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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Youngest Americans Caught In A COVID Crisis; Senate Republicans Poised To Block Infrastructure Vote Today; Biblical Flooding Forces Evacuations In Central China. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 21, 2021 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Julia Chatterley. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

So this morning, cases of COVID are on the rise once again, half of adults in the U.S. are not fully vaccinated, and America's children are caught in the middle of this mess.

Kids under 12 aren't eligible for vaccines. Teenagers aren't getting vaccinated quickly enough. Schools are getting ready to reopen this fall even though some of them remain being poorly ventilated. All this could become a breeding ground for the Delta variant.

So, should kids be sent home for another year of school online if family and strangers won't get vaccinated?

Well, already, the numbers here are disturbing. Twenty-three thousand young people contracted COVID just last week. That is nearly double the rate from the end of June.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: One thing I just want to note with the children is I think we fall into this fraud thinking of saying that only 400 of these 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been in children. Children are not supposed to die and so 400 is a huge amount of a respiratory season.


CHATTERLEY: In Florida, a COVID outbreak is being reported at an elementary school summer camp in Brevard County. Summer outbreaks are occurring in Texas, North Carolina, Utah, and Illinois. Yet, at least nine states are blocking schools from requiring coronavirus vaccinations for students and staff even though many other routine vaccines are already mandated and many of those shots were also missed during the pandemic.

In Arkansas, where vaccination rates remain extremely low, one doctor is pleading with the public to get vaccinated as the Delta variant spreads through younger kids.


DR. MICHAEL BOLDING, WASHINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS: I've seen a dramatic rise in 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds unvaccinated patients who are not coming in through the E.R. requiring oxygen in small amounts and being hospitalized for a day or two, but younger, healthier patients with no comorbid conditions ending up on ventilators, BiPAP, high-flow oxygen, and extremely sick. Sicker than at any time during this pandemic.


JARRETT: People are going back on ventilators here, folks. And yet, debate is raging over vaccine mandates now.

Banner Health, a nonprofit that's one of the largest private employers in Arizona, is requiring employees to be vaccinated if they want to keep their jobs. Six supervisor-level employees at a New Jersey health system have been fired for not getting vaccinated.

And new polling shows that a majority of unvaccinated Americans are unlikely to get a shot regardless of outreach efforts. Some of the hesitancy comes from misinformation on social media and conservative media, and some information comes straight from the halls of Congress.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): You take an animal virus and you increase the transmissibility to humans.


PAUL: You're saying that's not gain of function?

FAUCI: Yes, that is correct. And Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about.

PAUL: What we're alleging is that gain of function research was going on in that lab and NIH funded it.

FAUCI: That is not --

PAUL: You can't get away from it. It meets your definition and you are obfuscating the truth.

FAUCI: I am not obfuscating the truth. You are the one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time has expired but I will allow the witness to -- FAUCI: Let me just finish. I want everyone to understand that if you look at those viruses, and that's judged by qualified virologists and evolutionary biologists, those viruses are molecularly impossible to result in SARS COVID-2.


PAUL: No one's saying they are. No one's saying those viruses are.

FAUCI: You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that.

PAUL: And it could have had -- it could have had.

FAUCI: And if anybody's lying here, Senator, it is you.


CHATTERLEY: A Capitol physician now urging House members to mask up after the Delta variant and breakthrough cases were detected in Washington. One White House official and a senior aide in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office have tested positive despite both being fully vaccinated. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also acknowledging that there have been prior breakthrough cases there.

JARRETT: So I get why people are concerned about the breakthrough cases -- they're disturbing. You go through the whole process of getting vaccinated, you try to do the right thing, and then to only come down with COVID.

But here's the thing. People are not dying from breakthrough cases. They're dying because people are still unvaccinated. And there are going to be more breakthrough cases the more people remain unvaccinated.

CHATTERLEY: We should be talking about how sick people get.


CHATTERLEY: Don't be scared of getting the vaccine. Be scared of dying. I mean, the U.S. Surgeon General said it, didn't he, this week.


CHATTERLEY: Ninety-nine point five percent of deaths are among the unvaccinated.


CHATTERLEY: That's the only statistic you need, surely.

JARRETT: Yes. That's the reality of where we are right now. It's very different from last year, right? We are at the preventable stage of this. Go get vaccinated if you have not already.

CHATTERLEY: Be more afraid of dying. JARRETT: Well, and if you feel like 2020 was a lost year, it was. The

pandemic shaved a year and a half off the average life expectancy --


JARRETT: -- of Americans in 2020. According to the CDC, the U.S. life expectancy is now just at over 77 years. That's the lowest it's been since 2003.

Researchers found that the average fell a little bit more for men than for women. And Hispanic people experienced the largest decline, decreasing by three years.

CHATTERLEY: As the Summer Olympics in Japan tries to get off the ground the International Olympic Committee has officially selected Brisbane, Australia as host of the Summer Games in 2032. This will make Australia a three-time host. It previously held the games in Melbourne in 1956 and in Sydney in 2000.

JARRETT: Brisbane is the first city to win a summer bid under a new selection process to discourage the IOC from pitting cities against each other in expensive bidding wars. Corruption had been rampant and potential host cities often pulled out.

CHATTERLEY: An American swimmer who is hearing impaired and blind has withdrawn from the Tokyo Paralympic Games because her request to have her mother serve as her personal care assistant was denied. Becca Meyers calls her decision to pull out of the games, quote, "gut- wrenching" and says she's angry, disappointed, and sad not to be representing her country.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says because of COVID there is already a designated personal care assistant assigned to the team.

Becca Meyers will be on "NEW DAY" later this morning.

JARRETT: All right.

Six Polish swimmers sent home from the Tokyo Olympics because of a counting error. Only 17 swimmers were needed but Poland picked 23. The president of the Polish Swimming Federation issued an apology. He says the error was made because of a desire to allow as many players and coaches as possible to take part in the games. The athletes now demanding the federation board members resign.

As President Biden reaches six months in office now, he will make his case for his agenda at a CNN town hall tonight. One major agenda item, of course, is infrastructure, which faces a big test today on Capitol Hill.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live for us there with more. Daniella, good morning. Democrats are preparing for this critical vote but it's not looking so good.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It's not looking so good at all, Laura. Look, Senate Republicans are planning to block this vote to advance this bipartisan infrastructure proposal today, and they argue it's because they have not yet struck a deal with Democrats on finalizing the text for this legislation.

You know, these senators have said that even with this failed vote they still plan to continue negotiating on this proposal in the coming days in the hopes of coming to a deal as early as next week. And some sticking points, of course, include how they're going to pay for this $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

And there are two key Republican senators -- of course, Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Rob Portman -- who both say that they just don't think there should be a vote on this when there's not even text for this legislation just yet.

But, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer defended his decision to put this to a vote later today. He said yesterday that these negotiators have had more than a month to make a deal on this and it's time for a vote. Take a listen to what he said.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): But they've been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already and it's time to begin the debate. There's no reason it should fail. Ask them what is the reason? They say they need the whole bill text. They haven't asked for that on bill after bill after bill.


DIAZ: I do want to note that the White House is supporting Schumer's decision to put this to a vote. They really want to start moving forward on this.


And look, this is not the only thing that Democrats are working on. They have another piece of legislation -- a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that they're working on that they hope to use to pass using budget reconciliation, so they don't need any Republicans on this. But not only are they trying to finalize the details on this bipartisan infrastructure proposal, but they're also working on this $3.5 trillion budget resolution -- budget resolution -- excuse me.

So a lot of key details that still need to be ironed out for both pieces of this legislation. So bottom line is this vote is going to fail today, so we'll see how this proceeds in the coming days -- Laura, Julia.

JARRETT: All right, Daniella Diaz. Thank you for your reporting, as always.

And as I mentioned, President Biden has a town hall tonight, joining Don Lemon for an exclusive presidential town hall live from Cincinnati tonight at 8:00 p.m. only on CNN. CHATTERLEY: A federal judge has temporarily blocked Arkansas' near-

total ban on abortions while a lawsuit against the measure moves forward. Intended to challenge the Supreme Court's Roe versus Wade decision, the new law would have banned providers from performing abortions, quote, "except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency." It makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies.

Violators could face 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

JARRETT: Search crews at the Surfside condo collapse site are nearing the bottom of the rubble pile and they say they won't stop until every victim is found. Investigators and engineers are preparing to probe the site for answers as to what caused the collapse, but they won't be able to start until the search effort concludes. The death toll from the collapse now stands at 97. Ninety-five of those have been identified.

We'll be right back.




The Delta variant wreaking havoc beyond the United States. France's health minister warns it's circulating faster than, quote, "ever seen before."

CNN's Jim Bittermann is live in Gilles, France with us. Jim, what are the authorities saying they're going to do to try and stem the rise in cases?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Julia, they've already started a process because they've seen this coming.

And, in fact, when the health minister reported to Parliament yesterday he was in a very, very grim mood indeed because he said that there have been 18,000 cases reported in the last reporting period 24 hours ago. And, in fact, the percentage has gone up 150 percent in caseloads in the last week. So the government has been pretty much aware what's going on.

And the health minister says he's inviting people to go to the vaccination center. It was more than just an invitation because, in fact, from today, you have to carry around this. This is my sanitary pass -- my health pass, which proves that I've been vaccinated against COVID or it can also prove that I've been tested against COVID and it turned out negative.

So they have -- you'll have to have this with you to get into any sites that involve more than 50 people. That would be museums, theaters, cinemas -- a lot of the tourist attractions. And some -- that raises the question, of course, how are they going to patrol this? How -- what are they going to do with tourists, for example, who are not -- can't access the system and download one of these things into the printer?

And, in fact, they do have a system that's been set up around the tourist locations to test people quickly -antigenic tests, which they can get the results of in just a few minutes.

So they're going to, in fact, make it convenient or at least as convenient as they can -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and I saw that the bookings absolutely soared for vaccinations when they announced this health pass initially -- nice.

Jim, great to have you with us.


CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

JARRETT: Nearly 200,000 people evacuated in central China. Flooding of biblical proportions killing at least 12. Chinese state media describing the disaster as a one-in-a-thousand-year event.

Kristi Lu Stout is live in Hong Kong for us. Kristi, the pictures from the subways are just incredible -- waist-high water. Hundreds stuck on them for hours, thankfully, rescued. What more are you learning?

KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, absolutely devastating images coming out of China's central Henan Province with its capital Zhengzhou utterly inundated with record-breaking rain.

Zhengzhou is a city of 12 million people. It's situated on the banks of the Yellow River. And authorities there say that it has received a year's worth of rain in three days. State media report that at least 12 people are dead so far, and nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated to safe zones.

But it's not just Zhengzhou. We are seeing severe flooding taking place right now in about a dozen cities across Central China.

On state-run media, on social media, we've been looking at these examples of dramatic imagery of the severe flooding underway. Of flooded streets with submerged cars. Of people using boats, rafts, forming human chains to reach flood victims. Flooded subways with people trapped inside subway cars as the floodwaters rushed into the station.

I want you to listen to this man. He was a passenger. He was trapped inside a subway car as the floodwaters were rising. Take a listen.


ZHANG, PASSENGER AFFECTED BY FLOODED SUBWAY (through translator): The flood was so strong and many people were carried away by that. The remaining few of us, including a kid, were so tired and we nearly gave up.

We kept holding on tight to the railing and that's why you can see so many bruises on my arms. These are all bruises. This is one, too. This included, too. If you don't hold on tight to that railing it's very easy to be washed away.


STOUT: Authorities say that they managed to rescue 500 people who were trapped in Zhengzhou's subways. Sadly, 12 people were found dead.


But, Laura, more misery on the way. More rain is forecast in the next three days. Back to you.

JARRETT: All right, Kristi. Thank you for that.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in India could be up to 10 times higher than the nation's official death toll. The official count was at around 400,000 but a U.S.-based think tank disputes that number, putting it more in the neighborhood of three to four million, based on public records and surveys.

India, you might remember, faced a lethal spike in cases back in April, causing overcrowded hospitals, oxygen shortages, and bodies being burned in the streets because crematoriums were overflowing.

CHATTERLEY: Smoke from western wildfires blanketing the sky, except this isn't a video of the west. It's New York. That smoke from the wildfires engulfing the western U.S. and Canada now carrying harmful air pollution to east coast cities.

JARRETT: Amazing it can travel that far. Remember, it's not just fires, it's the drought that drives them. In Utah, the Great Salt Lake has just tied the record low water level set back in 1963 and is expected to drop even further.

The Bootleg Fire, one of the biggest in Oregon history, is one of the many fires burning in the west.

Dan Simon is on the ground in Tamarack, California.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Laura and Julia, you can see that giant plume of smoke behind me. This is one of the areas burning with the Tamarack Fire. We've been seeing helicopters make water drops, trying to get that area under control.

As of right now, progress with this fire has been slow. This fire is zero percent contained. Below that ridgeline there are homes and there are fire crews there trying to prevent more homes from going up in flames. Fortunately, it's just been a handful at this point.

But you do have a number of communities that have been forced to evacuate. We caught up with some residents who were allowed to go to their homes with an escort to have a look around and to try to grab some essentials. Take a look. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just hoping to see our house still standing. I know they say it's OK but I really want to see it for myself. It's scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deputy just told us that our house is still standing. We just want to check it all out.

SIMON: Of course, the Tamarack Fire is just one major wildfire that's burning right now. There are 80 wildfires raging across 13 states. About a million acres have been charred.

Laura and Julia, we'll send it back to you.


JARRETT: Dan Simon, thank you for that.

All right, get ready for this one, folks. An Indonesian man is reportedly facing arrest after disguising himself as his wife in order to board a plane. The man had tested positive for COVID-19 and so he dressed in his wife's niqab -- that full-face veil -- and used her identity and negative COVID test to board a domestic flight.

The ruse ended midair when a flight attendant saw the man leave the restroom wearing men's clothes instead of his wife's veil. She notified airport authorities and the man was detained upon getting off the plane.

CHATTERLEY: No words. That's all I can say. No words.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning and I'll give you a quick look at what we're seeing around the world.

Relatively green, as you can see. A strong handover from Europe there. You can see London outperforming at more than 1 1/2 percent.

Also, take a look at what we're seeing for Wall Street, and it's green across the screen there, too. Six-tenths of a percent higher at this moment for the Dow futures. Stocks rallied Tuesday after starting the week with a deep selloff. The Dow closing up 550 points, its best day in a month. But, of course, the gains didn't make up for all of Monday's losses.

Hyundai, Kia, Coca-Cola, Harley Davidson, Johnson & Johnson, and Verizon all reporting second-quarter results today.

Now, a big change for Venmo. The payment app is getting rid of its public feed feature which lets users see transactions from everyone, including strangers. Critics have complained about the feature because of privacy concerns. A new version of the app will only show users payments from their friends, but new users' payments will still be public by default.

Slippage (ph) growth, meanwhile, for Netflix. The streaming service said it added a little more than a million subscribers in the second quarter, bringing its total to 209 million subscribers worldwide. Notably, roughly 430,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada dropped their Netflix subscriptions during the quarter. Growth had slowed as pandemic restrictions are lifted and people head back outside.

And one way to get more subscribers, perhaps, video games. Netflix said it's in the, quote, "early stages of expanding into gaming," adding games will be part of the user's regular subscription.

JARRETT: So you know you've arrived as commander in chief when you're being added to the Hall of Presidents as Disney World. Disney officials are putting the finishing touches on the animatronic Joe Biden ahead of its debut -- or is that his debut -- I'm not sure -- next month at the Magic Kingdom.

The exhibit will include Biden's trademark aviator sunglasses.

Former President Trump's animatronic replica is being moved to another location to make room for Biden.

It's a good thing that they have the aviators so everybody knows it's definitely Biden.


CHATTERLEY: I was just going to say a big cover (ph) or pull the plug out of the previous one.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Julia Chatterley.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Avlon on this new day.


KEILAR: Good morning to you.

And with vaccinated -- unvaccinated Americans in danger from the highly transmissible Delta variant that is sweeping the country, some experts are now saying that it's actually time to put the masks.