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Biden Suggests U.S. Troops May Stay In Afghanistan Until All Americans Are Out, Even Past August 31 Deadline; Biden Administration Recommends Booster Shot Eight Months After Second Dose; Florida Board Of Education Votes To Punish Two Counties Mandating Masks In Schools. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 18, 2021 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thanks Coop. I'm Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.


First, we have Tony Fauci, to take on the vaccine confusion and mask madness.

But first, Afghanistan. You have seen our reporting and others'. You know the reality on the ground. The desperation, it's obvious.

You know the Americans there are not sure if their country will bring them home. This is not what the reality is. That's not our question. Our question is what will our government do about that reality? That is our focus here. And the answers so far, frankly, are too slow and too little.

How can you accept the State Department warning as many as 15,000 Americans stuck in Taliban country, that they can't ensure safe passage to get them to the Kabul airport and fly them out?

You must demand that the Mightiest Force on the Planet does not surrender its own to this kind of fate from a bunch of zealot thugs.





CUOMO: That's what you want your countrymen surrender to?

The State Department should not be warning, the desperate. The warning is a desperate one to the State Department, and this administration. You had better do what you have to, to get Americans out. What does this country stand for, if not committing completely, to protecting its own?

Another bad sign, the Administration seems to be allowing the Taliban to dictate terms here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're going to get everyone that we can possibly evacuate, evacuated. And I'll do that as long as we possibly can, until the clock runs out, or we run out of capability.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We will get out as many as possible.


CUOMO: The clock runs out when you say it runs out. And "As many as possible" is all of them. That's what is possible. Bring them all home.

Now, the worst sign, for the fate of many of your fellow citizens, stranded in a hell-scape, is coming from our president, who is not echoing the urgency, you're hearing expressed here.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: All troops are supposed to be out by August 31st. Even if Americans and our Afghan allies are still trying to get out, they're going to leave?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're going to do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that mean troops will stay beyond August 31st, if necessary?

BIDEN: It depends on where we are and whether we can get - ramp these numbers up to 5,000 to 7,000 a day coming out. If that's the case, they'll all be out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because we've got like 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now, right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay, until every American who wants to be out?




We're going to try to get it done before August 31st.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if we don't, the troops will stay?

BIDEN: If we don't, we'll determine at the time, who's left.


CUOMO: I have to say, headlines that "Biden says troops will stay" that's not what he said. He didn't say they'll definitely stay after the 31st. That's not the truth. The truth is he was qualified about it. And it shouldn't be qualified. The only "Must" here is to get the people out, your people out. Biden must be pressed to do more.

Now, one step back, OK? For those who must see this, in terms of political blame, first, stop scaring people by saying "Millions of Afghans are going to come here." Nobody is using a number like that, OK? Nobody.

Don't paint the reality like - you wonder why people are criticizing that kind of statement, as oddly reflective of what Trump - I referred to, as his "Brown Menace" argument about "People coming over the southern border, taking your women and your jobs, killing everybody."

That's what it sounds like, when you say "Millions are coming here, Afghan refugees." Why exaggerate the number?

This is about citizens, and the people that we promised to help, after they risked their lives for us. We should all be on the same page here. And the answer doesn't have to be that "All come here." We have allies, right? We have options, right?

Now, in terms of why we are here, President Biden did not start this fire. It is fair to say Biden was given a bad hand by Trump & Co. They made the deal with these terrorists. And then they started a major pull-out even when the Taliban didn't do what they promised in that deal. Trump's own, Secretary of Defense, Esper, says as much.


But today, it all shifted. Biden could have changed the deal, could have planned differently, could have likely avoided this degree of chaos, and the administration did not. Period!

And today, President Biden, frankly, sounded like President Trump, feigning that "What we're all seeing could not have gone any better."


BIDEN: No, I don't think it could have been handled in a way that - we're going to go back in hindsight and look. But the idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens. I don't know how that happened.


CUOMO: Look, they say they were prepared for all contingencies. Clearly, you were not prepared for all contingencies. Clearly, you could have gotten your people out first, and done this earlier.

And if this president doesn't grasp the urgency of doing more and better here, some words of his, may come back to haunt him. These!



BIDEN: There's going to be no circumstance, you're going to see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy of the United States, from Afghanistan.

The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything, and owning the whole country, is highly unlikely.


CUOMO: Happened! And that picture of Saigon, look, we don't have to compare it to anything else. It's bad enough on its own.

And the best reason that we may not wind up plucking people, America may not wind up rescuing people, from the roof of its embassy, is because they closed it so soon. But desperate efforts are not far off here.

And know this. While those words may haunt this president, we may all be haunted by what happens in Afghanistan, and is revisited here.

The people that you break your promise to, if they are left trapped in that kind of desperation, they may come back to haunt you as some of the most ardent recruits, looking to avenge the betrayal. We have seen it before. Learn from history, or be doomed to repeat it.

So, what happens now? Let's brainstorm with a better mind, former CIA Counterterrorism official, Phil Mudd, who helped build the Afghan government that just fell.

First, do you agree with my assessment?


The question is whether we look back in 30 days, 60 days, a year, and say 50,000 people, 75,000 people, American citizens, Afghan interpreters, Friends of the American embassy, Friends of the U.S. Military, Friends of the CIA, did we get them out relatively safely, despite the fact that the first couple days went well?

Look, it's like, Chris we're in the first laps of the Indy 500. And we're in round 12, 12 - 12 cars behind the lead, and we're saying we lost.

The first laps didn't go well. That is not the same question as whether in a month or two, or two years or three years, we look back and say, "We got out the people we needed to get out." Let's slow down and fix it.

CUOMO: OK, I'm with you. I don't think we disagree. I'm saying where does your optimism come from, when you haven't been offered any plan that will make things better in the succeeding laps?

In fact, you had the State Department today say to those people that were supposed to get out first, the citizens, "I'm not sure that we can get you. I'm not sure that we can get you to where we can, then get you out of there."

So, where's your confidence coming from?

MUDD: Well, we can answer that question in a moment. I wouldn't get them, if I were the State Department.

But a couple things that I would look at, first is relative - relative security. That is there appears to be some sort of conversation, a deal with the Taliban that means that thousands of people can get out today.

You can reverse that, Chris. There could be a situation, where there's mortar attacks on the airfield, there's attacks on the thousands of U.S. Military there, and people can't get out.

If we can get 5,000 people out a day, for the next 15 days, that is a huge success. So, my optimism - I'm not an optimist. I'm a realist. My realism is the Taliban appears to think that it's OK to let people go. The first day or two of that agreement appears to have been OK. I'm not sure it'll go OK. But it's certainly better than where we were three days ago.

CUOMO: Yes, I don't know. I feel like we're frozen in exactly that place. The Taliban is doing what it wants. We're taking the timeline from them.

And did I just hear you right? Did you say that if you were the State Department, you wouldn't make preparations, and plans, to get Americans that right now can't get to the airbase?

MUDD: I wouldn't offer them safe travel.


Look, the comment that I heard from the U.S. government is "You have safe travel," I forget the exact term, but "Safe travel to the airport." The other comment was "We can't assure that." What that means to me is the U.S. government has some kind of conversation with the Taliban that says "Please let people, who want to go to the airport, go."

Let me give you the bottom line. We don't want 5,000 Ubers a day, from the airport, in Afghanistan, going to pick up people, who identify with the U.S., and then risking firefights with Taliban along the way.

One wrong shot, the Taliban starts shooting, U.S. Military shoots back. Remember, "Black Hawk Down" Somalia? U.S. Military forces are dragged through downtown Kabul.

People have to slow down. Eventually, I think people might be able to make their way to the airport. But I would not want thousands of caravans of U.S. Military, traveling through Kabul, right now, risking a firefight with the Taliban. That's a disaster, Chris.

CUOMO: All I'm saying is, how can it be acceptable to you or anyone else, if Americans are left behind? MUDD: It's not acceptable.

My question is, can we sit back and say without saying that the first 72 hours were a complete disaster? There were problem. They weren't a complete disaster.

Can we sit back and say, over the course of the next 13 days, or 14 days, till September 1st, which is what the President talked about, can we get the people out, who are American citizens, and the people who supported us? That's an open question.

When I look at the media today, it appears to me the American people are saying we've already failed. Chris, we haven't failed, until the Americans aren't out and our friends aren't out.

CUOMO: Agreed.

MUDD: And that chapter, Chris, is not close to closed.

CUOMO: We agree 100 percent.

I'm just saying failure to plan is setting yourself up to fail. And I want to know what they're doing, to make this happen, over the next 14 days, instead of just saying "We just have 14 days, we'll do our best."

I think they need to tell more. I think they need to do more. That's the urgency. It ain't over. But it will be over, if we don't do better, from this point, until we get them all out.

Phil Mudd, respect the honesty and the candor and the insight. I'll see you soon.

MUDD: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

MUDD: See you.

CUOMO: Look, I don't know any other way to see it. I'm not saying it's over. I'm just saying, you have to plan, you have to do better. How are you going to do better? Telling people "Hey, we can't come get you," doesn't sound like better to me. Now, that is the national security issue that we have abroad.

We have one within as well. And it is a war. And it is against a virus. Booster shots are now all the talk. People are confused again.

The reporting is they will be as available as soon as next month for fully-vaccinated adults. And those who got it first will be the most prepared for it, because they wane about eight months, since you got vaccinated.

Why was that decision suddenly made, when most were told they weren't going to need a booster yet? How do we clear up this confusion about the vaccine, and how good it is, if you need a booster? The man to make the case is Dr. Anthony Fauci, next.









CUOMO: OK, it's official. Booster shots are now advised for all Americans, eight months after you get your second shot, OK?

Health officials cited three separate studies today that show COVID protection waning over time, including this one that looked at 10 million vaccinated New Yorkers. It showed that Moderna's effectiveness dropped from 86 percent to 76 percent, over seven months. Pfizer went from 76 percent to 42 percent.

The President says this is the key to fighting new variants like Delta.


BIDEN: This shot will boost your immune response. It will increase your protection from COVID-19. And it's the best way to protect ourselves from new variants that could arise.

This is no time to let our guard down.


CUOMO: So, "The vaccine is the best way to fight Delta. And the vaccine is not that great against Delta." I understand why that seems to be in contradiction of itself. And it's confusing.

So, let's bring in Dr. Anthony Fauci, to discuss what this means, and what this doesn't mean.

Tony, I talk to you all the time. I know the answers to these questions. But many people don't get it.

So, let's dialog this the way it's happening all over this country right now, which is if someone's vaccine-hesitant, or they're not sure about the booster, they say, "I don't get it. If the vaccine is a must-have, then what does this mean that I'm being told that the resistance is getting so low that you need another one?"

It makes people suspicious. What do you say?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I think it's obvious that that is understandable, Chris, how you could get a little bit confused by this.

The vaccines do work. And they do work well. And that's the reason why we still very, very much encourage people to get vaccinated, the 90- plus or so million people have not yet gotten vaccinated.

The issue is that over the recent weeks, to months, what we've seen, in the context of the Delta variant, which is now well over 90 percent, of all of the isolates, are Delta variant right now, we're seeing, as you correctly pointed out, a diminution over time of the response.


It still protects well, at this point, against hospitalizations and death. But the protection against infection, and clinical type of disease, not necessarily hospitalization, that still holds quite high degree of protection.

But if you project and look at where we might be, and this is particularly in the context, Chris, of what's going on, in Israel, which are usually about a month or two ahead of us, in the sense of getting people vaccinated, and the dynamics of their outbreak, they are starting to see a diminution, not only in infection protection, and protection against clinical disease, but also in vulnerable populations in hospitalizations, which is the thing we really want to avoid.

So, rather than wait for that to happen, we want to get the response much higher and much more durable. So, getting vaccinated now, if you're not vaccinated is important. The vaccines work.

But in order to ensure looking ahead, instead of chasing after something like this Delta virus, that might actually be getting a diminution in protection, you want to stay ahead of the game.

CUOMO: All right.

FAUCI: And that's why the decision was to boost people.

CUOMO: All right, two quick things. One is, this is you making the decision and the team based on data, not Big Pharma telling you this, to put more money in their pockets?

FAUCI: Yes. Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with Big Pharma. This was an analysis of it.

The final decisions and - I mean, we know where we're going, where we want to go with this. Obviously, the FDA is involved in this, from a regulatory standpoint, as well as the advisory bodies to the CDC.

CUOMO: OK FAUCI: But it's very clear what's going on. We're having a diminution of effect. This is not drug company stuff at all. No way.

CUOMO: OK. Thank you for clarifying it. Lot of people are suspicious.

The idea of all right, we understand now. But within the team, there seems to be a difference, in the sense of urgency.

Control Room, the sound of the Task Force members that I skipped over in the introduction, because I want to get to Dr. Fauci, please play that sound.


DR. NEELA GOSWAMI, MEMBER, CDC VACCINE TASK FORCE/YESTERDAY: We do want to clarify right away that the need for and timing of a COVID-19 booster dose has not been established.

DR. KATHLEEN DOOLING, MEMBER, CDC VACCINE TASK FORCE/ YESTERDAY: Other fully vaccinated individuals do not need an additional dose right now.


CUOMO: Now, that's yesterday.

FAUCI: Right.

CUOMO: Does the messaging kind of stink in terms of coordination here?

FAUCI: Well, yes, well, actually, what - were you just showing Dr. Walensky? Is that--

CUOMO: No. That was Dr. Goswami.

FAUCI: --is that who you showed? Because I can't see it on the screen.

CUOMO: Dr. Neela Goswami and Dr. Kathleen Dooling.

FAUCI: Yes, well OK, I mean--

CUOMO: From the CDC.

FAUCI: --I don't know who those individuals.

CUOMO: There are - there are CDC Docs.

FAUCI: Well OK. From the C - OK, fine, I'm sorry. But I can't see with the screen. I'm just looking at--

CUOMO: No, it's all good, Tony.

FAUCI: --at the camera.

All right, no way, OK.

So, the situation is if you look at the data that was analyzed, right now, you don't need it right at this moment, because the one thing you want to make sure you do is you protect people from getting serious illness, requiring hospitalization. So, at that moment, the protection is still high.

But when you plot it, and look at the curve that you just mentioned, from the New York cohort, from the Mayo Clinic cohort, it's going down the wrong direction.

And if you look at what's gone on, in Israel, the same thing happened. And then they started to get in trouble. We had more serious disease and hospitalization. So, rather than waiting until that happens, in the future, a month to three months from now, we want to do the boosters now, to prevent that.

Use the hockey analogy. You want to skate where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is. So, what they said is true, right at this moment, the protection, against hospitalization and death, is still very high.

But given the ominous signs of the protection diminishing, for infection, and clinical disease, we want to make sure we're not all of a sudden in trouble, and then decide we're going to do something about it, as opposed to anticipating the problem, and doing something about it right now.

CUOMO: Understood.

FAUCI: That's the explanation.

CUOMO: And thank you for clarifying it.

Obviously, I'm not playing Gotcha with you. It's just that people throw this stuff in my face all the time, about how, "Well, why do you trust this advice, when this advice seems to fight it?" That's why I put it to you. Thank you for clarifying.

One other quick thing. So unfortunately, Governor Abbott catches COVID, breakthrough case. He's vaccinated, may have gotten the Regeneron.

Let's leave the Regeneron thing to the side. I know everybody's going to say, "Well, why can't everybody get it?" Separate issue for a separate day.

Masks, governors like him and DeSantis, who are making masks a political position, given the waning effect of the vaccine, what is your message to Florida and Texas, about how important masking is, especially in schools with kids, when a large percentage of them won't be vaccinated?


FAUCI: Yes. Well, my message is consistent with my message has been all along, Chris.

Masks are an important thing for the mitigation, the transmission and the acquisition of infection that they are - they are very important, particularly when you have a highly, highly transmissible virus, in the form of the Delta variant.

And that's the reason why, when you talk about the extra added degree of protection, even in a school system, where you may have vaccinated teachers, and some of the children may be vaccinated, you want to wear a mask, to protect the children, so that they could continue to be in school, in-person, in classes, so that we don't get the deleterious effects on the child of, again, keeping them out of school.

You want to do that, but you want to do it safely. And masks contribute greatly to the safety of the children.

CUOMO: Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you for the straight-talk, on the situations that matter. I appreciate you. Thank you for being on the show.

FAUCI: Thank you, Chris. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: All right, so let's go from the war at home to the war abroad.

Look, these interpreters, you keep being introduced to them, right, why? They risked their lives, and their family's lives, to save the lives of our American troops. They're very, very vital, OK? We - the country made a promise to them, to take care of them, and their loved ones, OK? This isn't a favor. It was a promise.

You're going to meet one, who is still performing heroic acts, OK? How can you not have this guy's back after you hear his story? Next.









CUOMO: "As many as possible" isn't good enough, when it comes to bringing people home, that you promised to help. Getting everyone out. Full stop!

If human truth of that isn't evident, when you see the chaos of people, scrambling for safety, tonight, outside the airport in Kabul, then for the reason we went there in the first place, to stop the next Osama bin Laden.

Broken promises in that part of the world endanger all of us, I said this earlier, because it can come back to haunt you. You leave people in desperation, they become desperate. And they remember who put them there, right or wrong. That's how they see it.

The only way to keep our word is to get more people out, and faster than we're hearing.


MILLEY: Right now, we're averaging about 20 sorties of C-17s every 24 hours. We have the capability to significantly increase that throughput as the Department of State makes evacuees available.

As the Secretary said, we've already evacuated approximately 5,000 people.


CUOMO: Look, just look at the numbers, and why we need better. The 5,000 number that the General just mentioned is since Sunday. The Pentagon admits we need to be doing that much, and more, every day.

A spot on one of those C-17s is exactly what my next guest is hoping to secure for his family. Ismail Khan, he spent six years alongside U.S. troops, as a translator. It's one of the most dangerous jobs. Any veteran will tell you that.

Ismail, thank you for your service to America. And I appreciate you taking the opportunity tonight.


CUOMO: Now, what are you doing right now, from where you are, in Seattle, to help back home?

KHAN: I am basically keeping the United States' promise to the Afghan people, the promise that the United States made to those heroes, that you and your loved one will be saved. And that's what "No One Left Behind" is trying to do to keep that promise.

CUOMO: So, I hear that you've been like - help me understand what it is that you can do. I heard that you haven't been sleeping, you haven't been to work, that you're recruiting friends in Seattle.

What are you doing?

KHAN: So, five of my friends are sitting in the next room with me. Most of them have their day jobs. They left their jobs.

So, I've been in direct contact with a lot of people in Afghanistan. They're begging for help.

So, I'm trying to get the information as much as I can, and then create a file, and hoping to share that with the State Department, and DOD that "Hey, these are the people. Check it," and in - in the system, or there are some people that they are not even in the system, but they did risk their life.

So, we are going to provide what they should have done long time ago. That's what we have been doing.

CUOMO: Have you gotten any response from the State Department or any indication that they'll be receptive to what you give them?

KHAN: Negative. Nothing yet.

CUOMO: Now, this is not just an act of charity for you. This is desperation for your own.

How hard is it for you, to be in Seattle, but to know that your own family, the people you love and care about, are in such a bad place and are exposed to the Taliban, because of your helping America?

KHAN: It's been - it's been really hard. It's - I would ask every American to think about their loved ones, to think about your own kids, and their family, when they are in that sort of situation.


My story is every single Afghan story, who helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan. I split my family in four different location, to make sure they are safe. And I'm trying everything, to help them out not only them, only my family, every single family that are in Afghanistan, and begging for help. They are asking to get them out of kill zone.

It's been a really tough week. I couldn't sleep, because during the night, it's day in Afghanistan, and a lot of people had been calling, texting, emailing, begging for help. And there is not much that I can do. But I'll push as much as I can, create that list, share it with the State Department, push as much as I can, to help up.

CUOMO: How scared is your family? And what do you want them to know tonight?

KHAN: Last time that I spoke with my mom, and like, it's been, they are really scared, but they don't want to tell me.

And I was talking to my mom. And I said, like, "If anything happens to any of you, I would be blaming myself for the rest of my life."

And she was giving me confidence that "We will be OK. Don't worry. And don't ever blame yourself. You did everything that you could to help the entire country, to help the U.S. forces, to help the family. So, you shouldn't be blaming yourself for that." That's the confident that she is giving it to me.

But my brothers, they're young, they had never seen the Taliban government. They had never seen how, what, and merciless they are. So, I am way more afraid than they are. They are giving me confident that "We will be OK. Don't worry. Everything will be fine."

CUOMO: Well, Ismail, as I promised to another interpreter, who was trying to get their family out, I'm going to give you my number, after this. Please keep me in the loop of what's happening with your family, what you're being told.

I know the country made you a promise. And I know it's a promise that has to be kept. And I know it's frightening to you right now to not know if that's going to happen. And it's not fair.

So, I'll give you my number. We'll stay in touch. We'll do what we can. But I promise to report on your story. And I, again, just thank you for what you did for this country. And I hope the favor is returned.

KHAN: All right, thank you so much. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

In just the past few hours, two more school boards voted to defy Florida governor DeSantis, on his mask mandate ban. Why, because the communities are worried, because parents want their kids to be safe.

And we know, as parents, that we don't know as well as the scientists do. We're not supposed to be making these kinds of decisions for our kids. We don't know what the hell we're talking about.

So, they join a school district, mourning the deaths of staffers, before classes even started today. We're going to go into their fight with their School Board Chair, as Florida cases are exploding, next.









CUOMO: Florida's state officials are now targeting a third school district for defying Governor DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.

Miami-Dade is the largest district in the state. It joins Broward and Alachua counties in requiring students wear masks, without allowing parents to opt-out. DeSantis is now threatening to withhold funding, and salaries of superintendents, and school board members, in those communities.

You'd think that he would focus his attention on the real problem, which is that his state has the highest child hospitalization rate in the country. Did the parents in Florida really believe that they know better than scientists and doctors about what to do for their kids' health?

Broward County Superintendent says they only have five pediatric ICU beds available in the county. Let's bring in Broward County School Board Chair, Rosalind Osgood.

Thank you very much, Rosalind, for joining us.


CUOMO: What is the message to your community, and to parents, who say, "Well, you know, the governor says, you know, the parents should be deciding."

OSGOOD: Well, we get into cars. And if I'm driving in my car, and I put my 6-year-old granddaughter, Kyla, or my 17-month-old grandbaby, Gabe (ph) in the car, I have to put them in a car seat in a seat belt. I don't have a right as a grandparent. My daughter and son-in-law doesn't have a right as a parent.

When it comes, to this public health crisis that we're in, with the pandemic, that is, impacting people, in a way that it never has before, Florida has become the epicenter for the Coronavirus. Our positivity rates here are higher than ever before.

It is impossible to bring 30,000 employees, 270 students, into a school, and on school buses, where you can't practice social distancing. So, you have to use the mitigating tools that you have in your toolbox.

Vaccinations. And we know that there are a lot of people that are not vaccinated. Children under 12 don't even have an option to be vaccinated. We have to use masks. Everybody has to wear mask. We have to wash our hands, and try not to gather in large groups.

It is just no way, to bring students back, in face-to-face learning, with at least 27 or 28 individuals, in a classroom, and have mask be optional. It's like you playing Russian roulette with people's lives.

CUOMO: You've lost--

OSGOOD: It's--

CUOMO: You've lost teachers and employees to COVID. I want to make sure people understand that. Now your county only has five pediatric ICU beds. Are the families, forget about the politicians, are the families getting the message? And have you been seeing compliance?


OSGOOD: We have. Today was the first day of school. I had an opportunity, along with our Superintendent, and other school board members, to visit about eight schools. Parents were real grateful that we stood up to (ph) the mask mandate. Today, we had only two incidents, one teacher and one student that did not want to wear a mask. So overall, everybody is complying.

Parents express how they feel safer, and how thankful they were that we chose the lives of their children, over following an executive order or rules that the Governor and the Commissioner of Education put in place.

CUOMO: What do you say to the governor about his desire to punish people like you?

OSGOOD: Well, I find it very hardhearted. I just don't understand why the governor would want to defund schools in the State of Florida.

Any dollars that are taken away, he does not have the authority to impact us, as far as payroll and paychecks. But he can withhold money from my school district that will hurt our kids.

I just don't understand any leader that would not understand the importance of education, and all the resources that are available for education, being provided for that.

I just have no - no - I mean, it just blows my mind that we would even be having a discussion about defunding education in Florida.

CUOMO: Ms. Osgood, we'll be staying on the story. We'll be watching your county. We'll be watching the state. We're a call away, if you need to tell us about situations that aren't being addressed that are affecting people's health.

God bless. And may everybody stay well.

OSGOOD: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So now, what we need to do is kind of figure out where we are, as we're getting into this back-to-school push, with the state of vaccination, the kind of state of play, OK?

You know who just joined the "Hey, get vaccinated!" push? The Pope. He just cut a PSA to get your attention.

Will Americans put their faith in the booster shot? The Wiz is here. What do the numbers tell us about where we are in this country? And what are we saying about the questions that matter most? Next.








CUOMO: I'll never understand why it is that we insist on making ourselves sick.

It's been hard enough trying to get all eligible Americans to get the first two shots of the vaccine. Only a little over half of this country is fully vaccinated. No state reached that magic 70 percent.

Now the CDC says we're going to need a third booster shot. We just talked to Dr. Fauci, a little while ago, about the confusing messaging. He tried to lay it straight about why we need it. It's still our best chance.

So, where are we on the numbers? Who's vaccinated? Who isn't? What is the true division? How are we about the booster?

Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds, in the COVID Command Center, with some insight.

Let's start about the divide in this country. It's not Red and Blue. It's Vaccinated and Unvaccinated. Prove it.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Look, if you look at the Trump states, you look at the Biden states, this is the adult population because those are the people can actually vote, look at this.

56 percent of adults in the states that Trump won, in 2020, are fully vaccinated. 66 percent of the adults in the states Biden won, in 2020, are vaccinated. You look at the different regions. Northeast, West, Midwest, South, a majority of adults in all those regions are vaccinated.

So, oftentimes we play up the Red versus the Blue, or the South versus the Northeast. The actual shifts between those regions are actually fairly minimal. What we have in each of those regions are people, who are fully vaccinated, and people who are unvaccinated. And that really is the divide in this country right now.

CUOMO: I'm telling you that's going to be the demographic to watch, in the midterms and next presidential election.

Forget about Red and Blue. Forget about the binary of Democrat and Republican. It's failed. It's going to be about people who did the right thing and people who didn't. You'll see.

Now, where did the vaccinated with at least one dose fall, when it comes to whether or not they'll get the booster?

ENTEN: They're going to get it. Most of them are going to get it. I think that is one of really good piece of news, at this particular point.

If you look at the folks, who have at least gotten one dose, look at that, 63 percent of them say "Yes, I'm very likely to get it." Another 24 percent say "Yes, I'm somewhat likely to get it."

That's 87 percent in total of the people, who already have at least one dose, who say that they're going to get a booster. Just 13 percent of the vaccinated population, say "No, I'm unlikely to get it."

So, at this point, what I think we're going to see, as long as the public health officials recommend it, which they have, we're going to see a lot, a lot of adults, who have already gotten their first dose, they are going to get that second dose, if they haven't yet, and they're going to get their booster, if they are fully vaccinated.

CUOMO: The acute concern is kids, who are going back to school, under 12, not eligible yet. What are we seeing in terms of kids getting vaccinated?

ENTEN: So this, to me, is really interesting. So, if you look right now, at age 12, to 17, right, those are kids who are at this point eligible to be vaccinated, look at this.

If you look at all the first doses that are taken, those 12 to 17 just make up 6 percent of those, who have been vaccinated, at this point. But if you look at those who have taken their first dose, in the last two weeks, look at that, up to 19 percent.

So, as school is coming on, and these kids are going to have to get back in the classroom, what we see is their parents are taking these kids to, say, their local pharmacy, to get vaccinated. And I'm hopeful that that could help mitigate the spread, so we don't have super- spreader events in schools.

CUOMO: So will getting it FDA approved.

OK, we just finished talking to the Florida school board official, right, instituted a mask mandate, despite what the governor doesn't want there.

The idea of that being a muscular political position, "You're going to do this mask thing? You're going to force people? Now you're going to pay!" How do people feel about that strong-arm tactic?

ENTEN: One of the worst political things you'll ever see, polled, that's how they feel.

Look at this, even among Republicans, "Do you support state laws, where you withhold funds from school districts with mask mandates?" look at that. Just 30 percent of Republicans support that, just 22 percent of adults overall, 15 percent of Democrats.

My goodness! You rarely ever see that type of agreement among Democrats and Republicans that something is such a bad idea.


Honestly, Ron DeSantis is up for reelection, in a year-about. He will probably win is my guess. But if he continues on with tactics like this, Lord only knows, because stuff like this simply put, so unpopular. Awful! Awful!

CUOMO: You know who's watching? Charlie Crist, running against him.

Harry Enten, The Wiz, thanks for telling us the story by the numbers.

ENTEN: My pleasure, my dear friend.

CUOMO: Now, CNN for "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert" joined CNN, this once-in-a-lifetime concert event, Saturday, starting 5 P.M. Eastern, exclusively on CNN.

We'll be right back, handoff.








CUOMO: The message is simple. Abroad, and at home, America has to do better. Will we?

Thank you for watching. The coverage is picked up with "DON LEMON TONIGHT" and its big star, D. Lemon, right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We got to get vaccinated.

Just so you know, I know, everyone's going to be saying I got - I got soap in my eye today. And it's red.