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The Lead with Jake Tapper
The Texas State House Reports Systemic Failures During The Uvalde School Shootings; Deleted Secret Service Texts To Be Sent To January 6th Committee; Life-Threatening Heat Wave Across Europe; Hospitalizations Back To Levels U.S. Hasn't Seen Since March; Woman Wakes Up From Two-Year Coma, Identifies Brother As Attacker. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired July 18, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New body cam video --
UNKNOWN: Shots fired! Get inside!
FLORES (voice-over): -- offering a new perspective of law enforcement's failed response to the Uvalde school shooting.
UNKNOWN: What are we doing here?
FLORES (voice-over): Officers sounding unsure what to do about 20 minutes after the first shots as they wait for backup. For the first time, we see School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo hunkered down with other officers in a hallway.
PETE ARREDONDO, UVALDE SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE CHIEF: Let me know if there's any kids in there or anything.
FLORES (voice-over): He tries to speak to the gunman who had already fired his first shots more than 30 minutes before.
ARREDONDO: This could be peaceful. Could you tell me your name, anything I could know please?
FLORES (voice-over): Seconds later, another body cam reveals a 911 dispatcher relaying a chilling call from a student inside the classroom.
UNKNOWN: You have a child on the line saying he is in a room full of victims. Full of victims at this moment.
FLORES (voice-over): Remember, Chief Arredondo did not have his police radio in the hallway, telling the "Texas Tribune" he was unaware of the dispatch report. Six minutes later, he's seen trying keys to open an adjacent door. None of which appeared to work. Minutes later, more gunfire. But the police posture is again to hunker down, as Arredondo attempts to speak to the gunman. ARREDONDO: Sir, if you can hear me, please put your firearm down,
sir. We don't want anybody else hurt.
UNKNOWN: We got kids in --
UNKNOWN: I know, I know. That's what we're doing, we're trying to get them out.
FLORES (voice-over): The videos released by the Uvalde mayor just as the Texas House Committee released its damning interim report Sunday on the law enforcement response, calling it chaotic, lackadaisical, without any person obviously in charge.
In that report, Arredondo offers this as part of an explanation to the committee. "When there's a threat, you have to visibly be able to see the threat. You have to have a target before you engage your firearm. Getting fired at through the wall, coming from a blind wall, I had no idea what was on the other side of that wall. I never got to physically see the threat or the shooter."
UNKNOWN: They were cowards --
FLORES (voice-over): The report angering Uvalde residents and victims' families. Jesus Rizo who says he's like an uncle to Jacqueline Cazares (ph), releasing this video of the two while telling CNN he wants accountability at the top.
JESUS RIZO, UVALDE RESIDENT: They stood there as people bled out. They stood there as they took their final breath.
FLORES (voice-over): Uvalde's mayor announcing shortly after the report came out, the acting chief of the Uvalde Police Department was put on administrative leave.
DON MCLAUGHLIN, MAYOR OF UVALDE, TEXAS: Do I still think there's a cover-up? Well, let me put it this way. This has been the worst professionally run investigation that, I mean, I have never seen anything of this magnitude.
FLORES (on camera): Now, the Texas Department of Public Safety has launched an internal investigation into its response to the shooting. According to a spokesperson they will be looking for violations of law, policy, and also doctrine. I'm here outside of the Uvalde high school where we're expecting, Jake, a school board meeting to start here pretty soon in the next few hours. And there will be a public comment period, we're expected that to be heated just like every other meeting we've been to here in Uvalde. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Alright, Rosa Flores in Uvalde, thanks so much. I want to bring in Uvalde councilman Hector Luevano. Thank you so much for being here. This new report from the Texas State Legislature outlines failures all around. It reads in part, quote, "Law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety."
The report added, quote, "The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon." We should note that you are a former law enforcement officer. Most recently, you served as an Uvalde County deputy sheriff. So, what is your reaction to this report and what stood out the most to you?
HECTOR LUEVANO, UVALDE, TEXAS CITY COUNCIL: Yes, thank you for having me. Obviously, there was no lack of police presence at this school. What there was, was lack of leadership. A take charge command presence. There was no, from what we could see in the video, no one in a leadership role took the time to delegate, to strategize, and to take any type of effective execution to engage the shooter.
TAPPER: There's new body cam footage that captures the chaos, confusion, and delays as the minutes went by. Seventy-seven minutes, to be precise. No law enforcement action. Do you think the responding officers should face any repercussions for this?
LUEVANO: Obviously, there was a lack of action on the officers. I mean, the video speaks for itself. To me, there was a lot of down time where, you know, somebody would have taken charge of the situation, would have been able to delegate some type of action to take place. You see a lot of officers coming and going, moving around, but nobody is really taking any action as to, like I said, to engage this shooter, who obviously is still in the room and there are shots being fired while they're just standing there.
TAPPER: How do you explain that, having served as a deputy sheriff yourself in Uvalde County? I've heard a lot of parents describing these law enforcement officers as cowardly. Is that the problem?
LUEVANO: I don't know how many officers that were present had training in active shooter scenarios or situations. I'm assuming a majority of them have. I myself back eight, nine years ago took this alert training and I don't think anything has changed since then.
I still remember our instructors at the time telling us that you will go towards the fire. Wherever the shooter is at, that's where you need to engage. Whether you're by yourself or two, three officers. You know, you don't wait for backup anymore.
And I can't speak for the officers. I don't know what kind of training they have or the type of curriculum regarding this type of scenarios, active shooter training, but obviously, their training did not kick in.
TAPPER: Well, whether or not they had the training, sir, I mean, people go into law enforcement for all sorts of reasons, but I imagine most go into law enforcement because they want to help the community, they want to save lives. They want to go after bad guys. And you have more people there at the Uvalde school than were trying to defend the Alamo and not one of them went in. TAPPER: That's correct. I mean, the active shooter training obviously
is added training for the officers. You know, this goes back to Columbine. We thought lessons were learned back then on what to do in the situation like this, but you're right. As an officer, you live to serve and protect. You know, you put yourself in the line of fire if you have to.
And you know, to engage this particular scenario, you know, you don't have to go through the front door or the room. There are windows. It's my understanding there were windows back there and there were no other strategies that were enacted that were taking place to get to the shooter.
But you're right. You don't have to go through this training to serve and protect. You take an oath as you become a peace officer, and you're expected to respond and be accountable for your actions.
TAPPER: Well, that hasn't happened yet. Uvalde Councilman Hector Luevano, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
Coming up next, the big week ahead for the January 6th Committee. The deleted text messages that the panel could see as early as tomorrow. And the primetime hearing that may serve as the committee's grand finale.
Plus, the new warning that monkeypox in the U.S. may have spread too much at this point to contain. Stay with us.
TAPPER: The "Politics Lead," a huge week ahead for the January 6th Select Committee. By tomorrow, the panel expects to receive a trove of text messages sent before and during the insurrection from and among the U.S. Secret Service. The committee is zeroing in on so-called deleted texts after learning last week that the agency had deleted messages from its system.
This comes as the committee gears up for its second primetime hearing on Thursday evening, 8:00 p.m., I believe it starts. Let's bring in CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, do we know if the committee is going to receive all of the deleted text messages?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTIC CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear, Jake. The committee has subpoenaed these messages. They have subpoenaed pretty much everything from the Secret Service. Secret Service says that they have turned over more than 800,000 e-mails and other documents to the Inspector General.
Now, the Inspector General says that these things are deleted, they're lost. It is possible that they cannot be recovered. The Secret Service seems to be saying that everything that the committee would be interested in is still there, that it is going to be turned over.
So, I guess what we're going to have to do is wait for the committee to receive all of these documents and all of these -- all the material that they're asking for, for us to know what exactly survived this migration that they described, this electronic migration that caused the deletion in the first place.
TAPPER: So that's Tuesday we'll find out that. Two days after that, Thursday, is the next big January 6th Committee hearing, primetime Thursday night. What are we expecting from that?
PEREZ: Well, we're going to hear a lot about what the former president was doing during those key -- what committee members are describing 187 minutes from the time he leaves the ellipse, his speech ends shortly after 1:00 p.m. And he then sends a message finally on Twitter, a video message at 4:00, just after 4:00, telling people to leave the capitol.
We're going to hear probably from Pat Cipollone and some of his recorded interview. Here's Adam Kinzinger talking a little bit about what he's expecting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is going to open people's eyes in a big way. The reality is, I'll give you this preview, the president didn't do very much, but gleefully watched television during this timeframe.
MARGARET BREANNAN, CBS NEWS HOST: The president didn't do anything?
KINZINGER: The president didn't do anything and we're going to fill those blanks in. And if the American people watch this, particularly I say this to my fellow Republicans.
Watch this with an open mind, and is this the kind of strong leader you really think you deserve?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And Jake, you know, again, the filling in the blanks will come probably from Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel, Ivanka Trump probably, people who were urging the former president to say something, to do something to try to end the violence at the capitol. And of course, he, according to some of the contemporary news accounts, we know that he was gleefully watching some of what was going down.
TAPPER: Alright, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Let's talk about this with our panel now. Margaret Hoover, let me start with you. What are you -- why are you looking at me like that?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just take you so seriously.
TAPPER: What are you watching for in Thursday's hearing? Like what are you -- like -- HOOVER: Anything new. Honestly, what I'm -- I'm looking for new
voices. New perspectives. People I haven't heard before yet, and I want -- we know the president didn't do anything.
HOOVER: But what's been so interesting, and we have known in large part, most of the story that we have seen unfold in the context of these hearings, but we have seen it put together in a narrative or in a way that is digestible.
We had lots of disparate parts before, but it's been put together in a way that has been irrefutable, and I still have a lot of questions. We know he didn't do much, but I want to know, I mean, I just want the texture and the color and the new voices and the testimony.
It isn't what Adam Kinzinger said, the kind of leader that a strong -- Republicans want, the strong Republicans want. And yet, the base of the Republican Party still wants Trump.
TAPPER: Yes, well, you and Adam Kinzinger are different kinds of Republicans.
HOOVER: I'm not really the base of the Republican Party. I don't typify the base of the Republican Party anymore.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, but look, but I mean, you're a loyal lifelong Republican, so is Adam Kinzinger. And maybe what is old will be new again.
TAPPER: Liz Cheney.
AVLON: That's right.
AVLON: You know, I mean, how about principle?
HOOVER: Someday over the rainbow.
AVLON: What an idea. But, no. I think, look, the problem is 187 minutes. The Oval Office during that time is still a bit of a black box. We don't, you know, the ultimate goal is (inaudible) to get to the president's state of mind and there may be some testimony or video clips or things like that or the rejected videos sent out that might speak to that, but there's still a lot that needs to be filled in.
We know, you know, Nero fiddled, Donald Trump watched TV, but these are critical moments in our republic. And what they're going to try to do is show that this is clearly a dereliction of duty. This is a callousness about an attack on the capitol.
TAPPER: You know, I just had to do the math in my head so that's three hours and seven minutes.
HOOVER: Right. It's like a lot longer than the 18 minutes that's missing in Nixon's tapes.
TAPPER: Well, but I'm just saying that doesn't three hours and seven minutes sound longer than 187 minutes?
AVLON: It does, yes.
TAPPER: I don't know why they're saying 187 minutes --
AVLON: Reframe that in real time.
TAPPER: Well, for most people, they don't expect math to be on this test. Do you know what I mean? Like --
AVLON: I was told there would be no math.
TAPPER: Yes, exactly. But three hours and seven minutes, that's a long time.
HOOVER: And you know what we were doing in that three hours and seven minutes? We were all watching the television in horror saying where is Donald Trump? He's the only person who can call it off.
TAPPER: Yes. No, I was anchoring and it was shocking and it was hour after hour. And we didn't even know what was going on inside. And we've heard testimony from, remember, from that gentleman who, Stephen Ayres, I think was his name. He was a protester, who said that if Donald Trump --
HOOVER: Had tweeted, had said anything, I would have gone. And when I got the first video, it wasn't enough. We kept going.
AVLON: Or worse, when they heard -- when he tweeted out about Mike Pence. That just threw chum in the water and increased kind of the blood lust of the mob directed at the vice president at that moment.
TAPPER: So, Amanda Carpenter, another Republican of your own parts.
HOOVER: Of our ilk. Of our ilk.
TAPPER: And anti-insurrection Republican.
HOOVER: A pro Constitution like the real Constitution.
AVLON: An actual Lincoln Republican.
TAPPER: Yes. Anyway, so Amanda Carpenter is out with a piece in "The Bulwark" today about the Secret Service's text messages and the agency's explanation that they got erased as part of a device replacement program. So, this is what she writes today in "The Bulwark." "Does that
explanation not quite sound believable? It shouldn't. Because, really, how could the Secret Service, a law enforcement agency well versed in the practice of preserving documents and corroborating stories just accidentally destroy communications from one of the most momentous days in its history especially after the agency was asked to preserve exactly those types of documents?"
HOOVER: This is -- this actually, these e-mails and these communications and these text messages are the equivalent to the 18 minutes that's missing in the Nixon tapes, right? We need to know what Secret Service is doing. And one of the things that Amanda pointed to that I think it is the most damning is this notion that Mike Pence knew his life was threatened and didn't trust the Secret Service to move him out of the building.
He indicated this and his aide indicated this in the January 6th hearings. He was worried because the people who would be driving him if he left the building would be reporting to Donald Trump and he didn't trust them.
TAPPER: But he didn't think they were going to kill him. They just --
AVLON: No, no, no.
HOOVER: We don't know what's the problem (ph).
AVLON: He was worried that they would move him away from doing his constitutional duty.
AVLON: And it raises the question that I think Amanda --
TAPPER: I mean, maybe worse, I don't know, but at the very least.
AVLON: We're not quite (inaudible) one of your thrills yet.
HOOVER: At least (inaudible) the one driving. He said you're not the one driving.
TAPPER: Okay, but at the bare minimum. I'm sorry.
AVLON: At the bare minimum. But I --
TAPPER: That's a good point. Okay.
AVLON: I think what Amanda says thought is especially after they've gotten the request to hold on to the information, and she asked in her column with a key question. Who are they here to protect?
HOOVER: The president or themselves. AVLON: Is it the president, the vice president, or the constitution
TAPPER: Yes. So, Steve Bannon's trial began today in Washington, D.C. Eight months ago, I just want -- there's such just a chasm between the world of MAGA and reality.
TAPPER: And it doesn't matter how many times the world of MAGA is proven to not be real. The base just continues to support it. But here is Steve Bannon's prediction about this case eight months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNNON, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden. We're going to go on the offense. We're tired of playing defense. We're going to go on the offense on this and stand by. We're going on the offense. Stand by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Alright, I'm standing by. How is that working out for him, John?
AVLON: Yes. I mean, look, you know, there are limits to what a hype man can accomplish when faced with an actual justice system. And this is what's happening. He said he's going to go medieval on his opponents and the judge was like, meh. You know, if your lawyer says, well, what's the point of going to trial if you don't have a defense? The judge says I agree.
But that doesn't mean you get off scot free. And really, it's not just the contempt, you know. It's not just the contempt. It's what information has he been intentionally concealing because he knows it would be damning not only to him but to Donald Trump.
And when he was hyping up the night before, after talking to Donald Trump on the phone, which we didn't know initially.
AVLON: What's going to happen tomorrow is going to be quite extraordinarily different than what you expect.
TAPPER: All hell is going to break loose.
AVLON: All hell is going to break loose.
AVLON: That's after he spoke to the president.
TAPPER: And Margaret, I'm sure you heard the video or the audio rather that, that reporter for "Mother Jones" reported about a week ago, when it's Steve Bannon telling people privately, not on his podcast, privately, like wait until you see what Trump does. There's still going to be counting the votes and he's going to declare that he won. It doesn't matter that he didn't win. It doesn't, like, I mean, it was all right there.
HOOVER: It was all right there. There's another piece of this. The DOJ decided to prosecute. Obviously, it's important that they decided to prosecute, but there's been a lot of speculation and concern that Merrick Garland hasn't leaned into any prosecutions. And we'll have to see how the justice system does in this case. If they have a win perhaps that will embolden the entire department to continue to move forward to hold these bad actors accountable.
AVLON: What that tape shows though is what Trump had been saying in public for months when asked if he would respect the peaceful transfer of power. It was just a codification and something close to realtime that the plan was always to lie about the election results and claim victory.
And that some dupes who are hard core Trump supporters would believe it, and that would be enough to cause confusion. Dissension in the ranks. As it turned out, two-thirds of House Republicans to sign on to a bogus contest of the election, too. But that's real time evidence of what Trump's plan was all along.
TAPPER: And just lastly, would -- if Republicans in the House and Senate had stood up for the Constitution and the rule of law and all that, while Trump was doing this, and while Trump was attempting this and since then, do you think we would be in the situation we're in today?
HOOVER: Some of them did. I mean, Mike Pence did. He's the one who ultimately certified the election. There were people like Mike Gallagher who were barriered in their offices saying call it off, call it off. I mean, at the real -- in real time, people were standing up for the Constitution.
Hell, Kevin McCarthy was calling the president saying, call it off. I beg you, call it off. They were all doing the best they could. They had no power in the face of the mob. If they had held Trump accountable and actually convicted him, no, we wouldn't be here.
AVLON: Yes. We'd definitely --
HOOVER: Is that what you're saying? Yes, we wouldn't be here.
AVLON: We definitely definitionally wouldn't be here.
HOOVER: No. If -- and they have sent --
AVLON: They erased their brief profile in courage and the reality is that if more Republicans had stood up, we wouldn't be here. And if they've done it, well, they knew it was happening.
TAPPER: I just mean the whole time like --
HOOVER: All along?
TAPPER: -- you're giving him credit for like 30 seconds of courage. My point is like Kevin McCarthy said that please call it off blah, blah, blah, and then he goes and he votes to disenfranchise Pennsylvania and Arizona.
HOOVER: So, you're saying if there was moral courage in the Republican Party in the face of Donald Trump's political strength would we be here? No.
TAPPER: Alright. Next time we have cocktails. Thank you both.
The beaches of France, once a hot bed for vacations now vacant after fires and a scorching heat wave ravaged Europe. And that's not the only problem there right now.
Plus, a woman awakens after two years in a coma. The startling news that she had for police that led investigators to arresting her brother. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our "Earth Matters" series today, Europe, where homes for the most part do not have air conditioning is suffering through a record breaking, life-threatening heat wave. Whether you're guarding Buckingham Palace in a red coat and bear skin hat or just a tourist or commoner trying to keep cool, some places in the British Isles just sweated through their hottest day ever.
On the continent itself, as CNN's Melissa Bell shows us now, the heat wave has been blamed for hundreds of deaths and a devastating outbreak of wildfires.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Southern Europe in flames. Vast swaths of the Mediterranean engulfed by wildfires driven by the sweltering temperatures of Europe's second heat wave this summer. From Portugal through Spain, Italy and France, where one of two massive fires near the city of Bordeaux continue to rage and spread.
(On camera): Down here on the ground, you get a real sense of what the firefighters are facing. These parched conditions, the earth already dry for so many months of high temperatures, and those high temperatures still continuing. What the firemen in this case, French Air Force firemen are having to do is find those parts of the fire inside the contained zone and put them out as quickly as they can.
(Voice-over): For nearly a week now, temperatures across Europe have soared. In Spain and Portugal, more than 1000 people have died amid record heat, with temperatures set to rise further and as far north as the United Kingdom.
STEVE BARCLAY, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: With a clear message to the public is to take the sensible steps in terms of water, shade and cover. We're asking people to keep an eye out for their neighbors and those who may be vulnerable.
BELL (voice-over): Their own region has declared a state of emergency. After several weeks of drought, some Italian towns now banning the use of water for washing cars and watering gardens with fines of up to $500.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): And it's ridiculous because the population tries to save money by having a vegetable garden and then you prevent them from watering it. I understand not washing the car and watering your garden, but the vegetable garden, it's absurd.
BELL (on camera): These are the beaches of southwestern France, the Atlantic coast where so much of France is accustomed to coming to spend its summer holidays. And yet the beaches completely evacuated, the camping grounds as well. Many of those 1000s of people who've been asked to go elsewhere were people who'd come here on holiday.
(voice-over): To places like Kazu (ph), now the scene of a battle being waged day and night in the face of record temperatures and changing winds.
COL. JEROME FLEITH FRENCH AIR FORCE (through translator): There is no letup in our efforts, it tests our equipment and our men, but we have to hold the line for as long as it takes.
BELL (voice-over): A desperate battle against time and temperatures that are set to rise further still.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BELL: And they did rise. And we saw today, Jake, in that forest I was in yesterday a new record set today in terms of temperature and a spreading of that of fire. And you really get a sense there that around me, the temperature was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, inside those forests is extremely hot. But it is for now across many parts of Europe a losing battle that's being fought simply because of those temperatures, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Melissa Bell, where you are in Paris weather.com says it could be 106 Tomorrow, possibly. So, anyway.
BELL: And that will be a record. And beyond those wildfires, these are cities that are simply not used to that. You're quite right, no air conditioning. We're not equipped for these kinds of temperatures, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes. Melissa Bell, thanks so much.
Let's bring in CNN's Meteorologist Tom Sater.
Tom, Europe, as most of just said, Europe is not prepared to this -- for this kind of heat. Most places aren't air conditioned. People in Spain are dying from the heat. How hot is it expected to get? And how hot does it get today?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we saw a few records. It really started in Portugal and Spain, it's moving up through France into the U.K. and will slide toward Germany tomorrow.
In 2013 there was a widespread heatwave across Europe, estimated to kill 60,000 people, Jake. It's the number one weather killer.
This is not how the map of the world is supposed to look right now in it's current. Yes, we've got our triple digits border to border. It's winter in South America and in Brazil, they're in the 90s. Yes, it's hot in Africa, but never this hot. Now it's sliding northward.
Doesn't look bad in China. It's yellow right now, it's because it's 5:30 in the morning. Half of China has been in a heatwave for over 30 days in the triple digits as well, and that's a billion people.
Yes, it's a big ridge of high pressure just like we're seeing in the U.S. Look at the drought, notice areas of the red of drought everywhere. And with that the fire threat over 75 and Portugal and Spain, gets more.
Italy right now, the worst drought in 50 years, they've had their fires last year in Greece and Turkey. We're going to set records, not just England, Wales, Scotland, these are all time records. Since January 1 we have set over 150 all time high temperature records. You know how many all time lows we broke across the globe, one yesterday in Australia. The numbers that they're seeing, not just now, Jake, but into tomorrow, computer climate miles predicted this to happen 2025 years from now. So, it is devastating.
They talk about 1976. Look at all the blue in that map compared to our global temperatures today. And it's not just there, it's in the U.S. It's just amazing what we're seeing each and every summer, each and every season.
TAPPER: It's amazing and they can't get 60 senators to sign on to do something --
TAPPER: -- climate change. Unbelievable.
TAPPER: Tom Sater, thanks so much.
Coming up, next worrisome COVID case numbers and promising new tools that could one day help bring numbers down from a tablet to nasal spray. We're asking how soon these treatments might be on the market. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, a warning that it may be too late to control and contain the monkey pox virus outbreak here in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official count shows the total number of use cases right now nearing 2,000. But Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was Trump's FDA commissioner, says monkey pox has spread more broadly in the community and he would not be surprised if there are 1000s of cases right now. Let's bring in CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
Elizabeth, Dr. Gottlieb's desertions are now getting push back from the CDC?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are. So earlier today, Dr. Gottlieb got push back from Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health. He said, look, the window is not close.
And today to CNN, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the CDC, saying the same thing. Let's take a look at what she told CNN. She says, "the interview," meaning Dr. Gottlieb's interview, "was misinformed and off base." Those are pretty stern wrong words. "It is true that we have work to do here and internationally and are likely to see more monkeypox cases in the near term but it is possible to significantly decrease the numbers and contain the current monkey pox outbreak."
So let's take a look at some things that she pointed to that the CDC and the U.S. health officials are doing. She said if you take a look, in mid May, the U.S. had capacity to do only about 6,000 tests per week. By the end of June, that ramp up to 10,000. Now, it's about 80,000. And the reason we started with mid May is that's when the first monkey pox case appeared in the U.S.
And if you look at vaccinations, 156,000 doses have been distributed, and 130,000 more will be distributed soon. Now to be clear, Dr. Walensky makes it clear that things are going to get worse before they get better. But she says as vaccinations ramp up, as testing ramps up, she does think that it will get better. Jake.
TAPPER: So Dr. Fauci says, as you know that most cases of monkey pox are spread by close person to person, skin to skin contact, is there a greater danger of it spreading from shared bedding or shared clothing?
COHEN: Right. So if you're taking care of someone with monkey pox, so you live with someone with monkeypox, you should be very, very careful with their linens, with their clothing because it is possible you could get it that way. However, the main, really the prime way that monkeypox is being spread is by what Dr. Fauci said, by close skin to skin contact. We are not seeing it spread in really significant ways through objects such as towels or linens. It's happening, but it's not happening in huge numbers.
TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. COHEN: Thanks.
TAPPER: Also in our health lead today, warning signs that the coronavirus may be staging a comeback, especially cases caused by the highly contagious BA5 Omicron variant. COVID hospitalizations are back to levels we haven't seen since March. And for the first time in two months, the country is back to averaging more than 400 deaths a day. Let's bring in Dr. Megan Ranney.
Dr. Ranney, are we seeing the start of another curve -- another wave rather?
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, BROWN UNIVERSITY: It's tough to know so far, Jake. It certainly shows all the signs of being an early part of a wave, but I've been telling folks that it feels a little bit like we're in a no man's land of COVID. There are some really bad signs. This new variant, the BA4 and the BA5 are significantly more transmissible, are evading our prior immune function, and like you said, are starting to drive up hospitalizations again.
But there is some good news despite the fact that we are doubtless under counting cases by an order of magnitude, those hospitalizations have not risen to the same degree as cases. And deaths, although they have risen a little, are still around 400 a day. Far too many, but nothing like what we were seeing this winter, much less last fall or earlier in 2021. And let's be clear, that's because of the vaccines. So we are in a better situation, but we are clearly in a surge of cases.
TAPPER: What do we know about the 400 or almost 400 a day who are dying of COVID? Are they unvaccinated, unboosted, people with comorbidities, what what can you tell us?
RANNEY: So those folks who are dying are largely older, and many of them are unvaccinated or unboosted. Jake, only about 25 percent of folks who are age 65 plus, those people who should have gotten the fourth shot have actually shown up and gotten a fourth shot. We know from study after study that with all of these variants, the fourth shot does protect from severe disease, hospitalization and death for older people. And we're seeing that play out again with VA4, VA5. It is not otherwise young and healthy people who are ended up in the hospital at this point.
TAPPER: You know, an older relative of mine got her fourth shot, her second boost, and then like a month later tested positive for COVID and had very mild symptoms. And we think it's because she had just been boosted a month before.
RANNEY: I think that's exactly right. So that fourth shot doesn't necessarily prevent any infection, it increases your protection against any infection for a few weeks. But what it does do well is it protects against hospitalization and death from those bad things that we see happen from COVID. It's why our hospitals have not filled up nationwide. And honestly, I think part of the reason that we're seeing a surge in hospitalizations right now is because we're seeing COVID spread in those states with lower vaccination and booster rates in the South and the Southwest.
TAPPER: More than half, 54 percent of the U.S. population lives in a county with a high COVID Community spread right now. What are you telling your parents -- I'm sorry, your patients, about mask wearing? Are you telling your patients to to wear masks indoors now?
RANNEY: Well, I tell my parents as well as my patients the same thing --
RANNEY: -- which is that if you are -- no, totally if you're higher risk, right, you should be masking up. I myself, I'm masking in crowded indoor locations at this point, certainly on airplanes, on subways, on buses, I'm wearing a mask. And if you are immunosuppressed or older, you should be wearing a mask when you're out in public, even if it's not crowded.
I'm also reminding folks who are immunosuppressed or otherwise in danger that they can ask their doctor about Evusheld, which is an amazing preventive medication that can be added on top of those vaccines. And unfortunately, right now, because of the widespread surge in COVID cases, everyone needs to have a plan for if they do test positive, because even with masking, if only one person is wearing a good mask and the others aren't, you still have a chance of getting sick. So you need to know if you're eligible for Paxlovid. You need to have ibuprofen and that pulse ox at home and know what your options are.
TAPPER: A company called Vaxart today showed data suggesting that they're having some success with a vaccine tablet to block transmission of the virus from person to person. I'm guessing that's different from the the pill you just talked about. But in general, how soon will it be until we're able to get more tools, pills, nasal sprays, whatever, to fight the virus even more so than we are.
RANNEY: So I hate to say it, but how soon it will be until we get new tools depends partly on the federal government being able to spend money on bringing those tools to clinical trials and then to market. Part of the reason we got the mRNA vaccines as quickly as we did was because we invested billions and billions of dollars in getting those into those large trials that got them into our arms and then out into the public sphere.
Right now things like that pill, like nasal sprays, most of those are in prehuman trials or in very small phase one human trials. They need to go through those large phase two trials and then the phase three before they can get FDA approval. So we have a ways to go still in a best case scenario months, but if we don't see more money coming, it could be much longer than that. TAPPER: All right. Dr. Megan Ranney, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
This next story is simply wild. People say a woman spent two years in a coma. She woke up and then blamed her brother for putting her in the coma by attacking her with an axe. Police have now taken her brother into custody. Let's just say that didn't go so well.
TAPPER: The national lead, a West Virginia woman beaten, hacked with a sharp object and left for dead just woke up from a two-year coma and accused her brother of being the one who tried to kill her. Police say that 51-year-old Wanda Palmer was found on her couch in June 2020 with severe injuries caused by either a hatchet or an axe. Authorities did not have enough evidence then to charge her brother. Now, they do.
CNN's Jean Casarez joins me.
Jean, this is a crazy story. Has her brother admitted any guilt?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No he had -- well, I spoke with a magistrate's office probably an hour ago, he does not have an attorney because he is refusing to sign any paperwork. So they had his initial appearance which they had to have under the constitution but he is refusing an attorney. But the case has to proceed because criminal charges have been filed and we do have that complaint. So this is an amazing case.
But it is true, according to this complaint, her name is Wanda Palmer. And two years ago she is sitting in her living room on her sofa, someone comes in and they begin to attack her, it's believed with a hatchet or an axe. They haven't found the weapon. But when law enforcement arrived, she was bloody, her head was hung over. They believe that she was dead.
Now according to the complaint, those on scene started to hear what through their experience believed was the death rattle. But they also spoke shallow breathing. So they summon emergency medical and they took her to the hospital and she was alive and she survived. She was in a coma though, so they could not ask her as the living victim what happened, but they really didn't have anything. There was no surveillance video, no phone records, there were no eyewitnesses.
There was someone that said that they had seen her brother on the porch. They questioned him and he said he didn't do it. But it took two years for them, finally, to get a phone call from the care facility saying that Wanda has woken up. And her brother has now been charged because she was asked questions, open ended questions. I think we have some video, this was just taken, that is her brother after his initial court appearance and he didn't want to get in the squad car to go back to the jail.
But here's what we're told. She is giving some very, very primitive talking to law enforcement at this point, why would your brother do this? Because he's mean. So, her brain activity is not where it should be, but they asked her and she told them, according to the complaint and our discussions with law enforcement, that it was her brother.
TAPPER: An unbelievable story. Jean Casarez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
In our pop culture lead, singer Ricky Martin is now denying allegations of abuse made by his nephew. Martin was served a protection order earlier this month after allegations that he and his 20-year-old -- 21-year-old nephew had been in a romantic relationship.
Martin's attorney telling CNN today quote "Unfortunately, the person who made this claim is struggling with deep mental health challenges. Ricky Martin has, of course, never been in would never be involved in any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with his nephew. The idea is not only untrue, it is disgusting," unquote.
The hearing in this case is set for July 21st.
Coming up, the must see video that puts a whole new meaning to the term wedding crasher. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, they say rain on your wedding day is good luck. But what about a monster wave on your wedding day? Guests at a wedding on Hawaii's big island got a very wet surprise when a giant wave crashed right through the venue. Talk about dampening the mood.
The National Weather Service has warned of a, quote, "Extra large" south swell across most of the state. We should note the wedding hero of the hour appeared to be the wedding cake still standing. To borrow a Blondie lyric, the tide was high but it held on. Let's hope the happy couple plan their honeymoon at a slightly higher and drier altitude.
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Our coverage continues now with, one, Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.