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New Day Saturday

Airports, Highways Packed As Travel Surges For Holiday Weekend; Airlines Brace For Unruly Passengers As COVID Precautions Remain; Vaccination Disparities Raise Concerns As Delta Variant Spreads; Hurricane Elsa Strengthens In Caribbean, Poses Threat To Florida; Worries Mount As U.S. Troops Leave Top Military Base; Up To 1,000 U.S. Troops Expected To Remain In Afghanistan; CNN Hosts Star-Studded July 4th Special At 7:00 p.m. Sunday; Olympic Hopeful Suspended For Positive Marijuana Test. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 03, 2021 - 07:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's so good to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. America is open and millions are on the move this holiday weekend as crowds gathered to celebrate. Health officials though have a warning for the unvaccinated. The delta variant is spreading through the country.

PAUL: Also, a massive mudslide. Look at this thing sweeping through parts of Japan. What we're learning about the damage and the people who are missing now.

SANCHEZ: Plus, we're tracking Hurricane Elsa at is, as it is strengthening in the Caribbean. Forecasters say it could impact Florida as soon as Tuesday. What that could mean for Surfside and search and rescue efforts in that deadly condo collapse?

PAUL: And the White House says American troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of August, as it fights back criticism that the withdrawal could lead to the country's collapse.

SANCHEZ: Good morning. We are thrilled to have you with us. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Saturday July 3rd. Thanks for joining us. Great to see you as always, Christi.

PAUL: You too. Welcome back, Boris. It's good to have you back. So, whether by plane train, bus car, maybe you've been cruising if you're heading out for the holiday weekend, you're going to have a lot of company. Look at the airport in Chicago there. Experts predict the number of people traveling for this Fourth of July, will rival Independence Day weekend's pre-pandemic. There are some airports already busier at this point than they were in 2019, in fact.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and while the travel surge reflects the progress that the United States has made in curbing coronavirus, health experts are worrying that the delta variant could fuel a surge in new infections, putting at risk people who have not gotten vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci raising concerns about to America's emerging with pockets of the country lagging in vaccinations.

PAUL: And there's no doubt the U.S. has made a lot of progress in the past year, millions of people are ready to make the most of it, it seems. CNN's Polo Sandoval tracking the travel rush from New York. Polo, I think it's important to note and correct me if I'm wrong, but most airports do still require masks, yes?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they do. Not only the airport Christi, but also when you board those flights. Now, when it comes to those numbers that we're seeing right now in terms of travel, it seems that we've not only reached pre-pandemic travel numbers, but even exceeded them. The TSA figures now suggesting that over three percent, or at least that we've exceeded the total number of people that were, that were processed at checkpoints by three percent on Thursday.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): By now, most Americans who plan to travel this holiday weekend may have already braved the Fourth of July frenzy on the roads.

VALENTINE CHAVARIA, TRAVELER: I think it's going to be pretty busy and congested. Yes, that's why I didn't want to wait and leave any, any later than today.

SANDOVAL: Or at some of the nation's airports, many of which seem to be bursting at the seams on Friday. AAA expecting nearly 48 million people will have traveled either by road or by air by the time this fourth of July weekend comes to a close, most of them some 43 million opted to drive to and from their destinations according to Andrew Gross from AAA.

ANDREW GROSS, AAA: The biggest difference probably the number of people traveling by car and there are a number of factors figuring into that, international travel is still down, cruising has not picked back up yet. And people may generally feel a little more comfortable traveling by car, you can decide when you're going to leave, where are you going to stop and maybe not everybody in the family is vaccinated yet.

SANDOVAL: Gross expects rising fuel prices likely aren't keeping families from a long overdue post pandemic getaway. It won't come cheap though with the cost of a gallon of gas averaging $3.12, nationally, the highest in seven years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $11.00, I'm at 2.5 gallons.

SANDOVAL: Experts say not only a summer demand to blame but a shortage of fuel truck drivers that has left some service stations empty. Flying this weekend, you want to adhere to your air crews instructions or face paying some hefty fines. The Federal Aviation Administration has received over 3000 reports of unruly passengers this year alone. Majority of incidents related to non-compliance of the federal mandate requiring mask wearing on flights. Hoping to address people who don't listen to crew instructions, the agency rolled out a video message for those who should know better from those who do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll go to jail if they keep doing that stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is so unsafe. They should know better if they're like adults.


SANDOVAL: So, not only dealing with unruly passengers is proven to be a challenge for airlines but also keeping up with demand. In fact, that's one of the reasons why some folks out there have already had to deal with some travel headaches with flights being cancelled here. Ultimately, what airlines are trying to do is trying to increase their staffing. They have fewer planes with fewer workers out there. So, Southwest Airlines asking flight attendants that if they're able to work this holiday weekend to do so, American Airlines also, Boris and Christi, they've reduced their flights by about one percent. Again, trying to keep up with that pent up demand.


SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot of folks wanting to get out and into the friendly skies. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Of course, with that demand for travel come concerns over coronavirus. Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Chris Pernell, a Public Health Physician and Fellow with the American College of Preventive Medicine. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, doctor.

A lot of folks are going to be celebrating this holiday weekend at barbecues, firework displays, the White House hosting its largest in- person events since President Biden took office. A lot of gatherings are going to be outside a large portion of the country now vaccinated. How would you assess the risk in attending these kinds of events?

DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: Look, I think everyone needs to keep good pandemic sense about them. And what I mean by that is even when you're indoors and you're fully vaccinated, you shouldn't let your guard all the way down, be cognizant of those who are among us who are unvaccinated, be cognizant of children in particular. So, I continue to encourage those who are not vaccinated. Mask when you're indoors and use this as an opportunity to get safe. Also, don't be in crowded environments regardless of who you are, because there's a lot, we're still learning about the delta variant.

SANCHEZ: And specifically, I wanted to dig into that: how does the Delta Varian play into celebrations this weekend, especially in places where rates of vaccinations are low?

PERNELL: Two very important data points that we need to continue to follow. The CDC released recently that in region seven and region eight, so we're talking about states like Utah, Wyoming, Kansas and Iowa that the Delta variant is actually proliferating there. Meaning, that it's responsible for more than 50 percent of the cases. In addition to that data point, we need to look at the states where you have very high unvaccinated proportions. So, again, those states, unfortunately, are in the south and in the Midwest. So, have that at the back of your mind when you're celebrating. When you're outdoors, you're safer, regardless of whether or not you're vaccinated; when you're indoors if you're unvaccinated, keep your wits about you.

SANCHEZ: And doctor, the White House is sending out response teams to a lot of areas affected most by the Delta variant. I'm curious about what solutions can be offered at this point in areas where people are still resistant to getting vaccinated.

PERNELL: Keep the conversation going. I was just having this dialogue with friends, family members and even fellow workers. Keep the conversation going. We can't let up. Look, Dr. Fauci and others are talking about the fact that there are two Americas, there have always been two Americas, we have always been plagued by inequities. And unfortunately, the unvaccinated are among communities of color. The unvaccinated are in some of our core regions and neighborhoods. So, we have to have good cultural and social fluency sense. We have to know what's going to move the needle in those persons' lives. And this is increasingly a pandemic of the unvaccinated, those who are being hospitalized and even those who can change lose their lives, or the unvaccinated.

SANCHEZ: And doctor, quickly, there was one expert that told CNN this week that unvaccinated people are "potential variant factories." Give us your assessment of how quickly we may see another variant, perhaps deadlier than the Delta variant.

PERNELL: As long as this pandemic is in full flux, and I define it as in full flux, because remember, viruses don't respect borders, anywhere that coronavirus is occurring across the globe, we're still in a pandemic. As long as this pandemic is going on, the potential for the virus to mutate will always be there. So, the virus is looking for those who are most susceptible and those are people who are unvaccinated. So, yes, the risk for mutants will continue to rise as long as we have significant portions of the population who are unvaccinated, another opportunity to make a choice.

SANCHEZ: And another reason to go out and get vaccinated. Dr. Chris Pernell, thank you so much for the time as always.

PERNELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course. A quick programming note to share with you, this Fourth of July, America is open and it is time to celebrate. Join Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell and Ana Cabrera for a star-studded evening of music and fireworks. The fun begins on July 4th, right here only on CNN at 7:00 pm.

PAUL: Still in Japan this morning. Emergency crews are searching for hours and have been for at least 20 people who are missing after this? Look at this, mudslide. This is in a city southwest of Tokyo. At least two people we know are presumed dead. It's just carrying away built some buildings with it as well.


Video from this, as you're seeing, it did destroy homes. In fact, it knocked down everything in its path as you can see. More than 2,800 homes still do not have power and that search is continuing this hour. Still ahead, as hurricane also strengthens in the Atlantic, there are

growing fears that the storm could pose a threat to Florida obviously, including the part of the state where the side of that deadly Surfside condo collapse happened. We're tracking else's pathway.

SANCHEZ: Plus, America's longest war comes to a close. After 20 years, U.S. troops leaving the base that was once the center of the war in Afghanistan. Why the top commander there says the world should be concerned about imminent Civil War?


PAUL: So, Hurricane Elsa has become the first hurricane of the season and it is all racing, already racing across the Caribbean. The latest track of the storm, take a look here, shows Elsa can begin affecting Florida by Monday night. That's the timeline. And that of course is bringing some real concerns about the current rescue operations there in Surfside.


SANCHEZ: Yes, it could present yet another hurdle for rescue workers. Let's get to Meteorologist Tyler Malden. He's live in the CNN Weather Center now. Tyler, walk us through what else is going to look like over the next few days, how bad exactly is expected to get?

TYLER MALDEN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, good morning, Boris and good morning Christi, right now Elsa has weakened a little bit and it's got sustained winds at 75 miles per hour. And the reason why it's weakened is because it is moving so quickly to the west. It's moving 31 miles per hour. If it's moving that fast, it can't sustain 80-mile per hour sustained winds over time. So, eventually, it's going to start weakening.

And that's what we're seeing right now. How long will that weakening trend continue? That's in question right now. But we do have hurricane warnings up for forces of Hispaniola, Jamaica, and we have hurricane watches up for Eastern Cuba. No watches in effect for Florida at this time, and the operative word there is, at this time. Notice that the track continues to push it up through Hispaniola and into Cuba. And by the time it gets to Cuba, it's weakened to a 65-mile per hour tropical storm.

It then turns to the north and re-emergence in the Florida straits as a tropical storm and pushes towards the west coast of Florida. The uncertainty remains once it gets past Cuba but notice that the models are beginning to come into better agreement here that at least the west coast of Florida, at least the peninsula Florida will be impacted by Elsa in the days to come. Both the GFS and the European have sorted to come in better agreement that too.

In terms of Surfside, Florida, over the decades we've seen numerous named storms come within 50 miles of Surfside. With Elsa, even though surf side isn't in the cone of concern whether it takes this Western track or an Eastern track, we're still going to possibly see some impacts, even if it's just some of the outer bands coming into Surfside once we get into Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Over the next 72 hours guys, you can basically expect your typical South Florida weather in Surfside with, for periods of showers and thunderstorms especially during the afternoon and highs getting up to nearly 90 degrees.

SANCHEZ: All right, Tyler Malden, thank you so much for the update.

MALDEN: You got it.

SANCHEZ: And while officials are keeping a close eye on hurricane Elsa over concerns of heavy rainfall and strong winds interrupting the operations there, there's yet another potentially distressing hurdle for the ongoing search and rescue efforts. The mayor of Miami-Dade County signing an emergency order authorizing the demolition of the remaining structure of Champlain Tower South because it may come crashing down. The mayor of Surfside explaining what may happen once demolition starts listen.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FL: The issue with the tower the remaining tower is that it creates a dangerous situation for the workers in that there's debris falling from it. So, I imagine if it were to be demolished, the demolition preparation could take place while the crews were working. And during the time the building was actually collapsing, the workers would obviously have to step away. But immediately following the collapse, the workers could re-engage.


PAUL: You're looking at the scene there and Surfside. And CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Surfside this morning. So, Natasha, talk to us about what's happening near this hour.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi and Boris there is a lot of activity with different crews, switching shifts, as the day goes on. They've been working really around the clock, but you've mentioned some of the challenges that they're facing right now, including that hurricane, which it's unclear right now whether it will downgrade by the time it gets to Florida but even if we're talking about 40 mile per hour winds, that could create a serious safety problem when you think about all will be loose debris and concrete on the site.

And also at the same time, a county attorney in a court filing on Friday described the remaining parts of the structure as behaving in a way that it could collapse and so that's posing an immediate threat to the personnel on site. Here is an official talking about the different factors creating challenges for them right now.


ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE CHIEF: It's very difficult very challenging situation are many women are out there working doing what they need to do with this still partial building that you know definitely structurally compromised. So, you know, it's just it's just one challenge after the next, you know, we're doing what we do. You know, we do the best we can. We're moving forward. The spirits are positive, but it's it's, it's difficult when challenges definitely just exacerbate the situation.



CHEN: At the same time that you've got the families of 126 on account and people bracing themselves for any news whatsoever since this collapse happened. Right now, the confirmed death toll is at 22. Of course, they're still working to find more people. It was an emotional day yesterday, especially when they found a 7-year-old girl, the daughter of a firefighter. Her father wasn't there when she was found, but other rescuers called him over. You can just imagine how heart- wrenching that moment was. It is a very personal thing to be searching for people in the community that they are a part of.

Many of these rescuers live nearby, even so they haven't really been going home. They've been staying on site so they can continue to work. So, this has been very emotional at the same time. Other buildings in the area, definitely taking a look at their structural integrity. One condo building in North Miami Beach about seven miles from here, they evacuated their residents last night after finding that building was structurally and electrically unsafe for them. Christi and Boris.

PAUL: Natasha Chen, thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it. And we watch and I know you think how can I help them? Well, we want to make that easier for you to do so. Go to We have verified our organizations there that you can donate too to help.

SANCHEZ: Up next, the quiet withdrawal of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan continues as President Biden is committed to ending America's longest war. We're going to talk about the significance of the moment and concerns about the future of the region.



PAUL: So, the last U.S. troops have left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan that brings the United States one step closer to ending America's longest war, but up to a thousand troops are expected to stay in that country.

Now the military drawdown though has many in the country worried about a Taliban takeover, and a resurgence of terrorism. CNN's Anna Coren is in Kabul, Afghanistan with more.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The vast might of the U.S. military transformed this dusty airstrip into a miniature city and the nucleus of America's longest war. Ultimately, that might could not transform Afghanistan. Friday morning, nearly 20 years after U.S. soldiers captured Bagram airbase as a launch pad for the war on terror, the last U.S. servicemen and women departed Afghanistan. A nation not left strong, prosperous or secure, despite the sacrifice

of more than 2,400 American lives, and over 100,000 Afghan civilians according to the United Nations. Many of those fallen soldiers repatriated from these runways. Now, in the position of Afghan government forces as they continue their lonely fight with the Taliban. They are the only ones who will consider Friday's us departure, a victory.

GEN. AUSTIN SCOTT MILLER, COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: The security situation is not, not good right now. That's something that's recognized by the Afghan security forces and they're making the appropriate adjustments as we move forward.

COREN: Taliban fighters have seized back swathes of the country Americans fought and died to liberate. After once boasting a force of over 100,000 in Afghanistan, there will remain as few as 600 U.S. troops here to provide security for American diplomats.

EDWARD PRICE, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: We intend to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul. That is something that is important to us, given our enduring desire to have a continued partnership with the Afghan government and crucially, with the Afghan people.

COREN: Their forever war will continue as Joe Biden waits out of the (INAUDIBLE). A (INAUDIBLE) that traps his predecessors in a brutal and bloody stalemate. Bush, Obama and Trump, each bouncing in and out of Bagram, pledging Afghanistan will never be a haven for terrorists, as it was when al-Qaeda plotted the tragedy of 9/11.

Those terrorists long since routed out and destroyed. Now, no guarantee that violent extremists won't reenter the vacuum left by the United States, as the last American soldiers out of Afghanistan, returned to a nation that has long waited to welcome them home.

And America is a rapid troop withdrawal from Afghanistan two months ahead of schedule has certainly left this country in a much more precarious situation. We know that the security situation has been rapidly deteriorating. The Taliban taking, you know, dozens of districts in the just the past few weeks. Now claiming more than 50 percent of the territory.

They are encircling several key provincial cities and blocking or at least attempting to block key roads. It's, you know, unraveling very fast, obviously huge strides have been made in the last 20 years. There is no denying that particularly when it comes to the rights of women and girls.

But you think of the blood and treasure that has been poured into this country. You know, America has spent the past 20 years building up the government building up the army and now that is all under threat if this current situation continues to worsen, and the question, Boris, is what is the last 20 years or been for?


PAUL: Anna Coren, thank you so much. We really appreciate the information. Let's go to CNN Global Affairs Analyst Kimberly Dozier, and CNN Military Analyst and retired Air Force Colonel, Colonel Cedric Leighton. Thank you both so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

Kimberly, I want to play for you first of all this from President Biden yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I met with the Afghan government here and in the White House. I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government.


PAUL: I know you've spoken to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. What are they telling you about the Afghan government's readiness and capabilities? Do they agree with President Biden's assessment?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (on camera): Well, when you talk to Afghan officials, President Ghani came and spoke to a group of press here last week, and he told us that they could stay the course.

But when you talk to people close to the palace, as well as U.S. and foreign officials, they say it's falling apart, people are being very careful what they tell President Ghani right now. So, he is not getting the best information.

Meanwhile, what's happening are is that various provinces, districts, small towns, including in the north are falling to the Taliban.

And I've just been messaging back and forth with a Taliban spokesman who says we're doing this not through fighting for the most part, but through intermediaries who negotiate the surrender of the Afghan forces, and then we welcome them with open arms, instead of killing everyone, which is what the Taliban used to do in the past.

They've learned from their mistakes and it seems to be paying off in territory that they're taking with each passing day.

PAUL: So, Colonel, what does this mean for U.S. Intel when she's talking about the Taliban and we pull the troops out of that region? How do you get Intel on what they're up to?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's really hard, Christi, and the big problem is, is we don't have boots on the ground, we won't have ears and eyes that are right in the country, and that is going to be one of the biggest issues. I -- we can do many things remotely, we can do things via satellite, via drone, but it's not as good as actually being in country and getting a feel for the people.

Afghanistan is a very tribal culture. There are 14 different ethnicities, eight different languages that are spoken among the main ones at least. And that there are so many different aspects to this that require a real subtle understanding of the country and the culture. And that was I think one of the biggest mistakes that we've made is not recognizing those nuances.

PAUL: So, Kimberly, when -- just a couple of weeks ago when you mentioned the Taliban, the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Appropriations Committee al-Qaeda could pose a renewed threat to the U.S. in as little as two years.

What do we know about that connection between al-Qaeda and the Taliban?

DOZIER: Well, the U.N. has issued public reports where they say the Taliban has not cut its ties with al-Qaeda despite promises to do that as part of the peace negotiations with the U.S.

They are intermarried and they maintain at least an act of participation al Qaeda within the Taliban ranks. So, some of the U.S. officials I've spoken to in recent weeks are worried that it will take them very little time to reconstitute the kind of camps and come up with the kind of plots that could present a threat to the west and possibly to the United States. And they think it could happen a lot earlier than two years.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you, Colonel, what is your concern for the men and women who are staying there, about a thousand troops, as I understand it, that will be staying in Afghanistan. Not only for those troops but for those interpreters who worked with U.S. officials.

LEIGHTON: So, the force protection issues surrounding them staying behind are going to be huge. It's going to be very difficult to maintain a protective cordon around U.S. forces, whether they're at the embassy or whether they're in other locations throughout Afghanistan.

When it comes to the interpreters and others -- other Afghan nationals who have helped us during this time, they're very much at risk. It's very hard for us to protect them unless we get them out of the country, and get them to a place where they can be processed for possible entry into the United States or into other countries.

That is something that's going to have to happen because we already know that retribution is being waged against these people, and we can expect there to be great carnage among their ranks, unfortunately.

PAUL: President Biden promised the Afghan President Ghani $266 million in humanitarian aid, $3.3 billion in security assistance. I mean, Kimberly, how does that money help if the government can't handle what's happening in their own country?


DOZIER: So, the money helps keep the government going, but the framework, the skeleton that holds that government up is the security forces. And the security forces in Afghanistan just like I've seen in Iraq before, they counted on U.S .air support to come in like a white knight and protect them when they were losing ground to the Taliban.

They're not going to have that anymore that's why morale has worsened among even some of the special operations ranks in Afghanistan.

And numbers of troops are dwindling, numbers of Afghan troops are just leaving their posts and going back home.

And to Colonel Leighton's point about the fear -- the fear of retribution isn't just among Afghan translators who work for the military. It's among anyone who worked for foreigners.

I'm having people that i worked with back at the fall of Kabul in 2001, reaching out to me saying is there any way you can get me and my family out to any country that's safe because they're going to come after me and kill me.

PAUL: Real quickly, Colonel, was this the right decision to make?

LEIGHTON: Well, it's really tough Christi. Yes, in many ways, it was the right decision to pull out, at some time -- at some point, you have to leave. But I think the lack of planning for the next phase is what we're seeing here and that's going to be a real problem. I don't think it's going to be pretty and I don't think it's going to be easy.

PAUL: Kimberly Dozier, Colonel Cedric Leighton, we appreciate both of you so much. Thank you.

DOZIER: Thank you.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Christi.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): head of CNN's star-studded Fourth of July special tomorrow night, Billy Ray Cyrus sits down with us for a big preview of his performance. Stay tuned for that.



SANCHEZ: Flags, fireworks, and great music. It is time to celebrate the Fourth of July and the reopening of America after the COVID pandemic.

PAUL: Yes, it gives it a little bit of a boost, doesn't it?

SANCHEZ: It does.

PAUL: This year to do that, CNN put together some of the biggest names in music, including one, Mr. Billy Ray Cyrus. CNN's John Berman and Poppy Harlow sat down with him to talk about his upcoming performance and how important this moment really is for the country.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So glad you're part of this remarkable event that will air Sunday night. Tell us about your performance.

BILLY RAY CYRUS, AMERICAN SINGER, SONGWRITER, AND ACTOR: My performance was basically me going to school. I got to perform with the New York Youth Symphony which was unbelievable. 72-piece orchestra with a rock band.

And Michael, the orchestra leader was just brilliant, it -- I've played Achy Breaky Heart for 30 years and didn't know it had an F- sharp minor -- major in it.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And they told you it did?

CYRUS: Yes, I learned that last night. So, it was amazing, it was brilliant, we do Neil Diamond's Coming to America. It's just so special, you know.

BERMAN: First of all, I love that song. But what I did not know is that Neil Diamond changed your life Billy Ray Cyrus?

CYRUS: He did. He did. I was going to be a professional baseball player and was being scouted by the Reds and the Dodgers at the time. And I kept hearing this voice tell me, buy guitar and start a band and you'll find your purpose in life. And one thing led to another and oddly enough I won tickets to a Neil Diamond Concert in Charleston, West Virginia.

And it was at that moment that I kind of felt hands upon me saying buy guitar and start a band, this is what you're supposed to do, the music is your purpose. And I went the next day and bought a left-handed guitar and never played another game.

I started a band the very next day and never played another baseball game. I started making my living playing music, the very like the next week.

BERMAN: What is the -- a new -- what does Neil Diamond think about this story?

CYRUS: Well, we talked about it as the -- oddly enough the last show before America closed down for the pandemic. I was with Neil Diamond in Las Vegas. It was for the Cleveland hospital and all that great benefit there that they do, and you know, just seeing who he knows, he is one of the greatest songwriters in history.

And then, his voice is pure fire like as I studied for America and I'm listening that the way his voice just cuts down.



CYRUS: Well, how am I going to do that? And while I'm going to need a lot of help and study -- and I studied really hard for it.

But Neil Diamond is a great man, his wife, she's a great lady. And, you know, the music that he's made throughout the years, he is truly a legend and a gentleman, nice man. HARLOW: You've got a new song and we did not plan this, but the name of the new song is --


CYRUS: New Day.

HARLOW: New Day!

CYRUS: New Day.

HARLOW: Let's play a little bit of it for our viewers.

CYRUS: That's good. It's a New Day.


CYRUS: It's a new day.

FIREROSE: It's a new day.

CYRUS: It's a new day.

FIREROSE: And it's a new day.

CYRUS: It's a new day.

FIREROSE: It's a new day.

CYRUS: It's a new day.

Forgive (INAUDIBLE) your face.

FIREROSE: Forgive (INAUDIBLE) your face.

CYRUS: (INAUDIBLE) different change.

FIREROSE: CYRUS: (INAUDIBLE) different change. You took me to the heart.

CYRUS: You took me to the heart.

HARLOW: They're -- it's a beautiful song and they're -- there is an extraordinary story about how this came to be.

CYRUS: Yes, FIREROSE, she's a great artist. She's from Australia and she actually debuted yesterday in her home country, on their today show, a big moment for her.


CYRUS: But she's a great singer-songwriter, got a great voice, and it's a true story of persistence. She's got the talent and stayed with it and wrote a great song, asked me to write a verse for it which was kind of like the same as when Old Town Road came along and Lil Nas asked me to write a verse for that. HARLOW: I love that.

CYRUS: And I said you don't really need a verse, it's already a hit. And I wrote a verse for New Day, and I thought, you know, this is really got something about it. And now being in this moment of this new day.

And I -- again, I bought a guitar and started a band in the belief of the purpose of the music. And to find a song like this at a time like this, with an artist like this, where it is a new day for everyone. That's what was so exciting about.

Being with the symphony last night, that was their first show together since everything closed. It's a new day. This is a special time for all of us. It's going to be a great Fourth of July.


PAUL: And you can see more of him and so much more. Tune in to CNN tomorrow night as we celebrate the Fourth of July beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And be safe out there with whatever you're planning.

SANCHEZ: So, one with of the potential stars of the Tokyo Olympics has been suspended for using marijuana. But there's still a glimmer of hope for her to chase her dreams. We'll explain when we come back.



PAUL: So, track star Sha'Carri Richardson suspension for using marijuana put her Olympic dreams in doubt, triggered immediate reactions better punishment.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Coy Wire joins us now. Coy, Richardson was one of the favorites not only to win gold but potentially to break records in Tokyo.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes. Hi, good morning to you Boris and Christi. Sha'Carri Richardson, suspended for 30 days after testing positive for THC at the Olympic trials in Oregon last month.

WIRE (voice-over): She said she used marijuana to cope after learning her biological mother had died. Marijuana is legal in Oregon but it's banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Many calling this rule, antiquated.

U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin appealing to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, asking to have the suspension overturn. And star athletes like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, basketball legend Sue Bird, Dwyane Wade, all slamming the ruling, hoping that she'd be allowed to run.

While others like former NFL player turned T.V. commentator Emanuel Acho, coming down on the other side, tweeting that while he doesn't agree with the rule, Richardson knew it was in place and was aware of the punishment for breaking it.

Now, Richardson could potentially still compete in Tokyo as part of the 4x100-meter relay team if selected by team USA, and that event takes place after the suspension would end.

CNN has reached out to team USA for clarification but has not heard back.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old gymnast Leanne Wong, a team USA alternate headed to Tokyo revealed she has not been vaccinated.

The International Olympic Committee isn't requiring athletes to get vaccinated, but Wong's mother said she's still being treated unfairly online. She believes Leanne is not at risk because of all the precautions in place, according to the Kansas City star.

Wong said at the Olympic trials last week that her parents are research scientists who developed drugs and neither of them is vaccinated. Wong would need her parents' consent to get the vaccine.

IOC president Thomas Bach said last month, he expects about 80 percent of Olympians to be vaccinated.

Let's go to hockey. The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from repeating a Stanley Cup champs. A raucous crowd for Game 3 in Montreal, the first final game there in 28 years.

But the crowd of 3,500 inside got real quiet real quick. The Lightning lighting the lamp twice in the first four minutes on the way to a 6-3 win. Tampa now up three knock into the series. They can win it all in Game 4 in Montreal on Monday.

Finally, President Biden welcoming the World Series champion Dodgers to the White House yesterday, the first time a team from one of the four major sports leagues has visited since the start of the pandemic.

The president getting his own number 46 jersey in celebration of the team's first title since 1988, saying sports have played an integral role in the return to normalcy.


BIDEN: I think what we discover is that we need sports more than we ever realized. We saw -- we see it now as fans return to ballparks and arenas all across the country, cheering on their favorite players and teams, sharing that sense of community and pride. It's a uniting feature as I said to you guys in the other room.

When we go through a crisis very often, sports would bring us together to heal, to help us feel like things are going to be OK.


WIRE: Now, the president said it well. I mean, it does feel that sports is helping us realize that we are on our way.

Still a lot of work to go, Boris and Christi, but certainly moving in the right direction and getting things back on track.

SANCHEZ: A great way to spend the Fourth of July at a baseball game.

Coy Wire, thank you so much.


PAUL: Thanks, Coy.


SANCHEZ: Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: if you're planning to barbecue this holiday weekend, you are not alone. I do have some less than stellar news though, while grilling might be one of your favorite summer pastimes, barbecued meat can be a health concern.

Here is CNN's Jacqueline Howard.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Cooking meat at high temperatures produces cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines or HCAs. So, what's a pit master to do? Well, marinate it.

Marinating meat with antioxidant-rich spices for 30 minutes before you grill can lead to fewer of those dangerous chemicals being released. A National Institutes of Health study found store-bought powdered marinade containing rosemary and thyme could reduce the amount of carcinogens and cooked meat by up to 87 percent.

And you can make a marinade yourself using your own herbs: basil, sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Also, choose leaner meats. There's fewer HCAs.