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Former Surgeon General: U.S. May Be in Worst Surge Yet: Dr. Fauci Pushing for Full FDA Approval of Pfizer Vaccine; Millions Safe from Eviction After Ban Extended; Climbing Temperatures Raising Fire and Drought Threat; Turkish Crews Fight to Stop Advancing Flames; Biden Among Top Democrats Calling on Cuomo to Resign. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 4, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're approaching 70,000 plus cases per day. It almost certainly is going to go over 100,000.


CHURCH: Surging COVID cases across the U.S. have health experts warning everyone should be taking this pandemic much more seriously.

Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, dozens of officials call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign or be impeached.

And Simone Biles leaves the Tokyo Olympics a champion overcoming "twisties," turns and tragedy.

Thanks for joining us. Well, the United States current COVID surge could be its worse yet. That message from the previous U.S. surgeon general who told the "Washington Post," we are seeing 50,000 hospitalizations a day and the weekly average of new infections is soaring well past 80,000. These are the highest levels we've seen in months. But he says it is not too late to turn things around.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It's not really about national immunity so much as it about making sure within your household, within your workplace, within your child's school you have appropriate levels of protection so that you can prevent spread from turning into an outbreak. And so, think about what you can do and what those around you can do to protect yourselves. That's how we stop this pandemic.


CHURCH: But more young people keep getting the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics says some 72,000 children and teens caught COVID last week, that's five times as many kids who were sick at the end of June. And yet some state leaders refuse to adopt safety members.

The Florida governor issued an executive order barring schools from forcing children to wear masks. And on Tuesday Ron DeSantis said the state won't be shutting down. Florida is now the epicenter of the latest wave of the virus setting new records in recent days for both infections which are hitting highs not seen since January, as well as hospitalizations. But while cases soar, vaccinations are falling. Florida is now recording less than 20,000 a week. Broward County, just north of Miami, is now requiring hospitals to report all key metrics meaning not just surges and hospitalizations, but also how many ICU beds are available.


DAN GELBER, MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: The governor has just decided as a show of really, you know, just to sort of show off to his base that he is currently in favor with that he Is just going to just stop all local officials from having any impact on this. So, our local school board, our superintendent is not going to be able to do what they want to do because he's now threatening to withhold funding from them. It's really unbelievable in a sense that it feels like he is doing everything in his power to make this disease incredibly difficult.


CHURCH: Meanwhile top health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes to see the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine get full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the next few weeks. He says that could speed up the process for getting the vaccine approved for children younger than 12. Right now, it's being distributed under Emergency Use Authorization. The FDA says it is moving as fast as possible but isn't setting a date.


FAUCI: I think there are a certain proportion of people who are just waiting for that full approval even though the data are overwhelming right now that these vaccines are highly effective and are safe. But some still want to wait for that final imprimatur on the particular products in question. So, they're going to get vaccinated.

The other thing, it's going to allow independent local enterprises, universities, colleges, businesses who will feel much more comfortable when they say I'm going to mandate that if you want to come to this school, if you want to work in this place, you've got to be vaccinated.

[04:05:00] And I think that we'll see much more of that when you have the backup of the full approval of this vaccine.


CHURCH: Dr. Anthony Fauci also says pressure from local COVID vaccine requirements may be the key to help convince some people to get the shot. He noted this morning city's decision to start requiring customers to show they have received their vaccine before entering restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms. The new rule is set to begin September 13th.

Well, Meat producer Tyson Foods is joining the growing list of companies requiring workers to get the vaccine. The employer says its entire U.S. workforce will need to be fully vaccinated by November 1. Tyson Foods is one of the first companies to impose a vaccine requirement for frontline workers.

Microsoft will also start requiring proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and guests entering their U.S. offices starting in September.

Well, as the delta variant sweeps across the U.S., the country is ramping up its focus on vaccines and preparing for whatever comes next. Later today, President Joe Biden will meet with his top science adviser to discuss planning for future pandemics. Before that though, Mr. Biden turned up the pressure on state and local leaders to intensify their vaccination efforts. On Tuesday, he also took aim at state officials who he says have made responding to the pandemic even more difficult.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates but also ban them in their school districts. Even for young children who cannot get vaccinated. I say to these governors, please help. If you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way when people are trying to do the right thing.


CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with Dr. Jorge Rodriguez an internal medicine specialist and viral researcher. I asked him about President Biden's call for more places to require vaccinations.


DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST AND VIRAL RESEARCHER: Not only do the people that are unvaccinated have the right to not get vaccinated if they wish, but those of us that want to stay healthy, have the right to stay healthy. So, nobody is keeping people from going to the theater or going to a stadium. They just have to follow the requirements of that private institution and get vaccinated. It is like no shirt no shoes no service. No vax? You're not coming in. I think it is logical. I think it is the right thing to do and at the end if it does cause more people to get vaccinated, all the more power to it.

CHURCH: And we'll see if other cities step up and according to the "New York Times," the FDA aims to give full approval to the Pfizer vaccine by the start of next month, perhaps sooner. What impact could this potentially have on current vaccination rates do you think?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I hope that it has a great impact. You know, the cynical part of me says that the people that don't want to get vaccinated are not going to get vaccinated, but there is a portion that says that this is experimental, once the FDA gives it final approval, it is no longer experimental. It has been looked inside and out and found to be safe and effective.


CHURCH (on camera): Dr. Rodriguez also emphasized what the White House has been saying, we're new facing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. He says the virus will find a host and he said unvaccinated people and children will be most at risk.

Well, relief on the way for millions of renters facing eviction here in the United States. The CDC has extended an eviction moratorium that protects people from getting removed from their homes as COVID-19 cases rise. Kaitlan Collins has more now from Washington.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What you're seeing from the CDC is a fresh effort to stop those potentially forthcoming evictions that many fear were going to happen after the initial eviction moratorium had been in place for several months, had expired on Saturday night with no backup plan for those families that were going to be affected by it.

Now what the CDC has put in place is a more targeted eviction moratorium than the one you saw before. It targets those families that are living in areas of substantial and high transmission of COVID-19. And the CDC is basically making the argument that it would be detrimental to public health to have this eviction moratorium expire at this time.

Of course, this is a very similar moratorium to the one that the White House had been saying for days would likely face legal challenges when they were arguing essentially our hands are tied, there is not much we can do for this. And that had caused a serious feud with other Democratic lawmakers.


Especially progressives who said that the White House had waited too long to call on Congress to act about that eviction moratorium after the Supreme Court ruled that they could no longer in good standing continue to impose that. And so, the question here is how long this is going to be before it does face legal scrutiny. President Biden acknowledged to us that he believes it will face legal scrutiny, but what his argument was is that essentially if there is a legal challenge, it'll buy them time in order for these families to try to get rental assistance. To try to figure out what it is that they are going to do. So of course, potentially hundreds of thousands or millions of families that are suddenly forced from their homes amid a pandemic where the delta variant is of course, still raging.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: On Monday CNN showed you a Las Vegas mother facing eviction after she lost her job when the pandemic hit. Dasha Kelly sold and pawned much of her furniture for cash just to keep her family afloat. After her story aired on CNN, more than $192,000 and counting has been donated to her GoFundMe page thanks to the help of strangers. On Tuesday she was back on CNN thanking all the people who helped her. Including U.S. House Democrat Cori Bush.


DASHA KELLY, MOTHER OF THREE WAS FACING EVICTION: It's an honor to even speak with you. I'm so fortunate right now, this is beyond me. You don't understand, right. When I put that up, I never thought that anybody would have reached out especially CNN. And then to hear that a Congress person -- my story reached you, this is just amazing. I'm so thankful to there is people like you out there. I'm so thankful for it, thank you so much. I'm sorry. (SOBBING)

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Kelly, you and your family deserve representatives that care about you, that our country deserves to have representatives that represent. And so, this is the least that we can do for you is to step up and make sure that you get to stay in the safety and comfort of your home while we work on other things to help make sure that your life and the lives of your children are better. This is our work. So, you don't even have to thank us, this is our work, this is the least we can do for you.


CHURCH: An amazing outcome there. And here's Dasha Kelly's GoFundMe page, if you'd like to help. It's called "Help My Girls and I Void Eviction."

Well, wildfires, droughts and soaring temperatures, conditions becoming a bigger threat around the world due to climate change endangers he waves. In the U.S. the state of California is battling fires while sharply restricting water use due to an extreme drought. Officials say demand for water in one area is 16 times greater than what's available.

And in Greece, parts of Athens were evacuated after a wildfire ignited the city quickly growing out of control. The country is under threat from an intense heatwave, one the Prime Minister describes as the worst in more than 30 years. And in Turkey, thousands of homes have been damaged as firefighters

struggle to control spreading wildfires. One town had a call for outside help as the flames got closer to a thermal power plant. Syria's white helmets have offered to help providing temporary shelters before those displaced by the fires in Turkey. The group says it stands firmly with the Turkish people even if it can't do much.

Well now after a week of fighting back the flames, fatigue is setting in on emergency workers and local volunteers. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is following the latest developments, but first our Arwa Damon is on the fire lines in southern Turkey.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the 7th pass that that helicopter has done over this one area. And it was a new tiny little fire starting point that quickly engulfed the side here. And these firefighters, these volunteers, they are so exhausted and getting understandably so emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday it was amazing, we were kind of in the middle of the vortex. That was amazing. Like I almost called my mom and said OK, mom, thanks. Yesterday was amazing.

DAMON: And today you've been fighting but it keeps like popping up?

We have no time to do anything. And we just change on the side and the center and it starts all over.


DAMON: And Today -- how has today been?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today? Worse, because the fire is spreading to the direction of a city, residents.

DAMON: So different points now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Small but it is getting bigger.

DAMON: You're quite emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, come on, look at it. Look at it.

DAMON: This fire has been moving so quickly and they are trying to get some of the water trucks to move further down. This is devastating. And it's not just happening here. Across southern Europe, a number of countries are fighting forest fires. And the conditions there and here as well, we have been experiencing a significant heatwave. In Turkey for example, there have been record high temperatures, very low humidity, and all of these allow for the fire to move very violently and very aggressively. And that is our own doing. That is because of climate change.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Marmaris, Turkey.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning Rosemary, this is seven days in the works as far as the southern and southeastern corner of Europe is concerned with excessive heat. Look at the satellite images. This is taken from about 20,000 miles up looking across the Mediterranean ocean. And from up there you clearly see the smoke, the haze from all the fire activity into portions of eastern and southeastern Europe. And really a broader perspective shows you it is rather large and encompassing here.

But the southern and southeastern area of Turkey, that's where we've had upwards of 150 fires in the past several days and much of it in the southern tier here where you see the smoke again across parts of the Mediterranean.

But in Greece, in the past 24 or so hours, temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, that's 104 Fahrenheit, in some 200 locations. In fact, the highest observation in Langadas, Greece, sits just a few miles away from the Mediterranean coastline, 47 Celsius, that's 117 Fahrenheit. Kirkuk, Iraq comes in at 45 degrees, that is about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Shows you the incredible nature of the heat here rivaling the deserts of the areas of the Middle East.

Now across the United States, we do have the deserts here surging with heat as well over the next several days. But also overhear some scattered storms in the southern United States. Especially around portions of the Carolinas here, where some excessive rainfall concern in place there for flooding. Around areas of say the outer banks and back towards the West, we do have the monsoon in full effect in parts of New Mexico with additional flooding concerns in store there.

High temperatures, as hot as 120 in Palm Springs, 118 in Yuma. These also running 10 to 12 degrees above average for this time of year. And notice what's happening as far as the United States is concerned, a lot of heat to be had here in the early portion of August, temperatures around Oklahoma City right around 90 degrees. Even Seattle and Portland climbing into the upper mid-80s and lower 90s -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Thank you so much Pedram.

Well, New York's governor is losing allies after a report saying he sexually harassed several women. What President Joe Biden is saying after the latest calls for Andrew Cuomo to resign.

Plus, blaring sirens in Afghanistan's capital, details on a car bomb attack amid a major Taliban offense. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, the results are in in two key primaries in Ohio. In the 11th district, CNN projects establishment Democrat Shontel Brown will defeat her progressive rival Nina Turner. Brown is a heavy favorite to win the race for an open seat representing Cleveland in November. And in the 15th district, CNN projects Mike Carey will win the Republican primary. The former coal lobbyist was endorsed by Donald Trump and is favored to beat Democrat Allison Russo in November.

Well, Missouri's Republican governor has pardoned the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protestors near their home last year. Patricia and Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident. The demonstrators were walking on a private street protesting the mayor's decision to publish names and addresses of people supporting police reform. Mark McCloskey said at the time he was afraid the protestors has killed him. He has turned the notoriety from the event into a bid for the U.S. Senate.

Well, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing the fallout after a damning report from his state Attorney General. It says there is credible evidence he sexually harassed 11 women. State Assembly members say they are ready to talk impeachment and at least three Democratic state Senators want Cuomo barred from future office. CNN'S Paula Reid has more now on the investigation.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo loses the support of his most powerful political ally President Joe Biden.

BIDEN: I think he should resign.

REID: This comes after the New York Attorney General's office said earlier today that the governor sexually harassed multiple women and violated federal and state laws.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harass current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.

REID (voice over): Investigators concluded the Governor sexually harassed 11 women, including a New York State Trooper assigned to his protection.

ANNE CLARK, SDNY SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: In an elevator while standing behind the trooper, he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, "Hey, you." Another time she was standing holding the door open for the Governor.


As he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to where the hip where she keeps her gun. She told us that she felt completely violated to have the governor touch her as she put it between her chest and her privates.

REID (voice over): Another accuser described similar inappropriate touching. CLARK: On November 16, 2020, in the executive mansion, the Governor hugged executive assistant number one and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. There were also several occasions on which the Governor grabbed her butt.

REID (voice over): The report states: We also conclude that the executive chamber's culture -- one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor's frequent flirtations and gender-based comments contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist.

Cuomo was quick to respond denying the allegations.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I've lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that's not who I have ever been.

REID (voice over): The allegations against Cuomo ramped up earlier this year when Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, alleged that Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life during a June 2020 conversation in the state capitol. She also hinted at a pattern of retaliation.

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS EVENING NEWS ANCHOR: Do you believe that he was propositioning you?


O'DONNELL: For what?


REID (voice over): Bennett says Cuomo must resign. Cuomo addressed Bennett personally in his remarks today.

BENNETT: He sexually harassed me. I am not confused. It is not confusing. I am living in reality and it's sad to see that he's not.

REID (voice-over): Cuomo addressed Bennett personally in his remarks.

CUOMO: I did ask her questions I don't normally ask people. I did ask her how she was doing and how she was feeling, but I was wrong. I have heard Charlotte and her lawyer, and I understand what they are saying, but they read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant.

REID (voice-over): Paula Reid, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Time for a short break. When we come back, the Tokyo Olympics are over for Simone Biles, but we are hearing another emotional revelation from the American gymnast.

Plus, new restrictions in China as COVID-19 spreads. Ahead, what Beijing is now doing to keep its residents safe.