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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

White House: More People are Getting Vaccinated Where it's Needed Most; Two More DC Officers Who Responded to Riot Die by Suicide; Simone Biles' Final Performance. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: America finally reaching the president's vaccination target. Will the momentum for new shots keep up?

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: More tragedy for the D.C. place. Two more officers who defended the Capitol on January 6th dying by suicide.

JARRETT: And we're just moments away from gymnast Simone Biles' return to the Olympics. How will she do on the balance beam? We are live in Tokyo.

It's Tuesday, August 3rd. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Thanks for getting an early start with us. I'm Laura Jarrett.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker, in for Christine. Good morning -- Romans.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We have reports this morning from Tehran, London, Tokyo and Washington.

JARRETT: Big morning ahead.

And this morning, the U.S. has finally hit President Biden's goal to have 70 percent of adults vaccinated against COVID-19 one month too late. One month too late for the hundreds of Americans who have died during the surge of the delta variant, a surge that's forcing some cities and states to face facts. Among them, Louisiana, which has had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

Governor John Bel Edwards has temporarily reinstated a statewide mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status. Space is running out at hospitals.


DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: There are no more beds left. Those 23 patients are a glimpse of what we've been doing the last two weeks while we've been trying to get everybody vaccinated.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: This is having an adverse impact on people's lives today as we speak. And the least we can do is put a mask on.


JARRETT: At the same time, vaccine demand is rebounding, first shots are up 76 percent in the last three weeks and shots are happening where they are most needed, up 171 percent in the eight states with the highest COVID case rates.


JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This increase in vaccination rates in states that had been lagging is a positive trend. Americans are seeing the risk and impact of being unvaccinated and responding with action. And that is what it's going to take to get us out of this pandemic.


JARRETT: The White House is also ramping up its focus on COVID, one official reiterated to CNN that national vaccine mandate not under consideration. But a senior official is pinning some of the blame on state leaders.

Look at this, one official says, quote, there are governors in this country who are putting their political interests ahead of public health. Now, support for vaccine mandates is growing, including from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I don't believe a mask policy will be enough. I think we'll have to talk about a vaccination policy. Private businesses, bars, restaurants, go to a vaccine-only admission. I believe that it is in your best business interests.


WALKER: Gyms, for example, need the pandemic to end to survive. Equinox just announced that it will require members and workers to show proof of vaccination to enter its New York City locations.

Broadway theaters announcing a vaccine requirement last week.

And one of the biggest law firms, Davis Polk, with a thousand employees, says it's going to deactivate ID badges of all non- vaccinated staff in September. Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation's largest health care providers, will require all physicians and staff to be vaccinated by the end of September.


DR. KAREN GIN, KAISER PERMANENTE: Vaccines work, they are effective. And we as a health care delivery system want to model for you what a fully vaccinated team looks like. Once this surge is over, there will probably be other variants that come down the pike and we want to be prepared this time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Denver's mayor, the latest to require all city workers to be vaccinated. That is about 10,000 people. San Francisco and other Bay Area counties are reinstating an indoor mask mandate. That means nearly half of California's population of 40 million will now have to wear a mask vaccinated or not.

JARRETT: And there is this little bit of good news. San Francisco's cable cars are back after being suspended last year because of the pandemic. They're going to be free all this month.

WALKER: The January 6th insurrection taking an even greater toll than we knew on the officers who defended the U.S. Capitol.


CNN has learned that two more D.C. Metro police officers who responded to the attack died by suicide in recent days. The department says Special Operations Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead in his home last Thursday and a spokesman says Officer Kyle deFreytag was found dead on July 10. That makes a total of four officers who have died by suicide since the riot.


CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER WASHINGTON, DC POLICE CHIEF: Clearly, there is a mental health issue here that we've got to address. It is not just the January 6th insurrection that the officers responded to. Obviously, that was a very traumatic incident. But it's just the day to day policing and the trauma that they are exposed to a regular basis especially in those cities with high rates of gun violence and so forth. This stuff adds up overtime.


WALKER: The fifth officer, Brian Sicknick, suffered two strokes and died a day after the insurrection.

JARRETT: All right. To the Olympics now, the return of Simone Biles after withdrawing from the all-around competition and three event finals, the star gymnast is competing with the balance beam final.

CNN's Blake Essig is live outside the gymnastics site.

Blake, I just got the alert that the balance beam final has begun. What do we know?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Laura, Simone Biles' quest for gold in Tokyo is happening now. She's up third out of eight competitors. The woman's gymnastics balance beam final is taking place as we speak right behind me.

And, of course, the eyes of the world will be watching as Simone Biles, arguably, the greatest gymnast of all-time returns to the mat after admitting to struggling with mental health issues earlier in the games. Biles last competed during the women's team final and withdrew herself after stumbling on the vault. Biles said that she was struggling with the twisties, and mental block, in which gymnastics competitors lost track of their position in mid-air.

As a result she withdrew from an additional four competitions at these games. But fair to say that they have not gone the way anyone thought they would. While she doesn't need to win anymore gold medals to cement her legacy, putting her mental health first will likely mean so much more to her legacy in the sports world as a whole, versus winning a few more gold medals.

There's no question that the impact and influence that she's had on people around the world and right here in Japan. In fact, one young woman waited for several hours in the hottest part of the day just to see Biles walk by and wish her well.

Take a listen.


DHALIS BARTLETT-MORRIS, SIMONE BILES FAN: I know that she'll give it her all. Even if something -- maybe if she loses, in our hearts she still won and she did her best and that's all that matters.


ESSIG: And Biles isn't the only U.S. gymnast to take part in tonight's balance beam final. All-around champion and rising star Suni Lee will also be going for her second gold in these Olympics. But, of course, all eyes will be on Simone as she goes for her first gold here in Tokyo -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Happening just minutes from now. Blake, thank you so much. We'll be watching.

WALKER: I'm quite excited for her.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

WALKER: A little nervous but excited.

Iran's new president is preparing to take office amid fallout from that tanker drone attack. How will America deal with the new leader? CNN live in Tehran, next.



JARRETT: A new era dawns in Iran today as a new president has just been confirmed, a new regime happening in the middle of a crisis with the West, over a drone attack on an oil tanker last week that's being blamed on Tehran.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Tehran.

Fred, good morning. This means essentially hardliners are now going to be in control of all levels of government, Fred.

It's just a stunning moment.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, certainly is. It will be a very difficult moment and as you said, it is also going to be a real change here going on in Iran's domestic policy but also in its foreign policy as well. Things could certainly get a lot more difficult for the Biden administration here not just as far as policy toward Iran is concerned, but as far as the entire Middle East is concerned as well.

We saw that event today where supreme leader accepted Ebrahim Raisi as becoming the new president soon and Ebrahim Raisi, in his speech afterward, says Iranians don't want to rely on any sort of negotiations with foreign powers, obviously meaning with the United States.

They have said that they want to stay in the negotiations in trying to revive the Iran nuclear agreement, but as far as foreign policy is concerned, Ebrahim Raisi has said that Iran is going to be both dynamic and very active, that obviously means here in the Middle East, in places like Iraq, in places like Syria, in other places as well. And that, of course, could mean a lot of trouble for the Biden administration the next couple of years.

JARRETT: Fred, as I mentioned, this deadly drone attack happening on a tanker connected to Israel in Arabian Sea. Take a listen to the U.S. secretary of state on this yesterday.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've conducted a thorough review and we're confident that Iran carried out this attack. It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran including past incidents with explosive drones. There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission in international waters.


JARRETT: So, Fred, you have obviously covered Iran for years now. How do the Iranians handle this under new leadership?

PLEITGEN: Yeah. And I think one of the other things that Secretary of State Blinken said that was also interesting is she said the U.S. was already working with allies to find some sort of common response to all of that.


Now, the Iranians reacting very angrily towards that, on the one hand calling those claims and also claims made by Israelis as well as baseless, but on the other hand also saying that there could be massive retaliation if there is some sort of international response to Iran.

In fact, the spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said those who sow wind will receive or will reap a whirlwind or a storm, meaning there could be a forceful response by the Iranians. That, of course, first and foremost, that message aimed towards Israel because the Iranian tanker of course is Israeli owned, but also towards the United States.

So, the Iranians very much saying that they are going to stand their ground and that they are going to act independently here in the Middle East and act in a very strong way as well going forward, especially with this new administration coming in.

JARRETT: All right. Fred Pleitgen, live in Tehran for us, thank you so much, Fred, appreciate it.

WALKER: Well, millions of families in jeopardy over how they are going to pay their rent.


There is always going to be that fear in the back of my mind that it can happen until the balance is paid.


WALKER: How the White House is responding as lawmakers push for more time.




BRITTANY BURNETT, PRESIDENT & CEO, UNITED WAY CSRA: You know, every day, we're seeing more and more. We're calling it the tsunami effect where now for some residents it is real. And with the various extensions that happened through the CDC moratorium, I think people were hopeful that maybe there would be yet another extension. And without that extension, again, people are feeling it right now that it's real and now, I really need some assistance.


WALKER: So high anxiety this morning for millions of renters across the country now that federal ban on evictions has expired. So what happens next for struggling renters?

Well, that depends largely on where they live. California and New York have extended their state eviction moratoriums. But in Florida with some of the hardest hit residents and fewest tenant protections, cases have been moving through the courts the entire time the eviction ban has been in place.

JARRETT: In other states like Minnesota and Nevada, renters are protected while they apply for emergency assistance.

CNN's Nick Watt spoke to a mother of three from Las Vegas.


DASHA KELLY, FAMILY FACING EVICTION: You guys honestly freaked me out when you knocked this morning, I'm not going to lie, because I'm really thinking that they are coming at any moment.


JARRETT: The White House says President Biden is doing everything he can to help families left in the lurch, challenging landlords to hold off evictions for the at least the next 30 days.

We get more on all this from CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura and Amara, the White House finds itself right now in a very complicated not just policy position, but also political position. On the latter point, you haven't seen a lot of that at least when it comes to intra- party issues, over the course of President Biden's first six months in office. That with the expiration of an eviction moratorium has changed dramatically with House Democrats making clear from Speaker Pelosi on down that they believe the administration needs to extend a long standing CDC eviction moratorium, something that expired on July 31 with the potential to effect millions of homeowners and renters.

But the administration has made it clear they never planned to extend it, and despite the resurgence the delta variant, they don't believe they have the legal ability to do so.

It's something one of President Biden's top advisers, Gene Sperling, laid out to reporters. Take a listen.

GENE SPERLING, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president went out of his way to push to the CDC today to look even at 30 days, even targeted to high -- counties with higher infections and the CDC independently came back and said that they could not at this time find the legal authority. I don't think this means that this president is going to give up.

MATTINGLY: Now, the White House spent all weekend dealing with this issue going back and forth with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, going back and forth with rank and file Democrats trying to figure out how to address very real concerns from some Democrats. They are implementing a series of smaller measures particularly as it pertains to trying to pressure states and localities to implement their own eviction moratoriums, state and local courts to slow down any potential eviction cases.

They also have a significant sum of money, more than $40 billion, that is supposed to go out from past COVID relief bills to aid some of these homeowners. And the federal government has kicked that money out. Now it is up to the states and localities to actually disperse it, something the administration says they are pressuring those entities to do. However, when it comes to what they can actually do from a federal policy standpoint, White House officials made clear despite what they have heard from congressional Democrats, despite the explosive requests to extend the moratorium, they don't believe that they have the legal grounds. The president is going to continue to look for options on that front but right now, they don't see any -- guys.


JARRETT: Phil Mattingly, thank you for laying all of that out.

Simone Biles back on the beam. She just wrapped up. We have results for you just moments away.



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

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. Twenty-eight minutes past the hour.

JARRETT: All right. It's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today. Simone Biles wrapping up her highly anticipated return to the Olympics, she just finished on the balance beam. A solid performance, but the best she can rank is second place.

WALKER: Vaccine demand is on the rise. The number of people getting their first dose shot up 76 percent in just three weeks. Still mask mandates are returning in many places, including San Francisco and Louisiana.

In New York, Mayor de Blasio stopped short of a mandate for masks saying he wants New Yorkers to focus on vaccinations.

JARRETT: Two more police officers who responded to the Capitol riot dying by suicide. The D.C. metro officers Gunther Hashida and Kyle deFreytag both died within the last month.


RAMSEY: It is the psychological wounds.