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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Joe Biden Scheduled To Reveal New Strategy To Combat Pandemic In Speech Tomorrow; Capitol Police Recommends Capitol Fence Be Put Back Up Ahead Of 9/18 Rally; Mandate And Testing Among Biden's Plans To Combat Delta Surge; Trump Plans Georgia, Iowa Rallies As He Endorses Opponents Of GOP House Members Who Voted To Impeach; KY Sets New Record For Covid Cases, Hospitalizations; Tropical Storm Mindy Expect To Make Landfall In The FL Panhandle This Evening. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC 360" starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tomorrow, President Biden will address the nation about his plans to reverse the staggering rise in COVID cases and deaths that's worse now than one year ago. In fact, today, the C.D.C. said the rise in deaths may continue over the next four weeks even as hospitalizations possibly and we caution possibly -- stabilize.

This is despite the fact that more than 75 percent of adults are now vaccinated, however, as the C.D.C. also noted today, the pace of vaccinations is down by 26 percent from a month ago. We should caution these vaccination numbers come after a Holiday weekend. Officials tell CNN, the President is going to lay out a six-point plan with obvious political, economic, and public health repercussions, and we'll talk about that more tonight.

But right now, we want to focus on what officials say will be one element of that plan, which is safeguarding kids and schools.

The spike in cases comes not only as America's schools reopen, but as new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics says one in four of these new cases is in a child. Not only that, the organization says there has been a 250 percent increase in infections of children from five weeks ago.

Vaccines are, as you know, unavailable for those under 12. But one thing that appears to unite a large swathe of Democrats, Republicans, and parents at this moment is that kids should be in school, which leaves masks as one of the next best lines of protection. But as we've seen, most notably in Florida, mask mandates have become deeply polarizing.

Most notably, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida banned mask mandates that didn't allow for a parental opt out. He lost a battle today to keep that order in place, and we'll have more on that in a moment as well.

But we want to remind you the kind of vitriol that these fights have inspired in Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These doctors that sit up here that were sneering at us and looking at us like we're scumbags, they need to go back to [bleep] medical school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, right -- right here, right here. So as you can see, fists are now flying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to bully him into wearing a mask?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not what we do. We love our students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't believe that. I want my child to go to school, breathe and unmasked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sit there civilly and behave yourselves or I'll have you removed.

I suggest those of you that have your mask under your nose, just put them back where they belong, or I'll have school police remove you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This board is only focused on forced mask mandates, raising our taxes, and making our kids believe they can change their gender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're the bad guys because we're standing up for our children, like mine, who's at home right now saying I don't want to wear masks.


COOPER: Again, Florida flashpoint in what is a national battle. Today, 13 local school districts in the state won a battle in their ongoing fight against Governor Ron DeSantis and his order banning mask mandates. A judge said the school's bans may continue while the case is under appeal. And prior to the decision this morning, Governor DeSantis offered this prediction.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): But what we found is, you know, in the trial courts in Tallahassee, State and Federal, we typically lose if there's a political component to it. But then in the Appeals Court, we almost always win.


COOPER: One of the School Superintendents, front and center in this legal fight joins me now. Carlee Simon, Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools.

Superintendent Simon, I appreciate you joining us. So, how big a deal is this ruling in your view? And do you expect the Governor and his allies to escalate the legal battle?

CARLEE SIMON, SUPERINTENDENT, ALACHUA COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Well, I certainly expect the Governor to escalate the legal ordeal. It is still though a good point, a positive moment for us and we are -- we're pleased by the decision. We're pleased by many of the points that Judge Cooper presented because they aligned with many of our concerns.

And I think that this is, you know, a step in the right direction, but we're managing our expectations and we know we have a long process and a long legal battle, but we're ready and we're up for the challenge.

COOPER: You know, the Governor was standing behind a podium that read "Early treatment saves lives." I don't know, if the irony is lost to him, and he is trying to make it more difficult for schools to prevent COVID cases in the first place.

SIMON: Well, I think there's many ironic moments that have been occurring this entire time. We are focusing very much on having face- to-face classes and making sure that our students are receiving direct instruction, and just the concept of increasing transmission by not having masking is counterintuitive, and it works against our efforts.

Every one of us who run school districts want to have school for our students, and we know that we need to have the masking and so it's disappointing when we aren't getting that level of support and we have some ironic times that occur and statements that just don't quite jive with realities that we're trying to navigate.

COOPER: You know, you and I have spoken before, and tonight, you know, there's the American Academy Pediatrics saying that children account for more than one in four COVID cases now. Can you just explain what happens when a child test positive in a classroom, the ripple effects of that, or a teacher, you know, tests positive, how that essentially kind of breaks down the entire system?


SIMON: So, I'll speak on this on two levels. So, when a child is exposed and they test positive, then all of our staff have to contact trace and make sure that we take all students who have been exposed and have them quarantined. This takes considerable amount of time and logistics and organization. And then those students need to go home and they are going to be quarantined and trying to get instruction in a distance method.

We do have a digital platform with Canvas that we're trying to provide this instruction, but it still is, it's very different than a face-to- face classroom, then we would have them come back and do five-day testing to see if we can shorten the quarantine period. And that's, of course, if they don't have symptoms. When we have a staff member, and many times, I want to respect the

fact that our staff members, you know, my body, my choice, but many of our staff members, when they test positive, it impacts a lot of other staff members, because that work still needs to be done. We are in education system, everyone has a role. Everyone has a lot of work that needs to be acted out in order to have a school day.

And so when that person is not in, many other colleagues are having to pick up that load, and it really just -- it puts a burden on the district. And when we have so many people who have to have these types of quarantines, it really impacts how we function on a day-to-day.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, you must be spending a lot of your time or schools must be spending a lot of their time just trying to do contact tracing and figure out, okay, well, now this student is -- you know, has tested positive. So this means X, Y, and Z has to move around.

SIMON: Yes, I would say if you asked any principal in any school that they would say, now, a full time job is managing COVID, and then there is the job of an education leader. So, most of our principals are doing two jobs at the same time. Our school nurses are in very similar situations where they're having to test and contact trace.

And there was a job of being a school nurse that occurred many years prior to COVID ever even existing where you had to help with students who had normal fevers or diabetes or anything like that.

And so many of us are having to take on new responsibilities that never existed prior to COVID.

COOPER: It's one thing -- I mean, that's what I don't understand about the parents who are screaming at teachers and others about, you know, their child shouldn't wear a mask. I understand the whole personal freedom thing. I understand, you know, no one wants to wear a mask -- all of that.

But just on a logistics basis, if you want your child to stay in school in a classroom, it seems like masks just are the most obvious way to -- it's just -- it doesn't hurt -- does it hurt? I mean, it doesn't give kids COVID, it is one thing that can prevent kids and prevent the logistical nightmare of having things shut down.

SIMON: Well, so I would certainly agree with you with that. We also have the additional layer of you know, we just had a phone call today with a parent who has a child who is old enough to be vaccinated, and the parent is very upset that their child is going to have to quarantine.

The solution for their child to not have to quarantine is to be vaccinated, and then if the child has no symptoms, their day continues on. My son was exposed last week, he is vaccinated. He hasn't shown any symptoms. So we have not had to adjust our lives around this. We've been able to just go on through and he is enjoying his classes.

So, that's the issue is that there are very small things to do that would help us to be able to continue to have school and not have your lives interrupted. And when you have young children and you need to arrange childcare that really puts a damper on how you can function.

COOPER: Carlee Simon, I appreciate your work and I appreciate you talking to us. Thank you.

SIMON: Thank you.

COOPER: I believe, I made a mistake, in the intro, I said, 75 percent of adults who are vaccinated, that's not correct. 75 percent of eligible adults have received at least one shot.

I want to get perspective now from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, author of the forthcoming book "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One."

So Sanjay, as more students across the country go back to school. I mean, are you concerned the infection rates now among kids are just going to go up?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the absolute numbers are going to go up. I mean, this is just a sort of a math issue at this point because as you're increasing the number of children who are infected, even if the ratio stays the same, the absolute number will go up.

Right now, about 100,000 people in the hospital, about two percent of them are children, but as more and more are infected, you know, even if the likelihood of your child getting sick severely ill enough to go to the hospital is low, the statistics start to catch up with people.

Let me show you a graphic that sort of came out of this free print from North Carolina State University looking at the next three months. What do the next three months look like? What they say is in schools, if there's really none of these mitigation measures, you were just talking to Miss Simon about no masking, no testing, you're going to have about 75 percent within the next few months, 75 percent of K through 12 students become infected.

Keep in mind, it is close to 15 million students like that. Add on masking, it can go as low as 24 percent. Masking and regular testing as low as 13 percent.

It's not perfect, Anderson. This is still a very contagious virus, but you get the idea of just what can be done even short of a vaccine to sort of really bring down those numbers.

COOPER: That's incredible. I mean, that 75 percent will become infected, but with masks, it can down to as low as 25 percent.

GUPTA: Right. I mean, you know, so far in this country, five million, you know, children roughly have been infected. Again, you know, if you look at the hospitalization rate, about two percent, maybe less than two percent even of all those in the hospital are children.

But if these numbers continue to go up, and I hope they don't, but if they continue to go up, obviously, it affects all of the numbers, you know, just in terms of the absolute value. COOPER: So what about -- I mean, last year, when school started,

there was a lot of concern about safety in schools, and then it seems like it turned out that there wasn't a lot of transmission in schools. Was there or was it just because the delta variant -- is it all the delta variant? Is that the difference?

GUPTA: I think that's a big part of it. But I will tell you, what is interesting, Anderson, right now, you know, this Labor Day weekend, compared to a year ago, we have three and a half times more viral spread, three and a half times more cases, this year versus last year.

COOPER: This is crazy.

GUPTA: We have a vaccine. It's crazy. It's almost -- if you would have asked me last year and say, hey, this time next year, we're going to have three and a half times more cases at this point next year, I would have thought to myself, oh, I guess we never got an authorized vaccine.

Truth is we have an authorized vaccine, several of them. And still, despite that, three and a half times the cases, two and a half times the hospitalizations compared to this point last year, and nearly two times the percentage of deaths, two times the number of deaths at this point last year, despite the vaccine.

So, you have viral showers that are going on. We are being bathed in virus in so many places across the country, high transmission, and that's what's going on. So, you add into that the delta variant is very contagious, less forgiving, and all of a sudden, you're in a situation where people are going to become infected, unless they take some protective measures.

COOPER: So, I assume or fewer -- does that also mean that just way fewer people are wearing masks now than were wearing them a year ago this time?

GUPTA: That's a good question. I mean, you know, I don't know what the mask wearing is like here. It is clearly, you know, different in different parts of the country. I think what happened, there's a lot of folks for a period of time because of the vaccines rolling out were also not wearing masks, even though there was significant viral spread.

People who were not vaccinated took that as permission to stop wearing masks as well. So I don't know the absolute numbers of people who are wearing masks now compared to before, but the numbers of hospitalizations in particular is what I pay closest attention to because cases are hard to track because we're still not doing adequate testing in this country, which is really frustrating that people cannot wake up every morning and simply know, are they contagious or not?

The technology exists to do that, but we're not doing it. But what we do know is, and you've been reporting on, Anderson, as the hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with patients in some parts of the country. Regular elective cases are getting canceled, other non-COVID related diseases are getting substandard care as a result of that.

So, masks we know make a huge difference for sure. The numbers sort of tell the story.

What you're looking at on the screen there, Anderson, regarding the vaccinations. I mean, just think about that. Unvaccinated people, 17 times more likely to be hospitalized. Do you see the line for vaccinated people in the hospital? That's that flatline at the bottom.

COOPER: Yes, you could barely see it.

GUPTA: I mean, it's really -- you can barely see it. It's really an incredible story here of what's going on. And I think, frankly, more proof of just how well the vaccines work.

COOPER: Yes, Sanjay, I appreciate it.

Still to come, breaking news about fears of another impossible threat to the Capitol, this time at a right-wing rally planned there in the coming days. We will have details on the concerns about the threats, as well as new video of a suspect from the Capitol riot in January. The person who was planting pipe bombs.

There is some new video authorities want you to see.

Later, the former President who encouraged rally goers to go to the Capitol that day, his niece joins us to talk about what his recent endorsements in Republican primaries say about his own political future.



COOPER: The F.B.I. has released new video of the suspect accused of planting those pipe bombs near the Democratic Republican Party headquarters the night before the January 6th Capitol attack. The footage of the suspect sitting on a bench near the D.N.C. building as well as a virtual map of his route taken before the bombs were placed.

Now, all of this as there is breaking news about another possible threat to the Capitol at a planned rally in 10 days, and sources are telling CNN, there is a new recommendation tonight about fencing around the Capitol.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has details now. So, what are we learning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we've just learned that that temporary fencing that actually surrounded the Capitol people will remember for months after January 6th, well, it might go back up.

Sources telling our Ryan Nobles that Capitol Police have in fact formally requested to the Capitol Police Board that the fence be temporarily put in place ahead of September 18th. The Board will make the final call here, but sources are telling our team that it is likely they will approve that request for the fencing.

We are told though that it would be a smaller fence. It would likely only be up for about 48 to 72 hours surrounding the rally, but this latest development it comes as the police departments around D.C., they are amping up security preps in advance of this so-called Justice for January 6 Rally happening next Saturday, September 18th.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): Capitol Police are warning about the potential for violent clashes and unrest at an upcoming rally in support of those charged in the U.S. Capitol insurrection. That's according to an internal memo reviewed by CNN.

This latest rally is planned at the Capitol, September 18th.

The Intelligence report references amped up online chatter after the officer who fatally shot rioter, Ashli Babbitt on January 6th, went public defending his actions after the Justice Department and the Capitol Police cleared him of any wrongdoing.

LT. MICHAEL BYRD, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I know that day I saved countless lives. I did my job, and there was imminent threat and danger to the Members of Congress.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): The Capitol Police memo notes a recent uptick in violent rhetoric and heated discussions on social media and discussion boards centered on Babbitt's shooting, and the document warns many might view September 18th as a Justice for Ashli Babbitt rally.

The event organizer, former Trump campaign staffer Matt Brainard acknowledges the rally will address Babbitt's death, but says it is primarily focused on the hundreds involved in the violent attack and Capitol breach who are now facing Federal charges.

MATT BRAINARD, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STAFFER: We're calling for charges to be dropped against all nonviolent offenders who in many cases were walking through Capitol doors into a public building held open by Capitol Police officers.

This is a peaceful protest for people's Civil Rights that have been denied.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): The internal memo says 500 people plan to attend and counter protests are also expected. But the memo notes the prior events planned by Brainard's group in Washington have attracted far less and there hasn't been a noticeable increase in hotel reservations in the area that weekend.

Plus, unlike January 6th, the danger is diminished since Congress is on recess. The memo also warns that at least one Proud Boy leader has encouraged followers to show up, while others from the far-right group are discouraging attendance online.

Capitol Police note nine Republican Members of Congress have been invited, and all but three have declined the invitation. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorn.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): Former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says all of the online chatter about September 18th should be taken seriously.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: If they are seeing and hearing the same sorts of things that they heard before January 6th, they should be taking better preparations and taking those conversations more seriously.


COOPER: So Jessica, I understand congressional leaders are expected to get security briefings in the coming days about it.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, we actually learned, Anderson, that there was one today. There was a briefing attended by at least one member of the January 6th Select Committee, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. We understand that it was about an hour they got a briefing about those security plans, as well as the possible fencing.

It was a briefing from Capitol Police, as well as the Architect of the Capitol, the House Sergeant-at-Arms. And also the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, our team has learned has invited Chuck Schumer and the top Republicans, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell to her office on Monday morning. That's when we're hearing there will be a briefing from the Capitol Police Chief, Tom Manger about all the security perhaps for this upcoming rally. So, they are really taking this very seriously -- Anderson

COOPER: All right, Jessica, stay with us. I want to bring in a CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, former F.B.I. special agent. So Josh, what does it tell you the Capitol Police has formally requested that the fence be or a smaller fence be put up back around the Capitol ahead of this rally? Are they just being -- I mean, is that out of an abundance of caution that no one wants to be the person who said, oh, no, you don't need the fence.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know, I interviewed Tom Manger, the new Capitol Police Chief after he took the job, and he wasn't there on the day of the January 6th attack. But one thing he told me was he is going to learn lessons from that event and he is going to run this agency as a threat based agency that relies heavily on Intelligence.

And so with this new reporting from our colleagues on Capitol Hill, that they are going to re-erect this fencing, that tells us that they are concerned enough about some of this online chatter that they're seeing that they want to provide some kind of separation as these demonstrators show up on September 18th.

Now, will it be overkill? Maybe. But as you mentioned, you know, you have to put yourself in the shoes of these officers. They simply cannot abide a repeat of January 6th. They want to not necessarily provide a fortress like we saw after that incident, but we're going to see some kind of standoff that puts these demonstrators away from the building that these officers are sworn to protect.

COOPER: I mean, Jessica, the idea that people who attacked the Capitol are being now portrayed by this group and others, as you know, political prisoners or you know, victims, in some way is insane.

SCHNEIDER: Well, I actually talked with the organizer of this rally, Matt Brainard today. We had probably a 15-minute discussion, and he insists that these are, in fact, political prisoners, despite the fact that most of the people actually being held in the jails right now are accused of violent offenses.

A lot of the people have taken plea deals who were nonviolent, who were just charged with trespassing. So, the premise a little bit of this rally is off base. But yes, they are taking a lot of their talking points from the former President and parroting what Donald Trump has said and still is saying.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, because, you know, when the former President finally did make, you know, a video there -- or actually was after he made the video, you know, they were trying to distance themselves. There were an awful lot of Republicans initially trying to distance themselves from the attackers saying, well, look, I'm not even sure those you know -- those were probably Antifa people in costumes. I'm not even sure they were really Trump people.

I've heard from a lot of Trump supporters, oh, those, you know, it was a false flag operation. I guess, they've abandoned that line of argument, and now, they're fully embracing them as Trump supporters who somehow are being persecuted.

SCHNEIDER: And you know what, Anderson, they are already getting ready to bring out those lines again. When I talked to the organizer of this event, Matt Brainard, today. He said, hey, if there's any trouble on September 18th, it's because of the leftists who are infiltrating our groups.

So, they are already preparing those talking points. Again, false potentially talking points that they already floated after January 6th.

COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider and Joseph Campbell, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, the new reporting tonight from the White House about President Biden and his administration's message to Democrats on another pivotal moment for his presidency.



COOPER: As we noted, President Biden will speak tomorrow on COVID and the administration's plan to halt the surge, fighting the virus effectively. Listening to public health officials while doing it was a key campaign promise, but COVID is just one of many challenges, obviously facing the administration. Well, it could be a critical moment for President Biden's presidency.

Senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly joins us now with more. So, what are you learning tonight about the new messaging push inside the White House?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, when you talk to White House officials, they make clear this is the critical moment for the legislative agenda and they want to sharpen their message. They want to move it towards a more populist direction.

But more than anything else, Anderson, they want to simplify it. You've seen it a little bit in the public comments over the course of the last couple days. But we've also obtained a series of polling memos, messaging memos that are being sent to Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Implicit in those memos, don't miss the forest for the trees. Democrats are getting too caught up, some White House officials believe on the various components of this sweeping $3.5 trillion proposal and that has caused potential problems particularly with moderates, yes, in the Senate with Joe Manchin, but also frontline Democrats in the House have become increasingly skittish about with the size, scale, and some of the financing components of that package.

White House officials are now deliberately trying to kind of walk people back, stay focused on the things that matter most, the kind of binary choice between whether you're with President Biden and his agenda, or you're against it, or to distill it even clearer, as one of President Biden's top advisors sent in a memo to our Democratic counterparts on Capitol Hill.

President Biden believes this comes down to a simple proposition Scranton, PA versus Park Avenue.

COOPER: Which is a theme that he had hit on during the campaign.

MATTINGLY: Yes, no question about it. They think that that's where President Biden is at his strongest, and they believe that's part of the -- one of the primary reasons he won re-election, and that's the message that they believe Democrats need to convey when it comes to this package.

Yes, the components of it are the types of policies that Democrats have dreamed about for years. Now is the real opportunity to do something about them.

When you talk to frontline Democrats, particularly in the House who are wary of the size and scale of this proposal, they need reassurance. And I think that's what you're getting from the White House right now, that this is a tax cut, this will drop prices, that the wealthy will pay more to finance it. It's simple. Don't get caught up in the complex details here.

One thing to keep in mind, Anderson, the President's polls have been sliding. People are very cognizant of that on Capitol Hill, making clear that the elements of this proposal are both popular and that they play well even in those swing districts that more than anything else is the message White House officials want to get across behind the scenes as we enter this critical stage of the President's agenda.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, I appreciate it. Thanks. I want to get perspective from Evan Osnos, CNN contributor and "New Yorker" staff writer who has written a very detailed biography of the President, and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

So Evan, President Biden ran on the promise he would end the pandemic clearly hasn't happened. Obviously, Afghanistan did not go the way he wanted or anticipated, perhaps, how critical a moment is this forth?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, this is the essential moment, this is sort of the point at which it's the proving ground. All the things that he's been talking about as a candidate, and now in the early months of his presidency are really coming to a head. And, you know, they are working after all on this speech that he's going to give tomorrow about COVID. You know, they are working on this even late tonight, because the details matter and the subtleties matter. And somebody who's familiar with the speech was saying to me, you're likely to hear him express a kind of wartime spirit, which is an interesting phrase, it's trying to sort of regain the urgency that he had six months ago at the beginning of this, when he put the country on what he called a wartime footing.

And he's trying to remind people that this is, this is not done obviously, the numbers are difficult. And what they want to show people is that some of the things that they have done have actually borne fruit. To give you one example, in July, they got about 10 million people vaccinated. But once there was more concern about Delta, once they sort of ratcheted up the -- shall we say, the awareness, if not the fear of Delta, making people really aware of the risks. They got 14 million people vaccinated in August. So they're trying to say, look, this is about hitting the right balance, where you get people alert to the idea that there is in fact a way to solve this problem. But it's not going to be done by being flat footed.

COOPER: Gloria, what do you expect to hear?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we need to hear some clarity here. And just as Phil was talking about with the economic plan, and convincing Democrats to go along, the American public needs to hear a clear message from the President on what he intends to do and what he can do about the Delta variant. Obviously, he's going to urge vaccinations, he's going to tell you how he's going to keep kids safe in school, how there needs to be more testing in the country and on and on.

But there has been a lot of disagreement between the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, and folks who work around the President about, for example, when you should get a booster shot, or when you can get a booster shot. And this is a president who in July on July 4th said, we've gained the upper hand against this virus, we now know, the virus mutated. And that the Delta variant is something we all talk about. We didn't talk about it back then.

So the President has to be clear about next steps. And he has to tell the American public what happened, and how the public needs to get vaccinated in the future, if you're going to kind of save the country. He's going to say, business, you've been good, you need to be better. There are limits on what I can do as president. He's going to talk about mandates, for example.

So, I think he needs to tell the public clearly, here's the way forward and out of this because the public is sick and tired.

COOPER: Evan, though there's not much new he can say about COVID. I mean, it's, you know, yes, people know, you should be vaccinated.


COOPER: Those who aren't vaccinated disagree with that, or don't care about it, or just don't buy what he's saying. I'm not sure, you know, yelling more about it, or phrasing it in different ways going to do anything, is it?

OSNOS: You know, part of the thing I think as Gloria exactly, as Gloria mentioned, this idea of appealing to the private sector is part of this to say, look, there are states out there in the country right now, governors who are not participating, not cooperating in the idea of advocating for vaccines and mass in many cases, standing in the way of it. But private businesses who want to see this economy get back into good shape, they are in the position to start mandating to their employees, start giving it a pretty clear indication that if you want to get people back out of their houses, again, give people some confidence to get back.

You know, there was that glimmer of this moment in the summer Anderson, as we all remember, when people sort of began to feel as if things were getting back to normal, and there was been backsliding, and this is about giving people a sense that you can get back to that, but it can't be done purely from the top. It's going to take work by businesses and everybody else.

COOPER: And, you know, Gloria, to the point that you just made new Gallup polling found that only 40% of Americans think that President Biden has actually communicated a clear plan of action when it comes to COVID. There was an ABC News/Washington Post poll found his overall handling the pandemic has slept 10 points since June.

I mean, for Democrats, that's, you know, I mean, just if, if you're looking at this just through a political lens, that is clearly an issue?

BORGER: Right. Look, this was his calling card. He said, we've got this under control. It was his calling card to being a strong leader. It was his calling card to being a competent president. And now you see the numbers drop, because people who were vaccinated who were told OK, you don't have to wear your mask anymore. Now you have to wear your mask again.


So the public is confused by what's going on with the virus and he really needs to explain that. I mean, presidents need to explain things to the American public. In this case, we're not scientists. And I do believe that what he needs to do is, say the public, I have been competent, because once you start losing fights, then the public believes you're not a success. And he's got big fights ahead of him in the Congress. And he's got to deal with this right away.

COOPER: Yes, Gloria Borger, Evan Osnos, thanks very much.

Coming up next, is the former president making all the moves to enter the Republican race for president in 2024? We'll talk to his niece Mary Trump when we continue.


COOPER: The former president is continuing his campaign of retribution trying to oust the Republican House members who voted for his impeachment. His latest target is his most high profile yet Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Former president threw his weight behind one of her Republican challengers in the primary. And as he does that he continues to tease another run for the White House. Top advisor Jason Miller says the chances of him actually entering the race and I'm quoting here, are between 99 and 100%. And the ex-president is lining up rallies and what would be key states and other White House run scheduling one in Georgia later this month in Iowa at the beginning of October.

One person who knows some quite well this is niece Mary Trump, author of the new book, The Reckoning Our Nation's Trauma And Finding A Way To Heal. And she joins me now.

So Mary, good to have you on. You see these moves by your uncle, you hear what his allies are saying. Do you believe he's actually going to try for another bit of the White House?

MARY TRUMP, FMR PRES. DONALD TRUMP'S NIECE: I think the chances are a lot better now than they were immediately after the election because he got so humiliated. I didn't not think he would put himself in a position to lose again.


But the machinations of the Republican Party in terms of increasing amounts of voter suppression bills that you're trying to pass in every state plus the -- their willingness to push Donald second big lie that the January 6, insurrection didn't happen or wasn't a big deal or the insurrection is actually great patriots leads me to believe that he may decide that, if he runs, he won't lose. He also has a lot of incentive to get back into the Oval Office because it would protect him from the criminal charges and the civil charges being levied against him.

COOPER: He's also raised, you know, based on the election lie, he, you know, put out all these feelers for money from people and a lot of people sent in a lot of money to him that he can use as he wants to as he sees fit.

TRUMP: Yes, listen, Anderson, I think that the question, will he run is, is unfortunately, a relevant one, and it's one we need to grapple with. But what it's an even more important question is, why is he being allowed to make that choice? This is somebody who incited an insurrection against our country. And I understand, I understand that President Biden is responsible for the current response to COVID.

But we need to be really clear that the reason we're in this position right now is because governors like DeSantis and Abbott, who seemed to have absolutely no concern about their constituents who place absolutely no value in human life, took their cues from Donald. So, why is he even being allowed to run if indeed he does?

COOPER: Based on your knowledge of him and you're a trained psychologist, I'm wondering what you make of the hole that he continues to have over the vast majority of Republicans in this country? And how much of that relates? Yes, I mean, what -- does it surprise you the whole that has remained even though he's been, you know, not really in the public eye? I mean, yes, he's obviously shows up on Fox and he's started doing rallies. But I mean, he's been relatively silent.

TRUMP: Yes, it doesn't surprise me, because the reason he's continuing to be relevant is because elected Republicans continue to allow him to be relevant. If on November 7th, they had ignored him and conceded that President Biden won the election, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because he, like every other one term president would have faded into the background, but they're keeping him relevant. They're continuing to empower him. And they're continuing to ask for his endorsements, et cetera, et cetera.

So it doesn't surprise me when you again, you see Republican governors following Donald's playbook, and, you know, asking for his permission and conceding everything to him. Why, why shouldn't millions of Republicans who follow him this far continue to put stock in him?

COOPER: Yes, according to ESPN, the former president has announced that he and Donnie Jr. are getting providing commentary for a boxing match at a Florida casino the Saturday which of course, is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Yours will have to pay $49.99 if they want to hear him and his son call this match. I don't know what experience they actually have. I don't think they've ever actually been in a fight. But does it surprise you even by his low standards? I mean, if another former president decided to spend 9/11, you know, commenting on a boxing match on pay per view, people would, a heads -- the heads would explode.

TRUMP: Well, that is indeed the problem. That's been the problem all along, for reasons that are very difficult to understand. There is a completely different standard that Donald's held to. In fact, he's held to no standard. It's disgraceful. And if there is, if there is no blowback on the right for this -- disgraceful isn't a strong enough word to describe what you just mentioned, then that tells us everything we need to know about the current state of the Republican Party. And it tells us that the Democrats start -- they really need to start wrapping their heads around the fact that this is not a party that can be worked with. This is not a party that should be conceded to.

COOPER: In your new book, you talk a lot about trauma, and you have the names in the title of the book. That's how important it is. Do you think that that's a word that describes -- it's an important word, do you think in describing American history and more important your uncle rise in 2016?


TRUMP: Yes, I mean, as I say this country was born in trauma, we in the genocide by white settlers, of the Native American population, and the genocide and enslavement of the African population. And we've never dealt with that trauma. So it's been passed down from generation to generation.

And then in the last four years, we have dealt with an onslaught of attacks against immigrants, against people of color, against women, against American democracy. So here we are, and honestly, one of the most diabolical things Donald did in the last four years was divide this country at a time when we most needed to be united. And that's when COVID started. And it's going to take a very, very long time to recover from that, as we see because people who follow him are making it almost impossible for us to get ahold of COVID, to get a handle on it, to overcome it. And the violence and the rhetoric, visa vie mask mandates and vaccination is getting so out of control. It's dividing us even further now.

COOPER: Yes. Mary Trump, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, an up close look at the COVID surge in Kentucky. Take you inside a hospital at 130% above capacity. They've asked the National Guard now to help.



COOPER: Earlier, Sanjay said hospitals are becoming overwhelmed in some parts of the country due to the COVID surge and that's definitely the case in parts of Kentucky, the state that's facing a record number of cases in hospitalizations. Deep red and dark orange areas on this map show you counties with high numbers of COVID cases in the state.

The reason less than half of Kentucky's population is fully vaccinated according to the CDC and many counties you see in the light shade of teal of only 30 to 38% of the population partially vaccinated.

CNN's Miguel Marquez takes us inside one hospital in the state where the National Guard is now helping out as more and more COVID patients seek help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vera Middleton (ph) was so sick, doctors considered putting her on a ventilator she refused, opting instead to pray.

VERA MIDDLETON (PH), COVID PATIENT: God has brought me where I am right now. And I praise him from now on.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She's getting everything but the ventilator and improving, the 66-year-old great grandmother from the small town of Olive Hill Kentucky says she and her husband talked about getting vaccinated but decided against it.

(on-camera): Do you have any idea where you got COVID?

MIDDLETON: Yes. My granddaughter had gotten sick and it just went through went through one and you know everybody seem like at the house.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Kentucky seeing its biggest COVID-19 surge yet cases and hospitalizations spiking sharply to levels never seen before. Deaths too on the rise, hospitals everywhere just trying to keep up.

JOELLE CRAFT, COVID ICU NURSE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's defeating to put another person on the ventilator, it's defeating to watch a healthcare provider that I care about, or myself stand at the bedside when someone dies alone. It's also the feeling to watch somebody else get put in body bag.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): More heads, St. Claire Regional Medical Center is the biggest facility providing health care to 11 counties in rural Northeastern Kentucky. It can't expand capacity fast enough.

COURTNEY HOLLINGSWORTH, COVID ICU RN, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's like we're at a war with this virus. And I think what we have to understand is we're not at war with each other. Whether, you know, your beliefs and those things. It's truly a war with this virus.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The National Guard is helping here, a federal disaster Medical Assistance Team is also on hand. And still, they need more.

DONALD LLOYD, CEO, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: We right now, based upon our number of staff beds, we're running about 130% above capacity.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Hundred and thirty percent above capacity, that and that's ICU beds, regular COVID units, regular patients, emergency departments, everything across the board?

LLOYD: That's correct.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The hospital has created yet another COVID ICU but doesn't have the staff to open it.

(on-camera): So if this opened today, how quickly would these beds be filled? LLOYD: Within the hour? We could fill it within the hour.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): St. Claire is trying to keep those with COVID out of the hospital by providing monoclonal antibody treatments at home.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Madison Owens was fully vaccinated and still picked up the virus.

MADISON OWENS, NURSING STUDENT: It spreads like wildfire. Pretty, it's easy to get and it doesn't matter who vaccinated or not. Everybody's getting it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A nursing student, the 21-year-old believes she picked it up at a funeral.

OWENS: My great grandmother passed away and we all went to a funeral and then one by one we also couldn't go on down.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The in home treatment takes about two hours.

(on-camera): In a perfect world, how many could you do in a day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could probably start in the morning and keep going continuously to be honest.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Twenty four hours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we have that many orders.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): To try and keep up with demand St. Claire plans to turn a tent in its parking lot into a monoclonal antibody treatment unit.

JENNIFER HARDIN, DIRECTOR, HOME HEALTHCARE SERVICES, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: I just worried that we're not going to have the staffing capacity to meet the demand.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hospitals across the bluegrass state so full with COVID-19 patients, almost the entire system stretched to the limit.

CORY YODER, FAMILY MEDICINE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: So I get really fearful when we need beds for folks who their diabetes is out of control. And they need an insulin drip or, you know, they have regular community acquired pneumonia. We might not have a bed for them.

If you come in and have a heart attack and you need to ICU bed, we probably won't have a bed for you.


MARQUEZ: Now, St. Claire Healthcare crunches their own numbers. They believe they have about three weeks left of the case increases in the hospitalizations before they decline.

And that woman that we met at the beginning of the story, Vera Middleton (ph) she is getting better. She thinks she's going to go home soon. And she says when she gets there and she can she will get vaccinated. She's encouraging your family get vaccinated, and maybe a few friends in her hometown in Kentucky enters now. Anderson.

COOPER: Let's hope so. Miguel Marquez, thanks so much.

Well, if you can believe it, there are flash flood watches in effect tonight. For parts the Northeast area is still cleaning out from damage left by the remnants of Ida. A live weather report, next.



COOPER: There's a new tropical threat for the U.S. Gulf Coast tonight. Plus flash flood watches are in effect for parts of the Northeast already devastated by Ida.

CNN's meteorologist Tom Sater is tracking both storm systems for us tonight. So how bad are tonight's storms effectively?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I guess, you know, you can imagine you went through this with millions of others. Anxiety is high, nerves are still rattled after the catastrophe we had with Ida and now you toss in a pretty potent cold front. What you see in yellow Anderson is a severe thunderstorm watch just went into effect and will be in place until midnight. It's a thin band a narrowband but it is potent and it has thunderstorms that have been producing some hail. They've been downing some trees. But more importantly, some of these storms have been dropping an inch of rain an hour. That's concerning.

We're not going to see the 10 and 15 inches of rainfall, but the ground is so saturated and there's so much debris in all the streams and rivers that normal flow of water is going to be impeded. It's not going to be normal because of the trees in the branch. So we could see not just some ponding and some of these creeks but spill over and a few communities.

So it is a severe weather threat as well. We could have a few spin up tornadoes with this. So, just the anxiety of the storm moving in toward the region after the National Weather Service put out this flash flood watch and for good reason. But if you want to play it safe, just stay in until the morning rush hour and avoid those flood prone areas if you do have to go out.

COOPER: There's also a Tropical Storm Mindy that form today off Florida's Gulf Coast.

SATER: Yes, this was a very unorganized area of disturbance been meandering around in the gulf. And about 5:00 p.m. the National Hurricane Center yet we've got ourselves not only a center, we've got ourselves a tropical storm. Mindy was the next name on the list and it's about ready to make landfall right around Apalachicola maybe in the next hour.

You'll see the tropical storm watches, will have landfall Apalachicola across the Big Bend. We're not looking at a massive storm surge but this is going to mess up the beaches. Already some wind gusts over 45 miles per hour could knock out some power, some minor flash flooding but as soon as the system moved in, it's moving out and be off Georgia's coast by probably 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.


COOPER: All right, Tom Sater, appreciate it. Thanks.

News continues. Let's handover to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.