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New Day

Vaccinated Florida Man Dies of COVID; Cuomo's Last Day in Office; Texas School Adds Masks To Dress Code; Afghan Gives Birth Aboard Evacuation Plane. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 23, 2021 - 08:30   ET



LYNSEY ADDARIO, PHOTOJOURNALIST WHO'S COVERED AFGHANISTAN SINCE 2000: And we have no leverage. So I'm not sure what we're waiting for.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Lynsey, I know -- look, I know you're not waiting. I know you're working very hard around the clock to effect some change here and we'll keep -- I know it's tough. I see it on your face. I know there's a -- there's a helplessness that so many people who are doing this feel, but at the same time, you know, there have also been a lot of stories of successes as well. And a life is a life.

So, look, Lynsey, thank you so much.

ADDARIO: Thanks.

KEILAR: So, up next, there is anger from the family of a fully vaccinated man who died of COVID. Who they blame for their loss.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And an image of hope amid the chaos of evacuations from the airport in Kabul.


BERMAN: As we wait for full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, which could come at any minute, a reminder of why these vaccines are so important.

Eighty-four-year-old Clark Allen, who was fully vaccinated, died on July 22nd after becoming infected with the virus. His family believes he got it at his Florida assisted living home. His daughters are angry. They wrote in the obituary, quote, he was infected by someone who chose not to get vaccinated and his death was preventable. He is survived by seven children, 17 grandchildren, one great grandchild.

One of Clark Allen's daughters joins me now, Danielle Allen.


Danielle, we are so sorry for your loss. Your father seems like a card. I mean seems like a -- quite a guy.

Listen, you're sad, but you're also angry. Your father had COPD, a pre-existing condition. What are you angry about?

DANIELLE ALLEN, VACCINATED FATHER DIED OF COVID-19: I'm angry because the state of Florida has basically said that vulnerable people don't matter. And really, like most of the U.S. has said that. He had a full life and he really loved us, and he loved his grandchildren so much. And he did everything right. And he still died. And it shouldn't have happened.

BERMAN: And you place blame on the assisted living facility? How?

ALLEN: Based off what he told us, there wasn't a lot of masking and there was a lot of questions about the vaccination status about -- around him and the workers and the people who lived there. And I firmly believe that if he had been in a different state, he would still be alive. I think Florida, the regulations around assisted livings and facilities in general are nonexistent and, I mean, it didn't really matter which one he was in, in Florida, at the end of the day. I think just by being in an assisted living in Florida where there's no precautions taken, no regulations, nothing being done by the state to protect people, that he didn't really have a chance.

BERMAN: Let me read you a statement that we did get from this assisted living facility. They say, addressing the unprecedented health challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus has been our priority since the beginning of this global health crisis, as proven when we became one of the first communities to partner with Walgreens in January to offer vaccines to both our residents and team members. Since that time we have focused on inoculation by making available three additional on-site vaccination clinics. We continue to abide by enhanced safety and sanitation protocols, as well as robust infection control measures.

What do you say to that?

ALLEN: I would say that I had to fly down there when my dad got sick and I was in that facility and it didn't feel safe. And I would say when we alerted them that he had COVID, they told us that he probably tested positive because he got the vaccine. And I think, again, those could come from any facility in Florida. It wasn't just -- it's not just that specific one, because there isn't regulation. And I still maintain that by staying in Florida and by being in assisted living in Florida, that's what killed him.

BERMAN: I mentioned your father was a jokester, something of a -- what was it, a cat fetish I was reading? Tell us about it.

ALLEN: All animals. He loved animals so much. We got constant emails and pictures of animals. He had a birthday list, because there's so many of us, seven kids, 17 grandkids, that he would send out annually to update birthdays and all that stuff and everybody's pets was still in the birthday list. He always made sure they were included. Yes, he loved animals.

BERMAN: Well, it's nice to see that he can still put a smile on your face. May his memory be a blessing.

ALLEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: And may everyone hear this and go out and get the vaccine.

ALLEN: I hope so.

BERMAN: Danielle Allen, thank you so much.

ALLEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, the final hours for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his time in office.

And the school district that's making masks part of the dress code.



BERMAN: new York Governor Andrew Cuomo spending his last day in office today after more than 10 years on the job. Cuomo is stepping down after a report from the state attorney general found that he sexually harassed 11 women.

MJ Lee joins us now.

So, MJ, you know, what does the day hold?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, John, three terms as governor of New York and at 11:59 p.m. tonight, Governor Cuomo's resignation goes into effect. And right at midnight, that is when Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is going to be sworn into office.

This, of course, comes two weeks after Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation after an AG investigation found that several women had accused him of sexual harassment. He has denied any wrongdoing. But we should also note, there are other ongoing investigations into the governor's conduct, including a criminal investigation by the Albany Sheriff's Office. He has said that this AG's investigation is politically motivated and biased.

I should note, one of his final acts in office has been managing the hurricane, the tropical storm that has come to New York over the weekend. We saw him declaring a state of emergency in parts of the state. He also deployed the National Guard and the state police. And, interestingly, he participated in a phone call with President Biden with a number of other governors in states affected by the storm and, notably, the lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, participated in that phone call. She was the only non-governor on that call. It just goes to show that this is going to be one of the most urgent issues on her plate once she is sworn into office. Again, that happens at midnight. And we do expect, John, that she is going to address the people of New York in a speech tomorrow afternoon.

BERMAN: Yes, in a state like New York, any state, there's no time to warm up. LEE: Right.

BERMAN: When you become governor, you've got to be ready to go.

MJ Le, terrific reporting. Great to see you.

Just ahead, possible loophole to the mask requirements in Texas schools. So -- the mask requirement ban in Texas schools.

KEILAR: And a delivery of a different kind for a U.S. military cargo plane leaving Afghanistan.



KEILAR: In one school district in Texas, back-to-school shopping for clothes now includes masks thanks to the school district's new dress code. To work around Texas Governor Greg Abbott's ban on mask mandates, the Paris Independent School District found a loophole and made masks mandatory as part of, yes, the dress code.

And joining me now to discuss this is the attorney for the Paris Independent School District in Texas, Dennis Eichelbaum.

OK, Dennis, explain to us first how this works, how you can kind of get way with this with a loophole that gives the board members the legal authority on this.


It's not really a loophole. We've always had the authority to mandate dress codes in Texas. And last year a lot of our school districts did the exact same thing. And this year we chose to do that because the governor's executive order suspended multiple laws but never suspended the Texas education code. And because the school board trustees have exclusive authority over anything having to do with the public schools, including the dress code, we chose to include it in the dress code this year.

KEILAR: OK. So it's still a mask. So how do you -- how do you get -- get around that, or is the hope that this just is -- is something that, you know, gives you legal grounds if -- if it comes to that?

EICHELBAUM: Well, we believe it does give us legal grounds to do that. And a mask is no different than mandating shoes or anything else at the school.

KEILAR: OK. And so it's something to you that is, what, temporary? They aren't expecting this to go on forever.

EICHELBAUM: Well, that's a very good question. The school board has said that it's going to look at it each month and determine whether or not it's necessary. And because it's in the dress code, it could be a flu epidemic in the future where they decide to mandate it. It could be multiple communicable diseases that could trigger this provision in the dress code.

But you are correct, they're going to look at it month-to-month. There isn't a single trustee in Paris ISD that likes wearing a mask, but they feel it's in the best interest of the faculty and the students right now.


KEILAR: What are you hearing from the state? What pushback are you getting and what are you expecting to get back?

EICHELBAUM: Well, we've gotten the form letter from the attorney general and our attorney general has a list of districts that he calls violators. But so far they haven't taken any legal action against us. And so we feel pretty comfortable in our decision right now.

KEILAR: OK, what about teachers, parents, students, what are you hearing from them?

EICHELBAUM: That's -- that's the key. And that is that we have not had any complaints so far. We have some parents who don't like it, but we have not had a single student who has refused to comply as of yet. So it's been a week of school almost and we've been very pleased with everyone cooperating so far.

KEILAR: This violator's list that the Texas AG has put the school district on, you know, what do you think the next step -- you laugh. I see you smiling at that. But what -- what do you think the next step is after that?

EICHELBAUM: Yes. You know, I don't really put a lot of credence into politicians who create lists. So --

KEILAR: All right. Dennis, I think we're having a little breakup of your signal there. But I appreciate you joining us today, Dennis Eichelbaum with Paris Independent Schools.

Thank you.

So here is what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Today, Gov. Cuomo's last day in office.

2:00 p.m. ET, White House press briefing.

3:30 p.m. ET, Biden welcomes Seattle Storm.


KEILAR: Full FDA approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine could be just hours or even minutes away. We'll have more CNN coverage just ahead.

BERMAN: And, next, high drama aboard an evacuation flight from Afghanistan. One woman goes into labor. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: Moments ago, U.S. officials confirmed 10,400 people have been evacuated from the Kabul Airport in the last 24 hours. That is a genuinely huge number. One Afghan woman fleeing the Taliban is starting her new life with a new baby. A U.S. Army captain, also is also a nurse, helped her to deliver the child after she went into labor mid-air.

CNN's Atika Shubert live at Ramstein Air Base in Germany with more.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Delivering a baby is stressful at the best of times. But imagine it happens mid- flight, an evacuation flight packed with hundreds of evacuees from Afghanistan.

This is what was faced by Captain Erin Brymer when the plane landed.

We had a chance to catch up with her earlier this morning at Ramstein Air Base. Take a listen.


SHUBERT (voice over): An image of hope amid the chaos. A baby girl born in the cargo bay of a U.S. Air Force C-17 carrying Afghan evacuees. As the plane landed at Ramstein Air Base, the 86th Medical Group rushed in to safely deliver her.

ARMY CAPTAIN ERIN BRYMER, NURSE WHO DELIVERED BABY ON EVACUATION FLIGHT: So when I evaluated the patient, we were past the point of no return. That baby was going to be delivered before we could possibly transfer her to another facility. So we were just opening our emergency equipment.

SHUBERT (on camera): What was the moment you realized, we're going to be OK?

BRYMER: When the baby came out screaming and we were able to put her directly on mom's chest and get her breast feeding right away. I was like, OK, we're good here.

SHUBERT (voice over): Ramstein Air Base in Germany has become the latest hub for evacuation flights out of Afghanistan. CNN filmed as some of the first flights arrived. More than 6,000 have been evacuate here with 17 flights landing in 24 hours air base officials say, and more to come.

Here, there is safety, basic shelter, food and water. But it is only a temporary measure. Many here do not know where they will go next or how. But for the moment, there is relief and reason to celebrate new life.


SHUBERT: Now just to give you an update. The mother and baby are healthy. They're at a nearby hospital here. One of the interesting side notes when I was speaking to Captain Brymer earlier, what she said, it happened incredibly quickly, 10 to 15 minutes after the plane landed. And everybody was so excited that the pilot actually announced to everybody on board, it's a boy and she had to correct him and he said, oh, I mean it's a girl. So an incredible scene. She just said she was so overwhelmed with emotion when it happened, John.

BERMAN: Fifty-fifty. Go to go with one thing.

Atika Shubert, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. You know, we needed the smile this morning.


BERMAN: Brianna, I have to say, you know, you had a discussion with Lynsey Addario, a raw discussion about how hard it is for so many, particularly Afghan war vets or journalists who worked in Afghanistan, right now trying to get people they know and care about out of the country. And it's draining. And I know you're going through it in your house now. It's draining. It's hard. And while there is some success, I know it can feel futile.

KEILAR: Yes, this is -- this is what so many vets are going through. And I think a lot of Americans don't realize the bond between American veterans and also these civilians who have worked with Afghans and, quite frankly, are alive because of these Afghans. But, you know, when some of these American veterans and so forth, they look at these Afghans and their kids, they see their own kids.



KEILAR: They see people who kept them a alive.