Return to Transcripts main page


Florida Has Reported An Average Of About 19,000 New Cases Per Day In Past Week, More Than Any Other Seven-Day Period In The Entire Pandemic; Thousands Flock To SD Motorcycle Rally As Pandemic Rages; Senate Holds Rare Saturday Session For Key Vote On Infrastructure; Americans Urged To Leave Afghanistan As Taliban Advances; Schools Hit With Bus Driver Shortage As Students Return To Class; Team USA Wins 4th Straight Basketball Gold After Shaky Start. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 7, 2021 - 11:00   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Phil Mattingly in Washington in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.

Thanks for joining me on CNN.

Let's start with breaking news this hour.

Devastating new numbers in the coronavirus surge that's happening across the U.S. For the first time since February the U.S. is averaging more than 100,000 new cases per day. Hospitalizations and deaths, those are also on the rise across the country.

Now, the uptick almost exclusively among the unvaccinated. However, on the vaccination front, some progress. The U.S. how hitting a major milestone. The CDC says that over 50 percent of the population is now fully-vaccinated.

And this is important. Vaccinations in states hardest hit by the delta variant have been rising in recent days. But that has not been able to slow the deluge of patients pushing hospitals to capacity.

And there is new word that booster shots for the immunocompromised may be recommended, an administration official tells CNN. The FDA could come to that decision in just the next few weeks.

But we want to begin in Florida, where new cases are breaking state records. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Orlando this morning.

And Natasha, there is no question, Florida has become the epicenter of this new surge, but the state is not alone.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Unfortunately, this is happening in many places. The good news is the health staff behind me at this mobile unit for the vaccination clinic we're here at today, they say that every time they see a spike in cases in Florida here, they also see a spike in vaccination rates. And this is a good example. This clinic opened its doors one minute ago and already 22 people have signed up.


CHEN (voice over): Half of the U.S. Population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the past week, more than 3.2 million Americans were newly vaccinated, a pace not seen since late June.

And in states with the highest case rates, people are getting vaccinated at a level not seen since April.

But Travis Campbell in Virginia was not among them. He did not get vaccinated and got sick. Fearing he wouldn't make it home from the hospital, Campbell told CNN he asked his son to walk his daughter down the aisle at her upcoming wedding.

TRAVIS CAMPBELL, UNVACCINATED VIRGINIA MAN HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19: I've never been more humbled in my life. For all the people across the world praying for me and have respected my mistake that I made.

And I'm just so thankful, and I pray that people will just really stop and evaluate, what is the value of your decisions on your life? Can we make it now?

CHEN: Public health officials are urging people to make the right decision.

DR. THOMAS DOBBS, HEALTH OFFICER, MISSISSIPPI HEALTH DEPARTMENT: This is entirely attributable to the delta variant which is sweeping over Mississippi, you know, like a tsunami.

CHEN: The Mississippi health officer says 89 percent of hospitalized people and 85 percent of deaths there are among the unvaccinated. Hospitals are becoming inundated with patients again.

In Houston, an 11-month-old who tested positive for COVID-19 had to be air lifted 150 miles away because no pediatric hospital in the area could take her.

The response to these troubling trends vary greatly. Many private companies are now requiring employee vaccinations including United Airlines, imposing this requirement on its 80,000 employees by the end of September.

California is the first state in the nation to require health care workers to be fully vaccinated.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our message is simple. We support these vaccination requirements to protect workers, communities, and our country.

CHEN: But in Florida, President Biden is sparring with Governor DeSantis, who has threatened to withhold funding from school districts that implement mask mandates.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're not going to help, at least get out of the way.

GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you're coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I'm standing in your way.

I'm not surprised that Biden doesn't remember me. I guess the question is, what else has he forgotten?

CHEN: Florida has reported an average of about 19,000 new cases per day in the past week, more than any other seven-day period in the entire pandemic. Health officials hope people see beyond the politics to the human toll.


DR. RAUL PINO, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN ORANGE COUNTY: I have taken a few calls on these. It's the type of guilt and remorse that comes with having transmitted this to a member of your family that may die from it because there's elderly, because they're fragile, because they have pre-existing conditions. And that had happened. And that is the regret that we all can avoid by being vaccinated.


CHEN: That's Dr. Pino, the health officer here in Orange County. He did also say that 12 to 17-year-olds, he's been seeing a lot more of them getting vaccinated, which is good news because Orange County public schools begin class again on Tuesday.

They had to implement a mask mandate but had to give parents the option to opt out of that. That is because Governor DeSantis has been adamant that parents should be given the choice. The State Board of Education going so far as to say parents who feel like a mask requirement is harassment for their child can seek a voucher to go to private school, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Natasha Chen, it is fascinating to watch the urgency trickle down and start to have a tangible effect on vaccinations, as you're seeing right behind you.

Great reporting as always. Natasha, we'll get back to you.

There are growing COVID concerns in South Dakota, where a massive motorcycle rally is now under way in the town of Sturgis. Organizers expect over 700,000 people to attend the ten-day event.

Adrienne Broaddus is in Sturgis. And Adrienne, I guess the biggest question everybody has is we know this event, we saw it last year as well. What is being done now -- now that the delta variant is so emergent -- to stop the spread of the virus?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Phil. The city has partnered with the health department to pass out free COVID tests. We know they have thousands of those tests but when I checked in last, they had only distributed 18. On top of that, city officials here are saying, hey, we know you want to come to Sturgis to have a whole lot of fun, but if you have underlying conditions and if you feel like you might have COVID or if you have some symptoms, stay home.

Also, along this stretch of main street, which will be filled with motorcycles, you can hear the rumble this morning. They've installed sanitizing stations.

You might remember the rally last year was linked to at least 649 COVID cases, including one death. Despite the rise in COVID cases this year and with the delta variant on the rise, people here say they still are not worried.

There is no mask mandate in this state. Unlike other big festivals that happen outside, here, you don't even have to show proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test.

Here's what some riders had to say.


BROADDUS: Are y'all concerned about COVID at all?



BROADDUS: What was that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm vaccinated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife stayed home. My wife stayed home because she has COVID right now. So she stayed home. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I already had it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I had it already. I kicked its butt.


BROADDUS: Those defiant voices drowning out concerns of the pandemic. Behind me, there is a rider's bike parked here. It's from Minnesota. The bike on the other side has an Illinois tag. So people come from all corners of the world.

This is the largest motorcycle rally in the country. and this year, it is expected to be bigger than last year, Phil.

MATTINGLY: That sound is a great window into things. Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much for your reporting.

I want to talk more about all of this and many other things. Joining me now is Dr. Jeremy Faust. He's an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He's also the author of "Inside Medicine" newsletter. Doctor, thanks so much for coming on.

There is about a million things that I want to ask you right now given what we're seeing across the country.

But I want to start with what we were just talking about. The motorcycle rally in South Dakota, as many as 700,000 people are expected there. The CDC says that last year's event was tied to hundreds of new COVID cases. Given what we're seeing, how safe is an event like that at this moment?

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Thanks for having me and this important conversation. Actually, interestingly enough, the delta variant has changed this a lot.

I was actually in South Dakota right before we began to understand that delta could be transmitted even by people like me who are fully vaccinated. So the vaccine is still working great. It is going to keep me out of the hospital, but I could actually still spread it to somebody else.

Before we knew that, I really felt that we were in a great place in a sort of a really wonderful thing to tell people to vaccinate, and then they could go about their business.

Now, of course, we know about delta. And we have to rethink things a little bit. But do we have to cancel everything?

And Sturgis is such an interesting situation. Because on one hand, it's mostly outdoors in terms of the bike rally itself. That part doesn't bother me. I think most outdoor configurations are still pretty safe. There's obviously extreme examples.

It's the things around it. It's the hotel lobby. It's the people not wearing masks in those moments. It's the indoor dining.

And so a year ago, he had no vaccines and no tests and it was unsafe in those indoor situations. Now a year later, we really can actually not cancel everything if we use the tools. But I fear that we're not using those tools correctly.


MATTINGLY: Yes. And that's the big question right now, right? Like no one can really identify, with good reason, delta is new, there's still -- everybody is still getting new data and new analysis.

It's really difficult to identify what the risk factors are, what should be changed, how dramatic the changes should be.

But I think one of the things that's kind of catching people at this moment, as we're seeing kind of the early stages of the data, is it is not just older people that are coming down with the delta variant.

Just take a listen to what this Florida doctor told CNN yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: The numbers of cases in our hospitals, in children and our children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed. Our pediatricians, the nursing, the staff are exhausted.

The children are suffering, and it is absolutely devastating. We've never seen numbers like this before.


MATTINGLY: So look, I think this -- I'm a parent of three kids who aren't eligible for vaccination yet. It's the big question we all have. You hear that. You hear about this 11-month-old with COVID who didn't have a place to go in Houston, had to be air lifted to another hospital.

What do parents need to understand at this moment, especially as schools are starting to reopen?

DR. FAUST: What parents need to understand about this situation is a little bit of, yes, we're still learning about this, but overall I still feel that two things are true at once.

On one hand, the individual risk to a child remains quite low, very low. But the population risk to kids is high. So even if there are very, very occasional, rare moments where a child is hospitalized, there are 75 million people under the age of 18 in this country.

And so you're going to have thousands of hospitalizations. You have deaths. And so while the individual kid has a low risk of anything bad, on a population level, we just should not be seeing children hospitalized for infectious diseases in this country.

That's just not an appropriate place for America to be. So I think that the way to move forward with schools this year is to make sure everyone feels safe. And I think the thing that we're not doing there, especially with the unvaccinated kids who can't get vaccinated, we're not utilizing rapid tests appropriately.

If we used more rapid tests, we could know who is contagious at any time. That's what rapid tests do. Herd immunity is ever elusive but herd safety. Herd safety, the idea that everyone who is out and about knows for a fact they're not contagious, we can know that with rapid testing. We can keep our schools open.

MATTINGLY: So I'm really glad you mentioned this. Because this is an issue that I've really wanted to dive into. Testing was such a prevalent part of the conversation pre-vaccine. Seems to have completely faded to the background.

And yet, there were tens of billions of dollars on the federal level that were kind of sent out for testing based on some of the emergency relief bills and packages. Obviously, you would think from a schools perspective, this would be a primary component of kids going back to school. I haven't necessarily seen it. What's your sense right now in terms of the scale and capability on the testing side of things that the country actually has in this moment?

DR. FAUST: We need to spend the money correctly. If you look at the funding that was in the relief package for testing, it would actually cover schools if we only did rapid testing. We would have to do it twice a week because if you do rapid testing too infrequently, you can miss the contagious window.

But if you only use the funding that Congress made available for the tests that most people are aware of, the PCR tests, that's the test that tests for the genetic material, the RNA of this virus, it's too expensive. Those tests are too expensive. They take too long.

So, actually, for less money than Congress allocated for testing, every person associated with the American school system -- students, teachers, the janitors, the people driving the bus, everyone could be rapid tested once or twice a week during the year. And what you'd find out very quickly is who is contagious when, and you can actually shut down a school sooner because it's immediate information.

But actually, you can shut them down less often. Because so many times with the other screening regimen, you'd pick up a case that wasn't contagious or that it happened weeks ago. So the funding, the right amount of funding would be there if we focused on these rapid tests instead of these very expensive and, quite frankly, hard to get PCR tests.

Equity is an issue here. You can get a rapid test anywhere. It is this big and anybody -- anyone can do it. So I think that if we urge Congress to look at this again and be very specific about the way we use these tests, they're very safe.

are a little concerned that they miss infection, but that's actually not true in terms of what they're designed to look for. These rapid tests are designed to look for contagiousness. People used to say, oh, I'm no contagious. They had a cold. They didn't know that. With coronavirus, we can know that.


MATTINGLY: Yes. It's interesting and it's just -- it's fascinating particularly with the emergence of delta, that you look around at testing and you think, all right, this hasn't been a focus the last couple of months, but it is probably pretty important at this point in time.

I appreciate the insight. Dr. Jeremy Faust, thank you, my friend.

DR. FAUST: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: All right. Coming up, it is a working weekend on Capitol Hill. You are looking live at the U.S. Senate. It is back in session, and it is moving to end debate on President Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. So where does the bill go from here? Plus, a school bus driver shortage is threatening to derail back to

school plans. How districts are trying to get more drivers behind the wheel before students head back to class.



MATTINGLY: Next hour, the Albany sheriff's office is scheduled to hold a press conference and address the criminal complaint filed against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week.

That complaint is from an anonymous accuser, referred in the state's attorney general's report as Executive Assistant One. She is one of 11 women who say the governor sexually harassed her, groping her during hugs and a photo-op.

Now, this is the first criminal complaint to emerge from a months' long investigation into Cuomo's conduct. Governor Cuomo still denies all allegations but will likely face an impeachment vote by the Senate legislature in the coming weeks.

Right, now on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate is in session. See, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking now on the floor. It's the second Saturday in a row they're in session. It's August. This is a rarity.

Here's why they're in session. Soon, senators will take a key procedural vote on the massive $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Now, if today's vote to shut down debate passes, it will likely pave the way for swift passage of that sweeping legislation and enact at some point elements of President Biden's sweeping economic agenda.

Now, for more on what's expected today, a man who knows the White House, Capitol Hill, and all of Washington quite well, Joe Johns, is joining me from Capitol Hill.

Joe, you know, complicated on the procedural front, but bottom line, tell me here where does this bill go once the Senate finishes its work over the course of the next couple days?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right well, there are different parts of it.

First, there is confidence today that they're going to get at least past the procedural vote and move to consideration of the bill proper.

But after that, Chuck Schumer was just on the floor before Mitch McConnell, and he said there is an easy way to do this or there is a hard way to do this.

The easy way, Phil, as you know, is to get unanimous consent among all of the senators in order to limit the amount of time they debate, limit the amount of amendments.

Or the hard way. The hard way is to go about 30 hours with debate on each and every amendment finally ending up with a vote that could occur on Monday or Tuesday.

So after that, of course, as you know, it'll go over to the House of Representatives where it is likely to sit for a while, because there is a disagreement among Democrats about how to proceed. And many Democrats want to vote on that larger bill that contains a number of items for child care, for education, for health care, and so on.

So that means we might not see a final vote in this infrastructure bill until the fall, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, indeed. The easy way or the hard way -- classic majority leader threat there.

Joe, you're also keenly aware of what is going on at the White House. The president is actually at his home in Wilmington, Delaware this weekend. But we're just learning the vice president is going to be up on Capitol Hill talking to senators.

What can you tell us about what she's expected to do and also the potential voting rights push that's coming in the days ahead?

JOHNS: Right. Well, it's interesting.

The first story we got about the vice president's visit to Capitol Hill was that she was going to push and sit down with senators to talk about voting rights.

And then Jasmine Wright, my colleague over at the White House, just reported a few minutes ago that she is coming to Capitol Hill also to talk about infrastructure. So there's more than one thing on her agenda.

However, I think the important thing to say about voting rights is this is an issue that has been hung up on Capitol Hill -- two bills, in fact. It's not clear at all that it's going anywhere, but there's a lot of optimism that Chuck Schumer will be able to force a vote before the Senate goes away for recess, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Something to keep a very close eye on. Joe Johns, as always, thank you very much, my friend.

All right. More relief is on the way for millions of Americans struggling with student loan debt. The Biden administration is extending their pause on federal student loan payments one last time until January 31st, 2022.

Now, the pandemic relief benefit was set to expire next month after an unprecedented 19-month suspension with no payments required and no interest accrued on federal loans.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says this final extension will give people the time they need to plan and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment.

Now just ahead, the Taliban tightens its grip on Afghanistan as the State Department urges all U.S. citizens to get out now. CNN is on the ground with Afghan commandos as a wedding hall is transformed into a front line position.



MATTINGLY: This is the message the U.S. is giving to Americans in Afghanistan today: Leave immediately. That warning comes as one official at the United Nations warns the war with the Taliban has reached a dangerous turning point. This comes just weeks after the pull out of U.S. troops from the country.

And in this exclusive report, CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward spoke to residents in Afghanistan's second largest city where the Taliban is closing in.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Phil. The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly unraveling, which is why you saw the U.S. embassy come out and urge all Americans to leave the country.

And this comes on the heels of the Taliban taking control of two provincial capitals. This is a big deal. They're the first but by no means, unfortunately, probably the last.

At least three other cities are under imminent threat. We visited one of them -- the strategically vital city of Kandahar, it is now completely surrounded by the Taliban.


WARD (voice over): On the road to Kandahar's front line, there is still civilian traffic even as the Taliban inches deeper into the city. Afghan commandos have agreed to take us to one of their bases.


WARD (on camera): This used to be a wedding hall. Now, it's the front line position.

(voice over): Most of the fighting here happens at night, but Taliban snipers are at work 24 hours a day.

(on camera): Some snipers?


WARD (voice over): The men tell us the Taliban are hiding in houses just 50 yards away from us.

(on camera): And they shoot from people's homes?


WARD: They shoot from civilian homes? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you see this is all civilians' homes. We

cannot use, you know, big weapons, the heavy weapons.

WARD (voice over): Up on the roof, Major Habbi Bula Shaheen (ph) wants to show us something.

(on camera): So you can actually see the Taliban flag just over on the mountaintop there.


WARD (voice over): it's been nearly a month since the Taliban penetrated Afghanistan's second largest city. Since then, these men haven't had a break. U.S. air strikes only come in an emergency. The rest of the time, it's up to them to hold the line.

"We feel a little bit weak without U.S. air strikes and ground support and equipment," he says. "But this is our soil and we have to defend it."

GUL AHMAD KAMIN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, KANDAHAR: Bombardments using heavy weapons.

WARD: In a villa in the eastern part of the city, Kandahari lawmaker Gul Ahmad Kamin (ph) is hunkered down. In decades of war, he says he's never seen the fighting this bad.

KAMIN: Millions of people in this city are waiting for when they will be killed, when someone will kill them, when their home will be destroyed, and it is happening every minute.

WARD (on camera): Just spell out for me here, the Taliban is basically surrounding the entire city of Kandahar now, is that correct?

KAMIN: Definite yes.

WARD: And so where is there to go?

KAMIN: I don't know where. So there is only two options. Do or die.

WARD: Do or die?


WARD: And what does do look like?

KAMIN: That is the thing to convince different sides to cease fire, to work on peace, to convince hem to not fight, not to kill.

WARD (voice over): but that is a tall order in a city where war has become part of everyday life.

(on camera): You can probably see, there is a lot more cars on the road than there were previously. And that's because in just two minutes, at 6:00 p.m., the cell phone network gets cut across the city. And that's when the fighting usually starts. (voice over): Throughout the night, the sounds of gunfire and artillery pierce the darkness. Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban. They are intent on taking it back. And the government knows it cannot afford to lose it.

By day, an eerie calm holds. The U.N. says more than 10,000 people are now displaced in this city. On the outskirts of town, we find 30 families camped out in an abandoned construction site.

(on camera): He's saying that none of these children have fathers. All of their fathers have been killed in the fighting.

(voice over): 35-year-old Rubina (ph) fled with her two daughters to escape the fighting after her husband was shot dead. But still, it gets closer and closer.

"Last night, I didn't sleep all night," she says. "And the fear was in my heart."

In the short time we are there, more families arrive. Street vendor Mahmed Ismael (ph) says they fled the village of Malajad (ph) after an air strike hit.

"Three dead bodies were rotting outside our home for days, but it was too dangerous to get them," he says. "The Taliban is attacking on one side. The government is attacking the other side. In the middle, we are just losing."

Back at the base, dust coats the chairs where wedding gifts would normally sit. As the siege of Kandahar continues, life here is in limbo, with no end in sight.


WARD: And just to give you a sense of the scale of that uptick in violence, Phil, we spoke to the ITRC, the International Red Cross. They help a hospital in Kandahar who said that in the first six months of this year alone, they saw more than 2,300 weapon-wounded patients, that's more than double the amount they saw in the first six months of last year.

We've also heard from the new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan. She warned that if the international community does not act soon, Afghanistan could be a potential catastrophe with few, if any, parallels this century, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Incredible reporting of a dire situation. Clarissa Ward in Kabul, thank you very much.


MATTINGLY: Up next, coronavirus isn't the only challenge students and parents face as they work to head back to class. How a school bus driver shortage could impact millions of children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTINGLY: The battle over mask mandates in schools is heating up across the country. A judge in Arkansas has temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its law banning mask requirement.


MATTINGLY: The school district and a group of parents have filed two separate lawsuits, saying schools should be able to mandate masks if they want to.

In Texas, the superintendent of Houston Public Schools, the largest school district in the state is proposing a mask mandate despite the governor's executive order banning it. The mandate would be for all students, staff and visitors. The Board of Education will consider the proposal at a meeting next week.

And New Jersey's governor announced yesterday that everyone will be required to wear face masks inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status. The governor says that decision was made because of the rapid spread of the delta variant and the reality that many older students and their parents are still unvaccinated.

Now, as schools across the country reopen for in-person learning, the state of Michigan is having trouble hiring bus drivers to actually get those students to class.

Every day, more than 26 million children in the U.S. rely on school buses. Now, that industry, like many across the country, has been hit hard by the recent worker shortage.

One Michigan school district even launched an ad campaign to try and pull in applicants.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like family when I came through the door. It was wonderful. The children are amazing.


MATTINGLY: Dave Meeuwsen joins me now. He's the executive director of the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation. He has been getting students to class on time for 34 years.

Dave, thanks so much for taking the time.

So one of the interesting elements in kind of digging into the data on this is bus drivers have been on Michigan's critical shortage list of public personnel since actually 2016.

But I guess what I'm wondering is, how much worse is it because of the pandemic now?

DAVE MEEUWSEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF PUPIL TRANSPORTATION: It's considerably worse. There's a number of districts that I can't say that I've talked to any districts that say they are completely fully staffed for fall. And for a lot of them that's only three weeks away because a lot of Michigan districts start before Labor Day. And so it's more challenging this year than in years' past.

MATTINGLY: And if you had to net it out, given kind of the timeline that you guys are on right now how many drivers would you say districts across the state actually need at this moment?

MEEWSUN: Did a training class this past week for supervisors and lead bus drivers who want to train their bus drivers with some of the new requirements coming up in February. And I did a poll there.

There was a couple of larger districts on the east side of the state who still needed to hire 35 to 40 bus drivers before school started. Down to some of the smaller -- even the smaller districts that have, let's just say, 15 or 20 buses.

So if you take -- they need three or four people before school starts. That's still almost, you know, 20 some percent they have to hire yet.

So there's a lot of districts needing people. And an exact number for the whole state? I don't know, we have approximately 20,000 some bus drivers in the state. There's about 17,000 buses that actually get inspected by the state police every year that are used.

And so those are some numbers you can go with there. If you just say 20,000 drivers needed, and if we're down 20 percent, that's quite a few for the whole state of Michigan.

But like I mentioned over the class that I taught last week, everybody is short a few. Some are short quite a few.

MATTINGLY: So to extrapolate it out a little bit, give me some perspective. How many kids rely on buses in Michigan. And I guess the broader question and most important one is, what happens if you can't fill those vital positions in a matter of seemingly days at this point?

MEEUWSEN: Right. It's quite precarious. If you think about the traffic patterns at schools, and there's always buses going to schools and then there's always some parents going to schools. And there's always this little bit of who has got the right of way out of school, does a bus or does a parent taking somebody in a car?

If we don't have bus drivers, then that means more students will be transporting with mom and dad to or from school which is 70 times greater of putting your child at risk.

So we need to have people in buses in order to make sure the traffic patterns on schools aren't so congested that it takes a long time to get in and out of the facilities.

It's a tough issue. A lot of -- probably the district I was at Zeeland Public Schools recently retired from, we had probably 60 percent to 70 percent of the kids actually taking the buses on a regular basis.

You know, we had about 6,500 students, all right? So, you know, that's a lot of bodies. Actually, when we think of our parochial schools involved with us, we could transport possibly 7,500 kids a day.


MEEUWSEN: And our student count is around 5,000, all right, just over that every morning and then again every afternoon.

So let's just say we can't come up with enough drivers to do a thousand of those students so say 20 percent -- that's a lot of additional automobiles, mini vans, Ford F-150s that will be in the student pickup and drop-off areas at the schools.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No question. And obviously, a crunch on parents, too, who may not have the time based on their jobs.

I guess one of the questions is, how do you -- how do you recruit, right? How do you try and incentivize people to apply for these jobs? And also, you know, how long does it take to actually get through the training? You know, If a rush of applicants came today, would they be able to be ready to go on day one if it is a couple weeks away?

MEEUWSEN: If it is two weeks away, no. There's just way too much that has to be done today. And people don't really maybe realize that. Your teachers have four-year degrees plus and lots of education and continuing education.

To be a bus driver now, we have drug tests, and medical things they have to do, their physicals, and they have to do criminal history record checks and all that kind of stuff, plus get ready to secure a commercial driver's license.

And once I pass the written test for the commercial driver's license, the state has said, ok, now you have to wait 14 days before you take your road test because they want to make sure you are training and studying in a vehicle because until that time, you really can't drive or practice in a vehicle.

So, I mean, sometimes you look, we have to wait two weeks to take the road test. But on the other hand, we know that these people are getting training in during those 14 days in a school bus, so that they're not completely green.

It's kind of a catch-all. Usually, it is three to four weeks before someone walks through the door at Zeeland schools. And by the time we have the chance to get them all up and running and everybody is trained and ready to go. And then there's still classes 18 to 20 hours that we ask them to take. So.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's an intensive process. It is also -- it's just fascinating to look at the downstream effects at this moment in time. Pandemic and employment generally is much deeper than you may think.

Dave Meeuwsen, I really appreciate the insight into this issue. Thanks so much for your time.

MEEUWSEN: Yes, sir.

MATTINGLY: We'll be right back.



MATTINGLY: All right. This is what I'm excited to talk about.

Team U.S.A. taking home a gold medal in men's basketball, continuing that run of dominance that looked to be in jeopardy just a few weeks ago.

They were led by the Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. They'd call it cruise to a relatively comfortable victory against France, a team that had beaten them just a little bit earlier in Tokyo.

Now CNN's Coy Wire is tracking all of this for us in Tokyo. And Coy, look, I'm going to be real with you. Had we lost to France twice in basketball with our pro players in the same Olympics, I would have a hard time with that. How did they overcome in the course of the last couple of weeks?

COY WIRE, CNN WORLD SPORT: It was not looking good at the start of the games. The U.S. men lost their first Olympic game in 17 years in that opener to France here in Tokyo, some are wondering if that four straight gold would even happen.

But Kevin Durant, as you mentioned, he even helped lead this team through the adversity. They gelled as the tournament went on, and they got that sweet revenge in the final, an 87-82 win.

Durant was the star amongst stars. 29 points, claiming his third individual gold medal. He's now tied with Carmelo Anthony for the most in Olympic hoops history for the men.

But how about this, Phil. JaVale McGee, following in his mom Pamela's footsteps, becoming the first mother-son duo to both win Olympic hoops gold but Pamela won hers in 1984.

And Allyson Felix has surpassed the great Carl Lewis to become the most decorated American track star ever with another golden effort. Felix and Team U.S.A. continuing a dominant run, winning a seventh straight gold in the women's 4 x 400 meter relay by nearly 4 seconds. Felix now has 11 Olympic medals to her name.

Congratulations to Allyson Felix who now gets to go home to her two- year-old daughter Kami (ph) and her hubby Kenneth to celebrate together.

The Boss' daughter is bringing home an Olympic medal. Jessica Springsteen, daughter of rock legend Bruce Springsteen, helping the U.S. take home the silver medal in equestrian team jumping. The 29- year-old has been riding horses since she was four years old. Some people just born to jump.

All right. Now Phil, could you imagine winning an Olympic medal for something you'd only done three times in your life? That's exactly what American Molly Seidel did. The 27-year-old won bronze in the marathon behind a pair of Kenyan runners. The Wisconsin native ran cross-country in college but never marathons.

Seidel was baby-sitting, working in a coffee shop last year, but she never gave up. Now she has gone the distance, returning home as an Olympic bronze medalist. Phil, incredible.

MATTINGLY: I love that stuff.

Coy Wire, my man in Tokyo, thank you very much, my friend.

We'll be right back.



CRAIG APPLE, ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF: -- two were in contact. And I have since been removed from that.

I cannot get into the nature of her specific allegations at this time obviously. We're in the very infant stages of this investigation. We have a lot of fact-finding to do, we have interviews to conduct. And it would be totally premature for me to comment on any of that.

I cannot release any documents at this time as per agreement with our district attorney, David Soares.

I can tell you that attorney Brian Primo and his client did in fact come in. She filed a formal report alleging criminal conduct against the governor. The conduct was sexual in nature.

The meeting at that point commences the investigative process for the Albany County Sheriff's office. The meeting was not lengthy. The meeting was more about explaining the process of the criminal justice system and what to expect going forward.

The meeting was approximately one hour long and the victim and the attorney then departed our headquarters station.

I cannot go into any detail from there. I can tell you that we've reached out to the attorney general's office and their private counsel assigned, requesting investigative material that will aid us in going forward. And that's where we are today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff, could you say whether any of the -- might have to do with anything outside the city of Albany?