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Don Lemon Tonight

GOP Governors Chose Politics Than Health for Constituents; Parent Attacked Principal Over Mask Mandate; Unvaccinated Teachers Died From COVID; Time to Let Afghan People Defend Their Own Country; Virus Will Stay Forever; Kevin McCarthy Selling His Moron Shirt. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 13, 2021 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm supposed to be getting some sleep on a Saturday morning, but then I have to tune in to Smerconish and so you're cutting my sleep cycle because your show is so good.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: You're nice to do that to get up early for me. It comes quickly for me tomorrow morning, I can tell you.

LEMON: The morning comes at you fast. Thank you, Michael. Good to see you. I'll be watching.

SMERCONISH: You got it. Have a good show, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

LEMON: This is Don Lemon Tonight on a Friday night at the end of a very long week battling COVID-19 in this country, a virus that is really getting worse by the day. And it has never had to be this bad, never had to be this bad because we have the tools to stop this.

I want you to take a look at this math. There it is up on your screen now and how red it is, especially all across the south. I have covered a lot of angles of the COVID story this week, every week, really. But this, week something really hit home, my home, your home as well.

And I've learned a few things. One, our future in being able to get back to normal and active healthy normal, might depend more than anything on whether we can get straight to the people and take the politics out of it, straight to the people. There are some people who don't want to let us do that. And we are going to talk about them.

But I also learned that this week there are way too many people unvaccinated for way too many reasons or for no real reason at all. But almost every single one I've met, every one of met, pretty much. When they got sick, and they were lying in the hospital, wondering if they will live or die, well I'll let them tell you.


LEMON: Why didn't you get vaccinated?

JIM, COVID-19 PATIENT: Just haven't had time. I guess just didn't do it.

LEMON: So, you're not anti-vaccine?

JIM: No, sir.

LEMON: You're just kind of ambivalent about it?

JIM: Yes. Just kind of (Inaudible).

LEMON: Do you regret it?

JIM: Yes, I do.

LEMON: Tell me why.

JIM: I don't know if the shot would have helped me. Maybe it would have helped it from getting worse.

LEMON: What do you say to folks?

JIM: Open your eyes. Open your eyes. Take heed to this. This is nothing to play with.

LEMON: Nobody is vaccinated at home?

UNKNOWN: Nobody is vaccinated at home yet.

LEMON: How many you are?

UNKNOWN: It is five of us.

LEMON: Children?


LEMON: Ages?

UNKNOWN: Twenty, 18, 14 and one and a half.

LEMON: And you wanted to wait?

UNKNOWN: For myself.

LEMON: And what about for them?

UNKNOWN: I spoke to them about it and I honestly think that they were afraid.

LEMON: Afraid of what?

UNKNOWN: The time, how quickly the vaccine was presented. I think that was a big thing. For myself, I already had underlying health conditions, so I wanted to make sure it was safe for me. And we talked about it a lot. I didn't want to pressure them or push them into vaccinate or vaccining. I wanted them to make their own decision.

The good thing about me being up here is everybody has said, OK, if mom of all people got COVID, it's time for us to get vaccinated as a family.

UNKNOWN: So, I plan to get vaccinated.

LEMON: And you weren't against vaccines?

UNKNOWN: No, I've always taken vaccines. I was just, this seemed so different, you know? Just informational. I just didn't, I guess, get the information that I wanted or thought, well, you know, it's so different, I'm not sure it's going to be a good vaccine, so yes.

LEMON: Yes? What do you say to folks now?

UNKNOWN: I think everybody ought to try to get it, yes. Yes.


UNKNOWN: If it will help prevent you from getting really sick, you know, it's going to do its thing.


LEMON: So here is a third thing that I have learned. There is way too much unhinged, irrational anger out there, way too much of it. We have got to get it together, people. Why is everybody so angry?

So now let's talk a little more about all of that. We are learning today that three teachers in Broward County, Florida have died from COVID within 24 hours of each other. All three were unvaccinated. But Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis says no to mask mandates for kids in classrooms.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We believe in empowering the parents. They obviously don't want the government to force and to use coercion. Our policy, based on the parent's bill of rights is, this is the parents' decision under Florida law at this point.


LEMON: When did personal freedom ever become more important than the greater good during a serious health crisis? When did that happened? Same in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott banning mask mandates including in schools. Some school districts are defying this ban for the sake of the children.



GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): If we don't do anything, it could go as many as 2,000 new cases every day by the end of the month. So I felt it was time to step in even though I might get in trouble. I need to step in and just have some courage and make a decision that is in the best interest of the district.


LEMON: And the best interest of the children. But let's remember kids in Texas are getting sick and they are contracting COVID. Listen to this dire warning tonight, it's from an official in Dallas County.


CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: In Dallas, we have zero ICU beds left for children. That means that if your child is in a car wreck, if your child has a heart, a congenital heart defect who sometimes needs an ICU bed, or more likely, if they have COVID, they need an ICU bed, we don't have one. Your child will wait for another child to die.


LEMON: In America? In 2021? In one of the nation's premiere cities? One sick child needs to die before another sick child gets an ICU bed, think about that. This is America. One sick child needs to die before another one can get an ICU bed because people won't take a lifesaving vaccine, or wear a mask. What are we doing? What are we doing?

We're tearing ourselves apart as a nation. And it's not like it is helping anyone, except for those who thrive and profit off of stoking hate and division. You know who they are and so do they.

The White House now ramping up the pressure on governors who are playing politics with COVID.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you are not interested in following the public health guidelines to protect the lives of people in your state, to give parents some comfort as they are sending their kids to school, schools are opening in Florida this week. I know in many parts of Florida. Then get out of the way and let public officials, let local officials do their job to keep students safe.


LEMON: Keeping the students safe. And that anger we talked about. That's really shocking me this week and you as well because I've heard from you. It's really disturbing. Even with everything we have seen in this country lately. In Tennessee this week, an uproar by parents as a Williamson County school board voted for a temporary mask mandate for elementary school kids. Watch closely.



CROWD: No more masks! No more masks! No more masks!


LEMON: Same reaction as you, embarrassing. It is really embarrassing. Those were adults. Maybe the kid should be running stuff. A respiratory therapist named Calita Perkins who has worked in that community for over two decades and who is a parent of a school aged -- she has school age children, herself, spoke at the meeting, pleading with the parents to support masking schoolkids. Telling me that she felt completely ignored.


CALITA PERKINS, RESPIRATORY THERAPIST AND PARENT WHO SPOKE OUT ABOUT WEARING MASKS IN SCHOOLS: I felt hurt, I felt disrespected. I felt disregarded as a health care advocate for our community. It was a big blow. You know, I put 110 percent in to my community.


LEMON: And of course, what happened in the parking lot to one father who supports mask mandates.


CROWD: No more masks! No more masks! No more masks! No more masks! No more masks!

UNKNOWN: Shut up, users.

UNKNOWN: I got my --

UNKNOWN: They are there. You got a place in hell. And everybody is taking notes buddy! We know who you are! We know who you are.

UNKNOWN: Keep it --

UNKNOWN: No more masks!


LEMON: I wonder if they have seen this video. I'm sure they have -- they should be embarrassed by it. It's embarrassing. Grown, you know what people. He is a grown, you know what, man. And those growing people acting like -- not even children.


The man verbally attacked is Michael Miller. I also met him this week. The same day I met those patients in the hospital, in fact. He says that he feared for his life at the anger he witnessed. And he is terrified for his family safety. But he says he is speaking up because that's not the America he knows.


MICHAEL MILLER, PARENT HARASSED AFTER SPEAKING IN FAVOR OF MASKS AT SCHOOL BOARD MEETING: They hide behind this label of liberty. Liberty does not give you the right to violate the safety of someone else, to harass somebody, to violently attack people. It does not give you the right to infect other children in the school. And not have any regard for anybody else in your community.


LEMON: Here's the sad part. Are you listening? At least two kids in his child's 6th grade class have already tested positive for COVID.


MILLER: These are children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated.

I am floored by any parent that would send their child without a mask.


LEMON: I also met an Indiana doctor who was responding to the viral misinformation claims from another doctor, making it very clear that masks work in preventing the spread of COVID.


GABRIEL BOSSLET, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL MEDICINE, INDIANA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The way that the virus has traveled, they are trapped by masks. I think you can argue at this point what masks are best, where they work best. I think they are reasonable arguments to be made about masks and how we use them, but whether or not they work isn't really in the realm of reasonability to argue.


LEMON: There's an old saying about freedom, your right to swift upset the tip of my nose. Nobody is trying to take any -- anything away from anybody, especially not freedom or anybody's rights. But getting vaccinated and wearing masks indoors, well there are ways that we are going to stop the deadly spread of COVID.

If people won't listen to the scientists, like Dr. Fauci, maybe they will listen to the terminator who I am now calling, the maskinater. And while does he have a message for those claiming it's all about their individual freedom. Arnold?


FMR. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): And the only way we can prevent this is to get vaccinated, to do wear masks, to do social distancing, washing your hands all the time and not just to think about well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here. No. Screw your freedom. Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities. We cannot just say I have the right to do x, y and z. When you affect other people, that is when it gets serious.


LEMON: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards telling me the same thing, trying to talk sense into people.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Whatever individual does or doesn't do, doesn't just have an effect on them, it has an effect on everybody. Which is -- which is the big, I think disconnect between so many people in our country right now. Is that they want to prioritize their individual right to do, or not to do something. But you cannot manage a public health emergency in that regard.


LEMON: So here is the reality, here are the facts. Nearly every COVID patient hospitalized, are you listening? Nearly every COVID patient hospitalized right now around the country is unvaccinated. That is the case in my home state. It's the case in yours, too.

Now I'm really not sure how many of you viewers out there listening to me are unvaccinated. Before this week, you know, I would've thought most of you probably were. But now I'm not so sure. So, if you still aren't, and you don't want to listen to me, listen to Jim, him and his brother, remember? Listen to Maxine, having to tell her four kids that she may not make it and to Brenda to get vaccinated. And if you are, I am glad. Stay safe. Stay well. And let's take care of each other.

So, I just finished talking about all the people I met this week, on this COVID's story. Let me introduce you tonight to two more. The superintendent of a school district where an angry parent attacked a teacher over, you guessed it, a mask. And a school board chair in the district where three teachers died from COVID complications within 24 hours. And school has not even started yet.


ANNA FUSCO, PRESIDENT, BROWARD TEACHERS UNION: People that I personally know, family members know that their families have gotten COVID and now, the worst-case scenario, they passed away, and it's not -- this is not fearmonger, this is real. We are living it.




LEMON: Mask mandate, sparking so much rage all across the country. A sixth-grade teacher in northern California hospitalized after a parent attacked him during an argument about the school's mask policy.

So, joining me now, the superintendent of that school district in Amador County, California, Torie Gibson. Superintendent, thank you. I appreciate you joining us. Are you OK?


LEMON: OK, great.

GIBSON: It's been a weird couple of days.


GIBSON: But we're (Inaudible).

LEMON: I'm glad I tested that because we got a delay, and I didn't know. So, let's be cognizant of that.

I'm so glad that you're here, superintendent. This attack happened at an elementary school on the first day of class. That has to be incredibly unsettling to you. What happened exactly? And how is the teacher doing?

GIBSON: The teacher is doing great. She came back to work the very next day after, you know, being released from the hospital. Potentially, long story short, the parent who came on campus to pick up her daughter from school, fortunately, there are very few students at that time, she ended -- the principal had in verbal alteration, she walked away, the parent left with the student.

And about 45 minutes later the parent return to campus and went into the office area. The teacher had witnessed the verbal altercation earlier in the afternoon, and followed the parent in the office knowing that the principal is living there alone.

At that point in time, you know, conversation ensued, that that escalated very quickly. He physically began to approach the teacher, and that's -- I'm sorry, the principal, and that's when the teachers stepped in.


And within a matter of seconds, the fight was on, and it was -- it was -- it was very physical.

LEMON: In your letter to parents, you wrote people need to take a breath, a pause. Listen, walk away if necessary. I think you are exactly right, OK? But why do you think emotions are running so high over, I mean, masks? It's just a little piece of cloth that we, I mean, what, what is going on?

GIBSON: Yes. It's really about people feeling as if their rights are being taken away. You know, we live in a county where it's very divided, it's very polarized and the government coming in telling people what they can and can't do, especially to their children, you know, creates this passion like no other.

And, unfortunately, throughout the rest of our community, masks are not required throughout county, other than schools face. And so, it's a little confusing for parents, I think. I think parents are the ones that have more of an issue with the mask than the students. The students just want to get back into school, and do anything that they needed to do and walk to campuses the first day of school all morning long. And classes were packed. Our enrollment is up considerably to pre-

pandemic numbers. And there wasn't one issue. There wasn't one student refusing to wear a mask, or you know, not wearing their mask properly. They didn't have to particularly distant any longer, and they don't really have to do that.

So, I think it really boils down to politics, unfortunately.

LEMON: Well, unfortunately, there's so much disinformation and anger out there. How concerned are you about more confrontations, superintendent?

GIBSON: Extremely concerned. We had day to day I have staff texting me throughout the day with threats of violence, threats both on the phone as well as on social media, I have received some very interesting e- mails today, unfortunately, of people threatening that, you know, masks are ridiculous, they won't go under the privilege (Inaudible).

But it's just unfortunate, so now, you know, we have staff, and including myself, that we are all kind of looking to (Inaudible) right now, and it's a very unsettling feeling. I don't anticipate this to be the end of it, unfortunately.

LEMON: Superintendent, you be safe. And we appreciate you joining us, OK? And thanks for the work that you do.

GIBSON: Absolutely, thank you.

LEMON: Now I want to turn to Florida, that's where the coronavirus cases are hitting a new record now. More than 151, 000 reported in just the last week. Think about that. Three teachers in Florida's Broward County all died from COVID in a span of just 24 hours. Two more teachers in the district hospitalized with the virus.

So, joining me now is Rosalind Osgood, she is the school board chair for Broward County. Thank you for joining us, Rosalind. How are you doing this evening?

ROSALIND OSGOOD, SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR, BROWARD COUNTY: I'm hanging in there, Don. It's been really tough the last couple of weeks as we continue to see people lose their life to COVID. We are continuing to work in our community to get people vaccinated and to also have to fight the threats and bullying of our governor in the state of Florida who does not understand the significance of us mandating masks when we open school on Wednesday.

It's been really, really difficult and challenging. But you know, I'm blessed that I serve with nine board members, eight of which feel the same way that I do. We are standing our ground, we believe that the lives of our children, and our staff are invaluable. We won't be bullied or intimidated to place value on their lives.

We've been threatened to have our salaries taken away because we mandated masks. We've lost two teachers and educational support professionals, ESP, within a matter of 24 hours in our school system. But today, we got a little hope because there was a letter sent from the federal commissioner of education, that Miguel Cardona to the secretary of -- and to the commission of education in Florida supporting our mask mandate and expressing how they won't allow us to have our salaries taken away.

They gave us permission to use what we called at ESSER dollars at Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to fund the salaries of school board members and superintendents if the governor decides to hold those funds. So, we are fighting on every inch.

LEMON: Well let me jump in here. Because I know, look, I have been seeing you one other programs on this network, I've been seeing you all around, and in addition to having to do your job, right, as an educator, you are having to come on and explain to people the importance of this.


You haven't even open schools yet. It is tragic. And I'm sure that, you know, teachers and staff or, you know, they are concerned. What -- what -- I know you are tired, but tell me, what is this like for educators, for the teachers and the staff? What does this like for you? Is this about politics at all for you?

OSGOOD: It is, and it's unnecessary trauma. You know, at the end of the day, when you and elected official in this country, it is a democracy. You have a Constitution, a state Constitution that allows a local citizenry to choose and elect local school board members to govern the schools.

So, not only have we seen massive voter suppression laws in Florida under this governor, but now, we are having the votes of our citizens totally ignored. They elected us school board members to make these decisions, and now the governor is usurping that.

So, instead of allowing us to focus on bringing our students back to their loving environments with their teachers, and bus drivers in school settings, we continue to get these threats, we continue to get these attacks. Our children are scared, our parents are scared. We have people that work in our school system from bus drivers, to teachers, to cafeteria workers have pre-existing conditions, they have family members that are sick. And many of them are the only breadwinners in their home.

So, we can't risk them getting infected with this deadly pandemic that's killing people, or leaving them with lifelong complications.

LEMON: Yes. Well, listen, I hope they are listening to you. And again, I want to thank you for what you are doing. Anybody who is helping to educate our children and to keep them safe we owe you our debt of gratitude. Thank you so much for appearing. Get some rest, please and be safe.

OSGOOD: And thank you so much, Don, for what you do. We appreciate you as well.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Have a good weekend. OSGOOD: Thank you.

LEMON: So, this country just can't seem to get it together. Fareed Zakaria weighs in on why, right after this.



LEMON: Hospital systems in multiple southern states struggling to keep up with the massive coronavirus surge, Florida and Texas alone accounting for nearly 40 percent of new COVID hospitalizations all across the country.

Governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott are playing politics instead of trying to stay save lives. Fighting back against counties and school districts that are defying bans on mask mandates.

So, joining me now is Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed, good evening. It's good to see you.

Let's talk about what's happening now because we are in the middle of a devastating fourth COVID surge in some places. It is worse than it has been throughout the entire pandemic. People are dying when this could have really been prevented. We have lifesaving medicine, why can't this country hold it together?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Yes. The most important thing to remember here is that we are uniquely blessed. I mean, there is a small group of countries in the world that have more than enough vaccines. We are at the top of that list. We were ahead of everybody else in vaccinations. Now we are not. Most European countries have many more -- large percentage of the country vaccinated.

And in that circumstance which we are dealing with is something very deadly, you know, it's very important to understand why this is so deadly. Because we have a large pool of unvaccinated people in this country. When you have a large pool of unvaccinated people, it means that the Delta variant, which is twice as infectious as the first variant, has a place to go. A place to replicate.

When it has a place to replicate and spread, that means it has a chance to mutate. That is to change from one strain to another, perhaps more deadly, perhaps even more infectious.

All of this can be solved by not having that pool of unvaccinated people. We have the opportunity to create a situation where the virus had no place to go. We would have vaccinated enough people plus the people who were already infected, and we were done. We were, you know, we were so close to being the first country to truly be able to say, the pandemic was behind us.

LEMON: Yes. The Department of Homeland Security is warning about possible violence ahead of 9/11, the 9/11 anniversary, Fareed, and other religious holidays, online rhetoric over election conspiracies, something to the buildup of January 6. How and why are we so awash in this misinformation?

ZAKARIA: Look, you can't -- you can't help but say that there is one group of people, and it's not all Republicans, and it is not all conservatives, but there is a body of people within the Republican Party, within the conservative movement that have really turned politics not into a process of governing, a game of governing, if you will, but really about ripping up anger, ripping up emotion, spreading false information, riling up people -- it's all symbolic politics.


If you asked these people, what is it that you want to get done in government, what is that you want to happen? They don't have any answers, it's not like they like this tax bill or that tax bill. Trump wasn't favor of a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, well guess what, Biden just passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.

That's not what it's about. It's all symbolic politics to say the other side is the enemy. And it has become so poisonous, Don. Think about it, people are foregoing what is essentially a lifesaving treatment. They are foregoing the ability to save themselves from a deadly disease because they'd rather be politically right than safe and healthy.

LEMON: Politically right in their own mind.


LEMON: And not -- it's not the right thing to do --


LEMON: -- but just in their own mind and the politically right. I see people online --


ZAKARIA: They want to be ideologically right rather than --

LEMON: There you go.

ZAKARIA: -- you know, physically safe.

LEMON: I hear people talking, you know, as I'm around even like, in the airport and online and I see people saying, well, I'm not going to do it because people on TV on the news channels didn't like Trump. So, I'm just not going to do it because of that. And I am thinking, you are not hurting the people on TV like me, you're actually hurting yourself and the people in your community.

Listen before I go on and on, I wanted to talk to you about Afghanistan. I mean, it's incredible there that the animation that we have up on the screen shows just how fast the U.S. back, the government has lost control since April. The Taliban now controls about half the country's provincial capitals. I mean, this was a two- decade war, Fareed. Does our withdrawal there and the rapidly unraveling situation threaten America's foreign policy and legitimacy?

ZAKARIA: Look, it's not -- it's not good news, it's a tragedy for the Afghan people, it's a blow for the United States, no getting around it. But the truth is, Don, we had lost this war a while ago. We just -- powerful enough and strong enough that we could delay it and draw it out and complicated.

But the truth is we have been trying to defeat the Taliban for 20 years. Remember during the Obama administration the generals ask for more troops, they asked for a surge, Obama gave it to them. They had almost two years with, you know, 100,000 troops. They weren't able to do.

We hear about these cities falling, they have fallen two or three times in the last decade. We kept getting them back with American troops, with American power. The question is, you know, at what point do you say, this isn't working? And the most telling fact here, Don, look at all these towns, these cities falling, there's no fighting.

The Afghan army just melts away. This is a force that was built for 20 years, we probably spent hundreds of billions of dollars, some people say trillion dollars, it's meant to be 300,000 strong. It just melted away. People say that number is bogus. It was all corruption. It was all patronage jobs.

All we know is that none of these people are fighting for their government. And that circumstance, when you have a local partner like that, it is a lot like South Vietnam, no matter what you do, that we sent half a million troops into South Vietnam. If the army won't fight for its own country and its own government, very tough for an outside force do it for them.

LEMON: Fareed Zakaria, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And if you want to hear more about this in more with some of the smartest minds in the world, make sure you tune in to Fareed Zakaria GPS, Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. And check out Fareed's new book, there it is, you saw it on the bookshelf behind, by way they, I was going to mention it, "Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World."

Our thanks again to Fareed Zakaria.

Planning on flying somewhere soon? Going on a last-minute summer vacation? Well, we're going to tell you what you need to know about traveling as the Delta variant surges.



LEMON: Spike in coronavirus cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant slowing down air travel. The TSA reporting the slowest day for air travel this week since mid-June with half million, a half million fewer people traveling than the pandemic record set only 10 days before.

So, should we be concerned about flying? I want to bring in now Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Thank you, sir. A lot of people -- good evening to you. A lot of people have this question, what should I be doing, should I be traveling? Ad on and on. So, I appreciate you answering our questions.

This Delta variant is making us all reassess our behavior that seems safe for vaccinated people just a weeks ago. But what is your take? Do you think it's risky to fly right now, doctor?

AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It all depends on if you're vaccinated or not. If you're somebody that's fully vaccinated, you can rest assure that your vaccines are going to hold up against the Delta variant, especially when it comes to what matters, preventing serious disease, hospitalizations, and death.

If you are not vaccinated, it's a whole different calculation, because the Delta variant will find you if you are not vaccinated. And it does pose a major risk to you, you can get it you, can spread it to other people. So that's kind of where this dichotomy is.

We kind of have a portion of the country vaccinated where they can go back to many of their pre-pandemic activities pretty safely, and then you've got people who are not vaccinated where this is such a major threat to them, and with the Delta variant the stakes are much higher.

LEMON: You know, I've got to ask you about United Airlines, the only major airline to require employees to be vaccinated. Are you concerned that other airlines aren't doing this because flight attendants have relatively close contact with tons of people over the course of a week?

ADALJA: I think it should be standard for all flight attendants, all flight crews to be fully vaccinated. That should be a condition of employment. United made the right decision here and I'd like to see the other airlines follow suit. You do have a lot of contact with flight attendants, they are unvaccinated people on airplanes.


So, this is something that you don't want to have infecting your workforce. If you are an airline you don't disruption in your, with your flight attendants, even if they are not going to be at risk for serious disease maybe because they are younger, or they've got a mild illness. It's not something you want to have on your plane.

And there's an easy solution to this. With all the stuff that airlines have done to make flying safe with masks and infiltration, and the air circulation, the easiest thing they could do is to have everybody else vaccinated on that plane, especially the ones that are one that are employed. That's the best way to make flying as safe as possible.

LEMON: Right now, everyone on the plane is required to wear a mask. But that mandate is set to expire mid-September. If it's not extended, there could be unvaccinated, unmasked flight attendants and so on. Is that a recipe for disaster? ADALJA: If you have unmasked people who are not vaccinated, that is

just asking for an outbreak to occur. We know that this Delta variant is out there, it's not going anywhere. COVID has established itself in the human population. We are going to see cases. And they are going to be amongst the unvaccinated, and the best thing to prevent the unvaccinated from spreading is to get them vaccinated.

But in lieu of them being vaccinated, they need to be wearing a mask that has to be the standard. Especially in these high-risk types of encounters where people are very close together, where they are less than six feet apart, where social distancing is not possible.

LEMON: Yes. I was -- I flew just this morning and everybody in the airport, everybody on the planes were masked. I was just saying, why can't we do this in -- why is it so hard, you know? Because in order to get into the airport or to get on to a plane you have to have a mask, and perhaps that's something that we should be doing in other industries as well, and other facets of our lives, instead of, you know, fighting against wearing them.

It is August, we all want to go out to restaurants, bars, concerts, but with this Delta variant surging, do you think it's safe even if you are fully vaccinated?

ADALJA: I do think this kind of boils down to your risk tolerance. If you are somebody that's fully vaccinated, you, like I said before, you can be sure that your vaccine is going to hold up against serious disease, hospitalization, and death. If you get a breakthrough infection, and breakthrough infections are expected. The vaccine is going to kick in and likely make that very, very mild.

Now that all depends upon what you, what risk you want to have. And I think for some people that risk is something that's worth taking, for others, it may not, especially if they're immunocompromised. I know now they're starting to get third doses into some of those immunocompromised people.

But you have to remember, that COVID isn't going anywhere. It's established in the human population. There's always going to be COVID cases. There's always going to be breakthroughs. Our goal has always been to tame this virus, remove its ability to put hospitals in crisis. And I think that's what we've got to get people to be able to do. Make good risk calculation.

And I think this is something that can be done safely for vaccinated people, but there will always going to be some level of COVID risk.

LEMON: Doctor, thank you. We learned a lot. We appreciate you joining us. I hope you'll come back.

ADALJA: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. The House Republican leader is selling new campaign apparel. Take this, Kevin McCarthy is redefining the word, boy, this could get me in trouble, moron. Next.



LEMON: Take this, the Delta variant bringing the pandemic back to crisis levels across the United States. And mask mandates causing fights and shouting matches as kids go back to school.

But the Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy would rather use the mask issue as a chance to troll, although who was trolling is up to for debate here. Speaker Pelosi and McCarthy, well, she said that McCarthy was a moron for opposing a reinstated mask mandate in the House last month.

Now, McCarthy is raising money selling shirts with the word printed in big, bold letters. You might miss the fine print though, and I quote here, "moron," a term coined by Nancy Pelosi referring to freedom loving Americans who oppose mask mandates while she was actually just talking about him, but anyways.

It's clear he wants to turn the insult into a badge of honor. The way Trump supporters did with the word deplorable after Hillary Clinton's infamous comment during the 2016 election. But hard to imagine like moron merch is going to have quite the same appeal. The fact is, wearing masks isn't about attacking anyone's freedom, it's about protecting each other at a time when people are getting sicker than ever from COVID.

He could have learned a lesson about ill-advised fundraising from Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, who is campaigning -- his campaign was selling these t-shirts and the beer cozies, don't Fauci my Florida, and you know, that happened just before the state became the epicenter of COVID in the U.S.

So, congressman, maybe stop trying to make fetch happen, and focus more on convincing people to get vaccinated. Do your job.

We'll be right back.



LEMON: The world has lost more than four million people due to COVID. And the waves of grief for those left behind have been tremendous. This week's CNN Hero knows just how difficult and isolating it is to lose a spouse. Michele Neff Hernandez has created a community of widows that can heal together.


UNKNOWN: I would tell the nurse, tell him I love him, and put the phone by because they would not let me in. Sometimes I would just go sit in the parking lot just to be close to him. You know, April 13th, they told me he was gone. I needed someone to understand what it was like to be widowed. UNKNOWN: Initially you imagine that when someone dies, the worst day

is the day they die. And the truth is that living without them is the hard part. But you have to make your way through.

UNKNOWN: Thank you for being here and showing up for each other.

We help people live and lived through something that many times they did not think that they would survive.


LEMON: To see the full story of Michele and the people she helps, go to

Thank you so much for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues with a CNN special report.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's it like to be one of the most famous politicians in America?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Hey, what's up! Love you back!

BASH: To be adored and reviled with seemingly equal passion?

UNKNOWN: Boo! Boo! Boo AOC. Boo!

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You get something like that, too.