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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

NY Governor Cuomo Resigns, Effective In 14 Days; Democrats And 19 G.O.P. Senators Pass $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill; Pres. Biden "Checking" If White House Can Intervene To Stop GOP Bans On Mask Mandates; When Will Children Under 12 Be Eligible For The Vaccine? Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us tonight on OUTFRONT. "AC360" starts right now.



In what has been a remarkable fall after a disturbing report in the sexual harassment investigation that he himself authorized, three-term New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation today.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore, that's what I'll do. Because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you.


COOPER: He said those words that he is leaving effective two weeks from today, more than 12 minutes into his remarks. During that time, he took issue with his 11 accusers, recasting their allegations to better suit his far more favorable view of himself, as a man out of step with the times, not as serial harasser as the Attorney General's report alleges.


CUOMO: I've never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn't fully appreciate, and I should have no excuses.


COOPER: Well, his accusers said the Governor certainly did cross the lines often. That said, the Governor did also offer excuses suggesting the investigation, as well as New York's justice system was unfair and biased against him. He called the controversy, quote, "politically motivated." He also had this to say to his three adult daughters.


CUOMO: I've seen the look in their eyes and the expression on their faces, and it hurt. Your dad made mistakes and he apologized and he learned from it and that's what life is all about.


COOPER: Lindsey Boylan, the Governor's first accuser made a statement on Twitter. It reads: "From the beginning, I simply asked that the Governor stop his abusive behavior. It became abundantly clear he was unable to do that instead of attacking and blaming victims until the end. It is a tragedy that so many stood by and watched these abuses happen."

She continued, "I am thankful for the Attorney General, the investigators, and all those who pursued the truth despite intimidation and threats of retaliation." An attorney for two other accusers say their clients feel vindicated and relieved, their words, that he will no longer quote, "Be in a position of power over anyone."

New York's Democratic State Assembly Speaker whose chamber was heading toward impeachment proceedings had this to say. "Governor Cuomo's resignation is the right decision. The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserve to work in a harassment-free environment."

President Biden who has publicly urged Governor Cuomo to resign said this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I respect the Governor's decision and women should be believed when they make accusations that are able to, on the face of them, make sense and investigated, they are investigated, and the judgment was made that what they said was correct.


COOPER: The President was also asked to assess Governor Cuomo's tenure in office apart from the behavior that's now part of his legacy.


BIDEN: But he's done a hell of a job. But he has got a hell of a job. And I mean, both on everything from access to voting, to infrastructure, to a whole range of things. That's why it's so sad.


COOPER: With Governor Cuomo's resignation, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul takes office two weeks from now. She is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon.

I want to get perspective on this entire day, where it may lead, joining us CNN senior political analyst and former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod; also CNN chief political correspondent and "State of the Union" anchor, Dana Bash.

Dana, Governor Cuomo, one of the most tenacious, fight-oriented politicians there is, the fact that he realized he could not survive this. What does it say that he has realized that? And that he couldn't hold on to power?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The writing was on the wall, even and especially for somebody who understands the raw politics and the situation of politics. And somebody described him as a shark, that he would never stop swimming, and that this is an example of the fact that because he did stop swimming, he knows that he was politically at least for now, done with.

And I think it's also important to note and you really described this in your intro, Anderson, that this was the combination of multiple women getting together, whether they did it intentionally or not, but feeling free and feeling brave because the first one did it to come forward and talk and an independent investigation and that it was all done by his own party.


BASH: Yes, they are potentially rivals within his party, but that's irrelevant. And this was, I think, kind of textbook on how these kind of things should be investigated and should be approached and women should be treated with regard to the Attorney General, maybe not so much with regard to, at least until the very end today, kind of at the end, the Governor.

COOPER: And David and yet, you know, the way the Governor portrayed this, he is being unfairly treated by the Attorney General's Office. Did it surprise you that he was still framing it in that way? Just yesterday, CNN's reporting, he was in a, quote, "fighting mood," which seems to be the mood from what people say about him that he is always in. I'm not sure that has served him well, you know, in this case. What do you make of the words he -- what he said today?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let me say, Anderson, I worked in my previous career, I worked for Andrew Cuomo in one campaign when he ran for Attorney General, and I would say that he wakes up every morning in a fighting mood. So, I wasn't surprised.

You know, he is as aggressive, relentless, as a politician, as I've ever known. The thing I found baffling about his words today, he is absolutely right, the lines have changed. We're living in a different world now.

But in 2019, he signed a bill that was heralded as a model for the nation, making it easier for women to bring sexual harassment charges. And so what was -- what did he know then that he didn't know six months later, when he had this alleged encounter with Charlotte Bennett, his assistant that she described in such painful detail that he hasn't really denied?

So, you know, he knew where the lines were when he signed that bill. He spoke very eloquently to them. He just didn't observe them, and that I think, makes this all the more egregious.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dana, to David's point, the Governor's remarks they veered from, you know, denying to apologizing to non-apologizing, apologizing, he said, quote, "I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn." In 2021, can a politician plausibly say that they didn't understand it wasn't okay to touch people in the way that the Governor has been accused of?

I mean, at what point does that sound -- it just sounds like an excuse to perhaps later on, you know, be able to claim, well, I was just, you know -- you know, it's this crazy culture that we're living in.

BASH: Yes, the answer is no. That is not acceptable. It wasn't acceptable then, but it's definitely not acceptable now. And to David's point, this is a Governor who was surrounded by leaders including celebrities of the #MeToo and Time's Up Movement, because he really said and claimed to understand and did so when it comes to the legislation that he pushed forward in his state.

And the fact that there was clearly such a dichotomy between what he was saying that needed to be done and what he did, and how he was acting on a personal basis, and look, I'm not going to get into his head, but the fact that he gave such a multidimensional and in many ways, things that kind of when I add each other in this speech, they contradicted one another.

It made it seem to me like some of it was authentic, fighting, I'm really upset; another was, this is the kind of thing I know I need to say in order to salvage whatever bit of the reputation that I have and potential for going forward.

COOPER: David, Governor Cuomo said he believes this is politically motivated. I mean, it's certainly a little rich for him to say that considering he is an incredibly intense, relentless politician himself and clearly politically motivated.

AXELROD: Yes, it's also the fact that he asked the Attorney General to look into this and he asked everyone to await the results of the Attorney General's investigation before rendering a judgement and people did, because as you remember, Anderson, back in February, people were calling for his resignation, then. And the President said, then, well, let's wait. Let's respect -- well, he said, let's wait for the Attorney General to speak.

So, he bought himself six months, but the story didn't get better when the investigation was held. And so, you know, look, there's no doubt that Andrew Cuomo has accumulated a lot of political enemies and opponents over the course of a long combative political career, and there are -- there weren't a lot of people who were that eager to stand up for him now, but to say that these women, you know, we've now seen some of these women who've come forward, particularly these younger women who have gone on camera and shared their stories. They don't look very political.

They look like people who -- they were idealistic young women who went to work for a Governor they respected and ended up being wounded by that experience.


COOPER: Yes, put in positions they -- I mean, this should never have been and I mean, touched incredibly inappropriately.

David Axelrod and Dana Bash, appreciate it. Thank you.

It's not going away, next, even though he is -- the possible civil and legal troubles still facing Governor Cuomo.

And White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain joins us, too, to talk about a big win for the Biden administration. Today's landmark bipartisan Senate vote paving the way for a deal finally on rebuilding infrastructure.



COOPER: Andrew Cuomo's announcement today that he is leaving office in two weeks might have relieved state lawmakers the burden of impeachment proceedings, however, his political fade out is not taking the Governor out of potential civil and criminal legal jeopardy.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says it'll quote, "Have no effect on our investigation." A spokesman for the District Attorney's Office in Nassau County said its probe of possible criminal actions will continue.

In all, DAs in at least four counties have requested additional information connected to the report that sealed Governor Cuomo's political fate. Joining us is our own legal team, both former Federal prosecutors, CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers and CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.

Elie, what kind of legal trouble could Governor Cuomo potentially be in down the line?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so, there's two things to watch for here, Anderson. First of all, potential criminal charges. They are absolutely still possible, but I think realistically they're unlikely. Here's why.

In order to prove a criminal case, you have to make proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That doesn't mean something likely happened. That doesn't mean something very likely happened. That's the highest standard known to our legal system. And important thing to keep in mind, too, part of the reason the Attorney General's report had so much impact is because there were 11 complainants.

If you're going to charge a criminal case, though, each of those complainants stands alone. You're not going to have that sort of impact of the weight of 11 different complainants and there could be civil lawsuits, Anderson, as well, any or all of those 11 women can sue Governor Cuomo under the law that he signed that makes it easier to sue or the State of New York for money damages.

COOPER: Jennifer, how do you see the road ahead for the Governor in terms of the law?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he's got a lot to navigate, Anderson, as Elie just said, there's a possibility of criminal charges. But I really think he's going to be more engaged with these civil lawsuits.

You know, Elie mentioned the 11 complainants. They certainly are likely to sue, some of them, I think already have started that process. But there is possibility of more than that, because the report found not just that these 11 complainants were justified in their complaints, but that a hostile work environment was created. So, that potentially opens up the possibility of plaintiffs from a much larger class.

Indeed, the report found that virtually every employee that they interviewed, excluding the very, very top senior aides to the Governor all described this hostile work environment far beyond the 11 complainants.

So we have a pretty big possible plaintiff class here. So, I think he's going to be pretty embroiled in that for a while.

COOPER: Elie, is he personally liable for that in terms of financial penalties?

HONIG: Yes, he could be. These plaintiffs are going to have to decide, do we sue Governor Andrew Cuomo or Andrew Cuomo, the individual? Do we sue the State of New York? Do they sue both?

You know, it depends on whether he was doing was within the scope of his employment or not? I think there's probably a pretty strong argument that sexually harassing allegedly various employees is beyond the scope of employment. So, he could have personal liability as well. Yes.

COOPER: Jennifer, what do you think on that?

RODGERS: Oh, I agree. I agree. I think, you know, obviously, it'll all get sorted out in litigation and on the civil side, most things and in settlement, but there's no question that the plaintiffs will argue both that the State is responsible for his behavior, in part because no one around him was doing anything to stop this, even when they knew in the case of Charlotte Bennett, that a complaint had been filed against him, but also that he's personally responsible.

So, I expect plaintiffs will go for liability on both counts. And you know, we'll see how successful they are. But they have a really good case and a really valuable roadmap in the report from the Attorney General.

COOPER: Yes. Elie, I mean, Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse the Governor of sexual harassment said she plans to sue him and his quote, "co-conspirators." So, I assume that would mean people who worked around him, his, and you know, all the people who helped him in office.

HONIG: It does sound like that, Anderson. And that's an important feature of this report to keep in mind. This wasn't a one-man show. This wasn't just Governor Cuomo. He was certainly the one doing the alleged sexual harassment that's led to his resignation.

But importantly, the report lays out this sort of scheme by others. He has enablers. He has people around him who've supported him. And worse than that, tried to cover up some aspects of this and retaliate specifically against Lindsey Boylan in ways that are inexcusable and could lead to liability for those people or to more liability for the State of New York.

COOPER: Jennifer, does the Governor's resignation, how would that factor into a prosecutor's thinking on these cases?

RODGERS: It's a really interesting question, Anderson. I mean, prosecutorial discretion is something that is not really written down, right? There isn't a list of things you're supposed to consider or the weight you're supposed to give to any consideration.

But I think a prosecutor will think about, among other things, you know, there's going to be a cry from the Governor and his supporters that he has been punished enough, he had to resign. He is facing all this civil liability that vindication has come for his victims in the public, so he shouldn't be punished criminally. I wouldn't expect it to carry a lot of weight.

I think other factors involving whether they can meet the standards, and then things like the resources of the office are going to be more important. But you know, it may come into a little bit of the thought process of the DA.


COOPER: Jennifer Rodgers, Elie Honig, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain joins us. We will discuss the administration's big infrastructure win in the Senate, and whether that trillion dollar bill can make it past the House as well.

Also, what the President plans to do to boost vaccination rates and whether the administration will intervene in the mask debate in Texas and Florida schools.


COOPER: Today's passage of the massive trillion dollar infrastructure bill still has to make its way through the House before it gets to President Biden's desk. But regardless, it's a monumental achievement. Massive amounts of money for roads and bridges and broadband and more, evidence that compromise is still possible in Washington with 19 Republicans, including the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voting with Democrats, also a reminder, four years where infrastructure week was a running joke, always being derailed by the previous administration's poor planning and messaging. Despite President Biden's predecessor talking himself up as the quote

"builder President" something Biden reminded everyone of today.


BIDEN: After years and years of infrastructure week, we're in the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.


COOPER: I'm joined now by President Biden's Chief of Staff, Ron Klain.

So, Mr. Klain, I mean, the infrastructure Bill is obviously, a big bipartisan win for the President, as I mentioned, now it hits the House where faces some skeptical Democrats and we're Speaker Pelosi has signaled that it won't even be taken up until the Senate passes a separate and a much larger $3.5 trillion budget package through what's known as the reconciliation process, which Democrats could do with a simple majority without any G.O.P. votes.

But how concerned are you that today's win might be short lived?


RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think today's win is a great one, as you said, Anderson. People in Washington have been trying to do this for decades, trying to find a way to pass a large infrastructure bill to make these investments that are long overdue in our country in roads and bridges, internet, clean water, all these things, and to do it on a bipartisan basis, makes it, I think, more sustainable and a stronger win.

Now, as you said, this bill has to move on to the House, that has to pass the House, and also today, the Senate began work on this what you call reconciliation bill, we call it our Build Back Better agenda, investments in child care, healthcare, bringing down costs for families, protecting tax cuts to help families. We want to see that passed in the Senate and also go on to the House.

So, we're hoping both these bills will get to the President's desk in September, so we can sign them both. We can make both of them law, grow the economy more, create jobs, and help families with their day to day expenses.

COOPER: So how would that work, though? So, this second bill being worked on in the Senate? It has -- are you going to have it passed -- try to pass through the Senate before even today's bill is passed through the House?

KLAIN: Well, I think we're going to see the Senate this week finish work on the budget resolution, the framework. Tonight, Leader Hoyer announced the House of Representatives will come back from its August break to work on that budget resolution, the week of August 23rd, and then both the House and Senate would continue to work on this whole process in September, and also the House would take up this infrastructure bill.

Again, these are two parts of the President's agenda. They rebuild our physical infrastructure. The other bill brings down costs for families, provides tax cuts for working families. We want to see both these bills pass the House and Senate, both get to the President's desk, continue our economic growth, continue job creation, and reduce costs for American families.

COOPER: And what happens if the second one doesn't materialize? I mean, obviously, a lot of this stuff in that was rejected from the bipartisan one because it would have been too difficult to get approval on.

KLAIN: You know, Anderson, we've had for six months people saying what if this couldn't pass, and what if that couldn't pass, what if this couldn't pass. We passed the Rescue Plan, which is getting shots at arms, growing the economy. We've now passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we're going to pass this Build Back Better plan.

We're going to get both these bills to the President's desk. He is going to sign both of them, and we're going to make more progress in this country.

COOPER: You were obviously -- you're not only President Biden's Chief of Staff, you were -- you were also President Obama's point person on Ebola. You certainly know a lot about infectious diseases. I just want to put a map of U.S. counties and their level of COVID transmission.

The C.D.C. recommending in counties with higher substantial levels of transmission, even vaccinated people should mask up. I think a CNN analysis we showed that 98.2 percent of Americans, around 325 million people now live in these counties. Why wasn't the government able to get enough people vaccinated to prevent this surge? And do you think things are going to get worse?

KLAIN: Well, first of all, you know, Anderson, we stood up the fastest most comprehensive vaccination plan in the world. We got 200 million shots in people's arms in a hundred days. We've vaccinate already over 165 million people fully vaccinated, 70 percent of adults have at least one shot.

Clearly, we've had parts of the country, though, particularly the parts that are the most red on that map you showed where the vaccination uptake has been slower. We've made it available. The vaccine is free, it's effective and it is within five miles of the homes of 90 percent of the American people.

Well, now we're working on more incentives to try to encourage those who haven't yet get vaccinated to get vaccinated and vaccine requirements to try to pressure those who haven't gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated.

So, we made a lot of progress. We obviously need to do more, and that's what we're working on right now.

COOPER: President Biden said today that he doesn't think the Federal government has any authority to intervene in states like Florida and Texas where governors are attempting to prohibit mask mandates, particularly in schools, but that his administration is looking into it. Florida's Governor called any potential intervention, quote, "very inappropriate." What do you say about that?

KLAIN: What is inappropriate is the Governor of Florida, trying to prevent local educators, local officials from keeping kids safe. We want kids back in school this year. We want kids full time, five days a week in school, and we know how we can keep them safe. That rides first on those kids being masked.

We have local officials in Florida, educators who say they want to require masks. The Governor is now threatened to withhold their pay if they take the basic step of protecting their students. We're going to look at whether there are any Federal ways to at least get those local educators whole, for whatever pay they lose, do what we can to help them.


If Governor DeSantis is not prepared to fight COVID, he should at least get out of the way of the educators who want to keep their kids safe.

COOPER: What about vaccine mandates? I know, obviously, a lot of obviously, in this country, a lot of companies are deciding that their employees have to be vaccinated. What about the federal government that we're told now the military is going to be making sure that everybody is vaccinated in the armed services as they are for many other illnesses? Can you go farther than that?

KLAIN: Well, you know, two weeks ago, the President announced we were going to require all federal civilian employees to either be vaccinated or to face rigorous testing limits on their activities, other restrictions to try to really pressure them to get vaccinated. And as you said, Anderson, yesterday, the Secretary of the Defense, joined by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley said that they were going to mandate vaccines for our troops.

We're obviously working closely with private employers, to try to encourage them to do the same thing. We need to put requirements on people to get vaccine. That's how we're going to get this behind us. That's how we're going to be able to go back to normal.

COOPER: And does everyone in the White House have to be vaccinated? Is it a mandate in the White House?

KLAIN: We have the same policy we have for all other federal employees, either people in the White House have to be vaccinated or they have to undergo this rigorous testing regime, be restricted on their ability to travel, be required to be socially distanced. And as a result, I think we have a very, very high vaccination rate here.

COOPER: Do you know what it is? I don't know what it is for all the employees in the White House. Because of course, a lot of people who work in the White House here are career staff, members of the armed forces who serve here and whatnot.

COOPER: Ron Klain, appreciate your time. Thank you.

KLAIN: Thanks. Thanks for having me Anderson.

COOPER: More on COVID in schools just ahead, including two questions vexing many parents. Why is it taking so long to prove the vaccine for kids under 12? And when might that happen? We'll be right back.



COOPER: Before the break discussed the administration's fight with Republican governors specifically Ron DeSantis over mask mandates in schools. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said that if the Santa is not prepared to fight COVID, he should quote, get out of the way. At least seven states ban mask mandates with others trying to limit usage. Today Dr. Anthony Fauci also said the governor should mandate vaccines for teachers. Of course, one question many parents have is when those vaccines will be ready for children under the age of 12.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics in a letter suggested the FDA was moving too cautiously in urge approving vaccinate -- vaccination of children as young as five years of age, even as testing continues.

I'm joined now by our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. Peter Hotez, who was also the author of the book Preventing The Next Pandemic Vaccine Diplomacy In A Time Of Anti- Science.

So, Sanjay, President Biden today said he's very concerned about unvaccinated kids going back to school. Dr. Fauci has said the FDA is unlikely to green light the Pfizer vaccine for children under 12 until early to mid winter. So, a lot of parents out there who are desperate to get their kids vaccinated. Can you just walk us through the approval process the FDA is going through and why it may take that long?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, you know, we remember when we had the vaccines authorized for those 12 to 15, or 12 to 16, it was a bit easier, because they bridged a lot of data from the adult trials. And we're able to sort of make that process a little bit more seamless.

Now, they're basically you know, they're studying this, this vaccine and younger people, these kids, they want to make sure that there's no, you know, significant side effects. Remember, there was concerns about myocarditis, the inflammation around the heart.

And also, you know, it being a risk reward relationship, just broadly speaking, there's certainly a risk to kids, but it's lower than adults. So the bar by which you're going to authorize a vaccine has to be higher. They -- I think both these companies Moderna, Pfizer thought they might have data by within the next couple of months. But the FDA has asked for more data specifically around the side effects, making sure they got the dosing right. So, it's a process.

Just contextually remember, Anderson, it can take a long time under normal circumstances to get these vaccines approved. So things are still moving quickly, although not as quickly as people would like.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Hotez, I mean the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg, an op-ed columnist wrote, as a parent with two kids between five and 11, who soon returned to school, I can hardly overstate the frantic helplessness I feel knowing that the country is awash in vaccines that could protect them, and that data about those vaccine safety and children exists. Yet bureaucratic caution could force us to spend the next few months taking our chances with COVID instead.

Is that fair? I mean, is it bureaucracy? Because the flip side of this you -- one could make the argument is that a cautious review process is something is there for a reason. And if anything, it should help people understand that the vaccines are not being rushed and are actually being tested and thoroughly looked at.

PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELEOPMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Yes, and Anderson, you know, our tolerance for safety signals in young kids is, is less than adults perhaps. And, we have to be pristine, because if the FDA gets it wrong, it also has the spillover effect of derailing confidence in all of our childhood vaccines ranging from measles, mumps, rubella to cervical cancer, HPV vaccines. So we have to be pristine.

And I think you know what, what the FDA is looking at is trying to balance that with the urgency in terms of not giving this adequate time to see if any safety signals appear and making sure there are enough kids enrolled. So I think it's really about looking for uncommon safety signals.

In the meantime, there are things we can do to keep all of our kids safe that we're not doing and we've just been hearing about the lack of mask mandates across the schools in the southwest where I am. And there's another thing that really nobody's talking about Anderson, which is that vaccine mandates for the adolescence.

Every kid over the age of 12, if they come to school should be vaccinated against COVID-19. And that will ensure that we can operate middle schools and high school safely if all the teachers and staff were vaccinated as well. And it has the collateral benefit. Look what's going on in Vermont right now we're all of the adolescents just about and all of the adults are vaccinated. That slows community transmission that also ensures school safety.


So the problem is, are a lot of our elected officials in the south are not doing a full court press to keep all of our kids safe. And that that's a really important issue.

COOPER: So, Dr. Hotez, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, there are things that teenagers are mandated already to be vaccinated for in order to go to school. I mean, there are things that all kids are mandated to be vaccinated for in order to go to school. So adding this, is there any reason not for teenager for people above the age of 12? Is there any reason not to add, you know, the COVID vaccine to the list of vaccines that they have to get any way to go to school?

HOTEZ: Yes, just like meningococcal vaccinations, which is an essential vaccine to prevent meningitis. And, and that should be on the list. The problem, Anderson is that we -- that vaccine policy is often not set at the federal level there. As far as I know, there are limits to what the President can authorize and do.

And this is done at the state level. And there's a lot of heterogeneity among the different states in terms of what they're willing to do. Here in Texas, where we have a very aggressive anti- vaccine lobby, that lobbies the state legislature, we have our own anti-vaccine political action committee as extraordinary as that sounds, and it's really damaging. It's been an operation for a number of years.


HOTEZ: And so, it's really tough down in states like this. And this is the same state, these are the same states that are also up against masks as well.

COOPER: Sanjay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 94,000 new COVID cases among children were reported in the week ending on August 5th. You hear those numbers here, 94,000, I heard that and obviously, as a parent that kind of freaked me out.

What do we know about the Delta variant and in kids? Because there are those who are saying, well, look, it's still not as bad for kids. It's not as, you know, it may be more than it has been in the past. But still, relatively speaking, the numbers of children who become seriously ill or hospitalized is still relatively low.

GUPTA: Right. I mean, I think that that's, that's true. I mean, I want to show you what's been going on, we'll put up this graph and show you how the numbers have sort of changed to give you some idea. So you can see where we are now. And you can sort of look at where those peaks where we're heading sort of straight up. This is among children.

You know, I know Dr. Hotez has looked at this data very carefully. I have as well, I think it's tough to say right now that the Delta variant in and of itself, if we're comparing previous variant to this variant, that the Delta variant is causing more severe illness, more pathogenic, as they say.

COOPER: In children you're talking about.

GUPTA: In children. Well, in adults as well. It's more transmissible. That's very clear now. I mean, we weren't sure in the beginning, but it's very clear in May, it was about, you know, one and a half percent of new cases were Delta. And now it's, you know, close to 90%. So it's really grown a lot. But kids who may have gotten away with,

you know, this not got getting infected, up till now, this very, is just going to be less forgiving. And I think that that's what's driving up these numbers and we're in August. Typically, as you go into the fall with cooler, drier weather, the spread increases as well. So that's, that's heightening the concern.

COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta has always thank you. Dr. Peter Hotez as well, appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, is it time to rethink how we face COVID. Andrew Sullivan, a writer argues we should learn to live with the virus explains what he means and what that might look like. Next.



COOPER: COVID outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts last month created obviously a lot of fear. Most of the 469 cases in the resort town happened among the fully vaccinated. Important part is no one died and only five people were hospitalized, five out of 469.

As part of the reason Andrew Sullivan argues it's time for a society to effectively accept COVID as part of our lives not be paralyzed by fear. He writes, quote, those who live in denial who somehow convinced themselves that the virus is a hoax or a deep state plot or a function of white supremacy or whatever, will experience what everyone in denial eventually experiences, reality. And reality is the most tenacious influencer, I know.

Andrew Sullivan joins me tonight. He's also author of the new book out just now Out On The Limb Selected Writing 1989 to 2021.

So Andrew, you wrote in your column on Substack, you wrote quote, yes, I'll wear a mask indoors if I'm legally required, or politely asked, but I don't really see why anyone should. In a free society, once everyone has access to a vaccine that overwhelmingly prevents serious sickness and death. There's no reason to enforce lock downs again, or mask mandates or social distancing any longer. In fact, there's every reason not to.

There's certainly though, millions of Americans who cannot be vaccinated, remember, you know, immunocompromised or children under the age of 12. Shouldn't a society like ours do what they can to protect those who are defenseless?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR: Yes, we should. And I certainly think we should vaccinate each other and be vaccinated. But the risk is really very small to children. If you're 18 times more likely to drown if your age is one to five and to die of COVID. I think putting it in some sort of perspective for children, which is not that serious disease at all. It's like a bad cold. The immunocompromised are going to be unfortunately, vulnerable for a long time. This now, we now know is a virus that transmits from vaccinated people.

So we're going to have to live with this thing. We're going to have to be vaccinated consistently against it, because it's not going away and it's going to be here. And the goal is not to pursue and it'll lose a victory over the virus but to learn how to live with it and actually live fully alongside it.


COOPER: Before children though with pools in the example you use laws do require there be fences around all pools, they say how high they have to be, they look ugly, they're annoying for property owners who don't have children. And yet, that is the law because society wants to protect children.

SULLIVAN: There -- we all want to protect children. And it'll be interesting. I've sort of throw this if, if this epidemic had really just mainly attacked children, if children were the ones dying, I think we would have locked down a very long time ago, don't you?

COOPER: Oh, absolutely.

SULLIVAN: After the (ph) locked down almost immediately.

COOPER: But that's --


COOPER: That's what I'm wondering though, if -- sorry for interrupting, but the -- if there, you acknowledge in your in your piece that, you know, the longer this goes on, the more the risk of other variants even more even worse than the Delta variant, there could be a variant that specifically does go after children. So I mean, it is a possible future scenario.

SULLIVAN: Yes, but we have two scenarios. One in which the epidemic actually does blow itself out, or at least blows itself out with vaccination. And we have some sort of herd immunity, in which case, we can eventually begin to go forward, or we're going to have to just live with the permanent constant vaccinations, like we have for the flu.

The trouble is with the viruses is that you can get fixated on them rather than the goal. The goal is living, and I've lived for 28 years with HIV, and it's in my bone marrow. And I've learned not to defeat it, I can't declare victory. But I can get on with my life, and make sure I don't die from it or get sick from it.

COOPER: I found that the most one of the most compelling things about what you wrote is that you know not to lose sight of the goal, which is living your full life and getting on with your life. Even though there are obstacles and learning to live with viruses. I certainly understand all that. But in arguing against mask or any kind of mandates and social distancing, you write, by getting rid of these barriers to transmission, we can actually accelerate the end of the plague by allowing natural forces to take the helm. You also at some point write, the most pretend a potent incentive for

vaccination is to be brutally frank, a sharp rise in mortality rates. The more people who know someone who has suffered and died, the likelier they will see the logic of taking measures to avoid the same fate. In other words, if people recklessly refuse to face reality, call their bluff, you went on, say let it rip.

The -- doesn't though the history of this pandemic, in particular, show that not to be the case. I mean, we have you seen during the worst of this pandemic, with, you know, hospitals overwhelmed and people dying, still half the country is choosing not to be vaccinated.

SULLIVAN: Yes, but we've also seen increasingly seeing right now, big jumps in vaccination rates in those states, but people really are dying. Certainly, in Florida, that seems to be happening. And in other southern states, that's happening, big jumps in vaccinations. You know, government isn't there to hold your hand every day, the government has a responsibility to give you the means to protect you and your family from this. Once they've done that, it's a free country, you get to live.

COOPER: I agree that I mean, this is largely here to stay. And we have to figure out a way to live with it. And I'm clearly -- I think if I read your article before I had a kid, I would have been more in agreement with you. I will say, it has completely changed my mindset. So I was when I read it. I was like, he's not even mentioning children, which --


COOPER: -- of course yes. So I apologize for that. But --

SULLIVAN: No, no, no. My readers said the same thing.


SULLIVAN: And I understand and I do think the position of a parent is unique. And I can't know what that feels like.

COOPER: But --

SULLIVAN: And I thought, I don't want to put myself in the place of any parent making that sort of cold. But I do know that you need to use your brain and reason.

COOPER: You're talking about the dangers the other variants developing. The other thing I thought when I was reading it is that shouldn't you be -- shouldn't we all be a little more humble about what we don't know? I mean, I feel like it HIV/AIDS for you know, the first 10 years all throughout the 1980s there was so much not known about it is now very well-known, you're very well aware of exactly. You know, there is this incredible miracle of medicine that has come about and it's known what can, you know, make it just a chronic condition and people.

We don't -- there's a whole bunch of stuff about this virus we don't really know. I mean, the Delta variant came along and surprise people. We thought, you know, the end was over you know that it already, you know, this was passed and it's not and I just the whole -- I don't know.

SULLIVAN: No, you look at death rate, and look at the death rates in the UK, look at the death rates in Israel they are coming down very fast, they haven't really gone up at all. In other words, this is becoming less of a plague and more of a disease that you live with.


And also remember, there are costs of not living. There are costs of having a year of your life taken away from learning and developing as a child.


SULLIVAN: There are costs of not being with your family, there are costs of not being with your fellow workers. These are huge -- we're a social animal. We can't live isolated like this. We've never done this before. But you can't wrap yourself up in cotton wool for the rest of your life. And you mustn't let children not live.

COOPER: Yes, well, that's certainly true. Andrew Sullivan, it's always a good conversation with you. I really appreciate it. Happy birthday. And also --

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

COOPER: -- congratulations on your new book Out On A Limb Selected Writing. I just got to last night I just started it.

Well, more ahead this busy Tuesday night. Up next, the latest on the resignation of New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo. What it means for the state? Democratic politics not to mention his own legacy and his accusers. What happens now?



COOPER: Good evening again. Chris is off tonight.