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WaPo: CDC Internal Doc Warns Delta Infections Likely More Severe; Former Vaccine Skeptic Urges Americans To Get Shots After Her Unvaccinated Husband Is Hospitalized With COVID-19; Lindsey Vonn: None Of Our Places To Judge What Simone Biles Does. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well the news continues. Let's hand things over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have breaking news on our watch. An internal CDC document argues the Delta variant is spreading faster, and with more illness than anticipated.

The headline, according to "The Washington Post," the vaccinated may be as contagious as the unvaccinated, when it comes to transmission. Now, we still need to see the data that created this conclusion.

But we do know that government scientists were apparently so alarmed, by the new research that the agency issued its new guidance before making that data public. Now, I submit to you, that was a mistake. We trust the government. But we must verify. That's how this must work. We need the data that fuels these conclusions now.

According to "The Washington Post," the data will show the Delta variant spreads more quickly than the common cold, and causes more severe illness, than, even if you are vaccinated, you can still transmit it. Now, we knew that.

What we did not know is that there's a chance that the vaccinated can transmit it the way the unvaccinated do, but there is something called viral load that you've heard before, that they say can be equal, in people whether or not they've had the vaccine.

Now, in terms of symptoms of the host, being vaccinated still matters. But this is an alarming headline. Also, the best defense to getting the Delta variant, and what level of transmission you may cause, is still taking the vaccine.

And the reason we are where we are, and why this variant is changing, and becoming more virulent, is not the CDC. It's that too many people are unvaccinated. Period!

That's why I'm going to commit my show, going forward, tonight as well, obviously, to tracking efforts to beat the variant. This is going to be a COVID Command Center of sorts, OK?

And the most important stat to start with is the number of unvaccinated. They are the ones compromising the majority of you, who have made, and you're of all places, and faces, and politics, you've made the decision to protect yourselves, and your families, and others. And they haven't.

A third of the country that is eligible to be vaccinated has not been. Now, that does include those 12-years-old and older. President Biden put the number at 90 million people today, who could be vaccinated, and are not.

Too many are making that choice for bad reason. And too many in power are feeding a new farce that staying unprotected, unvaccinated, is somehow a perverse move of freedom, and that changing guidance proves that the government is up to no good.

No. Too many in this country have made choices that are no good. We've allowed the virus to change. And now, we are all headed backwards. The question is how far and how long.

So now, again, the majority of you that has made the sacrifices, gotten vaccinated, you are having your freedom stepped on, because of those who believe freedom is about putting other people at risk. They and their enablers seem determined to make America sick again. And that's why we are here.

And here, in terms of the statistics, here's where we are. We're at more than 64,000 new cases, just today. That puts us back a year. Literally, one year ago, on this day, that's where we were. Why? The vaccine.

I'll make this point clearly and in two different ways. You find low vaccination rates, in this country, you find cases, specifically in the southeast, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia.

Florida alone, now big state, number three state, right, makes up a huge chunk of the new cases. They've been in the top five for new cases, going back to April.

Now, if you look, you'll see that there's some toxic politics that have gone along with that. "Don't Fauci Florida," and all this other stuff, and now, he's anti-masks down there, the governor. I get the political play. It works with the Trump-fold. But it's making people sick.

You could say that, "Look, they have a big population, OK, so they're going to have bigger numbers." But the positivity is way outpacing the rest of the country, OK, which is why they have more people in the hospital than they did at any time this year.

It's a scene playing out across the entire region. It's not just Florida. But you have to look at where you have the most cases, and you'll see the lowest percentages of vaccination, and the highest rates of transmission, OK?


If you focus on that same group of States, you see it's almost all red, down there. Look at the TV, or the phone, or whatever you're watching on. What does that mean? Red means more virus in circulation. 71 percent of us are living in counties with high or substantial COVID transmissions. Only 1 percent of us are living in low transmission areas.

Now, look where cases are climbing fastest, and you'll see the trend, OK? It's all the same part of the country. It's not a coincidence. Less people vaccinated, more virus in circulation, more cases, OK? And more cases more quickly. So, that's where we are, which also helps point to where we are going.

The CDC says adjusting for population in these smaller States, we're talking about cases per 100,000 people, Alabama has one of the worst vaccination rates. There, we're talking about 1,000 new cases a day. You got to compare that to Vermont, OK, in the Northeast, one of the best vaccination rates, they're about 60 new cases a day.

Now, think about that, not just in terms of what it means an exponential threat, but in strain on the health care system, strain on the local economy, strain on families, strain on schools. It's a cascade effect. That's how we got into the suck. It wasn't just one thing, OK? 1,000 to 60, all right? That's the difference the vaccination makes.

The vaccine can give you freedom. Look, it's not perfect. And in fact, it's becoming increasingly imperfect. How much so? I don't know. And I do not believe the findings of "The Washington Post," all due respect, until I see the data.

I believe the headline, or I wouldn't repeat it. I believe the reporting, or I wouldn't share it. But we have to see the data that supports it. But if it spooked the scientists there, it should get our attention as well.

We have a lot of new information to process. Let's bring in a better mind, Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General, of the United States of America, under President Trump.

Good to see you, Doc.


CUOMO: What do you make of this news? ADAMS: Well, I think it's important to start off by saying the vaccines work to do the number one thing that people should care about. And that's keeping them out of the hospital or the morgue. So, vaccines work. And I want to thank you for emphasizing that point.

Now, you talk about this new information that is in the "Washington Post" article. What's interesting is you have to juxtapose that with what you just told us.

We clearly see that in places, where you have lower vaccination rates, you have more spread. So, that just tells you that the vaccines are working, to an extent, to lower spread.

And it may be that people, who are vaccinated, can have equivalent viral loads in certain circumstances, it may be that they aren't as infectious for as long of a time. To your point, we need to see the data.

But I want people to understand that no matter what the data says, it's clear that vaccines work to protect you, personally. And from a community point of view, they also are working to cause a lower amount of spread, in places that have higher vaccination rates than places that have lower vaccination rates.

CUOMO: Now Doctor, a big part of the purpose of this reporting, according to "The Washington Post," was a discussion of messaging, and the agency of those in leadership, within the CDC, about what should be said.

We have a lot, especially on the Right side, of the political aisle, of people saying, "Look, the vaccine is safe, but you don't have to take it. The vaccine's safe, but nobody can make you take it. The vaccine's safe, but you're free. Do what you want."

Is it time for those in power to start changing the messaging, to not making it an equal proposition, of take it or not take it, but to present the facts the way you are right now that, in the overwhelming percentage of us, the vaccine is safe, and it's something we should do, not just consider doing?

ADAMS: Well, I want to commend Governor Kay Ivey, for her strong talk to the people in--

CUOMO: Alabama.

ADAMS: Exactly, yes, in her state.

And to answer your question, in a word, yes, we need to help people understand that this freedom argument is bunk. I mean, at the end of the day, we are losing freedoms, because people are unvaccinated.

And I don't want to shame anyone, who ask questions, because every day, I talk to people, I talked to at least five people today, who had questions, and help them get their questions answered, and move them towards vaccinations. But people need to understand the real consequences. And the

consequences are, as I said, last week, more mitigation. And as I'm telling you this week, I'm predicting closures in the future, because we are not going to be able to rein this variant back in, before we get enough spread. It's going to start causing closures again.

And so, I don't want my kids to have to go through another year of virtual school. I don't want our hospitals to be overwhelmed, and for them to be shut down, for elective surgeries, like we saw last year.

Our freedoms are being impinged upon, because we have far too many people unvaccinated.


CUOMO: This is a tyranny of the unvaccinated right now. There's no question about it. I mean, they get all the attention.

But it's really the vaccinated, who are Republicans and Democrat, Red and Blue States, different faces, from different places, they've all made the right call, for themselves, and protected themselves, and others. And now, they're going to have their freedoms abridged, because of this other group of people.

But I want to clarify something you said, Doc. Do you believe we're going to see closures, no matter what? Or if that 90 million, to use President Biden's number, if we get at least half of them vaccinated, or some percentage of them, is there a strike percentage where "No, then there won't be closures, things can be OK?"

Is there some kind of equation?

ADAMS: At this point, if you look at the trajectory of the Delta variant, in India, and in the U.K., and you look at how we are busting the curve, compared to where they were, not in a good way, I do expect that you're going to see closures in certain places, because health care systems are already starting to be overwhelmed.

And I just want to be honest with people. And that's one of the problems we've had, Chris, is that we always want to sugarcoat it for people, we always don't want to scare people.

But this Delta variant is really, really nasty. It is very different than the COVID that we dealt with last year. And just as in a week, we went from no mask to all of a sudden everyone's saying that this is where we're going.

There are going to be closures. But what we want to do is make those closures as minimal as possible, and as short as possible. And we have the tools to do it. And that's what kills me. That's what kills me, is we have the tools, vaccines, mitigation, testing, and treatment. Not enough people know about monoclonal antibodies.

We have tools that we - that I didn't have last year, when I was Surgeon General, talking to people about COVID. And we just need to make use of these tools, so that we can get this virus under control. And the final thing people need to understand is, we're going to be living with this for a while. It's time for us to put on our big boy and big girl pants and understand that this virus isn't going to go away.

I think the Biden administration, and our administration also, wanted to declare victory, wanted to say that this thing was over, once we had vaccines.

But the truth is, the American people need to know, we're going to be living with COVID for a while. And we can live with it. But we all need to pull together and use the tools that God has given us, the miracles God has given us, to overcome this terrible pandemic.

CUOMO: Now, I don't want to be too much of a cynic.

We did see Mitch McConnell, today, put out an ad in Kentucky, where he actually uses some of your own wording, in terms of "It's nothing short of a modern medical miracle. Take the vaccine. If it works for you, talk to your doctor, you should do it." That's rare air, on the political-right.

Did you see their response to the mask mandate? "This is CDC bunk. This is Liberal government overreach. It's based on junk studies. There's no reason for masks."

What do you say for people, who are pushing that message, much more than anything you just said?

ADAMS: Well, what I would say number one is unfortunately, humans tend to be reactionary. They always wait until the last minute, and then try to cram for the exam.

And I really do think that people are seeing the freedoms that are being impinged upon, or will be infringed upon, by this variant. And what I want to do is accentuate the positive.

I want to compliment the people who've come out. I want to compliment Sean Hannity. And I've never talked about Sean Hannity before, good or bad, for coming out and telling people to get vaccinated.

Mitch McConnell, all the governors, including Kay Ivey, who've come out and said, "Get vaccinated," we need to emphasize the positive.

Because a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed us that there's still a significant number of the unvaccinated, who are in the movable-middle, if you will. They just need to get their questions answered. They need the right motivations to get vaccinated.

And I actually want to applaud President Biden. I watched his whole press conference today. And he talked about getting pop-up vaccination clinics in schools, which is actually something I recommended to Congress, during testimony last week.

He talked about work sites. If you can really focus on work sites and schools, those are two big places, where we can get some of these people in the movable-middle, vaccinated.

And then, the Commander-in-Chief actually acted as Employer-in-Chief today, and, as the Head of the federal government, put out new guidance regarding vaccinations for the federal government.

And that along with the NFL, and I've been talking with the NFL too, set the stage for many other employers, out there, to feel comfortable getting more aggressive about encouraging vaccinations and mitigation. And that is a good thing, Chris.

CUOMO: Policy and messaging question, and I appreciate you, Doctor.

The policy question, mandating on the federal level, or even private businesses, moving into locality schools, how when the FDA hasn't approved the vaccines yet?

ADAMS: Well, that is a concern that you know I've continued to bring up. And I want people to understand. The science is there. We know these vaccines are safe and efficacious.


The FDA is now looking at the final part of the process, which is manufacturing and distribution. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why that's supposed to take six months, for us to get an answer, and neither can many of the scientists and experts, out there.

And I talk to lawyer after lawyer after lawyer. Had a phone call, with a big, corporate lawyer, today who, said, "Look, companies are still scared to mandate a vaccine that is not fully licensed."

But what you saw the government do, and people, your viewers need to understand this. This is not a mandate that President Biden put in place, or that the NFL put in place.

It said "We're employers, and we're going to give you a choice. And your choice is either to show us proof of vaccinations, so we can protect the workplace, or it's to subject yourself, to these other measures, which will allow us to protect the workplace, more testing, wearing mask in more places."

And I think that's appropriate. And I think we gave workplaces cover to understand you've got some choice. And you actually need to get involved, so that you don't get shut down again.

CUOMO: Is it too late? Are too many people too dug in on bad politics, and where they've said, they want to be on this, up till this point? Are too many minds made up?

ADAMS: Chris, absolutely not. And here's the thing. There is still over a half a million people getting vaccinated, every single day.

It's not as fast as we want it to be. But there are people, every day, making the decision to get vaccinated. And if you're one of those people out there, thank you. Thank you for getting your questions answered, for doing your part. And we shouldn't shame people for having questions. Again, a lot of

people, African Americans, are under-vaccinated, but carry with them a lot of mistrust of government.

We need to build that trust. It is not too late. We still can turn things around through, again, smart policies, in the workplace, smart policies, at schools, the right incentives, and trust.

And the people, who are never going to get vaccinated, well, even those people, who say they're never going to get vaccinated, a lot more of them have gotten vaccinated. That number is getting smaller and smaller, as people get experienced with the virus, both good and bad.

But it's important, also to know that we shouldn't be focusing on them. If they're never going to get vaccinated, they're never going to get vaccinated.

The number of people, who say right now, they're never going to get vaccinated, is 14 percent of America. That means if 86 percent of America is at least willing to think about that prospect, and that's what we should be focusing on, trying to figure out how we can get their questions answered, overcome barriers, get shots in doctors' offices, because people trust their doctors, and encourage people to go and seek out those answers, to those questions, they have.

CUOMO: Doctor, this is very helpful. Thank you very much.

We're going to be doing this every night, until we get a handle on this. So, former Surgeon General Dr. Adams, you are welcome here, whenever you can make it, to help us contextualize what's happening in our country, and how we get to a better place.

ADAMS: Hey, thank you, Chris, for calling it like it is, but really trying to tone down the political rhetoric because, again, we're getting people vaccinated. And we can do this together. And I'm willing to work with you, with Republicans, with anyone else, to get it done.

CUOMO: Appreciate you. You're welcome here. Doctor, be well, the best to you and your family.

ADAMS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Now, you heard what the Surgeon General said about workplace management. OK, that takes you right into companies, OK? Big companies, private companies, they too are warning workers, "Get your shot, or you might lose your job."

Now, what will this do? Will it dig in? Will it incentivize? What do the numbers show?

And let's take something on, right off the top. This idea, "Well, you know, the unvaccinated, it's really not about Republicans or Trump people. It's really about minorities." Is it?

The Wizard of Odds has the numbers, next.









CUOMO: President Biden today announced a vaccine mandate for federal employees. But it's fuzzy on the details. And there's good reason for that. They don't know what they're doing. We've never done anything like this before. And it's very sensitive, in terms of what will incentivize and will disincentivize.

We don't know how many of the roughly 4 million government workers it's going to cover. But it could apply to everyone, from NASA engineers, to IRS managers, to park rangers. It does not apply to elected officials, nor is it expected to include the Military.

Several unions are already signaling, they'll challenge the requirement. And the White House hasn't given details on how they'll enforce it. You see what I'm saying? But while they work out those kinks, several private companies have already rolled out their own vaccine requirements.

So, we got two questions. One, does this work? And how do you make it work? But let's start off this segment by debunking a little bit of nonsense.

I want to bring in The Wizard of Odds, although we may have to now change your name, because it's not really odds. Maybe your moniker should be the "Sultan of Stats" or the "Vixen of Vaxx."

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know what? I leave the namings up to you and, your writer, Susan. I, myself, am a numbers guy, not a wordsmith.

CUOMO: "Vixen of Vaxx," it is.

So first we heard from the Right, "You know? If you're worried about the unvaccinated, it's illegal immigrants coming into the country." We know that's not true.

Now, it's "Well, we know who they are, the unvaccinated. They're mostly Black and Brown minority communities." What do the numbers tell us?

ENTEN: It's not true. Look, the unvaccinated folks, at this point, it's a wide swath array of folks.

But, at this point, at least among adults, the largest group that's unvaccinated, look at this, 37 percent of the unvaccinated group, at this point, are White Republicans. Hispanics are second, 18 percent, Blacks at 14 percent. That's within the margin of error, when you're looking at the polling data.

But the fact of the matter is if you wanted to get the largest slice of the unvaccinated pie, at this particular point, it's White Republicans. And you see this massive political divide among White Americans, at this point, whereby 37 percent of the unvaccinated adult population is White Republican versus just 10 percent for White Democrats.


CUOMO: So look, that screams to the politics of this situation. That's why we're pushing on the Electeds, on the Right side of the aisle, to change your messaging.

I've never said this before, but I'll say it now. Follow Mitch McConnell, OK? At least, he's doing something that's in the interesting - interest of more than just his next election. And by what, by the way, it's probably a good election play also. You don't want to be on the wrong side of a pandemic.

Now, the numbers behind employers requiring people to get vaccinated, what do we see?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, to me, this is a potentially politically risky move, right? Because, "Should employers require employees to get vaccinated?" Just 51 percent of American adults say that employers of the average company should in fact, require employees to get vaccinated.

But look at this, if you focus in on employees, look at this, "Employers at your company," just 37 percent say they should or they already have. 61 percent, the clear majority say of employees that they do not want their companies to require the - to require them to get vaccinated.

And that's why I say this is politically risky, right? Because we know that already, more than two-thirds of American adults have been vaccinated. But when it comes to requirements that they, in fact, do so, especially at their own companies, there are a lot of American workers, who are against it.

CUOMO: One thing is a "Rule for thee." The another is a "Rule for me."


CUOMO: And that's why you see that change in the numbers.


CUOMO: Do these mandates work? ENTEN: I think that could very well work. There's a difference between something being politically risky, and perhaps being smart, from a public health standpoint. And this really gets at it. And the reason why I think it is is if you look right now, at workers, just 62 percent of them say that they are in fact, currently vaccinated.

But if employers required it, look at that, it would jump up to 77 percent, who say, "Yes, I already have," or "I will." And look at that "No, have not," look at that, currently, 36 percent, among non-self- employed workers say that they are not vaccinated. That drops in half if employers require it.

So, that's why I say, look, this could be a politically risky move. But from a public health standpoint, if you look at the actual numbers, I believe it really could work. It could be one of the one things that really move the numbers.

CUOMO: I got to tell you. One of the problems with, why this is true is tyranny of the minority.

Right now, it's all of these Trumpers, and people on the Right side of the aisle, saying "You can't force people, and then, what about freedom, and what about?" I think that narrative needs to flip to "Who is the voice of the vaccinated?"

You have the majority of people, in this country, Republican and Democrat, Independent, we just showed the numbers, right, Red and Blue, different places, different faces, doing the right thing, their freedoms are being infringed, by this minority, and their enablers. Who will speak for them?

ENTEN: Yes, this, to me, is so clear. Look, if you were to look at the polling, a majority of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, Black, Hispanic, and White adults have all been vaccinated. They all have been.

Right now, we're really trying to get at that less than a third of adults, who have not, in fact, taken a COVID vaccine dose. And so, when you say something to try and get people to get vaccinated, keep in mind, most American adults have, and most American adults want their neighbors to be vaccinated.

And I really do believe that these vaccine mandates, though they could be politically risky, could really be one way that we can at least fight this pandemic harder than we, currently are.

CUOMO: Maybe we finally see the collective cause, based out of some kind of common concern, that will be the vaccinated saying, "Hey, we need to get back to life. And it can't just be all about the people, who don't want that."

Harry Enten, appreciate you.


CUOMO: The Vixen of Vaxx! I like it. ENTEN: Oy vey! My mother will really love it!

CUOMO: More than a year and a half into this, hospitals, you got to think about them, right, because that's going to be our breakpoint. It's all numbers until people start going into the hospital. And once they get overwhelmed, you got a problem. Almost every single patient with this virus was not vaccinated.

Now, I'm not about the drama. But we do have to take instructions where we see them.

Somebody gets sick, they want to do something with their pain. They want to talk to you, and say, "Hey, I was you. I didn't want to get vaxxed - I didn't want to get vaccinated. I thought it was a lot of bunk. It almost killed me."

I want you to meet this family. I want you to hear their story, and think about it for yourself, next.









CUOMO: A quick note about the need. We talked about Florida earlier. There's a "Washington Post" piece out, from the 28th that a new variant that had only been seen in Colombia, is now showing up in patients, in South Florida.

Look, the only thing we have is the vaccine. The longer people aren't vaccinated, the more this virus can change, and the more we'll see more variants. That's the message.

You're seeing it everywhere, in that region, especially, Mississippi, we talked about. 95 percent of new cases, 87 percent of hospitalizations, are among the non-vaccinated, OK?

Now, I want to bring in some people, who are living these statistics and realities. My next guest wants to just let you see their situation, and realize you don't want to be in it, OK?

Husband and wife, they weren't going to get the vaccine, why? A 100 different reasons. She wound up getting it, because she has asthma, and she got nervous. She got it. She got sick, but she made it through. Her husband did not get vaccinated. His name is William Thomas Ball. His wife's name is Alicia.

And they are in his room, right now, in the hospital. And this matters enough to her to take us to a place that is very, very private, and very sensitive, right now, given his condition.

You see him there resting. He's OK. But this is a fight.

Alicia? I'm sorry to meet you under these circumstances. But I really appreciate you opening up your life to other people. How's the Big Man doing?


ALICIA BALL, HUSBAND UNVACCINATED AND HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID: He's exhausted right now. He's doing OK. He was worse this morning, then, got better. And I think he did too much with the physical therapist, and just wore him out. He's just trying so hard to get better, and get home.

CUOMO: How long has he been in the hospital?

BALL: 22 days.

CUOMO: Jesus! How are you dealing with this?

BALL: At times, OK, and at times, not. It's just emotionally and mentally and physically exhausting.

CUOMO: What's your biggest concern?

BALL: Just getting him better, and coming home to us. He means so much to our family. He is the rock of our family. And we have - we know our God is bigger than this. And we have a lot of people praying for us. And - but we just want him to get better and come home.

CUOMO: You say he's making a little bit of progress. He's working with the PT. But 22 days is a long time. He's not on a ventilator, or anything like that, but he's getting oxygen.

What do you want people to know?

BALL: That it's real, it's devastating. I wouldn't want anybody to have to go through this. It's been really hard.

CUOMO: Neither of you were going to get vaccinated initially, right, Alicia? And then you decided to do it because of your pre-existing condition?

BALL: Not right at first. But I've also had an anaphylactic reaction to a drug. And so, we waited a little bit, to make sure that I could get it, under a doctor's care.

CUOMO: Smart! No question, people should be dealing with their own medical providers, their doctors, to figure out the best way for them, if this is the right way.

So, you got the vaccine, and then you wound up catching COVID also, yes?

BALL: A day apart. I joked on him--

CUOMO: And--

BALL: --joked with him, and tell him he gave me COVID for my birthday, because that's when I got sick.

CUOMO: Hey, listen? You got to laugh, so you don't cry all the time in these situations. And I hope.

BALL: Exactly.

CUOMO: And it should help. What was your case like?

BALL: I was real sick. I got the monoclonal antibodies. I still got extremely sick, and had to end up at the ER again. But I didn't get put in here for 22 days, and counting.

CUOMO: How long were you sick?

BALL: About 10 days.

CUOMO: That's a solid case!

And do you believe that his not being vaccinated made a difference?

BALL: That, and that he had a heart attack, nine days before he got COVID.

CUOMO: So, you think he was already a little compromised?

BALL: I do. And he was supposed to have a follow-up with his doctor the day we came in here. So, he had not had a follow-up with his, you know? But I think he was already compromised from the heart attack.

CUOMO: What was it about getting the vaccine, and what you were being told about it that you guys weren't buying into?

BALL: I guess we just didn't know the severity of the disease, I guess, and especially this Delta variant. I guess it just hadn't hit that close to home yet.

CUOMO: And there're a lot of people--

BALL: It's hit very closer, now.

CUOMO: --lot of people in your community were feeling the same way, where you are in Mississippi?

BALL: Some, not, you know, it's about 50/50 with people on there, or a little bit more.

CUOMO: Have you helped people now kind of learn from your situation, and the Big Man, and make them? BALL: Oh God, I hope so! I hope it's helped our family, our church, our friends, anybody that sees this broadcast, I hope it helps. That's why I'm doing it. Because we wouldn't want any - I wouldn't want my worst enemy to go through this.

CUOMO: Well, here's the good news. Everybody you're talking to now, they're not your enemies.

They're your brothers and sisters, around the country. And they're married. They got a lot of the same concerns and curiosities and conditions that they carry in. And hopefully, they figure something out for this. And the illness isn't for naught that other people are able to learn.

I'll keep checking in with you, Alicia.

BALL: Exactly.

CUOMO: When the Big Man gets up, give him a kiss on the top of the head, for me, say that's from Chris Cuomo. That'll probably perk him up real fast. He'd be like "What?"

Thank you very much.

BALL: I will. Thank you.

CUOMO: God bless you. And I hope the Big Man is up and around soon. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

BALL: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, be well. I'll be in touch.

BALL: Thank you.

CUOMO: There but for the grace! What makes them so different than you, than the people in your life?


He's just resting, by the way, if you just joined us right now. He did a lot with his PT today, his wife says, and he's tuckered out.

Just think about what an illness can do to you that you know, you're going to be live, on national television, and he's still knocked out? That's how bad this virus can be.

They weren't vaccinated. They had questions. They weren't sure. She got the vaccine. She had 10 days tough, but now she's by his bedside, and he's 22 days in.

We need more leaders in this country that give that message to you that tell you the realities, especially in the Party of Trump, because as we just showed you, three out of 10 of the people, 37 percent of people, who are unvaccinated are White Republicans.

Mitch McConnell, credit where credit is due, he did the right thing. He said "Get vaccinated." What's next?








CUOMO: In a pandemic, there can be no Left and Right. There must just be reasonable.


And a new pro-vaccine ad rolled out today, across 100 radio stations, in Kentucky, narrated by none other than Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): As a young boy, I faced a different disease. I contracted Polio. Back then, it took decades for us to develop a vaccine.

This time, thanks to the tireless work of our scientists, doctors, and health care heroes, it took less than a year for us to develop three, highly effective COVID vaccines.

Every American should take advantage of this miracle, and get vaccinated. It's the only way we're going to defeat COVID.


CUOMO: Now, fair is when he does something that deserves criticism, you give it. And when he does something that deserves praise, you give it.

If you notice, in that message, it's no "Look, the vaccine is safe. But you're free not to take it. You should probably talk to your doctor. But the government's trying to control you. You know, I had polio. But the CDC is blah, blah."

He gave the message straight. And he deserves the credit. And he even got it from his top political rival.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have to compliment Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He hadn't made it political. He's encouraged people to get vaccinated and is continuing to do so.


CUOMO: There's no political advantage, and be on the wrong side of a pandemic, and encouraging people to stay unprotected. McConnell knows it. He's seen the urgency in his own state with vaccinations down, and cases shooting up. Listen.


MCCONNELL: Honestly, it never occurred to me, we have difficulty getting people to take the vaccine. So clearly, we've got a job to do, to try to convince reluctant Americans, of all types.


CUOMO: Listen to Mitch. Not enough people in his party, though, are echoing this. You got someone like Senator Rand Paul, whose primary concern is spooking people with fear-mongering about "Big government" and "Losing liberties."

The reality is the people who are unvaccinated are stifling the liberties of those, who are trying to keep themselves, and the ones they care about, protected.

The reality is McConnell can and should call out the bad actors as well. You have to drown-out those bad voices. If they're not going to follow, if they're going to seek advantage, use your power.

Now, do they care about being on McConnell's bad side? I don't know. That's going to probably come down to what that means with Trump. If Trump could put as much attention into the vaccine that he helped make happen, the Trump vaccine, as he does the big lie, we might be in a different place.

Now, Olympic superstar Simone Biles, I keep talking about it, because I love what she's getting us to focus on. She is now expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support, after she pulled out of the gymnastics team final. Her message includes a revelation.

Now, I want to bring in someone, full disclosure, huge fan, former Olympian. She knows the pressures. A lot of people, including myself, have always elevated Lindsey Vonn, not just because of what she does, what she's at her best, but because she could power through.

Lindsey Vonn says, "We don't really know what we're talking about, when it comes to what it takes to perform, and what pain is, and what we should respect."

We'll talk about it, next.



(END VIDEO CLIP) [21:50:00]





CUOMO: Our next guest, Olympic Gold Medalist Skier, Lindsey Vonn.

Thank you for joining me, Champ. Appreciate it.


CUOMO: So, comment on this perspective.

"Now, Lindsey Vonn, there's a champion! ACL, in pain, broken knees, twisted that, she keeps going, comes back, when they tell her not to. That's toughness!

This Simone Biles, "Oh, I don't feel right," she's a quitter!"

What do you say?

VONN: I think it's none of our places, to judge what Simone does, and what she's doing for her own well-being.

I think, as an athlete, obviously I've been in high pressure situations. I've been injured. I've come back. I've been through it. But I'm still not Simone Biles. No one is Simone Biles.

So, if that's what she needs to do, in order to, protect herself, or take care, of her well-being, then that's her decision. And we should support it. And I think, honestly, the best thing that's come out of this is that we're having these conversations about mental health. And I applaud her for that.

CUOMO: The idea that pain is pain, and that we're used to seeing it, "Lindsey's got a bad ACL, I get that. I had a bad ACL."

We see casts. We see crutches. We see that type of stuff. It makes it real. Pain we can't see is therefore discounted. But do you believe it can be every bit as real?

VONN: Absolutely. And again, just because we don't feel that it's real, doesn't mean it's not real to that person.

I mean, Simone has gone through so many injuries that we haven't seen. I mean, she's competed with broken toes, sprained ankles, all of those things that she hasn't necessarily talked about. So, it's not that she's not tough. Don't misconstrue that.

But I think that, again, what we view as pain is maybe not the same as what she views. And it's not, again, our place to judge. And again, from my perspective, yes, I dealt with a lot of pain. I

overcame injuries. And I had to dig deep within myself to overcome that. But that's me, and that's my story. And, again, it's not our place to judge her.

CUOMO: I talked to some athletes, who had really bad injuries. And they said, "You know, the instruction here is what I used to get through my injury were my emotions and my mind. If those had been in pain, if those had been affected, I wouldn't have been able to do it."


And there's also an idea of Lindsey Vonn talking about the pressures, Simone Biles talking about the pressures, putting you both in the category, being the best at what you were a part of, is harder than if you were number 15, that if she were number 10, and didn't make the team, it would be easier to say that you have pain, and that you're limited. Why?

VONN: I mean it's so much easier to be the underdog. It really is. The pressure is entirely different. When you're going into an Olympics, as the best at something, and everyone is expecting you to succeed, and win every single gold medal, that's a huge weight on your shoulders.

I remember going to the Vancouver Olympics. I was expected to win five gold medals, which was absolutely ridiculous. But nonetheless, that's what all of the media and everyone expected me to do.

And so, I had to deal with that. And I had to put those emotions in check, and figure out a way to throw myself down the mountain, and still win, despite all of that. And I think that took a lot of mental toughness.

But again, being the number one at something, that's an exceptional amount of pressure that no one can really understand, unless you're really in that position.

And even myself, I still can't understand the position that Simone is in, because again, I am not Simone, and I have not experienced all the things that she's experienced in her life.

CUOMO: Lindsey Vonn, you're a great champion. You made me proud as an American. I'm a big fan. And I thank you for your perspective tonight.

VONN: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Be well.

VONN: Thank you.

CUOMO: And I look forward to your next chapter.

VONN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.

I'll be right back with the handoff.