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Dems, White House Locked In Stalemate Over Enhanced Unemployment Benefits; Brix Warns U.S. In "New Phase" Of Pandemic, More Widespread Cases; Pandemic Slows Communication Between Emergency Staff In Florida; Millions Face Crisis As Unemployment Benefits Expire; SpaceX's Crew Dragon Capsule Splashes Down Off Florida Coast. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 2, 2020 - 14:00   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me.

I'm Bianna Golodryga, in for Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the coronavirus pandemic entering what a White House task force member calls a new phase with more widespread cases. The infection count is now over 4.6 million and climbing. Saturday saw the sixth straight day of over 1,000 deaths in our country.

And as the CDC now projects, another 20,000 Americans will die in just three weeks' time. Now despite all of that, today the White House's coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said there are some reassuring signs actually crediting the government's reset of its response to some recent positive numbers.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw this starting to happen across the south and that's why we've done these very rather than generic federal framework, we have gone to very specific state and local, city by city, county by county, showing out which counties and which cities are under particular threat and what mitigation has to be done.


GOLODRYGA: Now, we should note that it was just a little over six weeks ago that Vice President Pence wrote an op-ed entitled that there isn't a second wave, where he claimed that quote, "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy." And yet here we are today.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to be locked in a stalemate over how to help millions of Americans financially impacted by the pandemic. But a deal for a new coronavirus stimulus package is unlikely to happen quickly. Talks between White House officials and Democratic leaders are set to resume tomorrow following what both sides called a productive meeting Saturday.

Yet both sides remain far apart and today they doubled down on their positions of an enhanced unemployment benefit, an extra $600 that expired Friday.

And let's start in Washington and the talks of that new stimulus relief deal.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us from the White House. So Jeremy, are we any closer to a deal than we were Friday?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, if the comments yesterday by the principal negotiators underscored the fact that the talks were productive on Capitol Hill yesterday, today the comments by those same negotiators really underscore the fact that these two sides are still very, very far apart.

And it is not just on the issues. Of course, there are the issues like the enhanced unemployment benefits. Democrats still pushing for those $600 supplemental to stay in this additional bill. Republicans looking for far less than that. And then there are the disagreements over funding for schools, funding for testing, a whole host of issues.

But beyond the issues there is also this issue of doing a piecemeal approach versus doing this as a comprehensive package. And this morning we heard the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows still underscoring that Republicans would like to address this issue of enhanced unemployment benefits first before they negotiate the broader package. Watch.


MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If we want to extend some of the enhanced unemployment benefits while we negotiate a broader package, I know that Secretary Mnuchin and myself have communicated that to our Democrat colleagues.

I know the President has been very clear in making sure that not only we're willing to address that but there is enough money to make sure that we address the needs that are out there and yet we continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal-type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill.


DIAMOND: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her part, she is sticking to the guns on this. She says that a comprehensive package that addresses all of the issues from the enhanced unemployment benefits to school funding to funding for testing, and funding for state and local governments is what is needed and she wants a package that goes until January.

Instead she is countering by saying that it's the Republicans who have yet to agree on what their approach actually is. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The fact is they put on the floor the end of this week in the Senate $200. So when you say we're not going to do the $600, they have no support for that in their party. We are unified in our support for the $600. They are in disarray on many of their members in the Senate. Republican member wants don't want any addition.

And we say three things. Support our state and local heroes, strategic big plan to end the virus and third put money in the pockets of the American working families. And we do that.

We have other issues that relate to food.



DIAMOND: And as you can hear there, the issue of those enhanced unemployment benefits really at the core here.

There is also the issue of funding for state and local governments. Democrats want a lot more funding for state and local governments than the Republicans do at this point. But Bianna, these negotiations are still contentious and still continuing.

Yesterday we saw the meeting with the principals. Today, there are staff meetings between both sides, and tomorrow once again we will see the White House chief of staff and the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin meet once again in person with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as these two sides try and get a little bit closer to an agreement, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Meantime millions of Americans are already suffering from seeing a decline in that enhanced stimulus. Thank you so much, Jeremy Diamond. We appreciate it.

Well, today White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that the U.S. has entered a new phase in the fight against the pandemic.

Here's what she told CNN's Dana Bash on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION".


DR. BIRX: But I want to be very clear. What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It is into the rural as equal urban areas and to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. And that's why we keep saying no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.


GOLODRYGA: And let's bring in Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's the executive associate dean for the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us. So let me ask you, are we in a new phase in dealing with the coronavirus and how would that differ from a second wave that we'd heard so much about possibly hitting in the fall?


Number one is what Dr. Birx is saying is, you know, March, April we have an epidemic that's primarily centered in urban areas -- New York City, you know, another -- Chicago, and other urban areas with a little bit happening in other cities. But really most of it, for example in Georgia we had an outbreak near Albany, Georgia. But most of the outbreaks were in urban communities.

What we are seeing right now is disseminated disease. We're seeing outbreaks in rural communities. In the state Georgia, for example, we have over a hundred counties that are what we call in the red, they have more than a hundred cases per 100,000 population. And we're seeing now the epidemic moving up the Midwest and going into rural communities.

So I agree with Dr. Birx. It is not a different phase, it's just the epidemic is moving into every community in America. And that's why we all need to be wearing a mask. This is something that in my mind needs really a federal mandate. We need a strong indication that masks are necessary and if we don't do that we're going to be in trouble for a while.

As far as a second wave is concerned, you know, yes, this is not -- you know, we went through a first wave. The epidemic went down in some places like the northwest but in the rest of the country, it really never went down. And if we had our first wave in March, April now what we have in June, July is a tsunami.

And we need to control it because I won't even worry right now about a second wave in the fall. We are really having a serious problem right now in the summer.

GOLODRYGA: And when we're talking about those folks in the rural districts in parts of the country and now in the Midwest, we've been focusing so much early on on urban areas where there was access to medical care and hospitals. How concerned are you that as this it continues to spread rurally across the country that you're not going to see that same kind of access and accessibility to hospitals?

DR. DEL RIO: I'm very concerned. In many of the rural counties and many of the rural communities we don't have hospitals, we don't have necessary ICUs and we certainly don't have infectious disease physicians.

An article published by my colleague Rochelle Walensky (ph) showed very clearly that much of these counties in the U.S. in the rural areas are not covered. They don't have infectious disease physicians. They don't have ICU care and I'm very concerned that we're going to have a serious problem in those areas.

GOLODRYGA: Which is why it is so important that they heed Dr. Birx's advice and wear masks and take care of themselves.

Let me ask you, Dr. Birx has said that the federal government reset its coronavirus response five or six weeks ago. And this really struck me because it was just over six weeks ago that Vice President Mike Pence wrote that op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal", a rather sunny op-ed that there is no second wave and that the U.S. was winning the fight against the coronavirus.

Doctor some 37,000 Americans have died since that op-ed was published on June 16th. You are on the front lines. Have you personally seen a reset from the federal government in its response?

DR. DEL RIO: I mean I think what we've seen from the federal government is they have started doing about five to six weeks ago weekly specific reports to each state, to each governor with a recommendations with data about what to do in their state.

One of those reports, the one from July 14th was made public through a public, I think, release. And then the one from July 26th was made public also through, I think, "The New York Times".


DR. DEL RIO: But the reality is I wish those reports were made public. They should be transparent. They should be available for all of us to see on a weekly basis. Those reports to governors are really useful. They really, you know, dig down into the specific areas.

They give them the information in a way that's easily digestible. And they give very specific recommendations what they need to do and I think we need to have as a public those reports so we can actually hold our elected officials accountable because I can tell you that many states are not following those recommendations that are in those White House reports.

So the reset is that providing data to the governors, specifically at the state level. As far as the Vice President op-ed, you know, I think the evidence is very clear that we have not controlled this epidemic. And we need to do more.

GOLODRYGA: You know, we have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks focusing on the Sunbelt and now obviously concerns about the Midwest. And there had been some reprieve in the northeast.

But now you see the governor of New Jersey and others across the country raising alarms about mass gatherings, that people are becoming more lax now, right. You're talking about parties packed with 700 people that took police five hours to break up.

Let's listen to Dr. Birx and what she had to say about the danger of these types of events.


DR. BIRX: Not super spreading individuals, it's super spreading events and we need to stop those. DANA BASH, CNN HOST: So you have --

DR. BIRX: We definitely need to take more precautions.


GOLODRYGA: And the Maryland Department of Health has actually released data on the behaviors of people who tested positive. And take a look at this: 44 percent attended a family gathering, 23 percent attended a house party, 23 percent dined indoors at a restaurant, 23 percent dined outdoors at a restaurant. And that really stood out to me because there's been a lot of focus on dining outdoors. But you don't see much of a difference between dining indoors and outdoors.

What can be done to encourage and really compel Americans to follow health recommendations?

DR. DEL RIO: You know, I like to tell people that you have to avoid the three Cs. And the three Cs are closed environments where there's no ventilation, crowded places where there's a lot of people, and close contact to other people that are not wearing a mask.

And if you avoid those three Cs and you practice the three Ws -- wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance -- you will be fine. But it's really important that we avoid crowded places, closed environments, non ventilation and places where there are a lot of people not wearing a mask because that is a perfect place for a super spreader event to occur and that could crowded, you know, environment could be a bar, it could be a nightclub or it could be a church.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. That's right. Well, remain vigilant. The three Cs are very helpful to remember as well. I understand that so many Americans are frustrated and want to see a light at the end of the tunnel but we'll only get there if we heed your advice.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, thank you. We appreciate.

DR. DEL RIO: Good afternoon.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now to the tropical storm that is lashing the East Coast of Florida while the state battles one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the country.

Isaias may no longer be a hurricane but it is threatening millions of Americans with high winds, heavy rain and storm surges over the next 24 hours along the Florida Coast.

You are now looking at a live situation right there in Miami. 70 million people are in the path of Isaias from Florida to Maine.

And tracking the storm for us, meteorologist Tom Sater. He's in the Weather Center. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Daytona Beach.

Natasha, what's the scene there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, it is pretty calm for the moment. As you have been talking about the storm has been moving a bit slower than initially anticipated so it's not going to hit here in Daytona Beach until really overnight hours. But we did start to get one of the early outer bands, a little more than an hour ago. And you can tell it's still pretty calm out because a lot of people are still on the beach here.

We do see some darker clouds there in the distance so that may be coming toward us from the south in a little bit. But keep in mind that the county is really preparing for this at the same time they're preparing for a lot of pandemic issues.

Right now we're standing on a beach that is hard-packed sand and typically cars can come on to this beach. But as of 2:00 yesterday vehicles were banned from coming on here. And I did visit with the emergency management director yesterday, interviewed him in a room -- pretty much a war room -- where they would have up to a hundred people sometimes dealing with a hurricane like this or a tropical storm like this. Instead I talked to him yesterday in a completely empty room. And I asked him how bizarre that was to be handling the storm in the middle of COVID-19.


JIM JUDGE, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR, VOLUSIO COUNTY, FLORIDA: It's weird. Because we -- they're our friends, you know. And we do enjoy getting together and, you know, problem solving. So once we get into the event, you know, tomorrow, once we have a few people in here and we're looking at the evacuations and the transportation, and then solving the problems that are coming up because now, we've got to get on a computer, get on a phone to be able to get a hold of people to do those things when I can walk across the room and solve that problem immediately.

It may take a little bit longer. And you know, so we're going do go through it.



CHEN: And we did hear from a public health official in the county during a Friday press conference. She mentioned that just like a lot of other places along the East Coast of Florida preparing for the storm, a lot of county-run COVID testing sites have closed in preparation for Isaias. And so those will reopen Tuesday.

She said that won't really affect too much the numbers in COVID reporting because some of those private places that are testing are still running those tests through the weekend, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Well, good thing it doesn't appear that the storm is going to be hitting as significantly as it had been expected to. So good news there for people on the ground.

Let me ask you, Tom, what is the latest on the storm's track? TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well Bianna, if there's one thing really

everyone should take away from this segment, do not let your guard down just because Isaias is a title of tropical storm and not hurricane. In the past, we have seen time and time again tropical storms drop record-breaking rainfall leading to flash flooding and water rescues sometimes much more than Category 1 and Category 2 hurricanes. This has been brewing for days and it has that potential.

Notice the white. That's convective activity. Notice where it is. It's to the north and the northeast. That's where we find on radar all of the activity.

Some good news, some not so good news. It looks like for the day today and into tonight, most of that activity where the winds are the strongest are going to be that northeastern quadrant away from the coastline.

It looks as though Isaias will make its way parallel up the entire coast. It's currently 45 miles southeast of Vero Beach. It's 90 miles south of Cape Canaveral. I think it could make its closest approach to Cape Canaveral by midnight tonight.

If we get this core, Bianna, wrapping around that center it's going to get stronger. The big problem is going to be the heavy rainfall into the Carolinas beginning around midnight tomorrow, late in the evening in Charleston, all the way up into New England, by Wednesday morning it will be in Maine.

But I really fear this is going to squeeze out a lot of rainfall and it's going to lead to massive problems. So we will have much more throughout the day, obviously.

GOLODRYGA: It is not over yet.

Tom Sater, Natasha Chen, our thanks to you.

Well, as lawmakers try to strike a deal on a new stimulus, Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

Coming up, we'll introduce you to a family in California fearing eviction. The toll it is taking on their daily lives and the proposal to save them and others in need of help.

And we are just minutes away from witnessing history as two NASA astronauts complete their 19-hour journey home. It's the first astronaut splash landing in 45 years. And we will bring it to you live here on CNN.



GOLODRYGA: The stalemate on Capitol Hill continues over a new coronavirus stimulus package. Talks between White House officials and Democratic leaders are set to resume tomorrow.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, one of the negotiators, sounded a little optimistic this morning.


STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The President wants us to get a deal done quickly because this is important to the American people. Now, I would just say across both parties there are different things that are very contentious.

Mark Meadows and I will be back there every day until we reach an agreement. We understand there's a need to compromise but on the other hand there's also a big need to get kids into school, get people back to jobs and keep the economy open and keep people safe.


GOLODRYGA: And this comes as the $600 a week federal unemployment benefit has run out for millions of Americans. The national moratorium on evictions in federally-backed housing mortgages has expired putting food and housing in jeopardy for millions.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles. And Paul, you have been speaking to people who are facing the housing crisis personally.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have, Bianna. And they all fear the possibility that they could become homeless because of these very differing eviction rules.

Let's start with the overarching rule in California. The California Judicial Council, this is the eviction moratorium. It is set to expire on August 14. Therefore, people like Esperanza Alvarez, she's a housekeeper, her hours have been cut dramatically. She did not receive the $600 supplement. She has an 18-year-old son, she has a 28-year-old pregnant daughter. They all fear that they could be evicted.


MARCOS ALVAREZ, FACING CRISIS OVER RENT: We need real help, like to cancel the rent because it's --

Because we live with the pressure that we can't pay the rent. And as soon as this is over they want us to repay the months that we didn't pay and how are we supposed to do that when we could barely make for the month we are living in?


VERCAMMEN: And the Esperanza family saying they want to work, they want to pay but just can't right now.

On the other side, you can imagine for smaller landlords who rely on their rental income to make their living this is a crisis, as well. We talked to a community activist who can see it both ways.


CARLOS MARROQUIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: What we need to do is we need to not only explore but we need to act boldly to be able to put in programs in place that will not only protect the renters but also the landlords. We understand that.

Most of the renters I speak with if not all of them, you know, they want to pay their rents. But if that's not happening, again, the landlords will also suffer especially the mom and pop landlords. And that worries me a lot.



VERCAMMEN: So among several bills going through the assembly here in California is a bill that would give the landlords forbearance. In other words, they would not have to pay their mortgage immediately. There's also another bill that's talking about tax relief for landlords who don't evict.

Extremely nuanced, extremely complex, Bianna but one thing that is for certain, people are nervous in California about possible looming evictions.

GOLODRYGA: And people are suffering on both sides of this crisis as well as we just saw.

Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles, thank you so much.

I want to bring in Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi, she's a professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Services. And the founding director of the Rodham Institute.

Now, Doctor, thank you so much. I want to start talking about the impact this is having on so many Americans. According to a recent census survey, more than a quarter of Americans have missed a rent or mortgage payment, nearly 11 percent say that they live in households where there is not enough food to eat.

It's just stunning that this is happening in the richest country in the world. Do you expect these figures to continue to rise?


One in five children were going to bed hungry. And in Washington, D.C., for example, there is such a gap between the wealthiest and the poorest.

So this is not a new problem. I think what this pandemic has done is it's laid bare the incredible inequities which, of course, have been exacerbated and so not surprising and actually not as complicated to solve as people might think.

There are solutions which I'd love to talk with you more about.

GOLODRYGA: So please, please. Let's talk about those solutions. People are desperate.

DR. EL-BAYOUMI: Sure. Well, I mean you know, in 2018 there was a courting of farmers by the current administration and what did they do? They subsidized them for growing food, growing crops.

Right now, farmers are actually plowing under millions of tons of food on a daily basis. You have seen the videos of gallons, tens of thousands of gallons being poured out and that's not a criticism of farmers. Many of them have donated foods to capital area food banks and food banks in general and they are really upset that at the same time that they're plowing food under they're actually planting next year's crop.

So the government had actually said in 2018 we will pay you for being able to harvest your crops. Imagine you harvest crops, you help, you know, support farmers, you can get the food distributed. There's a wonderful model in the Coachella Valley, Hidden Harvest which does that. There are many other models.

So if there's truly the political will to stop punishing people and causing what I believe is a path of genocide against men, women, children, the elderly, the disenfranchised -- you name it -- who are disproportionately -- people of color, of course, African-Americans, Latinos and let's not forget indigenous people of the United States. I mean it is shameful if not outright obscene and criminal.

And what I want the viewers to understand is that food is the foundation. From that everything follows. Food is a significant, the most significant social determinant of mental health. What's going to happen after this pandemic is over? What are the long-term consequences?

So this idea of sort of looking separately at food or housing or employment or education is what's getting us into trouble. We have to have a wholistic approach that recognizes that these are all interdependent.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, you're absolutely right. And what's going to happen to the millions of children who depend on food at school, right? Two meals a day.

If schools aren't going to be open and obviously there are legitimate health-related reasons as to why schools may not be ready to open right now. But of course, when it comes to those children that need food, that is going to be lacking for them.

There was a really upsetting piece in the "Washington Post" about families having to deal with not having an income, now having $10 in one case in his checking account, not knowing if he was going to be able to pay rent. A former police officer was sleeping on a family member's couch.

How can we get these stories out to the public more so they can get more attention so people can be more proactive and helpful if they can? DR. EL-BAYOUMI: I think that, you know, for me as a physician,

understanding that this is actually making the pandemic and increasing the depths worse. I mean, food and nutrition impacts our immune system. Being able to sleep in a bed and not couch surf or be homeless impacts our immune system. These -- stress, mental stress, anxiety -- that affects our immune system.


DR. EL-BAYOUMI: So when you fighting an infection that is ravaging and attacking the immune system, to think that we can have these piecemeal kinds of solutions is naive and actually irresponsible because the science, the data, the community-based organizations, the area food banks, there is a lot of information that can actually help with the solutions.

GOLODRYGA: Well, such an important conversation. Thank you so much for flagging for us and giving us at least some solutions. Dr. El-Bayoumi, we appreciate it.

EL-BAYOUMI: My pleasure.

GOLODRYGA: Well, a historic homecoming off the coast of Florida, two American astronauts are returning to earth after 63 days on the International Space Station. You will recall they made history by riding in a SpaceX capsule. Well, they are just minutes away from splashing into the Gulf of Mexico. We will have live coverage coming up.



GOLODRYGA: Any moment now, NASA astronauts aboard the SpaceX crew Dragon are expected to make their historic return from space, and you are looking at live pictures right now. U.S. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will end their 19-hour journey back to earth with a splash down off the coast of Florida. This is the first ocean landing in 45 years.

And joining me now is CNN Aviation Analyst Miles O'Brien and Rachel Crane is our Business Innovation and Space Correspondent. I am so excited to be here covering this with you guys. Miles, walk us through what we're about to see. We know that there were four potential splash down sites preselected in the gulf but NASA Administrator Bridenstine just tweeted, great conditions for splash down, winds are at two knots.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, what a difference an ocean makes. The Atlantic Ocean right now, as you have been reporting thoroughly out throughout today on CNN not a good place with the tropical storm/hurricane activity but the Gulf of Mexico is completely docile and beautiful conditions for landing. The wind is light and there is no real concern about weather and they are committed anyway at this point. We are 13 minutes away from that splash down. In just a few minutes, Brianna, when it will go through a very tense period which those of us who are old enough to remember ,remember from the Apollo days, last splash down like this 45 years ago, about six minutes of a period of time when the craft will be enveloped in superheated gas called plasma and it means that radio communications can't come in or out. So, for about six minutes, we are just going to be wondering what's going on.

The craft will be flying autonomously. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be monitoring systems and all of us here will be holding our breath.

GOLODRYGA: Myself included. And try doing that when you're trying to read the prompter and talk to your guests, but I'll see if I can do it.

Rachel, this is what some call the dangerous part of the mission, right, coming back home. And, in fact, as was just mentioned, this is the first ocean landing since 1975. And back then, it was a described as a real bone crusher. You spoke with both of these astronauts when they were on the ISS back in June. Were they nervous about this specific moment and how dangerous are they?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Bianna. This is considered reentry and splash down is considered potentially the most dangerous part of a mission by some because of that blackout zone in large part that Miles was just speaking of. The temperatures outside the spacecraft over 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, creates that plasma, so you have that blackout zone, no communications.

But despite the fact that also Bob and Doug are guinea pigs here. No humans have ever landed Crew Dragon before. This is technically a test mission. Despite all of that, they are cool as a cucumber. They have full confidence in the vehicle. Take a listen to what they had to say.


DOUG HURLEY, NASA ASTRONAUT: No, I don't think we're nervous. We watched the demo one flight, the test flight, the uncrewed test flight and the vehicle performed very well. We have seen the in-flight board abort test and the vehicle performed well again. We have full confidence that the vehicle will perform just like it is supposed to.

That being said, it is a completely different entry profile than what we are used to or had been used to in the space shuttle. We'll land in the water, as you said. We'll land under parachutes, much more dynamic entry. There will be much higher Gs and, you know, that's just part of the unknown as to -- we have prepared for it but we can only prepare so much and we'll see how the vehicle does and we'll how we do when we get back.


CRANE: And, you know, Bianna, Bob and Doug also have a very good attitude about the physiological effects if a splash down. As you pointed out, it hasn't happened in 45 years. But it's pretty intense landing in the ocean, being in that capsule strapped into the seat as the ocean is bobbing you up and down.

They have the, quote, hardware which is really just a barf of bag handy if they need it. Bob even saying he looks forward to that first moment of that physiological response because that means that they are safely on the ground in the ocean and they've also been doing -- they've been fluiding up, meaning having lots of water to prepare for that splash down, to make sure that they are in good condition to be able to walk once they land.

And also one of the things that gives them confidence in the splash down, SpaceX being able to pull it off successfully, is that they've been doing this with cargo missions for quite some time now. They successfully landed over 20 of those cargo missions in the water.

So, of course, this is a very different vehicle. There're lots of light support systems in place and many redundancies to those to make sure that Bob and Doug are safe inside that capsule during reentry and splash down.


But everybody here, including myself, you and Miles, I know we're very nervous about this. But Bob and Doug, somehow they managed to be cool as cucumbers, maybe because they're veteran astronauts, former test pilots. I think that might help a little bit, all that training too.

GOLODRYGA: Maybe. Maybe you have a point there. They are super excited about this. I'm sure, even though they come off as just stoic and this is just another day at the office, but you know that that's some serious bonding when they got a barf bag between of them that they, as you said, are looking forward to utilizing.

We are going to sneak in a quick break. No one is going to miss a beat here. We will be right back on the other end to watch this historic moment.


GOLODRYGA: And we are less than five minutes away from watching history transpire right there on your screen. As you see right there, you see the images of the SpaceX Crew Dragon as it is reentering the earth's atmosphere with Bob and Doug, the astronauts in there, waiting to land and obviously the world is waiting for their arrival.


I want to go back to our panel. Miles, they are entering back into earth's atmosphere and will be traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour, I guess, as we speak right now. By the time they land with the help of parachutes, they'll be traveling at about 20 miles per hour. What does a water landing help protect? And why do they go with a water landing opposed to land?

O'BRIEN: It's just that much more cushion. And, of course, the other big advantage going back to the Apollo days was there was plenty of places to aim for. So, it's that combination. Ultimately, the goal is to return these capsules back on to land. But it does require additional retro rockets to provide enough additional cushion before they land. And maybe as time goes on and as they get more confidence developed in this system, that's the direction they will head.

But you're right, to go from 17,500 miles an hour to about 15 or 20 miles an hour in a matter of minutes, that is some serious braking and they're feeling it right now as heat. 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit on the outside, probably 85 degrees in the cabin itself, but, of course, they are in suits, which are water-cooled and they're pretty comfy.

GOLODRYGA: And so there you see the main parachutes opening up, according to NASA's reporting that they're now traveling at 16 miles per hour. They have got that heat shield that you just mentioned, Miles.

But what strikes me, Rachel, is what you mentioned earlier. They are guinea pigs. This is a first for NASA and SpaceX as well. So we are watching it, observing and they are doing the same thing.

CRANE: That's correct. This is a demonstration. It's called demo two. The whole point of this mission was to certify Crew Dragon for operational missions. The first operational mission once this vehicle splashes down, and they have a six-week period of certification, it will start running those six operational missions that they've contracted SpaceX to do.

But we are just moments away from splash down right now, Bianna, and history really being made and will take about 45 minutes to an hour once they land in the ocean for the capsule to be put on the recovery vehicle and for Bob and Doug to be able to exit the capsule. But this is the really, really exciting moment here where this historic splash down is about to take place and, you know, a culmination to what has been an incredible journey.

GOLODRYGA: They are about 300 meters from the Gulf of Mexico right now, and it is really incredibly watching this in real-time as they're slowly making their way down to the gulf. And it does appear -- yes, I don't want to jinx myself, God forbid, but it does appear, Miles, that everything has been executed and played out perfectly thus far.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is not over until it's over. But when you see those four chutes open, you can breathe a lot easier. That's the last key moment here that would cause some concern about their safety.

GOLODRYGA: Here we go.

O'BRIEN: All four chutes open, and here they come before splash down. Let's watch.

GOLODRYGA: What a sight. What a sight. So as you have witnessed history there, the two astronauts and the SpaceX Crew Dragon reentering and splashing down for the first time we have seen a U.S. splash down in 45 years. They are landing in the Gulf of Mexico. The weather has held up. A lot of excitement there for NASA, for SpaceX, for the future of that venture and all the exploration that they plan on doing together.

Can you please walk me through, Rachel, what is happening right now to Bob and Doug as they remain in this capsule?

CRANE: Well, as you just see on your screen right now, splash down successful, those parachutes are being jettisoned away from the capsule right now just in case there are any winds, we know though weather conditions really on our side. But just in case that there was wind that it wouldn't be dragged out anywhere, Bob and Doug are strapped into their seats currently. This is when those physiological effects might start to take place.

GOLODRYGA: And let's take a listen -- let's listen in to NASA's feed as they are relaying this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dragon Endeavor has splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. And on your the screen there, you can see are two fast boats, and they are indeed fast, racing out to greet Dragon Endeavor as it sits there. The first -- we can see a view inside the capsule, Bob and Doug looking good. Although the communication was a little choppy, we did hear --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Endeavor and three decimal (INAUDIBLE), we show ourselves in stable one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And SpaceX copies for vehicle assessment, step three decimal one, stable one. Good news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stable one, essentially, they're upright in the water.


Stable two, also another potential where it can be on its side or even upside down but Dragon has a water ballast system to keep it upright where it's able to essentially pump seawater into bladders in service section of the capsule. But they're upright. We already see the fast boats approaching. They touchdown, came on time at 11:48 A.M. Pacific, 11:48 UTC. Bob and Doug now in the water.

And the recover ops, they've already begun. We are already seeing the fast boats starting to move in. We are still maintaining that good communication back with Bob and Doug and the team here in Hawthorne. Pretty soon, we should be getting the go for them to move in, begin hypergolic sniffs (ph) and begin wrangling up those parachutes where we can see Bob and Doug inside the capsule back on Planet Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Those fast boats will be moving in to do a couple things. They'll be performing what's known as a sniffer test. That's essentially to ensure that the air around the vehicle doesn't have any toxic fumes from the hypergolic propellants on board.

So once we get the all-clear from them, the water recovery lead will give the go for approach and that's when the first fast boat will actually approach capsule, hopefully give a little wave to Bob and Doug through the window. And one of the crew members -- one of the team members will actually climb on top of Crew Dragon and begin to place the rigging equipment necessary to hoist Dragon out of the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still getting a view from the W.B., the airplane flying overhead that gave us those great views, really, our first views of Bob and Doug reentering the earth's atmosphere from up above. You can see the four parachutes in the water. We heard those were cut automatically, as expected, by Dragon.

So for now, the crew just standing by. Again, they're going to stay in their suits, in their seats. We're waiting for all these initial checks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dragon SpaceX com check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here, you hear us (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loud and clear as well. I just wanted to verify a quick com reconfiguration. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, essentially, what just happened there is they --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so if you can just relay status of the fast boats and the recovery as you get them, we would appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet, absolutely, Doug. Wilco.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what just happened there, you heard coms reconfiguration. That's essentially looping Bob and Doug's communication into the recovery team so that if -- they can hear feedback from Bob and Doug directly as well.

Now, we talked a little bit about --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: SpaceX endeavor, you can let Ben and James know we are doing pretty good so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. We'll let the flight docs know that you're feeling good so far. Thanks for that update.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really good news there to hear that they're feeling good and they can let the flight surgeons know that all is well inside Dragon Endeavor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. And it sounds like we do have one of our folks that's on location there with the recovery forces, NASA's Brandi Dean. She's been -- she's joining us by satellite phone. Brandi, if you can hear me, what is it like right there on the water? What was it like to watch Dragon -- watch them splash down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). So standby at the console (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, SpaceX copies. We'll be ready for that in just a couple of minutes. We should have the go for you in just a moment. Please stand by. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can hear you but --

GOLODRYGA: And you have just watched history transpire. You see crew members of SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splash down off the Florida coast, the first splash down in the United States in 45 years. And astronauts and childhood friends, what an experience to have together.


Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley said that they are feeling good, and that is music to everybody's ears, whether it's NASA, whether it's SpaceX, for all Americans and the world. This is a first that we're experiencing.

As Rachel Crane said, they were guinea pigs. They just landed in a perfectly executed landing, as was described, and you were listening from the feed from NASA that the capsule was upright. They were communicating with Bob and Doug. Bob and Doug asked to be transitioned now so that they can communicate to the rescuers and to those who will now be bringing them on the boats.

And let's go back to NASA as that takes place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- looking down, you can see the parachutes in the water and the second boat start to gather them up.

We'll try one more time very quick. We have NASA's Brandi Dean out with the recovery forces. Brandi, if you can hear me, what was it like to watch this Dragon come down under parachutes?

BRANDI DEAN, PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST, NASA: Oh, it was amazing. I wish everybody could have had my view. It's such a beautiful sight. A gorgeous day, the water is calm, really the best weather we could have asked for and we did. We heard the sonic booms as it made it back (INAUDIBLE) as the parachutes were deploying. So it's very exciting for everybody who is gathered here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's incredible. We actually had some questions from people if you would be able to hear the sonic boom and we weren't sure. So I'm really glad you just answered that for us.

I mean, we've talked so much about the weather. You said it looks great. What was it like on the ride out there? Is it just kind of clear skies and clear seas the whole way?

DEAN: I'm not sure if you can hear me right now but thank you for asking about the weather. The weather was clear skies. There are just a kind of circle of clouds along the horizon very low but we were able to see the parachutes far above (INAUDIBLE) all the way until it splashed down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Well, we're not getting any views on the boat. So what kind of activity is taking place right now? We're able to see the fast boats approaching the capsule. What's everybody doing on the boat to just kind of get everything ready? DEAN: The boat is making (INAUDIBLE) capsule. I can't see it with my bare eyes (INAUDIBLE) we are getting closer. Everybody has been kind of standing by, holding ready positions for quite a while now. And as soon as (INAUDIBLE) start working on their own -- their own activities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, copy that. Well, we are going to keep watching from here. Thanks for calling in and thanks for being out there with everybody and getting us these great views. It's really incredible. Thanks, Brandi. We hope to get you back in port soon and we'll talk to you back in Houston.

DEAN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there on your screen -- oh, camera view change. That is a view coming to us from GO Navigator, the recovery vessel. The two fast boats are out there getting to -- they're getting ready to basically -- excuse me -- install the rigging equipment required to hoist Dragon out of the water.

The other fast boat is actually collecting the parachutes from the water. We definitely want to bring those back on board with us. But shortly here, we should actually see one of the team members crawl up on to the side of the capsule in order to install the rigging, like I mentioned.

That particular team member is highly experienced and highly trained. As you can imagine, climbing on top of an oddly shaped thing in the ocean could be a little tricky so this person has undergone a lot -- hours and hours of training and certification in order to perform this very important task.

There on the right-hand side of the screen, we see the second fast boat approaching. Of course, both of these boats needed to wait for their cue from the water recovery lead in order to approach Dragon after splash down. Again, that was just to make sure there weren't any toxic vapors in the air. And now that they got the all clear, we do see them beginning to work on and around the Dragon capsule.

So even though the camera is a little shaky that water looks super, super duper smooth, almost like glass, which certainly ideal for a water recovery like today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You've got to remember that this is a view from the main recovery vessel which is still a few miles away from the splash down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, SpaceX, we have hypergolic sweeps and unfired ordinance checks nominal.


Rigger is on board the vehicle about two, five minutes until capsule lift.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy that, yes.