Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

WaPo Reveal Chilling Document from CDC; GOP Divided on Vaccine and Mask Mandate; Rep. Jim Jordan Lost His Retentive Memory; Lawmakers Use the Pandemic as Political Issue; Health Officer Heckled by the Anti-Mask Crowd. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 29, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The big show, don Lemon Tonight starts right now with its big star, Don Lemon. And you got breaking news. The war has changed to document from the CDC. We had former surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams. He says this freedom argument is bunk. The vaccine is necessary.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know how we usually -- you know, we have a light moment because I think people need that after a long day. We usually, we haven't had as many of those. I got to tell you, Chris, I've -- I've been really worried and I'm even more worried now with all of this information.

This, you know, when I was in Cincinnati last week or the week before, you know, people were asking me, why are you walking around with a mask? I'm like, well, I'm about to interview the president. I want to make sure. But I am -- you're fully vaccinated. I said, I am. But I'm really worried about this Delta variant. We just don't know.

And I think, I think that things may be worse than we actually think. Then people maybe letting on. There's something that they know, if they are going to start mandating mask and possibly vaccines. There's tons of evidence out there, there's tons of information showing that it's bad. But I think that -- I don't know if we can get this under control, and we had the opportunity to. None of this had to happen.

Children didn't have to start getting sick, if we didn't allow this virus to mutate and this variant to catch on, we could have had this under control. We were well on our way -- and the only people that you can blame, the only people you can blame -- this isn't shaming -- this is the truth -- maybe they should be ashamed -- are the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated people have put us in the position that we're in now. And it is not a good place.

CUOMO: I think that the reason that we keep telling people of stories of other unvaccinated people and the toll it's taking on them and their families when they get sick, is that it doesn't have to be you. I mean, there are a lot of people -- sure. You've got that Trump wing and absolutely, we showed the numbers tonight. Thirty-seven percent of the unvaccinated are white Republicans. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But it doesn't have to be like that. And if it's about being hesitant, talk to your doctor. Listen to the information. Let's keep these dialogues going. But if it's about this idea of adverse exercise of freedom that is really just infringing on the freedom of everybody else, it's a problem.

Now here's my one -- my one beef. I want to see the data. And I don't understand why the CDC isn't putting data first. Let me see the breakthrough numbers. Let me see the data that spooked the scientists into this internal appraisal. I want to see the numbers. I want to see why FDA approval hasn't happened yet on this. I think they have to be more out front with the messaging and the data.

LEMON: All of that is true. But you have to have get people get vaccinated. You have to have leaders starts speaking the truth. You have to have leaders --


CUOMO: The data would be.

LEMON: -- who will be more -- yes, of course, I said that is true. Bu also, I mean, in addition to. You got to have people start speaking the truth. You can't have them speaking out of both sides of their moth saying, you all, I trust the science and I'm doing this. I heard Jerome Adams on and he's saying, talking about some right-wing conservative propaganda host who are saying yes, no one really said get vaccine. They said I believe in the science. And it's up to you to get it.

We can't have mealy mouth people like that. You have to be more direct. A more concerted effort to say get vaccinated. Because you're not just killing yourself, you're going to kill other people. That's what you have to start telling people.

You got to start telling people if you don't get vaccinated, you can't come into this office or this place of business. If you don't get vaccinated, you can't come to work. If you don't get vaccinated, you can't come into this gym. If you don't get vaccinated, you can't come into this, get on to this airplane.

That has nothing to do with freedom. That has nothing to do with liberty. You don't have the freedom and the liberty to put other people in jeopardy. You don't have that. You have to -- you have to drive the speed limit. You have to obey the rules. Put some rules in place, that will demand that people get vaccinated.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: You can't just go around and say, look, it's my personal freedom and my liberty. I want to go 150 miles an hour if I want to. Sure, you can. But you have to suffer the consequences for it. Either you, whether you kill yourself or you get a citation or your driver's license gets taken away. [22:05:00]

You have to have certain rules in a society if we all are going to continue to live and keep each other alive. You cannot be that selfish. And frankly, that ignorant.

CUOMO: yes. I think the dynamic in terms of the politics has to flip from this tyranny of the minority. The unvaccinated --


CUOMO: -- to the vaccinated. Because the vaccinated, the majority of Americans, Republicans, Democrats, independents, right, left, and reasonable.


CUOMO: Red and blue states. You know, every face, every place. The majority of us have done this. Who is speaking for them?


CUOMO: What about their freedoms?

LEMON: There's -- there's only one group of people who is out there saying this is -- you don't have to do it or whatever. It's your personal -- and that is -- that's conservatives or that's Trump supporters.

CUOMO: It's Trumpers.

LEMON: It's Trumpers. That's it.


LEMON: You are talking about, well, minorities aren't -- you don't hear -- you don't have minority leaders coming out on a whole, saying, do that. You don't have, you know, people from Latino leaders coming out saying, you shouldn't. You don't have it. You have one group and that is the Trumpers saying that.

CUOMO: Saying it's the illegal entrants.

LEMON: My Gosh.

CUOMO: And now, they are saying it's the minority communities that are really the unvaccinated. We just put up the numbers. It's just not true.

LEMON: It's not true. It's not true. I got to go with our breaking news. I love you. I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I love you as well.

This is Don Lemon Tonight.

And as we've been saying this is our breaking news. OK? CNN has confirmed an internal CDC document with a chilling warning, infections from the Delta variant appear to be more severe and spread as easily as chickenpox. Are you listening, people? Are you listening? Are you listening?

The Washington Post is reporting the variant is so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus spreading more quickly an Ebola or the common cold. Are you listening? Are you listening? Are you listening?

The document argues officials must, quote, "acknowledge the war has changed." We've got a lot more to come on this and what it means for Americans as the Delta variant spreads in hot spots all across this country.

I got to tell you, I'm from Louisiana. Everyone -- not everyone I love, but all of my family members are in Louisiana. They're in Baton Rouge. And it is crazy there. The virus is just running rampant there. I'm so worried about them. I am so worried about them. Because they get so much information and it's, quite honestly, is mostly red states. That's the truth. This is not -- I'm not being partisan. This is the truth. Look at the numbers. Why do we have these hot spots? Because some people have a very misguided and unhealthy idea of what freedom really means.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think it's very important that we say, unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no mandates.


DESANTIS: Floridians are free to choose and all Americans should be free to choose how they govern their affairs.


LEMON: First of all, no one is talking about lockdowns or closing schools. It might have to happen if you don't get vaccinated. That's the whole point, sir. The issue at hand is vaccination, which the governor has said that he supports. That's what I mean by talking out of both sides of your mouth. I support vaccination, but you don't have to give up your freedom.

New guidance on masks, because of the breaking news I just told you about. But he says it's about freedom, no restrictions, no mandates. So, OK. What does freedom mean? What does it mean? What kind of freedom do people want when they say they're not getting vaccinated because they believe in freedom?


UNKNOWN: We are for freedom, baby. We're for freedom, all the way. That's what we love.


LEMON: Yes. Well, I should know about being for freedom. My people. You can't put on a mask. Really?


Do you want the freedom to get sick? To be hospitalized or worse? Worse. Do they want the freedom to be lying in an overcrowded hospital, struggling for every single breath? Do they want that freedom for people they love to be infected with a deadly virus? Freedom not to follow the facts, even if your freedom kills people? What kind of freedom is that? What kind of freedom do they really want?


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: With freedom comes responsibility. The decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else. Unvaccinated people spread the virus. They get sick and fill up our hospitals. And that means, if someone else has a heart attack or breaks a hip, there might not be a hospital bed for them.


LEMON: Freedom. But when your freedom kills someone else, what kind of freedom is that? What about their freedom? Freedom to ignore the science and the facts. That's what got us where we are tonight. And as I said, this is not just a red state or a blue state thing.

There are Republicans who are sounding the alarm, trying to convince the unvaccinated to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones before it is too late. Maybe it -- it might be too late. I don't know. I hope it's not. I really do. But I'm really worried that it's too late.

So, those Republicans, the Republicans like West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who has been strong on vaccinations from the very beginning. Now, he says the Delta variant is coming and coming faster. And he goes on to say this.


GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): For crying out loud, you've got to get yourself vaccinated. That's just all there is to it.


LEMON: There's Mitch McConnell, who -- well, now, who has said all along that people should get vaccinated, right? He put out a radio ad. He is urging people, urging people in Kentucky to get the shot and recalling his bout with polio as a young boy. That should be a lesson to all of you. He is saying that. But listen to what he told Larry Kudlow on Fox Business.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Honestly, it never occurred to me we'd have difficulty getting people to take the vaccine.


LEMON: It never occurred to him? Really? Never? Really? Let's think about this, OK? Put your partisan hat aside. To think that you would have to ignore the whole terrible history of this pandemic. From the very beginning, the politicizing of it. You would have to ignore the anti-science, anti-fact-based garbage that far too many Republicans have been prompting and promoting all throughout of this -- throughout this.

The claims the virus was totally under control. Right? It's just going to go away like a miracle, right? It's just going to go away like a miracle, prompting bogus cures like, remember, hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxy. Hydroxy. Or the powerful light inside the body, injecting disinfectant. Mocking wearing masks. Ignore the science. Ignore the facts. Freedom.

And the Republican deniers are also ignoring the facts of what we all saw, and what we all heard on January 6th. That's when blood-thirsty Trump-supporting rioters stormed the halls of Congress, beating police within an inch of their lives, forcing lawmakers to run for it. Or maybe it's not that they're, you know, ignoring them. Maybe they're scared of them. With the select committee threatening subpoenas, does this guy seem nervous to you, Jim Jordan?


UNKNOWN: Did you speak with President Trump on January 6th?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes. I mean, I speak -- I spoke with the president last week. I speak with the president all the time. I spoke with him on January 6th. I mean, I talk with President Trump all the time. And that's -- I don't think that's unusual. I would expect members of Congress to talk with the president of the United States when they're trying to get done the things they told the voters in their district to do. I'm actually kind of amazed sometimes that people keep asking this question. Of course, I talked to the president all the time. I talk to him, like I said, I talk with him last week.

UNKNOWN: On January 6th, did you speak with him before, during or after the capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I have to go -- I spoke with him that day after. I think after. I don't know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don't know.


I would have to go back -- I mean, I don't know that -- when those conversations happen. But what I know is I spoke with him all the time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Come on. Hamina, Hamina. Hamina. So, you spoke to him January 6th. You think maybe after. But you have to go back. But you don't mow when those conversations happened. But all you know is that you speak with him all the time. Please. You really expect us to believe you don't remember when you spoke to the president of the United States on the day that the capitol was attack by rioters-hunting lawmakers.

You were there. In the halls of Congress. And chanting hang Mike Pence, but you don't remember when you spoke to the president? You don't remember? Really? And then, there's Kevin McCarthy who is so determined to downplay what happened on January 6th that he calls it an altercation.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We've watched the sergeant of arms have to pass a note to the speaker during the altercations on January 6th of whether to call the National Guard.


LEMON: Pathetic. I'm just going to say it. Pathetic. Do you believe that? You can't -- it's not even the body language -- it's so fake. It's so fake. Acting. An altercation is defined as a noisy, heated dispute which doesn't begin to describe the violence, the bloodshed, when rioters ran wild in the seat of our democracy trying to overturn Joe Biden's election victory.

Does that look like an altercation to you? That's an altercation? OK. And just listen to this mish-mosh as Kevin McCarthy tries really hard not to say what he -- what actually happened in his -- on that phone call with the then-president that day.


MCCARTHY: When I called the president, I was telling him about what was happening in the capitol because none of you would know unless you were in the capitol. Lo and behold, the information we have today, I didn't know at that moment in time that Pelosi had been passed a note can you call the National Guard? I didn't know at that time at December 14th they knew. I didn't know at that time the sergeant at arms said he couldn't have it because of optics because they never spoke to us. It's purely a political position.


LEMON: Funny. That's not what Congress -- Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler says happened. She says while the capitol was under attack, Kevin McCarthy called the then-president begging for him to call off the mob. Trump's stone-cold response, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.

And then, there's Mo Brooks. You remember him, whipping up the crowd before the rioters stormed the capitol. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MO BROOKS (R-LA): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.


LEMON: Did you see the hat? Fire Pelosi. Now we're learning that he was wearing body armor when he said that. Which seems odd if you're not expecting trouble. And he is still trying to blame Black Lives Matter and antifa for what we know was an attack by Trump supporters. Remember? All of the evidence, investigation, no antifa, no Black Lives Matter. Trump supporters. More than 500 people who have been arrested. No Black Lives matter. No antifa. Trump supporters. Trumplicans.

Brooks telling CNN the reason was, I often wear body armor because of all of the death threats and threats of violence that I and other congressmen get. We were warned by the House sergeant at arms that threats of violence against me had spiked in December 2020 and January 2021. But the only threat I was aware of on that day were BLM and antifa.

OK. If you believe that. Talk about faulty intelligence because that's not what happened. When you look at these three, you can see the direction the investigation will have to go and what it's going to take to get to the truth, no matter how hard they try -- they may try to hide it.

So, that brings us back full-circle to the truth. The facts we need to save our democracy. And our lives. This is a break glass moment. What are we going to do about it?


And it is our breaking news, this alarming report that the Delta variant is so contagious it spreads more quickly an Ebola or the common cold. And vaccinated people may transmit it as easily as those who are unvaccinated. We'll tell you what you need to know right after this quick break.


LEMON: Our breaking news, CNN has confirmed an internal CDC document that warns Delta variant infections are likely more severe than previous strains. The Washington Post reports that the variant is so contagious that it actually acts like almost a different novel virus. Spreading more quickly than Ebola or the common cold. I can say that more quickly than Ebola or the common cold.

Let's discuss now with CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner is here, he is the director of the Cardiac Catherization Program at George Washington University Hospital.

Dr. Reiner, good evening to you. This is serious. This is serious. Talk to me about this new report. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, the internal CDC document

actually gives some understanding to why the CDC earlier this week recommended that vaccinated people mask up in places with a significant load of virus in the community. And what they basically are saying is that, you know, Delta is different than the Alpha strain of this virus. And it's different in the following ways.


First of all, it's highly contagious, and as you said, it's much more contagious than the common cold. It's about as contagious as chicken pox, which is a very contagious virus. It's likely more severe or causes more severe disease than some of the earlier variants.

Look, we have known for a while that people who are infected with Delta have quite high viral loads and having a lot of virus onboard appears to cause more severe illness. And importantly, and this again goes back to the updated guidance about masking vaccinated people.

It looks like people who have breakthrough infections, vaccinated people who have breakthrough infections, may be as infectious or may be able to transmit the virus as well as unvaccinated people who are infected with Delta, hence the recommendation for vaccinated folks to mask up.

But let me cut to the good news. The good news is that the -- this sort of consensus document from the CDC shows that the vaccines are still working exceedingly well, you know, well over 90 percent, at preventing severe illness or death. Hospitalization or death. So, our vaccines still work in the way that we really need them to work, which is preventing death. The vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization and death by about 25-fold.

The document also shows that there are a lot of breakthrough infections in the United States. About 30,000 breakthrough infections per week. Which seems like an enormous number. But remember that there are 170 million-plus people vaccinated. So, while 30,000 is, you know, is not an insignificant number, it's a small fraction. It's a decimal of the overall number of vaccinated people in this country.

LEMON: Yes. Here's what this internal document argues that officials must acknowledge the war has changed when it comes to this Delta variant. Dr. Reiner, The Washington Post spoke with someone working with the CDC on Delta. They point to the outbreak in province. In Massachusetts their analysis shows that vaccinated people were transmitting the virus to other vaccinated people. And the person who spoke to the Post called it a canary in the coal mine.

Listen, I've been -- this is something that happened in P-town and had been discussed among people in the gay community. And not widely discussed among health officials. And now it's coming late. You know, I've been getting, hey, did you know of such and such and such and such had a breakthrough thing, whatever? And it is now hundreds of people. What does this mean going forward and how we protect ourselves? REINER: Yes, very simple. Everyone in this country should be masking

in public. You know, we've been doing this, you know, for a while. Physicians have been doing this for a while, continuing to wear masks in congested public places.

Now, I think the simple advice to the entire country is, whether you're vaccinated or unvaccinated, if you go into a store or a crowded public place, put a mask on. It will significantly reduce the risk that you'll get infected, either a primary infection or a breakthrough infection.

And secondly, most importantly, you don't have to die from Delta. If you are vaccinated, you are not going to die from this virus. The vaccines are exceedingly effective. Remarkably effective at reducing the incidents of severe illness or death. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated now.

And look, I think this is one of the reasons why vaccination rates in the United States are rising. I think people are starting to get it. That Delta -- you don't screw around with this virus. This variant can kill you. So, if you're not vaccinated, it's not too late. You can do it tomorrow.

LEMON: Yes. And I think province, a lot of people coming from all over the country in a closely confined, very small place.


LEMON: There you go. That can happen anywhere. And when you have a lot of people in confined, constricted areas that aren't outside.

Thank you very much, doctor. I appreciate it. We are going to have more on our breaking news.

REINER: My pleasure.

LEMON: Will this be a wake-up call for the unvaccinated? And what about the rest of us?



LEMON: Back now with our breaking news. An internal CDC document warning Delta variant infections are likely more severe and spreads just as easily among the vaccinated as among the unvaccinated. That as a country is as divided as ever on what you can -- what we can -- what we can pull us out of this pandemic. What can pull us out of this pandemic, excuse me.

Here to discuss CNN's senior commentator John Kasich, and CNN's senior political commentator, David Axelrod. Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you so much for this.

David, I'm going to start with you. this new information from the CDC slides on how dangerous the Delta variant is. It's terrifying. Cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly. It's unbelievable. People are dying. They don't have to die.


LEMON: So, the president is under tremendous pressure to act. But what more can be done? What more can he do?


AXELROD: Well, it's really paradoxical for a couple of reasons. One is, you know, you tell people, hey, even if you've been vaccinated, you can be infected, and you can infect others, and you need to mask up. And people who haven't been vaccinated hear this message and say, well, I haven't -- you know, why should I get vaccinated if it's -- I'm still going to get the disease anyway? Well, the answer is, that you won't be hospitalized most likely. You won't die, most likely. But they're struggling with that paradox.

The second piece is, like almost everything else, unfortunately, in public life today, this has been politicized to a degree that it never should have been. And you have people who are resistant to Biden as a messenger who have fit this into a political paradigm of government versus freedom.

And so, when they hear messages saying, you know, we really need to do this, we have to wear masks and so on, it becomes an exercise in defiance, rather than, you know, protecting yourself and your neighbors.

So, this is a really complex communications challenge. And I, you know -- look, I think the president is fighting his heart out here. And most public officials, Republican and Democrat are. But there are others who have seen this as a political opportunity to fight -- you know, to fight this phony -- this phony battle over freedom. You know, when in fact, you know, no one has the freedom to endanger everyone around them.


AXELROD: That is not what freedom means in this country. And we have to kind of embrace that and move together regardless of party and fight this as one -- as one country.

LEMON: You know, John, maybe this Delta variant news will scare people into getting the vaccine. But we're now in a place that we have to pay people or even threaten to fire them from their jobs in order to save lives or to keep millions more from dying. It is absurd. Do you think mandates are the answer?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, let me just first of all, Don, say that there's only -- there's only a limit of what Biden can do, celebrities can do. In our state, in the state of Ohio, people over the age of 65, 80 percent of them have vaccinations. Under over 60, it's 60 percent. And Don, who is not getting the vaccinations? Young people. They think that it's not going to be that serious to them. I've talk to them all the time. I try to encourage them to do it. Secondly, your people who live in a rural community. They live there. They don't want somebody from the government trying to tell them what they do -- what to do. And so, and you have the third group, which is the minority community, which really distrusts a lot of what's happening in medicine today because, you know, they were --- they were experimented upon, as you know, if you think about Tuskegee. So, the way to solve this in my opinion is grassroots.


LEMON: Can I explain what Tuskegee was. Tuskegee wasn't there experimenting --

KASICH: Yes, sure.

LEMON: They weren't experimenting with vaccines in people. They were not giving people vaccines.



KASICH: Right. Right.

LEMON: So that's not -- it's not like they were injections them with something that was going to be harmful to them.


LEMON: They weren't giving them vaccines so, it's not --


KASICH: But there's --

LEMON: -- you know, it's not the same thing. But go on.

KASICH: No. But it's a suspicion about the health care system, which is understandable. But I believe it's a grassroots solution here. I believe that in the rural communities, it's got to be farmer-to- farmer. It's got to be what happens in the small towns. What happens in the taverns, with people talking to one another? With young people, that's, you know, that's grandma, grandpa, saying you can't come see me if you don't get vaccinated.

And when it comes to, you know, the rest of the people, it has to be about a bottom-up. It has to be who you know that tells you to go and get this done. And in the minority community, I think it's the church, it's the community people who are respected.

LEMON: John, --

KASICH: That's how I think you get there.

LEMON: John, sure.


LEMON: I don't have a lot of time.


LEMON: I understand what you're saying. That is a completely utopian world.

KASICH: Right.

LEMON: Where if everything is. My question was, are vaccine mandates, is that what's going to have to happen? That was -- that's a question in or der to -- because it would be great. Yes, it would be great if people would do that. But they're not doing it. If you looked at what Harry had on Chris' show, the majority of the people who are not getting vaccinated are conservative whites.

Thirteen percent or 14 percent of minorities are not getting vaccinated. Thirty-seven percent of the people who are unvaccinated, the people who don't want to get vaccinated are conservative Republican whites. So, I understand that --


KASICH: Don, Don, 40 percent -- look, 40 percent of health care workers are not vaccinated. Forty percent of health care workers.

LEMON: I know.

KASICH: They're not Republicans, OK. If you want to know --


LEMON: How do you know what they are -- how do you know that, John?

KASICH: Well, how do you know that people that live in a rural community --


AXELROD: Don, can I --


KASICH: -- do we do polling? I mean, look, at the end of the day, Don, it's got to be neighbor-to-neighbor and family member to family member.

LEMON: John, I'm looking at the data and I'm asking you --


KASICH: I don't know any other way to do this.

LEMON: -- if mandates -- my question was, are mandates the answer. I understand. KASICH: Some places --

LEMON: You've been doing around and saying but is that the answer?

KASICH: Some place they are going to do it.

LEMON: The reason I ask is --

KASICH: Businesses --

LEMON: OK. Go on.

KASICH: And businesses are saying you got to get vaccinated. If you don't get vaccinated, you have --


LEMON: But is it the answer?

KASICH: -- to get tested.

LEMON: Will you just answer my question. Are --

KASICH: This is what's happening.

LEMON: Is it -- are mandates the answer, John? You just can't answer.

KASICH: Different places -- Don, it's not a simple yes or no. It's appropriate in some places. And the businesses --


LEMON: John, that is a point. People are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. And they should be more emphatic about what should be done. Yes. I have the freedom to drive 90 miles an hour through a school zone. But I also have to take responsibility --


KASICH: Don, we're not --

LEMON: And you know what, no one is going --

KASICH: -- saying that.

LEMON: -- to say to me, yes, Don, you have the freedom -- they would say to me, you can't do that. You shouldn't do that.

KASICH: So, what are you going -- how -- what are you going to go in rural America? What are you going to do? No. In other words, if you want to go to school you should be vaccinated. Do you want to go the --


LEMON: Rural America is part of America. Rural America needs to abide by the rules, just like anybody else.


AXELROD: Don, can I --

KASICH: What I'm saying to you is each place has to be done based on what's going to be most effective.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead.

KASICH: Not on something. It isn't going to be effective.

AXELROD: Can I just --

LEMON: Yes, go ahead, David.

KASICH: And I think we've got to be tougher on this issue.

LEMON: Go ahead, David.

AXELROD: I want to get a word in here. I agree with -- I agree with John that the grassroots approach is the approach we should take. And I think the president would agree with him, as well.


AXELROD: That is the approach that they have taken. The problem is, you have people like the governor of South Carolina who says we are going to make it illegal for people to go door-to-door and talk to their neighbors about the need to get vaccinated.

KASICH: I think that's outrageous. terrible. Terrible.

AXELROD: Well, it is outrageous. And that's what we need to fight, John. I mean, we need -- we need public officials all rowing in the same direction here.

KASICH: I agree.

AXELROD: And if people see it as a political opportunity -- if they see it as a political opportunity, rather than a public health crisis, that's when we have a huge problem.

KASICH: I know. But we also have anti-vaxxers out there who have been fighting all vaccines for a significant period of time. And most of them, while they're made up of both parties. And you know who is leader of that is. And I don't need to mention who the leader of the anti-vaxxers has been. But of course, there are places where it should be required.

Look at New York City. You either get it or you must get tested. There are businesses saying, Google saying, if you don't get -- if you don't get vaccinated, you're out. I agree with those approaches. I think that makes sense. Should you do it from the federal government down? I'm not certain about that. But there are appropriate places where we ought to tell people, if you want to be involved in this, if you want to work here, you're going to get a vaccine or you're going to get tested. And if you don't do either of them, you're out.

And at some point, it's going to move away from the testing into a mandated vaccine. It's serious. I agree with Don Lemon. I just want to take -- I do.

LEMON: All right.

KASICH: I mean, what's funny about that?

LEMON: No. Because you just answered the question, I've been asking you --

KASICH: What are you laughing at?

LEMON: Because you went a long way around to answer that. That's all I was asking you. What you just said there, that part, you just answered the question.


LEMON: But before you didn't really answer my question. That's it, John. That's it.

KASICH: You know, Don, everything is not a simple yes or no. And it's more sophisticated than that. And that's what I was pointing to you.

LEMON: No, I understand there's nuance. But there's sometimes --


LEMON: -- when you have to -- you have to be emphatic with people. You have to give them the thing that is going to make something better quickly. And by coddling people is not the best or the most direct approach.

KASICH: Are they coddling them in New York City? Are they coddling them in New York City? Is that what the mayor is doing there?

LEMON: No, but you mentioned rural. You mentioned --


KASICH: Because he's telling them you either get -- well --

LEMON: You talked about -- you're talking about other places.

KASICH: I'm asking you about New York City.


KASICH: No, wait a minute. Is the mayor coddling them in New York City because he's not forcing them to get a vaccine or fire them? He's trying to take an approach --


AXELROD: So, I mean, can I ask --

KASICH: -- to (Inaudible). Yes. Answer that question. Yes.

LEMON: Yes. I think that, yes.

KASICH: Yes or no.

LEMON: I think that if you don't get vaccinated, --


LEMON: -- you should not be allowed to go into a business. I think if you don't get vaccinated, you should -- I think that you should have to show that you're vaccinated in order to go places because you are inhibiting other people's freedom. You're putting other people's lives in jeopardy. People who are following the rules. People looking out for their fellow men, you are putting them in jeopardy. So, if you don't want to do it, then you must face the repercussions of not doing what is what? Best for the most people in the society.


AXELROD: Can I slide in here for a second?

KASICH: Then you should have the mayor on to argue --

LEMON: Go on, David.

AXELROD: Can I slide in here for just a second?

LEMON: Go ahead, David.


AXELROD: I agree with you, Don. And you know, what all I'm saying to the governor is that we need public officials to stand together on this.

LEMON: Right.

KASICH: I agree.


AXELROD: So, if a -- if the governor of Florida -- the governor of Florida, for example, says, we're not going to allow -- and the legislature there -- you know, vaccine passports or a way to prove that you've been vaccinated, that exacerbates the problem.

And so, we need people to stop trying to weaponize this for political advantages within their own tribe and join together and say here are the things we need to do to protect each other. And that's a big problem right now.


KASICH: I don't think (Inaudible), David.

LEMON: Yes. I got --

KASICH: I think -- I don't that's the fundamental problem is what I'm saying. I think the problem is deeper than that.

LEMON: Understood, John.

JASICH: And it has to do with who people are and where they live. Finally, I wish Donald Trump would come out and tell everybody to get vaccinated. Would that change everything? I don't think so.

LEMON: All right.

KASICH: I don't think it would -- it would --

LEMON: Thank you both.

KASICH: -- be good and I'm for it. And anybody who makes this out to be some kind of a lie about this, outrageous. And they should be taken to task.

LEMON: Thank you, John. Thank you, David. I appreciate it.

KASICH: I think we're all in agreement.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciated that conversation.

You know, he defended a mask mandate in a city where COVID cases are surging, only to be taunted, threatened and physically abused. That public health official joins me next.


LEMON: This week, the St. Louis county council voting to overturn a mask mandate on the same day that the CDC released its new guidance. Acting St. Louis County health director, Dr. Faisal Khan spoke in defense of the mandate only to be repeatedly interrupted and heckled by the largely anti-mask crowd.


FAISAL KHAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Sir, I don't want to engage in a debate with you about what constitutes a mask or not. I commend the 16-year-old.


KHAN: OK. Madam Chair, if we do not restore order, I will walk away and we will have to have this conversation later.


UNKNOWN: Excuse me. Excuse me, Dr. Khan, I am running this meeting.

KHAN: I know you are, Madam Chair. (CROSSTALK)

UNKNOWN: I can give -- just a minute, just a minute.

KHAN: But I'm respectfully I'm asking you to restore order.


UNKNOWN: Just a minute. I am giving you the respect that you need to answer the question that this council is asking you.

I want to know, what we did not -- what did we not do correctly?

KHAN: We didn't talk to the virus about how it should behave, Madam.


UNKNOWN: I don't like to do this thing, but I will. Thank you, Dr. Khan, let's see if there are any other questions, any other follow-up questions from any other council members. Thank you very much. (muted).

UNKNOWN: That's what -- she wants shut the hell off me.

KHAN: Well, I think you're doing pretty good too.


LEMON: Faisal Khan is here and he tells us how things even got to this point. That's next.


LEMON: Acting St. Louis County Health Director, Dr. Faisal Khan, heckled and taunted, and threatened. And he joins us now. Doctor, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

KHAN: It's a pleasure, Don.

LEMON: What happened? How did it get to the point where you would be insulted and attacked in this ugly way?


KHAN: You know, I have to say that this is perhaps the latest symptom of the wider malaise that began in our country about 18 months ago when the pandemic first arrived on the shores. What was supposed to be a public health issue and emergency was heavily politicized at the federal, state and national level and we're just seeing the latest symptoms of that erupt at a local level.

You know, more than 270 of my counterparts across the country have either resigned or been forced out of their jobs. And that is a tremendous loss to the public health workforce. I will say this, the St. Louis area is an amazingly beautiful place. We have a great community, a loving, kind, gentle, kind-hearted community that takes care of each other.

And so, you know, there are parts of the community that are experiencing an acute sense of frustration and fear over the uncertainty posed by the pandemic. And people instinctually fear what they don't understand. And that's being exploited by others for political advantage. That is what played out on Tuesday night in my opinion.

LEMON: What exactly happened to you at this meeting, doctor?

KHAN: So as a public official, I always make myself available to go to council meetings, the legislative branch to answer questions and explain policy decisions and the rationale behind them. I was asked to attend the Tuesday night meeting after we announced the mask mandate a day earlier on Monday.

I showed up with information and to basically answer questions and share information. Regrettably, when I walked in the room, you know, the anger in the crowd, a sizable crowd, was palpable. My heart sank a little as a medical epidemiologist and a public health physician. Everyone around me was unmasked. Some people were there with their children. Some people were clearly in the older age group.

And so, the first thought that cross my mind was this is a super spreader event in progress. And then it just -- once it began, you know, the emotions of the crowd had been worked up and stoked, even before the meeting began and it just went downhill from the first question onwards.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I just want to share this and I'm going to let you go. This letter you wrote to the council chair asking for an investigation. You said, quote, "I approached the exit and immediately outside the chambers I became surrounded by the crowd in close quarters where members of the crowd yelled at me, called me a fat brown c word and brown bastard."

So, please come back and give us an update when you hear back and going forward. Thank you very much, doctor. I'm sorry that happened to you. I appreciate it.

KHAN: Thank you, Don. I really appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you.

Next, breaking tonight, CNN confirming an internal CDC document warning the Delta variant is far more contagious and might cause more severe disease. We are going to talk to someone who has seen those documents. That's next.