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President Biden Now Testing Negative For COVID-19 Following Rebound Case; Indiana Becomes First State To Pass Abortion Ban After Overturning Of Roe v. Wade; Israel Launches Military Strikes Against Islamic Jihad Terrorist Targets; Approximately 1,000 People Trapped In Death Valley National Park In California Because Of Extreme Flooding; Eastern Kentucky Expected To Experience Continued Heavy Rain; Texas Jury Orders Alex Jones To Pay More Than $45 Million To Parents Of Child Killed At Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Happening right now, major moves on Capitol Hill as the U.S. Senate moves closer to passing a landmark climate and economic bill. The White House says they're heartened that the Senate parliamentarian has largely approved the Democrats' reconciliation package. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says they will begin the formal process of passing the Inflation Reduction Act within hours. CNN's Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill. Jessica?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. The Senate is now in session. They've made their way through the first of two votes that are just in the nomination process. Essentially, they're to get all 50 Senate Democrats here. And we are looking for them to start this whole process in a matter of hours.

The big question mark is, when exactly will they do that? And we don't quite know. They're waiting on a couple of things. You mentioned the Senate parliamentarian. They are using a specialized budget process to move forward. They only need Senate Democratic support to get it through the Senate, but in order to use that process they have to make sure, they have to go through the parliamentarian to make sure that all these provisions can fit within the rules. So they are waiting on a few more rulings from her. They're also waiting to hear more from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about just how much some of these provisions will cost and how they could affect the deficit.

And once they have all that have in place, Senate Democrats can then feel comfortable to move forward with a motion to proceed, which is just essentially that first vote that will kick off what is a very, very long and somewhat tedious process to get this across the finish line. Once they do that, they would have up to 20 hours of debate on both sides, and that's going to set off what's known as a vote-a-rama, which is just hours and hours of voting on various amendments before they then get to final passage.

So at this point, they could begin this as early as late this afternoon into the early evening. And it could go all the way into the night, into the early morning hours. It's just a question, again, of how quickly or how slowly they move through this process.

But here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier kind of laying out where they are on all of this.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Now that our meetings with the parliamentarian have largely concluded, we have a bill before us that can win the support of all 50 Democrats. I'm happy to report to my colleagues that the bill we presented to the parliamentarian remains largely intact. The bill, when passed, will meet all of our goals -- fighting climate change, lowering health care costs, closing tax loopholes abused by the wealthy, and reducing the deficit.


DEAN: And again, Senate Republicans are very united against this bill. But Fredricka, because Democrats are using this specialized process, they don't need the typical 60 votes. They only need their own 50. So it is expected to make its way through. Republicans, we anticipate them throwing in a lot of amendments that could be potentially tough votes for Democrats in this process. It just makes it go on longer. But again, we do ultimately expect this to pass. The question is when that will be, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, keep us posted. Thanks so much.

DEAN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: So President Biden is now testing negative for COVID-19 following a rebound case. It caps off a bounce back week for the president which saw victories on key fronts. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us. So Arlette, President Biden has not left the house, you impressed this upon us, in 17 days. So at point will he resume normal activities? And what about that scheduled Monday trip to Kentucky?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we are still waiting to hear when exactly President Biden will be leaving isolation. He tested negative for COVID-19 earlier today according to his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor. But the doctor said that the president will continue to isolate until he receives a second negative test. So we are still waiting to hear when that test will take place, and if it's negative, when he will leave isolation.

He is scheduled to travel to Kentucky on Monday to visit the state's governor, and also to tour the area and visit with those families who have been affected by that devastating flooding in the region. But this latest news that the president has tested negative for COVID-19 after testing positive just one week ago comes as he's really seen the string of accomplishments that have taken place while he has been in isolation.


Over the course of the past week, starting on Monday with the announcement that the U.S. had killed Al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri, an operation that the President Biden oversaw while he was in his isolation. The president has also received good economic news with gas prices coming down for over 50 days now. And also the unexpected -- better than expected, I should say, jobs report that was released on Friday. Of course, there was also that surprise deal that Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer hammered out with the Senate now heading to vote, held that first procedural vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.

So we will see when the president is able to emerge from his isolation this week after so far he has spent 17 days in a row here at the White House.

WHITFIELD: Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

Indiana has become the first state to pass an abortion ban since Roe versus Wade was overturned. The bill would provide exceptions for when the life of the mother is at risk and for fatal fetal anomalies. It would also allow exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. CNN's Carlos Suarez joining me now with the latest on this. Carlos, what has the reaction been like?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, protesters, they gathered inside of the state capitol last night as lawmakers debated that bill. In fact, you could hear them chanting as that vote was taken. The bill, as you can imagine, has drawn plenty of criticism from Democratic lawmakers there, but even some Republicans who felt that the bill itself just went a little too far. But there were other Republicans in the statehouse who thought it did not go far enough.

The Republican governor there, he was the one who called for this special session to get this bill done, and he wasted no time in signing it into law last night. In a statement he said, quote, "Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life. In my view, this bill accomplishes this goal following its passage in both chambers of the Indiana general assembly with a solid majority of support," end quote. The vote comes just days after voters in Kansas overwhelmingly rejected an effort there to remove a constitutional protection on abortion. The new ban, or the near-total ban in Indiana is set to take effect on September 15th.

WHITFIELD: All right, Carlos Suarez, thank you so much for that.

Let's talk further. For more on this I want to bring in now State Representative Renee Pack in Indiana. Representative Pack, so good to see you. First, I would like to get your reaction to this new restrictive law.

STATE REP. RENEE PACK (D-IN): Thank you so much for having me.

It's just been absolutely devastating, this reality that people in Indiana are now facing. It's a disappointment. There were so many times over the past two weeks where the emotions were just so high that it was sometimes hard to just stay in the chamber. But we've got our answer now, we know for sure that starting September 15th, 2022, except for a few exceptions, abortion will be illegal.

WHITFIELD: You spoke out against the ban on the Indiana House floor, saying you were standing against further oppression of young girls and women in Indiana. What kind of impact do you believe this is going to directly have on women starting September 15th?

PACK: The impact is going to be felt by all women, even if you're not pregnant, but just that choice that you're no longer going to have is going to be very impactful, and negatively impactful. Starting the 15th, those that can and have the means to leave the state of Indiana and get an abortion will be able to do so. My biggest concern are those that are economically challenged, that don't have the means to travel out of state, maybe get a hotel room for the night. And what will they do? And it just takes us back to the 50s and the 60s. The 60s were during my lifetime when women were dying or getting deathly ill because they were using unsafe practices for abortions. That's a big, big fear of mine.

WHITFIELD: Now, yesterday you certainly got a lot of people's attention, too, because you shared your own personal experience of how in 1990 you had an abortion while serving in the Army. And let's just play what it is that you said, then I want to ask you a few other things.



PACK: It is hard to believe that the freedom I had in 1990 will not be there for women after September 15th, 2022. And let me mention this. I have served my country in the United States Army, regular army. And when I was in Fort Hood, I made a choice. I was married, I had two children. But I had to make a choice about whether I wanted to continue in the military and give birth to another child, or whether I was going to choose my career.

April, Fort Hood, Texas. The year was 1990. And I made a choice. And let me tell you this. It was not -- after everything I've been through in my life, all the obstacle, all the adversities, after serving, after raising my family, grandchildren, it took me getting to the state house for my colleagues to call me a murderer.


WHITFIELD: So many things came from that, that you revealed. And one thing to hear your colleagues call you and women seeking an abortion murderers. Tell me what that feels like, colleagues that perhaps you felt like you could work together on so many other types of legislation, and then to hear them call you murderer and to hear other women state it that way as well.

PACK: And Fredricka, that's what keeps us from being able to work together, because it's important that all of us within the House or the Senate know that we don't have all the answers. And we're going to have to come together. We're going to have to collaborate. We're going to have to work together. But a particular colleague of mine who, we heard it all week about Christianity and loving Jesus and all that, and he's supposed to be this type of a minister, and he's the one that spewed those ugly remarks to me and to anybody else, I believe, that is a woman or capable of carrying a child.

It was hurtful, but I think it was at that instant, when he called out that word, five, six, seven times, on the podium that I said, you know what, I'm going to tell my story. I want people to know that these are women that are working hard, they're raising families, they're working, they're doing everything they're supposed to do. And me and my sisters, we are not murderers. We just took control of our own bodies and made our own decisions along with our doctor about our medical future.

WHITFIELD: And so that was a spur of moment thing, for you to say I'm going to reveal this part of my story today. And do you feel like it will help in part, sharing that helps educate some people as to how difficult a decision that is, to be at that juncture? And you expressed and explained how you made a decision. But do you feel like there are just too many who don't understand how emotionally difficult which is when you're at that juncture?

PACK: And let me say this first, Fredricka. We did not -- I love the way Kansas handled this. They had a vote where the people, you know, answered, do you want to keep this as a medical option or not. Here it was decided upon, and I mentioned this in my speech on the floor yesterday, I don't know what the median ages are there, but I know it's 70 percent male, and most of those heads were bald or gray. And you all really feel like you're the ones that need to be making these decisions for everyone else out there. Let's take it to the vote in November and let the people decide.

But yes, I did, I was not going to say anything about my own experiences, but it got to a point where we have to know, these are our next door neighbors. These are our friends, these are our co- workers. You don't just go out, oh, I think I'm going to have an abortion today. No. It's a thought-out process that women should be trusted to handle themselves and not the State House of Representatives or the State Senate.


WHITFIELD: Indiana State Representative Renee Pack, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing your experience, and perhaps opening some eyes. Thank you so much.

PACK: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the Israeli military launching deadly strikes against what it calls Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza and the West Bank. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem, next.


WHITFIELD: The Israeli military launching deadly strikes against suspected Islamic Jihad targets in multiple locations, including Gaza and the West Bank. Israel says earlier attacks targeted a military training complex and a weapons warehouse in southern Gaza. Nineteen suspected militants have been detained. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem.


Ben, Israeli saying the operations were aimed at preventing an attack by militants?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was an attack -- basically this all began yesterday morning when the Israelis say two antitank squads belonging to the military wing of Islamic Jihad were struck near the Gaza border. Also around the same time, the Israelis launched an air strike that killed Tayseer Al-Jabari, who is a senior commander for the military wing of Islamic Jihad.

Since we last spoke, Fredricka, there have been more volleys of rockets fired out of Gaza, intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system. And there have been Israeli air strikes on Gaza as well. At this point the death toll in Gaza stands at 17. We just heard that from an official from the Palestinian health ministry. Among the dead, a five-year-old girl, two women ages 23 and 79. And on the Israelis -- and about 125 people injured.

On the Israeli side, 21 people have been taken to hospital, two of them lightly injured by shrapnel, the rest either injured while running to shelters or treated for panic attacks.

Now, at this point, the Israelis have been really stressing that they are focusing on Islamic Jihad. They have not targeted any targets related to Hamas, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip. And the expectation is that as long as Israel focuses on Islamic Jihad and leaves Hamas alone, that perhaps this conflict will be somewhat limited. The Israelis say it's going to go on for a week. But if it expands, expands specifically to targets relating to Hamas, then it could go on much, much longer. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Ben Wedeman, thanks so much.

Coming up, a jury ordered Alex Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim. But how much the Infowars conspiracy theorist will actually be forced to pay may change. We'll explain, next.



WHITFIELD: In California, about 1,000 people are trapped in Death Valley National Park because of extreme flooding. The park, near the California-Nevada border, received one-and-a-half inches of rain. That's nearly 75 percent of all the rain that it would get in a year. The National Park Service says 500 visitors and 500 staff were unable to exit the park after the flooding. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is live for us in the CNN Weather Center. And Allison, I know it's really hard for people to understand, wait a minute, one-and-a-half inches of rain, and flooding takes place to the extent of just mudslides, right, rockslides, would just cover up all these cars and cement them, nearly.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. I know it's hard to wrap your brain around something that maybe just a little more than an inch doing this much damage. But you have to remember, this is the desert southwest. The area is not used to this much rain, especially in a very short period of time. This is a look at the radar late Thursday night and in through Friday. You can see all of that moisture surging up around the Furnace Creek area, which is essentially where Death Valley National Park is located. So again, you can see all those waves of rain coming back and forth into the area. Again, this is some of the video.

The thing is, we don't have a lot of plants with deep roots like you do in other portions of the country. And that soil is a little bit different here, so a lot of it just runs right off the surface. It doesn't get absorbed into the ground like it does in, say, Louisiana or Texas or even, say, the Carolinas. And again, it takes all of that stuff, it picks up all the debris and pushes it along. It makes it essentially more like a mud flow rather than just water freely flowing down some of these areas.

So the total number was around 1.46 for Friday itself. But again, you're talking more than two-thirds of the annual rainfall falling in just one single day. Information, it was the second wettest day in their 111 years of record. So again, very impressive. And actually, what it equates to is about a one in 1,000-year flood event, similar to what we had in eastern Kentucky. Even though eastern Kentucky was a far more amount of rain, Fred, they were both similar in that they were both one in 1,000-year flood events.

WHITFIELD: And then back to eastern Kentucky, there's more rain today. What's happening?

CHINCHAR: Yes, there is. And unfortunately, it's the last thing these folks need is more rain. But yes, we've already had several inches fall across portions of eastern Kentucky. All of these boxes you see here, those are flood warnings and flash flood warnings just because of the amount of moisture that's been able to move through this area the last few hours.

We are starting -- getting that first wave has now moved out, the second wave starting to back in. But look at this area, from Morehead stretching down to Somerset, you've already had two to four inches fall. No you're adding more on top of it. That's why we've got these flood watches in effect, especially given that the ground is already saturated. In a lot of these areas, one to two inches is all it will take to trigger additional flooding in these areas.

Looking at the forecast, again, we're in that kind of loll period. We'll get another one overnight tonight before another round of rain begins tomorrow morning. This isn't the only area where we have the potential for flooding. This second wave, moving through areas of Minnesota, Iowa, and even Wisconsin, also bringing a lot of rain.


It's going to train in some spots. So you'll have areas that will get one round after another, again, leading to pretty high amounts of rain. Notice these areas in the yellow and even the red. Now you're talking four to six inches of rain in just that 24 to 48-hour time period, so also the potential for the flood threat there.

So here's what we've got, essentially, Fred, two separate areas where we could be dealing with additional flooding in just the next 24 hours. And hopefully then maybe we can get a break in the coming days.

WHITFIELD: That sure would be nice. Allison Chinchar, thank you.

A Texas jury has ordered rightwing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $45 million in punitive damages over his lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting, although Texas law may cap that award at a much lesser amount. This is far from over. Jones still faces other defamation lawsuits.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest. So Polo, this trial has been so emotional for the parents of Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old little boy who was killed at Sandy Hook.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 10 years ago, Fred. The $45 million punitive judgment, that is added to the $4 million the jury awarded as part of the compensatory phase of this civil trial, this defamation case that we have watched unfold. And if you've been following it like I have, it really -- there's some very emotional moments that came out of court, including when the family of Jesse Lewis testified and even faced Alex Jones, this rightwing conspiracy theorist who peddled lies about the Sandy Hook shooting.

And I want to take you back to earlier this week when Scarlett Lewis, Jesse's mother, faced Jones and told him not just about how her family and the families of so many other Sandy Hook victims have been tormented because of his lies, but the way she described it, that her six-year-old son's memory was basically tarnished by the lies that he peddled.


SCARLETT LEWIS, SON KILLED DURING SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING: My son existed. Jesse was real. I am a real mom. There's records of Jesse's birth, of me. I have a history. And there's nothing that you could have found because it doesn't exist, that I'm deep state. It's just not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANDOVAL: So the fact that the jury found him at least economically liable, or at least financially liable, that's certainly one victory for Jesse Lewis' family. But the other is the fact that his lies that were potentially exposed here, that Alex Jones' lies were exposed in an open court.

Now, the next chapter of the story is going to be one to certainly follow is just when the parents will actually be compensated. Texas law capping the amount at about $750,000 per plaintiff. That is far below the $49 million that were awarded yesterday. So it will be interesting to see exactly what will come next. Alex Jones' attorneys have already objected to this decision from the jury. At the same time, when you hear from some of our legal experts, Fred, they say what we are likely to see is that the plaintiffs will counterargue that those limits set in Texas are unconstitutional for victims, for plaintiffs who are just trying to get justice.

We'll have to see how that plays out as those two additional cases that you mentioned, one in Texas and one in Connecticut, without standing default judgments, those are still on the horizon for Alex Jones as well.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Former President Donald Trump is expected to address the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas later on today. He will follow a lineup of Republicans including some on the ballot in the November midterms who echo his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was rampant with fraud and stolen. Of course, it wasn't. CNN's Kyung Lah has more.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fresh off a Republican primary victory for Arizona's governor, Kari Lake arrives to a hero's welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. In her home state, she is leading in every single county, centering her campaign on Donald Trump's lie about the 2020 election, a position she pledges she will not pivot away from.

KARI LAKE, (R) ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: We outvoted the fraud. We didn't listen to what the fake news had to say. The MAGA movement rose up and voted like their lives depended on it.

LAH: Trump-endorsed elections-denying candidates won up and down Arizona's the ballot Tuesday. U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, who says he wants to eliminate all voting machines.

MARK FINCHEM, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Paper ballots, hand counting on one day. We can do that. We used to do it.

LAH: Election experts say that would mean months-long counts.


2020 deniers, despite no evidence of widespread fraud, won. And not just in Arizona.


LAH: But in Michigan this week, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, or no, do you believe Donald Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan?


LAH: Now Dixon is dodging that question.

DIXON: There were some things that happened in Michigan that didn't happen in other states which are very concerning.

LAH: These wins the latest in the steady advance by those sowing distrust in U.S. elections being put on the November ballot. In Nevada, Jim Marchant is the Republican nominee for secretary of state running to oversee his state's elections. He told us this earlier this year.

JIM MARCHANT, NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I believe it was stolen, yes. I believe that there were enough irregularities that we need to do an audit.

LAH: And then there's Michigan's Kristina Karamo, another secretary of state candidate who doesn't believe the 2020 results. Election liars on state ballots show Trump's grip on the GOP, celebrated by far right propagandist Mike Lindell at CPAC.

MIKE LINDELL, GOP ACTIVIST: Everybody is going to go vote these great candidates like Kari Lake and override the machines.

LAH: On the CPAC agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stole the 2020 election.

LAH: It is relitigating 2020 and also looking ahead to November and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to rig elections, institutionalize voter fraud. We're not going to allow it.

LAH: I see your hat there. How important is it for you to talk about 2020 as we look at 2022?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He won. He won in 2020 hands down across the nation.

LAH: What does this say about where the Republican party is in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: MAGA. They're with MAGA. They're with Trump. They're Trump followers. LAH: Donald Trump is the closing speaker for CPAC, even though we've

been hearing his talking points from speaker after speaker over this entire convention. And while not on the official schedule, Kari Lake did tweet out that she will be the speaker right before Trump.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Dallas.


WHITFIELD: The CDC is expected to ease some of its COVID-19 guidelines including for schools. We will break down possible changes with an infectious disease epidemiologist after this.



WHITFIELD: All right, the CDC says more than half of the U.S. population lives in a county with a high COVID-19 community level areas where they recommend universal indoor masking. And that as the agency is expected to update its community guidance for COVID in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the plans. In a preview obtained by CNN, the agency plans to ease quarantine recommendations for people exposed to the virus and deemphasize the six feet of social distancing.

Let's parse through some of the possible new guidance with Jessica Malaty Rivera. She's an infectious disease epidemiologist and senior adviser at the Pandemic Prevention Institute. So good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So the six-foot rule has been part of our lives for two- and-a-half years now. Why get rid of that now?

RIVERA: I do think it's important to note that six feet was never a magic number. There was nothing that was absolutely sure about the virus not being able to transmit beyond six feet or the less than six feet. It was just kind of about the distance of a respiratory droplet that is spread from a person to another person or is in the air. So I think deemphasizing it has some benefits in the sense that it's not a hard rule. But my worry is that it will cause people to think that distancing is not something they should prioritize, especially when we're talking about people returning to in-person learning and in- person work.

WHITFIELD: Right, OK. And this expected recommendation also includes -- well, schools will be adhering to them. So kids are going back to school, in some cases a few days from now. How should these school districts approach this? Kids -- families, they want these kids to be back in school without masks, et cetera. But we still do have a number of cases out there. So what are you hoping the CDC might say?

RIVERA: Right. My hope is that we continue to remember that mitigation is always layered, that it's never just one thing, and that to deemphasize one thing doesn't necessarily say that it's no longer a consideration. It's always about doing additive approaches to make sure we are reducing risk, not eliminating it, but making risk as low as possible.

And when we're talking about the pediatric population, say the five to 11-year-olds, we're talking about a population that is very under- vaccinated. Up to 29 percent is the last average for fully vaccinated in that population. That's very, very low. And so because that low uptick of vaccines, we need to rely on all of the other tools in our toolkit, which is masking and distancing and practicing proper quarantine and isolation protocols.

WHITFIELD: And this also comes at a time when we're learning some pretty frightening news as it pertains to young people. One study estimated that about five to 10 percent of children who have had COVID actually have long COVID. And other researchers believe the number is more like 26 percent of kids who have had COVID, and they may be also suffering the consequences of long COVID. So do those numbers surprise you?

RIVERA: They don't surprise me. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they changed some more. We're still learning so much about how COVID affects us in the long run. And we've only been -- I say "only" even though it's been a long time, but we've only been in this pandemic for a couple of years now. The future of our understanding is still really, really broad. I think that we're going to be learning about how it affects our organs, how it affects our heart, how it affects our senses, how it affects our mental health, et cetera.

So because of that, we have to remember that the best way to protect ourselves from these long term consequences, from severe illness, is vaccination.


And when we're talking about the pediatric population, one of the things that concerns me most is this idea that because kids don't have severe illness that it's not something to prioritize. But we have to think about the big picture. Long COVID can happen in kids. It has been documented. And vaccination is just one way to help reduce that risk.

WHITFIELD: Do you have any concerns about what the next set of recommendations, the messaging that it will send as it pertains to, is COVID over? That's what people want to hear, the pandemic is over. And are you concerned about how they're crafting these recommendations?

RIVERA: Well, the pandemic isn't over. We can see that just even by the case counts which we know are an undercount because of how poor testing is being reported. That said, I'm very concerned by us kind of shifting our priority from COVID, which is a very infectious respiratory disease, and even creating hysteria over monkeypox in the context of in-person learning.

We know the risk there is not nearly as high, and that we have ways to reduce that risk for this population. My concern is that parents become a little bit too comfortable with transmission. And what we could see if we don't prioritize our layered approach is more schools shutting down. And that's why I think we have to keep in mind that it's never just one thing. We have to prioritize all of the tools in our toolkit to make sure that schools can continue to stay open and that kids can stay in school.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there. Jessica Malaty Rivera, thank you so much, always good to see you.

And this quick programming note. Join Anderson Cooper for a new investigation into what really happened in Uvalde. This special report begins tomorrow at 8:00.

Straight ahead, NASA is halting all spacewalks at the International Space Station over concerns about the safety of old spacesuits. More on that straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: CNN has learned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now back in the U.S. following her trip to Asia, including a controversial stop in Taiwan. China condemned the trip and has been conducting military drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan, an action Taiwan says could be seen as a possible simulated attack. China also announced it is suspending cooperation with the U.S. on a range of diplomatic issues. And China's ambassador is rejecting any U.S. condemnation of its military action.

In the nation's capital, a lightning strike near the White House Thursday has now claimed the lives of three people. D.C. police confirmed the third victim, a 29-year-old male, died from his injuries Friday afternoon. Police are withholding his identification pending family notification. And this comes after authorities said a couple visiting from Wisconsin died Wednesday from their injury. Their niece tells WISC that James and Donna Mueller were celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary. A fourth individual was also struck and critically injured.

State police tell CNN 10 people, including three children, have died after a house fire in Pennsylvania on Friday. Authorities responded to a fire in a two-story home just before 3:00 a.m. on Friday. Three adults made it out safely while the 10 victims, ranging in ages from five to 79 years old were found dead inside.

And spacewalks at the International Space Station have been halted over concerns about the safety of decades old spacesuits worn by astronauts. NASA calls the need for new spacesuits critical. Here's CNN's Kristin Fisher.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer was wrapping up a seven-hour long spacewalk outside the International Space Station when he noticed water leaking into his helmet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we should accelerate the steps to get him out of the suit here.

FISHER: They got him out, but the incident in March of this year was eerily similar to what happened to an Italian astronaut back in 2013.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel a lot of water on the back of my head.

FISHER: Water from the cooling tubes inside Luca Parmitano's spacesuit was leaking into helmet and he almost drowned.

LUCA PARMITANO, ASTRONAUT: For a couple of minutes there, maybe more than a couple of minutes, I experienced what it's like to be a goldfish in a fishbowl from the point of view of the goldfish.

FISHER: It's a nightmare scenario according to veteran spacewalker and former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman who went on to become the first spacesuit engineer at SpaceX.

GARRETT REISMAN, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Obviously, if you fill the helmet, you can't breathe. And you can't take the helmet off. So you're in a bad, bad place. And it got very serious.

FISHER: NASA has now stopped all space walks at the International Space Station until Matthias' faulty spacesuit is returned to earth later this month for inspection. But even if it's fixed, the underlying problem is that these spacesuits are decades old, and there's not many left.

REISMAN: That big white spacesuit actually has heritage that goes all the way back to Apollo, pre-1975. The helmet is exactly the same as the helmet that we wore on the Apollo suits.

FISHER: NASA knows it's a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's critical to have a suit that works for everyone.


FISHER: NASA is now partnering with two commercial companies to develop its next generation spacesuits, but those likely will not be ready until at least 2025.

REISMAN: Nasa has gotten quite good at keeping these old klunkers running. I think NASA has got a really capable team that will keep these suits going as long as they have to. But the right thing is to get a new suit, though, and the sooner, the better.

FISHER: Kristin Fisher, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right after this.