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More Than 1.6M Customers Without Power in Texas; Biden Shoring Up Support; Democrats Still Divided on Biden's Path; Opening Statements Underway in Alec Baldwin Trial; Answering Questions About Weight Loss Drugs. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 10:30   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, in Texas, more than 1.6 million customers are going another day without power. That is triple digit temperatures are scorching areas of the state, meaning many Texans are sweltering there with no air conditioning. Texas officials are saying it could take days or even weeks to restore electricity.

Beryl made landfall there just two days ago, and areas across Southeast Texas are now left with widespread damage to clean up. FEMA says it's moving generators, water, and food into areas that were hard hit by the storm. For more on the storm response and the storm in general, I mean, it was pretty severe at one point, I want to bring in CNN's Bill Weir in New York.

Bill, I know you cover so much of these climate change issues. What stood out to you in terms of the track of this storm, it's severity, how it's hitting the coast, and what we may be seeing the rest of this hurricane season?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's standing out to the experts, Jim, is how big it got, how fast it got that big, and where it formed. And that part of the Tropical Atlantic, if you look at the history, the track of this Storm Beryl, these kinds of things aren't supposed to really form until August, when there's a lot more heat built up in the oceans in the system there.

Beryl became a Category 5 in early July. So, if that's what's happening this early in the summer, what's coming later? And it spread misery there. You saw from Jamaica to Houston and now, even in the heartland of the United States. And as a result of this, the experts at Colorado State University, which put out the hurricane forecast every year, they bumped it up. And it was already pretty hyperactive back in April.

They're predicting 23 named storms. It's -- 14 is the average over, you know, the last decades or so. The new outlook is 25 named storms, 12 of those hurricanes, six of them major. And this is very reminiscent, Jim, of 2005 when I was cutting my teeth as a cub reporter covering Katrina, which, you know, of course, flooded New Orleans, but that was only one of four Category 5 storms that year, there were 27 named storms that year. So, the conditions right now are set up for that sort of thing. It's a -- you know, the watch word is be prepared.


ACOSTA: Yes, Bill, I was one of those cub reporters too covering Katrina. I was in Biloxi, Mississippi when it came through and it was just something out of this world living through a hurricane like that. And I do wonder, Bill, watching Beryl, I mean, if you were to see a Category 4 or 5 hurricane get into the gulf without moving through Mexico, without moving through a Caribbean Island, I mean, what we have -- what we could have coming would be pretty devastating.

WEIR: Exactly. And the worry is back-to-back storms, like a like a Katrina, Rita situation as people are just trying to get the lights back on in Houston. You realize -- and you know, when the sun comes out after one of those big storms, the misery is just beginning as you try to pick up the pieces, dry out the drywall and get the kids back to school and all of that. But then another storm, you know, on the heels of that can really lay a community low for years.

ACOSTA: And, Bill, what about this dangerous heat wave we're seeing out west? We've got some video or pictures we can show of some roads buckling in Washington State. I mean, is that how hot it's getting in some of these parts of the country right now? I mean, that is unreal.

WEIR: I mean, you know, I think the most Americans are familiar if they think about desert heat is maybe they've been to Vegas. More and more folks visit that chunk of desert there than anywhere else. And forever, for all of our recorded history, it had never gotten hotter than 116 degrees. Well, it shattered that record. It got to 119 recently.

And yes, at a certain point, you can't take a helicopter off when it's so hot. And that's why a hiker died out west because they -- and couldn't go respond because the rescue aircraft just can't fly when it gets that hot. It buckles roads, it buckles train tracks. Adaptation to this new thing. I think cooling is going to be as much of a -- sort of a civic right that people expect as sanitation or trash pickup in some of these places.

The good news is, Jim, the solar energy boom that's happening right now, the good news about solar energy is the hotter it gets, the cheaper it gets. And it's -- electricity is basically free in California and some parts of Texas because the sun is just blazing right now. And now, with storage to be able to hold that overnight, we may have to artificially cool cities using that kind of power in the future.

And, you know, paint the tops of all roofs white to reflect as much heat as possible and just, you know, as much tree cover as possible. Shade will be property value in the future as you think about, is this the beginning of this kind of new normal?

ACOSTA: Unbelievable. It's been one hot summer. We can feel it in D.C. We're just -- we'd like to get out of the 90s maybe for once -- for one day would be nice, but that's how it is right now this summer.

WEIR: Yes.

ACOSTA: Bill Weir, thanks a lot. Really appreciate it.

WEIR: You bet.

AMANPOUR: All right. We'll be right back. Be right back.



ACOSTA: Back to some news we brought to you at the top of the hour. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be leaving the door open for President Biden to lead the race. This comes as other House Democrats are raising concerns about down-ballot races.

And joining us now is Larry Sabato. He's the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, the editor of "Return to Normalcy: The 2020 Election that Almost Broke America." You know, Larry, just a few moments ago Representative Ritchie Torres of New York expressed some concern about the president's effect on down ballot races. I don't know if you saw Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments earlier today. What do you make of all of these cracks? It seemed as though things yesterday were solidifying somewhat for the president, perhaps not so much today. What do you think?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA AND EDITOR, 'RETURN TO NORMALCY: THE 2020 ELECTION THAT (ALMOST) BROKE AMERICA': The reason this is happening, Jim, is because there's no good answer. There really is no good answer. And they're trying to figure out a way to get back to where they were, which was also behind, but just barely behind. Now, things are falling apart in some places. So, I think you're going to see more of this.

Although, they do have a natural break at the Republican convention. It's even possible that the media will focus on some of Donald Trump's problems, if he has any. I'd have to go back and refresh myself about his four years as president, on January 6th, and the felony convictions and all the rest of it. That might actually happen next week.

ACOSTA: Right. And let's touch on that. But before we do that, I mean, I did want to ask you about this, Larry. Democrats have been divided before. I mean, I remember the Obama-Clinton battle in 2008, that did not end until June, and the party was not united right away as there were some Clinton holdouts. Is there still time for Democrats to fix this? Former Speaker Pelosi was leaving the door open for the president to exit the race. Calling on Democrats to sort of hold their criticism until the end of this week, until he gets past this NATO press conference tomorrow. What do you think?

SABATO: There's not a lot of time, but there is time, as many observers internationally have been pointing out. You know, France fixed their problem in a week and they managed to rescue the French parliamentary elections from the hard right.

But if I can throw out one other example, you mentioned the 2008 Clinton-Obama race, 1968, a terrible year for Democrats. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy assassinated. The Vietnam War was horribly unpopular. Hubert Humphrey came out of the Democratic Convention as the nominee, but so far behind Richard Nixon that you couldn't find a pundit who thought he had any chance of being elected president. And he did some smart things, separated himself from Johnson's war policy. And what happened? He finished one half of 1 percent behind. So, a lot happened between the summer and November. And we ought to remember what we don't know, too.


ACOSTA: And your crystal ball, Larry, which is so great, now has Michigan and Minnesota as more competitive, which is a downgrade for the Democrats. I wonder if some of that -- obviously, that -- a lot of that has to do with the president's debate performance, but Donald Trump sort of went and hiding over the last several days to sort of let, you know, Biden take his licks out there.

As Trump reemerges, and we saw this last night in Miami, he's going back to praising January 6 rioters as hostages and so on. How might that impact the race? And how do you see these battlegrounds right now?

SABATO: Well, it will impact the race because there's one thing you can count on here, it's that Donald Trump will continue to say outrageous, false things very regularly, and that will be fodder for media as well. And he'll remind people of the way he was in those four years and how he was -- after he lost the election and could not accept it. There are a lot of things people have forgotten or is in the back of their mind, they'll put it to the front of their mind.

As far as the swing states are concerned, Jim, if we had the data and we don't, no one has the data, no matter what they're saying or how they're moving states, there isn't the data yet. But if you had the data, my guess would be that Biden would be behind in every single swing state. But that's because this is a low point for him. He's at a low point. You know --

ACOSTA: Do you think Biden will -- would lose in a landslide as Senator Bennet was saying last night here on CNN, or do you think that's a little too much?

SABATO: Well, he's, I think -- he's going too far based on too little. But I think in the Electoral College, it would not be particularly close. Trump would more than edge Biden. It would be substantial, well over 300 electoral votes. But again, in the popular vote, I still think it's relatively close. It's not as close as it was before the debate. But it can get back to where it was. And with some breaks, Biden could win.

There's a lot of people saying Biden can't win. Biden can't win. No, you don't know that. You don't know that. No one knows that. ACOSTA: It is July. All right. Larry, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. I'm sure there's a lot more twists and turns to come. We'll get back to you. Larry Sabato, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Still to come, Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions about those popular weight loss drugs. That's next.



ACOSTA: All right. We want to show you some live pictures that are coming in to CNN right now. Opening statement getting underway in Alec Baldwin's trial down in New Mexico. We're going to be monitoring that over the next several minutes. If anything develops, we'll bring that to you. But just to get you updated on what's happening there. That's -- that trial just getting underway in New Mexico. Stand by for more on that.

In the meantime, this morning, our new CNN segment, "Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Call" where your medical questions get answered. The topic this week is weight loss drugs. You sent in questions yesterday. And today, our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back to answer them. And there's Sanjay right there.


ACOSTA: Good morning, Sanjay. Thanks for being here. You know, I mean, a lot of people have questions about these weight loss drugs. And our first question is from Mark from St. Paul, Minnesota. He writes, I've also heard that once you stop taking it, that the weight will come back. I mean, that is a common concern. Mark and a lot of folks want to know how long you have to take these drugs and does the weight come back?

DR. GUPTA: Yes, that is probably the most common question that we get. And first of all, these are injectable drugs. Most people have heard about these drugs by now, you know, Mounjaro and Ozempic and Wegovy, Zepbound. They're injectables and you got to take them once a week. Typically, you start at a lower dose and then increase the dose over time.

The question about does the weight come back? I mean, right now, if you talk to the drug manufacturers, I think for many of them, the expectation is that people might stay on these medications their entire lives. So, just think about that. A weekly injection, 52 injections, for years and years, decades. But what happens if you stop, about 50 percent of people stop, and we created this graph to basically show this for you, Jim. I don't know how well you can see that, but this is Tirzepatide. So, this would be the Mounjaro drug.

As you see someone taking that 36 weeks, you see the weight comes down pretty significantly, 10 to 15 percent of body weight. And then, if you continue taking it, the weight continues to come off, but they gave placebo at that 36-week point, and you did see weight return, although not back to necessarily where they were at the start. The big difference seems to be people who not only take the medication, but seem to also adopt these lifestyle changes, healthy lifestyle changes at the same time. They are more likely to keep the weight off, or at least most of the weight off, Jim.

ACOSTA: Amazing. And our second question comes from Angela, Delray Beach, Florida. She brings up the issue of the compounded version of these drugs and asked what are the risks of taking compounded drugs considering they are mostly coming from a handful of reputable and known compounding pharmacies. That's a lot of stuff. I don't understand, but I know you understand it.

DR. GUPTA: Yes, this is really interesting, Jim. I think you'll appreciate this. But compounding pharmacies can really come into operation when a drug is in shortage. You can't compound any drug. You can only do it when they're in shortage to sort of make up for that shortfall. These drugs are in shortage. And they're likely to be in shortage for the next year or two, we are hearing.

So, what is interesting is that the -- you get the product from an FDA approved wholesaler. It goes to the compounding pharmacy. And then they -- they're not required to provide any safety or efficacy data. So, we really don't know how well they work. Although, some people do swear by them.

But Jim, you're going to find this interesting. You know, what's really in shortage is not the active drug itself, but these pens. You've seen these pens. This is the pen for Ozempic. It's a pre-sort of filled pen. Very, very easy to use. It's 14 unique parts that are patented. And that's what goes into shortage.


So, when you get a compounded drug, you're going to get a vial, you're going to get a syringe, you got to drop the medication, you got to inject yourself. For some people, that's quite challenging and that's the shortage that they're really trying to address. If you go to a compounding pharmacy, you're not going to get the pen. I think that's really important to keep in mind.

ACOSTA: That's interesting. And finally, we have something from KD in Philadelphia asking, do you have to be obese or at a certain BMI to use the drug?

DR. GUPTA: The answer is yes. I mean, what the standards are now is that these medications are for type two diabetes and for obesity. So, when it comes to using Mounjaro, Ozempic -- I'm sorry, Zepbound is the obesity drug and Wegovy, you can see the list there. You have to qualify, and that means having a body mass index over 30 or having a body mass index over 27 with at least one weight related condition, cardiac disease, something else that's related to weight.

So, it's -- you know, right now you got about one in six people who say they've tried the drug in the United States. Jim, sadly, about 40 percent of the country would qualify for this right now.

ACOSTA: Wow. DR. GUPTA: So, this is going to become a huge class of drugs, no question.

ACOSTA: Very important and you hear from a lot of folks who say this is really working for me. And this could be a life changing thing. I mean, it's remarkable to see, Sanjay. Thank you so much.

DR. GUPTA: You got it.

ACOSTA: That's really important information. I know a lot of folks are hanging on every word there as you're talking about this. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. Really appreciate it anytime.

DR. GUPTA: Any time, Jim.

ACOSTA: And we'll be right.