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Inside Politics

NY AG Finds NY Gov Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women; JHU: Cases Up Nearly 50 Percent From Last Week, Highest Since Feb.; NYC To Require Vaccine Proof For Many Indoor Activities. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And the stakes for the governor are enormous. If you heard one of the investigators and Clark saying he acknowledged some of this said some, said he had a different view on how some of it played out and denied other parts of it.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He in March said that he wasn't going to bow to cancel culture, that this was cancel culture at play after the new -- most of the New York delegation, including Senator Schumer, including Senator Gillibrand, as Dana mentioned earlier, came out and said it was it was time for him to go. So this is also a message to male politicians, doesn't matter how powerful you are, it doesn't matter what kind of network you have, one of the things I think that struck a lot of us when all of these Democratic politicians in New York were kind of coming out on mass is the united front they were presenting because Governor Cuomo is known as a very vindictive man is someone who is -- who will go after people who speak out against him. And it just -- there was so much evidence that it was just enough is enough.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can I just want to add one thing, as heroic as these women who came out and told their stories are, and they really are, I think we have to just be real here that it's still not easy for women. I mean, many of them, those who became -- came out and were very public, like Lindsey Boylan, she has had her reputation dragged through the mud, she has been accused of a lot of things. And that, you know, shouldn't have happened.

And it is still even in 2021, even in the Me Too, even post Me Too era, it is still very, very difficult for women. And that was the point that the attorney general was trying to make over and over again, believe women, it's our obligation to protect women. And that is the message that she was trying to get out there.

KING: Right. To your point, a woman identified in the report as executive assistant, number one, said she only came forward because she was afraid. Afraid she only came forward after she watched the governor publicly at a press conference, deny that he had ever touched anyone inappropriately. And that's when she came forward.

Again, we're going to hear from the governor they have at the top of the hour to the point you made, Governor Cuomo, perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps it's not the right word to use, but as you say a Trump-style playbook in the sense of deny, attack the accusers, say this is being taken out of context. In the Democratic Party, in the state of New York, in this day and age, can you pull that playbook out?

BASH: Yes, it's happening. I mean, it is -- I mean, look --

KING: Now that this report has been published, 11 women who the Attorney General of the state of New York and again, the two independent investigators, said they find the 11 women credible.

BASH: To borrow a term from the President and Vice President, this is an inflection point. This is an inflection point. And we'll know the answer to that very soon, of whether or not that can happen in today's day and age, especially among Democrats, and even among and by a governor who helped change the law to make it easier, as Elliot Williams was saying, to allow these women to seek justice.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Because New York is a Democratic state, though, that erases part of the Trump playbook, which is to accuses of, you know, being partisan, and these are your political enemies, who are out to get you and we know the governor has said that to some degree. That's a harder argument to make when most of the people who are accusing you and asking you to step down our fellow Democrat.

KING: Right. And again, if you don't understand New York state politics, Andrew Cuomo is the most powerful man in New York state politics, but he does not have a lot of friends. Even among Democrats. He just -- it's simply true. He has had a lifelong dream of winning four terms as governor, because his father was denied a fourth term. I covered his father years and years ago, back in the day when he was the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, a very different person than Andrew Cuomo. And yet Andrew Cuomo for the legacy, once a fourth term, this report would seem to say, no, sir.

KUCINICH: It isn't hard not to sexually harass people. It's actually really easy not to sexually harass women, who are your subordinates, men who are your subordinates, it's not hard, so if you wanted a fourth term, perhaps you should have taken that into account.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think what's going to be really important later today after Governor Cuomo's press conferences, what President Biden and the White House say, I mean, we talked about this earlier in the show, but earlier this year, when President Biden was asked about the allegations, he says, if they are confirmed, then yes, he should go. So does this rise to the level that President Biden is seeking? I mean, we will surely, Jen Psaki will surely get a lot of questions about that at 2 o'clock with that.

KING: Right. And we know that the President's preferred route on these things is to pick up the phone and do it quietly. The question is, is that phone call happening? Has it happened? Will it happen? You're right, a very important question for the President of the United States who is the leader of the Democratic Party at this moment. Ladies, thank you so much for coming in. [12:35:00]

Up next for us, we shift to another critical as you just know, we're waiting again for Andrew Cuomo. We'll bring you that at the top of the hour. Up next though, a COVID crisis point, hospitals filling up again.


KING: President Biden speaks later today about the COVID crisis trying to close still the vaccination gap. New York City's Mayor had a big announcement early today this among some very troubling COVID numbers. Hospitalizations across the country at their highest level since back in February, and nine of every 10 Americans, nine in 10, now live somewhere where the CDC says you should mask up even when you go indoors, especially when you go indoors.


Let's look this as the cases right now. If you look at the cases right now, cases are up nearly 50 percent from last week, above 80,000, above 80,000 new infections a day. Not since February, not since February when we were coming down from the horrific winter peak there have the new cases been this high. When you have new cases, we've been through this sadly too many times before, hospitalizations go up 200 percent from just last month, Americans in the hospital because of COVID are up we're about 50,000 in the hospital for the first time since February.

And this is what I mentioned at the top, red on this map is high spread of COVID, high community transmission of COVID. You see substantial as the golden color, the blonde and yellow moderate, nine in 10 Americans, nine and 10 Americans are now at places where the CDC says you should think about this. You should think about this and mask up.

Let's at this point bring into our conversation to share his expertise and insights the former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, Dr. Frieden, grateful for your time. The question is you have the New York City Mayor saying, if you want to go to a restaurant, if you want to go to a gym, indoor, entertainment, or recreation then you need to prove you have been vaccinated. Is that what we need right now more companies have come forward say you want to come back to workplace? Is it proof of vaccination? Should we divide Americans essentially, if you're not vaccinated, you can't do certain things?

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Big picture here, John, is that Delta is making this virus doubly dangerous and we have to double down on protection. Mandates to enter gyms and restaurants make a lot of sense. In other countries where this has been done, it's actually helped business because people are more comfortable going out to eat or going to the gym if they know that everyone around them has been vaccinated.

KING: So you work at the national government, you're trying to come up with a national response understanding. We have 50 states and they are different in many, many ways. Part of it is the vaccination rate right now. You see in the lighter green people at home, 37 percent in Arkansas, 37 percent Louisiana, 64 percent in Maine, fully vaccinated. You see the disparity between the states, a lot of cases coming out here. But Dr. Frieden, Texas had 44 percent vaccination rate, Florida almost halfway at 49 percent.

In the past week, one in every three cases, one in every three new infections come out of those two states. They have Republican governors who don't listen, frankly, to team Biden's advice on this. What do you do?

FRIEDEN: It's really not about team Biden or any other team. It's about team science or team anti-science. If you're with team anti- science, you can beat this virus if you're not the virus is going to beat you. And what we're seeing all over the country is places that have low vaccination rates that are relaxing mask mandates are seeing explosive spread. And, John, the numbers you gave are bad, but I'm sorry to tell you I think those numbers are going to get a lot worse in the next month.

The one silver lining, and it's an important one is that because more than 80 percent of the most vulnerable people in our society, those over 65 and also people with underlying conditions are already fully vaccinated, we are going to see a much lower death rate compared to the case rate. So vaccines are saving tens of thousands lives. But basically, bottom line, you're about 100 times more likely to be killed by this virus if you don't get vaccinated.

KING: Right. So I want to come back to the vaccination map because you talk about things could get worse as we look. If you look down here, it's largely in the south, southeast part of the country where the vaccination rate runs well behind the national average, again, 39 percent, 34 percent, 35 percent across Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, if you go that way, right there. Those are also the places Dr. Frieden that go back to school earlier in the season, typically.

I want you to listen to Dr. Francis Collins at the NIH says, yes, it's true when children get COVID they tend, in most cases, not to get severe symptoms. But he says there are sadly some tough exceptions.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NIH DIRECTOR: It's clear that this variant is capable of causing serious illness in children. You have heard those stories coming out of Louisiana pediatric ICUs where there are kids as young as a few months old who are sick from this. So yes, you do need to think about it.


KING: I know you spend a lot of time on this. What is this? What should every school administrator, every parent, every mayor, every governor, every person in public health, whether it's state or local level be asking themselves right now about children at this moment?

FRIEDEN: It's actually not just all of the people you mentioned, it's all of us. We have to get our kids back in school, get the schools to open and stay open. And all of us can do our part with that because the risk in schools reflects the risk in the community. Schools can open and stay open and it's crucially important they do so but they have to do so with a layered approach. That means vaccinating everyone who can be vaccinated, that means masking indoors for everyone in the school. This is terrible to see some of the state's banding mask mandates in schools. This is condemning our kids to outbreaks of COVID.

And we have to make sure we increase ventilation. We have special protections for some of the kids or staff who may have underlying conditions. And we're ready for when there are cases because there will inevitably be cases. We can stop them from becoming clusters or outbreaks. Schools can stay open if we take a layered approach and nothing, really nothing, John, is more important than saving lives and keeping our kids in school and we can do that by vaccinating and with an extra layer of protection, masking up.


KING: Amen of that. Dr. Frieden, grateful for your time and your insights today, Sir, thank you.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

KING: Ahead for us, as I noted New York City says show us your vaccinated if you want to eat inside a restaurant or go to the gym.



KING: The New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning, drawing a sharp dividing line you will need proof of a COVID vaccine to go to a restaurant, a gym, or any other indoor entertainment or recreation venue in America's most popular city. Let's get more now from our CNN national correspondent Athena Jones, Athena, big step.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. It is a big step. We've been talking a lot about mask mandates and vaccine or testing requirements in private companies or for certain cities municipal workers. This move goes the furthest of anything we've seen in the nation so far. New York City starting September 13th, that's the week after Labor Day will require anyone who wants to eat indoors, so indoor dining, anyone who wants to work out indoors, indoor fitness centers and gyms, and also anyone who wants to go see entertainment, indoor entertainment venues, everyone will have to show proof of vaccination.

Now, they're going to have several ways they can do this. They can show the New York State as an excelsior pass that shows you've been vaccinated. You can also show your vaccine card that you get when you've been vaccinated. And there's an app that they're going to be introducing as well. And you only have to have one shot. So in some cases, you have these two shot vaccines, only one dose is necessary to be able to meet this goal. Listen to how the mayor described it sort of his goal here.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): If you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate many things.


JONES: So he wants to make it uncomfortable for people to be able to participate in the activity of this great city if they are not vaccinated. We know that we saw something similar introduced in France, and we saw a huge number of people signing up for a vaccine or to get a vaccination once that was introduced. That's what they're hoping for here. John?

KING: It will be fascinating to watch those numbers to see if there's an uptick now in shots in arms, Athena Jones grateful of the important reporting there.

Let's move from New York now to Louisiana to get a view from someone who said hospital is in the middle of all this. Dr. Mark Kline is the physician-in-chief at Children's Hospital in New Orleans. He's also a pediatric infectious disease specialist, Dr. Kline grateful for your time today. I just want to put up on the screen, the children cases right now in Louisiana, 20 percent of the new cases in Louisiana are children under the age of 18. And you see the 5 to 17 year olds are the yellow line. What are you seeing and what is different about children in the hospital now as opposed to previous spikes of COVID?

DR. MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF & ACADEMIC OFFICER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: Well, John, I think the Delta variant of COVID- 19 has been a game changer for us. We're seeing far more children hospitalized with COVID-19 than we have in the past, a number of them in the ICU. We had one death at Children's Hospital New Orleans just last week. This is wreaking havoc, it's overburdening all of the pediatric and adult healthcare facilities across the state, transmission is rampant.

I don't think we have seen a virus like this one that has the combination of contagiousness and virulence that this one has. And so and we're still on the upslope, we're not anywhere near plateauing in terms of cases, or suffering or unfortunately, deaths.

KING: In the middle of the storm. This question may be premature. But do you have enough data yet? Are you seeing enough data yet when these young children are coming to the hospital with COVID? Are their parents vaccinated?

KLINE: I don't have enough data to say. But I know that only 37 percent of Louisianans are completely vaccinated at this point, and that number is one of the lowest in the nation. And we've got to work hard to increase it. And now every adult in the United States and particularly here in Louisiana has another reason to be vaccinated, and that is to protect our children.

Children are suffering from this disease, the myth that children could not become infected or would not be very ill with this disease that has been dispelled by the Delta variant. And certainly, they're getting quite ill from this disease now. And we as adults can insulate them from the disease by getting vaccinated and masking up and doing the things we know we can do to blunt this transmission.

KING: I'm glad you address it that way. Because when you talk to people, many of them say our kids can't get this or our kids if they do get it, get very mild cases. With schools about to reopen, what is your message to parents across the country?

KLINE: Well, we certainly are proponents of face to face learning at school, but we've got to do it as Dr. Frieden pointed out in a safe way. And so schools need to be practicing good hand hygiene. They need to practice distancing. We're proponents of masking in the schools. Governor Edwards here in Louisiana yesterday instituted a mandatory statewide indoor masking policy that does pertain to all schools and school children five years of age and older. We think that that's a very important step.


But all of those things have to be done. We've got to protect children from becoming infected and suffering the acute effects of this disease. But you know what? We don't know what the long term or the late effects of COVID-19 and particularly this Delta variant might be for children. So we've got a lot of good reasons to try to keep children safe now.

KING: Dr. Kline, grateful for your time and for your very important message. Appreciate it, Sir. Grateful for what you're doing every day in the middle of a storm there in Louisiana.

KLINE: Thank you John.

KING: Thank you for your time today in Inside Politics. Please don't go anywhere. Stay with CNN, the breaking news from the governor of New York. Andrew Cuomo will speak in just a few minutes after stunning details from the Attorney General's investigation into sexual harassment.