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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Movement Toward Vaccine Mandates Gathers Momentum; Soon: 1/6 Committee Begins Investigating Capitol Insurrection; Wildfire in California Threatens Over 100,000 Structures; Talks on Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Reach "Critical Moment". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A preventable problem. Vaccine mandates now on the way because too many people ignored public health warnings.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hours from now, four officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 will testify about the trauma they experienced in the first hearing for the House committee.

ROMANS: This loss sucks more than the others -- Naomi Osaka in her own words after a tough exit from the Tokyo Games.

It's Tuesday, July 27, 5:00 a.m. here in New York. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

This morning, a major shift in momentum for vaccine mandates. Both California and New York City will soon require all government workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

And the Justice Department now officially weighing in as well finding, that no federal law prevents businesses or government agencies from mandating a COVID vaccine.

Of course, some state attorneys general may disagree, but America's doctors -- well, they're on board.


DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I really wish that more businesses would be doing this because otherwise, it's hard for those of us for example who are parents of unvaccinated children if we're told that we have to come back to work in person and be sitting shoulder to shoulder with other people who are unvaccinated and we don't know whether they are carrying COVID. That's really dangerous for us. So, this is really about protecting people's health and safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: All these vaccine and testing mandates -- they are the direct result of too many Americans choosing not to get a COVID shot. It is a completely preventable problem, a completely preventable situation if everyone understood that personal freedom is not an excuse to endanger others.

Ninety-nine percent of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated.

Former President Trump's own FDA director who helped get vaccines to the public says hesitant Americans need to get their shot.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER OF THE FDA UNDER FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you look back on the history of this vaccine and its development, there has been the assertion of politics from the beginning. It is not helpful to encourage people to avoid vaccination. We must be encouraging them to be vaccinated.


JARRETT: All this as more than 50 major medical groups call for health care employers to mandate COVID vaccination for all workers.

EARLY START has this pandemic covered coast to coast.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Athena Jones in New York where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all the city employees must either be vaccinated by September 13 or being weekly testing. That means the NYPD, the fire department, all city agencies and everyone working in public schools.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: September is the pivot of the recovery. September is when many employers are bringing back a lot of their employees. September is when school starts full strength. September is when people come back from the summer. September is when it will all happen.

JONES: The first 45,000 city employees who will face the mandate starting August 16 include those working in congregant residential settings like shelters and senior centers. The mayor urged private employers to introduce similar vaccine requirements.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Simon in Los Angeles.

As the delta variant continues to spread here and across the country, the state of California will require all state employees as well as health care workers to provide proof of their vaccination status or succumb to regular testing. The employees will either have to show their vaccination card or through a verification code by the Department of Public Health.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: You don't have a choice to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else's lives at risk. That's the equivalent of this moment with the deadliness and the efficiency of the delta virus.

SIMON: The new policy, which the state says is the first in the nation standard, goes into effect August 2nd for state workers and then a week later for health care workers.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kaitlan Collins at the White House, where the Department of Veterans Affairs is now the first federal agency to mandate that some of its employees get vaccines.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, Veteran of Affairs is going to in fact require that all docs working in those facilities are going to have to be vaccinated.

COLLINS: Now, the V.A. secretary says about 70 percent of their health care staff is already fully vaccinated, but the remaining 30 percent who has not gotten the shot yet will have eight weeks to comply with this new mandate, which we should note was put into effect after four V.A. employees got COVID-19 and died from it, three of those due to the delta variant, now fueling outbreaks across the United States.


ROMANS: All right. A pandemic reality check from Goldman Sachs this morning.

The biggest threat to the economic recovery, it's not inflation, it's the delta variant.


It's the unvaccinated, the biggest threat to the recovery. The bank slashes GDP forecast for the second half of the year, pointing to concerns over the delta variant, and also about how consumers are spending.

Goldman now expects the economy to grow at rate of 8 percent to 8.5 percent in the third quarter. That's very good. Five percent in the fourth quarter. The bank now estimates for the year, about 6.6 percent growth. And then next year, slowing down to a more normal 1.5 percent to 2 percent growth.

Fears around the variant are keeping spending on services down. This is what Goldman is taking about there. It's the makeup of consumer spending. One economist at Goldman Sachs says the areas where spending remains depressed, where they're connected to high virus risk, like going to concerts, or connected to office-based work, like transportation and dry cleaning.

A surge in coronavirus cases could keep people from fully participating in the economy. Ironically, the people who opposed lockdowns, who opposed COVID restrictions and then didn't get vaccinated, they are making it worse and potentially inviting more COVID restrictions and lockdowns. Well, economists recognize the delta variant's risk to the recovery,

many do believe the effect on the economy overall in the end will be somewhat limited. That remains to be seen.

JARRETT: All right. A big day ahead on Capitol Hill. The House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol will hold its first hearing today. The panel will hear from police officers who defended the Capitol that day.

CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us live with a preview.

Daniella, good morning. What are you watching for today?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: We're watching for a lot here, Laura. Look, this is going to be one of the first times that Americans are going to hear directly from these four police officers and they're going to detail their account on -- what they experienced on January 6th, including one of them was beaten by a flagpole, getting crushed in a doorway, being the target of racial slurs and even facing rioters who tased them.

But what's the point of this House Select Committee. What's does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi really want to achieve here?

The bigger picture is, she wants a detailed account of what happened that day, including answering several questions like the former president's role in this. How extremist groups were able to organize and inform this and attack the Capitol. And even what security failures took place that day.

So, we're hoping all of these questions get answers as this House Select Committee works to investigate what happened. But look, there's been a lot of back and forth between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Republicans that Pelosi appointed to this panel. Of course, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney.

Minority leader is not participating in this House Select Committee, and as a result, has been criticizing the work that they're doing. But look, these Republicans are defending why they're on this panel. Take a listen.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I had a really important opportunity to remind everybody about the necessity of accountability for what happened, for making sure that it never happens again.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): The bottom line, I'm an elected member of Congress. I'm a Republican. Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader. And to call, you know, members of Congress by childish names like Donald Trump used to do, I guess, is just kind of --


DIAZ: The bottom line here is, this will be a chance for Americans to hear directly about what happened that day. They've only really seen bits and pieces, especially after the impeachment hearings. But this will be a chance for them to inform their opinions on what happened that day.

And we're expecting new video, never-before-seen video of the attack on January 6th. But the question on everyone's minds is, is this really going to change people's minds about what happened on January 6th, especially those people who have already formed their opinions on this?

So that remains to be seen -- Laura, Christine.

JARRETT: Yeah. And even if it doesn't change anyone's minds, it's important for the historical record to set out exactly what happened that day from the officer's perspectives.

Daniella, thank you for your reporting, as usual.

ROMANS: All right. Out West, California's largest wildfire raging, threatening more than 10,000 homes and other businesses. The Dixie Fire has scorched more than 2,000 acres and destroyed more than a dozen buildings north of Sacramento. The air, look at that, just glowing orange. One resident decided to ignore evacuation orders to protect his property and his animals. .


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very stressful. Scary at times. The smoke is acid, it burns your lungs, you know? The oxygen level has dropped.


ROMANS: Wow. This year, nearly 2.8 million acres have burned by wildfires. Today, there are about 85 active fires, Laura.

JARRETT: Those pictures are just incredible.

ROMANS: I know. You know, my family in California, they say it feels like it's all year, it's fire season now. This is just this new reality that's just terrifying.

JARRETT: And it's even so bad, the weather quality even here, you can see the sky, it's just crazy.

ROMANS: That orange sun, right?

JARRETT: Right, yeah.

All right. The bipartisan infrastructure deal, all of those talks now in danger of collapsing, all the back and forth.


We'll break down what stands in the way for senators trying to salvage this deal.


JARRETT: This morning, President Biden's infrastructure deal is on shaky ground. Republicans and Democrats are trying to refocus on policy after a day of public bickering over who's to blame for blowing past another White House deadline.

Let's bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington for us.

Jasmine, you've been following all the back and forth, all the twists and turns. Where are we right now in these negotiations?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Laura, they're in a tough spot, frankly. And it seems like trying to turn that $1.2 bipartisan framework on road, bridges, broadband, is a little bit harder to turn it into a legislative text than folks may have imagined.


But still, negotiators are still saying today they're still trying to press along. It comes after a day of back and forth after they missed that deadline, of really finger-pointing among who was not living up to their sides of the bargain.

Now negotiators are trying to cool things down and really move it forward. But there still remain major sticking points. First, on funding, right? Trying to make sure that this $600 billion of new funding is completely paid for. And then also, on transit funding, among a litany of other issues that they still need to negotiate.

But, Laura, there is some rising sentiment among more progressive Democrats that these negotiations are taking too long. Remember, they've been at this for about five weeks.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters yesterday that it's time to put a bill on the floor and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kind of greed with him and said, it's time, but begged Republicans not to listen to former President Trump who weighed in yesterday to tell them not to take the deal. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: We have reached a critical moment. The bipartisan group of senators has had nearly five weeks of negotiations since they first announced an agreement with President Biden. Republican senators must ignore former president Trump if we're ever going to make progress for the American people. He's rooting for our entire political system to fail. I and the rest of miff Democratic colleagues are rooting for a deal.


WRIGHT: So one thing to remember, Laura, in all of this, that could kind of complicate the process that $3.5 trillion spending package that Democrats are working on in addition to this bipartisan framework that would pass a lot of President Biden's agenda items in something called reconciliation, which would go along party lines. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she will not bring this bipartisan framework, if and when it does become legislative text and passes in the Senate on the House Floor, until the Senate also passes that $3.5 trillion spending package.

But what could complicate this is if they can't get this bipartisan framework done, they may put some items in this framework, into this spending bill, which would delay process -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. It is just dizzying, but I appreciate you trying to sort through it all for us, Jasmine.


JARRETT: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, former Senator Mike Enzi has died after a bicycle accident on Friday. The popular Republican was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. After serving in the Wyoming legislature, Enzi was a staunch conservative, but also known for his ability to work across the aisle. Senator Mike Enzi was 77 years old.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

It is day two of senior-level meetings between the U.S. and China. By all accounts, it was a rocky start Monday. The meetings between the two delegations are supposed to cover a range of issues, including human rights and cyber attacks.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing for us.

And, Steven, it appears both of these countries are trying to have the upper hand ahead of the first meeting of President Biden and the Chinese President Xi Jinping at that G-7 summit in October.

What's the current mood?


These meetings between senior officials from the two governments actually are now over. But this particular summit was actually not brought up according to U.S. officials. But these meetings seem to be more about the two sides talking over each other than talking two each other, with both governments, as you said, really airing laundry list of grievances against each other. This is probably not surprising, because U.S. officials told us even before they went into these meetings, they were not expecting any major breakthroughs. They just wanted to keep the channels of communication open, but also to set so- called guardrails around this increasingly fractious relationship. Now, to that and we're not sure what kind of markers they have laid

down. On the other hand, their Chinese counterparts, at least according to their public statements have made very strong and over the on accusations against the U.S., calling them a bully, a human rights abuser, and warned Washington not to encroach on Chinese sovereignty or interfere in its internal affairs.

But the fact that these meetings took place, despite this contentious, some would even say hostile environment, really shows that both leaders, Xi Jinping and Biden want to put some sort of floor underneath this fast-deteriorating relations and also in a way that many people think it shows the Chinese feel more threatened by Mr. Biden's approach, which is forming a united front with allies and partners against China instead of going it alone, like Mr. Trump did.

So, this new approach by Mr. Biden, that is a lot of continuity of Mr. Trump's policy against Chinese, both with more discipline -- conducted with more discipline and professionalism makes the Chinese feel more cornered. And that really -- that sense, of course, is not going to bode well for where this relationship is headed in the future.

ROMAS: Yeah. And, Steven, this is such an critically important relationship. No question, it is relationship that has been deteriorating. And you've seen the U.S. with meetings in India and Vietnam and with American allies sort of showing and sending this message to Beijing that the United States is aligning with its allies, a really important context there.

Steven, thank you so much for that.


JARRETT: OK. Still ahead, after a year of frenzied buying, sales of newly built homes are at the lowest since the pandemic.

We're going to tell you why.


ROMANS: All right. The red-hot pandemic housing market has peaked. New home sales dropped 6.6 percent to a rate of 7,600 units in June. That's the lowest since April 2020. Economists were expecting an increase of 3 percent. Sales in May also revised lower.

Now, sales fell more than 19 percent year over year. That's the first annual decrease since the pandemic began. Part of this is --