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Don Lemon Tonight

Americans Learned Their Lesson From Delta Variant; Viruses Are Becoming More Deadlier; U.S. Defense Secretary Followed Philippines' Mask and Shield Mandate; More Measures Must Be Implemented to Combat the Pandemic; Parents Worry for Their Children Coming Back to School; Trump Tried to Manipulate the DOJ; Flight Attendants Added Training To Keep Passengers Safe. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That's it for us tonight. Together as ever as one, we'll get through this pandemic. It's never been more true than now. Lucky for you on a Friday night you get the upgrade, Laura Coates in for Don Lemon Tonight. Good to see you, counsel.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good to see you, too. You know, it's my 10- year wedding anniversary, so I'm so -- you know, I love being here, but shout out to my husband. Happy anniversary as well.

CUOMO: Shout out to your husband. Thank God, and blessings to you both for finding a way --

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- to stay together. We all know it's worked. We know it's not easy, 10 years is a beautiful milestone.

COATES: It is, indeed. And he's cute, so it helps.

CUOMO: Of course, he is. Of course, I would expect no less.

So, let me ask you a quick take.


CUOMO: Obviously, you have tons of news tonight. Headlines just came out that Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault, and uneven bars, which means she's not out of everything, but she's now out of vault and uneven bars, continued to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor and beam.

Resonance of this issue in terms of creating acceptance that health is health and pain is pain.

COATES: I mean, it's OK to take that time for yourself. She doesn't owe anybody anything. And frankly, you know, selfishly, do I want to see a Simone Biles compete. She is the best there is when it comes to gymnastics. Arguably in all athletics, she is incredible, and I want to see her perform but not if it's going to cost her something personally. Not if it's going to endanger her.

And look, you and I in the business we're in, if we have some sort of mental block, if we have some sort of intellectual twisties, we may lose our train of thought. This is a very dangerous sport. If she truly is facing that, she could risk her life. It's not worth it if that's what it's going to take. And I'd love to see her perform, but I know that she probably wants to perform at the best of her abilities. When she is not ready, she doesn't owe America anything.

CUOMO: My argument would be, she's helping America more by this conversation than she would be by the golds. It'd be great for her. I hope she gets back and is able to do it.


CUOMO: But it's just because we can't see the pain. If she were walking with a limp around the rest of the team, this wouldn't be a conversation. You know, hey, the doctors tested her out today, she's not ready to go, she can't land anything. You can see kind of fall on one of the landings.

But when you can't see the pain, people judge you. And I think that's a shame, but I think she's doing more for this country by getting this conversation going than she would even by bringing home more golds.

COATES: I mean, well, in a way, she already bought gold in by having that spotlight on this. I mean, think about it, she said, look, I'm going to put myself first, I have an issue that I want to resolve, it's personal, she also has opened the door for so many other stellar athletes to compete now at a level and a caliber that they perhaps were not accustomed to doing so.

She has made the decision, she did it very -- in a very mature way, people are going to constantly questioned her strength, they are going to question whether she is truly a champion, but they don't know what she's going through, for reasons they're talking about. They don't know what's been like for her.

I mean, she has been the face of the United States gymnastics, which we know has been plagued by issues of partially their own making by abuse, by molestation, allegation when somebody is now actually been convicted. She has been the brave face of that. She has competed with broken toes. She has given us so much.

I think that she is entitled to having time to herself, and that represents, frankly, the best of what an athlete really is. Somebody who knows their strength, they know their weaknesses and they will make decisions that are in the interest of their sport.

Bravo to Simone Biles, but I do wish I could see her. My daughter was looking forward to seeing her, a black woman in this position, my son as well. I wish she was there but she is there. And now it's a better conversation with my kids than simply applauding her athleticism. CUOMO: And you know what, I bet you people follow. I bet that you'll

start to see people say, you know what? I'm not up to this. And I don't want to become a story where two years from now, you guys were all talking about how I fell apart because I did something that I was really too hurting to do.

I look forward to watching the show, as always, and I appreciate your insights.

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: Happy anniversary, and here is to 50 more.

COATES: Thank you. That's very sweet. And I also have the same hair color 50 years from now. Thank you so much.

This is Don Lemon Tonight. I'm Laura Coates, in for Don.

In a week that began with the banner headline that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and everyone could just go along with passes for a normal life these days. Well now, that's turned upside down. And let me be clear, what we have learned in the last 24 hours makes getting vaccinated even more essential than ever before.

Vaccination makes it less likely you will catch COVID in the first place, and also, vaccinated people are far less likely to end up in the hospital or die. However, a new CDC study shows that the Delta variant produced similar amounts of virus in vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they got infected. So, fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections could actually spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people.


All of that as President Joe Biden is telling Americans to expect new guidelines and restrictions as the Delta variant spreads. But the good news, vaccinations are heading back up.


UNKNOWN: Should Americans expect more guidelines coming out? More restrictions because of COVID?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In all probability. By the way, we had a good day yesterday. Almost a million people got vaccinated. About half a million of those people for the first time and for the second shot. And so, I'm hopeful that people are beginning to realize how essential it is to move.


COATES: The White House stressing that the vaccines are still the answer and urging more people to roll up their sleeves.


always been clear throughout. We need more people to get vaccinated to stop the spread of this variant, and so we have to continue to make that effort.


COATES: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the virus has changed and well, we've got to keep up.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think the simplest way to get people to understand is that we are dealing with a different virus. The Delta virus has characteristics that's different than the Alpha variant and other variants we've dealt with. So, when someone says that the war has changed, what it really means, the virus has changed and we have got to keep up in our understanding and what our policies are related to the fact that we are dealing now with a more formidable virus.


COATES: The Delta variant is spreading in hotspots across the entire country. Places like Florida where COVID cases have now jumped 50 percent over the last week alone. And the CDC says that everyone in schools vaccinated or unvaccinated should be wearing a mask. And yet, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed an executive order to ensure that there will be no mask mandates in schools.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Floridians have been are, and will remain, free to choose what's best for themselves and their families.


COATES: Freedom, freedom to send children to school without masks in a state where COVID cases just jumped by 50 percent, some freedom. But all of this talk of freedom is just playing to the base. Telling your voters exactly what they want to hear. The spread of this virus is a pretty big price to pay and a pretty hideous toll of the pandering and the misinformation in our society.

And look, if we are going to get a grip on this, we're going to need to stick to the facts. Stick to the science and stop wasting our time with political stunts. And here is an example of what I mean by a political stunt.

Senator Marco Rubio, also, I should point out, from the state of Florida tweeting a video of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arriving in the Philippines. Masked and wearing a face shield. Calling it quote, "embarrassing COVID theater."

Now here is the problem with that. Well, there are actually several problems with that. The embassy telling Politico the Philippine government mandates that everyone must wear full coverage face shields together with face masks in public places.

But that wasn't good enough for the senator who went on to tweet, I guess the face shield mandate was lifted shortly after he landed along with some pictures of the secretary without a face shield. Now at least two of those pictures weren't even taken in the Philippines.

So, like I said, if we are going to get a grip on this virus and what it's doing to us we will have to stop wasting our time with political stunts.

I want to bring in William Haseltine who is a former professor at Harvard Medical School. Professor, nice to see you this evening.

You know, president -- President Biden is telling reporters in the U.S. that in all probability we could see more guidelines and restrictions. And I'm wondering what would those look like? What could that look like, professor?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, we are already seeing that many businesses and schools where they can, are requiring people to be vaccinated. That is one thing that is happening. It may happen to our entire military and it may happen to many other organizations. So that's I think the first thing that will happen.

There is increasing requirements for masks and I think that is going to be happening. But it's really clear why this is happening. As Dr. Fauci said, this is not the virus we knew before. This is a much more serious virus. It is much more easily transmitted.


And if you get it, no matter what's your age from age three to age 90, it's going to be worse for you. Ad you are going to be able to transmit it to other people much, much more easily.

COATES: I mean, the information is all there, professor, and also CDC director Rochelle Walensky, she is taking her message and what you are talking about as well, to Fox, where we've seen, frankly, so much misinformation during this entire pandemic. Take a listen to this.


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The science continues to change and while that is neither simple nor easy to convey, it's my responsibility to keep the American people safe. And as that science evolves, I evolve with the CDC, the guidance. What I will say is, I continue to be humbled by this virus. I have no interest in continuing mask guidance. And the best way to stop a new variant from spreading is to have less virus out there and the best way to do that is to get people vaccinated and to mask up until they are.


COATES: Well, you know, first of all, bravo to her for going to the people who really need to hear this the most. But will they be more swayed by all the stories that we are seeing of people who frankly refuse the vaccine almost died as a result and say that they regret not getting that vaccine? Which is going to be more persuasive?

HASELTINE: Well, we're always once persuaded by our neighbors and our friends and what's happening to them. And unfortunately, 95,000 of our fellow Americans were infected yesterday. And if you just do the simple math that means one to 2,000 of them are going to die two or three weeks from now. That is a terrible number and it's totally unnecessary.

But let me say that what they are saying is this is not the same war we were fighting before. This is a war which is going to last a long time. It's only putting out a forest fire. It's like climate change. It's here to stay and it's going to take a long time. And we have to have many different ways of confronting it.

Vaccines are by far the best but they are not the only way. The countries that relied on vaccine we've seen were having troubles. The countries that rely on border controls and contact tracing, they're having trouble. Countries that are hoping that drugs will come along are still hoping.

We need every part of this society working together. I call it a multi-model COVID control. Don't rely only on vaccines. Use your sense and do the best you can with public health and put a lot of money into research. We are behind the eight-ball in terms of research needed to find more and more powerful vaccines because what do we need? We need vaccines that are better than the ones we have.

I'm convinced we can get them. I've seen data that says there are promising ones in the horizon. We need drugs that the moment you think you are exposed you, take the pill so you never get sick. We now have those pills which many people don't even know about it. If you have kids comes on with flu you pop one pill, the chances are very small that you'll get it.

We need those drugs. We've been behind the eight-ball for far too long. We've got to catch up. We've got to use every tool at our disposal because the virus we are seeing today, as bad as it is, is not as bad as it can get.

COATES: And of course, professor, when you think about every tool at your disposal about research and development about all those things that does require us to at least have control over the existing problem as opposed to having to be reactive as opposed to the proactive measures we're speaking about.

But there is that combination you speak of that's going to be invaluable. And it starts with something as basic as following the guidelines, taking the vaccine.

And I want you to know, I mean, in Chicago as you know, they're hosting Lollapalooza, which is a multi-day music festival. You got thousands of people who were gathering together. Is this dangerous given what we know about the Delta event? Even -- even though this event is outdoors and they are requiring vaccination or proof of testing, and by the way, starting tomorrow masks in indoor spaces in Chicago. Is this still dangerous base on what we know?

HASELTINE: I think it is dangerous. And we now know something very simple if you could smell somebody else's tobacco smoke you can catch their virus. You think about that for a minute. How many times you walk down the street and smell tobacco smell outside? That is with this virus is doing.

It wasn't true for the earlier viruses. This virus you produce a lot more virus and it's a lot more infections per virus. It is about 10 times more infectious than it was before. You know, you do it by the -- you know, whatever bacteria you want. People say chicken pox versus something like a cold or something else.


This is really serious what's going on now. You can catch it and people have caught it outside in outside venues. You should be wearing masks. The moment you get together with a bunch of people you should be wearing a mask. And an N95 mask at that.

COATES: Professor Haseltine, thank you for your advice and counsel. I appreciate it.

HASELTINE: Well, thank you, Laura.

COATES: You know, you've been sending us your questions on COVID, and so next, we'll get answers from the top doctor.


COATES: The new CDC document revealing just how transmissible the Delta variant really is. And with children not yet able to get coronavirus vaccines, parents are facing tough choices when their kids head back to school including parents like me.

Joining me now to discuss, Dr. Syra Madad, she is an infectious disease epidemiologist and senior director of the Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health and Hospitals. Dr. Madad, I'm so glad you're here. Thank you.


COATES: Now listen, I put out the call on Twitter and I was asking people for their most pressing questions on what the Delta variant means for keeping their family safe especially children.


And one viewer asking this question, doc. With the school year just around the bend, and some reports of the Delta variant more contagious to children than the Alpha variant, should we be concerned and or thinking about keeping our kids home from school?

Now you have young kids, so do I, they are not old enough yet to get the vaccine. Mine are seven and eight. What's the answer?

MADAD: Yes. Well, I think there is a couple of different ways to answer to that. First, it's on your own personal risk tolerance. But what we have seen is that if schools implement the various layer of mitigation strategies like having universal masking and having all individuals that are around children that are eligible vaccinated, having testing isolation and quarantine.

All those different measures play a significant role in reducing the number of infections that we'll see in schools. And so, I think that if we're able to have a consistent use of these mitigation measures we can make school in-person schooling safe.

And it's very important that we still stick to in-person schooling because if we are looking at some of the data and the studies coming out and the risk benefit analysis there's been some really significant harm to children that have to do schooling remotely. You know, it's the mental health, a toll that's taking the educational toll, the setbacks. So, I think we can make schools safer even in the context of Delta if we consistently apply the mitigation measures that we have in place.

COATES: OK. Well, another viewer is asking this question. They are asking when will children under 12 be able to get the vaccine? I mean, that would really be a game-changer. So, what can you tell us about that timing?

MADAD: So, I think for all of the different age groups and the brackets that we have, so for example, six months all the way up to age, you know, 12, we'll have a likely a COVID-19 vaccine authorize for, you know, all of those age groups by the end of this year. But if we are looking at just the age of five to 12-year-olds we'll probably see, you know, the data come in in September.

And as we know FDA will take a couple of weeks to review the information then provide them emergency authorization. So, I think have some time in September. And then the age group after that, so the two to -- you know, the two-year-olds to 11-year-olds will probably see the data come in, you know, probably shortly after that. And then the six months, you know, for that age group shortly after that. But I would say probably by the end of this year.

COATES: And then there is the rollout of course and how that will work for each of those children as well, we'll think about that.

MADAD: Right.

COATES: Dr. Madad, so today the University of Michigan was also announcing that it will be the latest university to require all staff, all students to be vaccinated. And that's really a massive number of people for that university, a lot of young adults have been quite slow to get vaccinated. So, do you think that it should be mandated at all colleges and universities?

MADAD: I do think so. We have plenty of really great data and information that these COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and they are a way out of this pandemic. I know that the recent news of breakthrough infections and universal mask mandates for even those that are vaccinated are getting people there jumpy.

But I think the take home message is a good one. It's that these COVID-19 vaccines work. So, the more that we can use them, the more we can mandate, you know, individuals that have public facing rules that are in universities in these types of settings the better. And I, in fact, I applaud over the 88 health care organizations that are looking at and have mandated the, you know, the COVID-19 vaccine for the 17 million health care workers that we have. And I think that's very important.

COATES: Well, I also have a viewer who is asking questions about boosters. And quote, they say, "I have heard a lot of information about a booster of Pfizer but nothing on the J&J shot. Will that require a booster also and what about getting a J&J shot and another maker for the booster?"

So, with the dangerous Delta variant is, as dangerous as it is, booster shots are on a lot of people's minds, doctor. So where are we on those booster shots?

MADAD: So, I think first the word booster is probably a little bit misleading as we use it just generally and we're looking at providing a supplemental COVID-19 vaccine dose. It's parts of the two shots series if you're getting the mRNA-base vaccine or with the Johnson & Johnson. Obviously, it's a second shot but it's more of another dose versus like a booster, if you will, because it's just part of the overall series.

And so, as we look at the different pharmaceutical companies whether it's J&J, whether it's Pfizer or Moderna, in the context of having this third, you know, shot or a booster shot as it is more well-known, I think it really first depends on the surveillance, the data that's coming out following what's happening in Israel and in U.K., for example.

We are seeing that in Israel, for example, some of the studies on Pfizer showing, perhaps potential waning of immunity in the older population, and that's where they have, you know, have basically come out with the recommendation of having a booster shot for those over the age of 60 in that population.

That probably will also apply here in the United States. But I think the biggest two things to take away is that we need to continue to follow the data, continue to do surveillance and monitoring on, you know, the overall breakthrough cases and seeing, you know, the vaccine induced immunity is waning.


And then have a good plan. Have that booster shot ready when we need to use it, whether it's for the elderly population or those who are immunocompromised or if it's for the younger population. But I think those are the two things. The last thing I'll just quickly mention on that topic is that as

we're looking at booster because I think it's really important to also ensure that we have good global equity of COVID-19 vaccines. Because we are vaccines in the U.S. but there is still a huge disparity of, you know, not having vaccines in many different countries. We have a huge range of 80 percent of population vaccinated versus one percent of the population in some countries.

So, we need to get more vaccines to other people as we also talked about in the context of booster shots.

COATES: Doctor, thank you for your time. A lot of great insight you've given us today. We'll keep the conversation going online. I appreciate it.

MADAD: Thank you.

COATES: Quote, "leave the rest to me." Former President Trump told the DOJ to declare the election corrupt. Even though it wasn't. And we've got the notes from a top Justice Department official detailing everything he said. That's next.

And ahead, flight attendants taking self-defense classes. We're going to tell you why in just a minute.



COATES: New tonight, shocking contemporaneous note showing just how far President Trump went in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The House Oversight Committee releasing notes taken by then acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue documenting a late December phone call.

Now on that call, President Trump pressured his acting attorney general to declare the presidential election illegal and corrupt. Even though, of course, it was not. It was neither of those things. And the notes say that Trump told then acting A.G. Jeffrey Rosen quote, "just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R congressmen. R for Republican."

Let's discuss with CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. He is also the author of "The Threat: How The FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

Andrew McCabe, nice to see you tonight. Happy Friday evening.

I feel like it's a bit of deja vu when we talk about these issues because some things we've known, other things we maybe thought was going on but these notes actually show that Trump is badgering Rosen and Donoghue, leave the rest to me and the GOP congressman. I mean, how was this plan supposed to unfold, do you think?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's a great question, Laura. I mean, it obviously the contemporaneous notes are an artifact, a piece of evidence of unassailable quality. Right? These are especially any good attorney who has a habit of taking notes during important phone calls and meetings. Here he is in a meeting with his boss, the attorney general and are important phone call with the president of the United States. He takes notes. That's a normal course of business and these things are of course then preserved and ultimately revealed to us.

So they really give us an insight to what he was thinking, what President Trump said, what they responded to those comments by the president and, you know, you have to imagine that this was -- I'm sorry, you don't have to imagine, it's perfectly clear this was an effort by the president to just get the Department of Justice to start this conspiracy to go public with this baseless claim the election was corrupt and then he was confident that the Republicans in Congress would then take the ball from there and really move this thing forward and ultimately, you know, you can imagine turning over the results of the election. It's absolutely -- it's dastardly -- it's unbelievable.

COATES: I mean, it's kind of like just plant a seed. I'll help it grow, right? Just plant a seed.

MCCABE: That's right.

COATES: You have the credibility of the Department of Justice to do this and we know how the credibility is there and why it's there. But to use it to plant a seed like this, you know. At one point on the call, according to the notes that -- according to the call, Trump said to the DOJ officials quote, "you guys may not be following the internet the way I do."

This is the president of the United States. He's trying to promote the big lie to U.S. government officials based on the internet and online conspiracies, Andrew?

MCCABE: Yes, you know, Laura, how perfect is that, right? We know this to be the president of the internet. This is a guy who spent his time watching Twitter and listening to, you know, the news and watching his favorite TV shows instead of following the law, instead of listening to the advice of counsel, listening to -- listening to people who would advise him on procedures and policies and the importance of things like, I don't know, the independence of the Department of Justice, right?

We talk about that all the time. I think it's unfortunate sometimes people dismiss it as some sort of like point of etiquette or something when actually, it's absolutely essential to the functioning of our country.


And that the independence of the Department of Justice is what ensures people that they can believe in the results of the criminal justice system instead of thinking it's just subject to politics. And so, here we have the president of the internet attacking the Department of Justice in our democracy in the same swath. COATES: And you know, both Rosen and Donoghue, frankly, they could end

up testifying before Congress for really a number of the investigations. So, the DOJ as you know has now waived executive privilege, so, really, what questions do they need to answer now that they don't have that muzzle, so to speak, of privilege on them now?

MCCABE: Well, you know, this will be a fascinating piece of testimony if we ever get to hear it, and I'm sure that our representatives in Congress will be asking them things like exactly what did the president say to you? What did you think he meant by making those statements, how did you react to that, and what did you tell him in response?

So, they're going to parse through every detail of this conversation really to shed light on the president's intent. What was he trying to accomplish with this pressure campaign on the Department of Justice? And I think the, you know, the end result would be to expose yet another abuse of the office of the presidency.

COATES: Andrew McCabe, thank you. We appreciate it.

MCCABE: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: You know, just days after Trump told the DOJ to overturn a free, fair and democratic election, this happened. An insurrection. But now that Justice Department is signaling that they want answers. I'll make my case next.



COATES: We have questions, questions about what lead up to the January 6th attack on the citadel of our democracy. Questions about whether elected officials played a role in convincing a violent mob that a free and fair election was anything but. Questions about why one elected official wore body armor at the rally that preceded the assaults on the capitol.


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


COATES: Questions about why one of his Republican colleagues compared those violent tourists -- excuse me, violent rioters to tourists.


REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): Watching the TV footage of those who entered the capitol and walk through statutory hall showed people in an orderly fashion standing between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you'd actually think it was a normal tourist visit.


COATES: Tourists. Questions about how this mob apparently prepared, trained, and coordinated either escape the detection or the deterrence of our intelligence community. Questions about why our brave officers outnumbered, outgunned had to fight for hours without reinforcements.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of kill him with his own gun.


COATES: Questions about what in the world was happening inside of the White House while the world watched to see if the greatest democracy would hold.

And it's not just a select committee that's seeking answers. Now, the Department of Justice is poised to give us some answers as well, or at least not muzzle people with those answers.

Just this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the department will not assert executive privilege to stop Jeffrey Rosen, who then-President Trump wanted to help fuel the big lie from testifying. Nor will it stop a former U.S. attorney in Georgia from telling the House oversight committee why he abruptly resigned during Trump's promotion of the big lie. Nor will the DOJ publicly stand in to defend Congressman Mo Brooks in a private lawsuit that was filed by Congressman Eric Swalwell who was forced to run for his life from a violent mob after his colleague stirred off at the rally crowd.

Now, whether it's refusing to know be a roadblock to a select committee's pursuit of truth or the ways and means committee's attempts to view a presidential tax return, in the end, the goal is to provide the transparency that a coequal branch of government needs to serve as the effective check and balance that democracy requires.

Now, we will one day, and perhaps soon be able to answer the question that was on all of our minds as we watched what Officer Daniel Hodges described as domestic terrorism unfold. How could this have possibly happened in America?


DANIEL HODGES, POLICE OFFICER, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, a symbol of support for law enforcement. More than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us.

The act of sting of CS gas or tear gas and OC spray which may hung in the air as the terrorists threw their own CS -- threw our own CS gas canisters back at us and sprayed us with our own OC, either they bought themselves or stole from us. Later I learned at least one of them was spraying us in the face with wasp spray.



COATES: How could this have happened in America? I just hope our democracy is ready for that answer.

Next, are you flying anytime soon? And would it surprise you to know that this is now how flight attendants are preparing? We'll tell you why after this.


UNKNOWN: Everybody, snap right there.




COATES: Incidents with violent airline passengers are now on the rise. The nation's largest flight attendant's union says nearly one in five flight attendants have now encountered a violent airplane passenger just so far this year. And 85 percent of union members have self- reported and countering an unruly passenger. They say the time has come for more focus on now criminal charges for in-air disturbances.

So, what needs to be done to stop the violence in the skies? Here with me now Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

Sara, nice to see you.

I'm sorry it's under these circumstances on what everyone is grappling right now. Because, I mean, wow. Eighty-five percent of flight attendants now have dealt with unruly passengers. I mean, the FAA is reporting 106 incidents in the past seven days alone. Why is it so crazy?

SARA NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: It's really concerning and those are numbers that you're reporting over the last week that would be normally over the course of an entire year. In fact, if we stay at this rate, we're going to have more incidents in this year alone than we've had in the entire history of aviation.

So, flight attendants have had to deal with unruly passengers throughout the course of our careers and we're trained on how to de- escalate but we've never seen anything like this, to go to work and essentially expect that this is likely to be a part of our day. It's just something that we're not used to and not something that we're willing to accept for the long run.

COATES: Sara, I just want to give everybody and show this video. And what we're looking at we have flight attendants now taking self- defense classes so they're able to actually fight back and protect themselves. I mean, what does this tell you about the current situation that flight attendants are -- they need to defend themselves physically now?

NELSON: This is really concerning. You know, this is a class actually that was formed after 9/11. We had fought then to try to make it mandatory. It ultimately was a voluntary class. It was suspended for a period of time by TSA because of coronavirus protocols. But it's back in place.

This is one of the things that the TSA is doing and this administration is doing to make sure that flight attendants have tools and also to communicate exactly what you are saying. This is absurd that we have to focus on the fact that flight attendants have to have martial arts skills in order to go to work today.

And so, we are doing all that we can to try to communicate to the public what's expected. I want to be very clear. This is a relatively small group of people but they are making it very risky in the air for everyone and they are making this a disturbing case at work and potentially very unsafe conditions for passengers and cruise across aviation.

COATES: And frankly, criminal behavior, right? I mean, just because you're in the air and it's a flight attendant doesn't mean you're entitled to use violence against another person. You're actually as part of the union pushing for criminal charges, right?

NELSON: Well, this is already under the statute. So, under the statute today you can be fined up to $35,000 per incident and face up to 20 years in jail. And so, we are asking DOJ please, publicly and quickly and swiftly take up these cases and press on these criminal charges and help people understand what the consequences are. What the very real consequences are.

You know, over half of the incidents relate to alcohol. And we need some sobering up here as a society. And criminal charges facing criminal time in jail will probably create some sobering up.

Now, I also want to report that as we have been talking about this, we've been starting to see more passengers really trying to express kindness and trying to make things better for us but these incidents are still way too high.

COATES: Sara Nelson, thank you. We'll be right back.

NELSON: Thank you very much.



COATES: The push to vaccinate as many Americans as possible from COVID-19 has been massive but making sure everyone has access is not easy. Two CNN heroes, Dr. Withers and Dr. Wendy Ross are going the extra

mile to make sure the people that they serve don't miss out on these lifesaving measures.

CNN's Anderson Cooper has more.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice over): In Pittsburgh, Dr. Jim Withers brings medical care and now vaccines to those experiencing homelessness.

UNKNOWN: Can I take a listen?

JIM WITHERS, CNN HERO: We have to go to where someone is and cut down those barriers.

If I had a lollipop, I'd give it to you.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.

WITHERS: When you provide something that can save a life and the lives of people that they come in contact with, it's a really unique and powerful feeling.

WENDY ROSS, CNN HERO: Anthony, I just want to say hi.

COOPER: In Philadelphia, Dr. Wendy Ross's low stress sensory friendly vaccination clinic for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities like autism is a game-changer.

ROSS: There's less waiting on line. And we provide tools like fidgets. All of our vaccinators are educated to be sensitive and have strategies for vaccinating this population.

All done. All done. Good job! Good job!

UNKNOWN: Awesome. Awesome.

ROSS: Getting the vaccine to this population absolutely is saving lives. I just feel that everyone matters and has value and that everyone should be included.


COATES: To see Anderson's full story and nominate someone you know to be a CNN hero, go to now.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues with a Don Lemon special.


UNKNOWN: The following is a CNN special.