Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Biden Speaks as Rate of Daily Vaccinations Ticks Up; Florida Breaks Hospitalization Record as Governor Remains Defiant on Strategy; United Airlines Mandates COVID Vaccines for All Employees. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 06, 2021 - 11:30   ET


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Essential workers, while the aid to states and cities and counties and tribes have kept essential workers going, police officers, firefighters, educators on the job, funding for schools to reopen and ventilation system, sanitation services and protective equipment to keep students and staff safe.


As we vaccinated America, we developed our economic tools to help our economy recover. As a result, in the past three months, we've created on average of 832,000 new jobs per month since sworn in, as compared to 50,000 jobs in the last three months of the previous administration.

Look, even so, my message today is not one of celebration. It is one to remind us we have got a lot of hard work left to be done both to beat the delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery. We all know what it starts with. And I said it again and again, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So we have to get more people vaccinated.

I said, well over -- what is the number again, I have to remind myself. 350 million Americans have already been vaccinated. They're doing fine. I'm pleased to report that the past week we've seen the first time vaccinations in America go up by 4 million people getting -- 4 million shots. That is more than we've seen in a long time.

Want to thank the governors. I listen to the governor of Maryland today on the television. He's doing a heck of a job, Democratic governors as well, Republican governors. They're getting the word out.

Look, as you all know, I put in place new incentives and requirements to encourage vaccinations. For example, federal workers will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to wear a mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week, socially distance and generally will not be allowed to travel for work. There will be more to come in the days ahead.

And, once again, I want to thank the local leaders and the private sector, leaders who are imposing vaccine requirements. America can beat the delta variant just as we beat the original COVID- 19. We can do this. So wear a mask when recommended, get vaccinated today, all of that will save lives. And it means we're not going to have to the same kind of economic damage we've seen when COVID-19 began.

But we aren't stopping there. The American rescue plan was built knowing the recovery would take time, that there would be ups and downs So let me outline today six specific actions people will see over the next few weeks to make sure that we fight the delta variant and wait for new vaccinations to be finished and keep our economy strong.

First, thanks to the latest middle class tax cut, in a long time, the next monthly check, that is the child tax credit. In the next month, next nine days, checks are all going to go out to almost 40 million families with children in nine days beginning next month -- in the middle of this month, I should say.

On August 15th, for example, a family with two young kids under the age of seven is going to get a check for $600 paid immediately and they get a check next week -- next month for $600, et cetera. If you're a family with two kids between the ages of 7 and 17, you're getting a check for $500, $250 per child, and that will continue month after month.

Second, I've looked ahead. We looked ahead. And now schools have the resources they need to safely reopen as school year starts again so that every child can be in school full-time, safe in this year.

Third, we provided months ago states and localities with $45 billion in their coffers, state and localities, to help renters and landlords to keep people in their homes and keep the local economy strong. That money has to get out now. I'm urging all local officials to get that money out.

And we're going to send more help to small businesses on Main Street so that the delta variant doesn't cause them to lay off employees and shutter their doors.


There is something called the paycheck protection program. It is a loan program, forgivable, if a small business kept their employees on the job and the doors open. We're now in the process to forgive those loans for small businesses who are doing the right thing, putting them in a better position to keep their businesses going.

Fifth, if anyone is worried about getting health insurance during the pandemic, there is help today. For those who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, we're covering more people with more extensive benefits, with premiums that average 40 percent lower. If you don't have insurance, you can still sign up under the Affordable Care Act through the August 15th. Just go to today.

And sixth, we're going to lower the prices on everything from prescription drugs to hearing aids by allowing businesses to compete, which will give them more choices at lower cost. For example, you're not going to have to go to a doctor to get a prescription to get a hearing aid. You're going to go right to the counter of the store and buy it over the counter.

The bottom line is this. What we're doing is working. But don't take my word for it. Forecasters on Wall Street project over the next ten years, our economy will expand by trillions of dollars and will create 2 million more jobs a year, good paying jobs. We just have to keep going. And it is simple, that means get vaccinated, please. It is safe. It works. It will save lives and maybe save your life.

And as I said before, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, so please get vaccinated. We can get this done. We just have to stay the course. And we just have to remember who we are. You've heard me say it before. We're the United States of America. There is not single thing, nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together.

God bless you all and may God protect our troops and have a good weekend.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: All right. We are listening right there to President Biden making comments on jobs report, also speaking a lot about the virus and the state of spread, community spread in the United States right now.

Let me bring in Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox to start us off. The first thing out of the gate, Lauren, is he talked about that infrastructure bill and what he says will be the help and impact that the bipartisan infrastructure bill will have on the economy. Tell us what could be happening with that this weekend in.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, he's trying to keep the momentum up because, last night, there was not an agreement that was actually reached to try to speed up this process. This weekend, the Senate is going to be back on Capitol Hill trying to find some kind of agreement to speed this process up.

So far, that has been illusive, in part, because senators have various amendments that they want to get voted on, and without agreement from all 100 senators, things really start to slow down on Capitol Hill.

So, we expect a key vote tomorrow. Potentially, there could be an agreement on amendments. This whole process could move along quite swiftly. If they don't get that, expect it to drag out through the weekend into early next week.

And, of course, Schumer has made clear, he doesn't want to leave town without another vote on the budget resolution, which would give the Democrats the ability and kind of the blueprint to lay out their own bill on infrastructure in the upcoming weeks ahead.

So there is a lot to do before lawmakers can leave for that month-long August recess. It is still very unclear whether or not they're going to have the votes they need in order to speed this process along. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Diane Swonk is kind enough to stick around as well as CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.

Diane, the president said this. What is undisputable now is this, the Biden plan is working, the Biden plan produces results and the Biden plan is moving the country forward, as he's talking about the economy.

Every president gets to tout the good that happens under his watch and is blamed for bad that has happened under his watch. What is your reaction to what you heard from President Biden on the economy?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Well, I think the most important issue is vaccines. We do need to see vaccines and we are in a race with the delta variant. And if we get a variant that goes around vaccines, that is something we definitely do not want because that would set us back quite far in the U.S. economy.

The last stimulus plan was more than enough to fill the hole and then some of the hole left by COVID. The problem is COVID has not disappeared, and so that is one problem.

The other issue, and I think it's very important, is how inefficient -- people forget inefficient governments are in actually spending the money they've allocated.


And the president himself made the point about the rental money not getting out to people fast enough.

We've also seen at the state and local level, it fell well short of expectations. We actually had a contraction in state and local spending despite all of those transfers that the president listed because it has not been spent yet. That will take some time.

And I think that is a part that people sort of forget about, is how long it takes for governments to actually ramp up these projects and ramp up even things that should take less time, they cannot get it out of the door fast enough. And I think that is one of the challenges.

Another issue really important is broadband. We're talking about infrastructure. But if we want to really reach those who have been most disenfranchised in this pandemic, those who do not have access to broadband both in inner cities and in rural areas, the dead spots we have out there, that does not only hurt their educational attainment of their children but their access to medical care and telemedicine and the rest of the economy. And I think that is very important to point out as well.

And so there are things that we do need to do. There is no question about that. We have gotten an extra help from stimulus that may be overheating the economy a little bit. I'll take the heat as long as we can really get people back into jobs more rapidly. But that also means containing the spread of the virus. We really need to get those vaccines in people's arms.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Dr. Wen, there is no economic recovery without continuing to get through the pandemic and past the pandemic. The president said that it is going to get worse before it is getting better. And you could see him once again literally pleading with people who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated, to get the shot, making the case once again.

The question is what is actually going to break through? And in the absence of breaking through, how much worse is it going to get before it gets better, Dr. Wen?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We don't know at this point. I mean, there are a lot of projections out there. Some of the projections show that if we don't do anything, as in, if we don't get our vaccine numbers significantly up, if we don't re-impose indoor mask mandates, we could be at a point of having hundreds of thousands of new infections every day, which is horrific to think about, especially because we actually have the ability to stop this from happening again.

Now, I don't expect that we're going to see deaths escalate, as they did back in November and December, but we are going to see more people die, including, unfortunately, children who cannot yet be vaccinated.

To the point about President Biden's speech, I mean, I actually thought it was a very good speech. It was important for him to remind us about the progress that the administration has made and it is tremendous progress in terms of getting the vaccines out. And it was also good that the president reminded us that we are talking about the unvaccinated who is the problem and we should not be celebrating. The premature celebrations, including, frankly, by the White House were too soon. And it is time for us to really do the necessary things.

One thing the Biden administration could do now is to really get behind proof of vaccination. I was hoping that the president would address that today. I mean, there are so many businesses, schools, even the federal government, that are now asking people to be vaccinated. How can we securely make sure that they're actually vaccinated, especially because we know that the honor code, the honor system does not work? That is something I really want to hear from President Biden going forward.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a great point and great question that you raise, Dr. Wen. Thank you all so very much. I really appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, in Florida, the governor is refusing to back down on his vow of no mask or vaccine requirements in schools. I'm going to ask the chief of Miami-Dade schools how his district plans to navigate that order as they're about to head back to class. That is next.



BOLDUAN: In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy is set to announce today that masks will be required for all students in class, in grades K to 12 this fall. It is a move that was not in the governor's playbook just a few weeks ago. But that was before the shocking rise in COVID cases linked to the delta variant. No such strategy shift though as expected in Florida. The governor there adamant he will not be allowing any local mask or vaccine mandates, even though that state is the hot spot of hot spots currently. Florida leads the nation with the number of people in the hospital with COVID.

And Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest school district in the country and it's the only one of the only top four that right now has not announced a mask requirement in schools. And a threat from the governor to cut funding looms over them if they do.

Joining me now for more on this is the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho. Thank you so much for being here.

You have said that you will announce the final kind of school policy about what you're going to be doing two weeks before the start of school. That is this Monday. What are going to do?

ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Good morning, Kate. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

You know, we announced that we were delaying a final decision on the protocols for one simple reason. We have been a district and we'll continue to be a district that is absolutely guided by science and the expert advice of public health and medical experts.


We have a task force meeting that is coming week to deliberate these issues.

But, look, this is happening within the context that, within the past hour alone, the Department of Education and the Department of Health for the state of Florida adopted emergency rules basically mandating mask mandates to be optional as a decision made by parents. So, that's the context that we'll be taking to the task force for their deliberation.

We have been guided by science and I do not anticipate that we will deviate from that approach.

BOLDUAN: So, if you are led by science and we know that science, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, every health official and doctor that I have spoken to say that masks on children, especially when such a large portion of them are not eligible to be vaccinated, are needed in class. If science is leading you in that direction, what are you going to do, because you've got the science before you?

CARVALHO: Absolutely. We do believe that we have science on our side, but I think it would be presumptuous on my part to lead with my personal opinion. That is why we will do exactly what we have done over the past year, which is listen carefully to our medical and public health task force experts and let them guide our protocols, our practices and our preventative measures. That's what we've done and that's exactly what we will do. BOLDUAN: Regardless of policy, do you want kids in your schools and staff to all be wearing masks?

CARVALHO: I think that the evidence is pretty compelling, and as I said, it's not my personal opinion, but I think the best prevention, short of vaccination, is the wearing of masks. But that will be an issue that we will be discussing with a task force.

Look, I think it's shameful that, unfortunately, political forces and threats of defunding public education are squeezing students and potentially their well being and that of teachers on this issue.

So that will be the issue that will be discussed by our task force and I'm hopeful that we will emerge with a set of protocols and recommendations that are practicable, that are protective and that do not undermine the full funding of education for our kids and our teachers.

BOLDUAN: The superintendent of another school district wrote Ron DeSantis, the governor, a letter asking him to, quote, not allow pride or politics cloud our better judgment. Do you think that is what the governor is doing, putting politics above public health?

CARVALHO: I'm not going to speak for the governor nor am I going to, quite frankly, try to imagine what's behind his rationale. What I can tell you is this, is that when it comes to the health and well being of students and our teachers, politics should not be a consideration or a factor.

BOLDUAN: 100 percent. But if the choice at this point -- at this point -- Alberto, I'm sorry. At this point, it's getting to the place where it is coming down to almost a binary choice for you, which is protect students with masks and lose funding potentially or don't protect kids and keep school funding. That's an -- that choice just plain and simply sucks, but what do you do if that's the choice you have?

CARVALHO: Those are bookends that quite frankly should not be acceptable in any setting. And I am still hopeful that cooler heads will prevail, particularly Miami-Dade. We're the fourth largest school system in America. We've navigated the pandemic over the past year- and-a-half in a solid way and we hope to continue to do so.

We have a good working relationship with the Commission of Education, with the governor's office and we want to take advantage of any available flexibility that would result in protective measures that simultaneously allow the full funding of public schools. And that is why we will continue to follow our process.

Look, we have one advantage in Miami-Dade. We are the last school system out of 67 school systems in the state that will open the school year on August 23rd, the latest day of any opening in the state of Florida. That gives us some additional time to make a decision that is not rushed, that is protective, but at the same time ensures full funding of education for our students. BOLDUAN: Look, Alberto, I look forward to it. I mean, August 23rd is when your schools open, but it looks like the choice, unfortunately, is very clear, which is going to be -- it's not a tough one though it is tough in the political environment that exists. It's a pretty straightforward one.

I really appreciate you coming on and explaining the process. Please come back. Thank you.

CARVALHO: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a major American airline telling its employees time to get vaccinated or else. More details, next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, United Airlines just announced a vaccine mandate for all of its workers, the first major U.S. airline to do so.

CNN's Pete Muntean, he is joining me with the details. Pete, what are you learning?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, unions representing these United Airline workers are urging them to get vaccinate or face getting fired by this fall. And what's so interesting here is that these unions are underscoring this is legal for United Airlines to do.

Still some holdouts here though. 80 percent of flight attendants have been vaccinated, according to their union, 90 percent of pilots, according to that union. The Airline Pilots Association says exceptions will be granted on a one-by-one basis, for a valid religious reason or a deeply held personal belief.

They also say that there may need to be some further negotiation with the company on this because some pilots just simply don't believe that this is the right thing to do. The United Airlines says, October 25th is the date that someone must provide a lot of documentation to them about all of this.


Flight attendants say there have been breakthrough infections among them.