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At This Hour

125-Plus Cases Linked to Texas Summer Camp, Hundreds Exposed; Biden Heads to Illinois Tomorrow to Sell American Families Plan; Hackers Demand $70 Million to End Biggest Ransomware Attack. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 06, 2021 - 11:30   ET



ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was some American football, a bit of memorabilia, a chair with stars and stripes on it. But, otherwise, it was pretty scrap metal, the Afghan saying that they managed to lock that down.

But, certainly, it comes at a time when there are question marks over whether the Afghan forces can defend their people against the Taliban. And I mentioned Bagram Air Base, which is really now just this deserted, sprawling facility. Afghans are going to put some 3,000 troops in there. You know, the twin runways running two miles are completely empty. There are perhaps plans to move the Afghan Air Force in there, but as we know, they have only about 30 helicopters and planes. So, you know, I guess it begs the question, what is Afghanistan going to do with its enormous facility.

And we also know that there's a prison inside Bagram Air Base that houses some 5,000 prisoners, most of them terrorist members of Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban. There are political prisoners there -- foreign prisoners, I should say, from Pakistan, Chechnya, the Middle East. Many concerned that that will now be a target for the Taliban, but Afghan forces assuring us, Boris, that they are more than capable to keep that area safe.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Yes, no question. It remains an enormous concern and we should tell you, Anna, that as you were speaking, U.S. Central Command confirmed that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is now more than 90 percent complete, so, really, just days left of the United States' longest war taking place in Afghanistan.

Anna Coren reporting from Kabul, thank you so much.

In just hours, President Biden is going to be speaking about the COVID pandemic. It comes as another outbreak at a summer camp is raising concerns about unvaccinated kids. What you need to know about summer camp and the delta variant after a quick break.


[11:35:00] SANCHEZ: In just a few hours, President Biden is scheduled to give remarks on the pandemic. The United States narrowly missing the president's goal of having 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day. The president is expected to highlight the progress made because of the vaccination program and the importance of having every eligible American vaccinated.

The delta variant is leading to a rising number of cases in areas with the lower vaccination rates. Joining us now to discussion this and more, Dr. Stella Safo. She's an Internal Medicine Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Icon School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. Dr. Safo, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us this morning.

When the Biden administration took office, there was a push to get the vaccination program on track. It has met or exceeded some goals, falling short with others. What new goals would you like to see the White House aimed for as we settle into this new phase of the pandemic?

DR. STELLA SAFO, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: I think the new goal really has to be around targeting those younger than 25. Unfortunately, we're seeing that while there is access for those groups. We're not seeing the uptake among those younger than 25, as much as you would like to.

The issue there is, I think, there is a sense of complacency and a feeling that young people are not as much of a risk or they're not as much at risk. The issue is that though they are the ones who are able to then can spread it, and so getting them vaccinated needs to be a real focus.

SANCHEZ: And if you were to offer advice to President Biden on how to go about doing that, how would you advice him?

SAFO: Well, I think we have used what we've seen for so many of the other groups. It's so interesting, because in public health campaigns, historically, we have used wide scale advice that came through the radio, television, trusted public health officials.

In the world that we live in now, we are seeing that trusted messengers within the community are those that are having the most impact on getting the message out for what to do around COVID precautions and taking the vaccine.

And so for young people, you really have to go to the social media platforms, the TikTok, the influencers and talk to them and have them kind of reach out the others. There's a lot of really great programs on the ground now training young people to be able to be ambassadors within their communities to encourage their peers basically to get the vaccine. And so I would say find the people who they listen to and kind of go through them.

SANCHEZ: And, Doctor, I want to get your thoughts on the summer camps, a lot of kids going to summer camp right now. There are already reported outbreaks including one in Texas. More than 125 cases linked to one camp, hundreds more people there are exposed. Do other camps and parents need to take that as a warning?

SAFO: I think absolutely. You know, if you think about what happened in Texas, this happened because it was a low -- relatively low vaccination rate area compared to other parts of the country that are kind of doing a little bit better with getting vaccinated. So, if you're sending your kid to camp and your vaccination rates in that local area are not, I would say, at least above 50 percent, there's a real fear that adults who could have been vaccinated who are not vaccinated, young people who could have been vaccinated who are not vaccinated are around your kid and spreading COVID.


But the challenge now is the delta variant is very infectious. And so we're seeing that in areas where the vaccination rates are not penetrating, people are at more risk to get infected.

At the very least, you do have to encourage your child to at least continue to wear a mask indoors because that's an area where enclosed spaces are really seeing the spread.

So, Texas is just the beginning. Unfortunately, there will be more outbreaks like this if we're not able to really continue social distancing mask wearing and vaccinations.

SANCHEZ: And we'll be watching for how the president addresses those outbreak in just a few hours when he speaks about COVID-19. Dr. Stella Safo, thank you so much. We appreciate your time.

Coming up, President Biden hitting the road tomorrow to pitch Americans on the agenda. We'll tell you where the president is heading, why it's important and what he plans to tout, next.



SANCHEZ: President Biden is hitting the road tomorrow. The president traveling to Illinois to sell his American families plan, which would put hundreds of billions of dollars toward child care, paid family and medical leave and tuition free community college among other initiatives.

Joining us now to discuss is CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis. He's a Political Anchor at Spectrum news and Host of the You Decide podcast. Errol, always great to have you on. Thanks for joining us.

This county that President Biden is heading to in Illinois is one that Donald Trump won in 2020. What do you make of the significance of that, taking his pitch into Trump territory during his first presidential visit to Illinois?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, good morning, Boris. This is exactly what Joe Biden needs to do. This is exactly what Democrats need to do. He's going to be campaigning alongside Lauren Underwood, who's one of these people who flipped a Republican seat back in 2018 and then held on to it in 2020. But it's still a district, it's still an area that's very friendly to Republicans and, in fact, much of the county itself went for Donald Trump.

So this is the -- this is the heart and soul of the Biden voters. This is what got him his victory. This is what got the Democrats their majority. This is what they have to hold on to in 2022. And so it's the right place to start. I think you're going to see him going through other districts like this. There are four of them in Pennsylvania, there is two in Michigan. A lot of these are seats that flipped from Republican to Democrat in 2018 and then the Democrats managed to hold on to them in 2020.

Joe Biden is going to hang on to those districts in any way he can, and so showing up in town, talking about new water systems, new roads that aren't going to cost the local county or the local states anything, it's going to get a lot of attention. It's going to be the best way he can try and sell this if it's going to get through Congress.

SANCHEZ: Errol, I want to pivot and zoom in to the race for mayor of New York City. Numbers released last week show Eric Adams at 50.1 percent, Kathryn Garcia at 48.9 percent. How close do you think it's going to get between them? We're expecting new numbers later today, right?

LOUIS: Yes, we're expecting new numbers, in fact, possibly, in the next few minutes, Boris. The possibility, because we're using ranked- choice voting for the first time in New York for this position, the possibility of Kathryn Garcia overtaking and surpassing Eric Adams to become the first woman mayor of New York City is very exciting to a lot of people.

We're all just observers however. And we just have to wait for upwards of 120,000 absentee ballots to be calculated, and that's going to happen possibly in next few minutes, and then we'll know.

For Kathryn Garcia to win, just to get into strategy for a little bit, she will have to really, really do well among those absentees, like well over 50 percent, well over 55 percent, actually, in order to win. It is possible, it's not likely, but we're going to wait with bated breath and see what the voters decided.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's really hard to believe that there's never been a woman mayor of New York City, 109 mayors in its history, not one woman in history. I'm curious about what you think regarding her efforts and her strategy on the way into the election. If she did win what issues put her over the top?

LOUIS: You know, it's interesting, it's not even so much the issues, Boris, but the fact that she's the former sanitation commissioner. She ran the emergency food response during the pandemic. She's a longtime, never elected, never run for office before, but she's a longtime public servant.

And our survey showed that people really highly valued probably because of the pandemic competence in government, ability to manage a city agency. She certainly has that. If she should come out on top, that would basically be the verdict of the voters saying that that's what we want, more so than ideology, more so than party affiliation or anything else. We want somebody who can get their hands around this very large government bureaucracy that we have and see us through the end of the pandemic.

This was, of course, the epicenter and a lot of people died, so I think there's a real understanding that who runs the government and whether they do it well matters a whole lot, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, no question about that. We will be eagerly refreshing the website to see the numbers updated.


Errol Louis, thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, $70 million in a ransom. It is the single biggest ransomware attack to date. And right now, it's impacting up to 1,500 businesses around the world. We'll speak to an expert about the implications at home. That's next.



SANCHEZ: It's being called the single biggest global ransomware attack on record, over 1,500 businesses all over the world hit with a massive cyberattack, including here in the United States. Fortunately, U.S. officials say it is not a threat to the country's critical infrastructure. Hackers demanding $70 million in Bitcoin to restore the company's data.

Joining us now to discuss further, Amit Yoran, he is the CEO and chairman of cybersecurity company, Tenable. He's also the former director for cybersecurity in the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Amit, always great to have you on.

What can you tell us about this cyberattack and the group that is suspected of being behind it?

AMIT YORAN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, TENABLE: Well, the group that's suspected to be behind it are Evil -- Ransomware Evil is operating in Russia, and it's effectively the same group that we've seen involved in previous attacks, the shutting off of Colonial Pipeline, the disruption of JBS and the meatpacking and distribution operations and other activities. So it's very concerning.

SANCHEZ: A spokesperson for the National Security Council said today that the cyberattack was not a threat to critical infrastructure, some experts that we've been speaking to say that we won't actually know the full impact of this hack for some time. Can you give us an idea of how this might impact people at home? YORAN: I think this fundamentally sidesteps the issue. Whether this particular attack has impacted critical infrastructure or not is almost irrelevant. We know that this type of attack has previously disrupted critical operations and we know -- and we can expect reasonably that in the future, these types of attacks will increasingly be able to disrupt critical infrastructure and critical operations and deny essential services to Americans. So these are the types of issues that we really need to get our arms around as a nation.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And over the weekend, President Biden said the United States would respond if intelligence determined that the Kremlin is somehow involved in the hacking. How would you like to see the White House tackle this thread? What kind of response, in your eyes, would be appropriate?

YORAN: We need a multi-pronged approach to these types of complex issues. The government and the White House absolutely need to get involved. There's a critical role for government to play. Whether the Kremlin was actively involved or whether it was just tacit approval or allowing these types of criminal operations from within Russia's borders is incredibly important. We need to make sure the rule of law exists.

And the government should respond perhaps with cyber means, counterattacks and disruptions and things like that, but also with non-cyber means, with sanctions, with freezing of assets, with making it very clear to Russia and to other governments around the world the disruption of critical infrastructure and disruption of U.S. businesses will not be tolerated. And so that needs to happen.

The second prong here, and what you've seen come out of the White House and the National Security Council only a few weeks ago was a very strong statement from the government that says, we cannot protect critical business interests. And that it is imperative for business leaders in the U.S. and around the world to protect themselves. That means strongly authenticate their users. It means actively manage and patch and make sure their systems are well protected. It means implementing backups and recovery processes and procedures and having those available.

So, the private sector and corporate American industry need to do a better job protecting themselves so they don't fall victim and the government needs to do a better job to establish the precedent that this is not to be tolerated.

SANCHEZ: Quickly, Amit, you mentioned public facet of this, the private aspect. How about people at home? Is there anything citizens can do to try to mitigate the effects of these attacks?

YORAN: Well, for sure, there's a rolefor citizens to play, and number one is don't be gullible online. Make sure that you're exercising good cybersecurity practices. And the Department of Homeland Security puts some of these tips out there in how to better protect yourself, choosing strong passwords, using multifactor authentication for sites which support that, making sure you're keeping your computer at home, patched and up to date, you're using anti-malware and anti-virus types software.

So there's a lot that you can do, and, of course, you'll get calls and they'll be phishing and scams. Make sure every call you get, you're very suspicious and cautious about what you're doing online.

SANCHEZ: All very good ideas, great advice. Amit Yoran, thank you so much, as always.

We have a quick CNN programming note to share with you. A brand new CNN original series airing this Sunday, History of the Sitcom has all the behind the scenes stories from the classics and new shows leading the way. You can watch Sunday at 9:00 P.M. only on CNN.


We also should tell you that we're monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa as it barrels towards Florida. This is a live look from Key West.