Return to Transcripts main page
NBA Legend And Civil Rights Activist Bill Russell Dead At 88; "Star Trek" Actress Nichelle Nichols Dies At 89; At Least 28 Dead In Kentucky Floods, Many Still Missing; Protesters Gather At The Capitol Steps Over Burn Pits Bill; Biden Isolating After Positive Test For Rebound COVID; What To Expect 100 Days Until Midterm Election Night. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 31, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We remember two legends.
BILL RUSSELL, NBA LEGEND: I contributed a great deal to the game.
BROWN: Basketball superstar and civil rights champion Bill Russell.
NICHELLE NICHOLS, ACTRESS: Captain, the Enterprise is up there.
BROWN: And television trailblazer Nichelle Nichols of "Star Trek."
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McConnell?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward!
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: These protesters are at the steps right in front of the Senate. Many of them slept overnight on the steps outside here to protest the failure of the burn pit legislation.
JON STEWART, HOST AND ACTIVIST: They've all just got this mumbo jumbo about a budgetary gimmick, but nothing changed.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): This is the oldest trick in Washington. Republicans are not opposed to any of the substance of the PACT Act.
DANIELLE ROBINSON, WIDOW OF SFC HEATH ROBINSON: I think this was a political move, and it's disgusting.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is just an ongoing crisis here at a scale that is almost unimaginable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see some of the garbage that's still over here. And you can actually see how high the water has come.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is what we do not want to see, a flood watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With more rain coming, we expect the water to rise up even higher.
BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And we begin this hour with the passing of two legends who were both gamechangers in their respective fields. Basketball great Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships. His final two titles as the first black head coach in a major American sports league. And he was also a tireless champion for racial justice and civil rights, working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
And we are also remembering Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original "Star Trek" TV series in the 1960s. At a time when many black actresses were reduced to playing minor demeaning roles, Nichols became one of the first black leads on TV and became a symbol of what the future could hold. Nichols broke barriers and erased stereotypes. That glowing praise coming from no less than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself.
CNN's Jason Carroll looks back at her remarkable life.
NICHOLS: Security sweeps of all decks are negative, Mr. Spock.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before Nichelle Nichols broke barriers on board the "USS Enterprise" as Lieutenant Uhura, she was dancing and singing her way across the stages of New York City and Chicago, the city close to where she grew up, Robbins, Illinois. In 1967 she released a cover of the Joe McCoy classic, "Why Don't You Do Right" on Epic Records.
CARROLL: But it was playing "Star Trek's" Lieutenant Uhura where she really found fame. It was a groundbreaking role for an African- American woman in 1966, widely considered one of the first times a woman of color was not portraying a servant on TV. Uhura was the chief communications officer and fourth in command on board the "Enterprise."
NICHOLS: I didn't find out that I was fourth in command until the second season.
NICHOLS: Nobody told me.
CARROLL: Nichols actually thought about leaving after the first season. The show's creator Gene Roddenberry begged her to stay but it was an influential fan that finally convinced her, Martin Luther King.
NICHOLS: He said you can't. Don't you know who you are to our movement, to everyone who's -- you are there in the 23rd century. You've created a role that has such dignity and everything is powerful. You cannot leave.
CARROLL: Another landmark for the show during the turbulent '60s, the first scripted interracial kiss on national TV in 1968.
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: We had heard rumors that the southern stations -- some southern stations might cut that.
NICHOLS: It changed television forever, and it also changed the way people looked at one another. If they -- two of their favorite actors can battle through it and come through it on top, why can't everybody?
CARROLL: The show ended in 1969, but endured for years in syndication and at conventions attended by devoted Trekkies. In 1994 Nichols published her autobiography, "Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories." Nichols also starred in several Trek movies and even worked with NASA to increase diversity in the space program.
NICHOLS: I had the privilege of recruiting the first women and minority astronauts for the Space Shuttle Program.
CARROLL: Nichols' enduring beauty, her strength of character, her commitment to human rights will always inspire.
BROWN: Well, CNN media analyst and former "New York Times" media reporter Bill Carter joins me now.
Bill, there is just an outpouring of remembrance today on social media. Just beautiful reflections on her life. Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, said, "Representation matters. Excellence in representation matters even more. Thank you. Hashtag Nichelle Nichols. Rest well, ancestor."
I love that Martin Luther King Jr. story and how he made her realized how significant she was to black children and young women because of her TV role, saying you've got to stay in that role. It's so important. But it was not an easy door for her to open, was it?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: At the time, you know it was pretty extraordinary. I mean, television had not had a black character anywhere like this. This was before Diahann Carroll did her show. And that was controversial. They didn't really let her be a real character. This was a real powerful, intelligent, commanding person. Now they set it in the 23rd century which was kind of a commentary on what was happening in America at the time.
This is the civil rights era. And you know, they were fighting for the basic rights to, you know, ride a bus and things like that and drinking at a water fountain. And the show was basically saying we're going show what it could be in the future, what it could be for racial equality in the future. So they found an actress who was so convincing as a person of intelligence and, you know, authority that they pulled it off so well.
I remember as a kid being in high school and watching the show with friends of mine, and nobody reacting at all to the fact that it was a black character. Nobody actually reacting at all. That was extraordinary at the time. And it's a testament to the show for doing it. But especially to the actress for pulling it off.
BROWN: It certainly is. And, you know, another recollection from Whoopi Goldberg who said "Star Trek" was the first time she saw a black woman on screen who wasn't playing a maid, and that it was so inspiring to her. I mean there are so many stories like that.
CARTER: Yes, exactly. I mean, you have to -- this was actually in the mid-'60s. And, you know, everything that we think of now, and there are conflicts now, still, which is extraordinary. But, you know, at the time, it was -- everything was charged, extremely charged. And you had the idea that you would have a character, a black character in this kind of role was groundbreaking. Really truly groundbreaking.
And yet it was done in a way that I think was brilliant because it's set in the future, folks. What are you going to say about it? How is this, you know, raising hackles in 1966 when it's supposed to be in the 23rd century? So they managed to do it. And "Star Trek" was great for that. They explored themes like that because they could, because they were dealing with the future. But this was really an amazing approach.
And I have to say, she was not an actress anyone knew, but boy, was she well cast. She just utterly was convincing. Beautiful woman, no question. But also, she just carried authority. And that was, you know, what was essential to the part.
BROWN: I want to talk about that famous kiss, that kiss between Uhura and Captain Kirk was also groundbreaking. Certainly something the mass audience was expecting. Do you recall the reaction to that at the time?
CARTER: You know what's interesting? There was not a giant reaction to this. Later on when "Star Trek" became a cult hit in syndication, it was talked about enormously. This breakthrough moment. At the time, again, I felt like everyone who was watching the show at that point, and it wasn't a big hit at the time, already accepted the fact that this is not a contemporary situation. So the idea that there would be an interracial kiss did not blow everyone away, except that they stopped to think about it.
And again, they did it in such a very smart way. They were concerned about the South. The stations in the South would pull television stations for anything they thought was promoting, you know, racial equality in those days, extraordinary as that sounds. But they thought we better film the kiss, and then we'll have another, you know, scene, the same scene shot and reshot where they don't actually kiss because, you know, the aliens were forcing them to kiss.
And the two actors, according to both of their stories, just made it impossible. When they reshot the scenes, they were unusable. So they had to show the scene with the kiss and they expected all this blowback, which they didn't get. The stations in the South ran the show. And it didn't get the kind of blowback anyone expected because again I felt like they were telling people, you know what, you may be prejudiced today.
You may think you hate black people today, but you know what? That's going to be passe at some point. It's going to be -- you know, everyone is going to get past this.
BROWN: Yes. She had an incredible life. She also volunteered for NASA to recruit minority and female candidates for the space agency. Just did so much. And we honor her tonight on this show.
Bill Carter, thank you for your remembrance of her incredible life.
CARTER: Sure, Pam.
BROWN: And the world has also lost a sports and civil rights pioneer. Bill Russell has died. He won 11 championships with the Boston Celtics, including eight straight from 1959 to 1966. His list of basketball awards is dizzying. Five-time NBA MVP, a 12-time all-star Olympic gold medalist, NBA hall of famer, the first black coach in any major professional sports, and on and on. His accolades in basketball are unmatched.
But Russell also made an impact off the court as a civil rights activist standing up for equality. In just one example, in 1961, the Celtics boycotted an exhibition game after a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, refused to seat Russell and his black teammates. He joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the march on Washington and then returned for the 50th anniversary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL: Fifty years ago, the night before the march, I met Dr. King, and one of the great experiences of my life. And he invited me to be up here. And I respectfully declined because the organizers had worked for years to get this together. And I hadn't done anything. So I wanted to continue my life as an interested bystander.
Now lately I've heard a lot about how far we've come in 50 years. But from my point of view, you only register progress by how far you have to go. The fight had just begun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: It was not an easy fight. He often faced threats and taunts. President Obama talked about that when giving Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bill Russell the man is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. He marched with King. He stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And the Boston Celtics released a statement, writing in part, "Bill Russell's DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization. From the relentless pursuit of excellence to the celebration of team rewards over individual glory to a commitment to social justice and civil rights off the court." Bill Russell was 88 years old.
And still ahead tonight on CNN NEWSROOM, on this Sunday night, more victims have been found as floodwaters recede in Kentucky. The governor says it's hard to know just how many people are still missing.
Plus, veterans and their families protesting on the steps of the U.S. Capitol over a vote they say could be the difference between life and death for veterans.
And then later tonight, how to fight gun violence without criminalizing black and brown communities in the process. We're going have one man's story that you need to hear. We're going to be right back. Stay with us.
BROWN: Well, the rain just keeps coming in Kentucky. It is not just making the search for missing people harder it is raising fears that more flash floods will put even more people in danger. Here is Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear just last hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: I'll read you the full list. So these are -- these are 28 Kentuckians. The number keeps growing. Two in Clay, 15 in Knott County. Four of them children. And it says minors. They are children. The oldest one is in second grade. I just passed and got out of the location that their home and that they were swept away in. Two in Letcher. Three in Perry and six in Breathitt. And we will have more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Emotional Governor Beshear there in Kentucky as he talked about the victims of this historic flooding there, including these young children who have died. I want to bring in CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro in Knott County,
Wow, Evan, we just learned the death toll is up to 28. What else are you learning?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, that is the saddest part of this. The devastation is something to behold that is shocking. But that death toll is just absolutely heart-grabbing when you hear about it. And I'm here in Knott County where the governor laid out, you know, so far the hardest hit county. Numbers expected to rise everywhere. But those other counties you read off, Breathitt, and Perry, we've been in them, too, throughout the past few days, seeing all the devastation there.
Here in Knott, there is a little bit of good news, which is that we had a lot of rain earlier today and some concerns about flash flood warnings and flash flood watches.
The CNN Weather Center tells me that that is now all gone away for now. Scattered thunderstorms is really all they're going to be dealing with here. Probably not any severe flooding for the short term any way. More rain may be coming soon. But not any more tonight, which lets them turn to that recovery and relief effort. The mayor -- I'm sorry, the governor laying out the efforts to try and find those bodies that are trapped around here.
Here in Knott County where I'm standing at the sports complex, usually a place that hosts little league games and arcade games and indoor basketball games, things like that, is now a relief center. The pallets of water coming in and supplies and food for people who have lost everything in this storm.
There is still a lot of damage here. For example, this place doesn't have any city -- I mean, you know, water system water. It has bottles of water, where you can't get water through the tap here yet. There's like a lot of places around here you can't do it. And I think that these numbers are starting to give people an impression of what this has actually been like.
The mayor of Whitesburg was with the governor today and she talked about what it was like to live through this storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR TIFFANY CRAFT, WHITESBURG, KENTUCKY: You know, we're not ones to ever ask for much, and I don't know that I've ever, ever prayed so hard before in my life. I've lost my husband, and I prayed a lot for that. But when I saw my community in the shape that they were in and hearing about people having to be rescued in the manners that they were, this is the hardest I've ever prayed in my life.
And like I said, we're independent and we help each other out. And as you can see, we have neighbors helping neighbors. And when we go through anything, we never go through anything alone. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: People here starting to get a chance to now look at what this storm has done to their communities. With this break in the weather they can look as they try to put things back together. And the devastation is so vast and so big, it will be a long time before they know just how bad it was -- Pam.
BROWN: Yes. We cannot forget about everything they're going through there in Eastern Kentucky in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you.
And on that note, go to CNN.com/impact to find out how to help these victims of the flooding in Kentucky. Check out Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund set up by the governor to help them. They need your help, folks.
Well, a bill to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their service could get a new vote this week as one of the Senate Republicans behind the delay defends his stance. Two veterans' wives join us live up next to explain their struggle to get it passed and what they're feeling after what happened with the vote last week.
BROWN: On the Capitol steps today, anger and accusations blasting Republican lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Kennedy?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Marshall?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: McConnell?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Portman?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Coward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Military veterans are calling out the 25 Republican senators who pulled their support of a bill that would expand medical coverage for millions of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were exposed to the toxins from the military's so-called burn pits. Those are the infernos of everything from medical waste to plastics to heavy metals and vehicle parts.
President Biden Facetimed with the Capitol Hill protesters to show his support, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer says he plans another procedural vote tomorrow to break the filibuster.
CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House. Kevin, is there confidence that this bill will pass?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is optimism that this will eventually make it through. But in the meantime, anger is growing among veterans at the delay. And just to lay out some of the stakes here, this bill would really expand the care that these veterans can receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Up to 3.5 million would be eligible.
And this bill actually already sailed through the Senate when it came up for a vote a couple of months ago. But just last week, a number of Republicans changed their vote. They're protesting what they say is a budgetary procedure, a policy procedure.
Listen to what the Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, said this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOOMEY: My honest Democratic colleagues will fully acknowledge that my objection, and if I get my way, I get my change, it will not change by one penny any spending on any veterans program. What I'm try to do is change a government accounting methodology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIPTAK: Now the concerns that Republicans are raising about this bill were actually in the bill when they voted for it last time. And because of the timing, some Democrats are accusing them of retaliating against that surprise climate and tax agreement that came through last week. But in the meantime, that anger is growing. And those protesters at the Capitol did receive some high profile support. The comedian Jon Stewart was there last week. And they also received that Facetime call from President Biden, who is isolating here at the White House.
This is an issue that is very personal for the president. He has long said that he believes his late son Beau's cancer was caused by exposure to these burn pits -- Pamela.
BROWN: Kevin Liptak, it is very personal for the president. Thank you for bringing us the latest there from the White House.
Joining me now are two women whose husbands are war veterans and they blame their devastating health problems on the toxic burn pit smoke that they inhaled.
Rosie Torres, her husband Leroy, founded the veterans advocacy group Burn Pits 360, and Amanda Barbosa is advocating for her husband Rafael and the estimated 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to the danger.
Thank you both for being here. I mean, you have both been camping out on the steps in protest this weekend.
Amanda, I just learned right before this interview, you spent 55 hours straight on the steps. You flew back to your home in Minnesota last night. You woke up this morning and said, I got to come back to Washington. Tell us about that.
AMANDA BARBOSA, WIFE OF BURN PIT VICTIM: Yes, well, I came out on Thursday after the vote happened on Wednesday for our press conference. And I decided we were talking after the press conference, and another colleague of ours was like, let's go stand on the steps of the Capitol. And I said OK, like a fire watch. So here we are. So we go out there. And I've been there -- I stood there from Thursday -- well, after the press conference until yesterday when I flew home.
And I took a shower and then flew back because I was like, I miss being with my people. And it's such an important issue that this is really the final -- we've got to give everything we can to try and get it to pass. So --
BROWN: Yes. Yes.
BARBOSA: It was worth it. Everything is worth it.
BROWN: And we should note your husband is battling stage four colon cancer. I want to get your reaction to what one of the Republican senators who blocked the bill is blaming that on. He is saying that it was all about a budget gimmick. Here is what Senator Pat Toomey said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOOMEY: This is the oldest trick in Washington. People take a sympathetic group of Americans and it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals. Craft a bill to address their problems and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own and dare Republicans to do anything about it because they know they'll unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn't be there. That's what's happening here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: That pseudo celebrity is presumably Jon Stewart. What is your response, Rosie, to Pat Toomey?
ROSIE TORRES, CO-FOUNDER, BURN PITS 360: I mean, I think it's disgusting, right, for him to play partisan politics. These are lives. And I think if he had a child or a spouse in the position that we're in who is affected by chemical exposure during wartime, he probably would be standing on the steps of the Capitol with us. So it's disgusting, and it's just -- you know, it angers us because we live it every day. And so I just wish that they would walk a day in our shoes to
understand the reality of the war that followed us home.
BROWN: How has it been like for you day to day, Amanda?
BARBOSA: Well, my husband is a 23-year Army pilot. And he left the military and shortly thereafter found out that he had stage four colon cancer. We've been through 12 rounds of chemo for him and he's had two major surgeries. And we've been blessed to receive care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. And so he's fighting the good fight. You know, it's always difficult a stage four cancer diagnosis. You don't know what the future is going to be. But we know that each day we celebrate and we're grateful for.
BROWN: Do you feel like, Rosie, that your husband's future survival is being reduced to politics? You mentioned that you thought from what you heard there from Senator Toomey that he was making this about politics. Is that how you feel?
TORRES: Absolutely. Yes, I feel like they don't understand the issue. They choose to turn -- you know, turn the other way, turn their cheek to really, you know, try to embrace the issue. Like they're not the ones talking to the spouses. They're not the ones whose homes are on the verge of foreclosure. They're not the ones who, you know, have to witness the losses. And they're being stripped of their dignity and it's just horrific to have to live this life after war.
But, you know, like I said, if they understood just one day in our shoes, they wouldn't be playing with the lives of our nation's defenders.
BROWN: Have you tried talking to their offices? I know that you were talking about this has been a 13-year fight for you all.
BROWN: Right? You thought this was going to be a victory.
TORRES: Yes. It was sort of, you know, calling it a victory lap for a minute there. Yes, 13 years coming to the Hill and knocking on doors. And when we attempted to go to Senator Toomey's office, we were told no, that we had to have an appointment. And of course as many times as we attempted to schedule one, they declined.
BROWN: They declined your --
TORRES: Right. Our request for a meeting.
BROWN: Did they ever give you a reason why?
TORRES: No. Just -- I don't think they had to.
BROWN: Did you -- what about other Republicans? I mean, some of the Republicans who voted against this bill were veterans.
TORRES: Right. I mean, we were doing -- we were just walking the halls with Jon, right, just going door to door.
TORRES: Just unannounced. It was the only way really, because I think if we gave them a lead on the fact that we were coming to their office, it would always be the excuse of, like, well, he is not available.
And they're always -- have gatekeepers, right, trying to decide on what's important and what isn't. So we're just going to keep on with the strategy of just showing up, you know. Instead of trying to schedule something.
BROWN: Amanda, what would it mean to you and your husband to have this legislation pass? Because as you know, the majority leader is going to bring it back up for a vote this week. What would it mean to you?
BARBOSA: Right. Well, I think for all the families it means that you could focus on your health care, on healing or fighting the illness, or in the case of veterans that haven't been able to -- that have passed away, that their families can focus on grieving and healing. Unlike what's happening now where they're so worried about that they have to fight for every benefit that they get or to worry about their kids being able to go to have their benefits, to have school benefits or to have basic healthcare when they're going through the worst that you could possibly go through.
BROWN: I know I've heard from some of the families saying that, look, we've been through this fight for 13 years. These delays have cost lives. What would it mean, Rosie, if it is not passed this week?
TORRES: I really don't even -- it's so emotional to even think of that being a possibility. We know and we've heard through other, you know, channels in our veteran community that there have been a couple of suicides already. You know, personally, my husband years ago attempted to take his life. And I hate to even think about, you know, thankfully he had like a strong support.
But for those that don't and they're losing so much, there is so much loss after war, I'd hate to think of how many more people would put, you know, a gun to their head and take their lives because they're losing their jobs, they're losing their homes, there is no compensation, there is no benefits. So I know that we'd have much more of a huge loss in that side of veterans suicide. And I just hate to even think that that would be a possibility.
It would be such a devastating heartache for all the families and all of our nation's heroes and the widows and survivors.
BROWN: Final words to you, Amanda.
BARBOSA: Yes. I mean, every delay is costing lives. If they continue with this, more veterans' lives will be lost. And it's not a matter of partisan politics. It's a matter of saving lives and making sure that our veterans are taken care of. It's the bare minimum. We're just asking, they're all proud to have gone to serve, but they're just asking to be taken care of and that their families are taken cared of when they come back.
BROWN: All right, Rosie and Amanda, thank you. Good luck. I hope you both get some rest. I'm in awe of both of you.
TORRES: We're on our way back.
BARBOSA: We're headed back out to the steps, but thank you.
BROWN: Are you really? Right after this?
BROWN: Take your break. Oh, my gosh. Well, it's an honor to have you here taking that break and discussing this with us and what it means to you personally. We appreciate it.
TORRES: Thank you.
BARBOSA: Thank you.
BROWN: Well, President Biden is still testing positive for COVID. An update on his rebound case tonight.
Plus, New York City joins San Francisco in declaring a public emergency over monkeypox. Dr. William Schaffner is here to answer your questions, up next.
BROWN: President Biden is isolating for the second day after his positive test for rebound COVID. He is still feeling well according to the White House physician, and we're learning that he had six close contacts from the time he tested negative to his latest positive test. So far no one he was in contact with has tested positive.
I want to bring in Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Hi, Dr. Schaffner. So help us understand. What is the initial difference, if any, between the first case of COVID when you first have it and then the rebound case? And also how rare are these rebound cases actually?
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, DIRECTOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Pamela, the rebound cases are unusual. They're not common. About 10 percent to 20 percent of people who take the Paxlovid have some symptoms on rebound or may get a transiently positive test. The symptoms are usually mild. The test positivity is usually brief, and things go very, very well.
I trust that will happen to the president. It happens to most of the people who take this drug. The drug works to help you keep out of the hospital. So it's still working very well as the president demonstrates.
BROWN: All right, I want to turn now to monkeypox because you have New York, San Francisco, both declaring public health emergencies as case counts continue to rise. But these numbers could be vastly undercounted. I mean, people simply aren't getting tested for monkeypox. For example, you the Mayo Clinic processing a thousand samples a week. It is only -- it can process, I should, a thousand samples a week. It has only received 45 specimens since testing began earlier this month.
How do we get people to start getting themselves checked out like we do with COVID?
SCHAFFNER: Well, first of all, getting the word out. And now that testing is more widely available, not just through local and state health departments, but the Mayo Clinic and the large commercial medical laboratories. They're also providing these tests. So the average doctor can now take a swab from a patient and send it off for testing. We need to let everyone know both the individuals affected as well as all the healthcare providers that testing is now widely available. That's very important.
BROWN: All right. I want to get to some viewer questions. First on COVID, this viewer is asking, as far as COVID, I know a lot of folks who have gotten it lately, including me, despite being fully vaxxed, mild cases. Is this the future another flu?
SCHAFFNER: Yes. Well, another flu, yes, COVID is going to be with us for the indefinite future. And in order to keep it down, its bad effects, keeping people out of the hospital, we'll have to keep getting vaccinated and keeping our vaccinations up to date. We may in the future -- we're not quite there yet -- have to get an annual flu shot as well as an updated COVID vaccine. We anticipate one of those will be available this fall.
BROWN: Another viewer is asking, is there enough data available to ascertain if a second booster is really effective with the latest variant or other variants?
SCHAFFNER: Indeed. If you're up to date with your vaccinations, and those boosters are important, they're still providing very important protection to keep you out of the hospital. So if you haven't been vaccinated, do so. Check your vaccination status and make sure you're up to date with your boosters. They continue to provide good protection.
BROWN: And we also have a viewer question on monkeypox. This viewer is asking, what do parents need to know and what steps can we take to help protect our kids? I've heard monkeypox can last for hours on surfaces.
SCHAFFNER: Well, we need to remember there have been very few children affected, and we don't know exactly how they acquired their infection. That information hasn't come out. But it's a good time to remind every youngster frequent hand hygiene is very important.
BROWN: All right. Dr. William Schaffner, good to see you. Thanks for coming on.
SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.
BROWN: And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday. 100 days until midterm election night, but who's counting? I know one guy is. That would be Harry Enten. He will run the numbers on primary races and what state that could preview what will happen across the nation. We're going to talk to Harry right after this quick break.
BROWN: Voters in Kansas will decide Tuesday if the state's constitution protects the right to abortion. CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten joins us to run the numbers.
All right, Harry, polls show that the vote could be very, very close.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It could be very, very close. I mean, look. If you take a look at an average of polls in Kansas since 2012, look at this, 48 percent say they believe that abortion should be always or mostly legal versus 47 percent who say it should always or mostly illegal. I mean, that is well within any margin of error.
But here's the thing, Pam. Look, if you know Kansas politics, you know it's a Republican state. And if abortion, if voters there say that abortion should in fact be legal, that is there should not in fact be any -- you should in fact have a constitutional right to an abortion, now I have to ask the question, if abortion foes can't win in Kansas where can they win? So I think this is a real test in the post-Roe era. If abortion activists can win in Kansas, they can win in a lot of places.
BROWN: That's an important point. All right. I want to talk about primary races. Looking at these Republicans in the House that voted to impeach Donald Trump. Tell us how they're doing in their races.
ENTEN: Yes, so this is going to be a great test this week because we essentially have three. Two in Washington. One in Michigan. So far we have seen two Republicans who voted to impeach Trump face the voters. Tom Rice lost in South Carolina, got blown out. David Valadao in California won, he advanced in the general and a top two primary. That is essentially all the Democrats and all the Republicans run on the same ballot.
That's what's going to be happening in Washington so I think Herrera Butler and Newhouse, Dan Newhouse are probably in better shape or have a better shot than, say, Meijer, Peter Meijer in Michigan who's been very outspoken but the truth is, it's very difficult to predict House primaries. But I think that this will be one of the biggest tests so far of Trump's strength within the Republican Party. If in fact all three of those Republicans hold on then perhaps Trump's strength within the Republican Party isn't as strong as a lot of us assume that it is.
BROWN: And Harry, you have found House primary races in one state to may give us a preview of what will happen nationally. Tell us about that.
ENTEN: Yes. So, Washington, we'll go back to Washington. And essentially because of that top two primary, right, if you add up all the Democrats running for the House of Representatives and all the Republican statewide and you say, OK, let's take a look at that margin and let's compare it to the margin that we had in the prior presidential election. If you look back at the past three midterms, you can see on your screen right now, the swing in the Washington top two primary matches very much with the swing that we see nationally in November.
So keep in mind Joe Biden won in Washington by a little bit more than 19 points. Let's say Republicans only lose the cumulative statewide vote by, say, 10 points, that would be a very good sign. We don't know what's going to happen but so far we have been dealing with mostly polls. This is going to be a real vote. If Republicans were able to do well in Washington that might in fact forecast they're going to do well in the fall. If Democrats in fact blow out Republicans, say, win by the same margin as Joe Biden perhaps those polls have been a little too pessimistic on the Democrats.
BROWN: And as we know, the economy always plays a big role when it comes to the midterms. You have the stock market. That's up this morning. There were some bad economic news this week, though. How might that affect November's midterms?
ENTEN: Yes, if you look real disposable income per capita, inflation, real GDP, all of the worst since at least 1978. In the case of real GDP it was the worst since at least 1950. If you look at the real disposable income and you look at the past prior cycles in midterms in which we saw bad numbers like this, the president's party on average lost 48 seats. So these are not good numbers for Democrats.
BROWN: All right. Finally tomorrow, switching gears here a little bit, it's the first day of August. Some students are already about to go back to school. They're going to be in class tomorrow. Who is this little guy?
ENTEN: That's me. That is me with my childhood dog Cody who I adored so very, very much. I still wish he was here. Obviously I'm not that young. I may be young. Cody left us a little bit more than 10 years ago. But I love him. This is a chance to get him on national air.
You know, we get this New York centric idea that schools start in Labor Day. But in fact in Alabama, Huntsville, they stay start on Tuesday. In places in Arizona, they start it in fact two weeks ago. But my question to you, Pam, is, where is your childhood picture?
BROWN: I know. Honestly, I spent far too much time trying to find a good one today. And you know what, now that I've seen this, I should have found one with my dog Willie. My first dog. A black poodle who I loved dearly. Maybe we'll have to find an excuse to do some segment where I can show that because I feel like now I got to pay homage to Willie. But yes. I did search. Your picture is super cute, though, I got to say, Harry Enten.
ENTEN: Thank you. And we'll get it done. We'll your childhood dog on the air. I promise you.
BROWN: We have to. I mean, that is a priority now moving forward. All right. Thanks, Harry. Appreciate it. Talk to you soon.
ENTEN: See you.
BROWN: And be sure to check out his podcast, "Margins of Error" on your favorite podcast app or at CNN.com/audio.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday. Tonight, remembering two great Americans, NBA legend Bill Russell and groundbreaking actress Nichelle Nichols. Their remarkable lives and the impact they had far beyond their respective fields, up next.