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Some Lab Techs Refuse To Take Blood From Possible Monkeypox Patients; Biden Speaks, Signs Executive Order On Abortion Rights; Today Marks 50 Straight Days Of Falling Gas Prices; Cecilia Rouse, Chair, WH Council of Economic Advisers, Discusses Lower Gas Prices. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: CNN has learned that many technicians from two of the largest commercial labs have been refusing to draw blood from potential monkeypox patients. As a result, Lab Corp and Quest say they are reviewing their policies and procedures.

Cities across the country have declared monkeypox a local health emergency, including San Francisco.

Some local officials say they feel abandoned by the federal government. They want a national public health emergency declared.

With me is San Franciso public health officer, Dr. Susan Philip.

Dr. Philip, thanks so much for being here.

Let's start with that new CNN reporting that some lab techs are refusing to draw blood from potential patients. Help us understand the truth versus the fear.

Is this a virus that's spread through blood, or is it skin to skin contact?


The main route of transmission of the monkeypox virus, as we understand it currently, is through skin-to-skin contact.

You know, we have not heard any cases of lab technicians or other medical care providers declining or being afraid of seeing patients with monkeypox in San Francisco.

I will say that all of us in medical training, lab techs, physicians --


CAMEROTA: Dr. Philip, I'm sorry. Hold on one second. The president is speaking on abortion rights.

Stand by. We'll be back with you.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doctors uncertain on what they can do to provide for their patients. Pharmacists unsure if they can fill prescriptions they've always filled.

A tragic case of rape survivors, including a 10-year-old girl forced to travel to another state for care. Wiping out the right to choose in the case of incest or abortion -- excuse me, incest or rape. This is just extreme.

You know, even the life of the mother is in question in some states.

Republicans congressmen and their extreme ideology are determined to go even further, talking about nationwide bans on abortion that would outlaw abortions in every circumstance, going after the broader right to privacy as well.

As I said before, this fight is not over. We saw that last night in Kansas. In the opinions of the Dobbs case, the extreme majority of the Supreme Court wrote, quote, " Women are not without electoral or political power," unquote.

The court practically dared this country to go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose that the court had just ripped away after 50 years.

As I said last night, or last month, I don't think the court has any notion, or the Republican Party for that matter, to decide how far they can press their extreme agenda and how women are going to respond. They don't have a clue about the power of American women.

Last night, in Kansas, they found out. Women and men did exercise their electoral and political power with a record turnout.

Voters in Kansas defeated a ballot initiative to remove the right to choose an abortion from the Kansas constitution. They're trying to strike it and eliminate it from the Kansas constitution.


In a decisive vote and a decisive victory, voters made it clear that politicians should not interfere with the fundamental rights of women.

The voters in Kansas, in a powerful statement, that this fall the American people will vote to preserve the right and refuse to have it ripped away by politicians.

My administration has their back. Today, I'm signing an executive order today that is responding to the health care crisis that is unfolding since the Supreme Court overturned Roe and that women are facing all across America.

The health care crisis is -- it's hard to understand how they even think this. Health care crisis says women can't choose, can't get an abortion even in the case of incest, even in the case of rape.

But it goes beyond that. There are a lot of women who take prescriptions prescribed by their doctors and they've been taking for some time for other conditions, for arthritis, for epilepsy, for Crohn's disease. In many cases, these prescriptions are not being filled.

Say, a 25-year-old woman, her doctor prescribes medication for epilepsy. Been doing it for a while. She goes to the pharmacy. The pharmacist won't fill the prescription because the same medicine could also cause a miscarriage.

She's not getting the medicine she needs for her epilepsy, whether she is pregnant or not. The pharmacy has no right to do that.

Just yesterday, in Idaho, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to make sure pregnant women facing serious threats to their health can get the medical care they need in Medicare-funded emergency rooms.

Under federal law, no woman, pregnant or not, no matter where she lives, should be turned away or denied necessary treatment during a medical crisis.

The Justice Department stepped in to make sure this extreme state law criminalizing abortion does not put women's health and lives at risk in these situations.

This executive order also helps women who have to travel out of state for medical care. The secretary is going to work with states with Medicaid to allow them to provide reproductive health care for women who live in states where abortions are being banned in that state.

The executive order makes sure the executive order makes sure health care providers comply with federal law so women don't face delays or denials of medically necessary care.

This executive order advancing research and data collection to evaluate the impact of this reproductive health crisis is having on maternal health and other conditions and outcomes.

This executive order builds on the first one I signed last month that created this task force in the first place.

It also will help safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose and contraception, promote safety and security of clinics, patients and providers, protect patients' right to privacy and access to accurate information.

Let me close with this. Beyond the actions we're taking, I know that, along with Kamala, many of you have been traveling the country listening to women, health care providers, legal experts, state and local officials and legislators and others so we are doing all we can in my administration to protect the rights of health and safety of the people of this country.

Their perspectives are going to inform the workers and the recommendations you make to me.

I believe Roe got it right. It's been the law for close to 50 years. I commit to the American people that we're doing everything in our power to safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose that women had under Roe v. Wade, which was ripped away by this Supreme Court.

But Congress must codify the protections of Roe as federal law. And if Congress fails to act, the people of this country need to elect Senators and representatives who will restore Roe and will protect the right to privacy, freedom and equality.

I'll stop there and turn this over to the vice president. There's so much more to say. I'm anxious to hear from all of you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Do I sign this order now?

I'm going to sign this executive order right now, OK?

CAMEROTA: We've been listening to President Biden there talking about how he's doing what he can in his power by signing a second executive order to protect abortion rights and, he says, the health of women.


We laid out the different threats we've already seen since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

He's about the turn it over to the vice president, but first he's signing this executive order right now.

Back with us is CNN White House correspondent, M.J. Lee.

So how does this executive order protest women's abortion rights?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we first heard the president painting this vivid picture of the many different ways in which different women and families across the country have had to grapple with pretty challenging decisions ever since the overturning of Roe v wade.

As we were talking about earlier in the hour, this executive order that the president is signing into law now, sign rather, not into law, right now, it is sort of missing in the details.

It does deal with the issue, for example, of women who might have to travel out of the state that they are currently living in because they need to get abortion services but can't do so in the current state they're living in. We'll just have to see what kind of details come.

But it was interesting, when he was talking about what we saw happen in Kansas last night, he said this is proof that women are not without political or electoral power. Now, we've talked about this before. This is a White House that has

been hopeful that since the overturning of Roe, that they would see the base and voters really be energized.

And basically, the message has been, look, if you don't want to see extreme policies, then you really have to use your power and vote, particularly going into the November election. So they are feeling optimistic at least on that front politically.

But of course, on the other side of that, Republicans who are seeing what happened last night are hopeful that ultimately more voters will more heavily weigh decisions.

For example, about the economy, inflation, that remains still a big problem for this administration, rather than issues like reproductive health care, rather than the aftermath of what we're seeing since Roe was overturned -- Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK. M.J. Lee, thank you very much for explaining all of that to us.

Let's return now to our conversation about monkeypox.

Back with us is San Francisco public health officer, Dr. Susan Philip.

Dr. Philip, thank you very much for your patience. I really appreciate that.

Can we just talk about what's happening in San Francisco? Because we have heard that there are very long lines stretching around the block for people to get vaccines.

What's the status of that right now? Are there still long lines? Do you have enough supply?

PHILIP: There are not long lines today because we've administered all the vaccine we have at that particular clinic, which is at San Francisco General Hospital.

And we are awaiting our next allotment. We have received over 12,000 doses so far. But we have asked for 35,000 as a starting point. We hear we'll be getting another 10,700 doses sometime this week. We could use every single dose.

We are messaging to people they should come and get vaccine if they are gay men, men who have sex with men, transgender persons and sex workers in addition to people who have been exposed to monkeypox.

CAMEROTA: What's the problem with getting the amount of vaccine you're asking for? They don't have enough in the federal government?

PHILIP: There's a global shortage of this vaccine. There's one manufacturer outside of the country, so supplies are limited.

What I'm doing in San Francisco and what our elected officials are doing, Mayor London Breed and others, are really advocating for the vaccine that's needed for the residents of this city.

CAMEROTA: We've heard from some gay men that they're not crazy to stand in line in public in a long line. Is there a more discreet way to give them the vaccine than having to be in a huge line on a city sidewalk?

PHILIP: Absolutely, we understand that concern. There are multiple ways people can get vaccinated in San Francisco. Our line, which people can wait in -- and it's very transparent about who's going to get vaccine and how you get it, that's one avenue. But we also have appointments available.

We particularly are trying to work with our community organizations to make and reserve slots at that clinic for members of the communities that have been hardest hit, even within communities of gay men and other LGBTQ individuals.

For example, Latinx men in San Francisco are disproportionately impacted.

We're working with our community organizations to give them appointment slots where people don't have to wait in line.

CAMEROTA: Since you have a shortage of vaccine and you've laid out the different groups that you feel it's urgent for right now, at what point does everybody need to be vaccinated?


PHILIP: Well, what we're hoping is that if we can vaccinate as quickly as possible and that is what we are focused on in San Francisco with many partners, we are trying to get the vaccine that we have into people's arms as quickly as possible.

The idea is, the more people we can vaccinated early, the fewer cases of transmission we have and the fewer people that, ultimately, end up needing to get this vaccine.

It remains to be seen. This is an evolving situation and we will see where we end up.

CAMEROTA: Are you seeing a stigma? Are you worried that monkeypox, between the name, between the connotations, between everything that there's already people being stigmatized and they're too afraid to come forward and be treated or get vaccinated?

PHILIP: From day one, we were thinking about stigma and particularly the history of HIV/AIDS activism from the community. And alongside the Department of Public Health and our academic partners at UCSF, this is something that we always think about.

Our message is really to avoid stigmatizing language. And we know we're going to have to work hand in hand with communities to prevent further transmission and protect people's health.

It is very much a consideration and concern here. CAMEROTA: Dr. Susan Philip, thank you very much for your time.

PHILIP: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: For the 50th straight day, prices are falling at the pump. How low will the prices go? And is this relief enough for Americans, who are already battling inflation on so many fronts? We're going to talk to a member of President Biden's economic team about it all, next.



CAMEROTA: A bit of relief at the gas pump. The national average for regular is now $4.16 a gallon. This is the 50th day in a row that we have seen prices fall.

Let's bring in Cecilia Rouse. She's the chair of the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors.

Cecilia, great to see you.

I'm sure you are all feeling relief at the White House with this downward movement of prices. Do you see this as a trend that will continue?

CECILIA ROUSE, CHAIR, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: You are right, we welcome as do all Americans who rely on gasoline at the pump, to see the 50 straight days, we've seen the price of gasoline drop $.86 over the last 50 days.

So that's a welcome trend. It really reflects the fact that the president, along with partners have been working to increase the supply of oil on the market.

It's why the president did the release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which our Treasury estimates may be responsible for up to 47 cents on the gallon drop on gasoline.

It's why he welcomes the decision by OPEC-Plus to increase production by 100,000 barrels per day.

But the president understands it's not enough. And that's why he's also very focused on the Inflation Reduction Act and getting that over the finish line.

That bill would help with inflation by reducing the deficit, lowering the cost of prescription drugs for so many Americans, increasing access to health insurance and making it much more affordable, and making such important investments as we transition to clean energy.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about one of the measures that you touched on, which was that OPEC announced they would increase the oil output starting next month, 100,000 barrels.

Was this a direct result of President Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia?

ROUSE: The president's trip was multidimensional. There are other goals he achieved that he set in the Middle East.

And I wasn't there. I'm a part of the economic team. But we know the president is engaged and we know that he understands how important it is that we continue to engage with those who produce oil, to keep supply of.

That's why he's engaged with their own producers in the United States, encouraging them to be increasing production and working with refineries to find ways that we can partner with them to ensure that they keep their refineries working at capacity, for example, as we go to the hurricane season.

So the president's focus is on lowering the cost of gasoline and energy, lowering inflation for the American people and helping us make that transition to steady economic growth, that really, he's focused on ensuring is more widely shared.

CAMEROTA: Let me give you the flipside argument of what OPEC did. So the leading analyst, Matt Smith, described it as such a small gesture that is basically an insult.

He says, quote, "It's a slap in the face, the trip, meeting with MbS, just didn't work."

What is your response?

ROUSE: This is "all hands on deck." We know this was a step in the right direction. It reflects an increase of the supply of oil on the market, which is how we ensure that this trend downward continues.

So, this is why the president is not just relying on the Middle East. He's encouraging companies that are making record profits to ensure that we maintain the supply of oil on the market. That is his focus.


CAMEROTA: As you know, for months, the president has also blamed Vladimir Putin for the crisis and called it Putin's price hike. But obviously, the war in Ukraine is still raging.

So how much of these prices now are still a result of Vladimir Putin?

ROUSE: These prices are very much the result of the war in Ukraine. It's why we've been engaged, the Treasury Department, we've been engaged in working with our European colleagues as they consider putting a bad on Russian oil.

Again, we need to ensure that there's an adequate supply of oil on the global market.

The price of gasoline and oil is set on the global market. When there's adequate supply of gas, the price goes down. That's why it's important that, if Europeans take the action and put

into effect and implement their ban, there's a method by which Russian oil, which Russia is a major supply, can remain on the market but that Russia is not benefiting.

So we are negotiating. The Europeans are working on a mechanism where those who are willing to abide by a cap, they only pay a certain amount for Russian oil. And they would be able to do so, that can ensure that we maintain the supply of oil while denying Russia excess revenue.

CAMEROTA: OK, Cecilia Rouse, thank you very much for all of the information.

ROUSE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So moments ago, New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke about the spike in crime across the city. What he says is the reason and what his plan is.