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At This Hour

100-Plus Kids Quarantined after Positive COVID Tests at Georgia School; First Group of Evacuated Afghan Interpreters Arrives in U.S.; Big Day for Women's Soccer at the Tokyo Games. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: At this hour, the surging number of COVID cases is impacting schools. More than 100 students at an Atlanta school are now in quarantine and these kids just went back to class this week.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live outside Atlanta's Drew Charter School for more on this. Natasha, what more can you tell us?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the head of school just chatted with us. There are now a few more cases that originally reported, so he says it's a handful of positive test cases. Most of the employees who tested positive were not vaccinated, one of them was.

Now, he said, he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this week that about one-third of the kids eligible for a vaccine, that is 12 and up, are actually vaccinated but very tough, of course, to manage this in a situation where so many children are not eligible for the vaccine. So you have got more than a hundred students at this point in quarantine.

We did speak to one parent and his child who attends the school and the student told us that she is frustrated because she just got back to in-person learning.


NIYVAH, DREW CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENT: And I feel like they should not have everybody back inside of the school because they could catch it too, like hand sanitizer won't work.

I feel mad. At the same time I don't because I don't want to catch it. And I feel mad because like I just got inside and I just spent money on my stuff. And, yes, and it is like, we're not even going to use it no more.


CHEN: He dad said he isn't that surprised that this happened because of the rapid spread of the delta variant, the uptick in COVID cases. He did say that he wishes that only vaccinated students and teachers could be in-person at school but he realizes that is a very difficult policy to navigate.

So, right now, they're just trying to be as safe as possible. Masks are required indoors at school, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And now so many families' lives tossed up and all into confusion once again because of it. Natasha, thank you.

So, what is happening in Atlanta is why the push to get children vaccinated is so urgent right now. Currently, children 12 and older are eligible for the shot. 12 and under are still waiting for that emergency approval authorization.

Trials are underway and the FDA has just asked drug makers Pfizer and Moderna to expand the size of their COVID clinical trials for children. They want to make sure that there is enough data about any potential and rare side effects, which leads me to my next guest who enrolled her daughter in a Pfizer trial.

And if you are wondering why, let me read this. She says this in a commentary. Quote, I decided to enroll my daughter in the trial because I trust scientists and doctors even though they may not have all of the answers, I do not trust the virus.

Joining me now a mom and daughter who have answered the call, Taylor Hirth and her very brave seven-year-old daughter, Elleanor. Thank you for being here so much. It is so good to meet you guys, as I said in the commercial break.

Taylor, I have so many questions but you lay it out so well in your commentary that you wrote. But tell us, why did you want Elleanor to take part in the trial? How did you get comfortable with it?

TAYLOR HIRTH, ENROLLED DAUGHTER IN PEDIATRIC COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL: I got comfortable with it for a few reasons. Number one, I had COVID back in December, and I suffered with long haul symptoms, dizziness, vertigo, fatigue, weird things going on with my breath, shortness of breath, and it is miserable.

And I know that kids can also experience long haul systems and that is something that I wanted to protect her from. Even though she's young, even though she's healthy, that doesn't preclude you from getting long haul COVID, which I think there just isn't enough talking about, because everybody is worried about ventilators and dying from COVID.


The thing normal immune system people need to be concerned about is the long haul issues. You can get on any Facebook group that is long haul support group, and they will -- you can read people's experiences. It is awful.

Another reason is because my dad is immunocompromised. And I know he has a rare form of cancer. And he has an excellent prognosis because of science, because of medical research. And, you know, we benefit from that because he's still alive. And I want to make sure that kids have access to the vaccine as soon as possible and participating in trials will maybe do that.

BOLDUAN: Taylor, I want to show our viewers, Elleanor, I want to show our viewers a picture that you took of Elleanor shortly after her first shot. It is part of the Pfizer trial. And, I mean, she's all smiles in this picture. I get the feeling that Elleanor is all smiles most of the time. But, Taylor, what was going through your mind at that moment? And have there been any issues so far?

T. HIRTH: No. She has done fantastic. We still don't know whether she got the placebo or the actual vaccine, but fingers crossed. I mostly took the photo because I wanted to people to see that it is just a vaccine. It is not scary. It is not painful. It is quick and easy and a kid can do it.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, go ahead.

ELLEANOR HIRTH, SEVEN-YEAR-OLD PARTICIPANT IN PFIZER COVID VACCINE TRIAL: If you look at it, it will hurt, but if you don't, it won't. So I look at it that I didn't want to get it so I was really nervous. And once I didn't look at it, I just got it.

BOLDUAN: You're so awesome. And, Elleanor, I wanted tell you, I told my almost seven-year-old daughter, so she's almost your age, that I was going to be speaking with you and I told her about what you're doing. And you know what she told me? She said, holy camolies, mom, that girl is so cool.

What do you think about all of this?

E. HIRTH: I don't know.

BOLDUAN: I know it is so strange. Elleanor, mom says that you were pretty good about using your negotiating skills around all of this and you were able to get new doll out of when you agreed that you wanted to take part in this trial. Tell me about your doll.

E. HIRT: It is a (INAUDIBLE) doll and it looks like this.

BOLDUAN: Oh, I like the purple hair. Is that purple hair or purple headband? Now, that is fancy.

E. HIRTH: Blue.

BOLDUAN: I love it. Taylor, what was the conversation like between you and Elleanor leading up to this?

T. HIRTH: It was -- she follows the news just as much as I do. And so she has a pretty good understanding of COVID and vaccines and, you know, she was excited when our grandpa -- when her grandpa got the vaccine. She's excited when I got the vaccine because it means that we're protected from COVID. And it is something that she's been worried about since a year-and-a-half ago.

And so explaining to her that, you know, there are risks involved because kids haven't gotten the vaccine before, it was important. And, I mean, she was just concerned about what she could get out of the deal. So, it was I'll get the vaccine if you get me a doll.

BOLDUAN: Any good, smart seven-year-old would want to do, let's be honest. I mean, Taylor, I know that -- you know that some parents are watching and just cannot fathom having their kid take part in a trial like this or in any medical research. What do you say to them?

T. HIRTH: I say it is easy to get lost in the politics of it because politicians have been running their mouths about the vaccine, COVID for over a year now. And don't listen to politicians. Turn off the T.V. Turn off the -- it is not about the government, it is about the doctors. The doctors know what they're doing.

Every major health system, John Hopkins, K.U. Med (ph), the Mayo Clinic, they all have fantastic podcasts available that explain, breakdown COVID, they answer questions. Listen to the doctors. Don't listen to the politicians.

And all of the doctors are going to tell you that you need to get the vaccine. You should be wearing a mask because the more that vaccinated people and unvaccinated people are interacting and passing the virus between each other, the more is there a risk that we're going to have a vaccine resistant COVID strain or a more deadly COVID strain show up. And I don't want to go back to there. I don't want to go back to quarantine and isolation and dealing with all of that.

So, you know, do the bare minimum, get the vaccine, wear a mask for a little while.


I know it is uncomfortable and it is not fun, it is not cute, but it is the only way that things are going to get back to normal. This is a global pandemic. We're not the only ones dealing with this. This is something --

BOLDUAN: That is exactly right.

T. HIRTH: This is not unique to the United States. It is not unique to the U.S. government. This is something that every country in the world is struggling to eradicate and mitigate and --

BOLDUAN: And everyone needs to do their part, if that is taking the vaccine or if it is being an awesome, brave seven-year-old who is leading the way and smiling along the journey. Elleanor, I am so happy to meet you. And I can see on your momma's face that she's super proud of it and we're really thankful for you. Taylor, thank you so much for coming on.

T. HIRTH: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: You deserve another doll. I'm just going to say it on national television, Elleanor. I'm going to say it. Thanks, guys.

T. HIRTH: Thank you. BOLDUAN: Coming up -- God I love them. Coming up for us, another very important story we're tracking. They've risked their lives to help Americans stay safe in Afghanistan. Now, the first group of Afghan translators are on U.S. soil.

We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: The first group of evacuated Afghan interpreters arrived today under a special program. This, of course, after facing many death threats from the Taliban for helping to keep American troops and diplomats safe in Afghanistan.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is live at Ft. Lee in Virginia for us this hour. Kylie, what are you learning about their arrival?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we watched this morning as about a dozen buses pulled into these gates behind me marked with the words, welcome to Ft. Lee. These are Afghan interpreters who worked side-by-side with U.S. diplomats and U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. They put their lives on the line to do that.

They are now leaving their entire lives in Afghanistan. They are leaving a country where the future is frankly uncertain. There are concerns about a civil war and Taliban offenses in that country are surging. They are particularly threatening folks, just like those who arrived here in the United States today, because they worked alongside the U.S. over the last 20 years.

Now, President Biden welcomed these folks who got here today. He said this is the first of this effort. There are still a lot of work to be done. And he had one message for them, welcome home. But there are still some 20,000 Afghans who have applied for these visas and we are waiting to see what the entire process will look for them as they try to get out of the country and face threats. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Kylie, thank you for that reporting.

Coming up for us, a big day again for the Olympic team, the U.S. Olympic team. The U.S. women's soccer team is now headed to the semifinals in Tokyo. An update, we'll take you there.



BOLDUAN: A big day for the U.S. women's soccer team in Tokyo at the Olympic Games. Coy Wire is there with all of the details. He joins us now.

Coy, it was a nail-biter.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. There were people around this live shot running, hooting and hollering. There was drama here in Tokyo. It was a win or go home match of the 2019 World Cup final between the U.S. Women's National Team and the Netherlands, and it went into penalty kicks, where U.S. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher we made two monster saves, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe all delivering on theirs. The U.S. advances 4-2 on penalties and will face Canada in the semifinals on Monday.

Now, let's move to Simone Biles. She posted some scary videos this morning's practice sessions here in Tokyo, saying things like that she couldn't feel up from down. She didn't know where she was. She said it was the craziest feeling ever. She said, quote, not having an inch of control over your body, what's even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air, I also have no idea how I'm going to land or what I'm going to land on, head, hands, feet, back, unquote.

The 24-year-old said when she's had the twisties, as she's called them in the past, Kate, it's taken two or more weeks for them to go away. We'll see if she is okay to compete again here in Tokyo when the individual competition starts Sunday.

And U.S. keeps stacking medals in the pool. Dear friends, Lily King and Annie Lazor competing in the 200-meter breast stroke final. South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker would set the world record, but the training partners from the U.S. finished silver and bronze. It was an incredible moment.

Lazor almost quit swimming after not qualifying for the Rio, Kate. Her dad passed suddenly a few months ago. So when you see these types of emotion, these types of reaction, you understand what they've been through. It wasn't just them. It's their communities and families back home that lift them up and inspire them to achieve their greatness here in Tokyo.

BOLDUAN: I just love seeing them celebrate the greatness of all of them together, like just right away in the pool. It's just a really, really beautiful thing. Coy, thank you so much for that. I really, really appreciate it.

Coming up next for us, we hear from two doctors going the extra mile to connect people and vaccines.



BOLDUAN: Two CNN heroes, two doctors go the extra mile to give people access to life-saving COVID vaccines.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): In Pittsburgh, Dr. Jim Withers brings medical care and now vaccines to those experiencing homelessness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I take a listen?

You only have to go so where someone is and cut down those barriers.

If I had a lollipop, I'd give it to you.

We provide something that can save a life, and the lives of people that they come in contact with. It's a really unique and powerful feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anthony, I just want to say hi.


COOPER: In Philadelphia, Dr. Wendy Ross' low stress sensory friendly vaccination clinic for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, like autism, is a game changer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's less waiting online, and we provide tools, like fidgets. All our vaccinators are educated to be sensitive and have strategies for vaccinating this population.


All done, all done, good job. Awesome.

Getting the vaccine to this population absolutely is saving lives.