Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

United Airlines Mandates COVID Vaccines for all Employees; U.S. COVID-19 Cases Up more than 500 Percent in One Month; Mississippi Health Official: COVID-19 Situation is "Dire"; Biden Delays Vaccinations as Senate Eyes Infrastructure Vote; Who are the Unvaccinated and why they Hesitating. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 06, 2021 - 12:00   ET



PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIAION CORRESPONENT: October 25th is the day that someone must provide a lot of documentation about all of this. Flight attendants say they had some break through infections among them and they say now is not the time to let their guard down to mask up and get vaccinated, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: A very important first announced by United today. Pete thank you for those details. Thanks for being here guys. "Inside Politics" with John King starts now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello everybody and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. A very busy Friday, USA Today just nails it with a blunt front page message. We are failing one another.

The unvaccinated are dragging all of us to another COVID crossroads. The CDC Director says one path leads to pain and hundreds and thousands of new cases per day or a vaccination sprint could stop the Delta surge in its tracks.

Plus a blockbuster jobs report nearly 1 million Americans hired just last month. The president says his infrastructure bill is a critical next step.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It is indisputable. Now is this Biden plan is working. The Biden plan produces results and the Biden plan is moving the country forward.


KING: And brand new "CNN reporting" on how the big lie is now stoking security concerns for lawmakers heading home. We begin the hour though with the Biden White House and its kitchen sink you might call it COVID scramble.

Today's jobs numbers are crystal clear proof the economy are ready to soar yet the new COVID numbers raise the clear threat of another pandemic cliff. Team Biden now urgently looking for new tools to boost vaccinations. And today word it is now considering what you might call a hardball approach to federal funding.

You want your check. We'll then do more to get shots in orange. Let's check in with our CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond at the White House on this important day Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, listen, we heard President Biden take a victory lap today as he was talking about this a record jobs number in terms of his administration, the best jobs numbers in a year.

But it was very clear that the specter of the Delta variants was indeed hanging over this event, as the president talked about six ways in which his administration and through the legislation that was passed in Congress is there to help Americans as we experience the economic uncertainty that comes with another wave of this Coronavirus.

The president talking about the child tax credit that's out there, rental assistance that has been hard to get out the door and so it's very clear that even though the president was touting these jobs numbers saying that the Biden plan is working he is bracing himself for the possibility of more economic uncertainty as the Delta variant continues to spread across the country.

And all of this happening as we are learning that the president who in the last week really has begun to shift towards more hardline measures to get Americans vaccinated, we're hearing that his administration is indeed considering different ways that it can use the federal government's powers to leverage more vaccinations, including potentially withholding federal funds from nursing homes and other institutions unless they get their workers vaccinated.

So certainly, it seems like there is more to come from the president's in the coming weeks in terms of how he's going to boost those vaccination numbers. And certainly concern inside this White House about the effect that the Delta variant will have on the health and the economy of this country.

KING: And Jeremy, also some more clarity today, is I right about a question we've been asking for the last couple of weeks, if and when there might be a booster shot required for your COVID vaccine?

DIAMOND: That's right. Our understanding is now that the FDA is expected to outline by September. It's plan for approving booster shots for Americans. But something that's going to come sooner is booster shots for the immune-compromised we are expecting something on that sooner than September, in terms of how and when immune- compromised Americans would be able to get those booster shots.

Look, the data is out there. It's available for the public and for medical experts to see. And it's very clear that for the immune- compromised, there is a clear benefit. The question is though, what about those Americans who are already going out there and trying to get booster shots on their own before the FDA actually gives a green light? We will see if the FDA is able to act quick enough to give Americans the kind of decisiveness that they need.

KING: It's one of the many questions at this delicate moment. Jeremy Diamond appreciate you're kicking us off live from the White House. Let's take a closer look now at the numbers. Again you just heard the president right? Great jobs report. We'll get into those numbers later.

The economy looks great, except for the threat of this. If you look right now, this is a map of cases per 100,000 residents the change in Coronavirus cases state by state and the color coding is by 100,000 residents and you just can look right here.

Everywhere in America has a Delta variant problem right now cases are going up but look at this. Look at the red and the orange in the south across the southeast out to Texas in the West through the plains here. This is the bulk of the problem right here.

This is the bulk of the problem is in these darker states right here. You see it elsewhere as well. The country is going through a problem right now but regionally there are differences if you just want to look at COVID cases. This is the seven day average of new Coronavirus infections, the average as of yesterday, just shy of 99,000 - 98,518 cases.

One year ago we were at 55,000. Just remember the trajectories here. A year ago we were here dipped down a little bit and went up through the horrific winter. To remember where we are now as we go through this a little bit more.


KING: This is the daily case tracking the daily case tracking back to well before June there. The red line is the seven day average. That's what we use because there are blips from day to day. So mostly, we use the seven day average, because it's more statistically valid, if you will.

You see the seven day average. But look at places where you see the daily case count jumping over the red line, if it happens once or twice, it might be a blip when it starts happening a lot, and it's happening a lot. That's when the line starts to go straight up.

That's when you get the acceleration of cases. Remember that trajectory looks a lot like that doesn't it? Looks a lot like what we went through just a year ago. That's what the public health officials are worried about, which is why they are trying to get this vaccination rate - as quickly as possible.

Here's where we are right now, new people initiating a vaccination. The peak was back in April, when nearly 2 million people showed up to get their first shot. As of yesterday, the average 465,000 if you round that up a little bit.

On this point, let's bring in to share her expertise and insights Dr. Colleen Kraft, the Associate Chief Medical Officer at Emory University Hospital Dr. Kraft, grateful for your time today. The question is in this race, if you will, when you go back to cases, and you see the daily cases, and you see that trajectory, which is horrifically similar to what we saw last fall heading up in the winter.

And then you look at the vaccinations. The question is how high do you need to get the vaccination rate to have any confidence you can start to shove the Delta variant and the infections down?

DR. COLLEEN KRAFT, ASSOCIATE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Yes, so thanks, John, for letting me be on today. And I think that it's where it's going to be tough to know that because I think our goal for when we had - didn't have the Delta variant was a lot more achievable.

Now we have people that are vaccinated, and we have people that are getting sick, that we didn't think we're going to get sick, such as children. And so now I think, you know, we lost the race of vaccination versus the Delta variant. And now we really have to, I mean, we have to do everything we can to sort of try to catch up.

I don't know - I don't know what it's going to need to be. But to me, it would be higher than what it would have had been before.

KING: Higher than it would have had been before. If you look at it now, the White House says there's some progress in recent days. This has been a tough stretch. Remember, back in April, 4.6 million people way up here. You saw the drop.

Some of that was expected as more Americans get vaccinated; the numbers are going to go down. But then you hit this rut, they bounce up 864 1000 people yesterday. So the administration thinks that's great, though, what when you average it out, Dr. Kraft again, it's just below 500,000.

And Dr. Fauci has talked about a million. Some other public health experts say no, you need to get backed up to 1.5 million from what you're seeing today in the health care system. How worried are you that we could have what we went through last fall and into the winter? Again, that to me, no, no scientist, but that trajectory looks eerily familiar.

DR.KRAFT: It really does. And I'm just going to be honest, John, I feel like we're in July 2020 right now, except that we additionally have some people protected by the vaccine. But I would say this is the first time I've been really nervous about our transmission and our healthcare workers, even more nervous than maybe I was a year ago, partly because we can't be as sloppy with this Delta variant.

This thing transmits quicker, you know, some of our practices, you know, we could get away with maybe not being in the room with someone you know, for 15 minutes or less. We get away with maybe not wearing your masks inside for short periods of time.

This is not as forgiving. And so and we also know that people are getting sick that are vaccinated, not necessarily sick enough to be in the hospital. But that still, you know, when you talk about financial and staffing pressures, you know, that still means we may not have staffing in the hospital, and all of those things make me extremely worried and nervous.

KING: That's an excellent point you make and it's striking to hear you say that you're now suddenly nervous and worried because a lot of times there are critics out there who say, don't focus on the case count, focus on results.

Because it is true, it is true that if younger people get COVID, they're less likely to get serious illness or die. It is true that if you get hospitalized today, we know more, a lot more about treating COVID. And so you are less likely to die.

But with the new case counts 61,000 people hospitalized in the United States again, because of COVID. Again, a year ago, it was 65,000 the parallels are just too eerie for me of a number is about the same as it was a year ago, and we're heading back up again.

To your point of being concerned, these hospitalizations, maybe unlike some of those, most of these are completely unnecessary, right? Because if you get vaccinated you're not going to end up in a hospital.

DR. KRAFT: Yes, I mean, I think it's also - we've also - because we've allowed transmission to go on for so long. So basically, we haven't done enough with masking and vaccination everything so this thing is perpetuating. It's mutating.

You know, we're finding ourselves in now; again, another wave that yes, it definitely is, you know, is starting to be this is - this is preventable. And I think, you know, my, one of my colleagues always says, we're in the middle of a forest fire and you have a bucket in front of you use your bucket of water.

And so I think that's really what we need to find. Focus on is, you know, I myself coax three people into being vaccinated this week.


DR. KRAFT: I just heard about another one right before I came on that made the - finally made the decision herself. So I think it's really up to us to encourage coax, listen, help others understand why this is very important.

This doesn't only affect the health of like a very few that end up in this hospital on our ventilators, this really affects our children. You know, we just sent in Georgia, a bunch of our children together back to school this week.

And so, you know, we would like to move on past this pandemic. I think it's really important that we focus on how we can encourage and work together to make this and rather than being divisive.

KING: Dr. Kraft, grateful for your time. I love that analogy. I'm glad you're still looking you're calling pick up a bucket, use your bucket if you can, use your bucket. Dr. Kraft, thank you for your time. We'll continue the conversation.

Up next for us, here in Washington Joe Biden is getting close to that big infrastructure deal Donald Trump always wanted. The former president is not happy and he is trying to derail things.



KING: Tomorrow the Senate may finally pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Yes, there are, as always some last minute hiccups including hold up last night over deficit concerns.

But as of now, the bill does appear to be on the path to passage and Donald Trump is not happy that Joe Biden might get that big win on infrastructure where Trump constantly promised one, but never delivered former president now trying to enlist Republican help in derailing things.

Let's go up to Capitol Hill, our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. Manu, where are we and is this Trump threat real or just venting?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not going to affect the outcome in the Senate where this is on track for passage, almost certainly there'll be at least 10 Republicans who will vote tomorrow to advance this bill break a filibuster.

And that will almost certainly include Republican Senators who are up for reelection, even though Donald Trump threatened to primary anybody who supports this. People like Senator Lisa Murkowski told me that threat - Trump threat does know has no effect on her.

Senator Todd young of Indiana, also up for reelection indicated to me that he likely is going to support this. John Thune the South Dakota Republican is not there yet, but also said that he could potentially get behind this.

But that is much different on the primaries throughout primaries, throughout the country in Senate Republicans who are running for open seats are challenging Democrats. They are lining up with Donald Trump attacking this bill.

You're seeing this play out over and over again, often conflating this $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill with the larger Democratic effort and saying all this spending in their view needs to stop. I asked one Republican Senator Tom Tillis about what is happening here? What is the difference between the primary electorate and Senate Republicans?

Tillis supports this bill. He told me they're in the middle of a primary. So when you're in a campaign, you're going to have to go into a group and spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes as I have explaining why this makes sense/?

Now, why I think this could lessen the damage of the bill that Democrats will follow up with a friend a $3.5 trillion bill. And then I asked him about Trump influence is he influenced the views of candidates? Tillis responded I'm sure that has an influence.

And one of the things here that is striking too John, Republican Senator Rob Portman, who has been central to this negotiation, is behind this bill. He's drafted this as a cornerstone of his legislative achievement in his career in office, but all the Republicans were running to replace him are bashing this and say it's the wrong approach John?

KING: Wow! Interesting politics, but the process seems to be on track. We'll watch it throughout the weekend. CNN's Manu Raju with an important new reporting there thank you.

With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Dana Bash Zolan Kanno-Youngs of "The New York Times" Edward-Isaac Dovere from "The Atlantic" and CNN's Lauren Fox.

I want to come back to the former president and what I'll call his hijinks on this bill in a moment or his sour grapes, I guess this bill. But let's focus on the bill itself, because it does appear the president's approach is going to work, at least through the Senate, not to the finish line.

It gets very complicated. But the president believes he's on the verge of a win to the point that he's delaying going to the beach so he can stay around for a few more phone calls, if necessary. Be I suspect what event saying I told you so. The president role at the White House saying this is a big deal.


BIDEN: It's a bill that would end years of gridlock in Washington, and create millions of good paying jobs and put America on a new path to win the race for the economy in the 21st century.


KING: We're almost at day 200. How important is this for the president? Because if you just look at the polling right now his job approval overall, this the new Quinnipiac Poll 46/43 it's about split but that is down three points since the last poll to May.

On the economy, the president's underwater 43 approved 48 percent disapprove his approval. They're down five since May, even on the Coronavirus, where do you still gets pretty good grades 53 percent of Americans approved 40 percent disapprove that 53 is down 12 points from back in May. He is sliding right now. And he needs a win.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is sliding on all of those issues. And those are all incredibly important. But what's not on there and what is so important for the White House and for Democrats on Capitol Hill is the overall notion of keeping a campaign promise.

And that is he can get things done. And he can get things done in a bipartisan way. This is Exhibit A and probably will be BCDE all the way to Z. Not probably but likely for the Biden at least the beginning of his first office term.

And so that is one of the biggest reasons they want to get this done for the jobs and all of the substantive reasons that he talked about. And you pointed out in that poll, but also the notion of Washington actually being able to work on his watch.

KING: And there was one question yesterday the Congressional Budget Office has to score grade the bill, what's it going to do to the deficit? And it said what at $256 billion to the deficit, over 10 years, there was a brief gasp but even some Republicans might walk away.


KING: But what they said and forgive me at home out there in America is that there are other provisions. There are other fundraising provisions that they can't "Score their processes", not allow them to take that money into account, something that could have thrown this off the tracks did not.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, the CBO score is not the full story is bipartisan in the way that both Democrats and Republicans use this talking point when they want a bill to get the support that they need to get it across the finish line.

But look, this CBO score yesterday was significant because it does add to the deficit. But if you stretch it out over a decade, which is what the CBO does, that's $25 billion a year. It's not that significant in the grand scheme of how the U.S. spends its money.

KING: So let's come back to Trump and as Manu rightly notes, it's not going to stop the votes in the Senate. But it does then kick over into the campaign in which McConnell has made a decision, Portman has made a decision that we're OK, giving this to the president.

If the Democrats can pull off the other pieces and get a pass. We're OK with this. We can go home and say we don't oppose him on everything if it's going to build a bridge in your community to bring broadband to your community. We were for - enough Republicans think that's a good approach. Donald Trump thinks not.

So what does it matter when you have - these are Republican candidates in Senate primaries out there in Wisconsin? Well, I mean, Missouri, one of the candidates saying weak rhinos meeting Republicans in name only.

One of his rivals in that same primary reckless is spending the Republican candidate, one of them in the North Carolina Senate reads paving roads so you can drive to your China Bank to pay for it. What is it - it's just sour grapes? I wanted this and didn't get it. I don't want Joe Biden to have it.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, there's eagerness here, if you know, for some of these Republicans to buy into the influence that Trump has over the Republican Party, and try to win over some of his supporters, but there's also a risk there. There was a fascinating point in Manu's reporting, where he talked to

some Republicans who talked about how you really want to, I mean, sure, you can make comments like that to try and get Trump's base.

But you also now risk possibly being known as one of those people in Washington, who is not focused on providing solutions to problems not focused on actually investing in an issue that does have bipartisan support polls show across the country, but rather just blocking legislation.

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: And that's the issue that happened with the American rescue plan, right, where no Republicans in the House or Senate voted for it. And then the Democrats said, look at all these things that we're doing all this relief we're providing to businesses, and no Republicans before it right.

And out in the country you saw the polls support it, Republicans supported. Republicans in Congress, and they don't want to get caught in that same trap, which is why this now goes not only about getting the bill through, but how the Biden Administration is and candidates around the country are able to say to people, if it happens, this is what we did for you. This is the difference it's making.

BASH: Can I just quickly add, this is example number 374 of the irony is dead. Because the idea that Donald Trump and people who support him are screaming and yelling about spending a lot of money. I mean, the way that they spent made drunken sailors look frugal. I mean, that's just the reality. And now all of a sudden, this is the issue this season. Come on.

KING: We finally get infrastructure week. It's just not his so he's not happy. Fifth grade life is the fifth grade. Ahead for us, we'll talk to a doctor who speaks to the unvaccinated every day her message to them and to the rest of us.



KING: There are more than 90 million Americans who are eligible for the COVID vaccine but have not yet received it. Some are hesitant. Some are adamantly opposed. In a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation 34 percent of the unvaccinated adults say becoming infected with COVID is their biggest concern.

A majority you see it there are 53 percent say the vaccine to them is a bigger risk than getting COVID. Dr. Rhea Boyd is trying to change their minds one at a time. She's a Pediatrician, a Public Health Advocate who reaches thousands of the unvaccinated with her twice weekly "Tele Town Halls".

Dr. Boyd, thank you so much for being with us. More importantly, thank you for the work you're trying to do every day. So let's walk through some of the groups that you have. A one big concern you say is that people believe there are dangerous side effects. How do you answer them when they asked that question?

DR. RHEA BOYD, PEDIATRICIAN & PUBLIC HEALTH ADVOCATE: First, thank you so much for having me today. And yes, this is one of the major concerns that we hear that people are concerned about side effects, not just the common side effects that are mild that we all know about.

But people who have concerns that there are dangerous side effects that the scientific community is keeping from them. Side effects that might affect their ability to work or continue with their normal activities or side effects that might trigger their underlying chronic illness and so when we answer people's questions, we're actually talking about very specific concerns, not generalized myths that people hold.

KING: And so when you come back at that, though, do you tell them you know its 165 million Americans have received this. If we were going to have side effects, we would have seen them by now.

DR. BOYD: Exactly. We reassure people with the science. We say we're not really reassured by the clinical trial data that was on tens of thousands of Americans. But like you noted, now more than 150 million Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccines. And that is more data than we've had on many of the vaccinations that we currently recommend for folks.

So we have an enormous amount of safety data that tells us that the vaccines are incredibly safe and incredibly effective.

KING: You also talk about my word not yours, I believe information desert so there are people out there who just aren't getting access to quality information. Describe that group and then how do you get them what they need to get over the hill?

DR. BOYD: So we've long had some information deserts or barriers for certain folks to have access.