Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Biden Turns Up Pressure On Governors Barring Mask Mandates: If You Aren't Going To Help, At Least Get Out Of The Way; Miami Beach Mayor Takes On Florida Governor DeSantis; CNN Projects Trump-Backed Candidate Mike Carey Wins Special GOP Primary In Ohio's 15th Congressional District. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: After which, she said, she didn't really care about the outcome, was just happy she got to compete one more time. Biles also said she will cherish the bronze medal for a long time.

We will all cherish it along with her.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Beam was the one event that she did not get gold in, in the last Olympics. So, it was special for her. But for her to come back, from everything she's been dealing with, and all the attendant pressure, and medal at the Olympics? She's amazing.

J.B., thanks for the coverage.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We're focused on COVID here, especially until we get the Delta variant under control. And, for now, as you know, it's getting worse. But as we'll discuss tonight, there is an increasing response, from leaders and citizens.

The President today went after specific state leaders, to change course.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Some governors aren't willing to do the right thing, to beat this pandemic.

I say to these governors, "Please, help." But if you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way.


CUOMO: Now, Biden targeted the governors of Florida and Texas, were both Republicans, but it was about banning mask restrictions, and what he sees as acts of political defiance. What we know is, those two states account for a third of all the

cases, in the United States, right now. Florida leads the nation in hospitalizations, breaking its own record with more than 10,000 COVID patients in a single day. Texas is second in line with more than 6,600 hospitalizations.

Remember, hospitalizations are a lagging indicator. You got to have cases first, and then a small percentage of them become hospitalization. So, that tells you something about all the cases they had up to this point.

Hospitalizations on their own have topped 50,000 nationwide, for their first time, since February, more than 80,000 new cases a day, more infections than this time last summer. Half the country is fully vaccinated now, and yet we still have this many cases, why? We'll discuss with a Surgeon General in a moment.

So, how does President Biden turn this pandemic around? A national vaccine mandate off the table, not so much as is being reported, in some places, because he can't. I don't think it's about "Can." I think it's about "Should," OK?

By the way, on the "Can," level, the legal level, the delay in the FDA approval of the vaccine does not help the legal cause for a federal mandate. But this is really about whether he should, the potential backlash, problems enforcing, violations.

So instead, Biden thanked companies like Walmart, Google, Netflix and Disney, for imposing vaccination mandates on their own. And he tipped his hat to New York City, on its big news today that he says he hopes other cities and states will follow suit.

So, what did New York City do? It's going to be the first major city, in America, to implement a policy for proof of vaccination, in many indoor settings, indoor dining, fitness centers, entertainment venues.

It's going to go into effect in about two weeks, and it will be enforced, beginning September 13th. "Why not put it into effect right away?" frequently asked question. Takes time. You have to let businesses prepare. And this is what they decided to do.

Now, are there questions? Absolutely. What will enforcement look like? How do you enforce it? What are you going to do? Do they call the police? Do you expect private businesses do themselves?

Now, what does this mean for parents, who have kids, who aren't of age yet, for the shot? Do they no longer - are they no longer allowed in restaurants? Can they not go into these different locations in the city? What will that mean for tourists, coming from other countries?

Now, before you go too far down that road, remember who the victims are here, OK? The vaccinated are the victims. And remember, who the vaccinated are, all right? We talk about the unvaccinated, all the time, and rightly so. But remember, this is about the tyranny of a minority. The majority of this country, people from left, and right, and center,

and north, and south, all places, all faces, the majority have taken the step, to protect themselves and others. Don't forget that piece.

It's not just about you, and how you feel about you. It's about what you could do, for others, right? You have rights. But you don't have the right to infringe on others' rights.

So, that's the majority. And that majority has had their rights, to work and live, as they want, infringed upon, in significant part, because of those who have failed to do the same, and help this virus change into what it is now, the Delta variant.

And it's not a coincidence that so many resistors are Trumpers. Messaging around the vaccine by Trump & Co. sent the wrong message. And even his former cabinet secretary at HHS now gets that.

Alex Azar writes, "As I reflect... We could have done more to address vaccine hesitancy... I'm glad former President Trump got vaccinated, but it would have been even better for him to have done so on national television so that his supporters could see how much trust and confidence he has in what is arguably one of his greatest accomplishments."


You know, even that statement? Probably too generous. Trump did get vaccinated, but he did so in secret. If you'll remember, it happened in January. He didn't announce it until months later.

And he never sold the vaccine up until this day like he has anything else. Why not? Now, think about how many lives could have been saved, if Trump made the vaccine as much of a symbol of support for him as his hats?

But another key development would also be sending the message that the vaxx is something to take. Over 50 percent of people who haven't been vaccinated saying - say that the FDA approving the vaccine would make a difference.

"The New York Times" reports tonight, it could be coming by early next month, approval for Pfizer. Let's take that to a better mind, Trump's former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, back with us on PRIME TIME.

Doctor, good to see you.


CUOMO: Now, here's my problem. "Well, Biden said fully-approved vaccine by the fall, so this is actually faster," no, not really.

They've known how important FDA approval is, for many months. And they've had so much data. They started off with 40,000-plus test cases, before it went to over 100 million, 200 million, people, in this country. What do you think of the idea that it's still not going to be approved

until next month?

ADAMS: Well, I was really glad to hear that they're now putting a focus on getting the bureaucracy out of the way. Folks need to understand the FDA is a big agency, and they're having to pull people from other jobs, to focus on this.

But the problem, Chris, is that at the rate they're going, it might be a moot point, by the time they actually get it licensed, because you could have variants generated that then now escape the vaccines.

And so, we're really seeing hospitalizations go up, lives, quite frankly, being lost, because of this delay. And we need to get this vaccine licensed appropriately.

But again, as you mentioned, we have the safety and efficacy data. We need to get it licensed as quickly as possible, not just for hesitancy sake, but I've talked with you about this before, because it will allow companies the legal cover to then mandate these vaccines. Even the U.S. Military has said that they will not mandate this vaccine until it's fully licensed.

CUOMO: Strong point. Also, I've heard that getting a booster shot is not really practicable until the FDA approves the drug because you won't have test data. You can't get an EUA for a booster because you won't have the trial data. So, they're waiting on that as well.

What do you make of what Secretary Alex Azar said about his wish that former President Trump had been more aggressive in his messaging about the vaccine?

ADAMS: Well, I absolutely wish that President Trump and others had been more assertive.

As you may remember, Vice President Pence and I were among the first to get our vaccines, on live TV, because I felt it was important, as a Black man, to get vaccinated. We know that vaccine hesitancy is higher in minority populations. I felt it was important for Vice President Pence, as a well-known Republican, to get vaccinated.

But yes, it would have helped. It could have done nothing but help had President Trump done it more publicly and loudly. And I'm so glad to see so many Republicans now loudly calling for it.

And I hope it's not too late. I hope it happens before we get a variant, which again, escapes the vaccines, and again makes this a moot point.

CUOMO: In the most recent polling, 30-plus percent, the highest percentage of people, who are unvaccinated, were White Republicans. In your time, in the administration, why do you believe it wasn't more of a priority for Trump and his people?

ADAMS: Well, what I would say to you is vaccine hesitancy has been an issue long before COVID came along. You'll remember that we almost lost our measles eradication status, in 2019. And at the beginning of the pandemic, I was actually about to board a plane, to go around the country, and help boost vaccine confidence.

So, this has always been a problem. But you've talked about this a lot. The pandemic came along with a presidential election, and things got politicized. Misinformation got out there. And now, we're trying to dig out of that hole.

And I do want to say that we are in fact having some success. Almost three-quarters of a million people vaccinated. Vaccination is up 25 percent, this week, particularly in areas that had lower-than-average vaccination rates.


ADAMS: So, as you mentioned, we need to normalize that positive behavior.

CUOMO: Yes, absolutely. As we all know, you know this very well, as former Surgeon General, the best way, to change behavior, is to reward when things are done right.

ADAMS: Exactly.

CUOMO: And you now have the Southeastern states, which are suffering the most, in terms of new cases, have the highest rates of new vaccination.


Now, what is the threshold that we need? Is it too late? Or what do we have to see, in terms of vaccinations? Because, as we both know, 70 percent was, really, a figurative number, in terms of, what would, give you herd immunity.

What do we need to see, to get to a place, where you expect Delta variant cases, in terms of positivity, to come down?

ADAMS: Well, we saw the U.K. come down pretty quickly. And I think there's still the potential for us to come down quickly, if we can not only get more people vaccinated, but also engage in these mitigation measures, like masking, like a more strategic level of testing. So, I think it's still incredibly possible.

But what I think your viewers need to understand is this concept that I call "Micro herds." It's not really about national immunity, so much as it is about making sure, within your household, within your workplace, within your child's school, you have appropriate levels of protection, so that you can prevent spread from turning into an outbreak.

And so, think about what you can do, and what those around you can do, to protect yourselves. That's how we stop this pandemic.

CUOMO: Kids, parents, there is confusion. Some of it's being, once again, politicized and weaponized. "Ah! They want you to mask up right in front of your kids!" like, I don't know why that would be a dirty thing to do, by the way.

But what is your guidance, in terms of how to deal with kids?

I mean, look, cities are going to have to figure this out. As I said, at the top of the show, parents can't do anything about their kids, not being of age, to get vaccinated. And very many parents are going to be hesitant to get a kid vaccinated, when it's not FDA-approved. But localities have to figure out what their plan is for kids.

But for parents who are confused about what kind of masking, to do themselves, and their kids, you have guidance?

ADAMS: Absolutely. I think, number one, if you are unvaccinated, then you absolutely need to be wearing a mask, when you're around people, outside of your household.

Your child should be wearing a mask, if they're unvaccinated, when they're out in public, regardless.

And if you're in an area of a substantial or a high spread, as the CDC has said, then everyone should be wearing a mask, when they are - when they're out in public.

So, while it seems confusing, it's actually vaccinate if you can, and if you can't vaccinate, then you especially need to wear a mask. And if you're in a place that's a high spread, then wearing a mask, when you're in public, will protect you, and those around you.

CUOMO: Dr. Jerome Adams, appreciate having you again. Let's keep this going and get the information out there for people. Let's track progress, where we find it.

ADAMS: And I just also want to say to the governors out there, please, please, don't take tools out of the hands of public health officials. Again, let that conversation happen on a local level, and let public health officials do what the data says they should be doing.

It just drives me crazy, Chris, to see that we're sending people into battle without bulletproof vests, to see that we're not letting them utilize the tools that we know work, will help stop this pandemic.

So, thank you for having me on.

CUOMO: Thank you for putting that message out there, unprompted! Surgeon General, thank you.

ADAMS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Ahead we have new numbers, on who the vaccinated blame for this ongoing pandemic, versus the unvaccinated. And we have new data on whether mandates would actually work. There's some interesting findings.

The Wizard of Odds, next.








CUOMO: Please never forget, when you're looking at this situation, with the pandemic, we made ourselves sick.

Let me show you just how badly toxic politics has poisoned our fight. We started vaccinations in December 2020. Remember? We've just now hit 49.7 percent fully vaccinated.

Other countries have begged us to send our surplus doses. One of them is Canada. Now, three months ago, only 3 percent of Canadians were vaccinated. But once they got their hands, on those doses, they lined up for the shot. Now, they have more fully-vaccinated than we do. They're at nearly 60 percent.

What's the difference? Division. The division is making us sick. And that divide is not getting better. The vaccinated are being held hostage by the unvaccinated, and that's going to make trouble.

Let's bring in The Wizard of Odds.

The blame game, what do we know about it?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Here's what we know about it. The vaccinated are starting to get pretty perturbed.

Look at this. Who do the vaccinated blame for the rising COVID-19 cases? Number one, number one, 79 percent say the unvaccinated, 36 percent say Donald Trump, I think there's a little partisanship going on there, and that's especially true, when you see the 33 percent say conservative media.

But basically what you're seeing is that the vaccinated are starting to get very perturbed with the unvaccinated, and some in the conservative media, who, to be honest, have been spreading misinformation about the vaccine, and not telling folks the truth that is the vaccine is safe, and can help save your life and your neighbor's life.

CUOMO: Now remember, though, in the vaccinated group, you have Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Right, Left, North, South, right, because the majority of almost every demographic has taken this step to get protected. Yes, you do have an overweighting of White Republicans, who are resistant. But there are a lot of people in the vaccinated group that represent a lot of different stripes.

So, who do the unvaccinated blame?

ENTEN: Everyone but themselves. Look, here's who they blame. They basically blame, who, we would expect that folks, who might - a group that might be more conservative, blame.

Foreign travelers in the United States, they blame them, 37 percent. The mainstream media, perhaps like you and I, 27 percent. Americans traveling internationally, 23 percent. So, they're blaming travel. They're blaming foreigners.

They're blaming people, who they shouldn't be blaming, because those folks are, simply put, not to be blamed. They should honestly be blaming themselves, because, it's the unvaccinated, who, overwhelmingly are spreading this virus around. It's simply what the science tells us, Chris.


CUOMO: Another reason I'd be a lousy politician. I think that mandates are a bad idea. I've rarely seen them work, especially in a situation, like this, where you couldn't even really enforce it.

But the vaccinated need to be respected by power, because they're the majority of the country, and they do want mandates, for the unvaccinated. How so?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look, again, the vaccinated are sick and tired of the unvaccinated not being vaccinated.

So, vaccinated adults say that the vaccinated - the unvaccinated should get vaxxed, in order to go to college, the vast majority 77 percent, go to kindergarten through 12 school, 70 percent, or go to work, 68 percent.

So, this is a story that we're seeing across the board. The vaccinated are starting to blame the unvaccinated, and they want them to get vaccinated, because they believe that if the unvaccinated do, in fact decide to get a vaccine, then this pandemic would at least recede a great bit.

And, to be honest with you, I don't necessarily blame them. Because again, it's what the science tells us to be true.

CUOMO: Right, but doesn't mean that the mandate is the best way to approve it. I get the feeling.

But I'll tell you who's going to like that slide. President Biden, because, it kind of gives him a pass.

Go to college? That's up to colleges, not the federal government. K to 12? That's going to be localities. Go to work? That's going to be employers, the federal government is one, but federal employers.

All right, so now, the question of the day. Does it work? Social pressure, mandates?

ENTEN: Maybe, but there is the chance that there could be a backlash.

So, this is a poll from a couple of months ago. And it basically said, "Do the unvaccinated feel unfairly pressured to get vaccinated?" And look at this. A lot of them do, 41 percent. Now, the majority don't feel that way. But 41 percent is an awfully large percentage.

And it gives you the idea that although you may get some of the unvaccinated, vaccinated, through these mandates, there's going to be a good portion of them who say, "You know what? Wait a minute. I don't like this at all. Now I'm even going to go deeper into my corner. And there's no way in heck, I'm going to get vaccinated."

So, I think that we need to be careful, in our messaging, and how we put this across, if in fact, we do want to have vaccine mandates. Otherwise, it could have the exact opposite effect that is actually intended.

CUOMO: Yes, look, it's an old number. It would be interesting to see what it is now. There'd be two variables.

One, you have the Delta variant, so people have a better reason than just feeling pressure to get vaccinated, and we see them getting vaccinated.

So, you would have a smaller pool of unvaccinated, which makes them more resistant, if they are someone, resistant to getting the vaccine, if they're going to stay unvaccinated, even with this variant out there.

So, that may skew the numbers as well. But I'd like to see a new number.

Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds, thank you, as always.

ENTEN: My pleasure! All I'll say in the end is that there still is 15 percent, who say they definitely won't get vaccinated. But that number has shrunk from 20 percent. So, a little bit of good news.

CUOMO: And remember, we were building in the 20 percent, early on, in terms of how we could still get to herd immunity. So that number is not the problem, per se.

All right, Florida's governor is downplaying the COVID threat, as his state breaks new hospitalization records in America. The governor says he's tired of everyone's judgment.

Well, let's talk to somebody else, who is down there, in a position of leadership, about how he feels about the situation. What is his judgment? The Mayor of Miami Beach, next.








CUOMO: Quick thing about Simone Biles. She's won, so many awards, it's hard to keep it straight. She didn't win in the last Olympics, on bars, and she got a bronze in the beam. And obviously, this time, she wanted to avenge both of those things. She wasn't able to do it on bars. She came back on beam, and she got another bronze.

Look, I still hold my same perspective on this. It is amazing to me that she went back out there and competed with everything that she's dealing with right now. And she is a testament to strength.

But it doesn't mean you have to push yourself. If it was right for her, great, and it was great to see. But her taking care of herself first is the strongest position I've seen from anyone in the Olympics.

Now, Florida, absolutely getting hit hard right now. And nobody wants to see that.

But it is a laboratory, right now, for what the variant can do, they have four variants there that are spreading, and how measures in response will matter, especially their pushing back against the vaccine and now pushing back against masks, even as the state just broke its own record for hospitalizations for the third straight day.

Remember? Hospitalizations? That's a lagging indicator. That means you had so many cases that you had got that kind of boost of people, who are sick enough to go to the hospital.

Now, its vaccination rate, which was never that high, is falling, Mr. "Don't Fauci Florida" himself, the governor, says this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): These interventions have failed time and time again, throughout this pandemic. If it didn't stop it before, it definitely ain't going to stop it now.

We obviously have some people that are not vaccinated that have been admitted to hospitals. Are you going to sit there, are you going to sit there, and - are you going to sit there and criticize? Or are we going to try to treat and try to help the folks?

You know, I'm just sick of this judge - I'm sick of the judgment - the judgmental stuff on some of this stuff. Nobody's trying to get ill here, OK?


CUOMO: Governor is right. We do have to show places, where it's going right, and encourage people to keep doing it.

In fact, in Florida, you do see new people, who are unvaccinated, going to get the vaccine. That's good. But the problem is, he has been giving out messaging that has slowed down this process, and progress, and he has to own that.

Let's bring in the Mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber.

Good to see you, Mr. Mayor. What's your take on why your situation is how it is?

MAYOR DAN GELBER, (D) MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, first of all, the governor needs to own up to the judgment. Nobody is accusing him of not doing the things he's supposed to be.


He's made that part of his campaign. I mean, he has prevented us from implementing mask mandates. He's made vaccine passports illegal, for folks like the cruise industry, private sector groups that want to make their establishment safer.

He's taken control from local school boards, the ability to implement some kind of mask - masking-up measures. And he regularly, as part of his campaign, ridicules the CDC, Dr. Fauci.

So, I mean, I think he has to own up to what he's doing, which is basically to do everything the opposite of what local government is doing, like me, which is trying to get our residents to first get vaccinated, but also to wear masks now that the CDC says that they should, inside.

CUOMO: I have a question. How do you even know what's happening in your state in real-time, when the state doesn't provide real-time data? Explain to the audience what changed, in terms of the governor's mandate for how the state reports, and what that means to you?

GELBER: For me, we would get every day, we had a COVID dashboard statewide. Every day, we'd get state reports, every, you know, on every aspect, and every metric.

I would do a weekly or twice a week video to my residents, showing them the trajectory, the metrics, how many people are hospitalized, every single day, death rates, everything, because I felt like informing them was arming them, and giving them a sense of what to do. That just stopped. The governor doesn't do anything.

I'm on calls with Department of Health officials, where they will read something, and members, mayors, and some local officials, will literally say, this happened just a few days ago, Chris, we said, "Could you give us a copy of that?" And they said, "We're not allowed to. We're not allowed to give local

officials this information in writing. I'll read it to you. But I can't give it to you."

So, it's gotten to the point, where we're flying blind, in the midst of what is really a huge surge that is causing lots of our residents, I think, we're having 100 or more deaths a day in Florida right now.

And obviously, in just my county of Miami Dade, we have probably about 2,000 people in the hospital, at this point, which are - these are all new records in Florida.

CUOMO: So now, you have people getting vaccinated. They're afraid about the Delta variant. And their reaction is the right one. They're getting vaccinated. It'll protect themselves and others.

But if the governor holds by his decision that only parents can decide, not local authorities about, what to do with kids in schools, with masking, most of them will not be eligible, in the grade school area, for the vaccine.

What are your concerns?

GELBER: Listen, he has - I mean, it's really sort of weird, because I think the governor has just essentially made a very sort of brazen political decision that he's prepared to accept the health care, the adverse health care ramifications, of doing what he's doing, in order to gain some political advantage.

And it really is sort of nutty, to tragically nutty, in a sense that, you know, I have a kid in high school. I want the local school board to decide whether he and his classmates have to wear masks. He's been vaccinated, but others may not be.

And the point is that the governor has just decided, as a show of really, just to sort of show off to this base that he's currying favor with, that he's going to just stop all local officials, from having any impact on this.

So, our local school board, or our superintendents not going to be able to do what they want to do, because he's now threatening to withhold funding from them.

It's really unbelievable in a sense that it feels like he's doing everything, in his power, to make this disease incredibly difficult to challenge, and to cabin. And we see it every day.

CUOMO: Look, I mean, I understand the draw, politically, to saying "Let the parents decide." Kid - parents always want control over their kids' lives and education. The problem is, if you decide that you don't want your kid masked, now, I got a problem, because--

GELBER: Right.

CUOMO: --if I want my kid masked, now they're exposed because of yours. But the governor's got pushback. He'll say, the death rate is lower right now, than last year. And it is climbing. It's still higher than any of the other five most populated states. But it's not as bad as it was. So save him the panic. That's what he's saying.

GELBER: It's ridiculous. I follow this stuff as carefully as I can. And you followed this over the last year and a half. We had an incredible surge in Florida. And then, we implemented a mask mandate, and immediately it reversed itself.

And then, he started to open everything up. And, at the time, he also said we cannot have any masks mandates. He actually banned us from having masks mandates.

And my city was the first in the country, after the CDC said we should do it, to actually have a fine for not wearing a mask.

Immediately, the surge happened in hospitalizations. And we know when there's a surge in hospitalizations, there's a surge in deaths. And that is exactly what's happened every time.

We know in my county, we know in our state, that when you do these, when you implement these countermeasures, and when you have a - and when you message them, more importantly, which he's not doing, you get a reduction, a reduction in the virus, a reduction in the hospitalization, and a severe reduction in deaths.


And right now, we're going in exactly the opposite direction. And he's like embracing it, or at least accepting it in, I think, in return for what is a very sort of horrible political calculation that this is good for a lot of those that he's trying to curry favor with.

CUOMO: Well, look, the facts tell the story. With his "Don't Fauci Florida," and his kind of being neutral-to-negative on vaccinations, they're 24th in the state, Florida, 49 percent, but it's been falling for several months. So, you got to look at the messaging, as part of the calculus on that.

The good news is that right now your people are going and getting protected. So, let's see where it takes us and how long it takes.

Mayor Gelber, you always have a platform here, to give us the latest on Florida.

GELBER: Thanks, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, let's juxtapose what we're seeing in Florida, OK? If messaging matters, and it kind of winds up resonating through a society, and its disposition towards taking on the pandemic, then the opposite of Florida, would be Vermont.

I know it's a much smaller state. And it's got a lot less challenges, but the dynamics still holds, the messaging, the follow-through. Let's talk about Vermont, and why President Biden gave them a big shout-out today.

What does the state's Health Commissioner there think that should be happening all over this country? Next.









CUOMO: Got some breaking election news on our watch. CNN projects that Mike Carey will win tonight's special primary election in Ohio's 15th Congressional District.

Why do you care? Because he is a newcomer, backed by Donald Trump, in a crowded race. Remember, Trump's candidate lost, in a Texas Republican runoff, last week, raising all this speculation about whether he still has the pull.

Carey is a lobbyist for the coal industry. The long list of Republicans he beat tonight includes the one backed by the last incumbent.

Ohio is one of those states you just have to watch, in every election, big or small. We'll see if the Trump effect is real, in the general election, there, in November.

We're also watching another key race in the 11th District of Ohio. This one pits Nina Turner, it's a name you might know, from CNN, and a top ally of Bernie Sanders, against Shontel Brown, OK, a Cuyahoga County Council Member, who is favored by Establishment Dems. We're going to keep an eye on that contest throughout the evening.

Now, we're talking about COVID, and where the problems are. You also have to isolate the successes, to see if we can replicate it.

A bright-spot? Listen to President Biden giving props to the most vaccinated state in the country. That may be seen the - they may be the first to reach true herd immunity. Listen.


BIDEN: This past week, the most vaccinated state in America, Vermont, has seen just five new cases, five, per day of COVID-19, for every 100,000 people, who live in that state. That means, on any given day, only 30 people, in the entire state of Vermont, got COVID-19. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: So, Vermont, OK, I get it. It's not one of the biggest states. But so what? If you take out the first five or six most populated states, a lot of the states start to look the same.

Now, you have nearly 69 percent of people in Vermont, vaccinated. The rest of the country is like 50 percent. And only three people in Vermont are in the hospital for COVID, according to Vermont's Governor.

Imagine if that was the case all across this country? And we were free to go out and live your lives, mask-free, without fear of getting sick, because you did the right things, in the right numbers, when you needed to?

Let's discuss how they got there. We got Vermont's Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine.

Good to see you, Doc.


CUOMO: What did you do there that hasn't been done the same way elsewhere?

LEVINE: Well, we start with the population. We call ourselves Vermonters, who really characterize themselves as prioritizing health. No matter what metrics you look at, traditionally, Vermont is regarded as one of the healthiest states.

So, Vermonters are traditionally prioritizing health, and very collaborative and cooperative. And it's not only, their, own health. It's their family's health, their neighbors' health, their communities' health, in a very New England way.

Secondly, trust is really the key, trust in leadership. Surveys throughout the pandemic have shown that one of the governors, that leads, the charge, when it comes to their state's assessment of their performance, is our Governor Phil Scott.

And when you ask Vermonters where they go, for their most trusted source of health information? It's the Department of Health.

How do you earn that trust? Part of it is earned by consistently showing that our pandemic response has been informed by data and public health science. And part of it is by very transparent communication, that's very frequent, in terms of press briefings and other modalities, and that really covers the known, but also was very honest about the uncertain.

You might recall, somewhere around the beginning of the year, we actually had vaccine, but the supply was very scarce, though the demand was great. We, like every other state initially prioritized health care workers, and the long-term care, residents and workforce. But then we quickly diverged from most of what the nation did, and

went straight to what we call an age-stratifying strategy, which essentially was looking at our data in Vermont, and saying, "Who's dying from COVID?"


And it turned out 90 percent of our deaths were in those that were over age 65. So, we were very clear with the data and the science that we were going to prioritize the oldest Vermonters first, and then sequentially go through various age strata.

CUOMO: Right.

LEVINE: And go further and further, and eventually incorporating people with high-risk conditions as well.

CUOMO: So Doc, that's?

LEVINE: But then it continued on in that same vein.

CUOMO: So Doc, that's intelligent. But I've heard that from a lot of different states. They just didn't have the same results.

What do you say, to the pushback that "Oh, look? You guys did everything right. But there are only 620,000 of you. That's just much easier population to control. You can't compare you to a Florida. It's not fair."

LEVINE: Yes, it turns out, that's not very true. No matter what the size of the state, you still encounter the same issues and the same challenges. And you still encounter in a rural state, many of the same problems that states that are less rural have.

In more recent months, when there's clearly more of a demand issue, and supply is more abundant, we've obviously transitioned away from mass vaccination sites.

We've made all of our pharmacies, walk-in business, and not appointments. We've continued to collaborate with our health care partners. But we've done what we call meeting Vermonters, where they are, which you can do in any state.

We've created so many place-based situations, whether it be at events, like parades, or state fairs, whether it be at workplaces, where we've invited ourselves, or had the workplace connect with us, to find a convenient time, whether it's at raceways, or beaches on Lake Champlain, or downtown shopping areas.

We do an activity called barnstorming, which is particularly successful in rural areas. And it involves our EMS workforce, literally taking vaccine, from town to town, within a county, at various times, and meeting the population, where they are.

CUOMO: The--

LEVINE: And that has worked extremely well.

CUOMO: The governor--

LEVINE: And in addition, we've--

CUOMO: Go ahead. Go ahead, Doctor. I'm sorry.


CUOMO: I'm sorry. Please continue.

LEVINE: And in addition, we've focused a lot on health equity, looking at our populations that have encountered racial or other forms of historical injustice, forming very strong and trusting partnerships, with advocacy groups, and groups that are really looking out for those populations, providing lots of materials, for communication, and interpretation needs, and really working at a neighborhood clinic level.

CUOMO: Right. That's what I was going to ask you.

LEVINE: So that the population in that neighborhood--

CUOMO: That--

LEVINE: --can trust their vaccine.

CUOMO: Yes. You guys did that very early on, which was an interesting piece of intuition, because most other states, big or small, waited to see those historical gaps, manifest themselves again, and then address them. You did it in advance.

Now Governor Scott is recommending students 12 to 17, get to 80 percent, with at least one dose.

Vaccinating kids is so sensitive and controversial, especially with it not being FDA-approved. How do you intend on making that palatable to parents?

LEVINE: Well, we've worked with our medical community tremendously, pediatric and family medicine communities, who have provided tremendous amounts of town halls, and other educational sessions, for parents.

We've basically shown to the population that you can get to this magic number of 80 percent, which we did population-wide, for those eligible to receive vaccine, in the first part of June. And we've shown them that we're going to be relentless. And we've now today crossed the 84 percent threshold.

We basically are making sure that everyone can see for themselves the results of what we've done, in terms of where the cases are, where the deaths are not, where the hospitalizations are not, how powerful the vaccine has been, while at the same time, showing itself to be quite safe at all age groups, without any significant long-term effects, which people are always concerned about. CUOMO: Doctor, you know? Several different times we've wanted to have you come on. And we get so caught up in the problem that we don't take the time to highlight people, who are doing it, right.

So, I'm glad I finally got you on. I wish you continued success. Obviously, the Delta variant is a curveball. There may be one after it. Fates can change. You have an open line to us, to let us know what's happening in Vermont, what's working, if anything isn't working, why. We're here.

LEVINE: I appreciate that. Thanks for having me on.

CUOMO: All right. Good luck, and stay healthy.

Poison politics, look, they found a way around it in Vermont, OK? But there's no question that we have made ourselves sick, and we have literally cost ourselves death. And that's not just true about the pandemic.


We now know something else about January 6th that is a fact. Doesn't matter if you're Right or Left, all it requires is for you to be reasonable. You're going to want to hear this. We need to hear it. Next.








CUOMO: I hate having to tell you this, but I have to tell you, and you have to listen, and you have to take this story for what it means.

You're looking at Officer Kyle DeFreytag. He fought to keep the Capitol safe on January 6. He's a hero. We're now learning he's also one of four officers, who served that day, to die by suicide.

The fact that Officer DeFreytag's life ended in mid-July, and we're just learning about it now, shows a real problem that we have to address, in this moment.


This is part of our problem, when it comes to talking about pain. "Suicide is something you keep quiet. It's shameful." That has to stop. And that moment can be right now. And those who think it's OK to play politics with these guys, and the

Capital officers, and their emotional pain, "Just shows that they're somehow weak," that is intellectually and morally weak. If you're a leader, don't do it.

Emotional pain and suicidality are real. And the more that you reach out, the more people feel OK, to get help, and they could be saved. That's a matter of fact.

Go look up the Columbia Protocol, do the research, and see how reaching out can help. Suicide is real. It's an epidemic that only worsened along with the pandemic.

Look, there are your numbers. You don't hear nearly enough about people talking about it. Why? Because when we experience this in our lives, there's so much blame. And it seems like it is shameful, and it isn't.

It's great that the Senate today unanimously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers of the U.S. Police, the Capitol Police, and the Metropolitan Police Departments. But the wounds inflicted that day aren't going to be healed by medals.

And why we will - while we will continue to put up the suicide lifetime number - lifeline number, every time we cover these stories, the realities of suicide aren't going to change, until we start doing what I'm saying. Talk about it. Don't hide it. And it will be OK.

All right, we'll be right back.