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Biden: Not Going To Extend A "Forever War" Or "Forever Exit"; New Polling Shows Opposition To COVID Vaccine Is At Its Lowest Level Ever; North Carolina Widower On His TikTok Video Scolding The Unvaccinated For Filling Up Hospital Beds. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 31, 2021 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Appreciate it, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The President says our withdrawal from Afghanistan was an "Extraordinary success." Why? Because America airlifted over 120,000 people, in just a few weeks. And that is impressive. In fact, it has never been done before.

But perception is often reality in politics. And President Biden's assessment must compete with the fact that the evacuation was forced. Because why? Because the way America exited threw the place into chaos.

Still, Biden says naysayers miss the main point.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner, and "Couldn't this have be done - have been done in a more orderly manner?" I respectfully disagree.

Imagine if we had begun evacuations, in June or July, bringing in thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people, in the middle of a civil war. There still would have been a rush to the airport.

There is no evacuation - evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, and threats we faced. None!


CUOMO: Compelling, and yet, there were months to prepare. And reportedly, there was Intelligence to suggest there could be a quick collapse.

And reportedly, we did not prepare for that, or to get our machinery and weapons out, so they wouldn't end up in the enemy's hands. And we weren't prepared to retake control of Bagram airport, to speed up the evacuation effort.

And a big reason is because we were playing to a deadline that the administration decided had to be honored. And this is a point that Biden insists on.


BIDEN: Leaving August the 31st is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives.

I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit.


CUOMO: This is going to be a pivot point, in terms of perception and reality, and the ultimate story of what this means for President Biden's fate and administration.

Kabul fell just two and a half weeks ago. If we had stayed a month more, until you got out everybody, everyone you promised, would that have amounted to a forever exit?

Biden says the options were "Leave" or "Get in deeper." This ultimate battle of perception, on this exit, were going to be whether Biden was right to remove all U.S. boots, from the ground, with as many as 200 American civilians, still stuck in Afghanistan, and who knows how many allies.

Here's his case on that point.


BIDEN: Since March, we reached out 19 times, to Americans in Afghanistan, with multiple warnings, and offers to help them leave Afghanistan, all the way back as far as March.

Our Operation Allies (ph) Rescue ended up getting more than 5,500 Americans out.

90 (ph) percent of Americans in Afghanistan, who wanted to leave were able to leave. And for those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out, if they want to come out.


CUOMO: First, an interesting side point. Point of contrast with Trump, Biden said 90 percent. We checked with the White House. It's actually 98 percent. He's nothing like his predecessor, who would have said he got 115 percent of the people out. Biden accidentally played it down.

Now, to the real point. No one left behind should mean exactly that. And I'm not telling President Biden anything he doesn't know. He said the same thing a couple of weeks ago.


BIDEN: If there's American citizens left, we're going to stay until we get them all out.


CUOMO: All is 100 percent. All that matters now is one question. Now what?

And this question will be one that Biden has to answer, answer well, and answer with plans and actions that have so far been in short supply. In the immediate, that means getting everyone out, the Americans, and the people you promised, those with those SIV visas, and their loved ones.

Now, that takes us to somebody, who clearly resonated with you. We've had her on the show, a couple of times, but last night was heavy. We call her "Sara." She's an American citizen. She's a former interpreter. And she's stuck in Kabul. She didn't even know that the last plane was going out.


She has stayed behind, because she's trying to help other people, whom she says qualifies for SIVs, the special visas, and that she can't get them out, and that she's been trying with everybody.

Biden and his Secretary of State say the government is doing everything it can, and will, get everyone out, who wants to get out.

Then, why is Sara being helped mainly by retired veterans? And why is this "Digital Dunkirk" that you may have heard about that's going on online, this ad hoc network of veterans and allies, needing to do so much?

Tonight, you're going to hear from men, who served this country, and who now say those left behind are not being well-served, and they may soon be in a hellscape of oppression.

Now, Sara's fate is in part in the hands of the two veterans that you're about to meet. They are doing everything they can, and they're working with a lot of other people. I promise you, they're not going to want to take credit for anything. And that they know what's going on. And they know the challenges.

The first is Sam Rogers, a three-tour Afghan war vet. He's a former Army Intel officer. And he's trying to help those still stuck, to get out, Sara being one of them. Coalition Director of the Concerned Veterans for America Foundation.

Also, racing to save lives, retired Lieutenant Colonel Dan Wilson, working with the "Save, Settle, Support" Initiative.

Gentlemen, first, thank you for your service, and two, thank you for stepping up, right now. Sam, let me start with you. We haven't been able to reach Sara. You say that that may not be scary information that that may be part of the plan for her. What do you understand the plan to be?


I am very pleased to report that we've gotten Sara to a safe place, where she's got her phone off, to avoid additional scrutiny, for folks, who might be looking for American citizens or former translators.

My day job, I don't really expect to find myself here. My day job with Concerned Vets for America Foundation has been educating Wisconsin communities, on this refugee issue, why it's important to veterans, running care package collection, for folks coming to Wisconsin, and focusing on Veterans' mental health, in the midst of this crisis, and the end of this conflict.

And so, to find myself now, moonlighting an additional 70 hours a week, at night, in my former role, as an Intelligence officer, I've essentially - I don't work for an organization.

I've just kind of been pulled in, my folks, guys and gals I deployed with that I've gone to training with, folks like Colonel Wilson, who I've only met, as a part of this process.

And we're doing it because it has to be done, because the mission is not over until our American citizen - our American citizens, and their families, and our allies, have been brought back.

CUOMO: One quick follow, and then I want to get to Colonel Wilson.

So, Sara's in a safe place. Is she on her way out of the country? And did she get to bring any of the people with her?

ROGERS: So Chris, we hope to have her on her way, out of the country, in the next couple days.

We would not have been able to do this without some of these great organizations, like, run by another combat veteran of Afghanistan, Donnie Denning (ph), a Purple Heart recipient, Valor award recipient.

These guys have financed this stuff, essentially on their own personal credit card debt, to charter buses, and planes, and to connect folks, and get money to folks--

CUOMO: Understood.

ROGERS: --so they can get out of--

CUOMO: I'll put--

ROGERS: --out of the country. CUOMO: --all the organizations that we're talking about tonight, on my social media, and I'll make sure to say them in the handoff--

ROGERS: Thanks.

CUOMO: --at the end of the show, and that people can see them on the screen, right now.

But just clear, do you know if Sara is alone, or if she got to take any of those kids, or people with her?

ROGERS: Oh, she's absolutely with her kids.

CUOMO: Oh, great, great.

ROGERS: And we're going to do absolutely every single thing we can--

CUOMO: All right, so we'll keep looping that in.

ROGERS: --within our power, to get them home.

CUOMO: And I'll do all the updates on the show, as you want, when I can get Sara great. But that's great news. And I'm not feigning beings. I didn't know that. So, that's really great news.

Now, Colonel, the idea of "Well, why? Why are you guys doing this? Why are there all these NGOs, and veterans, and Digital Dunkirk, and jumping in? Why are you guys, having to do this?"

LT COL DAN WILSON (RET), WORKING TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF AFGHANISTAN, WORKING WITH "SAVE, SETTLE, SUPPORT" INITIATIVE: Well, Chris thanks for being a voice for us, and letting us share our story tonight.

But I will tell you the reason why we're doing this, and I think there was a "Wall Street Journal" reporter, on earlier, with Anderson Cooper, and he said it exactly. He said, "There is no plan. Where's the plan? What's the plan going forward? We have not witnessed that."

And Sam and I were talking earlier. And we both said, we said we have never heard of all the people that we've been kind of helping and shepherding and marshaling.

We've never heard of a formal admittance into the airport through the State Department system. It's all been through these informal networks, and people working day and night, to get them in.

So, that's why we're doing it. We got a mission to do. And we will leave no one behind. We made that promise to them, and we will keep it.


CUOMO: So Colonel, the easy defense is "Well, there is no process for this, because they didn't plan for this. And there're too many people. And everybody's scrambling. So, there's no blame to be had."

What do you believe the reality is?

WILSON: Chris, let me just use an example for you. Earlier, on Jake Tapper's show, there's the story of my interpreter, Iqbal. And he got out. He's in Virginia. But he didn't get out through the SIV process.

He's been trying to get his SIV approved, since 2013. And there's been six battalion commanders that he worked with that have been trying to help him facilitate that process. And it didn't work.

The only way he got out, that was - he was a commando. His unit fought its way to the Kabul airport. And he's been helping defend the airport. And they extracted him that way.

So, the idea that this is just happening now, I don't buy it. And even if it is just happening, now, let's get our head together, let's make a plan, let's prioritize, let's get the information out, and let's leverage all of these veterans groups that have communications with SIV people, to get them in the right place, at the right time.

CUOMO: Let me get one suggestion from each of you, because you've been studying this obviously. You're obviously bright guys.

Let me start with you, Colonel, and then I'll finish with Sam.

The idea of what could they do that would make things better?

WILSON: If I can offer two, Chris?

Number one is get a system of information out that lets Afghans know how to check their status, whether they're close to the top, and there's some hope, and they should stay in place, or that because they just recently applied, they need to start seeking options, to get to a third country, to get safe, until we can get them in the queue.

The second thing I would suggest the State Department is leverage us. There are tens of thousands of veterans, a virtual army of us. We're all working independently. I've been suggesting that we all kind of merge.

And Sam and I are going to talk later, about merging our efforts, so that we're not committing organizational fratricide.

And leverage us. I'll be happy to take 25 to 30 packets. I have a security clearance. I can communicate with Afghans. And I'm willing to do it. And I know Sam is. And I know every single veteran out there is willing to do the same thing.

CUOMO: So now, let me pick up on the Colonel's point, Sam. I keep hearing about these packets. I hear it from an interpreter that we're working with here, on the state side. We're covering him about his efforts to get people out.

"I'm filling out the paperwork, but I don't know where to give it in the State Department," or "I got the packet in, and they say they got it. But now, I haven't heard anything. And should the people stay at the airport?" What are these packets? And what do you think could work better than what's happening now?

ROGERS: Well, I, honestly, I think there's going to be a lot of time, afterwards, to dissect everything, from the last 20 days, to the last 20 years that has gone wrong, as a part of this.

These packets are personal information. They're extremely detailed. But half the time, they can't even load the State Department website, on their phone, because of the quality of internet, in Kabul. If they're outside of Kabul, they may never have the opportunity to upload those things.

And then, you've got the combined risk of reports that the United States government has potentially shared those packets, with the Taliban, which has sent many of these folks, into a panic. It has made some of them unwilling to try to even attempt to put them together, because it puts them at risk.

CUOMO: Now, I haven't been able to track that down. And, in fact, there is reporting out there that suggest that was never done. But look, the fear is enough.

And what is your fear, Sam? Let's end on this.

ROGERS: Right.

CUOMO: What's going to happen, in the days and weeks ahead, in terms of this ability of the United States, to control what the Taliban does? What's your fear?

ROGERS: It's going to continue to be reduced.

And instead of taking deliberate, decisive action, to remedy this, and to get these folks out of there, we're going to point fingers, and argue with each other, instead of simply just coming together, and creating solutions, to bring our people home, bring our Americans home, their families home, these translators.

A translator saved my life, in my first deployment. And I won't stop until we've got these folks home. And I hope the government, for all of its resources, and capabilities, it'd be nice, if they would do it--

CUOMO: All right, so look? We're brothers in this effort now. You guys are doing the work. And I'll talk about you. That's the deal.

Sam Rogers, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Wilson, I know you're working with scores and scores of people. I know you're not here to take the glory.


CUOMO: I asked you to come on, to help understand the situation better, because I kept hearing about it, and I wanted the audience to hear about it as well.

We'll be in touch. I'll put the names of the organizations out. And I am a phone call away at all times.

Gentlemen, thank you for what you're doing. Thank you for what you're doing for Sara, and countless others. Appreciate you.

WILSON: Thank you.


ROGERS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Look, that's the reality, OK? If you look online, you'll see #DigitalDunkirk, OK? Dunkirk, you know what, it's a reference to, right, this kind of amazing rescue mission of guys doing it for themselves. It's happening here.


And it does speak to how screwed up the situation is that men like this, women like this too, by the way, obviously, are taking it, on their own, because these people mean so much to them, because as you just heard Sam say, "An interpreter kept me alive."

All of us have this thing that these people just do language. It's not. It's logistics. It's understanding culture. It's understanding warning signs. It's understanding threats. It's understanding people. And they did all of it, knowing that their families and them were as good as dead, if the enemy could find them.

And no matter how hard it was, every time I've seen an interpreter, they're all covered up to here, covered up, more than any of the women. Fear! But they did it anyway. Now, what will we do for them? These men are given their answer every day. "What about the rest of us? What about our government?"

That takes us back to the President. He does deserve scrutiny. That's being president, OK? You made decisions. There are consequences. We're seeing them.

But when you watch the Party of Trump, all right, they want to talk about, who has high ground here? You are rewriting history, my brothers and sisters. You are selling fear and lies, built on hypocrisy, again.

You are right to care about the people over there. But that concern needs to be consistent. Has it? Here are the facts, next.









CUOMO: So today, the House Freedom Caucus members, suddenly, they can't sleep. American allies, being left behind in Afghanistan, listen to the pain.


REP. MARY MILLER (R-IL): I go to bed at night, I wake up during the night, I wake up in the morning, thinking about the families that have lost loved ones, over there, and in addition, the Americans we left, the Allies we abandoned, the Christians that are going to be murdered, tortured and murdered, and the women and girls.


CUOMO: One, Congresswoman Miller knows, we can just check the record, here, so concerned about them, you probably shouldn't have liked the deal that was made, with the guys, who were going to do all the horrible things, you said, right? We can always just check, like when people caught her quoting Hitler.

But this is a different sin. Faking fidelity to a cause, right-wingers are now pleading the case of refugees, while many condemn those fleeing persecution, south of our border. And even now, some try to scare folks, by saying, "Biden wants to bring millions of Afghans here."

But if they really cared, why did 60 of them refuse to condemn Trump, when he abandoned our Kurdish allies, to withdraw forces from Syria? Why didn't they go after this deal with the Taliban?

Since then, the U.N. has told us about what happened with the Kurds that those who fought along U.S. troops, to stop ISIS, have paid dearly.

But the Freedom Caucus has owned their actions? They dispel any idea that they've seen the error of their ways. It was pretty much the same group that voted against speeding up visas, for Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

You do remember that, right? You do remember that the Trump administration, with the tacit approval of these people, if not the outright approval, made it harder, for people to get visas? It was part of his designed Muslim ban.

Some of those people, who had a hard time, were interpreters, allies and their families. And again, for many, their nightmares change, the moment you mention, bringing these men and women here. Listen.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): I'm not going to be responsible, seeing our little girls raped, and killed, in the streets, because we wanted to bring people that are poorly vetted into the United States.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I have other former Intel that are telling me people that are being brought in here, there is a significant percentage that are future Boston Marathon bombers.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Afghanis are brought into this country, making once again, every town, a border town, every city, a dangerous border city.


CUOMO: I got to ask them, do refugees do anything other than rape and murder? Look, this is a grotesque and ugly exaggeration.

It's also half of our political process, right? This many rank-and- file members of Congress, they don't come together on their own. This is the problem with this disease of this dichotomy.

"Democrats and Republicans, Left and Right, the binary thing, opposition as a position, as long as the other side sucks, you've got to be OK." And until that system is gone, the least we can do is just expose how rife it is with fraud.

This is a play. And it's coming straight from the top, Kevin McCarthy in the House, who, on Friday, endorsed pulling all U.S. troops out, did you hear this?


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't think people are arguing about whether we should have left or not in Afghanistan.


CUOMO: Now, you know what I should have done?

I should have queued up him saying that same thing about "I don't think anybody's questioning the legitimacy of the election. You know, Biden, Joe Biden won."

And then, he doesn't want to certify the race. He's doing all this other kind of propaganda to hurt it.

This is the same thing. "I don't think anybody's talking about it."

Oh, yes? Then why does he say this?


MCCARTHY: If the military believes, it's the best place to be there, I have said publicly before, I would not have closed Bagram. And the time places what they did.


CUOMO: I thought nobody was arguing about everybody had to leave! And look, this isn't about whether or not we should have stayed in Bagram. I've been on record here.

I take the advice of many in the military, who said they should have kept a presence there that it makes sense we have presences like that, in many other places. And that Bagram may have been a base that was worth keeping. I'm fine with that idea. But that's not what he said.


So, how do they stomach such obvious and obnoxious hypocrisy? You know why? Because they're afraid.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): And if there are any Republicans, who have any doubt, know that you will be facing your own primaries.


CUOMO: Yes, that's scary! Seriously, that's scary. You know why? Because it's real. Not just the snarl, that's a real threat.

For some, at least, this isn't about Joe Biden. It's not about Biden any more, than it's about the men and women, in harm's way, in Afghanistan. It damn sure ain't about making sure we'll never see another 9/11.

Again, I keep saying this, if you don't think 20 years, without something that we thought was going to be the new normal, has nothing to do with the fact that we were in Afghanistan, I think you got to keep doing your research.

What this whole scare tactic, and the hypocrisy, is about, on the Right, it's about sending a clear message to their own. "No matter what you've said, or believed in the past, you are either on the team, or you are dead." And it is a toxic team in a dirty game that is literally ruining this country.

Now, let's move into the electeds, and start talking to members of Congress.

Seth Moulton, little bit of controversy, because of trip to Afghanistan, last week, he says, "I don't care about the controversy. I needed to see it," and it changed his mind about things, and made him understand the situation.

So, what does he think of the President's defense, of the handling of the war's end? And what does he think "Next" has to be? Next.









CUOMO: Despite promises, from the United States, to people like Sara, we have no diplomatic presence, in Afghanistan.

And do we really have leverage with the Taliban? "Well, we got money." Is that enough? There's not even a functioning airport, or a plan to get the one in Kabul up and running again.

So, we must keep asking those in power "How? How? Now, what? Now, what?" How are they going to help those still trying to escape in Afghanistan?

And then, at some point, in the future, we're going to get to, "And how are you going to keep this country as safe, without a real presence there?"

Now, on the first question, the immediate one, let's go to a member of Congress, who recently took an unauthorized trip, to the Kabul airport, Congressman Seth Moulton.

Congressman, welcome back.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Good to be back, Chris.

CUOMO: What do you make of the President's assessment, that the withdrawal was an enormous success?

MOULTON: Well, in many respects, it was an enormous success, in terms of the number of people we evacuated. But it didn't have to wait so long. It didn't have to cost the lives of 12 Marines and a sailor.

We could have done this in a much more orderly way, if we had simply gotten started earlier. But the bottom line is, Chris, we're going to have a lot of time, to debate that, to examine it, to have hearings in Congress, and everything else.

What we need to be focused on right now is that the over 100,000 people that we evacuated, are now sitting in refugee camps, where they don't even have enough food and water.

That was the second stop on our trip. From Kabul, we went to Kuwait, and to Qatar. And there are amazing numbers of refugees, sweltering in warehouses for aircraft parts that are barely air conditioned, running out of food and water, can't even feed their kids.

CUOMO: So, what are we doing about it?

MOULTON: We're not doing enough. And that's one of the things we called attention to.

I know there's more effort being put in now. I mean, one of the problems we heard from the State Department was that administration lawyers were just in the way of getting donations into the camps. I think that's now been fixed.

By the way, it's another great story of American heroism. Airmen, who were sent, around the globe, to go refuel aircraft, are now running a refugee camp. They're not prepared for it. They're not trained for it. But they're making it happen. And we need to make sure we're delivering them more support.

CUOMO: I just had these guys on the show. And as you know, this #DigitalDunkirk, and all these veterans, I mean, you're part of that community, so you hear about these guys.

I got to tell you, on one hand, that's why you guys are the best of us.

On the other hand, why the hell do these guys, and the women, and everybody, who are working together, why do they have to do this? You have this humongous State Department, and all these procedures, and people, and all these supposed resources.

What's going on here, Congressman?

MOULTON: Well, it is an amazing story of Veterans' commitment to our allies, and of American ingenuity. But unfortunately, it's also a story of bureaucratic failure.

We've been asking for months, for how to just get these applications accelerated, so that people can start leaving the country, as they do through any embassy, in the world, in an orderly process. But it wasn't until very late in the game that the State gave us an email address. It crashed a few hours, after they gave it to us.

And one of the things we discovered in Kabul is that, one of the biggest burdens on our troops, were the thousands of requests, coming in, from members of Congress, and members of the administration that were not organized, or prioritized, or anything else.

So again, we'll have time to get into this. But it is both a story of bureaucratic failure, of Washington's failure, and a story of amazing American ingenuity, in the Veterans' community.

And I'm very proud of - my office alone got 3,000 requests, because of some of my connections on the ground, including ones that I made in Kabul. We were able to save people, right up to the last day, one of the--

CUOMO: But the last chapter of the story, of this first phase, Congressman, is going to be about what happens right now.

MOULTON: That's right.

[21:35:00] CUOMO: Do you have any confidence that the State Department really, whether it's because you guys are going to hold back money that the Taliban may want, do you really believe you can get those guys, to do anything the right way, for the people, who are still there, when we keep hearing reports, I'm sure you're hearing them, that they're hunting these people?

MOULTON: They are. They are hunting these people. And I know that from firsthand account.

And so, this is the second big thing that we need to do, Chris, is one, we need to take care of the refugees, in these camps. Two, let's not forget that there are a lot of people that we left behind, a few hundred American citizens, but thousands of allies that we weren't able to rescue.

And the whole idea is that we'll have some leverage with the Taliban, to ensure their safe passage, down the road, now that the Taliban controls the country, and we don't have any presence there whatsoever.

But, as a member of Congress, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, we haven't seen that plan yet. And one of the reasons why we need to keep asking questions is to understand exactly how this is going to work.

I've spent so many sleepless nights, as have so many veterans, in America, over the past couple of weeks, getting people out, often coordinating, directly with troops on the ground, to get them over the wall, or through the gate.

And I told my wife the other day that I would finally get a full night's sleep, once the withdrawal was complete.

But I was up all night, trying to get people out now, because the people, who were left behind, are trying to figure out what they do next. We don't even know what to tell them. So, there's still a lot of work to do to uphold our promises.

CUOMO: Got to stay on it, Congressman. You got this as a platform to talk about what, you hear, is going to be done, and that we can hold it, to be accounted for, and follow up.

Because the answer to that question is going to mean a lot, not just to the Veteran community, not just to Americans, who are embarrassed by this, but it's going to mean a lot to your party, and your president, coming into the midterms.

Congressman Seth Moulton, thank you very much, for coming on, and speaking truth.

MOULTON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

There's some good news, all right? There's a lot of bad news. There's some good news, and it's on COVID. The Wizard of Odds is going to come in, and he's going to show you what we believe, could be a shift in mindset, of those who've been holding out on getting vaxxed. What are the numbers? And what is an emerging story of our potential trajectory?

The Wiz, next.









CUOMO: Now, you may have heard the baseline assessment, which is that when it comes to vaccinations, the United States' population is just over half, fully vaccinated, OK?

Now, we need that number to be higher. We don't know how high. There is no magic number. There is no herd immunity number. They should never have suggested there was one.

There is hope that we may get to a better place, sooner rather than later, why? New data from research firm, Ipsos reveals that hesitancy may be dropping. How did they know? Because the number of adults, who say they will never get a first dose is now down to 14 percent.

What's the context? What does it mean going forward? How else do we build on it? Let's bring in the Wiz, to break down the numbers.

Take me through the first part.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'll take you through the first part. Here is the big news. And that is that the percentage of adults, who have gotten their first vaccine, continues to climb higher and higher and the higher.

Look at this. In early January, we're just at 3 percent, late April, 50 percent, late June, 66 percent. Now, 74 percent of all adults have at least gotten one shot. At the same time, the percentage of adults who say they're unlikely to get a vaccine has dropped in half since January.

So, it's not just the people that we're reaching now, who all along said, "I would get it as soon as it became available to me." It's also people who initially said, "I'm not going to get this vaccine." And we've now convinced them to in fact, either get it, or say, "I want to get it as soon as possible."

CUOMO: So, let's play to Ameri-CAN, not Ameri-CAN'T for a second, and put some shine on 74 percent. How big a number is that?

ENTEN: It's a huge number. I like talking about good news. Look at the smile on my face.

This number is as American as wanting to have a tree in your home at Christmas time. About 75 percent of Americans have a tree in their home at Christmas time. It's more American than having a pet in your home. Only about 61 percent of Americans do.

And look at that. 74 percent of Americans have received at least one COVID vaccine dose among adults. So, this is a large number. I always hear these negatives. This is a positive!

CUOMO: Right. So, that's good.

But now our focus is on kids, and they are not as vaccinated. Obviously, under a certain age, they can't even get vaccinated yet. But what do we see, when we look at that group?

ENTEN: Yes, look, let's, look at the eligible group, 12-year-olds to 17-year-olds, right? And what do we see? Again, what we see is rising vaccination rates.

Look at this, have at least one dose. In early June, it was only about 27 percent. In early August, at the beginning of this month, it was only about 43 percent. Now it's up to a majority, about 52 percent.

And if you ask the parents of the 12-year-olds to 17-year-olds, "Will you definitely not allow your kid to get vaccinated?" look at that. The percentage has dropped in half, from early June, when it was just 33 percent, to now just 16 percent now.

So, the same story we saw with adults, we're seeing with kids, with more people getting vaccinated, and fewer people saying, "I'm going to hold out and not, in fact, get a vaccine."

CUOMO: Now, you told me something in the office about how - you didn't want me to forget to ask about how, where we're seeing people get vaccinated, corresponds with the states, where we needed to see that most. And that's the best kind of sign you can see.

ENTEN: Yes. Look, the South has been hit particularly hard by the COVID, there, by the Delta variant, right?

Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, these were states that were hit really, really hard. Look at where they rank in terms of August vaccinations, among adults. Look at that, second, third, fourth and fifth. More of these folks have gone out and got vaccinated.


Now look at their case rate change over the last week. Look, in Mississippi, fewer new cases this week than the prior week. Arkansas, the same thing. And Alabama and Florida were pretty steady.

So, we're right at the top of that curve. We're not getting that exponential growth that we were earlier on, in the pandemic, when Delta was coming.

And the other thing I'll note is the growth rate, in all four of these states, is less than the growth rate that we're seeing nationally, which is quite the change, from where we were a month ago.

CUOMO: That's interesting. The most vulnerable area is now not the most vulnerable, in terms of case growth. That is cause for hope!

Harry Enten, The Wiz, thank you.

ENTEN: I try and bring the good news, occasionally.

CUOMO: You succeed!

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: My next guest, has some words for the unvaccinated, caught a lot of eyeballs on TikTok, and for the right reasons.

Unfortunately, his wife just died, but not from COVID. She was fighting cancer. And she wasn't able to fight it the way the family wanted to, because of COVID, because of who was in the hospital, which meant she couldn't be in the hospital.

He's here. I want you to talk to a husband, to a father, about how he lived the reality here, and what he wants people to know, next.









CUOMO: We just brought you the good news. More people are getting the vaccine, and in the places we need them to. But there's still a ways to go.

Look at North Carolina. Fewer than half the people there, fewer than half, are fully vaccinated. It's below the national average, I just mentioned. Saturday, the state hit a record high number of hospitalizations, not just cases. It's been skyrocketing since June. The number remains steady. You see the proof. Fewer shots in arms means more people in the hospital. Correlation is causation. Packed hospitals are a problem not just because for future COVID patients, but everybody else, who's sick and fighting for their lives.

One North Carolina husband says his wife, a Stage 4 cancer patient, was a tragic example, of what happens when hospitals are too full of vaccinated people. He pleaded - unvaccinated people, obviously. Unvaccinated people have taken up beds, when they get sick, in the hospitals.

And he pleaded, with the non-vaccinated, in a TikTok video. Have you seen this?


JASON ARENA, WIDOWER: Last week, I had to bring my wife into the hospital. She has Stage 4 breast cancer. She was dealing with some symptoms.

Instead of draining her fluid, and what they wanted to do, they had to dis - they told us that she had to be discharged, because they had no room left in the hospital, because of COVID.

99 percent of everybody, that's in the hospital, with COVID, right now, is unvaccinated.

What I am going to argue with about is you running to the (BLEEP) hospital, once you get the virus. If you don't trust the medical field to prevent you from getting it, why do you trust them to cure you from it?


CUOMO: He was right. But the resonance goes far beyond his reasoning. His wife has since passed. And Jason Arena joins us now.

First of all, brother, all that matters, to me, is I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you got three girls. I know this has to be very hard. And I hope the family is coping well, and leaning on one another.

ARENA: We are. We are coping as best as we can. Marilyn was an important person to a lot of people, you know?

CUOMO: And I know it was a long fight. And I know it was hard on you. And I know that you weren't looking to be some political agent.


CUOMO: So, tell people, what made you make that video?

ARENA: Well, it all transpired, from a series of events that happened, when I had to bring my wife into the hospital. She was having severe symptoms. Ascites, jaundice, she was having trouble breathing, because of the amount of fluid that she had on her. So, I had brought her into the hospital, 4:30 in the morning. There was two people in the waiting room with us. They didn't end up bringing her, into the back, until 8:30 A.M.

After numerous complaints from me, they just told me that they had no rooms available, to bringing anybody that was - or everybody that was in the ER was already admitted into the hospital, and there was no rooms available upstairs, to bring them into, so my wife could go into the back.

We put an oxygen mask on her, and she sat in a wheelchair for four hours, in the waiting room. Once we got into the back, like the staff does a tremendous job. Once they can see you, I mean they're dealing with full - the hospital's full. So, they are overworked as well.

They treated her well. They got her comfortable. They drained her fluid off. They didn't really know what was going on with her. They wanted to run some testing, because her symptoms came on very, very, very quick.

And what had happened was we ended up waiting in the ER room. Once they finished all the testing that was with her, they finished by about noon time, 1 o'clock. We didn't get upstairs until 9:00 - until 9:30 that night. And she didn't get comfortable until 10:30 P.M. We got - we got to the hospital at 4:30 A.M.

Finally, she went to sleep. They got her comfortable. She went to sleep. And the following day, they were still doing testing.

They thought maybe she had a bile duct blocked, and that was causing her symptoms. They could put a stent, and they were doing further testing. They didn't want to send her home because her symptoms were still causing her pain.

Following day, a G.I. specialist comes in, at about 10 A.M., and tells us that there's a chance that they're going to send us home, but they wanted to drain more fluid off first. They wanted to drain as much fluid as they could off of her. They wanted to do another scan.

CUOMO: So, when they wound up sending her home, Jase--

ARENA: That was before they sent her home.

CUOMO: --when they wound up sending her home--

ARENA: Yes. That day, they sent her home.

CUOMO: --because they needed the beds.


CUOMO: And that kind of hit you.

ARENA: The sent - they--

CUOMO: That we got - we got to get the beds-- ARENA: That--

CUOMO: --from the COVID people.

ARENA: Well that hit me hard because she wasn't comfortable. They didn't drain the fluid before they sent her home.

CUOMO: Right.


ARENA: And she suffered for the following two days, until I could get an appointment, at an outpatient center, to get her fluid drained off. She suffered for two additional days, because she got checked out of the hospital early.

And I know why they did it. It's a logical choice for the doctor. My wife had - was Stage 4 breast cancer. She had severe - so, she had severe symptoms. They've seen her scans. They did a scan. They saw her bloodwork.

CUOMO: But they were forced to take the position.

ARENA: They understand that she's going to--

CUOMO: And listen?

ARENA: They are in a position, where they need to cut people that they can't help any further, and try to get people out of the ER, because of where we in 13 hours, so is everybody else.

CUOMO: I just wanted to tell you something.

ARENA: You know? Yes.

CUOMO: I know your wife is gone.


CUOMO: But the passion that she inspired in you, to fight for her--

ARENA: It's--

CUOMO: --and to fight for other people resonated all over this country.


CUOMO: And I hope your girls, they're tender ages, 18, 16, 9, my kids are almost the exact same age, I hope someday I can be an example to my kids--


CUOMO: --of standing up for the right thing the way you were. God bless the family. ARENA: Thank you. Thank you.

CUOMO: I'm a call away, if you need anything.

ARENA: Thank you.

CUOMO: And I just wanted to thank you, in person, for putting the message out that you did.

ARENA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: And I'm sorry for your loss, brother.

ARENA: Yes. Thanks. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Jason, be well.

We'll be right back.

ARENA: Thanks, yes.