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Investors Welcome Weekly Jobless Numbers; Companies Get Creative to Encourage Staff to Get Vaccinated; Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Discusses Getting Kids Back in Class Amid Pandemic of Unvaccinated, More Florida School Districts Defying Mask Mandate Ban; U.S. Men's Track Botch Relay Handoff, Fail to Advance, as U.S. Women's Soccer Beats Australia for Bronze. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 5, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Welcome back.

A little pop of enthusiasm on Wall Street as investors shrug off yesterday's losses and welcome the weekly jobless claims, which were a reassuring sign in this unpredictable pandemic economy.

And CNN's Richard Quest is with us here in New York.

Richard, it was a steady jobs report, but how vulnerable is the economic recovery right now, especially with the Delta variant starting to impact business decisions?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": I think it's very vulnerable in the sense that is it going to fall over with massive lockdowns. No.

However, the rate of growth and all the gainess that have been made are somewhat susceptible to Delta. That's why we're seeing companies taking decisions, for instance, to delay requiring people to come back into the office.

Now, it was meant to be September. That was the date everybody was looking at. But now some are saying, well, don't come back for another six months. Some are saying, well, we don't know when you're going to come back.

I think it's indicative of the corporate environment, what people don't know, the level of uncertainty. And that goes right to our company. It goes to every company.

You can imagine, Ana, that there's -- Delta has changed the rules of this game. We were moving in one direction. We're now having to shift course and move in another.

CABRERA: And we're seeing a lot more of these types of companies have to mandate vaccines or trying to give real incentives for their employees to get vaccinated just so, I imagine, to make sure they can keep working.

QUEST: So, there's two aspects to this.

Firstly, mandating the vaccine. Well, if you mandate the vaccine. Such as, for example, the many state governments, New York City has done for health workers and the like, what do you do if people won't? Do you have a mask alternative with testing, those sorts of things?

A lot of companies are now saying, you want to come back to work, you must be vaccinated. And the gist seems to be that's legal.

And then you've got these. Kroger, $100, Vanguard $1,000. McDonald's four hours PTO. Bolt House Farms, $500. Now, these are paid or given to people after they've been vaccinated.

It does raise the question, I've got to say, in the rest of the world people look at this very strangely, Ana, they really do. There's part of the world where they are screaming just to get the vaccine.

Here in the United States, companies are having to pay people to go and get a vaccine when it's coming out their nostrils in many parts of the city.

It's an odd world, but that's the way it looks at the moment.

CABRERA: The one that was most eye popping to me was vanguard giving $1,000 to employees. That's crazy.

Richard Quest, I wish we had more time. Thank you for being with us.

QUEST: Thank you.


It's the question a lot of parents are asking right now. Is it safe to send my child back to school? And are we doing enough to protect our kids? I'll ask the secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, who is standing by when we come back.



CABRERA: Just minutes ago, at the White House, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona driving home the administration's priority to get American kids back into classrooms full time and to accomplish that safely.

It's a herculean task in a pandemic of the unvaccinated, especially since children under 12 aren't even eligible for the shot, at least not yet.

A vaccine adviser to the Food and Drug Administration says adults need to step up now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL OFFIT, VACCINE ADVISER TO THE FDA: I think we've let her children down. As a general rule, children catch this virus from an adult.

You know that, for children who are less than 12 years of age, they can't receive this vaccine yet because there's not a vaccine available. They depend on those around them to protect them.

You have children who are about to go back to school. It's going to get to fall and early winter when this virus is transmitted more easily. It's the Delta variant.

And I think we need to get vaccination rates up so the children can be protected.


CABRERA: He went on to say, "We're letting our children down."

The secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, is with us now.


Secretary, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us one on one.

We're both parents. Let me ask you the question on every parent's mind. Are we doing enough to protect our kids, especially as they return to the classroom?


Back to school is a special time of year. That feeling we have as parents, as educators, and we know our students feel it to go back to school.

We owe it to our students. As our speaker said before, we owe it to our students to follow what we know. We know what works. We know how to keep our children safe.

The difference between this year and last year, we have a year's experience. We have $130 billion in the American Rescue Plan, and tools to make it happen.

There's no reason students shouldn't be able to enjoy a full return to school this upcoming fall.

CABRERA: That all sounds good, but we also have the Delta variant which we did not have at the end of the last school year.

You say we know what works and you've also said the key to winning this fight against the pandemic and fully reopening schools is vaccines.


CABRERA: Right. You said today, 90 percent of teachers are vaccinated, but right now only about a third of 12 to 17-year-olds, the group of students that are eligible for a COVID shot are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Given what we know now, and this Delta variant, should schools be requiring teachers and eligible students be vaccinated?

CARDONA: Look, last year, we safely reopened schools without the tests that are available now. Without the resources for reopening and ventilation that we have now, and without the vaccines.

So, I am confident we can do it. We have to just make sure we're following those mitigation strategies and promoting vaccination amongst the youth.

As you mentioned that number, we have to do better. So, we're looking forward to doubling down on our efforts to have pop-up vaccination clinics in our schools and get our students involved in the efforts to vaccinate, students ages 12 to 18.

CABRERA: Respectfully, let me push you on this a little bit more. Some federal employees are facing vaccine requirements. Large companies are mandating vaccines for their employees.

Who is protecting the kids? Why not stick your neck out there a little more?

CARDONA: With regard to mandating vaccinations, is that what you're saying?

CABRERA: Exactly. We have vaccine mandates for other types of illnesses and diseases.

CARDONA: Look, I'm an education expert. I trust my health and safety experts to follow the process.

I understand the FDA has to go through the process and I respect that process because we want to make sure people feel confident it got final approval. I think that's going to help tremendously.

I certainly support vaccinations for 12 and up. My own children were vaccinated as soon as they were able to. And I think that's going to be part of the confidence building.

We are doing everything in our power, Ana, to make sure we have vaccination clinics set up, that we're giving the tools -- we have a return to school road map with tools for families in districts.

We are encouraging states. I'm having conversations with governors, with superintendents, with state leaders to do everything they can in their power.

If we leave the politics out of it, let our educators and leaders lead, I'm confident we're going to get the students back in.

CABRERA: Let's make sure parents have the right information in terms of making decisions for their families. Already, in Arkansas, one school district has more than 500 students

and staff in quarantine because of an outbreak.

We're hearing similar stories in Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina as schools are reopening and the school year has begun.

If more students and staff don't get vaccinated, are we looking at another year potentially of remote learning?

CARDONA: You know, that would be so disappointing, if our students who have been waiting to get back into their classrooms, who have done everything we've asked them to do, it would be disappointing if their school year is disrupted because of decisions by adults.

All hands-on deck. We have to work together. Our students are waiting. They shouldn't be penalized because we're putting in policies or we're hesitant or not communicating effectively with our families.

You know, it's really on all of us, educators, elected officials to communicate with families, give them the confidence that they need to make the decision to vaccinate their children when they're ready.

But also, if their children are under the age of 12, they should feel confident the school is doing everything in their power to keep their children and staff safe.

CABRERA: What if Republican leaders, like Ron DeSantis in Florida or Greg Abbott in Texas, aren't doing what the CDC says is in the best interest of children and keeping them safe, who are making masks optional in schools and preventing school districts from requiring masks?

What do you say to them?

CARDONA: You know, we all share the same goal. We want our students in the classroom safely.

And, you know, we're going to work -- the Department of Education will work with Florida, with Texas. They're our students, too. We'll get farther if we work together.

The message really is look at the data. We want to reduce community spread. We want to get our students in the classroom.

We don't want them to be the reason why students' educational experience is disrupted their or they have to quarantine, or they aren't able to enjoy extracurricular activities.


We want to get students back in safely. We have the tools to do t. We have great examples across the country where states are doing good things.

I applaud the Governor Hutchinson for revisiting what he's revisiting over there. Let's get our kids in safely. Let's work together on doing that. Our

students are waiting.

Get the politics out of it. This is about safe school reopening. They deserve to be in the classrooms.

CABRERA: And you are referencing Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas who says he regrets allowing a law to go into effect that bans these mask requirements in schools.

Let me read you a letter from a superintendent in Florida. This superintendent originally said he supported keeping masks optional, but he has changed his tune, writing this:

"In the last 10 days alone, before school has even opened, four school age children in Leon County have been admitted to local hospitals. Two of our pre-K teachers are currently in the intensive care unit at one of our local hospitals."

Secretary, right now, Florida leads the nation in new COVID-19 adult and child hospital admissions.

Should parents feel comfortable sending their kids to school without mask mandates in place?

CARDONA: That's frustrating to hear that letter. This is preventable. This isn't Delta variant. This is policies that are preventing students from getting to the classroom safely.

And just to see that, you know, my heart goes out to the superintendents that are trying to do the right thing and are being pushed in the wrong direction.

We know how to keep our children safe. We know how to set up pop-up clinics and get our students talking about the safety of vaccination.

Let's let our leaders lead. Let's let our educators educate. Keep the kids in school but do it safely.

CABRERA: Absolutely. I wish you the very best of luck.

CARDONA: Thank you.

CABRERA: I hope your efforts are successful in making sure that this school year gets underway successfully.

Thank you --

CARDONA: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

CARDONA: We're going to do it.

CABRERA: Let's get it done.

Appreciate it.

The Olympic curse continues after the men's U.S. sprint relay team fails to even qualify for the finals. We'll explain right after this.



CABRERA: A silver lining for the U.S. women's soccer team in Tokyo on Thursday. But on the track? Big disappointment for four American sprinters.

CNN's Don Riddell.

Don, give us the latest. What happened in that 4x100 relay?

DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR, "WORLD SPORT": It did not go well for the American team. I ran track in high school. When you get it right, it is brilliant. When you get it wrong, it is a fiasco. That happened here.

You watched Fred Curly trying to hand the bat on to Ronnie Baker, but they made such a mess, they lost so much speed they only ended up sixth in the race, which meant they didn't qualify for the finals.

This is a problem that goes way back to 2000 when they lost one gold in this event. They've had one problem after another.

It seems to be they didn't practice, or they didn't get in enough practice.

And the American track legend, Carl Lewis, said what happened was an absolute embarrassment. He said, a total embarrassment actually. "No leadership, poor passing. You've got the wrong guys running the wrong legs."

And for the deepest track and field team at the Olympics, it really is embarrassing, Ana, they didn't manage to get to the finals.


CABRERA: He called it unacceptable.


CABRERA: I would be embarrassed to be getting that kind of a reprimand from Carl Lewis if I were them.

I hope you have better news. Let's end on a high note, please.

RIDDELL: A little. Some good news for the U.S. basketball team. Remember, they made a slow start and they were really poor in their warm-up games, but they beat Australia in the semifinal by 97 points to 78.

Good night for Kevin Durant, who scored 23 points. It means they're into the final, going for a gold medal. They will be

playing against France. Good team.

France beat the U.S. in the start of the opening so a chance for the Americans to get revenge there.

Also, a good end to the tournament for the U.S. women's football team, soccer team.

Remember, of course, they lost in the semifinals so they couldn't go for a gold. But they did manage to pick up a bronze medal on the way out of Tokyo with a thrilling 4-3 win against Australia.

Megan Rapinoe with a couple of goals and Lloyd also with a couple of goals.

A nice story to end on. Simone Biles, who has arguably been the story of these Olympics mainly for not competing and the twisties and such honesty from her about the mental struggles she was going through.

Of course, she ended up, as we know, with a bronze medal in the balance beam.

But she has now said it was a rather obscure gym on the outskirts of Tokyo, called Juntendo, which gave her the opportunity to go there and practice in private.

They locked the doors, and nobody knew that she was there. And she was able to basically get herself back on track, compose herself, learn how to go through the moves again. She is just so grateful to that gym.

She also said that, "The Japanese people are some of, if not the nicest people that I have ever met."


So nice one there.

CABRERA: That's nice. That's heartwarming.

Thank you so much, Don. Good to see you.

RIDDELL: Thanks.

CABRERA: Happy Friday eve, dare I say?

A quick programming note for everyone. From the occasionally low brow laugh of always sunny to the expertly crafted sharp wit of Atlanta, we all have our favorite working-class sitcom. I'm sure you can relate. It is about making ends meet and the difference between classes.

That's what is next on the brand-new "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM," Sunday night at 9:00 on CNN.

Thanks so much for being with me today. I will see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 eastern. As always, follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

And the news continues next with Victor Blackwell.

Have a great day.