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New Day

Dispute over Biden's Claims; Doomsday Possible for Georgia Hospitals; FAA Investigating Branson's Flight; Joe Walsh is Interviewed about Joe Rogan's COVID Treatment; Rural Town Welcomes Refugees. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 06:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: This woman last night was saying that there has been an experience where a woman went in, got her state mandated sonogram before she could get an abortion. Went back the next day. A heartbeat was detected and so they could not perform the abortion.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And that's what women face now in the state of Texas whereas of now, again, Roe v. Wade is not in effect and there is a ban on almost all abortions.

COLLINS: President Biden is also facing pushback this morning for a claim that he made during an event with Jewish leaders yesterday.

CNN's Daniel Dale has a fact check on it.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: President Biden spoke with Jewish leaders yesterday in advance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and he said something that appears to be just false. Biden said he remembered visiting the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh he strongly suggested after the synagogue was the sight of an anti-Semitic terror attack in 2018 that killed 11 people.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I remember spending time at the -- you know, going -- going to the, you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue, speaking with them -- just -- just is amazing these things are happening. Happening in America.


DALE: There is a big problem here. The executive director of the Tree of Life Synagogue told "The New York Post" that Biden had not actually visited. CNN reached out to the White House about this and so far they have not been willing to comment. In other words, they have not dispute what the synagogue told "The Post." And CNN has found no news articles or anything else that would serve as evidence that Biden did visit.

Now, it is possible that Biden spoke with someone from the synagogue say by phone. That quote you heard ended with him talking about speaking with them. He did say in 2018 that he had friends who attended services at the Tree of Life.

Regardless, though, this was the president telling Jewish leaders in advance of the high holidays that he remembered spending time at the site of an anti-Semitic massacre, going to the site of the anti- Semitic massacre, and there's just no evidence this is actually true.

John and Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we'll see what the White House says about that today. But it also comes as President Biden's economic agenda is in jeopardy once again after a new warning from his fellow Democrat and pivotal voter Joe Manchin.

BERMAN: Plus, one researcher in Georgia says hospitals are at risk of collapse if coronavirus cases continue to surge. She joins us next.



COLLINS: This morning, more people are hospitalized in Georgia than at any point during the pandemic. Health officials are sounding the alarm about a large number of new outbreaks across the state, many of them linked to the reopening of schools.

Joining me now is public health writer and researcher at the University of Saint Mary, Amber Schmidtke.

Amber, you have said that if the current trends continue, Georgia could be at risk of a regional hospital system collapse. What would that even look like?

AMBER SCHMIDTKE, PUBLIC HEALTH WRITER, UNIVERSITY OF SAINT MARY: Well, what it would mean is that, you know, hospitals are unable to provide the care that they could normally provide to patients. So lives that could ordinarily be saved might not be possible because there just isn't enough bed space, there isn't enough staff. And so what it really means is the triaging of care.

COLLINS: So you're saying this would look like people going to the hospital, maybe they have a sick child or they're sick themselves and they wouldn't be able to get the care that they would get pre-COVID or pre-this surge that you're seeing in Georgia right now?

SCHMIDTKE: Yes. I mean we already have situations where patients are waiting hours to be seen because there's -- there's just so many people and they're so much more serious. And so what this means is that, you know, hospital issues like car accidents and strokes and heart attacks happen every single day. And we know that in those circumstances that seconds count. So any sort of delay is really impactful.

COLLINS: And what are you hearing from health officials there? Those emergency room workers, people who are actually living this day in and day out, did they have the same concerns that you do that a collapse could happen?

SCHMIDTKE: That's actually where I started to hear this from was the emergency room doctors who have been saying this is unsustainable. They've got nurses that are leaving the field. It's a really scary situation.

COLLINS: It is scary and they're already risking their lives going in, working throughout the pandemic. You know, they have been strained over the last 18 months.

I'm curious, does this have to -- the opening of schools that is happening right now across the nation, do you think that is playing a big factor in this?

SCHMIDTKE: Well, you know, the surge in Georgia started before the reopening of schools. But, you're right, the south tends to open schools earlier than the rest of the nation. And so, you know, we have already seen that a lot of outbreaks are happening connected to schools. The number of outbreaks that are happening in schools is higher than it has ever been before, dwarfing anything that we've seen earlier in the pandemic.

So it is a cause for concern because those kids, when they get sick, they're not like a young adult who can go home and quarantine and isolate by themselves. They go home to families, some of whom are going to have underlying conditions, perhaps be pregnant and be immunocompromised that could really lead to complications with COVID- 19.

COLLINS: And, Amber, I'm initially from neighboring Alabama. I know a lot of people who did not get vaccinated right away. They waited. And now a lot of them are starting to get vaccinated, several people that I'm quite close to, because they're seeing people at their work get really sick with this surge of the delta variant. Is that something that you think is driving these new vaccinations? Because we know 4 million more people got their first -- the dose of the vaccine in August than in July.

SCHMIDTKE: Yes, I mean, the thing about public health is a lot of the times it's not personal until it's personal to you. And so seeing that proximity of somebody who has been really sick can be a very powerful motivator to go ahead and get that vaccine. I really celebrate every vaccine dose that we're getting into arms right now. It's not too late to get vaccinated.


So, I would encourage people to go ahead and get that done as soon as they can.

COLLINS: Agreed. It is not too late to get vaccinated.

Amber, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

SCHMIDTKE: It was my pleasure. Thank you. COLLINS: An entire school district in Texas, where masks are banned,

has now been forced to close after two teachers died from coronavirus. We are going to talk to one of those teacher's sisters coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, Richard Branson's flight to near space now under investigation. The details, next.


BERMAN: Developing this morning, the FAA has grounded Virgin Galactic, confirming that it is investigating Richard Branson's flight to the edge of space. The FAA says the rocket-powered plane veered off course during its dissent.


CNN's Kristin Fisher joins us now with the very latest.

So, what went on here?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: So Virgin Galactic is now acknowledging that Spaceship 2 dropped below its designated altitude for about one minute and 40 seconds. And that may not seem like a very long time, but you can travel a ton of ground when you're traveling at Mach 3, three times the speed of sound.

So, the problem was on the dissent, but it actually started as the rocket ship was throttling up into space. And so what happened was these two warning lights went off. There were two pilots in the cockpit, and they were faced with this split-second decision, either abort the mission, which would have likely meant that Richard Branson would not have become the first billionaire space baron to make it into space on board a rocket ship that he helped fund and develop. That title would have likely gone to Jeff Bezos just nine days later, or the two pilots could have decided to try to take control and change the trajectory manually. And that is ultimately what those two pilots decided to do.

But in doing that, it meant that as Spaceship 2 was gliding back down to earth, it went outside of its FAA designated air space. And that is a problem, a big problem. And that's what the FAA is now investigating and they have grounded Virgin Galactic until that investigation is complete.

Here's what the company is saying, though, if I can just read it to you real quick. Although the flights ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a control and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our space port in New Mexico. At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a change in trajectory.

But, you know, the FAA is looking at how does this impact potentially people on the ground and other aircraft.

John, think of it as though, you know, you're a pilot or a commercial pilot. If you travel outside of your FAA designated air space, you can get into a ton of trouble. That's exactly what's happened to Virgin Galactic here.

BERMAN: Sure. They weren't where they were supposed to be by regulation.

FISHER: Right.

BERMAN: This was not what it was supposed to be doing and they ignored or obviated these safety standards there.

Is this the first time? There have been other safety issues with Virgin Galactic in the past?

FISHER: Yes, there have. Most notably, the big one, there was a crash in 2014 which killed a Virgin Galactic test pilot and badly injured the other pilot on board. Now, Virgin Galactic has since made changes to the spacecraft, changed the way that this spacecraft -- they fixed the thing that caused that specific accident.

But since then there have been two other somewhat close calls, some safety incidents. No one was hurt. But, you know, there have been some growing concerns within the industry about Virgin Galactic's culture of safety, so to speak. A former test pilot for the company has been speaking out quite vocally on Twitter.

And, you know, John, these are just not the kind of headlines that any company wants, especially when they're right on the cusp of sending paying customers into space. And just yesterday, before the FAA officially grounded them, Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch more people into space later this month or in October. But the FAA just put an end to that until this investigate is complete.

BERMAN: You bring up a really good point. Remember, they're trying to sell seats for private tourist flights.


BERMAN: And this may make it much harder.

Kristin Fisher, terrific reporting, thank you so much.

FISHER: Thanks.

BERMAN: Thousands of Afghan refugees now being resettled in the United States. We're going to speak to residents in one Wisconsin town about the type of welcome they are receiving.

COLLINS: Plus, Joe Rogan says he has COVID and is taking a deworming drug, even though it's not proven to treat the virus. We'll discuss his influence on his listeners, next.



COLLINS: Joe Rogan is one of the world's highest paid and most influential podcasters and he announced this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and said that he has embarked on a treatment regimen of an antiparasitic medication that is unproven to treatment COVID-19 so far, in addition to several other options that he pursued.

So here for more on all of this is former Republican congressman and presidential candidate, Joe Walsh.

Joe Walsh, we are, of course, seeing this happening with Joe Rogan. He is talking about everything that he's taken essentially under the sun since this, including monoclonal antibodies, Prednisone, that's what former President Trump got when he tested positive for coronavirus. But now he is also taking a vitamin drip as well as Ivermectin, which, of course, is typically used, sometimes in humans, but also in livestock. We used to use it on my horses back in Alabama.

So, what have you picked up from Joe Rogan's announcement and what he has been saying on a group that he has a lot of sway over?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. Hey, Kaitlan, look, I wish Joe Rogan the best and he can take whatever drug he wants to take.

But, you know, the bigger story here is, for months and months Joe Rogan has been lying to his audience about the vaccines. He's refused to get vaccinated, and he's been telling his audience not to get vaccinated. And, I mean, I think of Tucker Carlson has done the same thing for months and months, bad mouthing the vaccines, not even having the balls or the courage to tell his audience whether he's been vaccinated.

And then, Kaitlan, you've got those four conservative radio talk show hosts, all anti-vaxxers, who died recently of COVID. I pray for them, but, Kaitlan, I don't feel bad for them. I feel bad for Rogan's audience. I feel bad for all of their listeners who have listened to this bull crap, these lies about the vaccines.

Think of how many of Joe Rogan's listeners over the last few months have gotten sick and died because of the disinformation he's been spreading.


I'm a former talk radio host. This is personal to me. I told my audience the truth about the vaccines and COVID. Most of these guys don't.

BERMAN: And that's the issue. The issue is what happens to the people who listen to this and just believe everything they hear. Are there people who just blindly follow and then end up sick because of it, and that really is a tragedy.


BERMAN: You know, Joe, a sign of the polarized times that we're in. A diner owner in Florida says she is banning Biden supporters over his decision to leave Afghanistan the way that the United States did and after the death of 13 U.S. service members. She says many of her customers are veterans.

Still, the idea of putting up a sign basically saying Biden supporters not welcome. What does that tell you?

WALSH: John, you and I have talked about this before, it reminds me of how -- and, boy, I'll tell you what, I wish the whole country was listening -- watching us right now, how dangerously divided this country is. I still engage with, as you know, thousands of Trump supporters every single day. I worry about violence in this country every single day because of what I hear.

What this diner owner did down in Florida doesn't surprise me. Free country. She can do what she wants and you and I don't have to go to that diner. But the bigger point is the point you raised, John, this country, based on what I hear every day, is on the cusp of more political violence. And, damn it, I wish Republicans, my former party, I wish Republicans would speak out on this right now, speak out against this, this divide, and help warn us about violence that might be coming.

BERMAN: You say she can do whatever she wants. She can't require vaccinations in her diner in Florida because of the state law. So it's interesting what is and what is not allowed.


BERMAN: Joe, stand by for a second, if you will, because while we're talking about Afghanistan, thousands of people evacuated from Afghanistan to safety here in the United States are now in search of a permanent home. And many are finding a warm, welcome in a rural town in Wisconsin.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has the story.


MARCOS ANDRES HERNANDEZ CALDERON, FORMER CUBAN REFUGEE: I wanted to learn the language. I wanted to learn the American way.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You weren't even sure what it was going to be like outside the fort when you got here?


JIMENEZ (voice over): Marcos Calderon lives in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, near Ft. McCoy, the current, temporary home for up to 13,000 recently evacuated Afghan refugees. The actual number isn't disclosed. But he knows their situations all too well.

He was one of the thousands who came to the same Fort McCoy fleeing Fidel Castro's Cuba as a refugee over 40 years ago. First, coming by boat to southern Florida.

CALDERON: You can see how your country disappear in your eyes. You know, you don't know when you're going to go back there, when you're going to see your family again. JIMENEZ (on camera): It has to have been scary. You're picking up and

leaving everything that you knew behind to go to a place where you don't know anything.

CALDERON: You have to be in somebody else's shoes so you feel what they feel. It's nice, you know, being separated from your family, coming to a country where you just don't know nothing. Not know the language. Not know the people. Don't know how the people is going to like or dislike you.

JIMENEZ (voice over): With refugees flowing into the fort, it's left some on the outside with concerns from politicians.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): If we let some people slip through that create acts of terror, that's going to -- that's going to poison the entire operation. And that would be a -- that would be a travesty.

JIMENEZ: To members of the public in nearby Sparta, Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the things that I'm concerned about is just the overall safety of our community -- the citizens in our community. There's just a huge cultural difference.

MICHELLE HAMILTON, SPARTA RESIDENT: It's a little scary because we don't know them. But, on the same token, they're people. They're scared too. I think that we should help them because they're still human.

JIMENEZ: And many have helped, donating clothes, shoes, anything they can.

ART DELACRUZ, CEO, TEAM RUBICON: We are literally flying the airplane as we build it. So every day is a constant iteration on how we receive the goods, how we continue to do this better in a more efficient manner. And we need to make sure that we can provide those basics as they move forward.

JIMENEZ: Most of the refugees from Fort McCoy won't actually be settled in the surrounding area. National resettlement agencies work with local affiliates to get them into communities across the country.

For Calderon and other Cubans like him, the advice for this generation of refugees is simple.


CARLDERON: Do good for the -- for others. Show that United States of American that what they have done for them in there.