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Don Lemon Tonight

President Joe Biden Touts Economic Progress; Stakes Are High For President Joe Biden Six Months Into Presidency; Trump Ally Tom Barrack Arrested On Foreign Agent Charges; New Book Chronicles Trump's Chaotic Final Year In Office; Billionaire Jeff Bezos Flies To The Edge Of Space; Pediatric Group Says 23,000 Kids Caught COVID. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 20, 2021 - 23:00   ET



SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): And it empowers these families to launch their children and give them more opportunities as they grow up.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Empowering and transformative as it has been described by some Democrats in Washington. Senator, Ohio is a good representation of the U.S. as a whole. It is diverse. There are urban areas, rural areas, and a fairly even distribution of both Democrats and Republicans. So, why haven't more Democrats been able to connect here, particularly state-wide and in presidential elections?

I think that -- I mean, I rather answer that way, Don. I apologize I'll answer this way. I think that for the first time in a long time, in either party, a president of the United States is putting workers at the center of trade policy, tax policy, wages, all that we need to do.

In the past, presidents of both parties have put corporate interest front and center far too often. I think that -- I won in Ohio because I talk about workers because of the child tax credit, because of raising the minimum wage, because of all the things -- because of a trade policy that focuses on workers.

And Joe Biden is the most pro-worker president. He talks about unions. He talks about giving workers the right to organize and bargain collectively.

We're seeing wages go up for the first time in years. For years, corporate profits have gone up. Executive compensation has exploded upwards. Profits have gone up. Young workers' wages (ph) remained flat and that's beginning to change now. That's the really good news about this Biden economic recovery.

LEMON: Yeah. I want to talk about what's going in Washington because Republicans are expected, senator, to block a procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill tomorrow. They said that they want more time to hash out the details, especially over how to fund it.

You have been involved in some of the consultations with lawmakers. Do you think that President Biden's bipartisanship effort will pay off or will the GOP refuse to play ball?

BROWN: Well, I hope it pays off. It's up to the Republicans to continue negotiations and move on this. I mean, it's the oldest trick in the book to just sort of say, well, I need more time, I need more time, and I need more time. I just want to get this done. I hope it's bipartisan. If it's not, we need to go big.

Where the president is going in Cincinnati, one of the biggest public works projects in the country, the Brent Spence Bridge, which crosses the Cincinnati with the Ohio River and Cincinnati to Kentucky is -- three percent of GDP crosses that bridge every day. That's essential that we fix that bridge. It's essential we invest in infrastructure.

Infrastructure is not so narrowly defined if it's only highways and bridges and water and sewer systems. It's broadband, it's the child tax credit, it's education, it's health care, it's home care, it's all those things that help families -- building a foundation under families so kids have more opportunity and can launch into a better life. It's not just highways and bridges. It's all of those things that matter in people's lives.

I just want to see us go big on all of that. I hope Republicans want to go along. We will do it if they don't, but I'm hopeful that it can be bipartisan.

LEMON: You were talking about Ohio and -- listen, I think that -- these beautiful Midwestern cities -- these beautiful, I should say, American cities like Cincinnati, like Columbus, like Detroit, it's always amazing to come and see them and to see an old-school downtown. I was so happy to be here and to see that.

But also, people are getting out now, but coronavirus cases are rising in Ohio. The state has fully vaccinated nearly 46 percent of its population, just below the rate of the whole country, senator. The vaccine demand now is scarce. My question is -- are you worried about what happens if vaccinations don't pick up?

BROWN: I'm very concerned. I think Ohio -- unfortunately, we've had pretty bad leadership, really bad leadership out of the legislature. We don't invest in public health and public education. There's this sort of move from the far, from the radical right against vaccinations. I'm hopeful -- the most important thing in the president's visit really is to encourage people to get vaccinated.

We know we can't return to the kind of lifestyle, as one writer wrote the other day, a collective exuberance that when people get together and get to celebrate, just go around, go through their normal course of affairs, the normal mess of life, if you will, we also can't get our economy going the way we need to if people -- if people get sick, if people have to continue to isolate because so many still haven't gotten vaccinated.

So, I'm hopeful the message is loud and clear. I know it has been on your show, Don. I know it has been throughout CNN.

[23:04:57] BROWN: But it's so important that people get vaccinated so we can get back to a normal life and we can -- this economy is poised to really take off. Everything is in place, but this illness continues to drag us down as a country.

LEMON: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining me this evening.

Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator from Ohio. You know, at six months into his presidency, the stakes could not be higher for Joe Biden, who will take questions from Americans tomorrow night at CNN's presidential town hall right here in Cincinnati. I will be the moderator. The town hall is taking place as the Senate takes a key vote on advancing Biden's massive infrastructure plan.

But tonight, Republicans are vowing to block the vote. The president is likely to take questions on the surge in new COVID-19 cases. The head of the CDC is saying that the aggressive delta variant now making up 83 percent of all new cases as vaccination rates are stalling.

And billionaire Jeff Bezos, along with three others, making a successful trip to the edge of outer space and back. Bezos is saying that he wants to make space travel commercially-viable someday. Stay tuned.

I want to bring in now CNN's chief national affairs correspondent, Mr. Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thank you for joining us. You know, it's six months in, right, to Joe Biden's presidency. He's going to be speaking, taking questions from Americans at the town hall tomorrow. But you've got the COVID cases going up. The variant is out there, the delta variant. The Republicans are poised to block this vote on infrastructure. He's up against a heck of a lot.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Don, he is. He's only at the sixth month mark of his presidency, which sounds early, but it's actually not that early. And inside the West Wing, there is a sense of urgency. We are talking to White House officials throughout the day and this evening. One says the clock is running, we know it, and the president certainly knows it.

So the reality is, on a variety of fronts, there is a sense of urgency on COVID-19, first and foremost, largely because of the economic impact of this. Yes, it is a pandemic for the unvaccinated, but it also affects people on both sides of this divide and the infrastructure bill you mentioned.

If Republicans block it tomorrow, look for the White House and the president to try and hold Democrats together potentially as a plan B, putting it all in the reconciliation, the so-called reconciliation bill, to keep that alive.

So a variety of fronts here at home, never mind the foreign challenges with hacking and other things. So, certainly many summer challenges like any president. It's a long, hot summer for Joe Biden, and the challenges are really mounting.

LEMON: Yeah. I mean, speaking of infrastructure, I mean, there is no greater example of how infrastructure needs to be fixed. When you look at the bridge here, there's a bridge here --

ZELENY: Right.

LEMON: -- that people are worried that they go over every day, they're worried is going to fall down.

Listen, our country is so fortunate. We have these life-saving vaccines, Jeff, free and accessible. We're heading back into this crisis now because we can't get past this political divide. You had the opportunity to talk to folks here in -- I said Washington because you said Washington --

ZELENY: Right.

LEMON: -- in Ohio.

ZELENY: Right.

LEMON: What do they have to say? What are they talking about? What's on their minds?

ZELENY (on camera): Don, there's no question that the vaccine hesitancy is such a challenge. I spent some time yesterday with the First Ladies for Health in Cincinnati, a group of spouses, wives of pastors as well as the wife of the mayor, First Ladies for Health, they call themselves.

They're really on the front line of vaccine hesitancy, and really my conversation with Barbara Lynch, she is working so hard to try and talk people into getting vaccines, but listen to what she said here about someone in her own family.


BARBARA LYNCH, MEMBER, FIRST LADIES OF HEALTH: We've come up against a brick wall and we're trying to figure out what we can do now to induce people to get the vaccine. I have a grandson who is not taking the vaccine. And we've preached to him and preached to him and preached to him about it, but he's not taking the vaccine.

ZELENY (voice-over): Your own grandson?

LYNCH: My own grandson, yes. He believes the stuff that he's seeing on the internet.


ZELENY (on camera): So definitely there is a sense of misinformation out there. There is disinformation. Don, what I found was a little surprising to me. It's not just on political lines. Yes, there are many Trump supporters, others who are not taking the vaccine, but it's more than that. A lot of young people are not taking the vaccine for a variety of reasons. One common theme is the disinformation. The White House, yes, is fighting back, but they're not necessarily listening to the White House. So that is one big challenge.

LEMON: I experienced this with my own family. There is -- here I am on television talking about it every night, but there is ambivalence. There's a lack of urgency for getting the vaccine.

Perhaps this new delta variant and where we see what's happening with it will change some of that, and this campaign to get rid of the disinformation from the White House, hopefully that will help as well.

Also tonight, I understand that you're getting some information about what Republicans may do next when it comes to this January 6th select committee. What are you hearing?

ZELENY: We are hearing from our team on Capitol Hill that Republicans really after a -- one day after being named to the committee -- we know that Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, really named a really quite interesting group of characters, all deniers of the insurrection, and they are poised to, we are learning, to muddy the waters, if you will, to turn the tables on Democrats to try and say, look, this was a security issue that Speaker Pelosi should have solved.


ZELENY: This was something that was her purview to keep the Capitol safe. Democrats are saying -- Bennie Thompson, who is chairing this, says, look, they're simply trying to muddy the waters. So, that is what we can expect. This is not going to be a committee that's going to independently look at this. That's going to be another Washington sort of drag out fight.

Don, being out here in the country, one thing is clear. People are not interested in another food fight in Washington, regardless of what side you're on, but that is what sounds like is coming down the way.

LEMON: And quite frankly, I mean, it is a desperate attempt because it's hard to change the narrative when we have so many images coming out and we see --

ZELENY: And arrests and cases day by day.

LEMON: -- and none of them mention Nancy Pelosi except that they don't like her and they stuck their feet up on top of her desk. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny. I appreciate it.

ZELENY: Sure, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: I want to turn now to Washington Post investigate reporter Carol Leonnig. I'm so happy to have her here. She's the co-author of the explosive new book, "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year." Again, so good to see you again. Thank you so much, Carol. Listen, there are so many details from your book that we need to discuss. But I want to start with today's news. Trump's ally, Tom Barrack, arrested and charged with illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of the UAE. You've interviewed Barrack multiple times. Are you surprised by these charges?

CAROL LEONNIG, AUTHOR: I think in a way I am because it's so unusual for the government to bring these kinds of cases. They're serious cases, Don. Make no mistake, when federal prosecutors subpoena your records as they did with Tom Barrack more than a year and a half ago, it's a big deal. But the government is usually shy of bringing this kind of case, charging someone with essentially illegally lobbying.

But you know what's interesting about Tom Barrack's charges and the arrest is that he's accused of basically trying to use his in with Donald Trump, a good friend, an -- you know, he was basically part of the kitchen cabinet for Donald Trump, and he's accused of using that in to create foreign policy for his allies in the UAE and also in Saudi Arabia.

And, you know, that's not very far from what Donald Trump was doing himself. He set the model. He was a believer in basically making a personal profit, a personal gain from his connections and ultimately from his role as president.

LEMON: Carol, if you will, I want to get to a line in your book that really stands out to me. And you write -- you said, most of Trump's failings can be explained by a simple truth: He cared more about himself than the country.

Is this selfishness still putting the country at risk?

LEONNIG: You know, one of the biggest takeaways from Phil Rucker, my co-author, and my reporting for our book, "I Alone Can Fix It," was this idea that so many insiders were really in panic, near panic, Don, about how quickly the president would put his personal gain in front of American health, American lives, in front of the sort of sanctity of the Constitution, in front of the democracy's stability.

And recent -- a lot of people could say, oh, you looked back for a year at the final year of Donald Trump's presidency, that's interesting history. But it's not just interesting history. It is current events today.

Donald Trump just recently gave a statement explaining why people don't trust the vaccine. His supporters often don't trust the vaccine. And he said they also don't trust the election. As if to equate the two, as if to say, you know, I'm pushing you on this conspiracy that I won the election and it was rigged against me. And at the same time, he's pushing and enabling people to distrust something that could save their lives.

LEMON: You and your colleague, Philip Rucker, interviewed Trump for this book. This is what he said about the Republicans visiting Mar-a- Lago to kiss the ring. He said, we have had so many, so many are coming in, Trump said. It's been pretty amazing. You see the numbers. They need the endorsement. I don't say this in a braggadocios way, but if they don't get the endorsement, they don't win.

I don't have to tell you that a lot of people want to put Trump in the rear-view mirror, but that can't happen because he is still leading the Republican Party. They are still enthralled. He has a huge hold on them.

LEONNIG: You're absolutely right. I mean, there is a genius in Donald Trump which is his mastery of the megaphone.


LEONNIG: He really tapped into dissatisfaction and disaffection in a very large part of American voters. People who felt dismissed, felt the economic winds were blowing against them, felt the elitists in government were ignoring them. Some of them were white supremacists and nationalists as well. But Donald Trump figured out what was making them mad, and he kept stoking their anger and their fear.

That's a huge problem because today, the things that he says, whether they're true or not, a large segment of the population believes as if it's the bible. And it's a huge problem because, you know, you can't unhook these people from the person they trust and really adore.

Donald Trump continues to stoke fear about the government being something that will do harm to you. He continues to sow distrust about the vaccine. Let's be clear, he is the prominent standard-bearer for the Republican Party. If a primary were held today, he would be the Republican nominee for president.

LEMON: I have to read something else that you said during that interview. I'm sure you won't mind if I continue to quote from your book. I think it would be hard if George Washington came back from the dead and chose Abraham Lincoln as the vice president. I think it would have been very hard for them to beat me.

I mean, obviously, that is ridiculous.

LEONNIG: It's strange and it's strained to put it lightly. Many historians rank Donald Trump in the very bottom of effectiveness and good character as a president. However, Donald Trump views himself as essentially -- basically number one, a person who could beat George Washington and Abe Lincoln if they were teamed up against him.

He has a kind of alternate reality. In our interview with him, it was really important for him to get those facts, his alternative facts out to the public. I think that's why he sat down with us.

You know, he said a lot of other things, Don, in our interview that strained credulity. He said essentially that he thinks most of the people who were charging up Capitol Hill on January 6th were very loving people, that they were ushered into the building by friendly Capitol police officers.

He said that he believed that crowd that came out for him on January 6th may have stretched into as many as a million people, the largest crowd he had ever seen, all cheering for him. None of those things are true. And yet it's important to Donald Trump that he repeat them, and the question becomes really, you know, how many other people are going to continue to believe this information for which there is no evidence.

LEMON: It is really interesting how he lives in a delusion and he gets other people to buy into that. It's amazing. Your reporting, Carol, about the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, preparing to stop the then-president from attempting a coup, I mean, it's stunning.

And here is what you write. You said, they may try, but they're not going to f-ing succeed, he told them. You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We are the guys with the guns.

I mean, you've been reporting sensibly on Trump for years and this is your second book on him. I just spoke to you not long ago about a book that you had. But even you say it was chilling to learn that he would stop at nothing to stay in power.

LEONNIG: Don, you said it better than I could have. But I will add one thing, which is, Phil and I, when we sat down in these interviews with people and we interviewed more than 140 senior Trump advisers, friends, government officials, people with a front-row seat, and each time we sat down, we were gobsmacked by a new fact.

And it was chilling to the bone to hear that generals, four-star generals, people who had led thousands of men and women into combat, were in near panic about how they were going to block Donald trump from illegally or improperly or dangerously misusing the military simply to sow chaos and fear and maintain his grasp on power to retain his position --

LEMON: Carol, I know we have a delay. Why didn't they speak up? Why didn't they say anything at the time?

LEONNIG: You know, we were on guard for this question about why -- we asked the same question.


LEONNIG: Let me put it that way. What in the world -- why did you stand by his side quietly? Why didn't you object? And what we learned in our reporting was that so many individuals were either afraid of President Trump and what he could do to them or they were afraid that if they spoke up, somebody more yes, man, somebody weaker, somebody worse would replace them in their positions.

And, you know, there are moments in this book that are very striking where some of the president's most ardent supporters become fearful and disgusted with him.

There is a moment very close to the heels of January 6th, it's that evening, and the White House counsel, again, Pat Cipollone, one of the president's most loyal and trusted advisers, threatens to resign along with this deputies because he cannot believe that he's being told they are being urged to write up pardons for the president, two of his sons, for Rudy Giuliani, to protect them from the possibility that they'll be charged with inciting a riot. He cannot believe anybody would try to do this.

So, at all levels, from government officials to the most, again, most loyal deputies, people were throwing up their hands at what Donald Trump was doing.

LEMON: Carol Leonnig, we're so happy that you're here. It has been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

LEONNIG: Thank you, Don. Great questions.

LEMON: Thank you. The book again is "I Alone Can Fix It."

So the richest man on Earth, flying to the edge of space. What does it say about America?




LEMON: So we have been broadcasting from outside the union terminal in Cincinnati where tomorrow I'm going to be moderating CNN's town hall with President Joe Biden.

But I want to take you inside. You have to see this. I walked in tonight and I was just blown away by the Art Deco masterpiece. It's 88-year history, including, look at this, these are live pictures, right, these 10,000 feet of mosaic tiles and a rotunda dome. Look at the murals. I think there were 16 in all that were commissioned for this beautiful historic building in 1931 when they started building it. It opened in 1933.

But I got to tell you, it is design perfection. It is Art Deco perfection. Beautiful. If you have the chance, come here and check out the Cincinnati Union Terminal. Nothing else like it. I haven't seen it in my life. Just gorgeous.

Now, I want to talk about more innovation in this country. Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, making a childhood dream coming true, blasting up to the edge of outer space and returning to Earth successfully today. Bezos is saying that he wants to do it again and that he wants to make space travel commercially-viable someday.

So let's bring in now presidential historian Jon Meacham, who is the host of the podcast "Hope Through History." Jon, a lot to discuss. We're going to get to the space launch. There's so much style in this building. We don't do style like this anymore, sadly. But anyway, I digress. Let's talk about the launch.

How are you looking at the idea of Jeff Bezos, the private individual, the richest man on Earth, on the planet, launching to the edge of space versus a collective exploration that this country used to do?

JON MEACHAM, WRITER, HISTORIAN AND PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHER: America works best when private and public work together, whether it's interstate highways or railroads or the conversation that began about the years that your -- the Cincinnati place was finished up, when Franklin Roosevelt came to power and began to shift the emphasis in America from being entirely about private enterprise and being about this intermeshing of public and private.

It's a conversation that has worked out pretty well for us. Sometimes it veers to the right, sometimes it veers to the left, but it's a coherent one. One of the aspects of the last four years, from 2017 to 2021, is that it was not a sequential chapter in that ongoing conversation.

So, you know, I think that if I were Jeff Bezos, I would be a lot more careful about the messaging here. I think there are a lot of legitimate questions about what's happening on Earth related to Amazon and so that's something that needs to unfold.

On the other hand, it is American ingenuity and possibility. What I would hope is that it is a sign that we can do things in this country. If we can focus -- and I think you're right, there's nothing wrong with individual effort, obviously. That's the fuel of capitalism. It's the fuel of what's made democracy work.

But we need to make sure that everybody believes that someday, they can be part of that journey, not literally to space, but the American journey, and try to rebuild the engine of mobility in this country.

LEMON: It's also a pivotal week for President Biden's domestic agenda.


LEMON: He has been out trying to be Mr. Bipartisan, right? But we are learning that Senate Republicans are expected to block Wednesday's vote to advance a bipartisan infrastructure bill. If that happens, will he have to change his approach, you think?

MEACHAM: Well, you know, bipartisan is the goal, and I think the president understands that he's been hired to govern, he's been hired to unify the country, not necessarily on specific issue after specific issue, but try to achieve a certain unity. It goes to the conversation you were having with Carol, at least about the rules of the road.

Let's acknowledge that the Constitution, however flawed, gives us a guide to living together and we can amend it and try to change it as we go along. But you can't have one of the two functional parties slipping into a permanent state of the denial of reality and the denial of the Constitution when they don't like the result. And that's where as currently constituted the Republican Party is right now.

And so I think the president knows that he won this election fairly and squarely and with a, you know, a number very much in line with history and above people like Truman and Kennedy, Nixon the first time, more than George W. Bush the first time, more than Donald Trump in 2016. Having won that election, he's been charged with, again, making us believe again that the engines of mobility, the engines of reform can work.

And so I think that at the end of the day, he will put a premium on results because he wants to prove -- and this is the work of the last chapter of his life -- he wants to prove that democracy can deliver. And it's really, really hard when almost half the country is not interested in democracy delivering for we the people, but only for their party and their vision of this cult of personality that has subsumed that party. So my money is on President Biden.

LEMON: Jon, you know, I'm having so much fun talking to you. I want you to stand by. I want to take this over the break. I'm going to take a break and we will come back with Jon Meacham. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Back now with presidential historian Jon Meacham. Jon, you and I have spoken before about President Biden needing to be very careful about losing the narrative of his presidency. Speak to that. We're six months in. Do you think that's happening?

MEACHAM: I don't. And I can say --

LEMON: Jon, I think we're having an issue. I can't hear you. I don't know if you can get closer to the microphone or what. I'm having an issue. I can't really hear you. Can you hear me now, Jon? Can you continue to talk?

MEACHAM: I got you. So I should say --

LEMON: Now, I can hear you. Now, I can hear you.

MEACHAM: Okay. I say -- I think -- great president -- and they have to repeat it again and again. And I think the story for President Biden is can democracy deliver? Can, in fact, this journey toward a more perfect union continue to unfold amid these elemental forces that are trying to undermine the experiment in liberty that depends on our individual habits of heart and mind?

And I think that as long as he stays true to that, then that narrative will be coherent. And he has a remarkably difficult task here, as difficult as anybody since Lincoln, to try to lead a country where a significant, significant minority is devoted to not just an opposing political division, which you except, but an opposing vision of reality that's not based on fact.

LEMON: Let's talk about your podcast, "Hope Through History." You cover pivotal moments that have helped to shape the nation, including Bloody Sunday, the Voting Rights Act. Talk about that because when you see what's going on now to restrict voting rights, what gives you hope that our democracy will be accessible to everyone? You mentioned earlier -- you said that Jeff Bezos had to make people think that they were or we as Americans had to make people think that they had access not just to go to space but access to what is essentially the American dream.

MEACHAM: Yeah. My source of hope is that 55 years ago, we just commemorated the one-year anniversary of his death, John Lewis was nearly beaten to death in the streets of America by state-sponsored -- a state-sponsored totalitarian police force.


MEACHAM: And there was, in fact, progress. And the fact that progress is being repealed means we have to redouble our efforts. History is not a straight line. It's barely a zigzag line. There are steps forward and there are a lot of steps back.

And so the hope here is founded on an awareness, the energy for -- on the part of those who believe that the vote, that making genuine the promise of the declaration of independence available not just to some but to all, that those principles, again, those habits of heart and mind will become reality.

And it is not a blind optimism, believe me. You know, this is a bloody, difficult, tragic and painful history that we've lived through and are living through. But we can't give up. Democracies are the exception, not the rule. There's nothing (INAUDIBLE) about the ongoing success of the American experiment. And there are a lot of folks who wouldn't even argue it's been a successful experiment.

I disagree with that, but I understand those who see the country's history as fundamentally flawed. Of course, it's flawed. History is all of us, right? What is a democracy, but the fullest manifestation of all of us? And so we have to do everything we can to press on.

LEMON: Well, Jon, we love having you, especially when we can hear you.


LEMON: -- on the second half of this interview. Jon Meacham, thank you so much. Best of luck with the podcast. We'll see you soon.

MEACHAM: Thanks, man.

LEMON: So, the CDC director confirming 83 percent of COVID cases in the U.S. are now the delta variant. And health experts are warning kids are getting swept up. So stay with us. We're going to talk about that.




LEMON: The head of the CDC is saying the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus now makes up 83 percent of new cases as vaccination rates are stalling around the country.

Here in Ohio, where President Joe Biden will be just facing CNN's town hall tomorrow night, the Department of Health reporting that the state is seeing the highest number of new cases since May.

Joining me now is Dr. Stephen Blatt, medical director at TriHealth Infectious Diseases here in Cincinnati. Good to see you.


LEMON: I'm glad you are here to talk with us. This is very important. So, not even half of Ohioans are vaccinated. What are you feeling? Are you concerned?

BLATT: I am very concerned. You know, this delta variant is so incredibly infectious that I am really worried that those unvaccinated people are all going to get it.

LEMON: What are you hearing from patients about why they are -- any of them, about why they aren't getting vaccinated? They tell you?

BLATT: Well, some are just worried that it hasn't been fully FDA- approved yet. For that group, I think some of them will agree to get the vaccine once it's fully FDA-approved. Others just don't believe in vaccines and that's tough road to go (ph).

LEMON: What about the people who work across the medical industry here because we are seeing lower vaccination rates than expected, even among health care workers and hospital workers?

BLATT: Yeah, it is tough. And so we have a huge campaign going on to educate our health care workers, to tell them how safe and effective the vaccine is. Some of them are still concerned, but I think once we get full FDA-approval, most of them will agree to take it.

LEMON: You know, the American Academy of Pediatrics also issued a mask guideline, not a mandate, really, a source for children, especially children in school, but they are reporting that 23,000 kids caught coronavirus last week. Are you seeing an uptick in younger patients?

BLATT: Our pediatricians tell us that they're starting to see coronavirus in the children and they are really worried about once school starts that it is going to spread pretty quickly. They are also worried that small children will have difficulty wearing masks in school and that is going to be difficult to get them to comply.

LEMON: What symptoms are you seeing and how sick are these children or these teenagers?

BLATT: Well, they have high fever. They feel very rundown, extreme fatigue. Fortunately, we don't see a lot of admissions to the hospital because kids usually weather (ph) it pretty we'll. But we really need a vaccine for children.

LEMON: The thing was, you know, through the beginning of the pandemic and really through the quarantine, most of quarantine, parents really felt some ease because kids were not really getting sick, right? But now, you see children getting sick. What can parents do to protect -- what can we do to protect the children in our society?

BLATT: I think the main thing you can do is get yourself and the rest of your family vaccinated if they are old enough to get a vaccine. That way, you will protect your kids. When you are out in crowds, if the children are around other unvaccinated people, they can wear masks if they want.

LEMON: There are still plenty of people who think that, well, even if you get vaccinated, you can still get COVID, so then what is the need for me to get vaccinated?


BLATT: Well, there are a few breakdown cases of people who are fully vaccinated who get COVID, but they get very mild disease, and we don't think they're able to transmit it very easily at all. So the key thing is it keeps you from getting sick enough to go to the hospital and sick enough from going to the ICU.

LEMON: Is it true, what they say that this has become a disease of the unvaccinated or pandemic of the unvaccinated?

BLATT: It really is. We virtually see no cases in our hospitals among vaccinate people. They are all unvaccinated that end up getting admitted.

LEMON: And your message is get a vaccine.

BLATT: Get a vaccine, it is safe, it is effective, it works.

LEMON: I'm so happy that you're here to help give us some information on this. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it, Dr. Stephen Blatt. We'll be right back.




LEMON: So you've been watching tonight. You know I'm outside of Cincinnati Union Terminal, reporting here in Cincinnati, just ahead of President Joe Biden's town hall tomorrow night. You know he campaigned in Cincinnati when he was running for president.

Six months into his presidency, he's going to be taking questions from the American people. I'm going to be moderating. It's going to be live on CNN tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Look at the beauty of Cincinnati, the fountain and the beautiful union terminal.

We thank you for watching us from Cincinnati, and we'll see you back here tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. for the town hall with Joe Biden.