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Inside Politics

Biden, CDC Consider Revising Mask Guidance For Vaccinated; W.H.: Delta Threat is Predominantly to Unvaccinated; Nearly Half of the House GOP Caucus Won't Say if They're Vaccinated; GOP News Conference Focuses on COVID Origins; Survey: Doctor, Nurse Most Trustworthy Source of COVID Info. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 22, 2021 - 12:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: "Inside Politics" with John King, next on CNN.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, everybody. Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington, the CDC Director just moments ago saying the United States is at a pivotal pandemic moment the Delta spike forcing the Biden Administration now to wrestle with a giant Coronavirus question should you mask up again?

Plus the GOP's vaccine divide some House Republicans are suddenly pleading for you to get the shot. Many Republicans though say none of your damn business when we asked them if they are vaccinated, and Donald Trump says don't trust your eyes. Listen to this new audio. The former president wants you to believe the deadly Capitol Insurrection was a love fest.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: It was a loving crowd too. By the way, there was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people told me that was a loving crowd. They were ushered in by the police. I mean, in all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in.


KING: To start the hour with breaking news, the Biden COVID team providing a pandemic update just moments ago painting a grim picture of the - current COVID reality and what to do, should you for example, mask up? Surgeon General saying every death right now in his view is preventable. Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here with more, Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, John, in this briefing, what you're essentially hearing from these officials is a level of concern about the Delta variant and the rising cases among those who are not yet vaccinated in a way that we have not really heard before. Yes, they have talked about it they have said that we are seeing the Delta variant obviously become - be the dominant strain now that it's making up over 80 percent of the sequenced cases here in the United States, but they were essentially telegraphing of grave concern for those who are not yet vaccinated, given how transmissible the Delta variant really is.

And of course, this comes as there are now concerns and debates internally about whether or not John they need to change the mask guidance for even people who are vaccinated when they're in indoor settings, given how much of a surge in the Delta variant we are seeing and the questions about just how much people who are vaccinated can spread it?

I asked Dr. Fauci about that last week. He said they're still gathering clinical data on that. But they believe right now that people who are vaccinated and do get infected called breakthrough cases are not spreading it at the level that unvaccinated people are, but they still don't have a final answer on that.

So it is a factor that has been played into these conversations about whether or not they're going to change the guidance. But to give you a level of the kind of - inside the administration over how to proceed here and what the best guidance going forward is going to be John?

They're not even confirming on the record that they are having conversations about whether or not they need to update the guidance with several other reporters and myself press the CDC Director and other top federal health officials on this, they just pointed back to the current guidance, which is of course, that if you're unvaccinated, you need to be wearing a mask.

And if you're vaccinated, you have good protection from these vaccines so far. So John, that's a huge question. Of course, it would be a big psychological blow, I think to a lot of people in the country if they did change the mask guidance, even a little bit given that has been really one of the big messages coming out of the White House to get people vaccinated.

But the bottom line from this briefing is clear. It is still half of the country is unvaccinated. And they are very concerned about those unvaccinated people in the spread of this very present Delta variant.

KING: Kaitlan Collins live at the White House for us at a very difficult moment for the Biden COVID team. Let's walk through some of the numbers on why it is so difficult and take a peek at it here. Just look at this map right now.

This is the Delta variant and where it is in the United States right now. It is 80 percent of the cases down here in Region 4 it is 96 percent of the cases here you just see all the red and orange it is the dominant strain by far right now. This is today.

This was one month ago where you see the Delta variant yes was taking root one month ago, but not at the extreme level where you see it now. That is why the White House is worried it is more transmissible. It is a much nastier variant. Here's another way to look at it.

This is the transmission map from the CDC right now if your county is red that is bad. That means high community transmission. You want to be on this map blue, or yellow, look at the map right now. Look at where we were a month ago, a lot more blue and yellow on the map just a month ago.

If you look at the state of the COVID transmission right now, this is high transmission. This is the red high transmission and most of that is the Delta variant. Here is one other way to look at it. There are five states right now driving this or at least the five states with the most cases over the course of the past couple of weeks Florida, California, Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri.

At this point, let's bring into the conversation to share his expertise and his insights. Dr. William Schaffner. He's Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner so the Biden COVID team is wrestling. I'm just going to bring back up the transmission map of where we are now with this, suddenly a lot of red and a lot of orange on a map that looked at a lot better just a couple of weeks ago. One of the conversations is should the CDC be recommending masks again? Where do you fall?


DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROFESSOR, VANDERBELT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I think certainly anybody who's older John, who is more likely to get severe disease, people who are immune- compromised. Why, of course, put on your mask when you're indoors or going shopping. That makes good common sense.

I think local health departments and state health departments are debating this, just the way the CDC is. You know, public health recommendations have to be acceptable by the people to whom they're directed. And in parts of the country, my own part of the country included. I don't think that there would be a whole lot of acceptance of going back to mask wearing, but it's really quite clear.

The reason we're having these discussions and this agonizing look at what's happening is that on vaccinated people remain unvaccinated, right? That's why we have to have these discussions.

KING: Forgive me for interrupting. That is why we're having discussion. Let me just go through a few more things here. We just look at it. Again, the trend lines are in the wrong direction. This is hospitalizations. 28,000 Americans hospitalized as of Monday, we go back just a couple weeks over 17,000.

Like cases, like even the death toll things are trending in the wrong direction. And here's a significant reason why Dr. Schaffner, if we went back to the middle of April 1.8 million people got fully vaccinated on that day. Now we're down to a count of 253,000 people.

And so we've talked about this before you just mentioned your state, the Biden White House is trying to throw the kitchen sink any tool we have a trying to convince people please get your shot. They said today they're going send $100 million to rural health centers all around the country for Vaccine outreach. Is that a necessary tool a good tool?

DR. SCHAFFNER: Well, it's certainly something will - that will make the vaccine available in those rural areas. But the people with the arms have to show up to take advantage of it. And so far, they haven't. But anything we can do to persuade, every single person who's unvaccinated to take the vaccine would help.

If we all get vaccinated, we can bend that curve down again, and keep it down particularly important as schools start to open. The single most important thing we can do is reduce the transmission of this virus in our communities. The way to do that is for all those adults, everyone aged 12 and over, gets vaccinated today.

KING: We are hearing more about these breakthrough cases and some vaccine hesitant Americans as some people were just anti-vaxx use those to say, hey, look; even people have gotten both shots. If you have a two shot vaccine or even people who are fully vaccinated, maybe you have a one shot vaccine are getting COVID.

At the White House briefing a short time ago key emphasis there was yes, this happens. But it's rare. And if you get COVID, it's less likely to be severe listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will see some cases among those who are vaccinated as to be expected with any vaccine. These cases are generally mild and oftentimes asymptomatic, which is just more proof that the vaccines work.


KING: Do you - A, do you agree with that? And how important is that - whether it's the Biden COVID team, whether it's yourself it's for any healthcare professional anywhere, gets that point across that the vaccines overwhelmingly protect you?

DR. SCHAFFNER: Well, it's very important, John to distinguish the vaccines keep people out of the hospital, they prevent severe disease. On occasion, we do have breakthrough infections. They're rarely severe. They're most of the time without symptoms at all, or with very mild symptoms.

There's a big distinction. It is really unusual today to have an unvaccinated person be admitted to the hospital for COVID. 98 percent of the people admitted today for COVID illness are unvaccinated; all those diseases could have been prevented by vaccination.

KING: It's just concise and well put Dr. Schaffner, grateful for your insights today. I wish more people out there would listen and roll up their sleeves. We'll see if the numbers improve in the days ahead grateful for your time today. Ahead for us some brand new CNN reporting on house Republicans in COVID vaccines and a new study that shows your view of Dr. Fauci could well depend on where you get your news.



KING: Number two House Republican is suddenly a cheerleader for getting your Coronavirus vaccine. But some new CNN reporting underscores the fact that there is still a giant GOP vaccine divide. 97 members of the House Republican Caucus 97 members that are close to half simply won't say whether they have been vaccinated?

When asked some of they told us that's none of your business. CNN's Lauren Fox joins us now live from Capitol Hill. She's part of this great reporting. Lauren, walk us through it.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, John, this is part of a survey that we've done every few months up here on Capitol Hill because we needed to know how many members of Congress are vaccinated how many members aren't vaccinated.

My colleagues, Annie Greer and Sarah Fortinski and I went through our list of members we still weren't aware of. And we learned there are still 97 members that we don't know the vaccine status of either because they didn't respond to our survey, or because we haven't been able to find the information that would normally be available publicly like tweets or public events that they've held.

So I think that one thing this really reveals that is that even though the Republican Party seems to be changing its tune when it comes to vaccines some members even being more public about talking about their vaccine status. There is still nearly half of the Republican Conference that we have no idea if they're vaccinated or not?

You know Kevin Cramer who is a Republican member of the U.S. Senate. He's one of the few Republicans in the Senate by the way, who isn't revealing his vaccine status?


FOX: One of two, he told me look, I don't view it as my job to educate constituents on whether or not they need to be vaccinated or not. That's their job, their decision to make. He said he's a legislator, not an educator. And I think that that really speaks to how some of these House Republicans also feel.

Now we asked some of them in the hallways, Chip Roy being one of these members that we asked, are you vaccinated? And he said plainly, it's none of your business. Some members telling us they couldn't believe we were even asking the question.

It's important because earlier this week, the Office of the Attending Physician on Capitol Hill sent out a notice to staff and members saying that the Delta variant had been detected at the U.S. Capitol, there are concerns renewed concerns about mask wearing, you're seeing so many more staffers and members wearing masks today than they were Monday. So it's a big deal up here on Capitol Hill. And obviously a question of whether or not members should be educating and talking about their vaccine status so that constituents isn't afraid of getting the vaccine John.

KING: Amen to that Lauren Fox, appreciate you and the rest of the team doing this very important reporting. With me in studio to share their expertise and their insights our Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson, Capitol Hill Reporter, Melanie Zanona, CNN White House Correspondent, Arlette Saenz and "POLITICO" Playbook Co-Author, Rachel Bade.

Forgive me, Republicans, it is our business. We're in the middle of a national public health crisis. In the budget, when we're doing a budget, we ask them about taxes and spending. When the country has a COVID crisis we asked about COVID.

I want to come back to Senator Cramer she just mentioned there. I don't feel like it is my job to encourage people to do something that they don't want to do. You know me. I haven't been worried about this since the beginning. I'm a policymaker. I'm not an educator. I haven't been worried about this since the beginning. That's great Senator 610,000 Americans are dead because of COVID. Isn't it his job to worry about this since the beginning?

RACHEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean what an embarrassing blunder that is. I mean, clearly, Republicans are hearing from there some people in the base right now who are afraid of vaccines, who are, you know, sort of buying into these conspiracy theories that the government's going to make you get something and they're playing politics with this.

I mean to say that the U.S. Congress doesn't have a role in educating their constituents about how serious this is. There's the Delta variant, more people are dying again. And there's a lot of Republicans out there who are only going to listen to Republican leaders.

And so for him to say, it's not my job, and I'm not going to comment. I mean, it's irresponsible, plain and simple.

KING: To Chip Roy, Lauren mentioned him. He said, I don't think it's anybody's damn business. Whether I'm vaccinated or not, this is ridiculous what we're doing. The American people are fully capable of making an educated decision about whether they want to get a vaccine or not that there.

There are legitimate health care privacy issues, right? Every American has a right however, they are elected members of Congress in the middle of a pandemic. Am I wrong? Isn't it - isn't it our business, if they want to lead on taxes and spending if they want to lead on health care? Don't they have to lead on a pandemic?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: They do, and there has been a noodle bowl shift in the Republican Party in recent days and weeks. You saw Steve Scalise the number two House Republican who got his vaccine has been talking up on Fox News. The House GOP Doctors' Caucus actually had a press conference today

trying to urge people to get vaccines, but at the same time, they are still not willing to confront which is arguably one of the biggest culprits of vaccine hesitancy and that's the misinformation being spread by the members of their own party.

And as Rachel said, a lot of it is awareness to provoke the base. There's also awareness to call for censorship on social media. And also they're just very eager to blame Democrats and go after Democrats.

KING: To that point this meeting with the Doctors' Caucus today, several Republicans came out and talked after we're going to play it to you in just a second. To his credit, it may be late, but better late than never. Steve Scalise the number two Republican started to get - got his first shot over the weekend started talking to his constituents, again, seven months after the vaccines come out.

You could argue it's late, but I'll take better late than never. So out of this meeting, say you expect OK, a change of tunes from Republicans. They want to tell their people please get vaccinated. Look around the country. A lot of this is happening in rural Republican America, please get a vaccine but as Melanie notes not exactly the number one topic.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Why are Democrats stonewalling our efforts to uncover the origin of the COVID virus?

REP. STEVE SCLISE (R-LA): The only person that won't investigate what really happened is Speaker Pelosi. What does Speaker Pelosi have to hide?

REP. ANDY HARRIS (R-MD): There's been no leadership from Speaker Pelosi on that side. We just truly don't understand what she's hiding. You should be getting this vaccine. This vaccine does in fact, protect against symptomatic Delta variant.


KING: Andy Harris at the end they're working it in. But again, I'm going to come back to the leadership question. OK, a lot of their bases anti-Vax, a lot of their base listens to misinformation and conspiracy theory. Is it their job to try to lead their base out of the wilderness or to follow their base out of fear?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're - they see their job is following the base. I mean, that's what we have seen from many Republicans and listen, they oftentimes believe what the base believes too. They are not only representatives of the base but you know share a similar ideology.


HENDERSON: This is also just the Republican identity now right? This idea that, you know, being anti-Vaccine, believing in all sorts of conspiracy theories about this vaccine as well in the question is, are these please from people like Steve Scalise too little too late, Right?

I mean, great I'm glad he did it. But it has been so baked into the cake among some of these communities and so reinforced for months and months and months by their peers and things they hear on Facebook, that it's not clear to me that somebody like Steve Scalise is going to be able to change the tide, at this point, because the identity is so baked into the cake of being a diabetic.

KING: I asked a very smart, very engaged Republican pollster - there some new piece of data that convinced these Republicans to suddenly do this? And he said, not so much. But what he does think is he's hearing more from more from candidates around the country, and they're starting to see this.

They're starting to see the spikes in their own communities. And they're oh, oh, that could hurt us. And let's continue the conversation. President Biden says people are dying, because of COVID, misinformation and at last night's events, Town Hall, he did note that all of a sudden, some Fox News personalities, were promoting COVID vaccines as safe and effective.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Misinformation is going to kill people, not a joke, not a joke. It's like telling your kid that I tell you what, four years old, when you see a red light cross the street, I'm feeling better about I'm not being a wise guy now. You know, you want others other networks and not a big fan of mine. When you talk about lot, but if you notice, as they say, and in my southern part of my state, they've had an altar call some of those guys.


KING: As a new study that reinforces part of what the president's talking about there that some people are influenced heavily by where they get their information, including on COVID. I just want to go through a little bit of it, and then we'll bring in one of the prime directors - drivers of this study, what provide - who provides trustworthy COVID information?

Well, 83 percent of Americans are very confident in the information they get from a doctor or a nurse only 10 percent say they're not confident. 77 percent are confident from what they hear from the Food and Drug Administration 76 percent confident 24 percent not what they hear from the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Anthony Fauci, nearly seven in 10 Americans say they're confident right 7 to 10 confident 32 percent not confident. Well, you look at Dr. Fauci; this is where you get at it.

If you get your news from far right sources, OAM, Newsmax things like that. Only 38 percent of those people have confidence in Dr. Fauci. If you get your news primarily from Fox News about half 51 percent say they have confidence in Dr. Fauci. If you watch what's defined as the mainstream media, I think we're in this boat here.

84 percent have confidence in Dr. Fauci. And if you only get your news or you get predominantly get your news from social media platforms, 7 in 10 Americans have confidence in Dr. Fauci. At this point let's bring into the conversation Kathleen Hall Jamieson. She's the Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the driver of this research.

Kathleen, just what jumped out the most when you're looking at, you know who trusts what and where they get it from in the middle of this pandemic?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, DIRECTOR, ANNENBERG PUBLIC POLICY CENTER AT UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Single most important finding people regardless of where they get their media trust their doctor, their nurse, their health care provider, which means that the strategy that says, let's trust at the local level that these folks can make a difference now, particularly with the vaccination has, is a really, really important insight.

And that's consistent with what the Biden Administration is trying to do, trying to deliver the message at the local level door to door using people who are trusted.

KING: And so I want to come back to what I was just talking about a minute ago in showing you some of the graphics from your study, half of Fox News viewers are confident in Dr. Fauci, fewer than 4 in 10, who get their news from what you describe as more far right sources even than Fox News, if you will. It's an echo chamber, correct?

JAMIESON: It is but not a uniform one or a monolith. There are hosts on Fox News who have supported vaccination. Their voices need to be amplified their voices on Newsmax, including the director they'd had, who have now made strong statements about vaccinations.

They need to see that say that more clearly and more loud, like the people who whom we trust inside our media ecosphere are almost like friends to us. And when they say it's really up to you, and don't in the process, say but I have vaccinated they're also missing part of their message.

You talked earlier about people who won't acknowledge whether they've been vaccinated. If people over represent the likelihood that most people aren't vaccinated, they're less likely to vaccinate. That's why it's important to every one of us say, I've been vaccinated of course we have.

In my case, I have my husband has my children have my grandchildren have everyone who I can talk to will hear a vaccination message from me.

KING: And let me ask you one more other one here. You mentioned that those who are unvaccinated and they say they're unlikely to get vaccinated. They list a number of reasons you offer them several different options. You can do it. But 6 in 10 say it's too untested. 44 percent say they were about side effects. 32 percent say they're simply not concerned about COVID 27 percent say they never get vaccinated.


KING: What jumped out when you're looking at this the most reluctant the people who say no, hell no, I'm not going to get a vaccine in finding out why did you see any path to maybe breakthrough?

JAMIESON: Yes, to the extent that we've now had multi millions of individuals who have been safely vaccinated. We've increased the likelihood that you know, someone if you're vaccination hasn't who's had the vaccine without any serious complications, and as a result now is safer.

You also are highly likely to know someone who believes the vaccine is safe and effective. Three quarters of the people in our survey said they believe that and three quarters said they believe getting the vaccine is safer than getting COVID.

Those people, who've had the vaccine believe it's safe and effective, believe it safer and more effective. It's better than getting COVID need to talk to everybody in their environment to increase the likelihood that those of us who are on claimed inside media universes where we only hear about hesitance are hearing the vaccination message, message imbalances matter.

And if you hear more of the information that says safe and effective, see, I'm evidence of it. And if you think about all the vaccines you've had in the past that have protected you, you're going to increase the likelihood that you're going to get vaccination hesitancy reduced among at least some.

KING: Kathleen Hall Jamieson grateful for your time today grateful for this important study. It's very helpful kind of sort through some of the questions out there. And we'll talk again, I'm sure. Up next for us, Donald Trump in his own words and perhaps in his own reality new audio in which Trump uses the word loving, loving to describe the violent Capitol insurrection.