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Ellesia Blague, Assistant Professor & Undecided Voter With Chronic Conditions, Demanded To Know If Trump Would Keep Same Insurance Protections As Obamacare; How Trump Has Eroded Americans' Faith In A Vaccine; Trump Official Accuses Media Of Overblowing Children's COVID Risks; Mom Discovers Challenges To Getting Kids Tested; Trump Takes Credit For Big Ten Bringing Back Football. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: They should be considered.

And you talk about not being sure if you're going to vote. You've heard the president say to African-American voters, they should vote for him because, quote, "What do you have to lose?"

I wonder what your reaction is.

ELLESIA BLAQUE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN DIASPORIC LITERATURE, HISTORY AND CULTURE, KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY & UNDECIDED VOTER: In 2016, the dignity of my ancestors, I'm a black Indian. So, I have people on both sides of annexation of slavery.

I'm not going to lose my dignity or the dignity of my ancestors to a man who has no respect to a person's ethnicity, where they come from, what their struggles are. He chops us to shreds and throws us away.

And when he finds one that he thinks agrees, he points to them and says that's my African-American.

I'm not owned. OK? That's over. I can't respect that.

But what I wanted to do was give him a fair opportunity to address my personal issue. I want to be objective.

I didn't disrespect him in any way. I stood up when the man walked up the stairs to get at the stage.

And what he did to every single person in the room who posed a question was disrespect to us, utterly by lying, manipulating, and basically not answering our questions at all.

KEILAR: Explain then your reticence to vote and why maybe you think you're not going to cast a ballot in November?

BLAQUE: Because I'm 57 years old. I've been a dedicated voter since I was 18 years old. And what have I ever achieved or gained from it? Nothing. I don't care if it was a Democrat, Republican, Obama, it doesn't

matter. I really did not gain much, if anything, from their presidency. So, what was the point.

Until I got home last night. Until I got home last night. And it's a newly minted citizen. And we were talking about his family and making comparisons. And he's so grateful to be in the United States.

If he casts his vote, how dare i, an American-born citizen, not cast my own? That's what changed mine. I'm voting for the Biden-Harris ticket.

I am -- as you can partially see, I'm a James Baldwin fan. And the year I was born in 1963, James Baldwin said that he can't do it because he's alive.

I'm going to put my heart on the line again and I'm going to go ahead and cast that ballot and keep my fingers crossed and pray to my God that maybe this time somebody will hear my tears and feel my pain and feel the tears.

And pain of tens of millions of people across America who are disabled, who are sick, who are underinsured, uninsured or pay stacks of cash to be insured. Whose life is something that is a gift.

Sooner or later, it's going to make me have a stroke or kill me flat out. And the older I get, the closer it gets. But I'm going to go head and use these years that I have left and have faith in the country in which I was born.

I teach the Constitution for a living. I believe in it.

And I'm going to go ahead and go with my gut and cast that ballot and hope Joe Biden and Harris will do right by people like me.

This isn't about just me. This is about movements, just like me.


BLAQUE: And I want to understand.

KEILAR: Ellesia, thank you so much. Ellesia Blaque, we appreciate you so much.

BLAQUE: Thank you so much.


KEILAR: Any moment, Joe Biden is expected to speak about what he would do to roll out a vaccine if elected. We're going to listen to that, live.


KEILAR: There's growing skepticism about the expected coronavirus vaccine that may be founded in fear rather than fact. But scientists warn it could threaten whether Americans will be willing to take the shot whenever it's available.

Vaccines are one of the great breakthroughs of modern medicine. They helped eradicate devastating diseases, like polio, smallpox and measles in the U.S.

But now the anticipated breakthrough of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus is becoming a political football.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very close to having a vaccine. If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals. And we're within weeks of getting it. If could be three weeks, four weeks. But we think we have it.


KEILAR: He said three weeks/four weeks, even though earlier in the day, yesterday, a day that, mind you, there were no vaccine breakthroughs that occurred that would have changed the timeline, this was the timeline he gave.


TRUMP (voice-over): We're going to have a vaccine in a matter of weeks. It could be four weeks. It could be eight weeks. But we're going to have it.

Now, will it be before the election? It could be in terms of we have something.


KEILAR: It's like he's just making up the timeline.

But whether he says three weeks or four weeks or eight weeks, it's an unrealistic timeline, according to the president's own aides.

His vaccine chief, Moncef Slaoui, said yesterday, in the "New England Journal of Medicine, that, quote, "Developing a vaccine by January 2021 will represent remarkably speedy scientific progress."

But administration officials who are working on a vaccine are doing so under pressure-cooker conditions at the FDA, according to a new CNN report, as the president is seeking a political victory.

The CDC has told states they must be ready to distribute as early as November 1st, two days before the election.

But Slaoui still says this:


MONCEF SLAOUI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S VACCINE CHIEF: If we can make them advanced prior to the Election Day, we will. And if we can make them advanced after the Election Day, we will. It's totally irrelevant.

It's very unlikely that that number happens in aux October. It's more likely that it happens in November. And even more likely to happen in December.


KEILAR: President Trump's rush rhetoric around the vaccine rhetoric in the service of politics and not in the service of public health is causing many Americans, who would not consider themselves anti- vaccination, to have reservations about a potential coronavirus vaccine.

According to a CBC News poll conducted earlier this month, only 21 percent of people said they would get a coronavirus vaccine right away if available. That is down from 32 percent who said they would in July.

Senator and Democratic vice-presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, said this when my colleague, Dana Bash, asked her if she'd get a vaccine that was approved and distributed before the election.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) & DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about. I will not take his word for it.



KEILAR: Now, the issue also came up in a Senatorial debate in North Carolina when Cal Cunningham, the Democratic challenger to Senator Thom Tillis, said this.


CAL CUNNINGHAM, (D), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I've got questions. And I think we've seen entirely too many times, and especially in recent years, politics intervening in what should be driven by health and science.

Whether it's CDC, Centers for Disease Control, recommendations on how to deal with this pandemic. We've seen politics intervening there.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Do I read that you would be hesitant to take the vaccine if it was approved by the end of the year?

CUNNINGHAM: I'm going to -- yes, I would be hesitant.

TILLIS: We heard a candidate for the U.S. Senate look into the camera and tell 10 million North Carolinians he would be hesitant to take a vaccine. I think all that's irresponsible.


KEILAR: Now, if Democrats see political opportunity in fears about a vaccine, it is unethical for them to seize it. No one should be playing politics with the health of Americans.

But Cunningham's sentiment is shared by a growing number of Americans. And for many, worries about the vaccine start with the president.

A president who says this about masks.


TRUMP: I think wearing a face mask, as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself.

I want people to have a certain freedom. And I don't believe in that. No. And I don't agree with the statement that, if everyone wears a mask, everything disappears.

There are a lot of people who thinks masks aren't good. And there are a lot of people that, as an example --



TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are. Waiters.


KEILAR: For many people worried about the vaccine, it starts with the president, who resides in a world where everyone around him is tested as he lies about how bad the pandemic is.


TRUMP: We're going to get through this. And we're right now, I hope, really think, we're rounding the final turn.


KEILAR: A president who has known for six months how easily coronavirus is transmitted.


TRUMP (voice-over): You know, the touch -- you don't have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. So that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one.

It's also more deadly than your -- you know, even your strenuous flus.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: A president that has suggested cures that have killed people when they tried them.


TRUMP: They say the disinfectant knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?


KEILAR: President Trump, who touted Hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug in the treatment of coronavirus, and whose FDA issued an emergency use authorization for it only to revoke it in the face of what it described as, quote, "ongoing events and other serious cardiac adverse events and other potential side effects."

Trump administration officials manipulated CDC data to make it keep it track with the lies that the president was telling about the virus. And now, after all of this, he wants the country's trust on a vaccine.

How do you trust someone who has repeatedly shown they're not trustworthy?

Trump has politicized the virus. And it has cost lives we'll never get back. And if he doesn't stop politicizing the vaccine, it will cost more.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows almost two-thirds of Americans believe political pressure from the Trump administration will cause the FDA to rush approval on a vaccine before Election Day.

And the folks most likely to say they would not get a vaccine, even if it is ready, available and free before the election, they are Republicans.

Not Independents, not Democrats. They are Republicans. They are his supporters. These are the lives of his supporters.

We're waiting for Joe Biden to come to the podium and explain how he would roll out a COVID-19 vaccine. We're going to take you there live.


Plus, a mom jumps through hoops to get her 2-year-old tested for COVID and then realizes it's not just their issues. It's a widespread problem for getting kids tested around the country.


KEILAR: A top Trump administration health official is accusing the media of overblowing the coronavirus while downplaying the risk it poses to children.

Here is Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz on the HHS podcast, "Learning Curve."


DR. ELINORE MCCANCE-KATZ, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, SUBSTANCE ABUSE & MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (voice-over): I just wish that the media would get honest about the coverage of COVID.


MCCANCE-KATZ: We know -- we know that children -- for children this is not a life-threatening illness.

There will be a few -- some cases, rare cases. And I don't mean to discount because the severity and the stress to a family should that happen.

But for great, great majority of children, this is not a serious illness. That is a good thing. Our children need to be in school.

CAPUTO: They do.

MCCANCE-KATZ: And when we put them in school, with safety measures in place, why can't they go to school?


KEILAR: Nearly 600,000 children have contracted coronavirus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. More than 100 children in this country have died.

And a growing number of kids are coming down with Kawasaki disease, which is a rare childhood illness that causes inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. Experts are linking this to the coronavirus.

I'm joined by Sarah Kliff, an investigation and health policy reporter for "The New York Times."

And, Sarah, you've been doing a lot of great reporting on children and COVID-19 testing. Your most recent story caught our eye because you had to get your son tested because someone in his day care tested positive.


You could just tell us, Sarah, about what that process was like?

SARAH KLIFF, INVESTIGATIVE & HEALTH POLICY REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. I expected to it to be easy. I live in Washington, D.C. We have a lot of drive-thru testing sites.

But when I started looking into it, it turns out the drive through sites won't test young children. So it took up a morning of calling places, trying to figure this out.

And I didn't have childcare because my day care was closed due to coronavirus. And then I put my reporter hat on and wondered, how common is this.

And it turns out this is just a huge gap in our testing infrastructure. There's not much pediatric testing for coronavirus in the United States.

KEILAR: So, did you find out why they aren't really testing young children? And how in the end were you able to get your 2-year-old tested?

KLIFF: Yes, so we heard a wide range of explanations when we talked to different sites. Some don't have pediatric nurses on site so they're not comfortable testing small children.

And some felt that wasn't a population that needed testing as much. There were concerns about privacy, who do you relay the results to.

And I heard they could get tested at their pediatrician. But they're having trouble getting tests so that is not an option for a lot of children.

For me, it took about a morning of calling around. I got lucky. Another parent told me about a testing site they have found. And that is where I took my son.

But it is surprising to me seeing all of the testing sites close to where I live. But it was such a hassle to find one that could test a toddler.

KEILAR: I'm afraid we buried the lead, too. His results were negative, right.

KLIFF: Negative, right.

KEILAR: Just to be clear.

KLIFF: He's fine. All of us tested negative.

KEILAR: Very good. He was a champ, as you write, with the nose swab, which I'm impressed by.

Sarah, thank you for sharing your personal experience and checking to see if other people were affected, too. We appreciate it.

KLIFF: Yes, thanks for having me.

KEILAR: Next, Big Ten football is back. Why they reversed course. And how the president is taking credit for it.

Plus, one couple's wedding in Maine has been tied to 176 cases of COVID and seven deaths.



KEILAR: Health officials are linking the deaths of seven people to one event, a wedding in Maine. The August event has been tied to at least 176 confirmed coronavirus cases.

And we should note that none of the people who died actually attended the wedding. But they contracted the virus from people who did attend the wedding.

Cases linked to this wedding have been detected in a nursing home, in a prison, both more than 100 miles away from the venue.

And President Trump taking credit today after the Big Ten reversed course and decided to bring football back. He tweeted, "It is my great honor to have helped."

CNN sports correspondent, Carolyn Manno, has details on what the season will look like.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the Big Ten is back. A decision with political implications as the election nears.

The council of presidents and chancellors of the conference voting unanimously to resume the football season the weekend of the 23rd through the 24th after postponing through the end of the year.

The conference said it is adopting significant medical protocols, including daily testing and enhanced cardiac screening.

The health and safety of the students remaining the top priority, according to the conference -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Carolyn, thank you.

And next, new drone video shows Hurricane Sally has already devastated some communities. You can see homes under water all along the gulf coast. We'll take you there, live.