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Watson Suspended For Six Games; Monkeypox Cases Rise In The U.S.; McKinney Fire Rages In California; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Is Interviewed About The Chips Act. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 01, 2022 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: ESPN is reporting that a retired judge has now recommended the Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShaun Watson be suspended for six games for violating the NFL's conduct policy.

Watson did not play last season at all while with the Houston Texans because of investigations into allegations of sexual assault and harassment involving more than two dozen women. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits.

CNN's Athena Jones joins me now.

And, Athena, it's interesting because with the decision you have the Players Association and Watson saying they don't want to appeal, the league may want to appeal. What happens now?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to wait and see, Jim. They have three business days. Either party can appeal this decision over the next three business days. So we'll see how the NFL responds to this. We've reported -- or the NFL has reportedly wanted to see a full season suspension. Six games, that's about a third of the season.

And, of course, these are very serious allegations that DeShaun Watson has been facing for a period of time. He was traded out of the -- away from Houston in March in the midst of all of this. More than two dozen women accusing him of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

And so now, as you mentioned, the players association and Watson, together in a joint statement last night, said that they were not going to be appealing this. They asked that the NFL follow suit and also not appeal.

But, of course, if the reporting is true, that the NFL wanted to see a full season, they might push back on this. This is, of course, coming in the wake of, you know, years of -- years later after Me Too -- the Me Too movement began, this is something that clearly the NFL wants to make a statement about. And so we'll see if they accept this retired judge, Sue Robinson's, ruling.

She heard this case back in June. And she was appointed -- she's what's called an independent disciplinary officer. She was appointed due to the collective bargaining agreement. And so now she's made her ruling. We'll have to wait and see if the NFL pushes back. And we'll be watching for the next three days.


SCIUTTO: Athena Jones, we'll be watching closely, thank you.

Today in health, San Francisco's monkeypox health emergency goes into effect to address the growing outbreak there. And over the weekend, New York City became the second major U.S. city to declare a public health emergency.

Now, there is some concern that the U.S. lost its best chance to contain the outbreak. There are more than 5,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., more than 22,000 worldwide.

Joining us now, emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen. She's also the former Baltimore health commissioner and a CNN medical analyst.

Dr. Wen, good to have you on.

So, it seems the criticism here is that the initial approach was to focus on close contacts of people known to be infected as opposed to something a bit more broadly, those at most risk. And I wonder, if your view, was that a mistake and is it too late to change that approach?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think the biggest mistake was not having enough testing initially. The entire goal here was to identify individuals who have monkeypox. If we were able to find everyone who had monkeypox, then we are able to identify all their contacts.

Monkeypox is very different from Covid. It's spreads through direct, prolonged contact. Also, we know that if people get the vaccine early on in their exposure, that actually prevents them from getting monkeypox, and, therefore, that stops the chain of transmission.


So, we had an opportunity when there were relatively few cases to find everyone who had monkeypox, identify their contacts, known as ring vaccination, vaccinate all their contacts, stop further transmission from occurring.

The problem now is that because we didn't have enough testing to begin with, there are so many more cases that we don't even know about. That's why we have to resort to vaccinating a much larger number of people, but we don't have enough vaccines for all those individuals.

So, I do fear that the window for containment is closing. Certainly, we had a much better opportunity months ago than we do now.

SCIUTTO: So, closing but not lost? Do you think with a course correct now, cities like San Francisco, New York, but more broadly, can get this under control?

WEN: I think there is still a very small window for us to do that. And I do think it's time for the U.S. to declare a state of emergency as well because that will allow for a much better coordinated response. It will allow the Biden administration to appoint a monkeypox czar to oversee these efforts. It will also allow for more resources to be put into this as well.

I hope that the window hasn't closed. I think that there is still an opportunity. And just to underscore why this is the case, monkeypox may not be as fatal as a lot of other illnesses but we don't want another disease that we have to worry about in perpetuity if it takes hold here.

Also, we don't want it to affect the most vulnerable, including young children and pregnant women. That hasn't really happened as much yet here in the U.S. but we want to contain it before that happens.

SCIUTTO: OK, another topic. President Biden tested positive again for Covid after being negative following treatment with Paxlovid, which he's not the only one that's happened to. There is some experience with this.

How rare are such rebound cases, as they're known? And I wonder, with a second positive test, does that mean the president is less likely to recover?

WEN: Well, Paxlovid rebound is a known phenomenon associated with taking this antiviral medication. And I want to underscore that just because this potential side effect could occur should not dissuade people from taking a treatment that otherwise works.

I mean Paxlovid, the entire point of this is to prevent you from getting severely ill, landing in the hospital and dying. And it's worked for that purpose. President Biden had mild symptoms thanks to being vaccinated and boosted and getting Paxlovid.

It seems to occur in probably less than 10 percent of individuals who take it. The second time around, the symptoms tend to be much milder, if at all. And they tend to not land people in the hospital. And so a second course of Paxlovid for rebound is generally not recommended.

Now, I, again, want to emphasize that people who are at severe risk or at high risk for severe outcomes from Covid-19 should not hesitate and take - and they should really take Paxlovid because the entire point is to keep people from getting severely ill and Paxlovid is working to do that.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks for breaking it down.

Still ahead, the California wildfire, and there's another new one, that has exploded in size just since Friday night. It is now the largest fire in that state. Zero percent contained. It's still raging. We're going to go live to California, next.


SCIUTTO: At least two people have now been found dead in the path of a rapidly growing wildfire in northern California. This is a new one just since Friday. The McKinney Fire, as it's now, has now scorched more than 52,000 acres. It is zero percent contained.

CNN's Camila Bernal joins me now from San Francisco.

Camila, I feel like, you know, we speak every few days about a new fire. This is a new one. Tell us what the conditions are like today.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're really not good, Jim, because in the forecast we're expecting a lot of lightning. And so, of course, that is just horrible for this gigantic fire. It has exploded in size.

So not only do you have the lightning, but you also have thunderstorms in the forecast. And what the National Weather Service is saying is that those thunderstorms could help spread those flames.

What they say is that it's not just bad conditions for the fire, but it's also really dangerous for the firefighters that are out there. They say that the winds can pick up at any moment and they can spread those flames in any direction. So, the firefighters don't even know where it's coming from in some points.

They also say that yesterday there was so much smoke, it was so thick, that it did slow down the growth of the fire a little bit, but it also grounded all of the aircraft. So they weren't able to make progress from the air. So just a lot of bad conditions when it comes to this fire.

As you mentioned, two people were found dead. We don't have a lot of information in terms of who they were, but we know they were found inside of a burned car. They were in a residential driveway. And there are thousands who have had to leave their homes, who have had to evacuate.

We know that at the moment officials are just telling people to continue to pay attention to those evacuation orders in case they have to pack up and leave very quickly. Sometimes people just don't even have time to gather their belongings.

Overall, we know 2 million people in the northwestern part of the United States are under red flag warnings. And I think it is really important to point out that here in California, this is not just the only fire burning at the moment.


And a lot of it has to do with this ongoing drought in the state of California. Everything is dry. There is so much dry fuel that these flames spread very quickly. So, this is not something just happening today. This is an ongoing problem here in the state of California. And what you end up with is a fire this big. More than 52,000 acres and zero percent contained.


SCIUTTO: Yes. We're seeing - we're seeing pictures of people's homes just reduced to ashes.

Camila Bernal, thanks so much.

Well, still ahead, President Biden is preparing to sign the consequential Chips Act as it's known. We're going to speak to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson next about what happens next and how significant this is for Democrats, for the country.



SCIUTTO: President Biden set to celebrate another big legislative win as soon as this week. Congress finally passed bipartisan legislation to boost semiconductor production here in the U.S., and overall increase American competitiveness.

The Chips Act includes $52 billion in funds to incentivize companies to invest in domestic manufacturing plants, billions more in funding for research and development.

Joining me now, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Democrat from Texas, who chairs the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Congresswoman, thank you for taking the time this morning.

REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D-TX): Well, thank you for the opportunity.

SCIUTTO: So this a rare piece of legislation in this environment that really had bipartisan support from the beginning. I wonder, why, in your view, so important to get this passed now?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, we have to do that to remain competitive. As you can see the last year and a half, we've had such a lack of chips to keep up with manufacturing. And it really is ours. We know that when something comes up in this country, that it's not going to stay in this country and be competitive.

Right here in Dallas is where the semiconductors started, with Dr. James Hilty (ph) at the Texas Instruments. So, remembering that, I remember just how direly important it was to have the chip. It changed many things, and there's hardly anything now that you can get that does not have those semiconductors.


The big issues that U.S. share of semiconductor production dropped markedly in recent years to just 12 percent down from two-thirds of the market back in 1990.

Does this act fundamentally change that?

JOHNSON: Yes, it does. And it also makes sure that we are developing the workforce to make sure we can remain competitive.

SCIUTTO: As you know, when it comes -- this is a lot about China, right, because Taiwan makes the bulk of the world's chips right now. They're concern about what China intends for Taiwan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to CNN's reporting, does plan to visit Taiwan during her Asia trip despite Chinese protests. Is that the right thing? Do you support her visit to Taiwan now?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I have very little conversation with the speaker. So - and at the time that I had the conversation, she was a little bit unsure whether she would be going to Taiwan. So, I don't know what the last-minute decision was. I know that they're in Singapore right now, which is a friendly place.


JOHNSON: Now, China has always been a country that we've had to watch closely for competition, and for security, because just how our politics differ. And we are quite aware, especially in the science world, of how much they have gotten from us, not necessarily legally.


JOHNSON: And so we have to look out for that security. We cannot allow these semiconductors to be manufactured, because we don't know what else, or what kind of activity will be embedded in those semiconductors.


JOHNSON: So it's a matter of personal security as well.

SCIUTTO: I do want to ask you before we go about another issue that has affected Texas enormously, and that, of course, the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And this goes back with Texas even prior to that decision based on the law as was passed by Texas. Now you have many states around Texas, right, who are restricting or outright banning abortion.

Are women in Texas today, who are seeking abortion, in light of all that, are they able to get one out of state, where and how?

JOHNSON: Well, I have read about some women leaving the state to get abortions. I think that's unfortunate because it really is not a situation where it makes it comfortable.


JOHNSON: Unfortunately, you know, I actually served in the Texas house with Sarah Wetingen (ph), who was the attorney who took it to the Supreme Court, and I was in the Texas House when that ruling came down. The joy of the women in Texas was just indescribable.


This has really hit with a very hard decision. And most women feel that this infringes upon a personal decision. And so I'm not sure when the action will end. I think it's going to be going on until they feel they can get some relief. This -- you know, the Constitution does not permit any court from going into your bedroom or the doctor's office to tell you what to do.


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, nice to have you back on the program. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much. Have a good day.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.