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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Alarming CDC Document: Vaccinated People Might Spread Delta Variant at the Same Rate as Unvaccinated People; White House Taking More Aggressive Approach to Vaccine Hesitancy; American Suni Lee Wins Individual All-Around Gold. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The war has changed. Leaked CDC documents revealing just how contagious the delta variant is and how the agency must rethink its public messaging on COVID.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If, in fact, you are unvaccinated, you present a problem.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden's most urgent plea yet to unvaccinated Americans. Can his plan work?


SCARLETT JOHANSSON AS BLACK WIDOW: We have to go back to where it all started.


JARRETT: Actress Scarlett Johansson, star of the summer hit "Black Widow" suing Disney, what she is alleging and Disney's scathing response.

Hello, everyone. It's Friday, July 30th. Happy Friday. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We begin with important health news. Breaking overnight, as contagious as the chickenpox, just one of the more alarming new revelations. Not only does each infected person spread COVID to roughly eight to nine other people, but it also appears that the delta variant causes more severe illness in the unvaccinated people.

All this from an internal slideshow presented to the CDC Thursday and leaked late last night. JARRETT: The document also contained unpublished data that suggests

that fully vaccinated people transmit the virus as easily as those unvaccinated.

Listen to one doctor who reviewed this material.


DR. ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, UCSF SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We can't pussyfoot around with this thing. We have to get more vaccinated because this virus is better at its job than the original. But it's going to take a while to do that even if we're successful. So until then, we have to go back on more universal masking than what we have, or else this thing is going to spread like wildfire.


JARRETT: the CDC document strikes an urgent tone, revealing the agency is aware that it must overhaul its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against the variant.

The urgency may actually be working here. In the last two weeks, the number of people getting their first shot is up 44 percent.

ROMANS: So how do you break down the brick wall of vaccine hesitancy in this country? President Biden made his most serious plea yet to the unvaccinated.


BIDEN: This is an American tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die.


ROMANS: An urgent tone there.

The president ruled out a new vaccine requirement for federal workers and he hinted at credit for former President Trump, since the vaccine was developed on his watch. You know, that's a, I guess an attempt to try to blunt what has been some criticism on the right that this is a Democratic vaccine. It is not.

We also learned overnight members of the military will now have to disclose their vaccination status.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christine and Laura, President Biden moving beyond simply asking Americans to get vaccinations, to requiring many of them to do so. Of course, the federal government workforce of nearly 4 million people, contractors, employees alike saying that they will be required to get vaccinations. If not, they, of course, will be subjected to heavy testing and other measures.

But we heard a different tone from the president, really imploring the nation to spend more time focusing on this. He even warned this problem will get worse.

BIDEN: This new form, this new variant called the delta variant, this is a much different variant than the one we dealt with previously. It's highly transmissible and it's causing a new wave of cases in those that are not vaccinated. Our experts tell me that cases will go up further before they start to come back down.

The decision to become unvaccinated impacts someone else. Unvaccinated people spread the virus. They get sick and fill up our hospitals. And that means if someone else has a heart attack or breaks a hip, there may not be a hospital bed for them.

ZELENY: Now, the open question. Will this change any minds already deeply entrenched in simply not wanting to get the vaccine? That is not clear.

But the White House moving into a new and aggressive phase here, that perhaps the biggest outcome of all of this is sending a message to private businesses that they, too, have it within their legal authority to require their employees to be vaccinated. Of course, this is controversial in some parts of the country, more than others. But the president also leaving open the possibility that the federal government could impose an even wider mandate on all Americans. He said the Justice Department was still looking into that.

So, clearly, as we end this month of July here, entering a new phase in the pandemic fight.


The White House had thought they had moved beyond all of this. Now, it's clear they're still very much in the middle of it -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: Yeah. And, Jeff, the Treasury Department yesterday saying it's expanding some tax credits for some employers to be able to pay people to take time off to get the vaccine. So one by one, taking away any barriers to becoming vaccinated. It's a public health and an economic emergency, really.

JARRETT: But it's private businesses that are now stepping up to do what the federal government can't. The federal government cannot widely mandate this vaccine for all Americans. It's not why you see this private businesses stepping up and why you see the president supporting, because he knows that the private sector is the one that will fill the gap.

ROMANS: Let's also hope here that once you have full FDA approval, that last barrier to entry -- JARRETT: I know that's the party line for so many people. They're

hoping for that. And if you're wondering whether vaccine mandates really work, look no further than Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The NFL star had been hesitant to get the vaccine, but when the league said they would impose fines on teams with outbreaks, Tannehill caved.


RYAN TANNEHILL, QUARTERBACK, TENNESSEE TITANS: Yeah, I think the NFL has made it clear what they want to happen. And if you don't fall in line, they're going to try to make your life kind of miserable with all the protocols. I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine if -- without the protocols that they're enforcing on us.

I think it's a personal decision for everyone. Everyone has to make the best decision for them and their families. That's kind of our mind-set in this building. But they're trying to force your hand and they ultimately have forced a lot of hands by the protocols. You know, I love this game, I love this team, I want to be able to compete and do the things that I think are important.


JARRETT: Forcing hands to save lives. As of the start of this week, 85 percent of NFL players had reportedly received at least one dose of vaccine.

ROMANS: All right. And patience has run out for employees who won't get the shot. A pointed new direction from corporate America as the delta variant surges around the country.

The CEO of Union Square hospitality group, the restaurant company, Danny Meyer, he wants his employees and customers to be vaccinated. A business imperative. You can't have full restaurants if you have this virus still spreading.


DANNY MEYER, CEO, UNION SQUARE HOSPITALITY GROUP: If you really want to go unvaccinated, you can dine somewhere else and you can also go work somewhere else.


ROMANS: Meyer has been ahead of public issues before. He banned smoking in some of his restaurants back in the 1990s, and that led the way really for the city.

The CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny Taylor, he told me most employees, they want vaccine mandates.


JOHNNY C. TAYLOR, PRESIDENT & CEO, SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: There are some organizations that are trying one more step before that. They're saying, if you choose not to get vaccinated, then you will have to be tested several times during the week on your own dime and you have to wear a mask in the workplace. And not any mask, but that N-95 surgical mask. I mean, we are going to, at the end of the day make this a little uncomfortable for you, because you're making it uncomfortable and the workplace less comfortable for your colleagues.


ROMANS: Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google, they're taking a stance on vaccines.

Microsoft is taking a different approach for now.


SATYA NADELLA, CHAIRMAN & CEO, MICROSOFT: There will be some combination of vaccines, testing, and exceptions to it. Because in some sense, if you think about the policies that one needs to have, has to accommodate the best practices of all three.


ROMANS: The "I read something scary on Facebook" excuse, that's not going to work anymore. Companies are tweaking their returns to office plans because of the delta variant. Some are pushing returns into the fall, but they are signaling, Laura, that vaccines will be required.

And I've been looking at digging into some of these requirements. In some cases, they're not mandates from these companies, they're requirements. They want you to pay for your own testing, test several times a week. If you are -- if you test positive at the MGM Grand properties, you will have to on your own dime stay home --

JARRETT: Yeah, make it hard for people.

ROMANS: Make it hard for people not to be vaccinated here. And in other cases, there are incentives. You know, there are these tax breaks, there are incentives in some cases. Companies are paying people to get the vaccine and making sure they're giving it on site.

JARRETT: Yeah, but conspiracy theories on Facebook, not a pre- existing condition to get your way out of this vaccine.

All right, millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes. The nationwide ban on evictions set to expire tomorrow.



JARRETT: A last-minute push now from President Biden to keep millions of people in their homes. The pandemic eviction moratorium expires tomorrow, but a bill is expected to reach the House floor today.

In the Senate, however, all 100 members would have to come together for quick passage. A lot of lives would be affected by this outcome.

CNN's Nick Watt takes a closer look for us.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas looks like a post-pandemic playground these days. Woo-hoo.

In the cold light of day, around the corner at the lead late office in the courthouse? Pain.

LESLIE, FACING EVICTION IN NEVADA: All of us lost our jobs, and it was on the Strip.

WATT: Apparently, nearly, 12 million Americans are now behind on rent, in the federal COVID era eviction ban, for now, expires on midnight, Saturday.

BARBARA BUCKLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEGAL AID CENTER FOR SOUTHERN NEVAD: You will see nationwide, on the first eviction notices, being issued.

WATT: And here in the state of Nevada?

BUCKLEY: Seven days later, if you don't respond, you're out.

WATT: Congress has approved nearly $47 billion to help people across the country.



And I bet, a lot of other people did not know that as well.

WATT: She's right. Only about $3 billion was actually dished out through the end of June. Spreading the word is hard, and bureaucracy gets in the way.

Now, in Nevada --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot be evicted --

WATT: As soon as you apply for the federal money, you cannot be kicked out, while it's in process.

That's a state law?

BUCKLEY: That's a state law.


BUCKLEY: That every state should pass.

PROTESTER: We can't work, we can't pay.

WATT: A few other states like California will keep some of eviction protections in place.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: Anyone who was impacted by this pandemic, and cannot pay rent, 100 percent of that rent, will be paid for.

WATT: And there is one group that will benefit when the eviction band disappears.

Squeezed landlords.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have many members who have exhausted all of their savings. I do not know how long that road will be, before we can be solid again. But, certainly, on the road to it depending on whether or not July 31st, truly, is the end of the moratorium.

WATT: But lifting some state level eviction bans last summer, say researchers, lead to more than 10,000 COVID deaths.

BUCKLEY: If families are forced to go to a shelter, or double, up you risk exposure. Doing it when the delta variant is out of control is a really bad idea.

WATT: Leslie says she was evicted once already, moved in with her mom.

And now, you and your mom?

LESLIE: Yeah, are getting evicted as well.

WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Las Vegas.


ROMANS: One of the big tragedies is some of these states have had hundreds of millions of dollars dispersed by the federal government in COVID relief for renters and they haven't dispersed it.

In Iowa, there are 100,000 renters who earn less than $25,000 a year. There are $195 million that's available for them. Only $3 million have been doled out since the beginning of the month.

So, there's money there, it's just not getting into the hands of the landlords, who then don't get paid.

All right. Seventeen minutes past the hour. Twisties are real and new videos from Simone Biles shed light on the struggles that forced her out of the Olympic competition.



ROMANS: All right. Simone Biles says she still has the twisties. In a now-deleted series of Instagram posts, she shows how scary it can be.

The big question is will she compete if the hour individual suspense starting on Sunday?

Coy Wire is in Tokyo for us with this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hi, Coy. Those videos were amazing.


These posts show how dangerous gymnastics can be, especially if you're not feeling right mentally. Biles said she felt petrified that her mind and body simply are not in sync.

She said, literally cannot tell up from down, it's the craziest feeling ever. Since I have no idea of where I am in the air, I also have no idea where I'm going to land or what I'm going to land on. Head, hands, feet, back, unquote.

Now, she also said that this started this morning after preliminaries here in Tokyo. And when she's had the twisties before, it's taken two weeks or more for them to go away.

Now, Christine, I was there at the event when Biles was watching the women's all-around gymnastics from the stands Thursday, cheering on her teammate and gold medal successor, Suni Lee. The 18-year-old stepping up on the sport's biggest stage, extending a lead of five all-around Olympic golds for the U.S.

Lee grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, training in a backyard and a wooden beam that her dad built for her. She missed two months in 2020 with a broken bone in her foot, two months with an Achilles injury. Her dad was paralyzed, Christine, from the chest down in 2019. And she lost her aunt and uncle to the COVID.

She said she felt like quitting at times, but she persevered and it all came down to the floor routine where she held on strong for an emotional win.

And you can imagine the scene back in Minnesota when Lee's family and friends knew she was going to bring home gold after going through so much. Lee says that she's savoring this accomplishment.


SUNI LEE, WOMEN'S ALL-AROUND GOLD MEDALIST: With COVID and just my family and everything else, this medal definitely means a lot to me, because there was a point in time where I wanted to quit, and I just didn't think I would ever get here, including injuries and stuff. So there are definitely a lot of emotions, but I'm super proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself.


WIRE: All right. Let's go swimming. The U.S. continuing to stack up medals. Training partners and friends Lilly King and Annie Lazor competing in the 200 meter breaststroke. And we saw a world record performance by South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker. Team USA picking up silver and bronze. During the pandemic, King was training in a pond in Indiana.

The 26-year-old Lazor almost quit swimming after not making the Rio Olympics. She even got a job in Cal's athletic department. Her family celebrated the win back in Michigan. Lazor's father passed away suddenly in April and was her ardent cheerleader, letting her know she was much more than her athletic accomplishments.

All right. Finally, scary moment here during a semifinal at BMX racing. Rio gold medalist Connor Fields of the USA crashing to the ground and two other riders falling over him.


The 28-year-old taken off the course on a stretcher, left the venue in an ambulance, dangerous sport. Had a crash in 2018 that gave him a seizure and he woke up in an ambulance on his way to the hospital.

USA Cycling has confirmed to CNN that Fields is awake, stable, awaiting further medical evaluation. He will remain in the hospital under observation. Of course, we hear at the EARLY START family all wishing Fields speedy recovery.


JARRETT: Yeah, definitely hope that he's okay.

All right, Coy. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Thanks, Coy. Have a great day there. Thanks, Coy.

JARRETT: All right. Still ahead, a scare aboard the International Space Station, 11 minutes of lost communication. What NASA is saying this morning. That's next.