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At This Hour

Denver Mandates Vaccine for City Workers, High-Risk Private Staff; Moderate Democrat, Trump Republican Win Ohio Special Elections; American Sydney McLaughlin Shatters 400-Meter Hurdles Record. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 04, 2021 - 11:30   ET




There is strong divide when it comes to who should be wearing masks in school and who should make that decision. Less than a week away from school, however, we realize it's not just the parents voicing concerns.


LILA HARTLEY, STUDENT: Dear Superintendent, Dr. Green and school board members, I would like to encourage the requirement of masks at school in Duval County.

SANTIAGO (voice over): In a letter to school leaders, Lila Hartley explains what worries her. She's 12 years old, about to be in seventh grade in Duval County, vaccinated, but her little brother, ten-year- old Will, isn't old enough to get the vaccine.

L. HARTLEY: I'm so worried that if masks are not required, my brother could go to school one day and the next be dying in the hospital.

WILL HARTLEY, STUDENT: At school, I wear two masks because I want to make sure I don't get sick.

SANTIAGO: Their father, Matt Hartley, wants Duval public schools to mandate masks.

MATT HARTLEY, FATHER: I care about your kid as much as I care about my kid. I don't want any kid to risk being hospitalized or getting long COVID symptoms or just being a part of our community spread.

SANTIAGO: Mandating masks, however, would defy an executive order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis banning schools from forcing students to wear masks. After hearing from dozens of parents, the Duval County Public School Board voted to change its code of conduct for students late last night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any student not wearing a mask pursuant to this policy must prove his or her or their parent or guardian complete the opt-out procedures. SANTIAGO: Moms for Liberty, a nationwide group whose local chapter of Duval County Mothers Against Mask Mandates, believe requiring masks in school is government overreach. Mother of two, Quisha King, will not be sending her daughter to school with masks.

QUISHA KING, MOTHER OF TWO: The best and most fair thing to do is give parents the option of whether they want their children to wear a mask or not.

SANTIAGO: What the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC says is best, universal indoor masking at schools, in part, to prevent unvaccinated students and stop the spread of COVID-19.

DR. BETHANY ATKINS, JACKSONVILLE PEDIATRICIAN: Masks not only prevent me from passing it to you, there also is you not giving it to me.

Vaccinated people do have the possibility of transmitting the virus even though they're not sick. It's layers of coverage.

SANTIAGO: And layers of comfort and security for students like Lila Hartley and her little brother, both well aware of the fiery debates surrounding the masks they're advocating for in the upcoming school year just days away.

L. HARTLEY: It's okay to have your own opinions. It's like you can think what you want to think but also these masks have proven that they're saving, that they're saving people.

Masks are important so we can continue to enjoy in-person school and not have to hurt families and staff with this terrible virus.

Sincerely, Lila Hartley, student at Landon Middle.


SANTIAGO: And, Kate, Duval County not the only county, not the only district to take up the mask issue. Last night in Alachua County, also part of North Florida, the school board voted to require masks for the first two weeks of school given the surge in cases.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Leyla, thank you so much for that. It was really good to hear from that little Lila. She's a smart chica.

Coming up for us, teachers, firefighters, city employees, if you work in Denver City government, you must get vaccinated or you risk losing your job. Ahead, I'm going to speak to the mayor about why he wants to go further with his vaccine mandate, maybe further than any other city in the country so far.



BOLDUAN: A major step in Denver, the mayor there issuing what is among the most sweeping vaccine mandates in the nation, announcing not only all every city employees required to be vaccinated against coronavirus, but he is also extending the mandate to private sector workers in businesses deemed high risk.

It's estimated that the order it will impact more than 10,000 city workers as well as anyone working in health care and in shelters and correctional facilities, and schools, public and private.

Joining me right now is Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for more on this. Mayor, thanks for being here.

I was looking, Denver's vaccination rate is at like 70 percent, which is one of the highest in the country. Why did you feel the need to take this step and extend it to private businesses?

MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK (D-DENVER, CO): Well, Kate, first, let me thank you for having me this morning. An important issue, we really decided, and what has worked for Denver, is that we look forward, lift our heads up and say, okay, what's in front of us.

And as we look at the horizons, we recognize that not only are we still dealing with the COVID virus but a very transmissible delta virus or variant, and we've got a cold season in front of us where the virus tends to thrive. And so with those concerns in front of us, we felt we needed to take bold action.

You're absolutely right, we have done well in getting people vaccinated. We can do much better and a lot more work ahead of us. But we don't want that bubble to be pierced by the cold season, the rise in virus, the variants and people who are unvaccinated.


So, we had to take bold action.

BOLDUAN: What's not clear is exactly how you plan to hold private businesses and organizations accountable once the September 30th deadline has passed. How do you?

HANCOCK: Well, I mean, first thing, we've got to be focused on what's important here and not be worried about the wrong stuff. This is about compliance. And we've had many conversations with private employers who want to make sure, that we are focused on making sure that their workplaces are safe and healthy for their employees, but also for their customers.

They're going to take this into their own hands and to make sure that they are following through and that they are making sure that their employees are vaccinated. And through public health inspections and regular contact, we hope to develop a system to where they can upload information, demonstrate to us, but also during our inspections, we can determine how people are doing with regards to the vaccination mandate.

BOLDUAN: But then how -- what is the punishment? There's got to be a punishment or you don't hold people accountable. You'd love to work in a world where you don't have to actually do that, but that's not the world we work in.

HANCOCK: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Is it fines? What holds it accountable?

HANCOCK: It is fines. But let me be clear, I want to say again. First and foremost, the objective is compliance. That's what we want, because if people get vaccinated, we all are safer. But, absolutely, employers and businesses can face fines by the city and county of Denver Public Health Department, if they have employees who are vaccinated, and if they are in a high-risk, high-venue location.

BOLDUAN: As you know, when you put a requirement like this in place for -- put in place a requirement for employment, you may lose some workers. The local teachers union is not happy about this. They have spoken up about it. Are you prepared to lose people when you're already looking at a tight labor market?

HANCOCK: Well, we are. And I'll tell you, Kate, we really want to work with folks who work for our city and county of Denver, work for our schools, maybe part of our first responder team has worked so phenomenally hard during this pandemic.

This is really not about taking people's jobs. Again, our number one objective is compliance. We will work with employees and employers to continue to raise awareness, continue to let them know the mandate is in place, and hopefully we gain compliance from that.

But here is how I look at it. If you choose not to be vaccinated, then you are choosing to dismiss yourself from work, to fire yourself. So, it's not the mayor, it's not your employer firing you. You have made that decision as an individual.

We recognize that we may lose some folks from employment. The reality is nothing trumps the public health and safety of people that we are serving, and that's why we put these orders in place. We do not take these orders lightly. We understand what it means to people. We do them for a reason.

It's with a great data, great deal of data, great deal of deliberation and consultation with experts in the field. And this is not to politicize or to create a power move by government. This is about the public health and safety of all residents and employees in the city of Denver.

BOLDUAN: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, thank you.

HANCOCK: As always, thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, it was Dem versus Dem, why a special election primary in Ohio was so closely watched. And now with the result in, what does it say?


[11:45:00] BOLDUAN: This morning, big primary contest in Ohio getting a whole lot of attention. The establishment pick in the Democratic primary, Shontel Brown, CNN projects, will win the Democratic primary in the state's 11th congressional district. She defeated progressive Nina Turner.

And it's not only that this pitted the Democratic establishment against the progressive wing, but also this primary got quite ugly along the way.

So what can we take from all of this?

Joining me right now is CNN Political Director David Chalian, as well as CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

All right, gentlemen, Jeff, you were on the ground in Ohio. What happened? What is your take?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there's no doubt that this was establishment candidate versus a progressive candidate and are really -- both of these ladies have had a long history in Cleveland through local politics. But the race became nationalized and that changed the tenor of it.

Over the weekend, of course, we saw Senator Bernie Sanders supporting Nina Turner. We saw members of the Congressional Black Caucus supporting Shontel Brown. But in the end, the White House stayed silent in this race, but President Biden's agenda was really at the center of this conversation, which one of these candidates would help push his agenda forward. And Shontel Brown was the answer to that. She said she was going to run as a partner.

So, really, it was a coalition of moderate Democrats, also some Jewish Democrats who were concerned that some of the rhetoric that Nina Turner had been saying over the years, and, of course, African- American voters in that district. So, a coalition of voters, but it continued setting the signal that moderate Democrats, the Joe Biden wing of the party, if you will, is alive and well and winning these primary races.

And I just learned a few moments ago, an official says that the president called Shontel Brown last night to congratulate her on her victory and looks forward to her winning the general election in November. As we know, in these primary races, with a district like this, it's a fait accompli that she will become the congresswoman here.

BOLDUAN: It's the ball game. You don't like to say it because you like to be most perfectly precise. I'll say it.


It's the ball game.

David, I heard your voice in my head this morning as I was thinking about our chat with you always reminding me, you can't draw too many conclusions from a special election. But with this one, do you see this as offering any message for the midterms?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, first, in terms of the midterms, Kate, what you just said, and what Jeff was talking about the district, right, this is not a competitive battleground district. This will not determine control of the House, this kind of a district. It's a totally reliably Democratic district.

So, yes, this gives us information about the state of the Democratic Party and where you can build broader coalitions inside a Democratic primary. But this is different than all of those battleground districts that will determine which party controls the House.

Now, as you know, there has been real concern inside the Democratic leadership in the House charged with maintaining the Democratic majority, that their messaging can get off base when, indeed, the progressives sort of take the message too far to the left, harder to win those true battleground districts.

So, I do think there are some lessons here about creating as broad an appeal as possible for the Democrats in the Biden era with the president still having majority approval in this country, a lot of Democrats are trying to say to the candidates, tie yourself to Joe Biden more so than tying yourself just to a progressive wing of special interests.

BOLDUAN: I mean, but progressive Democrats are also really showing kind of a lot of strength and power at the same time. Look no further than Cori Bush and how she single-handedly, sitting on the Capitol steps, brought about this eviction, force the White House and Democrats to push ahead for another eviction moratorium. So, you really see strength there too.

But I want to turn in a different way, right? I want to turn to the Republican side of this, if I can. President Trump's pick in Ohio, in another Ohio race, also won, Mike Carey winning the primary for Steve Stivers' seat, even though Stivers was actually endorsing a different candidate. Jeff, what do you see here?

ZELENY: Well, look, Kate, it shows that President Trump still is very popular in his base. This is a very big primary field, 11 candidates or so. So, a lot of them are splitting up the share of the Republican establishment vote.

And Mike Carey, as you said, who's a novice in politics, he's a lobbyist but got the support of the former president, and that you can see right there those numbers. I mean, he won by it more than 20 percentage points or so.

Former President Donald Trump, for anyone who thinks that he does not have juice in his base among Republican voters, they're wrong about that. He made that clear in a statement shortly after the race was called last night.

So, look, he's very strong in his primaries. He'll continue playing in primaries. And that gives some consternation to some Republican leaders. But this is a safe Republican seat as well. Like David was saying, this will not affect the outcome of the broader balance of power in the House of Representatives.

BOLDUAN: Don't take -- everyone listen to Jeff and David Chalian, because David Chalian will get in your head and remind you, you cannot take too much from one race but I do like to talk about with you, guys, afterwards.

CHALIAN: It gives us a snapshot of the state of the parties right now though. That's really important.

BOLDUAN: That is important. Good to see you guys. Thank you.

CHALIAN: Take care.

ZELENY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Team USA shattering more world records at the Tokyo Olympics. A live report, next.



BOLDUAN: Another world record shattered at the Tokyo Olympics, this one in the women's 400-meter hurdles. The two fastest women to ever run it, both on Team USA, went head-to-head in this major showdown.

CNN's Coy Wire is joining me live from Tokyo with more on this. Hi, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Hi, Kate. Women are dominating here in Tokyo. Think about it. A woman broke the world record in the 400 meter hurdles but had to settle for silver, one of the most exciting races in the games. America's Sydney McLaughlin, the world record holder, and Dalilah Muhammad, the defending Olympic champ, they ran the fastest two times ever in this event.

McLaughlin was trailing at the last hurdle but the 21-year-old found another gear and shattered her own world record by nearly half a second to win gold. Muhammad won that silver even though her time broke the old world record as well. McLaughlin said, this is not a rivalry, afterwards. She said that they are like iron sharpening iron.

And six-time gold medalist Allyson Felix just earned a spot in Friday's final of the 400-meter. She finished second in her semi- final. The 35-year-old is competing in her fifth Olympic Games, but this is the first time she's doing it, Kate, as a mom. Felix's time of 49.89 seconds was the first time she's gone sub 50 since giving birth to her daughter, Camryn, back in November of 2018.

All right, now, after mental health struggles for Simone Biles to withdraw from all but one event here in Tokyo, she revealed that she was coping with the death of a family member. After winning bronze in the balance beam yesterday, Biles said that she found out her aunt passed away a couple of days prior.

The seven-time Olympic medalist responding to people online, calling her Twitter, quote, at the end of the day, you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you say online because you have no idea of what these athletes are going through as well as in their sports, unquote.

Simone Biles, Kate, posted on Instagram that she was leaving this place, she was leaving Tokyo with a full heart. She says she's had a lot of support and it really helped her through this time.


BOLDUAN: And that's an important message for -- she says that you have no idea what athletes are going through, that applies to everything, right, Coy, to everyone and everything in life.

Thank you, Coy.