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Officials Urge Vaccines, Believe Surging Cases Are Only Beginning; Delta Variant Complicating Back To School Plans; Senate Soon To Introduce $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 1, 2021 - 15:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Good afternoon to you. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Jessica Dean, in for Fredricka Whitfield this afternoon and right now, the COVID crisis is entering a new dangerous phase, one that health experts warn could get much worse.

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 now up 26 percent over three weeks ago, and that is good and encouraging news.

Of course, those vaccines incredibly effective. More than 99.99 percent of people fully vaccinated will survive any 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 of weeks. We're pushing up towards 100,000 cases a day now, and particularly so in those hotspots 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: As he just said, one of the epicenters of this new COVID surge, Florida, that state now accounting for one of every five new infections in the country. CNN's Randi Kaye joins me now from Riviera Beach, Florida and Randi, how are officials in Florida responding to this dramatic spike in cases.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They don't want to change anything here in the State of Florida. They seem to think that things are going well despite the surge in numbers, at least on the state level that is. In the last week, we saw more than 110,000 new cases here in the State of Florida, the daily average, 15,818 new cases, and just yesterday, we actually set a record here in the state for the most new cases in a single day since the pandemic began, 21,683 cases yesterday.

Meanwhile, if you look at how Florida stacks up across the country, 19.2 percent of all the cases in the U.S. are here in the State of Florida, mostly here in South Florida where we are. Also, Florida seeing the highest average number of new cases that they have seen since January when the pandemic was quite bad here, and the number of vaccinated right now, still not half the state is vaccinated. We have 49 percent of the people here in the State of Florida who are fully vaccinated, and many of the unvaccinated are ending up in the ICU.

I was on a COVID ward in Jacksonville recently. I visited Baptist Medical Center and I spoke to patients who didn't get the vaccine, who were on breathing machines, and struggling to breathe, and full of regret. Here's a conversation with one of them.


KAYE: You were more concerned about the vaccine than the disease? And now, you say you regret it.

MARIBEL: Yes, exactly. That's correct. That's right.

KAYE: You wish you had gotten the vaccine.

MARIBEL: Yes, exactly.

KAYE: You probably wouldn't be here.

MARIBEL: Yes, exactly.


KAYE: And schools here in the State of Florida are on the verge of reopening, and now, for this school year and now we're seeing also a spike in cases for children, you know that they can't get the vaccine if they are 12 and under. But right now 10,585 new cases in the past week among children who are under the age of 12. The positivity rate for children in that age group is 18.1 percent. So, certainly they're looking to lower that.

But the Governor is not taking any action. In fact, he issued an executive order, signed an executive order just a couple of days ago saying that school districts cannot mandate masks in schools. He says that this is about parents' freedom, that it protects parents' freedom. He says that he doesn't want to see his own children or other children around the state wearing masks in the classroom.

So, he is against lockdowns. He is against mask mandates and any type of restriction -- Jessica.

DEAN: Wow. No masks in the schools as we see these numbers going up for these school-aged children. All right, Randi Kaye, thanks so much for that update.

And as we just said, millions of kids going back to school in the next few weeks. As soon as tomorrow, many of them will be attending school in-person for the first time in well over a year. The delta variant, of course, complicating what was supposed to be a return to normal for so many of them, and Natasha Chen is outside an Atlanta City Elementary School. Natasha, kids there start back tomorrow. What are you hearing from

community members? From parents?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of division and really a lot of anxiety among the larger community here from parents, from educators about how to bring the students back in person safely.

Now, the elementary school behind me is in the City of Atlanta, it is part of DeKalb County's Public School System. They start back tomorrow and their July update to families said that masks would be needed indoors for all students and staff. That was also the case -- that is the case at Drew Charter School, that's within the City of Atlanta as well.


CHEN: They started class last Tuesday, but within a couple of days already had several positive COVID cases among staff and students, resulting in eighth graders going back to virtual class because their staff were affected by the quarantine. Nearly a hundred students in their sixth grade classes are in quarantine.

And we heard from one of the parents at Drew Charter School about the possible discussion of mandating vaccines for school employees, and the difficult nature and the controversy surrounding all of that. Here is what she said.


JESSICA SEARES, DAUGHTER AND SON ATTEND SCHOOL WITH 100 PLUS STUDENTS QUARANTINED: I hope it's minority of teachers, perhaps they are vaccine hesitant, but there is so much misinformation and I hate every time I hear people say the vaccine doesn't work.

I understand we have a new variant and vaccine is not an impenetrable armor. But it is, you know, some of the best armor we have. So, we need to go ahead and put that armor on.


CHEN: And of the few cases, of the handful of cases among the teachers and staff at Drew Charter School, only one of those people were vaccinated. That was a breakthrough case. The rest of them were not vaccinated.

Of course, this becomes a really difficult conversation when you consider that students under the age of 12 are not eligible to get a shot. And those above the age of 12, as school districts are trying to survey and see exactly what percentage of their student population might be vaccinated.

So, difficult considerations for all of these districts, not just in the Metro Atlanta area, but around the country trying to figure out how to get kids back in class safely.

DEAN: Yes, I know, everybody wants them to be back in school safely, but those kids under 12 are really at the mercy of those around them.

All right, Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

And joining me now to discuss all of this is Dr. Carlos del Rio, the Executive Associate Dean of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Dr. del Rio, great to see you. Thanks for making time. I want to ask you first, if you're concerned about children returning to the classroom this week.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN OF THE EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE - ATLANTA: Well, Jessica, this is a very difficult conversation. I'm also concerned about kids not returning to the classroom. And I think in average, you can return to the classroom safely if you follow the appropriate recommendations.

The first thing we all need to do is get vaccinated and people -- you know, in this country currently, there are a hundred million persons eligible for vaccination who have not gone vaccinated. If those people will be vaccinated, we will not be having a problem right now.

So, the first thing is getting those people eligible for vaccination vaccinated. The second thing is, while we're having this outbreak, to have masks in school indoors. I think if we do those things, we will be able to return safely to classroom and kids need to return to an in-person education.

DEAN: Right. I mean, that's -- and everybody wants them to get back safely and you're laying out the steps that you can take to get that done.

Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health says the coronavirus has killed about 400 children since the start of the pandemic, but some parents are still not concerned about their kids returning to the classroom and they are not in favor of mask mandates.

Let's listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am concerned that we are creating a generation of isolated antisocial children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how you build herd immunity when you're exposed to it. What we have is a very transmissible virus that is not very deadly to our children.


DEAN: So Doctor, what's your message to parents who do not feel like the coronavirus presents a real threat to their children?

DEL RIO: Well, you know, they are correct, the chances of a kid dying from COVID is exceedingly low. They will get sick, the chances of them dying from COVID is exceedingly low, but it will happen. And I think something people need to understand is that if one of those kids dies, it is one too many kids that has died, and I think our job in public health is trying to protect and decrease deaths as much as possible.

So, it's a very complicated situation, right? But the reality is that kids have a much lower risk of adults of having severe complications from COVID.

DEAN: Right. And less than 50 percent of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated. But new data from the C.D.C. shows that 99.999 percent of fully vaccinated people who do get this so-called breakthrough case do not die. Could the data be any clearer about why you need to be getting this vaccine?

DEL RIO: No, you're absolutely right, and I just finished being on the inpatient service and seen consults and the people that we have in the hospital with COVID, and the numbers are going up here in Georgia, they are pretty much unvaccinated individuals. The vaccinated people who are getting infected are not ending up in the hospital and certainly are not dying.

So, I think at the end of the day, the efficacy of the vaccines -- you know, people have talked a lot about the breakthrough cases and this, that and the other. The reality is the great majority of infections, the vast majority of infections, and the great majority of hospitalizations and deaths are happening among these unvaccinated individuals.

And again, if we get the hundred million people eligible for vaccination vaccinated in the next month, we will be in a very different place.


DEAN: Right. Right. And officials at the St. Charles County Health Department in Missouri set up a vaccination drive at the County Fair there and local affiliates reported that after two days, they did not vaccinate a single person. Here is what some of the healthcare workers said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we vaccinate one person, that's wonderful. If we vaccinate a hundred people at an event, that's even better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just going to do our best to reach as many people as we can.


DEAN: And you're in the medical field. How disheartening is it for you to hear about this vaccine reluctance from others, being in the healthcare world, having watched this, being an expert and seeing people being so reluctant to take this vaccine?

DEL RIO: Well, I think you know, there are many people who have a lot of distrust, I think, unfortunately, there's also been a lot of misinformation and misinformation has actually increased the level of reluctance people have. It hasn't helped. But the last thing, Jessica, I really think that the F.D.A. not

approving the vaccines as of now, we're still in an emergency use authorization is a problem. If the F.D.A. were to issue, you know, full approval of the vaccines, I suspect that a big number of people who are still on the fence will finally take the vaccine.

And more importantly, it will also allow a lot of employers to mandate the vaccine, to make the vaccine as a requirement. So, I do think the F.D.A. has a major role to play right now.

DEAN: Right. I mean, because there are a lot of people holding out that say maybe once this gets full approval that they will be willing to do that. So, we will see if that comes to be.

More than 39,000 people are now hospitalized with COVID-19 across the nation. That's the latest data we've got from the Health Department, and that includes an increase of about 11,000 hospitalizations over the last week alone.

As we've talked about, the majority of people who are being hospitalized are not vaccinated, the vast majority of them. Talk about the strain this is putting on healthcare systems, on hospitals, on medical and healthcare workers. Do you worry about them being overwhelmed again?

DEL RIO: I certainly do. I think some places in the country like Missouri, for example, and other places are already overwhelmed. They are already having a catastrophe and they are expressing that.

But I want to remind people that when hospitals get full with COVID patients, it is not just COVID that suffers, if you have a heart attack, and you have a stroke, if you need surgery, if you need therapy for cancer, you will also be delayed in your care because there will not be beds available for you to go into.

So, the reality is, mortality and disease, you know, care for other illnesses gets impacted when the beds get occupied by COVID. So, it really affects all of us. If somebody says, well, I don't really care about COVID because I've already been vaccinated. Well, you do care because the reality is, if you have a heart attack, you will be having trouble finding a bed for yourself.

DEAN: Yes, we're all tied together in this. All right, Dr. Carlos del Rio, thank you so much for your expertise and your explanations and input. We appreciate it.

DEL RIO: Have a good day.

DEAN: You, too.

Coming up, new information on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bill could be finalized at any moment.

Plus, a murder mystery in one of Atlanta's most popular parks, a woman and her dog killed by a suspect who is still on the run. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


DEAN: Any moment now, one of President Biden's key agenda items could be one step closer to reality. Senators are still in session at this hour working on a massive trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill. The text has not been released because as of this moment, it's hasn't been finalized.

And despite months of negotiations between moderate Democrats, Republicans, and the White House, this is far from a done deal at this point.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill. Suzanne, where does the bill stand right now?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, this is one of those hurry up and wait days just to see here. I mean, we heard from Senators Joe Manchin and Susan Collins, key negotiators to the infrastructure package early in the morning saying, hey, this is the day. This is when the legislative -- final legislative language is going to happen. So, of course, all eyes have been on the Senate floor when this is going to happen just dotting the I's and crossing the T's.

This is a trillion-dollar package, half of it, which is new in Federal funding for traditional infrastructure, the bipartisan plan calling to repair roads, bridges, broadband, electric grids, things of that nature. And really, once this legislative language, the final language is introduced, it would be introduced as a substitute amendment and would become the base of the bill and it opens up the process for the next couple of days where you would see senators offering amendments to the bill.

You have Schumer and McConnell making, negotiating, and deciding which ones would actually get a vote, 60 votes for an amendment to pass. And then hours and hours of debate on both the Democratic and the Republican side before all of this is wrapped up, voted on finally, and then passed on to the House.

But Jessica, as you know, there is another key element to this and that is the second track, a tandem track, if you will, that is a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. It does not involve the Republicans, but the Democrats on the Senate and the House side, they want to see human infrastructure, spending on human infrastructure like education, child care, elder care, these type of things, and this is where you're going to see the progressives and the moderates, the Democrats fighting amongst themselves negotiating and making sure that they have that package.

The progressives say that it is a requirement for their vote for infrastructure. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): After the bipartisan infrastructure

legislation passes this chamber, I will immediately move to the other track, passing a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which will allow the Senate to make historic investments in American jobs, the American families, and efforts to reverse climate change. Both tracks are very much needed by the American people and we must accomplish both.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): 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.


MALVEAUX: So Jessica, you can see where this is going. The horse trading, really kind of the power plays, but people are going to be fighting for their constituents. We will see how this plays out, not just the bipartisan infrastructure package, but clearly what is going to be an intra-party fight within the Democrats.

DEAN: All right, a legislative marathon ahead. Suzanne Malveaux for us on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Meantime, back rent is due today for millions of Americans after the Federal Eviction Moratorium expired at midnight last night. That moratorium put in place during the pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blamed Republicans for blocking last minute scramble to extend the measure, and its exploration has led to a new urgency within the White House to get billions of dollars in unspent housing assistance distributed.

Senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is at the White House today. And Joe, the Democrats -- the House Democrats didn't have the votes for this on Friday. Does the White House have a strategy on this?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, they say they have a strategy. They say they've been working on this all along, Jessica. But it certainly has to be coming off as slow in the execution for millions of Americans who are behind on their rent, and one thing that has not slowed down is the blame game that kicked off when the White House was slow to act and waited until the last minute to send a request to Capitol Hill to enact a moratorium.

And of course, that became a problem because they couldn't get the votes.

Now, the White House says and also Democrats up on Capitol Hill say in fact, it was the Republicans who caused this, but as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on our network earlier today, you can't really in good faith, blame the Republicans, when in fact, it's the Democrats in control of Capitol Hill. So now, as you said, the focus is on the money that's already in the

pipeline. Earlier this year, Congress passed tens of billions of dollars for housing and a lot of that money has not gone out partly because the states have been slow to act also, because it's been a problem with all the paperwork involved.

But that's the message from top administration officials who were out on the Sunday talk shows today. Listen.


BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: The real issue here is how to get money out to renters, who through no fault of their own are behind on their rent, and to help landlords keep those renters in their home, which is a win-win.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We need to continue getting this emergency assistance out to people so that they can stay in their homes.


JOHNS: So, the reason why the administration doesn't extend the moratorium on its own is because it is risky due to the fact that the United States Supreme Court has already said Congress has to weigh in before that moratorium gets extended. And if the President goes there, he risks the possibility of a sweeping ruling from the Supreme Court that could knock out some of the other emergency public health things that have come out of the White House.

Jessica, back to you.

DEAN: Yes, a lot of finger-pointing. Meantime, the bottom line, Joe, is that millions of Americans including many, many children may be evicted very soon. Joe Johns at the White House for us. Thanks so much.

Up next, police are searching for a killer in Atlanta, a woman and her dog murdered in a popular park and now, the F.B.I. is getting involved.



DEAN: There have been more than 200 shootings across the country this weekend, that's according to the Gun Violence Archive, another horrific weekend in a historically violent year. In New York, 10 people were reported wounded after two men opened fire on a crowd of people outside a laundromat in Queens. Police say the two men then fled on mopeds and have not been found.

One person was shot and killed overnight in New Orleans just hours after another shooting there left five people wounded in the French Quarter. And five people were shot outside a funeral home in Indianapolis Saturday including a four-year-old girl. Meanwhile, there is a grisly murder mystery in Atlanta, a woman and

her dog were killed in Piedmont Park early Wednesday morning. Investigators releasing this surveillance photo of the victims before the crime. Police were left with a bizarre and gruesome scene, but not much else to go on, and that community of course, on edge. Her family heartbroken.


JOE CLARK, KATIE JANNESS' FATHER-IN-LAW: What they did to her is ridiculous. There is a monster on the loose in the City of Atlanta.


DEAN: I want to bring in retired Atlanta homicide detective, Vince Velazquez now. Detective, great to have you with us. This crime in Atlanta happened several days ago, yet we still have very little information. No official suspect, no motive. Only one surveillance photo. Does this surprise you at this point?

VINCE VELAZQUEZ, RETIRED ATLANTA HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: The surveillance photos do a little bit. We have cameras all over the city and I think we may get some more footage. They are relying heavily on the public, the people that live near the park to check their nest cameras. But it's still early, and this is, you know, probably one of the most gruesome cases that I've ever seen and I've lived here 30 years.

DEAN: And just to give people a sense of what Piedmont Park is and where it is, if you're not familiar with Atlanta, this is a big, very popular park really right in the middle of midtown there, right?


VELAZQUEZ: That's right. That's right. It's the equivalent of Central Park in New York. It's our Central Park. It's a multi acre park. It is nestled right in Midtown Atlanta. We have festivals there. People live near the park. Thousands of people attend this park every day.

DEAN: Right. And I think that's so important because what do you make of the location of this crime? This is a rare type of murder, but also in this particular place.

VELAZQUEZ: You know, Piedmont Park -- all of our parks close at 11 o'clock, but that doesn't mean that we don't have people in the park after they officially close. We have a big homeless population in Atlanta and they also frequent the park, not to say that this is our suspect. We don't know that yet. But it's not completely empty. And it's very big. This park is enormous.

So a lot of trees, a lot of areas people hide, people sleep in the park, homeless people.

DEAN: And the F.B.I. is now assisting in this investigation. What does that tell you about the investigation? And what type of resources will Federal agents provide? What does that do to shift the investigation? VELAZQUEZ: Well, I think they are just providing the resources. The

F.B.I. does not investigate homicide, as a statute. But I know from my sources that the Behavioral Analysis Unit for Quantico is assisting in trying to create a profile of who this person may be.

It's incredibly gruesome, and they're very good at that. They are working hand in hand with the Atlanta Homicide Unit. And hopefully soon, they can have a little more ammunition, a little more information to try to figure out who they are looking for.

DEAN: And if you were running this investigation, what would you be doing right now? Do you think this person, whoever did this is any threat to others? Could this happen again?

VELAZQUEZ: Most certainly. He is not in custody at this point. And I think, you know, the public should be cautious, more so now than ever, because he is on the loose. But there -- you know, I want to make it clear that from my experience and my contacts here, there is no indication that this is a serial killer.

Historically, no other case that we could look back in the City of Atlanta say this is similar or identical. That doesn't mean it won't happen again. It could turn into that. And I think the public needs to be cautious and call Crime Stoppers of anything you see suspicious.

DEAN: And we know that investigators have described the scene as gruesome, but they are not giving a ton of specifics in this. What's the strategy behind that?

VELAZQUEZ: Well, I think you know, the police department has to be cautious, because while they're doing an investigation, you have to maintain the integrity of the investigation. On the other hand, they need to give -- and they have done a great job of giving information out to the public. So, they are aware -- and some of the details have come out.

We know that this poor victim was brutally murdered, savagely with a knife, and those details need to come out because of the heinousness of this crime, the type of person they counter. Anyone walking your dog or anyone walking around a park in the City of Atlanta at night should be extra cautious now of anyone following them, or anyone who just looks suspicious, because until this person is identified and in custody, there is a potential that he could do this again.

DEAN: Well, we're certainly wishing the victim's family peace and love that you know, that they can get through this and we hope that someone will come forward with information.

Detective Vince Velazquez, thanks so much for helping us understand a little bit more about what's going on. We appreciate it.

VELAZQUEZ: Thank you.

DEAN: Up next, a new chapter in the coronavirus pandemic. Booster shots now a reality in Israel. We're going to have those details for you just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEAN: Starting today, Israelis over 60 will be eligible for another dose of the COVID vaccine even if they are already fully vaccinated. As CNN's Hadas Gold explains, thousands have already stepped up to get their shot.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, Israel has officially kicked off its campaign to offer a third booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine to anyone over the age of 60 who received their second dose more than five months ago. According to the main Israeli Health Services, already more than 22,000 people have received their third shots and more than 181,000 have made appointments to do so.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett made the announcement about this third booster shot campaign last week citing data which he says shows the vaccine may be losing its efficacy over time. According to the Israeli Health Ministry, for people who received their second dose of the vaccine by the end of January, which in Israel was most of over 60 population that the vaccine effectiveness at fighting off infection could possibly drop to as low as 16 percent, although they were still very well protected against severe illness.

The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he hopes that this campaign will not only help protect this older population, will help keep the hospitals running at their full capacity and will help protect the economy and the education system.

This move though is not without debate in Israel. Israel is making this move ahead of any recommendation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which Israel usually follows on these types of decisions or the World Health Organization. But clearly, it is a bet that Israel thinks is best for its citizens and they know that they are making themselves into sort of a test case for the rest of the world.


GOLD: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeting that he has already spoken with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss this campaign that they will share their data of what happens in Israel with this booster shot with the rest of the world -- Jessica.

DEAN: All right, Hadas Gold in Israel for us, thanks so much.

American swimmer Katie Ledecky cements her place in Olympic history. Next, her one-on-one interview with CNN and how she says she plans to celebrate when she gets back home.


DEAN: And let's run through some of The Olympic highlights for Team U.S.A., swimmer Caeleb Dressel closed out a historic showing by winning his fourth and fifth gold medals. He is now the fifth American to win five in a single Olympics joining the likes of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. [15:45:15]

DEAN: Outside the pool, Xander Schauffele took the golden men's golf. He finished 18 shots under par sinking two dramatic putts on his final round to hold off several challengers who were close behind him.

And gymnast, Simone Biles has now withdrawn from the floor final. U.S.A. Gymnastics says she will make a decision on whether she will compete on the beam later this week.

The best women's swimmer of all time is American Katie Ledecky. She brings two golds and two silvers back home from Tokyo, giving her a grand total of 10 Olympic medals in her career becoming the only U.S. Olympian in history with six individual goals. CNNs Coy Wire sat down with her earlier today.


KATIE LEDECKY, 10-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: It's an amazing feeling to be bringing home two golds and two silvers here and competed in my third Olympics. It's something I never would have imagined when I first started something.


LEDECKY: Healthy.

WIRE: But, after years of sacrifice and discipline, a celebratory meal. And how are you just going to relax now that this is over?

LEDECKY: Oh, I did have a hamburger after I was done. It tasted good. But yes, I'm just going to enjoy spending time with my family and friends and telling them all the stories. I can't wait to get back to the U.S. and just give them a big hug.

WIRE: You've been through a lot. We've all been through a lot. We've spent a lot of time with ourselves in reflection. What have you learned about yourself over this past year?

LEDECKY: I think I've learned resilience and I've just appreciated health and I haven't been able to be with my family quite as much. And so, they've become even more important to me. I mean, just trying to stay connected in every which way I could over the past year has been challenging. But I've just also felt their love throughout this whole trip in Tokyo even though they haven't been here.

So, as I said, I'm just really excited to get home and give them a big hug.

WIRE: What's that going to be like when you're reunited with them? You haven't seen him like a year? Right?

LEDECKY: Well, I saw them a couple of months ago, they came to the Olympic trials. So, it was a while and it was hard to -- I haven't been home in a long time.

WIRE: You haven't been home and yes.

LEDECKY: I haven't been home in about a year and a half. So, I've just been very dedicated to my training and going home would have meant a 10-day quarantine coming back to California to get back into training. So, I didn't -- I didn't want to sacrifice my health or the health of those around me and tried to stay true to the restrictions that we were under for good reason and kept myself healthy, kept those around me healthy and was able to pursue these goals and Tokyo because of that.

WIRE: Simone Biles has made an incredible impact on these Games. And I think we're seeing how powerful mind is. There's not many people in the world who can say they've navigated what you have in your career when you felt those sorts of moments. How -- what got you through them? How did you navigate those situations?

LEDECKY: I try to just stay focused on my own goals and try not to let external expectations get to me too much. Swimming is not the only thing that I enjoy doing. I'm passionate about other things as well. And so I'm really happy that I just finished my degree at Stanford and just had a great time there as well.

So, there's so much more to life than swimming and The Olympics and the people around me remind me of that.


DEAN: All right, our thanks to Coy Wire for that great interview. Television often offers a reflection of its own time and culture and sometimes, it reveals the best in us. Sometimes, it shows us where our biggest problems lie.

This week, on an all-new episode of the CNN Original Series "History of The Sitcom," we take a look at how different sitcoms have tackled racism and representation over the years. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must set higher goals. We must set higher goals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the 1970s, Stokely Carmichael was one of the Black Panthers and Stokely and some of his Panthers go storming into Norman Lear's office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My secretary said, there are three guys that want to see the garbage man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said you've got this poor black family on good times. You know, all black people aren't poor like that. This is a real misrepresentation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we had a black family next door on the family, and then we decided to move them on.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DEAN: And joining us now is Jacqueline Coley, an editor at Rotten

Tomatoes. Jacqueline, great to have you with us. Iconic TV producer Norman Lear, who we just saw there is known for creating some of the first sitcoms to address racial issues in really provocative ways. How did shows like "All in the Family," "Good Times," "Sanford and Son" changed the way that sitcoms dealt with race on TV.


JACQUELINE COLEY, EDITOR, ROTTEN TOMATOES: Yes, actually -- thank you for having me. And also, yes, this has been so interesting about television as it's very cyclical and what Norman Lear really did is he was one of the first ones to put his position to put African-American and marginalized communities on the map and that's really important.

Although looking back at through the lens of history, knowing this was a show written primarily by white writers, there are definitely things about it that we can look back and say, that's not exactly the best representations we would like to see on television.

But it cannot be understated that he was one of the first people for a lot of white Americans to bring black people into their homes.

DEAN: Like right into their living room. Right, right. And by the time you get there, get to the 1990s, there really was this explosion of black sitcoms on networks like FOX, the WB, why do you think we saw a rise in black-centered shows at that time, and then what happened in the intervening years?

COLEY: It's very interesting because both with FOX and then again, with UPN, what happens is looking for audiences, these upstart networks found that black television watchers were very loyal to content that they felt spoke to them. And so they use that with shows like "Girlfriends," and, you know, we're talking about the "Fresh Prince" and "Martin" and "Roc," and they use those shows to build their audience.

And then what unfortunately does happen is once they built that audience, they then move to the quote-unquote, "more mainstream white facing sitcoms" that allowed them to then sort of scale themselves to a whole host of new advertisers.

And it's a sad story that's happened over and over again. I mean, the death of the black television renaissance can be pretty much tracked to the merger of UPN, turning into the CW.

DEAN: That's really interesting. So, over time, you saw more and more black characters in sitcoms on TV, like we were just talking about, but you didn't see the same representation of other minority groups. When did that start to change? How did it start to change?

COLEY: Well, it's interesting, it starts with like dribbles. I mean, you have things back in the 70s, like "Chico and the Man" and then it took another 20 years before we had a Hispanic family doing a family sitcom on television with things like "The George Lopez Show." You have something like Margaret Cho doing "All American Girl." And then again, it was almost decades before we saw another similar sitcom like that was something like "Fresh Off the Boat."

And so unfortunately, what you've seen is these little trickles with representation outside of the African-American community. But again, with so many things, you can make a direct line to someone like Kenya Barris with what he did with "Blackish." You can definitely then see the iterations, which that allows ABC to then also do something like "Fresh Off the Boat."

So, I think when we speak to this representation in television, it is always going to be, I think, a longer road than any of us want to be. But it's the little steps that eventually allow us to have big leaps.

DEAN: Right, and that representation just matters so much. And you alluded to this, even when you have black actors or other people of color playing the characters on the sitcoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that the shows are being written from that perspective, or that there are people of color in the writing room. How important is that diversity in the writers' room?

COLEY: It's very important. It's something that I actually say in the episode tonight. I speak about the fact that they took a lot of African-American issues and more negative aspects of the African- American experience. And they definitely took, you know, faced them head on and highlighted them on screen.

But they were very rare to do the other side, to show aspirational wealth and the fact that, you know, minorities moving into the suburbs, those things took much longer. It was very easy and more palatable, I think, for these white writers to sort of write that one type of experience. It took black and brown and Asian writers getting behind the scenes to show the other sides of those experiment and that's why -- it's important. Yes.

DEAN: Yes, coming to the forefront. Well, we're looking forward to the episode tonight. Jacqueline Coley, thank you so much. We're excited to hear more about it. We appreciate you making time for us.

COLEY: Thank you.

DEAN: And don't miss that all-new episode of the CNN Original Series, "History of The Sitcom." It's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.


DEAN: I want my MTV, the network that brought music videos to the masses and made VJs household names is celebrating its 40th anniversary. On this day in 1981, MTV officially launched itself into a cultural phenomenon.

The network featuring some of the most iconic musical acts in history from Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, and the Backstreet Boys and beyond. But it all started with that famous hook by the buckles.



DEAN: So, Happy Birthday to MTV today.

Still ahead, vaxxed and angry. Vaccinated American sounding off as new coronavirus rules go into effect.