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The Lead with Jake Tapper
NYC Mayor Announces Vaccine Requirement For Indoor Dining, Fitness Centers, Entertainment & Performances; New York Attorney General Finds New York Governor Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women; President Biden Updates Efforts To Increase COVID Vaccinations; Biden Taking Reporters' Questions At White House. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 03, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: New York City's hottest ticket, vaccination cards.
"THE LEAD" starts right now.
No shot, no service. New York City says if you want to do many indoor activities you're going to have to show proof of your dose. Is this just the start?
Plus, pressure to resign. A defiant denial by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after a damning investigation finds he sexually harassed almost a dozen women.
Then, an Olympian afraid to go home, fearing jail and now talking to CNN about her race for refuge.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.
And we begin today with breaking news in our health lead. Any moment now, President Biden is set to speak about his administration's coronavirus vaccination efforts as the highly contagious delta variant rips across the country and threatens unvaccinated Americans.
You can see the growing number of companies reinstating mask mandates or requiring vaccines for some of their employees. McDonald's and Microsoft are just the latest.
And in New York City, a major announcement for Mayor Bill de Blasio ordering everyone including employees and customers to show proof of vaccination at restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues all in an effort to get more people vaccinated.
CNN's Lucy Kafanov is covering the new mandates across the country and how it could affect your family.
But we're going to start at the White House with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
So, Kaitlan, what exactly do we expect President Biden to say in just moments? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously,
Pam, he's been grappling with so many issues facing him with this surge of the delta variant, fueling these new outbreaks across the country. And the White House really this week has been trying to reset the messaging after the CDC sparked a lot of confusion by changing that mask guidance last week.
So that is one challenge that is facing the president today. He is also going to talk about his efforts to get more Americans vaccinated given his advisers estimate there are about 90 million eligible Americans who have still not gotten the COVID-19 shot yet. So that is going to be a big segment of this speech.
But, Pam, the other thing that has been playing out in this feud in the Democratic Party, over this eviction moratorium that expired on Saturday night.
And Democrats have been complaining that they only got a few days heads up from the White House that they wanted Congress to take action on this after a Supreme Court ruling in June. So the CDC could no longer extend that moratorium. And now it has become a massive ordeal given there are millions potentially on the brink of being evicted from their homes.
And we are just learning from administration officials that today, we are expecting the White House to put something out in an effort to try to limit those potentially forthcoming evictions -- though it's still really unclear what that's exactly going to look like. And we're being warned that this is still not completely sealed yet, what this announcement is going to be from the White House given just yesterday they were saying that of course we don't know what exactly our legal authority with this is, they feel like their hands are tied.
And, of course, Pam, there is another massive new story facing the president today and that is this investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, given in March, President Biden did tell ABC that if this investigation found these allegations to be corroborated, then he believed Governor Cuomo should resign.
The White House has not said one way or the other since, of course, this investigation was announced by the attorney general earlier today. But they have said that any moment now when President Biden is giving these remarks on COVID, he's also expected to take questions and address the situation unfolding with Governor Cuomo.
BROWN: A lot going on there at the White House -- Kaitlan, thanks so much.
And meantime, New York City mayor may be the first major U.S. city to demand you prove your vaccination status, another companies and cities could soon follow suit, as CNN's Lucy Kafanov reports.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Big Apple trying to take a big bite out of the virus by becoming the first city in the country to require proof of vaccine for indoor activities.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things.
KAFANOV: If you want to dine indoors, dance at a night club or work out at a gym in America's largest city, you'll have to show proof of vaccination starting next month.
BLASIO: We're going to use every tool we've got that. That means more and more vaccinations. And we know that strong, clear mandates help.
KAFANOV: What's less clear, how the city will be enforcing the new rule. The National Restaurant Association putting out a statement supporting the decision but laying out the burden this puts on restaurant owners, saying now without training our staff members are expected to check the vaccine status of every customer wanting to eat inside the establishment. Last year when mask mandates across the country were put in place, restaurant workers suffered terrifying backlash when enforcing those rules.
New York City is the first but the White House is pushing for more mandates.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: It's time to impose some requirements based on the realities of different risks, unvaccinated individuals pose versus those who have been vaccinated.
KAFANOV: Private companies like Tyson Foods, Kaiser Permanente health and Microsoft announcing workers must be vaccinated.
And more private companies also bringing masks back. McDonald's and Walmart making masks mandatory for customers and staff at locations in high-transmission areas. Ford, General Motors and Home Depot now inquiring all to wear masks.
The mandates cannot come soon enough, as cases surge across the country. The U.S. is now averaging more than 85,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. Hospitalizations topping 50,000 for the first time since February when vaccines were not widely available.
KATHRYN IVEY, TENNESSEE ICU NURSE: The numbers started picking back up and the units opened back up and the respirators came back out, and it's like thinking you walked out of a war and being told you have to go back in.
KAFANOV: Louisiana's governor says he is expecting the state to reach a pandemic record for hospitalizations today.
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: The most we've had in the hospital at any point in the pandemic. And, yes, this is largely but not exclusively a surge among the unvaccinated.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KAFANOV (on camera): And, Pam, there's growing concern about kids and COVID. The American academy of pediatrics reporting today that more than 72,000 children and teens contracted COVID-19 last week. They describe that as a substantial increase from the week before -- Pam.
BROWN: Okay. Thanks so much, Lucy. I appreciate it.
I want to bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, I just want to start with that news that Lucy just shared with us, that 72,000 children including teens contracted COVID last week. What do you make of this?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It's close to a 20 percent increase from the week before. And I think it's pretty clear the numbers are going up.
And if you look at hospitals, the type of patients that are in the hospitals are younger and more children that we saw before. Part of this is because older people have been vaccinated or are more likely to have been vaccinated. Obviously, the vaccine not available for many of these age groups that we're talking about here.
But another issue is that this is just a really transmissible virus. People who got away with things in the past in terms of not getting infected, this virus is not so forgiving. What we don't know yet, Pamela, and I think it's going to be a question we have to answer, is does this delta variant, for example, in and of itself affect children more than previous variants?
It might. It might be, you know, harder on kids and adults for that matter. We just don't know yet it.
It could just be all that this is more transmissible, and as a result there's a lot more transmission of virus going on out there.
BROWN: And so many kids are still unvaccinated.
BROWN: Of course, 12 and over can be under 12 still they're not eligible.
Let's talk about this New York City policy. That's really a talker today, now requiring proof of vaccination for all indoor dining and fitness. It's similar to mandates issued in France and in Italy. Do you think this is an effective strategy to lower COVID transmission rates and also push more people to get vaccinated?
GUPTA: Yeah. I think there's two issues here. I do think it's an effective strategy and you have data from around the world as to how it's worked. It's not a mandate, per se, but it's basically saying, look, if you are vaccinated, take a look at what your world is going to look like, better versus if you're not vaccinated you don't have access to all these things. It's a strategy that has worked because it's offering the incentive,
the carrot, if you will, as opposed to the stick. The second part of your question in terms of lowering viral transmission, I think what we know is that you have to do both, both vaccinate and lower viral transmission.
It's like we were talking about yesterday, Pamela. If you had an infection of your hand, you wouldn't just give antibiotics and continue to expose your hand to bacteria. You could say the same thing about the country. We need to vaccinate but that doesn't mean we should continue to shower ourselves in virus, which is what's happening right now.
That gets us to masks, which New York City did not mandate. They say they're focused on vaccines but it would be masks that would more quickly bring down this assault of virus on our bodies, just so much virus out there that's circulating. You got to bring that down at the same time as you vaccinate.
BROWN: An assault on our bodies. That really is what this is. That's what is going on. It is encouraging, though, when you look at vaccination rates, they are going up even in the hardest-hit areas. Louisiana has seen a 302 percent increase. You have Mississippi with a 250 percent increase.
What do you think is fueling this, and do you think that this trend will continue?
GUPTA: I think people are scared right now. And I'm not saying fear is an effective long-term strategy for motivating people. But you hear from the governor of Louisiana, and they're saying that this is the worst that it's been, and hospitals are full. I mean, Louisiana goes from being 47th in the state to first from worst to first essentially. Alabama, 50th, now they're fourth.
Mississippi, 49th, now 7th.
So, you know, these are the states that basically sat out as much of a vaccination program as other states did initially. And now they're seeing the impact of that. More cases, most of hospitalizations, more deaths. And they're also seeing proof that vaccination has worked in other places.
So, I think there's a fear but there's also a realization that this could really help us get out of this.
BROWN: That's what we all want. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of health, said while the likelihood of someone who is fully vaccinated getting the virus is pretty low, it's even lower when they have a mask on. That's what we were talking about earlier. And he also said parents could consider wearing mass at home to help keep children too young to be vaccinated safe.
We're both parents, Sanjay. What do you think about that? GUPTA: I think it's a hard sell, to be honest with you, just speaking
maybe as a parent more than anything. You know, I -- we didn't recommend that people wear masks around their children even before vaccination programs or vaccinations were available.
I'm not sure that, you know, we can -- you know, really recommend it now for someone who's vaccinated. I do understand why they've said, hey, look, if you're out and about, especially in areas where there's substantial or high transmission of virus, even if you're vaccinated, you should wear a mask.
And part of the reason you do that is that so you don't come home and potentially transmit the virus to an unvaccinated individual in the house. Not that you should continue wearing the mask in the home.
If someone has symptoms, if they're coughing, sneezing, having symptoms, then no matter what people should isolate themselves even if this weren't a pandemic. But for someone who has no symptoms, is vaccinated, I think it'd be a hard sell, frankly, Pamela, to recommend that they still wear a mask at home around their kids.
BROWN: You know, Sanjay, we were just talking about how we are seeing increases in vaccinations in some of the hard yes-hit areas of the country. But reality is, nearly a third of the country is still unvaccinated. Many saying they won't become vaccinated. I know people personally who are just saying they're not going to do it no matter what.
You have a new piece coming out. How do you speak to those who say that the vaccine is just a no-go?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I've written a lot about this, talked to a lot of people around the country. There's different reasons people have, concerned about side effects.
I remind them that 4 billion of these doses have now been given around the world and they look for side effects so rare that they found a couple of dozen cases of clotting. You remember with the J&J vaccine out of millions of doses that had been administered. So, the side effects are a valid concern, but it's really being looked at.
Approval versus authorization is another thing I hear. Authorization required two months of data. This requires six months worth of data as well as looking at manufacturing facilities. You know, it could actually increase confidence to go through the full approval process without cutting any corners.
And then finally I will say I hear a lot, I'm sure you do as well, I already had COVID, therefore I don't need to get a vaccine. It's a fair point, but what the data now shows, and I've talked to many epidemiologists and virologists is that the vaccine is better than just having received your immunity through infection. It's longer- lasting immunity. It seems to be immunity that's broader.
So it may better protect you against this variant and future variants. Even if you've had COVID, yes, you do have some immunity from that. We shouldn't dismiss it. But the vaccine immunity is better.
BROWN: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.
BROWN: And any moment now, President Biden will speak from the White House. We're going to bring that to you live once it starts.
Plus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is denying a damning report finding, he sexually harassed 11 women. So what happens next? That's next.
BROWN: Breaking news in the politics lead today. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was strongly pushing back against damning new allegations of sexual harassment and calls to step down. Here is the governor this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: But that's not true, according to the New York attorney general and two independent investigators. After a five-month investigation, 179 interviews and 79,000 pieces of evidence reviewed, this was the conclusion announced today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: These interviews and pieces of evidence reveal a deeply disturbing yet clear picture. Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The attorney general also said Cuomo and senior aides try to retaliate against a woman who came forward and fostered a toxic workplace that enabled his harassment. As CNN's Erica Hill reports, the government is defiantly denying the allegations.
JAMES: Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A damning report detailing a pattern of unwelcome, inappropriate behavior by the governor and a hostile work environment.
JOON KIM, SDNY SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: It was a culture where you could not say no to the governor.
HILL: Eleven women describing their encounters as disturbing, humiliating, and uncomfortable.
ANNE CLARK, SDNY SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: We found all 11 women to be credible. There was corroboration to varying degrees. Charlotte Bennett talked to people and texted people contemporaneously. Some of her texts were practically in real-time.
HILL: Charlotte Bennett, a former aide and health policy adviser to the governor first told her story to the "New York Times" in February. Investigators shared one of her texts when announcing the report's findings.
KIM: Quote, the verbal abuse, intimidation, and living in constant fear were all horribly toxic, dehumanizing, and traumatizing.
HILL: On Tuesday, she called on the governor to resign.
He later addressed her in a taped statement.
CUOMO: I have heard Charlotte and her lawyer, and I understand what they are saying. But they read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. Simply put, they heard things that I just didn't say.
HILL: Bennett's attorney telling CNN in an email, quote: The governor has a serious problem with the truth. Among the other encounters laid out in the A.G.'s 165-page report, two involved the New York state trooper who was part of Cuomo's security detail.
CLARK: He took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to the hip where she keeps her gun. She told us that she felt completely violated to have the governor touch her, as she put it, between her chest and her privates.
HILL: The governor denied the sexual harassment allegations.
CUOMO: I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.
HILL: While also claiming the report was politically motivated.
Allegations the A.G. strongly denied.
JAMES: There were attacks on me as well as members of the team, which I find offensive.
What this investigation revealed was a disturbing pattern of conduct by the governor of the great state of New York. I believe women, and I believe these 11 women.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HILL (on camera): Now, as you heard there from the attorney general, she said there were multiple violations of federal and state law. The A.G. cannot bring criminal charges here. She was asked about it and stated again this is a civil investigation.
However, we do know that the Albany County D.A. has now said it's requested materials from the attorney general's office and is also encouraging any potential victims to contact the office with additional information.
And as you've been pointing out, there have been multiple calls for the governor to resign. In fact, as of last count, more than two- thirds of New York state senators have called for the governor to resign -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right. Erica Hill, thanks so much.
And now, let's bring in Caroline Polisi. She's a criminal defense attorney in New York.
I want to pick up on what Erica said there about the fact that despite today's announcement and this report detailing allegations from 11 women, the attorney general said today, this is a civil matter and does not have criminal consequences.
Do you see this case staying that way or will district attorneys pursue charges?
CAROLINE POLISI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if Erica's reporting is correct, and it always is, the district attorney's office in Albany is sort of picking up where Tish James' office left off, I think this is really the beginning of the road for Governor Cuomo's sort of legal battle in these cases.
The report by Tish James was just staggering in the amount of evidence and corroboration it had laying out. These civil allegations, you know, in violation of federal civil rights laws and New York state human rights laws, really two buckets of civil offenses there, you have the sexual harassment, which was pervasive and severe by all accounts. And then you have sort of this retaliation bucket, which in and of itself, is a civil violation.
But then with respect to some of that sexual allegation conduct, you do have actual physical conduct veering into the realm of criminality really. The way I read it, you know, there is a case to be made for forcible touching under New York state law. And that's a class a misdemeanor.
So, I would not be surprised if we see criminal charges here. Prosecutors are going after these types of cases more and more, sort of scuffing their nose at the "boys will be boys" defense here.
BROWN: And the investigators say they have evidence that backs up the allegations made by the 11 women.
Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: And of the most could be rated, Charlotte Bennett talked to people and texted people contemporaneously. Some of her texts were practically in real time regarding conversations with the governor. The state trooper, the touching incidents, one where he touched her stomach was witnessed by another state trooper who confirmed it to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, how does Cuomo's claim that he never touched anyone inappropriately stand up against these allegations that are backed up by witness accounts?
POLISI: Yeah. These are very serious allegations, Pamela. And I would just note that this sort of blaze defense that he's invoking of sort of it's a cultural difference or because of his age, he thought that these sort of actions were okay. I think that, you know, that argument and that defense is falling more and more flat not only in the court of public opinion, but it's also a really bad legal defense.
I mean, I know plenty of 63-year-old men who know that, you know, you can't grope a woman just because she works for you and you can't kiss a woman just because you want to. And so, those types of defenses really fall flat, especially in the face of all of this evidence.
And, again, Tish James has just sort of laid it out there line by line for the beginning of many what I think will be many legal cases here.
BROWN: Right. These 11 women made it clear at the very least that it was inappropriate to them, that they felt violated. Investigators of the governor gave them an 11-hour interview. He admitted to certain allegations but had different interpretations of what happened.
If charges are one day filed, would that interview likely be used against him?
POLISI: So, absolutely they can use the statements that he made during that interview. It was under oath. You know, the office's charge was to conduct this investigation not to bring charges. And the office actually brought in two very high-level attorneys, one of whom is the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York to conduct this really fulsome investigation.
So, you know, what I think is interesting is that they have really made the case for these victims. So, you know, they could literally lift pages out of this report and put them on a complaint that they could then file in court.
So, absolutely all of this evidence is highly relevant to any future litigation or future prosecution really.
BROWN: All right. Caroline, thank you for your analysis.
POLISI: Thank you.
BROWN: Coming up right here on THE LEAD, we're going to show you what President Biden said about Governor Cuomo back in March that's getting some renewed attention.
Plus, we also expect the president to speak any moment. So stay with us. We'll be right back.
BROWN: President Biden speaking at the White House. Let's listen.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last week, I laid out what we need to do to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by the Delta variant.
This is a very different variant than what we have dealt with previously. It's highly transmissible, and it's causing a new wave of cases. It accounts for over 80 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States today.
Experts tell us that we're going to see these cases rise in the weeks ahead, a largely preventable tragedy that will get worse before it gets better.
What's different about this surge from previous ones is, we have the tools to prevent this rise in cases from shutting down our businesses, our schools, our society, as we saw what happened last year.
While cases are on the rise, it's important to note we have not seen a comparable rise in hospitalizations or deaths in most areas of the country. That's because 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80 percent of the most vulnerable Americans, our seniors.
And the best line of defense against the Delta virus is the vaccine. It's as simple as that, period, the vaccine.
I want to be crystal clear about what's happening in the country today. We have a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Now, I know there's a lot of misinformation out there. So here are the facts.
If you're vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to get COVID-19. And even if you do, the chances are you won't show any symptoms. And if you do, they will most likely be very mild. Vaccinated people almost never are hospitalized with COVID-19.
In fact, according to one recent study, 95 percent of overall COVID-19 hospitalizations are among those not fully vaccinated. And the data shows that virtually all the cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are from the unvaccinated population.
Last month, a study showed that over 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated people, 99 percent. That means, if you're unvaccinated, you are much more likely to, one, get COVID-19, two, get hospitalized, and, three, die if you get it.
This is a tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die. The data is absolutely clear. As I have said, we have a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
Think of it this way; 191 million Americans have gotten at least one shot, including 70 percent of adults over the age of 18; 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated. But about 90 million Americans are eligible for vaccines and still haven't gotten their first shot.
Now, I think there's a clear link between the lowest vaccinated -- I know -- I don't think, actually -- the lowest vaccinated states and the states with the highest case rates.
This past week, the most vaccinated state in America, Vermont, has seen just five new cases -- five -- per day of COVID-19 for every 100,000 people who live in that state. That means, on any given day, only 30 people in the entire state of Vermont got COVID-19.
Nearby Maine, which has vaccinated almost 80 percent of their adults, has seen just six new cases per 100,000.
But the states with the lowest vaccination rates are seeing 10 to 20 times as many new cases per 100,000 people. It's moving like wildfire through the unvaccinated community. And it's heartbreaking, particularly because it's preventable. That's why we're doing everything we can to get more people vaccinated.
And we're seeing real results. In the past two weeks, we have seen a 55 percent increase in the average number of new people getting vaccinated every day. In the last seven days alone, nearly three million Americans have gotten their first shot. That's the highest seven-day total in a month.
Importantly, over the past two weeks, the eight states with the highest current case rates have seen the doubling of the number of people newly vaccinated each day. The message is getting through, apparently.
Louisiana has seen a 212 percent increase in the average number of newly vaccinated people in that state per day, going from 3, 600 to over 11,000 people vaccinated per day.
Arkansas is up 99 percent. Mississippi is up 125 percent. Alabama is up 186 percent, going from 3, 200 to 9, 150 people vaccinated per day. This will make a big difference. These are encouraging signs. We have to continue our aggressive efforts to vaccinate the unvaccinated.
Last week, I announced additional steps to incentivize Americans to get vaccinated, including calling on states to offer $100 for anyone willing to step up and get a vaccination shot. And, already, Minnesota and New Mexico have done that. And North Carolina announced its 100- day incentive -- its $100 incentive today.
Places that have offered the $100,000 -- the $100,000 -- $100. That'd be really good. I'd go back and get vaccinated three times.
BIDEN: But all kidding aside, offered the $100 to get vaccination, have seen an uptick in 25 percent in daily vaccination rates.
We also announced that small and medium-sized businesses will be fully reimbursed for offering paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated and for them to take a child or a parent to get vaccinated. Now, I announced some tough, sometimes unpopular steps to keep people safe and our economy strong. All federal workers must report their vaccination status, or be subject to strict requirements.
Any federal worker who does not attest to their vaccination status or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work, test once or twice a week, socially distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work.
I directed my administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated. And I also directed the Pentagon to look at adding COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations that are required for our troops, because others are required.
I approved the Department of Veterans Affairs to require doctors, nurses and other health care workers who care for our veterans to be vaccinated.
And the good news is that now many are following the federal government's lead. In the past several days, states and local officials have come out to impose similar vaccination mandates. And the private sector is stepping up as well. Even FOX has vaccination requirements.
I want to thank Walmart, Google, Netflix, Disney, Tyson Foods for their recent actions requiring vaccination for employees.
Look, I know this isn't easy. But I will have their backs and the backs of other private-public sector leaders if they take such steps.
But others have declined to step up. I find it disappointing. And, worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates, but also ban them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated.
Some states have even banned businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated.
And the most extreme of those measures is like the one in Texas that say state universities or community colleges could be fined if it allows a teacher to ask her unvaccinated students to wear a mask.
What are we doing? COVID-19 is a national challenge. And we must together. We have to come together, all of us together, as a country to solve it. Make no mistake, the esc -- excuse me -- that escalation of cases is particularly concentrated in states with low vaccination rates.
Just two states, Florida and Texas account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country, just two states.
Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren't willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do right thing to be able to do it.
I say to these governors, please help. If you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.
I have made it our first and top priority to have a vaccine available for every single American the day I got elected. That was my priority.
Let me be clear. We have a supply for every single American. And that will never change. At the same time, it's also in our national interests to share some of our vaccines with the world, which gets me to the second thing I want to discuss today.
From the beginning of my presidency, I have been very clear-eyed that we need to attack this virus globally, not just at home, because it's in America's self-interests to do so. The virus knows no boundaries. You can't build a wall high enough to keep it out. There's no wall high enough or ocean wide enough to keep us safe from the vaccine in other -- from the COVID-19 in other countries.
In fact, just like the original virus that caused COVID-19, the Delta variant came from abroad. As long as the virus continues to rage outside the United States, potentially more dangerous variants could arrive at our shores again.
We know that COVID-19 in other countries stifles economic growth, disrupts supply chains, risks instability and weakness of governments. As we have seen in the United States, the key to growing economies is to vaccinate people.
So, just as the American economy is recovering, it's in all of our interests to have global -- the global economy begin to recover as well. This is about our values. We value inherent dignity of all people, inherent dignity of everyone.
In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer a helping hand. That's who we are. And I have said before, in the fight against COVID- 19, the United States is committed to be the arsenal of vaccines, just as we were the arsenal of democracy during World War II.
And we're backing up that commitment. We have contributed more than any other nation to COVAX, the collective global efforts delivering COVID-19 vaccines across the world. We have supported manufacturing efforts abroad through our partnerships with Japan, India, Australia known as the Quad. During my trip to Europe in June, I announced that the United States
had purchased a groundbreaking 500 million doses of Pfizer, and then donate them, those doses, to nearly 100 low- and middle-income countries who don't have the vaccine. Those doses will start to ship at the end of this month.
We also announced that we would donate 80 million doses of our own vaccine to supply the world, which has already begun.
And, today, I have an important update. We have already exceeded 80 million doses that have been -- gone out. As of today, the United States has shipped over 110 million doses of U.S. vaccines to 65 countries that are among the hardest-hit in the world.
Let me say it again. As of today, we have shipped over 110 million doses to 65 nations. According to the United Nations, this is the more than the donations of all 24 countries that have donated any vaccine to other countries, including China and Russia, all those nations combined.
These vaccine donations from America are free. We're not selling them. There are no demands, no conditions, no coercion attached. And there's no favoritism and no strings attached. We're doing this to save lives and to end this pandemic. That's it.
In fact, we're donating vaccines to countries that have real issues -- we have real issues with. And we will continue to give tens of millions of the doses away across this summer and work to increase U.S. manufacturing and manufacturing of vaccines around the world as well.
And it's not just vaccines. We're continuing to provide countries with -- in need with more testing, protective equipment, and personnel to stem the surge of the virus. We have done it in India and elsewhere.
Let me close with this. I have said before, in the race for the 21st century between democracy and autocracies, we need to prove that democracies can deliver.
And the democracies of the world are looking to America to lead again in two ways.
First, to demonstrate we can control this virus at home. And second, to show we can help address it around the world.
Vaccinate America and help vaccinate the world, that's how we're about to beat this thing.
We're always going to have enough doses for every American who wants one. Our work in donating vaccines to the world is about America following through on our promises and delivering what we say we'll deliver.
It's showing how American science and technology, American businesses and academia, and our government can all work together. Above all, it's proving democracies can deliver and, yet again, that America is back leading the world; not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
We still have a lot of work to do. So if you're unvaccinated, please, please, please get the shot.
But just don't take it from me. Just read the news. Listen to the voices of the unvaccinated patients in the hospital.
They are spending the most powerful message to their families and everyone around the world, a powerful message to everybody. As they're lying in bed, many dying from COVID-19, they're asking, Doc, can I get the vaccine? The doctors have to look them in the eye and say, no, sorry. Too late.
Right now, too many people are dying or watching a loved one dying and saying, "if I just got vaccinated. If I just."
Folks, this isn't about politics. The virus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican. This is about life and death. Life and death.
I can't say it any more plainly than this: The vaccine saves lives, and it could save yours or your child's.
You know, I know we can do this. We're the United States of America. We're prepared like never before. We have the tools and the resources to save lives at home and around the world.
This is who we are. This is what we do. This is why there's no nation like us on Earth.
God bless you all. And may God protect our troops.
And I'll take a few questions.
REPORTER: Mr. President, I have a question for you on coronavirus, but first I'd like to start with the news of the day -- given, back in March, you said that if the investigation confirmed the allegations against Governor Cuomo, then he should resign. So, will you now call on him to resign, given the investigators said the 11 women were credible?
BIDEN: I stand by that statement.
REPORTER: Are you now calling on him to resign?
REPORTER: And if he doesn't resign, do you believe he should be impeached and removed from office?
BIDEN: Let's take one thing at a time here. I think he should resign.
REPORTER: Do you think -- BIDEN: I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach.
I don't know that for a fact; I've not read all that data.
REPORTER: And he's using a photo of you embracing him in his self- defense to say that these are commonplace kind of embraces that he made in the allegations against him. Do you condone that?
BIDEN: Look, I'm not going to flyspeck this. I'm sure there are some embraces that were totally innocent, but apparently, the Attorney General decided there were things that weren't.
REPORTER: And on coronavirus, if I could ask you a question about the evictions.
BIDEN: Why don't you come up and take the platform?
REPORTER: No, thank you.
On the evictions and the moratorium that lapsed on Saturday night: What is your strategy to prevent potentially millions of people from being evicted from their homes, given what we are told your administration is considering a targeted moratorium is likely to face legal challenges?
BIDEN: Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court recent decision is likely to face obstacles. I've indicated to the CDC I'd like them to look at other alternatives than the one that is in-- in existence, which the court has declared they're not going to allow to continue. And the CDC will have something to announce to you in the next hour to two hours.
REPORTER: Thank you.
REPORTER: President Biden, on overseas coronavirus vaccines: Should other high-income countries follow the lead of the United States and increase donations to low- and middle-income countries?
BIDEN: I think those countries that have been able to cover their population and have the ability to provide either dollars and/or vaccine for the 100 or so poor nations that need help should do so. We had that discussion at the G7.
A number of those countries said they were going to do that. Some have followed through.
The point I was making is, though, I've kept the commitment -- we've kept the commitment that we would do what we said, which is more than all the rest of the countries combined thus far.
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you believe that Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott are personally making decisions that are harming their own citizens? BIDEN: I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents. And it's clear to me and to most of the medical experts that the decisions being made, like not allowing mask mandates in school and the like, are bad health policy -- bad health policy.
REPORTER: President, I have a question about something that you just said.
BIDEN: I'm sure you do.
REPORTER: Thank you.
You just said there is no wall high enough and no ocean wide enough to protect us from the virus. So what is the thinking behind letting untested and unvaccinated migrants cross the southern border into U.S. cities in record numbers?
BIDEN: There is -- what we're doing -- we have not withdrawn the order that is sometimes critical -- criticized -- saying that unvaccinated people should be -- go back across the border.
But unaccompanied children is a different story, because there's -- that's the most humane thing to do is to test them and to treat them and not send them back alone.
REPORTER: Mr. President, have you spoken with Governor Cuomo today?
BIDEN: I have not.
REPORTER: And then one other question on the virus. You just said we have -- we have to continue our aggressive efforts to get the unvaccinated vaccinated. Other countries have found a lot of success in requiring vaccines in public places. New York City just announced today that they'll require vaccines for restaurants and gyms.
Do you think more cities and states should institute rules like that?
BIDEN: I do.
REPORTER: And are you going to publicly call on them?
Should they institute a vaccine passport-type system, or it's up to each city and state to figure that out on their own?
BIDEN: I'm sorry. What did you say?
REPORTER: Do you think that they should institute a vaccine passport- type system or some sort of verification to use public spaces?
BIDEN: I don't think they need to do that. I think they just need to give the authority of those restaurants or businesses to say: In order to come in, you have to give proof that you've been vaccinated or you can't come in.
I'll take a couple more.
REPORTER: Mr. President, can I ask you about news of the day -- one more on Governor Cuomo?
You're calling for him to resign now. My question is: Do you think he should be prosecuted? And what is your message to the women who have now accused him of sexually harassing them and abusing them?
BIDEN: Look, what I said was: If the investigation of the Attorney General concluded that the allegations were correct, that -- back in March -- that I would recommend he resign. That's what I'm doing today. I've not read the report. I don't know the detail of it. All I know is the end result.
REPORTER: Mr. President, a question on COVID, if I could, really quickly. It's the eviction moratorium. Can you explain a little bit more why it took so long to have a possible eviction moratorium be put into place? There was -- there are people -- this expired on Saturday. I'm wondering -- there are folks who are saying it took too long for this to happen.
BIDEN: Well, look, the courts made it clear that the existing moratorium was not constitutional; it wouldn't stand. And they made that clear back in, I guess, July 15th or July 18th.
In the meantime, what I've been pushing for and calling for is we have billions of dollars that were given to states to provide for rent and utilities for those people who can't afford to stay in their homes because they can't -- an apartment -- they can't pay their rent. And so, we're urging them to distribute those funds to the landlords. I believe that would take care of the vast majority of what needs to be done to keep people in their -- in their -- in their apartments now.
And so that's what we're working on. Some states have done it and some communities have, but they have not. The money is there. It's not -- we don't have to send it out. It's been sent out to the states and counties -- billions of dollars -- for the express purpose of providing for back rent and rent for the people who are in the middle of this crisis. And that's there; that's what we're pushing now. And we've been pushing that. That's the immediate thing to do.
I'll take one more question.
REPORTER: Mr. President, thank you so much.
There was an expectation that you would be announcing new vaccines to the world today -- a new -- other than the ones you promised. Are you ready to send more vaccines to the world?
And there is a delegation from the White House going to Brazil tomorrow. Are they bringing more vaccines? Are they announcing more vaccines to Brazil?
BIDEN: No. Are they announcing more vaccines overall?
REPORTER: Overall. And then to Brazil -- for the delegation coming to Brazil tomorrow -- will you be bringing vaccines?
BIDEN: The answer is: I don't know whether the delegation going physically has vaccines with them. We have provided vaccines to --
REPORTER: Are they bringing the announcement? Are they announcing there?
BIDEN: Well, no, there's a need for several billion doses around the world. We have committed to over a half a billion doses. And we're trying to provide for more and provide for the capacity of countries like India to be able to produce the vaccine themselves. And we're helping them do that. That's what we're doing now.
And we're trying to -- we're -- and, by the way, it's free. We're not charging anybody anything. And we're trying to do as much as we possibly can.
Thank you all very much.
REPORTER: Mr. President, we're learning that your administration is about to announce a new partial eviction moratorium, COVID related. Can you tell us any more about that? And are you sure it's going to pass Supreme Court muster?
BIDEN: The answer is twofold. One, I've sought out constitutional scholars to determine what is the best possibility that would come from executive action, or the CDC's judgment, what could they do that was most likely to pass muster, constitutionally.
The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to pass constitutional muster, number one. But there are several key scholars who think that it may and it's worth the effort. But the present -- you could not -- the Court has already ruled on the present eviction moratorium.
So I think what you're going to see, and I -- look, I want to make it clear: I told you I would not tell the Justice Department or the medical experts, the scientists what they should say or do. So I don't want to get ahead.
The CDC has to make the -- I asked the CDC to go back and consider other options that may be available to them. You're going to hear from them what those other options are.
I have been informed they're about to make a judgment as to potential other options. Whether that option will pass constitutional measure with this administration, I can't tell you. I don't know. There are a few scholars who say it will and others who say it's not likely to. But, at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably
give some additional time while we're getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind in the rent and don't have the money. That's why it was passed in -- in the act that we passed in the beginning of my administration, and it went to the states.
We were under the impression that the states were moving this money out relatively rapidly. So, for example, if I'm in an apartment -- if you're in an apartment, and you're behind on four or five months rent, and let's say your rent is $2,000 a month -- I'm just making this up out of the blue -- and you're behind, you need $10,000 to catch up. Hardly anybody has that $10,000. But there is money that the states have that can give to the landlord that $10,000 to the back rent.
The future rent, it's unlikely -- at least the hope is, since they have been made whole to that point -- that they'd be inclined - because the economy is growing -- inclined not to throw someone out in the street; keep that person -- no guarantee -- keep that person in the apartment, keep these kids in the same school district, and count on being able to have the opportunity for that person to be able -- who may now be employed -- to pay their rent.
But in the meantime, I've asked, isn't there any safety valve we can put in? And it's the one I explained to you. Again, CDC will announce that and the details of exactly how it works. I'm not telling -- I told them I want them to take a look. I didn't tell them what they had to do.
And my hope is, it's going to be a new moratorium that in some way -- and I'm not going to announce it now; I'll let them announce it -- in some way covers close to 90 percent of the American people who are renters. And so that's all I can tell you now.
Thank you very much.