're not quite certain what's in the Senate bill. I have just engaged yesterday with the White House. My staff was engaged again today with the White House and the Senate.

We're trying to get -- we haven't seen the text either, but we're trying to get some of our language in.

DEAN: So you sound somewhat hopeful that this may be more of what you were hoping it would be. DEFAZIO: Jessica, you know, it's speculation at this point. You know,

I think -- I'm told the draft is going to be over -- well, we had a weak copy, but they say well, that's not what it's going to be. We got that on Friday. It was 2,500 pages. So, you know, we'll see.

There's a problem in dealing immediately with climate with the other side of the aisle. The Republicans have a chance to say the words, climate change, so we're talking about resilience.

DEAN: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she won't bring that Senate bill to the House floor before the Senate passes a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. That's the number right now that's floating around that would cover a lot of progressive priorities.

I want to listen to some of your colleagues how they framed this legislative standoff this morning. We'll take a listen.


TAPPER: Can you guarantee her that the reconciliation package will pass?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We can't really guarantee anybody, you know. And I have not guaranteed anybody on any of these pieces of legislation. Would we like to do more, yes. You do what you can pay for. This is paid for. Our infrastructure bill is all paid for.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.

I'm not the whip of the progressive caucus, but what I can tell you is that it's certainly more than three. And it is in the double digits, absolutely.

TAPPER: Enough to prevent it from passing?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: More than enough.


DEAN: So Congressman, we heard there from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez about, you know, there's only a three-vote margin for Democrats in the House. Do you think it's right to tie these bills so closely together? And do you agree with the congresswoman's take and her opinion that the reconciliation bill should be approved before the infrastructure bill can be taken up?

DEFAZIO: Absolutely. Because We have no guarantees from the Senate that they will even pass a reconciliation bill. You know, we do have apparently enough Republicans to get past the filibuster on transportation infrastructure.

That's good. They can send that bill over. But we've got to see reconciliation. Because that's the biggest part of the president's plan for moving forward the American Jobs Plan.

DEAN: And just to be clear for everyone listening, that reconciliation bill would require Democrat only support so it would get around that 60-vote filibuster in the Senate.

But Congressman, I just want to be clear on what you're saying. That you would withhold your vote for that bipartisan infrastructure bill if reconciliation is not a part of it?

DEFAZIO: Well, it won't be a part of it. It will be parallel.

DEAN: Right. Yes.

Yes, parallel. Yes.

DEFAZIO: We want to see both bills sent over from the Senate. And then we will see how we'll move forward on the bipartisan package.

We may want to have a conference because if we see changes we need to have made. But we have to have both bills in hand, because otherwise, you know, you're stuck with the filibuster. And stupid rule.

You're stuck with the Byrd rule, so-called. Rule written by a senator, dead 11 years, 28 years ago which prohibits a lot of policy we want from going into so-called reconciliation. So we need to see both packages.

DEAN: Right.

And I want to talk a little bit about the eviction moratorium. I know you've been very vocal about the dire need for millions of Americans to get that eviction moratorium extended.

Just for everyone watching, it expired last night. The money is already allocated. Billions of dollars for people facing eviction.

Congressman, why has it been so difficult to get an extension passed through Congress? And why hasn't that money been distributed in a more efficient way?


DEFAZIO: Well, my state is like a poster child for that. They didn't dispense any money. They received money back in February and for four months they did nothing. And now they have, you know, tens of thousands of applications pending that they have a process.

And this goes to both sides. It's rental assistance and the landlords. I mean we're sensitive to the fact, you know, landlords have mortgages, particularly small landlords. They've got to meet their obligations, too.

So we, you know, we want the darn states to get that money out. And we were hopeful to pass another temporary moratorium because the money is there. The states have $46 billion. They just haven't put the money out. Only I think 4 percent has been allocated. DEAN: I think it's about $3 billion. Right.

DEFAZIO: Right. Yes. So $3 billion out of $46 billion. That's pathetic. Now, some states, particularly red states, Republican states, you know, are reluctant to provide the assistance.

But my state theoretically wants to get the assistance out but we can't do it. You've got either reluctance on the part of some states or other states are just incompetent.

DEAN: And so what's the solution?

DEFAZIO: Well, we couldn't get a temporary extension of the moratorium. The CDC, Centers for Disease Control, could extend the moratorium. The White House says well, we're worried they'll get challenged in courts. So what.

That will take a month or two or three months to get an injunction, and in that time, hopefully the states will get their act together, get the money out to the renters and to the landlords so we don't see massive evictions.

DEAN: All right. Congressman Peter DeFazio, again, thanks for your time. We sure do appreciate it.

DEFAZIO: Thanks, Jessica. Appreciate the opportunity.

DEAN: And today a new reality for millions of Americans. We were just talking about it -- nowhere to live. Why some members of congress are demanding colleagues return to Washington to fix this crisis.




DEAN: Background is due for millions of Americans after the federal eviction moratorium expired at midnight last night. That moratorium was put into place during the pandemic. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blamed Republicans for blocking a last-minute scramble to extend the measure. But on scene in State of the Union this morning, Democratic congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said the Democrats have themselves to blame and demanded the House reconvene to deal with this.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D-NY): So, we all have left town with plans to come back within 24 hours if necessary. And I believe that the expiration of the eviction moratorium and having 11 million Americans one out of every six renters at risk of being kicked out of their homes is worth coming back and triggering that 24-hour notice. We cannot leave town without doing our job.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DEAN: Now, as of Friday, though, the Democrats did not have the votes to get that done. Missouri Democratic Congresswoman, Cori Bush, who camped out on the steps of the capitol for a second straight night and is still out there right now made an impassioned plea to her House colleagues on our show yesterday.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): I'm dirty. I'm sticky. I'm sweaty. I still have on what I have on last night. This is how people will have to live if we don't do something. 7 million people, 6 million, 11 million, how many ever it is, they deserve the human dignity and they deserve for the people that are paid to represent them to show up and do the work to make sure they have their basic needs met.


DEAN: I want to bring in CNN's Camila Bernal who is in Los Angeles.

And, Camila, this is about people and families potentially losing their homes. What are you hearing from some of those people?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jessica, absolutely. Many of these renters are worried about what's going to happen tomorrow. And here's the thing, it's not just rent that's due, it's also back rent. So, you either have to pay or you're going to be kicked out of your home.

And according to census data, about 7.4 million Americans are behind on their rent. So, even though they owed maybe $1,000 in the beginning, they now owe $6,000, $7,000, $8,000, money many of them just do not have. That census data also showing that about 3.6 million Americans were extremely worried about facing evictions. These are people that were used to having these protections and it's now coming to an end.

So, it's impossible to say exactly how many people will be evicted in the next couple days. And that's in part because a lot of the responsibility is now in the hands of a state or a city, a municipality, even nonprofit organizations. Here in California, for example, people will have protections over the next couple months. In DeKalb, County of Georgia, for example, a judge extended these protections for about 60 more days. But in places like Texas and Florida, people are struggling. They are terrified, because this is all coming to an end.


JUSTIN SKIRZYNSKI, FLORIDA TENANT, FEARING EVICTION: Figure out, like, where am I going to live in the next two months? You know? And it's a shame, because I know I'm not the only one that's struggling.


BERNAL: And people are just not knowing where they're going to go next. They have no work to go in many of these cases. Many have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and now there are worries of the delta variant. There is federal assistance for renters in place. But many of them just don't know that this even exists and some of them have not gotten the help yet. There's also the fact that minorities are more affected. People of color. They're less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to face an eviction.

So, bottom line is that there are so many families that do not know where their children are going to be sleeping come Monday night. Jessica.

DEAN: Wow. Camilla Bernal for us. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

We're also following a developing story out of Tokyo. A sprinter says she's being forced to fly home before competing in the Olympics. And she says it's all because of an Instagram post.


DEAN: An Olympic sprinter from Belarus is currently at the police station at the Tokyo Airport. She says she was told to run a race she hadn't trained for, and after publicly complaining about it, she claimed she's now been ordered to return home against her will. Take a listen.



KRISTINA TIMANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OLYMPIC SPRINTER (through translator): I asked the International Olympic Committee for help. I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent. I asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene.


DEAN: Selina Wang is following these developments at the Tokyo Airport for us.

Selina, what are you learning?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jessica, we've been waiting outside of the police station at the Haneda Airport for hours now waiting for her to exit. Kristina Timanovskaya is a Belarusian sprinter. She was due to compete on Monday at the 200-meter race, but we've learned that on Sunday at about 3:00 p.m. local time, the representatives from the Belarusian national team went to the Olympic Village, asked her to pack up her belongings and go back to Belarus.

Now, we learned that when she got to the airport here, she approached a Japanese police person and she asked to seek political asylum. We've learned that she's asked to seek asylum in Germany or Austria or Poland. She also asked the IOC for help to intervene to stop her from being forcibly taken back to Belarus. Now, since then, the IOC said they have spoken to her. That she is "feeling safe." That they are continuing discussions with authorities to see what would be the next steps.

Now, Jessica, we don't know exactly why she was asked to leave. We do know that on Instagram on July 30th, she complained that she was put on a list to compete in the 4x400 meter relay and that this decision was without her consent, it was made behind her back and she was not given any advanced warning. Now, the Belarus National Olympic Committee says that she has withdrawn because of her "emotional and psychological state."

Now, Jessica, earlier, I spoke to several Belarusian expats who live here in Tokyo. They drove here to the airport late at night because they said they are worried for her safety. If she goes back to Belarus, the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has initiated a violent crackdown on protesters, on dissidents, on journalists. He refused to step down last year. And several athletes participated in those protests as well and several of them were jailed. Jessica.

DEAN: All right. Selina Wang with the latest from Tokyo. Thanks so much for that.

Let's run through some of the Olympics highlights for Team USA now. Swimmer, Caeleb Dressel, closed down an historic showing by winning his fourth and fifth gold medals. He's the fifth American to win five in a single Olympics during the likes of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps.

Outside the pool, Xander Schauffele taking the gold in men's golf. He finished 18 shots under par, seeking two dramatic puts on his final round to hold off several challengers close behind him. Also, gymnast, Simone Biles, has now withdrawn from the floor final. USA Gymnastics says she'll make a decision on whether she will compete on the beam later this week.

Up next, he spent three months in the hospital battling coronavirus and almost didn't make it. Now, this Indiana man is on a mission to get others vaccinated.


DENNY THOMPSON, SURVIVED COVID: Healthy people don't get sick, and I have proved that wrong.




DEAN: As COVID cases surge around the country, deaths and hospitalizations are now also on the rise. While more people have been getting vaccinated in recent weeks, the national average remains stuck at around 50 percent.

One Indiana is man is urging people to get the shot after COVID kept him in the hospital for months. He says it's a miracle he survived.

Emily Longnecker from our affiliate, WTHR, has his story.


EMILY LONGNECKER, REPORTER, WTHR: Denny Thompson spent three months here in Methodist Hospital. Machines kept his body alive while COVID ravaged it. He says he doesn't remember a thing and says it's a miracle he's alive today.

D. THOMPSON: I have a COVID cough still. When I start coughing, it's pretty hard to stop it.

LONGNECKER (voiceover): But if that's the worst Denny Thompson has to deal with after surviving a life and death battle with COVID, he'll take it. After what the 51-year-old husband and father went through went through this past five months, Denny is just happy to be alive.

KELLY THOMPSON, SURVIVED COVID: Everybody said there was no way he was going to survive. And even dead, he would never be the same.

LONGNECKER (voiceover): This is Denny fighting for his life just four months ago after he came down with COVID in early February. His wife Kelly got it, too.

K. THOMPSON: I was just tired. You know, just that real tired achy thing.

LONGNECKER (voiceover): Denny though got so sick, at one-point doctors thought he may need a lung, heart and kidney transplant if he had any chance of making it.

K. THOMPSON: They were also saying, you know, he may -- you may survive, but he may be on a ventilator the rest of his life or -- and have to do dialysis the rest of his life.

LONGNECKER (voiceover): Then in the hours after Denny's family signed a do not resuscitate order should his heart stop, he started to improve.

K. THOMPSON: The man upstairs definitely had a hand in this.

LONGNECKER: Denny and his wife, Kelly, admit last year at this time they were wearing masks but weren't worried about getting the virus.

D. THOMPSON: I just thought it was one of those things that might have been blown out of proportion and healthy people don't get sick. And I've proved that wrong.

LONGNECKER: A few weeks ago, Denny got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

D. THOMPSON: If I wouldn't have got sick, I would probably be like, oh, I don't know if I need it or not. But I did go through it. It is as bad as they say it is. For certain people.

LONGNECKER: That's why he's encouraging others to take COVID seriously and get vaccinated. D. THOMPSON: I was not a big believer in it. I am a believer now.


DEAN: What a story. Emily Longnecker from our affiliate, WTHR, thank you so much.

And just ahead, booster shots are now a reality in Israel. Find out who is getting a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Plus, it's a special day for some heroic nurses in California. We'll have details on that coming up next.


But first, 60 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, you can reach out and own touch Spencer Glacier. Getting there will take trains, trails and kayaks. It's all part of the adventure in this week's "Off the Beaten Path."


ILLYA PEKICH, GUIDE, CHUGACH ADVENTURES: Everyone is like wow, it's breathtaking. We're at Spencer Glacier in Chugach National Forest in South Central, Alaska. Once we're out here, we're kind of away from everything. It's one of those places that are kind of a hidden gem. So, it makes it a little difficult to get out here, but it's really worth it.

NICHOLAS WRIGHT, RANGER, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: You can't get here by car. So, you have to get in the train to make your way out here. So, it's just a really exciting combination of being both very accessible while also being remote. Spencer is, although much smaller than it used to be, still a really large glacier. And as it's retreated it's left behind a lake this huge lake. So, people come up here both to hike out to the view point but also to paddle on the lake.

PEKICH: You have a two-mile paddle to get across the lake so you can get to the base of the glacier. You have all these big, beautiful icebergs that are choking the lake itself, and we get on to the ice. We're going to put the crampons on. You can get to look at all the really cool features on this glacier. We're going to look for some (INAUDIBLE) and some (INAUDIBLE) and some blue ice features. So, some really dense ice.

Yes. It's a cool glacier. It's pretty darn special.




DEAN: Starting tomorrow, California will begin requiring proof of vaccination or regular testing for all state employees and health care workers. Governor Gavin Newsom hoping to encourage more people to get vaccinated as California accounts for more than 11 percent of new cases reported across the country last week.

CNN's Paul Vercammen joins me now from a beauty shop in West Hollywood where frontline nurses are being honored for their service there.

Paul, what's happening there?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first off, we'll tell you that the vaccines are kicking up here in California. Here are seeing more vaccines. And then here, we are honoring these frontline nurses who have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19. They're giving them a makeover, which is just wonderful.

I'm going to bring Dahlia in here. Your unit at UCLA admitting the first COVID patient, and you also helped to rescue somebody while you are trying on a wedding dress. Just amazing. How does it feel to be honored today getting this makeover?

DAHLIA MALDONADO, UCLA SANTA MONICA NURSE: I'm so grateful to the community because nurses rarely take care of themselves. So, to take a step back with some amazing colleagues that are inspirational to me means the world to me.

VERCAMMEN: And so, you've seen so much in a year and a half. You've seen death. What would you say to somebody out there right now and you don't want to see them on your floor?

MALDONADO: I would say that nurses will always take care of everyone regardless of their background or beliefs. We're going to be there for you, but we want you to stay healthy and safe for your family and your friends and your community. But we will be here and we'll make sure that you get home to your family as much as we can. We need your help in that, too

VERCAMMEN: And you've seen a lot. And you said to me, off camera, that those moments where you've watched somebody pass are extremely lonely, and you want people to avoid that?

MALDONADO: Yes. I don't want to be the last thing you see. I want you to be surrounded by your family and friends and their comfort. And as much as we try to build community around our patients, they need love from their family. And we will provide that for them, but I want them to have that with them in the hospital.

VERCAMMEN: Great. Speaking of love, we're going to bring in Marco Pelusi, he is the one who has donated his full power of a salon. Everybody here, the stylist.

Marco, why did you do this?

MARCO PELUSI, BEAUTY SALON OWNER: You know, we were so excited. We wanted to do makeovers. I love makeovers. I'm passionate about makeovers, but I absolutely wanted to do something to the nurses, to give back to the nursing community. They have worked so hard. So diligently. So ferociously. And so, I thought makeovers on nurses and we wanted to make them feel good. So, when they get in the mirror in the morning, they've got some pretty color to look at and they're energized to go back out on the frontlines.

VERCAMMEN: Well, good for you. It's not every day that someone gets to roll into an esteemed West Hollywood salon and get a makeover.

PELUSI: Thank you. Thank you.

VERCAMMEN: That is great. We really appreciate you doing that.

And so, in all, there were five nurses being honored here today, getting this makeover from Marco and stylist and people with various expertise in the beauty industry. And we really want to have all of them take a bow because what they're doing is so important. And I'd like to add for the nurses, they all want you to get vaccinated.

They don't want you to wind up on their floor. And for them, it's the least you can do to get the vaccine. And now, with the delta variant spreading, we know of these cases, they are called breakthrough cases, if you want to term them that way, that they would say, go ahead and get that shot in the arm.

Reporting from West Hollywood, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now, back to you, Jessica.

DEAN: All right. Our thanks to you, Paul. And Marco and Dahlia, thanks to all of you.

Good afternoon to you. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Jessica Dean in for Fredricka Whitfield this afternoon.