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More Proof Vaccines Save Lives as Pandemic of Unvaccinated Rages; More Americans Getting Vaccinated as Delta Variant Spreads; Hospitals Reporting Uptick of Cases Among Children; NIH Director: Best Way to Protect Kids is More Shots in Arms; Florida Leads U.S. with Nearly 1 in 5 New Cases Nationwide; Many Schools Across the South Return Today with Mask Mandates in Place; Louisiana Among Five States Leading the Nation in New Infections; Delta Variant Cases Rise Among Kids; Hospitals Sounding Alarm; Five States Account for Half of New Cases, FL, TX, CA, LA and MO; Nearly 50% of Americans Vaccinated as Delta Variant Rages On; Millions Face Eviction as Moratorium Expires; Trump in Search of Options After DOJ Demands Release of Taxes; Dem Rep. Stages Protest, Rips House for Eviction Ban Lapsing. Aired 1- 1:30p ET.

Aired August 2, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Marking his 60th birthday with a giant celebration this weekend on Martha's Vineyard. Axios reports it will include hundreds of guests including Steven Spielberg and Pearl Jam is set to perform.

News of course of this raising some eyebrows because of the surge in COVID cases and the Delta variant, but a source close to the former president says the event will follow all CDC protocols.

Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and thanks so much for being with us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And let this number sink in, 99.99 percent. The CDC says more than 99.99 percent of fully vaccinated people have not had a breakthrough COVID cases that had led hospitalization or death. So it's more proof vaccines are working, they are saving lives and more people are now getting one.

Yesterday over 816,000 reported doses given. The fifth straight day with over 700,000 shots in U.S. arms. Now those shots are critical as the unvaccinated pandemic rages. Right now nearly 44,000 Americans are in hospitals with COVID, the moist since April.

Also today, new concern for children too young to get vaccinated. Millions now back in school with more 80 percent of the U.S. seeing high or substantial transmission. And that's where we begin with CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Protecting kids a crucial message today. What are officials saying Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDIAL CORRESPONDENT: Officials are trying to get this word out Ana. Yes, it is true that COVID-19, thank goodness, doesn't affect children as severely as it does adults. It does affect children.

Children unfortunately do get very sick. The can have long-term complications, they can die. There are too, too many examples of perfectly healthy children who came down with COVID and got very sick and could have complications for a long time now or sadly even lost their lives.

Let's take a look to Dr. Francis Collins the Director of the National Institutes of Health.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR NIH: Well it is very true that Delta seems capable of not just giving severe illness to older people but also to adolescence and even children.

Another reason, I think, why we really have to push forward as much as we can with getting vaccination rates up. We need to push that. If you're really worried about the kids, well, get the people who can be vaccinated at a higher rate. We've got a long way to go in some of those communities to get to the point where people are protected.


COHEN: The bottom line, if you're a parent of a child older than the age of 12 and you don't get them vaccinated imagine how you would feel if something terrible happened to them. If they did get infected with COVID-19 and got very sick or God forbid died. You would never forgive yourself. So vaccinate yourself.

So luckily I think some of these messages are getting through on the whole, not just for children. Let's take a look at three states that were not doing terribly well with vaccinations and how they're doing now.

So look at Louisiana, these are three states with very high COVID transmission. If you look overall over time Louisiana was 47th in terms of people getting that first COVID-19 vaccine, but if you look just at last week they were actually number one. They were first in the country. That's amazing.

Alabama went from 46th to 3rd and Mississippi went from 50th to 8th. So, we can see the places that need to be listening, in fact, some people do seem to be listening. Let's hope that it keeps going and keeps continuing. Ana? CABRERA: Absolutely. Let's go and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We'll be talking with a doctor in Louisiana about what his state is experiencing, particularly when it comes to children being hospitalized in just a moment.

Thank you Elizabeth Cohen.

Right now five states account for nearly half of all new U.S. COVID cases, Florida is leading the way accounting for one in five new cases nationwide.

This as the debate over masks in schools reaches a boiling point there.

CNN's Rosa Flores reports.



FLORES (voice over): The Azcarate family --




FLORES (voice over): And the Melachrino family --


FLORES (voice over): Both have children attending Broward County Public Schools in south Florida. One family is for mask mandates in schools.

MICHAEL AZCARATE, PRO-MASK PARENT BROWARD COUNTY: I think masks are the best course of action and I think that that keeps everyone safe.

FLORES (voice over): The other is for masks being optional.

CARRIE MELACHRINO, AGAINST MASK MANDATE PARENT BROWARD COUNTY: Mandating it doesn't seem fair or right. I think best case scenario parents should definitely be given an option. I respect everybody's opinion and choices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) masks.

FLORES (voice over): It's a debate that erupted into protests here this past week as the number of COVID-19 cases in Florida jumped to more than 110,000 and the positivity rate among children and teens between the age of 12 and 19 surpassed 22 percent.


RON DESANTIS (R), GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Did you not the get the CDC's memo? I don't see you guys complying.



FLORES (voice over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has long spoken out against mask mandates Friday signed an executive order giving parents the choice between masks and no masks.

The move big-footed Broward County Public Schools recent decision to require masks in classrooms leaving families with mixed emotions.

FLORES: As a dad what's that like for the governor to come in and override your school board?

AZCARATE: Party of small government, right? It's -- it's really disheartening.

FLORES: So what was your reaction to that?

MELACHRINO: Relief. And simply for my children and their well-being.

FLORES (voice over): The debate in Florida playing out across the country. The three largest school districts New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago will require masks.

Other reversing course and will now require masks too, including Gwinnett County, Georgia and Baltimore County.

The debate landing in Texas as well. Another state where the governor banned mask mandates.


GREG ABBOTT (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: Kids will not be forced by government or by schools to wear a mask in school.


FLORES (voice over): School boards there holding meetings and a major teacher group asking the governor to reconsider his executive order.


FLORES (voice over): School boards there holding meetings and a major teacher group asking the governor to reconsider his executive order.


OVIDIA MOLINA, PRESIDENT TEXAS STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: What we are fearful is that we are going to be in classrooms where we are going to have that student that does get too sick, that does die and it all could have been prevented.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom is a superstar. And I'm like terrible.

FLORES (voice over): After spending time with these two Broward County families one thing became clear.

AZCARATE: I think we absolutely have something in common. We want what's best for our children.

MELACHRINO: Absolutely. We're all united in that way.

FLORES (voice over): Above all, they love their children.


FLORES: Broward County Public Schools sending CNN as statement saying that they are reviewing the executive order by the governor and trying to figure out if they need to adjust it.

Now the largest school district in this state, Miami-Dade County Public Schools sending CNN this statement the superintendent there saying, "In light of the release of the executive order we certainly hope to be able to craft protocols that ensure full funding of our children's education while simultaneously protecting their and their children -- excuse me -- their and their teacher's health and well being."

And Ana, the fear there is that in that executive order Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatens to withhold funding from schools if they do not follow that executive order. Ana.

CABRERA: Wow. Rosa Flores thank you for that reporting.

To Louisiana now, another state leading in new infections. In just the last two weeks one hospital seeing 58 children arriving at its E.R. tested positive for COVID, several of them ending up in the ICU.

And with us now is Dr. Trey Dunbar, he's the President of Our Lady of the Lake Children's Health in Baton Rouge. Dr. Dunbar it is particularly painful to talk about children being hospitalized with COVID. You say some of these children need breathing tubes. Tell us more about what you're seeing and the severity of illness.

DR. TREY DUNBAR, PRESIDENT OF OUR LADY OF THE LAKE CHILDREN'S HEALTH: Yes, we've seen about a five to six fold increase in the number of COVID positive cases coming through our emergency room. And that's led to a number of patients being hospitalized.

You know, what we're seeing is these children, about 50 percent of them, will need to be in the intensive care unit. They need to have breathing support, whether or not that's oxygen, extra pressure or sometimes even breathing tubes.

Children do die from COVID. We have not one die at our hospital but we know in Louisiana children have died from COVID.

CABRERA: Wow. When you talk about it like half of them having to be in the ICU for care. Just how young are these patients? And are there any commonalities in the cases?

DUNBAR: Yes, what we're seeing is we'll see children who are just several weeks old all the way up to teenagers. Some of the children have complex medical conditions but some don't. The common theme obviously has been that they -- none of them have been vaccinated. Children less than 12 aren't eligible for the vaccine at this point in time unless it's on study.

We know that in Louisiana we -- it's less than 20 percent of our adolescence who are vaccinated.

CABRERA: Why is that?

DUNBAR: Well I think Louisiana up until recently has lagged behind in vaccinates and that could be for a number of reasons, whether or not families are skeptical about the speed with which the vaccines were approved.

You know, regardless as we've seen the Delta variant really increase, vaccination rates have picked up here and I hope that parents not only in Louisiana but across the country will consider getting vaccinations for the adolescence.

CABRERA: And you say that your staff is seeing the most, you know, children coming in with COVID that you've seen in any time in the pandemic. What do you attribute that to?


DUNBAR: I think it's probably the Delta variant, that's the predominant variant that circulating in our community. At (ph), you know, the adult population we're seeing a huge increase in positive rates and hospitalizations there. So I think those numbers have trans -- you know, kind of translated to children as well.

In fact, the last two weeks we've -- over half the cases we've seen for the entire year we've seen in the last two weeks.

CABRERA: Unbelievable. How is your staff holding up?

DUNBAR: Our staff are great. I mean, the live to take care of children. They're very selfless and they're wonderful. But this has been a long pandemic for them. What's not commonly known is, is the children's hospitals, especially across the south, have been busy since mid May because of respiratory syncytial virus, other viruses that we didn't see during the winter because of masking. It's almost like a winter during the summer and now we have COVID on top of that.

CABRERA: And so as your state is in the middle of this dangerous surge in COVID and while vaccinations are on the rise there in Louisiana that state is also the fourth worst right now for vaccination rates. And you have schools in East Baton Rouge Parish starting this Thursday. How worried are you?

DUNBAR: I do anticipate that we're going to see some more cases. You know, I know that there is great evidence out there and great recommendations from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and our Louisiana Department of Health on how to go back to school safely. School districts here in Louisiana have independent choice over that and I hope they heed that -- those recommendations.

CABRERA: What's your message to parents who have to decide whether to send their kids in masks because it's not a mandate, for example, in some districts?

DUNBAR: Yes. What we know is, is the vaccination is the most important. So, if you have a child who's eligible to get vaccinated we would strongly encourage that. You know, certainly masking it sounds like a lot of the schools systems are leaving -- may be leaving that up to children. We would hope that parents would help their children to make good decisions on that.

CABRERA: Well, Dr. Trey Dunbar thank you for sharing what's happening there in Louisiana and what you're seeing at your hospital with so many children coming in sick needing intensive care treatment.

Thank you again for being with us and best of luck as you continue to battle the pandemic.

DUNBAR: Thank you Ana.

CABRERA: Up next, fears of a full-blown eviction crisis after a law banning evictions is allowed to expire. Are millions on the brink of losing their homes now? We'll discuss what could happen.

Plus former President Trump searching for a legal path forward after the Justice Department green lights the release of his taxes to Congress. What's next in this drama?

And, Biles is back. The American gymnast says she will compete again in Tokyo after all. We've got the details.




CABRERA: This weekend the CDC's ban on evictions expired meaning millions could be kicked out of their homes in the coming months. As Democratic lawmakers and the White House point fingers over who dropped the call, Congresswoman Cori Bush who has experienced homelessness herself has been protesting at the Capitol since Friday. And this morning she called out her colleagues for going on recess.


REP. CORI BUSH (D), MISSOURI: It's hurtful, it's hurtful because that's me. You're saying that my life didn't matter. You're saying that people in your own communities that they're lives don't matter. People went on vacation. Went on vacation. We don't go on vacation. We need President Biden to go ahead and stroke the pen, you know, get this executive order done. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Biden administration lawyers believe the president's hands are tied, saying he lacks the authority to extend the moratorium again and that it's up to Congress.

CNN's Lauren Fox is at the Capitol. And Lauren, that was you speaking to Congresswoman Bush we just saw. What else are you hearing on the Hill about this?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look, there's a lot of finger pointing happening right now on Capitol Hill Ana and a lot of that is being directed at the White House.

I think we need to back up a little bit. On Friday the House of Representatives was trying to find the votes to actually put a bill on the floor that would block this eviction moratorium from expiring but they never got the votes.

And what you saw happen was a Democrat went to the floor asked for unanimous consent, it was blocked, essentially they never had an up or down vote on this because the votes just weren't there.

Now, even if the House could get something through. Even if folks came back from their congressional recess, which is now ongoing, what you don't have is support in the U.S. Senate and without it there's really not much you can do to make this change.

And I think that that's really where lawmakers are caught and that's why you're seeing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi double down on her argument that the administration needs to take executive action.

Now the administration is arguing they don't have the freedom to do that because their hands are tied given a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that said this could only be a temporary protection by the CDC. So, there's a lot of conflicting reports happening right now because every one up here on Capitol Hill on the Democratic side is trying to figure out if there is anything they can do.

You're starting to see the focus shift a little bit to the fact that there is rental assistance that was passed in the COVID relief bills, $47 billion, just a fraction of that, about $3 billion has actually gone out to people who need it.

That is where the focus is right now, can you get state and local governments to try to make sure that that money gets to the people who need it. But Ana, looking like congressional action up here just unlikely at this point.

CABRERA: Wow. So there's all that money out there ready to help people in need and yet it's not getting to them. There is obviously a problem and a breakdown in the process here.

Lauren Fox thank you for that update.

I want to bring in Brittany Burnett to get a better sense of how this impacting people today. She is the president and CEO of the United Way of the CSRA in Georgia. And Brittany the percentage of adults behind rent right now is highest in southern states, led by South Carolina, Georgia not far behind. Give us a sense of what this crisis looks like where you are.

BRITTANY BURNETT, PRESIDENT & CEO UNITED WAY OF THE CSRA: Well Ana the crisis is real. And we're seeing people every single day that are coming to us at United Way saying, I've never actually needed to ask for help before. This is the first time I've needed assistance. What do I do?

Or they'll say, you know, I'm only one month behind. Others are seven or eight months behind on their rent and it's either they were out because of a COVID related illness, maybe their child was out of school so they were unable to work. They just haven't been able to find new employment and so folks are really, really in a bind and not exactly sure what to do.

CABRERA: So this eviction ban expired and that means people could start losing their homes as soon as, I guess, today right? And you said you've been getting a ton of phone calls and text messages already with people who are getting kicked out or about to?

BURNETT: Exactly. So, you know, every day we're seeing more and more. We're calling this like the tsunami effect where now for some residents it's real and with the various extensions that have happened through the CDC moratorium I think people were hopeful that maybe there would be yet another extension.

And without that extension, again, people are feeling that right now it is real and now I really need some assistance. Because if they get out on the street than as a community it costs all a lot more for community members to be homeless and find ways to re-house them.

But the other problem is if they do get out of their home then it's going to be really hard in this housing market to find a new place to live because it's probably something they can't afford or there's no availability of anything for them to go to.

CABRERA: Are there any in particular stories that stand out to you that you could share?

BURNETT: Well, so recently I had a single mom who called me and said, you know, I really want to make sure my daughter is in a high-quality daycare environment. I'm working a couple of jobs to make ends meet.

I was borrowing money from friends and family to pay for my rent and kind of that source ran out and I can't believe I'm actually coming to United Way asking for help because I've never had to do this again.

I'm embarrassed. There's my pride and there's my dignity that -- in the way and this is really humbling for me to ask for help. But, in addition to help with my rent, I also need help with other things like utility support and food.

CABRERA: Wow, that sense of desperation you can just feel hearing that. I'm still confused as to why this, you know, $46 billion worth of funds that was allocated to help these people in need aren't getting to them. We all -- we understand only, you know, $3 billion of that $46 billion has been dispersed. Why isn't it getting to the people who need it?

BURNETT: So here in our community, in the Augusta, Georgia area we received about $6 million worth of assistance and we started distributing that in March and we've distributed about 40 percent of those dollars to date.

So we have people apply for assistance, because we're using government dollars we do have to get some documentation from them. We also have to get documentation from their landlord. So this is a joint process that's required for people to get the assistance that they need. And then we also have to have proof of income and other things.

And so, what we're seeing is some people don't have all those documents readily available or they don't know how to upload them. And so, we're trying to meet people where they are by offering the opportunity for in-person events where they can bring their documents or we can provide them a ride to bring us those documents.

So, we're trying to reduce the hurdles where we can, but there are many of them out there. And it's complicated. And so, I wish that we could have more that's distributed. And in every community, honestly, is doing this work a little differently.

CABRERA: Well thank you for raising awareness and for the work that are you doing. Appreciate you joining us. Brittany Burnett thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you.

CABRERA: After working into the wee hours last night, these are live pictures right now on the Senate floor. The Senate finalized a 2,700- page infrastructure bill and today the fighting there on the Senate floor begins over amendment.


So what is in this massive bipartisan package at this point? One hundred and ten billion dollars for roads and bridges, $73 billion for the power grid, $65 billion for broadband, $55 billion for clean water and as you can see there is much more.

It's a lot, but it's also a lot less than President Biden was aiming for. A necessary trade apparently in order to get enough GOP support on the Senate side. But that trade-off now has progressives threatening to vote it down on the House side. So this is a tug of war we'll be watching very closely in the coming day ahead of the official vote.

And back to the pandemic today, Israel has begun offering a third COVID-19 vaccine to its residents, the so-called booster. The U.K. is about to as well, but are they needed here in the U.S.? We'll as an expert at the University of Maryland School of Medicine next.