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CNN NEWSROOM

W.V. Gov. Launches Program To Measure Antibody Levels Among Vaccinated; W.V. COVID Czar Warns State Is At "Critical Moment" For Vaccinations; Space Force Guardians Defend America High Above Earth; U.S. Makes Strong Hiring Gains, Adds 943,000 Jobs In July. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired August 6, 2021 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Virginia ranks currently 44th in the U.S. in percentage of the total population, West Virginia, rather, a total population that's fully vaccinated, 39.08 percent. And we know that the Delta variant finds especially fertile ground in places with low vaccination rates. How are you breaking through that? How are you encouraging people to get vaccinated now? And are those efforts working?

DR. CLAY MARSH, WEST VIRGINIA'S CORONAVIRUS CZAR: Well, Jim, we have an arrangement with the CDC to pull data directly from their data lakes. And so, we actually know that we have about 50 percent of our total population with two doses, and about 60 percent with one dose, but still not enough. And we've done many, many different approaches, we've done incentives with our baby dog lottery, we have certainly done a lot of communication.

But what we're seeing now with the new Delta variants, and with people recognizing that this is spreading much more difficult and much more quickly, we have seen a 25 percent increase in the last week and people that are choosing to be vaccinated, which, although it's late, because Delta is, in West Virginia, it certainly is very important. So we are pleased with the increase in the vaccine uptake that we're seeing today.

SCIUTTO: Given the urgency that you're describing, is it time, in your view to consider mandates for at least some categories of people, for instance, health care workers or others to juice those numbers?

MARSH: Well, Jim, that's a really important point. And, of course, Governor Justice has done a spectacular job, in my opinion, of keeping our state together. And we believe wholeheartedly that looking out for each other and staying together is perhaps the most important element and, so far, our success, because we have seen a much lower number of deaths than have been predicted. But, you know, certainly, as the vaccines become fully authorized by the FDA and as we see what the Delta variant may mean for our state and our country, then, you know, we would not take anything off the table, I believe.

SCIUTTO: Understood. So you're saying considering the possibility of mandates?

MARSH: Well, I think that for me, it's not really only mandates, it's making sure that we are following the data as we've been doing, and not be so committed to only one blueprint, but seeing what we find, and certainly we present the information that we have to the Governor and --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARSH: -- and he made the decision for our state.

SCIUTTO: Governor Justice on the question of a mask mandate, you know, particularly the question as schools open up, he has said, and I'm quoting, I'm going to leave that decision to our locals because our locals know best. I wonder, given that the science is consistent here, right, masks are not a silver bullet, but they do reduce the spread of this. Do local officials actually know best? Because you know the politics of this, I mean, it's become a political question where, frankly, it's a public health question. Why not -- have the Governor say, listen, this is what doctors tell us, this is what we're going to do.

MARSH: Well, Jim, we certainly are recommending for all West Virginians that number one, they consider to get fully vaccinated, because particularly with the very rapid spread characteristics of the Delta variant, like the chickenpox, we know that vaccination is by far the best thing -- the best intervention. And we also are guiding people who are vulnerable, people who, you know, even are fully vaccinated to considerably wearing mask indoors, wearing mask around people that you don't know and big crowds. So we are guiding it but not mandating it.

And I think that's very consistent with our federal government at this point and CDC's recommendations. But we want West Virginians to be very careful and all Americans to be careful, because this particular variant should be considered different.

SCIUTTO: Yes, let's hope folks listen to those warnings. So Dr. Clay Marsh, thanks for the work you're doing. We do wish you the best of luck there. We know you got a lot on your plate.

MARSH: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, a CNN exclusive with the real guardians of the galaxy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're at the top, the targets on your back. Everybody is shooting for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: My team and I take you inside space force as it fends off real attacks today on our satellites from countries such as Russia and China. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:39:12]

SCIUTTO: It may come as a surprise but you and I, all of us, likely use space-based technology 20 to 30 times during the time we get up and have breakfast, it's digital maps, it's bank transactions, stock trades, cell phone calls, we're all depending on it. But Russia, China, other countries are launching attacks in space, designed to damage or destroy U.S. satellites and interfere with the technology they rely on. So, Space Force, the newest branch of the U.S. military is now fighting every day to defend those technologies.

My team and I got exclusive access to see how it all works and how dangerous it's becoming up there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Inside Mission Control at Buckley Space Force Base, you know Aurora, Colorado Space Force Guardian says there no fly the nation's missile warning satellites.

[09:40:04]

Using infrared sensors, these satellites orbiting 22,000 miles above Earth, scour the planet 24/7 for missile launches and nuclear detonations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We never stop, always vigilant and we've never failed because that's how important this mission is to our nation. We provide decision quality data to tactical warfighters on the ground to save their lives.

SCIUTTO (on-camera): This satellite dish (ph) is in touch with missile warning satellites deployed in what's known as geosynchronous orbit. If those warning satellites detect a launch anywhere on the surface of the planet, it beams (ph) that information back down to this ground station instantaneously at the speed of light. And then space force sends that information, that warning around the world, to U.S. forces deployed abroad or here on the U.S. homeland.

(voice-over): In January 2020, these satellites sprang into action detecting multiple missiles from Iran targeting the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq. Before those missiles rain down within minutes, space force had delivered a life-saving warning to U.S. units on the ground. Space Force specialist Sally Stevens was on duty.

SALLY STEVENS, SPACE FORCE SPECIALIST: It is lightning fast.

SCIUTTO (on-camera): Right. And quick enough for them to take action to protect themselves.

STEVENS: Absolutely, especially in Al Asad night. Not very often do we get reminded of where our data gets to and that night was a shocking reality. SCIUTTO (voice-over): Missile warning satellites are just a fraction of the hundreds of U.S. government and commercial satellites monitored and defended by the guardians of the Space Force today, defended because U.S. adversaries led by Russia and China have deployed weapons to disable or destroy them. Space Force is now an independent branch of the U.S. military due to this alarming new reality. Space, once relatively peaceful territory, is now considered a potential front in any modern war.

COL. MATTHEW HOLSTON, COMMANDER, SPACE DELTA B: Space is a warfighting domain. It's the reason that we set up the United States Space Force as a separate service. So each and every day, we're training our operators to deter conflict. But if deterrence fails to compete and win in Space --

SCIUTTO (voice-over): The U.S. has far more satellites than any other nation, some 2,500 compared to 431 for China and 168 for Russia. And a whole range of U.S. military technologies depend on them. Satellites help warships and aircraft navigate and communicate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missile suspension released.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Helps smart bombs and guided missiles hit their targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Script 401 (ph), we get some scorers (ph) running up the ridge line --

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Help warfighters monitor threats on land, sea and in the air.

GEN. JOHN W. "JAY" RAYMOND, CHIE OF SPACE OPERATIONS, U.S. SPACE FORCE: There's nothing we do as a joint force whether it's humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, or combat that isn't enabled by space.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): More than many Americans realize civilian technologies are equally dependent on space. A nation's constellation of GPS satellites flown by Second Space Operations Squadron at Schriever, Space Force Base in Colorado Springs is the backbone of multiple critical infrastructures.

COL. MIGUEL CRUZ, COMMANDER, SPACE DELTA 4: The standard American people will probably use piece 20 to 30 times between the moment they get up, to the moment they had breakfast.

The financial sectors rely on positioning and timing information for precise banking operations and transactions. Our transportation sector for positioning and timing, care (ph) at land, sea and rail, all rely on the global positioning system to be able to execute our critical infrastructure.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): The job of defending the nearly three dozen GPS satellites rests with a remarkably small team. Ten guardians on duty at any time outnumbered nearly three to one by the $0.5 billion satellites they fly. (on-camera): Schriever Space Force Base has control over multiple constellations of U.S. satellites, every constellation with dozens of individual satellites, each providing capabilities such as GPS, secure military communications, and more and more situational awareness in space. That is keeping an eye on adversaries and weapons targeting U.S. space assets.

(voice-over): The danger for the U.S. is that greater dependence on space equals greater vulnerability to attacks in space.

When you're at the top, the targets on your back. Everybody is shooting for you.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): China is launching kidnapper satellites with grappling arms capable of plucking satellites out of orbit. Russia is deploying Kamikaze satellites, capable of ramming and destroying U.S. space assets.

And Russia now has a new space weapon, that's Space force doves, the nesting dove.

RAYMOND: Back in 2017, Russia launched a satellite and it opened up and another satellite came up. And then it opened up and a projectile came out. That projectile is designed to kill U.S. satellites. So in 2019, they did the same thing. But this time, they put it up next to one of our satellites. And then, we started talking about them.

[09:45:02]

SCIUTTO (on-camera): You warned them away?

RAYMOND: Yes. We described what is safe and professional behavior and that's important. Today there's no rules in space. It's the Wild Wild West.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Russia and China also have directed energy weapons which can damage or disable U.S. us satellites from a distance. The age of lasers in space has already arrived. New satellites are being designed with greater maneuverability, shielding to block directed energy, weapons and resiliency so that losing one or a few does not disable the entire system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine, eight, seven.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Space Force commanders welcome the private sectors entry into space since it gives more and cheaper options to get into orbit. In June this year, the newest GPS satellite went up on a SpaceX rocket.

RAYMOND: I would bet on U.S. industry any day. It's a huge advantage that we have.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): As for the U.S. weaponizing, Space Force wants to avoid a space arms race.

(on-camera): Weapons are a last resort from the U.S. perspective? RAYMOND: We would prefer a domain to remain free of conflict. But like in any other domain, like air, land, sea, or and now space, we'll be ready to protect and defend.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Adversaries have already attempted to use space weapons to temporarily disable U.S. satellites. Space war is not science fiction, but a battle already underway.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: These weapons, they're already floating around above our heads, in some cases, thousands of miles above our heads, not just Kamikaze satellites and kidnapper satellites, but lasers in space as well. And that's what Space Forces being stood up for.

Well, a big and welcomed jobs report out this morning, 940,000 jobs added in July. What does that mean for the economic recovery? I'm going to speak with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:16]

SCIUTTO: More on this morning's big jobs report, the U.S. added higher than expected at 940,000 jobs last month and it took the unemployment rate down significantly to 5.4 percent. The U.S. has now added back more than 4 million jobs this year alone. Question is, what's coming up next, right, particularly as everybody's watching Delta variant.

The July report was compiled, we should note, before the current surge of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths driven by Delta. There are some fears that variant could slow further recovery going forward.

Joining me now to discuss, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Secretary, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

MARTY WALSH: Thank you for having me this morning.

SCIUTTO: So first of all, it's a bigger number than expected and a couple months ago there was a lower number than expected. I wonder what do you credit July's good performance with?

MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: I think a lot of it is President Biden's economic plan and also his plan on vaccinations and handling the COVID-19 crisis with the American Rescue Plan that passed in Congress back in January -- in February, I should say. I think it getting, you know, I think 70 percent of Americans have at least one shot of the vaccine. I think that's helping us.

And as you open this segment, certainly we have to keep a very close eye on the Delta variant. And we have to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated. I know there's lots of conversations going on in this country right now whether to mandate vaccines, some companies are going to do that. But we have to encourage people to go out and get vaccinated to keep themselves safe and their families safe and keep our economic recovery moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask because as you note, and as we noted, this number came before, in effect, most of the effects of the spread of the Delta variant. Are you concerned as you look ahead that the Delta variant will mute job growth in the coming months?

WALSH: Well, I'm not concerned yet. Obviously, if we continue to see the numbers of coronavirus cases going up and hospitalizations going up like we're seeing in Florida, and deaths going up, then we'll have some concerns. But I think that we can still manage this virus by being smart about it.

I think that, you know, asking people to wear masks is not a bad thing. Making sure that we're keeping people safe. Making -- asking people to get vaccinated is a smart thing. So, there's ways that we can -- we're at this point today where 940,000 people came back to work because of policies of including pushing vaccinations. Let's not go backwards now, let's continue to move forward.

SCIUTTO: OK. You bring up vaccines and we have seen some private companies do that, United, the biggest one recently, I mean, that -- we're talking about tens of thousands of employees there. Do you -- does the Biden administration support companies that require vaccinations going forward?

WALSH: President Biden has been clear in this saying that he supports what companies do. And we came up with a policy, the President came up with a policy in the federal government. We're encouraging people to get vaccinated. And if they choose not to get vaccinated, we're going to be doing lots of testing on those folks. So, again, I think whatever we can do to encourage people to get vaccinated and making sure that we keep people safe and alive is what we're going to do here in this administration.

SCIUTTO: There is another approach that some communities are trying, New York among them, issuing these vaccine passports in effect. I guess you can call it more of a carrot and stick, right, you know, giving you access to further public events, et cetera, if you show proof of vaccination. As you know, this is something of a political football, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey, who followed you, as mayor of Boston, she's been critical of vaccine passports. Where do you, where do the administration stand on issuing passports like that?

WALSH: Well, surely the administration supports local authorities and what they want to do as far as trying to get this virus under control. And I think that's where we stand and that's where I stand. It's, you know, different cities are going to take different approaches to this on how they move forward in mandating or not mandating.

[09:55:07]

And we're just -- what we're supporting is trying to get the virus under control. So whatever measure that means, as long as it's a reasonable measure, we'll support it.

SCIUTTO: You do still have, I mean, sadly, in this country, politics trumping public health, right? I mean, you see, for instance, in Texas, the Texas Education Agency is outright borrowing, even contact tracing when there are positive cases, which is exactly what, you know, the opposite of what the public health guidance is. What do you say when you see communities, you know, taking steps like that, or, for instance, you know, banning mandates for masks and things that have been shown to slow the spread of the virus?

WALSH: Quite honestly, it's very short-sighted by those officials, and it's dangerous. You're putting lots of people in harm's way, by banning the ability to wear a mask in a school or in a community. It just doesn't make any sense.

This coronavirus is not about politics, it's not about progressives and conservatives and Democrats, Republicans. It's a virus that impacts everyone. We've seen the stories on CNN, we've seen the stories of people who are Republicans and Democrats getting this virus refusing to get vaccinated --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

WALSH: -- who have lost their life. We need to be smart here and we need to, you know, follow the science.

SCIUTTO: You know, with a father on earlier this morning who is regretting his own decision not to get vaccinated. Marty Walsh, Secretary, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

WALSH: Thanks for having me today.

SCIUTTO: Well, President Biden just moments away from giving remarks on the economy that morning -- this morning's jobs report. We're going to bring you those comments live once they begin. Stay with us, we're going to be back right after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)