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At This Hour

COVID Cases Rising in All 50 States; Bipartisan Infrastructure Talks Teetering on the Edge After Schumer Schedules Procedural Vote Next Week; McCarthy's Visit Shows GOP Sees Path Back to Power is with Trump. Aired 11-11:30a ET.

Aired July 16, 2021 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan.

Here is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR:

Nationwide crisis again. COVID cases are rising across America, all 50 states, while the spread of misinformation is driving down vaccination rates and costing lives.

Fish or cut bait? The bipartisan infrastructure deal is in peril and now has a new deadline. How President Biden's number one priority could soon collapse.

And the extraordinary life and tragic death of Anthony Bourdain. A haunting yet beautiful new film. The award-winning filmmaker joins us.

Thanks so much for being here.

But we begin this hour with the entire country now trending in the wrong direction for the first time in a very long time. Right now, every state is showing an increase in coronavirus cases from this week to last.

Take a look at this map. It is now a sea of red and it is fueled by the unvaccinated. The drop in vaccine rates and the delta variant tearing through the country.

The CDC director is now sounding the alarm again. Listen.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I think things could still get worse which is why we're doing everything we can now to make sure that doesn't happen. I don't like to see our cases rising. We haven't seen this amount of cases for months. I'm very concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: And as vaccination rates plummet, the White House is also sounding at alarm about vaccine disinformation spreading online and has been spreading, calling it an urgent threat now to public health.

Let's begin on the ground in two major cities facing worsening situations, CNN's Leyla Santiago is Miami and Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles.

Stephanie, first to you, L.A. County is now reinstating the requirement to wear masks indoors because of all of this. What more are you learning?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And they're pointing to the data and taking a look at what we know. For one thing, everybody hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County is not vaccinated, every single one of them. Just think about what that means.

Also, when you look at the numbers since the state reopened on June 15th to now, they're saying that they've seen the number of new cases are seven times what they were at the -- at the reopening.

Also looking at the positivity. Right now in L.A. County, the test positivity yesterday was 3.7 percent. On June 15th, it was just half a percent.

So this means that they're saying starting tomorrow night at 11:59 p.m. local time, masks will be reinstituted for public places, stores, theaters, anyplace where you are indoor, restaurants. They want you to wear your mask again. They're not doing any more social distancing or they're not putting any limitations on a number of people, they're asking people whether you're vaccinated or not to wear their mask.

It's also worth noting over the last seven days, each day in L.A. County, they've seen a thousand new cases. So the numbers are just too high and they want to implement some change to stop this from getting worse.

Also worth looking at the vaccination rate. If you look in California saying, the number of people that have gotten at least one dose, that number is about almost 63 percent and if you look at the number of people who are fully vaccinated all of California, it's just over half of the population.

Here in Los Angeles County, however, they're saying people with one shot, it's almost 70 percent for the eligible population, above 16 percent and what they need are people to go back and to finish getting their vaccination so they are fully vaccinated because clearly the science works, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great reporting.

Leyla, now to you. What are you seeing and hearing in Florida then?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Florida has the sixth highest case rate in the country recently. And when you look at the numbers there, for the year in its entirety, from January, you will see that sort of downward trend. But this in the last two weeks, you see a significant increase in the numbers.

And then when you look at the vaccination rates here, roughly 47 percent of residents are fully vaccinated compared to those who are partially vaccinated, that stands at 55 percent.

As we check in with some of the big hospitals here, we're hearing the same message. Yes, they are seeing more cases and pretty much is almost exclusively unvaccinated patients.


I spoke to a group of doctors at University of Miami Health and they are ramping up the vaccination efforts because this is very, very worrisome. So, I spent the day at one of their mobile vaccination clinics. I spoke two to moms, one brought in her son to get vaccinated for COVID-19, the other brought in her son to get vaccinated, but just for what was required of the schools, not the COVID-19 vaccine.

I asked them why. Listen to their response.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a brand-new baby, which is the NICU. And I need to be safe for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have I problem with the vaccine. I don't he. Some people do but I don't. I just want to wait it out to see how this affects them.


SANTIAGO: Well, it became clear to me was that the woman you heard from last did not want her son vaccinated. It is an issue of trust and wanting to see side effects with her own eyes first. As for the doctor there, the big of the challenge all day, misinformation.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Leyla, thank you so much. Stephanie, thank you.

Joining me now for more is Dr. Leana Wen. She's CNN medical analyst, the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. And also, Dr. Aileen Marty, she's professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University.

Dr. Wen, what do you think of this move, first just looking at the new move in L.A. County? I mean, I remember a lot of people saying once you lift these restrictions, you're not going to be able to put them back on.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle. They're going to be a lot of people who will resist that but I think L.A. is doing the responsible thing.

We have been saying all along this is not an on and off switch. We have to use indoor masks again if we see surges. I wish the parts of the country that are seeing really bad surges and that have high proportions of unvaccinated people, that they would follow the lead of L.A. County. The problem is not with the vaccinated individuals. If you're vaccinated and you're around other people who are also fully vaccinated, there is virtually to risk to you.

The problem is the unvaccinated are behaving as if they're vaccinated. They are a risk to other unvaccinated people, including young children. But they're also a potential risk to vaccinated people, because of the risk of breakthrough infections. And so, I do think that a proof of vaccination is going to be checked. It makes sense to be reinstated indoor mask mandates when there are people who are unvaccinated and vaccinated mixing together indoors.


And, Dr. Marty, I'm going to play what the former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, what he just said about what L.A. County is doing. Let me play it.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIE, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: I don't think it is the right move. I don't think you could tell people who have been vaccinated they have to wear masks. I think, quite frankly, it's likely to be the exception. I think you'll likely to see very few states and municipalities do this because there is not a lot of support for mandates at this point.


BURNETT: I wonder what you think about this, Dr. Marty, because I'm left wondering, then what are folks to do?

DR. AILEEN MARTY, DISTINGUISHED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, FIU: The problem is that everyone has to have situational awareness. They have to know their particular immune status in the sense of do they have an underlying condition even though they're vaccinated or are they taking a medication that the vaccine may have not given them the same level of protection as someone else.

And also, the reality that any protection we have, all of our protections are imperfect, including the vaccines. They are the best protection we have. But they are not perfect. They're not 100 percent and they never said they were. They never claimed to be.

So people have to understand that if there is an indoor space that is crowded and poorly ventilated and there are people in there who are unmasked and unvaccinated, then the dose that they might inhale of the virus might be sufficient not only to cause them to get the virus in the body, but to actually have symptoms. And although you're still far better off if you're vaccinated, even the vaccinated can get sick. So people need to have this awareness of what the situation is and take the appropriate actions.

BOLDUAN: Look, and, Dr. Wen, taking on misinformation, and the conspiracy theories and the lies about the vaccines is something that the -- I know something you've talked about quite a lot. The White House is now extremely focused on it. But I'm wondering, do you think they can turn this ship around by

focusing on this now, putting a renewed focus on it? Because the conspiracy theories and the lies, quite frankly, have been out there from the beginning.

WEN: Well I think it is important that we try and that we all do our part.

And I really appreciated what the surgeon general said yesterday about all of us having a role in this. That, first of all, misinformation is something that does have health consequences. If people are doubting the effect of masks, it people are not getting vaccinated because they think could cause them more harm than the virus -- I mean, that's information -- that's disinformation that's actively going to harm them and people around them as well.


But I really like the "we should all do something". Because, yes, tech companies have a role but we also have a role. There are people in our lives for whom we are the most trusted messenger. We should be trying to talk to them. Figure out what they have heard about vaccines or the virus and try to debunk misinformation.

We have a role when it comes to potentially looking at what we're sharing on social media and being careful about our own messaging as well.

So, I think this is a proactive step but ultimately I think what the White House needs to get behind are proof of vaccination. Because that is going to be the ultimate incentive that will help people to make the right decision which is not just going to effect themselves but people around them, too.

BOLDUAN: Look, everything is still -- there is still a lot of confusion out there, Dr. Marty. You mentioned some breakthrough cases. We're seeing high-profile break through cases and you have the Red Sox and Yankees game postponed after six Yankees players tested positive and at least three of the players are vaccinated.

And the Olympics are around the corner. Tokyo is still seeing a high rate of new cases.

And I'm just wondering, what do you think is going to happen there?

MARTY: Well, I don't have a crystal ball. But I think that Japan is extremely concerned about the situation and they're taking the measures that are necessary. In fact, unfortunately some places won't be able to attend because they've recently tested positive.

So I think that no spectators, constant testing and not letting people in who are positive is going to reduce the risk of their being a significant problem from those Olympics. But with this delta variant and the potential for other variants forming, all bets are off.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately. It feels that way. It sure does. Thank you both very much.

Still ahead for us, they lost their mother to coronavirus and now they are urging the rest of the country to get vaccinated. I'm going to speak to two sisters who are sharing their emotional story in an effort to help others.

And later, there is no doubt now and Kevin McCarthy is making clear, Trump still has total control of the party, even as the country learns top generals feared Trump could attempt a coup after the election. Is that the way back to power back for Republicans?



BOLDUAN: AT THIS HOUR, bipartisan deal on infrastructure may be teetering on edge of collapse. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, he announced a key procedural vote for next week that is essentially seems to be setting up a make it or break it moment for senators. Strike a deal now on infrastructure or else.

So is this the pressure that will get them there?

CNN's Manu Raju is joining me now from Capitol Hill.

Manu, you often say Congress needs a deadline to get anything done. But how confident are they that it is going to work this time?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is really teetering on the edge of collapse here, because of the fact that they simply do not have a deal on this bipartisan infrastructure proposal yet. And about a month ago, they agreed to a broad framework to pay for roughly $600 billion in new spending, $1.2 trillion overall over eight years.

But they try to turn it into detailed legislative text and that is become an arduous process of an agreement between both sides that would include potentially up to ten Republican senators who could break ranks, break a filibuster and advance it into the House. That is not there at moment.

Chuck Schumer said the negotiations have gone on for time enough and believes that they're making good progress. He believes that a deal could ultimately be reached, but it is still not certain how to do that because in large part they have not figured out how to pay for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

Negotiations went up all day yesterday. They're going to continue on to the weekend, into next week. And several of those Republicans senators who are part of the negotiation told me yesterday very clearly that they're not ready to vote to move ahead next Wednesday if this deal is not finalized.

And that is one aspect here, Kate, of the larger Biden agenda. The other aspect, moving along a separate track, $3.5 trillion to implement much of Joe Biden's agenda to expand the social safety net. And Schumer setting a Wednesday did line to agree to the partisan approach. That's not there yet either. The moderates are not there to endorse that yet.

So this is shaping up to be a consequential several days ahead for Joe Biden to get his agenda through. We'll see if he's able to do just that -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and it is still not clear to me, Manu, and we're not going to dive into this today, but how running unparallel, yet two different tracks, how their helping or hurting each other in getting something done. I don't think it is yet known but it sounds like we're going to find out next week.

It's good to see you. Thank you so much, Manu.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Also happening, the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, making clear once again that Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party. And also making clear that McCarthy believes Trump is his ticket to becoming the next speaker of the House.

On the same day the country learned of how seriously the chairman of the joints chiefs feared Trump would attempt a coup after losing the 2020 election and on the same day that he responded by not promising he would never attempt such a thing -- quote, if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with, is General Mark Milley.


That was Trump.

On very same day, Kevin McCarthy visited Donald Trump and here is what Kevin McCarthy said they discussed.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): These are some of the actual discussions I had with President Trump, talking about the border, talking about our success in the last election, talking about our first six months in fundraising.


BOLDUAN: No discussion however of the danger America's top general believes that Trump was posing to democracy and the country. Only talk of how Trump could help essentially in the election cycle. This shouldn't be surprising considering McCarthy's pressure.

Remember this from after the days after the attack on Capitol on January 6.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.


BOLDUAN: But then days later, McCarthy flew to Florida to make up with the boss. So is this the best they've got?

Joining me now, former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman.

Thank you for being here, Congressman.

What is your assessment of Kevin McCarthy and his clear calculation that Trump is his best bet in light of all of this new reporting?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Well, thanks for having me, Kate.

And this might not be quite as exciting as people want to here, but I think when you look at fundraising quarter and you look at the polling and what they're saying in the districts, and I think even in swing districts, I think election integrity and stop the steal, anti-vax messaging, border messaging, which there are issues there, but the first two should scare people. I think that messaging is working.

And with President Trump and the latest polling of where he would be as a 2024 nominee, looking at what is going on again with fundraising on his side also, I think Kevin made a political calculation that this was the best thing to follow this line, sort of this line of reasoning and these type of issues in order to take back the house in 2022 and for me it is disappointing. I believe that facts and truth is where we should be but on many of the issues that is not where the base is.

And even if it is only 60 percent or 70 percent of the base, in these nominating contests, Kate, those individuals that go down that track had a better chance of winning in the nominating contests and when you look at the top ten fundraisers, those messages are working on GOP side and that is why he went down there.

BOLDUAN: Look, and it wasn't -- take this to another step, it wasn't a majority of Republicans across the country that stormed the Capitol on January 6, but it still had a massive impact on all of us, on democracy, on our country and Trump's words motivated that then. Trump's statement about this reporting and about General Milley, it is really sticking out to me.

I mean, we've learned very clearly that words matter. Trump's words matter very much and have an impact on his followers. Trump is saying that if he were to attempt a coup, it wouldn't be with Mark Milley.

Do you think that just that those words are inviting more violence?

RIGGLEMAN: Yeah, I mean it is an amazing statement from a former sitting president to say if I were to do a coup. That is like me saying, well if I were to plan a birthday party, just to be that flippant about it is ridiculous, because that should never come out of any former president's mouth or any elected official for that matter.

And as far as General Milley, I would go to war with that guy. I mean, the fact is, you know, some have been explaining that he didn't come out and say something at the time but that would have been impossible for him to do based on chain of command and would have taken away his ability to maneuver within the meetings to stop some of this ridiculousness and call attention to it.

And again, .listen, this wildfire started well before January 6. You know that. After January 6th, I thought that Kevin could put out that brush fire with the statement, but you know, when he saw the polling and fundraising, he had to pivot and then January 30th happened.

And people don't know about this date. But I'm going to tell you, that was the anti-vax demonstrations at Dodgers Stadium.

I'm also the chief strategist for Network Contagion Research Institute, and we saw the anti-vax, new world order, scandemics that start to explode again after January 30. So here we are July 16th, since January 6th and January 30th, and you've seen this increase in rhetoric, it is stop the steal, anti-vax, this Fauci ouchy nonsense, that stuff playing really well --


BOLDUAN: In a very twisted way I want to ask you, congressman, because I've heard from more and more people that actually the lies about vaccine misinformation is actually a place where Joe Biden really needs to lean on Joe Biden -- Joe Biden needs to lean on Donald Trump. That Donald Trump is the one, if he came out and he promoted vaccines, that it would actually have a real impact.

A Republican pollster was really pushing that last night on Don Lemon. It is pretty counter intuitive especially how untrustworthy Donald Trump is, but do you think? Do you think it work?

RIGGLEMAN: I think to a point it would. You know, we saw the day on this, Kate, again -- I'm sorry, I was a past intel officer.


So I love this stuff. So sorry if I'm geeking out on you.

But, you know, we saw the data, it is that the anti-vax stuff has metastasized and like stop the steal and the ridiculousness that came out of QAnon.

And I don't even know, President Trump might be able to change some minds. I do believe that, but this is pretty baked in. And I would hope that he could come out and push this because it is very difficult for me to square that you're bragging about Operation Warp Speed and you have most of your supporters saying that vaccinations are unneeded or people going door-to-door to force people, just ridiculous, misinformation and nonsense and conspiracy theories.

And this brushfire has to be put out with facts. President would help, but again, I think, people at the grassroots level need to be brave and stand up in these committee meetings or with friends and fellow family members and say enough of this, take the vaccine, nobody here wants to die. We need to do it right now.

BOLDUN: Congressman, thank you for coming on. Appreciate your time.

RIGGLEMAN: You're welcome, Kate. Thank you.

We're going to get -- still ahead for us, two sisters who lost their mom to COVID have a message for the rest of the country, which is get vaccinated. You will want to hear their story next.