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CDC Director: Vaccine Likely Available To General Public In Mid-2021; Some House Dems Upset Over Rejection Of New Stimulus Proposal; West Coast Fires Kill At Least 35 People, Burn 4.7 Plus Million Acres. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: So we're going to see where we're headed here. The administration's testing are Admiral Brett Giroir saying on Capitol Hill just a short time ago, he believes we are in better shape. Some would contest this, but he believes we are in better shape now than we were coming out of Memorial Day. But he adds a big but.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Since the post Memorial Day peaks and community spread, the number of new COVID-19 cases is down 48 percent. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is down 49 percent. These gains could be fleeting or even reversed if we do not continue to follow the national plan and exercise personal responsibility, especially wearing masks and avoiding crowds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us now is Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's the Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Del Rio, it's nice to see you again. Forgive me for adding a little politics at the top of our conversation, but that's a little rich, when you hear the Admiral talking about avoiding crowds and wearing masks and we just watched a couple days of the President of the United States at big indoor rallies with people packed in many of them not wearing masks.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes, John. I mean, I think that we need example from the top, right? And I totally agree with Admiral Giroir, we need to wear a mask, we need to avoid crowds, we need to avoid close places, you know, closed room with a lot of people. And that's exactly what we're not seeing. So we need examples from the top. And we really need to do that because if we do we can actually control this pandemic.

KING: We could. And one of the questions is, when will we get a vaccine? The President on the campaign trail has said soon. He has hinted several times it could be before the election. The head of the Centers for Disease Control just short time ago said, not that fast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think there will be vaccine that initially be available sometime between November and December. But very limited supply and we'll have to be prioritized. If you're asking me, when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life? I think we're probably looking at third -- late second quarter, third quarter of 2021.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's a year from now, almost a year from now Dr. Del Rio for widespread availability perhaps limited Dr. Redfield says for folks like you are on the front lines in the medical professions, first responders and the like. But most Americans, he's saying they're probably going to have to wait until about this time next year, maybe a tad earlier.

DEL RIO: I agree with Dr. Redfield, John. The reality is people need to realize the vaccine is not going to be like turning on a switch, right? It's not like we have a vaccine and we're done. It's going to be more like opening a faucet and opening it very, very slow. It's going to take a lot of time to immunize the millions of people you've got to immunize. The logistics of it are not simple. And many of those vaccines are actually going to require two doses, which makes it even more complicated.

But I want to emphasize that we have a vaccine right now. It's called, wear a mask. If 95 percent of the U.S. citizens were wearing a mask, we could stop transmission of this virus today. I'm asking, in fact, maybe much more effective than the vaccine because the vaccine at the best is going to have a 50 percent efficacy, right? So the reality is, we probably need going to need to have a vaccine and continue wearing masks for a long period of time until we get enough people immunized that we have the community protection that we actually need.

KING: To the point you made earlier, it would be nice to hear that from the top and to hear it consistently from the top. But we do hear it repeatedly from the President's top scientists there, just at odds with the boss, if you will. I want you to listen to this from the President's town hall last night. I think he got his terms mixed up. I think he was trying to talk about herd immunity. He talked about herd mentality. I want you to listen to this and we'll see if it makes any sense to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it's going to go away a lot faster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would go away without the vaccine?

TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With many deaths. TRUMP: And you'll develop -- you'll develop like a herd mentality. It's going to be it's going to be herd developed and that's going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: If you look at the side of the screen, we're closing in on 197,000 soon to reach 2,000 American -- 200,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus. What is the President talking about their Doctor?

DEL RIO: Well, herd, you know, mentality is obviously the wrong term. He probably was referring to herd immunity. Herd immunity is scientifically what it means is when you have enough people in a community infected or vaccinated, you start seeing transmission decreased because the number of susceptible individuals dramatically decreases.

For this virus, for this infection, we think the herd immunity percent of the population either vaccinated or who has acquired the infection is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 percent. So let's suppose this was 60 percent. We think as of today, maybe about 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population has been infected. And as you well said, we're closing in on 200,000 deaths. Think about taking that 15 percent to 60 percent. So you got to go four times higher, right? Four times higher means that instead of 200 deaths, multiply that by four, you would have 800,000 deaths. I don't think a herd immunity plan is a disaster plan. We simply cannot do that.

[12:35:21]

KING: No, we simply cannot do that. I agree with you, Sir. Dr. Del Rio, appreciate your insights there. And again, you made the point. We keep them handy. That's what it takes to help, put it on, it helps. Dr. Del Rio, as always appreciate your insights.

Coming up for us college football fans and the President praise a big reversal, major reversal from the big 10.

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[12:40:05]

KING: A major reversal today for the big 10 after postponing the football season last month, the big 10 now says it will play after all, games kicking off sometime in late October. The decision both cheered and owned by President Trump, who of course had criticized school leaders for their postponement. Now he says great news big 10 football is back. It is my great honor, the President says, to have helped.

CNN's sports Carolyn Manno joins me now. This is a big reversal. The conference had said it's too risky. It's not safe. Now they say we'll play.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You're right, John. It's a stunning about face especially when you consider that the Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to bring football back as early as the weekend of October 23rd and 24th. You recall that the Ivy League was the one that really set the President for football way back when all this started. But the big 10 was following quickly behind them citing the science and the need for precaution to take things slow.

Now I think that thinking is probably summed up best by what the University of Michigan just released a quote from Jim Harbaugh that says, stay positive, test negative, and let's play football. That's where we are. I mean, when we last spoke, essentially the decision makers here needed to be reassured that the health concerns regarding student athletes and students in general, were going to be able to be managed.

And the reasoning that we're given via statement from the big 10 is that there's going to be daily testing here and also enhanced cardiac screening to go with the concerns about myocarditis. So those two protocols being put into place I think were reason enough for the powers that be to say, you know what, let's give this a shot.

KING: Oh, we'll give it -- we will give it a watch and see how it plays out, see if they can navigate the risk. Carolyn Manno, appreciate important news there. Everyone likes to watch football. Let's hope they can do it safely, though.

Coming up for us, why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi facing backlash within her own Democratic Party.

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[12:46:34]

KING: Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding firm today but facing vocal resistance from some moderate House Democrats who want a new strategy in the debate over a new coronavirus stimulus package. The speaker says House Democrats have a big plan and that Republicans should offer to negotiate but a bipartisan group has a new plan. And Democrats involved in that effort want the Speaker to try a different approach.

New York Democrat Max Rose putting it this way. They are rejecting a bold bipartisan measure outright and just continuing to kick the can down the road over and over and over again. It's deeply frustrating. That's Rose, Oklahoma Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn tweeted, it is flatly unacceptable that congressional leadership is not at the table. When businesses are closing, Americans are out of work, and families need help.

CNN senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, live for us. Manu, a little bit of a Democratic family feud.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And particularly from those vulnerable freshmen Democrats who are in those swing districts often districts of the President carried in 2016 and want action. This despite the House passing its own proposal back in May, a roughly $3 trillion plan. That bill has gone nowhere because Senate Republicans are opposed. Nancy Pelosi has appointed to that and pushing the Republicans to come closer to her overall dollar number. But Republicans aren't budging on the price tag. So as a result, a lot of these members want action and want Pelosi to change her approach. Perhaps better a more pared back version forward. And you mentioned that $1.5 trillion, a proposal that the so-called problem solvers caucus, a bipartisan group on Capitol Hill that includes some of those vulnerable members.

They want the Speaker to bring that forward. But the Speaker's allies have rejected that plan. And that prompted some sharp reaction, including, as you mentioned, from Max Rose of New York, who told me yesterday he's quote, disappointed to be a Democrat today, because of the rejection of that approach. He called the leadership's approach, quote, stupid. He called it a charade. Other Republican -- Democrats also had concerns.

So Pelosi recognizes that, but at the moment, John, she is not budging, making it clear. She still wants the White House to come closer to her number. And at the moment, it doesn't seem to be happening, unless the President perhaps has his way, John.

KING: Oh, well, so the Speaker not budging and the President saying this fight and deciding to insert himself in it?

RAJU: Yes, that's right, because the President tweeted this morning something that has caught a lot of Republicans off guard on the Hill. He tweeted, Democrats are heartless. They don't want to give stimulus payments to people who desperately need the money and whose fault it was not that the plague came in from China. Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway, one way or another.

And that's what caught people off guard, go for much higher numbers, Republicans. Recall, John, back in late July, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a $1 trillion proposal. He didn't bring that to the floor for a vote in large part because Republican senators revolted because the number was too high. So behind August, they put together a plan a $500 billion proposal. They push that forward last week, Democrats blocked it saying it didn't go far enough. It had the support of virtually all Republicans in the conference.

But talking to Republican senators today, John, about Trump's tweet this morning, they're saying, if you go higher, you're going to lose Republican support. And that is not what they want, particularly in the head run up to this election. John, the number two Republican told a group of us just moments ago that the higher you go, the fewer Republicans will support it. So they're rejecting the President's approach. And so we'll see if anything comes out but at the moment, John, a lot of pessimism that anything can get done before November, John.

[12:50:16]

KING: I would call that a rather confusing mess which is sometimes what Washington does best, I guess. Manu Raju live for us up on Capitol Hill. Manu, appreciate it. Stay on top of it for us. Coming up for us, the Red Cross asking you, asking all Americans to help as wildfires rage across the western United States.

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[12:55:06]

KING: Weeks of dry hot weather fueling deadly wildfires along the west coast. Those fires have killed at least 34 people, reduced thousands of homes to ashes from California to Oregon to Washington State. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and for many, it could be weeks, weeks before they can return, if they can return, the fire scorching nearly 5 million acres.

Joining us now is April Oppliger. She's a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. April, thanks for being with us. And so the Red Cross is out there trying to provide, trying to provide shelters, discuss what you're doing, and the scope of the challenge.

APRIL OPPLIGER, SPOKESWOMAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Our hearts go out to everyone who's been impacted by this disaster and our biggest focus right now is providing a safe place for people to stay meals and just emotional support because many of these people left their home with next to nothing.

KING: Right, you say next to nothing and the pictures that you have provided, the pictures of our crews on the ground and our affiliates, it is devastating. We have 1,000 plus Red Cross disaster workers out there helping evacuees cope. But 212,000 meals and snacks served I believe that's as of Monday, 20,000 plus relief items distributed, 9,000 people provided emergency lodgings on Monday night, 9,000 people.

How long is that, the shelter challenge, which obviously feeding first responder feeding people who've been displaced from their homes is critical? In terms of shelter, how long do you think you're going to be in that business, if you will, because so many of these homes have been permanently destroyed.

OPPLIGER: The operations on the ground will continue for weeks. And we will continue to host shelters and put people up at hotels, you know, depending on what the circumstances are for the community for as long as the need is there.

KING: And you have these people. We see some of the volunteers on the ground and the workers. And so what is the feedback you get in a situation like this when your troops, I'm going to call them troops, are out there on the ground trying to help people. Obviously they're hearing the painful stories. They're hearing the needs and the wishes of the people they're assisting. What's the greatest feedback that you get about what people need and want?

OPPLIGER: You know, the most interesting thing to me is that there are people who have actually been impacted by these disasters themselves who were out taking care of their neighbors as a Red Cross volunteer. They've put on their best to support each other. And it's pretty powerful to see them, you know, not worrying about their own personal needs, but stepping up to take care of people who don't have anything left.

KING: And so I've in the past, after hurricanes and tornadoes run into Red Cross volunteers doing this amazing, remarkable work never been to the devastation of the wildfires like this. In terms of having a plan in place at the beginning of the year for a contingency like this versus what has happened, which is unprecedented, sorry, are you caught up in that in the sense realizing, oh, my God, I thought we planned well for this, but we don't have enough?

OPPLIGER: The Red Cross response to 60,000 disasters every single year. And so preparedness for disasters is our business. And while we could not have anticipated a pandemic, this is the work that we were ready to do when we stand ready because of the generosity of the people of America who donate and help us with our disaster relief fund because of volunteers and supporters across the country.

KING: April Oppliger with the American Red Cross. April, thanks for your time today and more importantly, thanks to all the work you're doing and all your volunteers are doing out there and all the affected areas not just about the wildfires, obviously, we're dealing with Hurricane Sally and the Gulf Coast as well today. Thank you so much for your time.

OPPLIGER: Thank you.

KING: Some other quick headlines before we go. The Supreme Court says it will continue to hear oral arguments by phone when the new term begins next month that is an extension of coronavirus protocols implemented earlier this year. No decision made yet on whether the justices will return to court for arguments come November and December.

The World Trade Organization ruling the Trump administration illegally imposed tariffs on $234 billion of Chinese goods, those tariffs imposed back in 2018 meant to force China to address several issues including intellectual property theft, and technology transfer. China responded by filing that complaint with the WTO. In its ruling yesterday, the WTO found U.S. tariffs violate several rules, including not imposing the same tariffs on all trading partners.

The U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has hired for people who previously worked for his private businesses to work for him now, at the USPS. Those hirings were revealed in documents obtained by American Oversight and then viewed by CNN. At least three of the employees are being paid between 180 and $195,000 a year. Since taking over as Postmaster General, DeJoy has come under intense scrutiny from Democrats for changes he's made to USPS operations that have caused widespread mailing delays. DeJoy claims these are necessary cost cutting measures.

And nearly half of New York's public school students will learn from home when school starts next week. Families were given the choice of remote or in person learning when the plan was announced a month ago. Forty-two percent will learn only from home, New York City about to start that challenge.

[13:00:03]

Thanks for joining us today. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow as well. Very, very busy News Day.