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New Day Saturday

In Rare Cases, Vaccinated People May Spread Virus; CDC Recommends Vaccinated People Wear Masks Indoors In Certain Areas; Federal Eviction Moratorium Due Expire At Midnight Tonight; First Group Of Evacuated Afghan Interpreters Arrives In U.S.; Afghans Who Risked Their Lives To Help American Troops Now Face Threats From The Taliban; Home Sales Drop In June As Prices Continue To Rise; Flight Attendants Get Defense Training TO Fend Off Violent Passengers. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 07:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you and welcome to your NEW DAY on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez. Pivotal discovery. The CDC issuing new mask guidance recommending most fully vaccinated people resume mask wearing indoors. This says cases continue to surge driven mostly by the unvaccinated.

PAUL: Yes. And on edge, the Federal moratorium on eviction ends tonight as lawmakers point fingers over who is to blame millions of people are concerned that they could be homeless.

SANCHEZ: Plus, welcome home. That message coming from President Biden, after hundreds of Afghan interpreters who served with American troops arrived in the United States. What's next for them and their families?

PAUL: And fighting back as incidents of unruly airline passengers arise. Flight attendants, do you believe they're taking self-defense classes just to protect themselves now?

SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Saturday, July 31st. Thank you so much for joining us. Good morning to you, Christi.

PAUL: Good morning to you Boris. Yes, we are always grateful to have all of you with us.

SANCHEZ: Yes, we begin with a grim warning today. Health experts and officials say the current surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations is likely to get worse as long as large sections of the country remain unvaccinated.

PAUL: Now, take a look at the map here because it gives us a good perspective of new cases compared to last week. Every state there, showing a surge fueled by the Delta variant. Now, the CDC says it can spread as easily as chickenpox and new CDC data shows vaccinated people transmitting the virus as easily as the unvaccinated just not at the same rate. Now, getting vaccinated is still your best defense against the virus so say doctors and the CDC. We know vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease or death tenfold and reduce the risk of infection threefold.

SANCHEZ: So, listen to this, you are 25 times more likely to end up in the hospital if you don't get vaccinated, 25 times. You're also 25 times more likely to die of COVID if you catch it and didn't get vaccinated. Last night, President Biden told reporters that new COVID restrictions are likely. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should more Americans expect more guidelines coming out, more restrictions because of COVID?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all probability, by the way, we had a good day yesterday, almost a million people got vaccinated.


PAUL: And we are learning some new details about how easily this Delta variant can spread through a community.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the CDC releasing new findings on a big COVID outbreak among vaccinated and unvaccinated people in Provincetown, Massachusetts that was sparked by a gathering on the Fourth of July. CNNs Kristen Holmes has the details.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been called the canary in the coal mine, an outbreak in a popular vacation destination. 469 state residents infected largely by Delta. And most of those testing positive fully vaccinated. The cluster of COVID cases in Provincetown, Massachusetts is now driving new guidance from the CDC.

ALEX MORSE, PROVINCETOWN, MASSACHUSETTS TOWN MANAGER: 74 percent of the overall cases are among fully vaccinated individuals. And I think that came as a surprise to many folks that you know, we were told that if you're vaccinated, you're most invincible and I think we wrongly, many people wrongly assume that.

HOLMES: Local officials say there have been at least 882 cases linked to this cluster overall. The research showing infected people who have been vaccinated held a similar amount of the virus also known as viral load as those who are unvaccinated, shedding light on the agency's decision to issue new mask guidance, recommending most fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors.

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE DEAN PUBLIC HEALTH, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Unmasking indoors for under fully vaccinated people is no longer a safe choice, especially if you have people at home like kids or elderly parents who are higher risk or who are unvaccinated themselves.

HOLMES: This study comes after leaked internal documents showed the virus could spread faster and to more people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get more people vaccinated because this this virus is better at its job than the original.

HOLMES: The cluster highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated. Among that province town group, no deaths, and only four instances of hospitalization to have which had previous health conditions


MORSE: This Delta variant is yes, highly transmissible, more contagious, more likely to have a breakthrough infection, but you're not, you're it's not likely you're going to be hospitalized and you're certainly not going to die.


SANCHEZ: Kristen Holmes, thanks for that report. With a Delta variant spreading rapidly across the country, especially in the south. The effort to boost vaccinations has become increasingly urgent.

PAUL: Yes, there's some communities offering new incentives to get people to roll up their sleeves and get that shot there. CNN's Natasha Chen, in fact, is live at a vaccination site into Cab County, Georgia with that story, what kind of incentives are you seeing there today, Natasha, and good morning.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Boris, today, they are giving out backpacks and $50.00 prepaid debit cards. And this, the debit cards is something that they tried in the previous vaccination event that they had. And they found that it was effective in the sense that they got more people arriving at that event than previously before that.

So, today, this morning, the event doesn't start for an almost another hour, and we can see over my shoulder, there's a line of people already prepared take it, they have a choice to either get tested or get their vaccine. I suppose they could do both at the same time, but both are being offered here.

And this is billed as a back to school event. So, that's why they're also giving out backpacks, really trying to encourage the school aged children who are eligible for a vaccine to get a shot as well. But it's a good sign to see at least some people waiting here knowing that it doesn't start for another hour.

And as we've been mentioning, the more information we're learning about the Delta variant is actually creating more concern, not just among officials, but among people we are talking to. Parents of students who are restarting school now going back in person, here is an expert talking about just how much more rapidly this variant spreads even outdoors.


MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Just think of somebody smoking, if you can smell the smoke from their cigarette, that's the very same as if you are breathing in the air that they exhale out that has the virus in it.


CHEN: And of course, some of the school districts around the Atlanta area are starting back up next week, the week after charter school started this previous week, a Delta charter -- sorry, the a drew charter school. There are more than 100 students already in quarantine after school just started on Tuesday, and that's because about a dozen cases there. So, a very serious situation even in places where masks are required, so the push is to really get more people vaccinated, and that's a race against this variant. Boris and Christi.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And what's happening in Georgia, especially at schools is a warning for the rest of the country of what may soon come once the school year gets underway elsewhere. Natasha Chen, from DeKalb County, thank you so much.

With us now to talk about all the headlines is emergency room Physician and Critical Care Fellow Dr. Alex Bosco. Doctor, thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us.

I want to start with what you're seeing in the emergency room because you wrote an op-ed for CNN. And in it, you say in part, "The patients I see frightened and struggling to breathe are mostly in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. The one thing many of them have in common, they are all unvaccinated."

Doctor, I see all sorts of misinformation on social media, but I wonder what you are hearing directly from people that you're treating about why they are unvaccinated? Is it a lack of access? Or, or is it misinformation?

DR. ALEX BOSCO, PHYSICIAN AND CRITICAL CARE FELLOW: Thanks for having me. It's good to be here. You know, I hear it all. It's I don't think it's a lack of access, at least in the areas where I've been practicing in the emergency room. I think most of these patients have just been overloaded with information to the point that they can't make an educated decision.

I've heard every myth there is about the vaccine turning you into a magnet, patients becoming infertile, having miscarriages, the vaccine causing the disease that it actually prevents. The list goes on.

SANCHEZ: And, and Doctor, I do want to ask you about what Dr. Rochelle Walensky the CDC director said last night. Listen to this.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If we take the steps that are necessary to squash the amount of disease that is there now, we can do so in a matter of weeks. If we all get vaccinated, if we wear our masks --


SANCHEZ: In a matter of weeks, we can get this under control. It's not the first time sadly that we've heard a sort of deadline like this. I remember two weeks to stop the spread. Realistically, given all the nonsense that you've heard that the hesitation that people have about getting vaccinated, is Dr. Walensky realistic in this regard that people might abide by these rules? And that we can avoid enormous spike in cases of a Delta variant if we just follow these rules for a couple more weeks?


BOSCO: Well, I certainly hope that she's right. I do think that a certain amount of this is, is already baked in just based on the numbers we've seen over the past two to four weeks. There are people right now that are becoming infected, or are in their incubation period who are going to get sick and going to present to the hospital no matter what we do.

I'm encouraged by the fact that that the pace of vaccination seems to have picked up in the past one to two weeks. That's great. But masking is super important. And we need to make sure we get more people vaccinated. I'm pretty concerned about what we've already seen and what could come, especially with the prospect of schools opening soon, and the fact that a lot of states are just refusing to enforce mask mandates, or really any sort of public health measures that might slow the spread.

SANCHEZ: I want to ask you about the new CDC guidance regarding masks and breakthrough cases specifically being the basis for that. There's a lot of confusion out there about breakthrough cases. And I want to make clear for audience, they're extremely rare. Data shows that they occur in less than one percent of people who've been vaccinated and when they do, most cases are mild or asymptomatic. Still, the CDC is issuing this new mask guidance because of some of this new research. Is it the right decision? Is it important to act in an abundance of caution at this stage?

BOSCO: Well, frankly, I think everyone at the CDC is in a better position than a pit doctor, like me to, you know, make that decision. But certainly for myself, I'm fully vaccinated. I'm wearing a mask in public. I think that it does help slow the spread. And at this point, we have such a level of vaccine, not only hesitancy, but just outright refusal among people where, you know, this is something that we have to do to get through this, this coming surge.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's like into wearing a seatbelt and having an airbag just another layer of protection to not only protect yourself, but protect your loved ones and the people around you. There is a new study, though, that is warned that relying on vaccinations alone, while relaxing other measures could ultimately lead to a rise in cases. Are you concerned about new variants that could emerge? Do we need to consider going back to stronger measures beyond mask mandates, like reducing capacity in restaurants and things like that?

BOSCO: I think in states right now, where we're seeing very high levels of transmission, like the state of Alabama, where I'm currently practicing, we absolutely need measures like that. The State of Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the country.

We're at 34 percent right now of all, all ages, virtually every county in the state has high levels of transmission. Right now. Our case positivity rate has gone from 4 percent to over 20 in just a month. Our cases are up, or hospitalizations are up 500 percent over the past month. We have younger patients in the hospital right now.

The president of the Alabama Hospital Association said we've had a three-fold increase in kids being admitted to the hospital. You know, I can't stress the people that you know, this is serious. We're about to open schools. And it really worries me for a lot of states in the south and the Midwest in particular.

SANCHEZ: A doctor is so important to get that message out there because I think there's a misperception that this is strictly a virus that affects the elderly or, or the immune-compromised. But a lot of the people that you're seeing, as you noted, are younger, they're in their 30s, 40s. And as you said, there are a lot of kids that are being admitted to your hospital as well. We appreciate you taking us into those painful moments, those conversations with your patients to hopefully move the needle and get those that may be hesitant to go ahead and get vaccinated. Dr. Alex Bosco, thank you so much for the time.

BOSCO: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

PAUL: So, the National Eviction Moratorium put in place to help people during the pandemic, it expires at midnight. Millions of people could be at risk of losing their homes. The question is can Congress pass an extension in time?


SANCHEZ: Plus, they've been cursed out, grabbed, assaulted, punched, will tell you how flight attendants are now fighting back to keep unruly passengers under control.


PAUL: Good Saturday morning to you. The Senate is working this weekend, specifically on that one trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill. I want to show you some live pictures here of Capitol Hill. We know yesterday senators voted 66 to 28 on a motion to proceed, which clears the way for possible amendments to that bill.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the text of the legislation still being worked out. The infrastructure bill of course one of President Biden's top priorities. Meantime, on the House side lawmakers left town without extending a federal ban on evictions that was put in place during the pandemic. The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are now both pointing fingers at each other. Speaker Pelosi saying she only learned that the moratorium was expiring the day before. [07:20:02]

PAUL: No matter who's to blame here, the federal ban expires at midnight tonight. And that leaves millions of people at risk of being evicted.

SANCHEZ: Yes, more than 11 million people currently behind on their rent. CNN's Nick Watt reports on how the expiration could impact those still struggling to get back on their feet.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Federal COVID era eviction ban for now, expires midnight Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: you're going to see nationwide on the first eviction notices being issued.

WATT: And here in the state of Nevada.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven days later, if you don't respond, you're out.

WATT: Congress has approved nearly 47 billion to help people across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn't know that. And I bet a lot of other people do not know that as well.

WATT: She's right. Only about three billion was actually dished out through the end of June, spreading the word is hard and bureaucracy gets in the way. Now, in Nevada, you cannot be evicted into student as you apply for that federal money you cannot be kicked out, while it's in process.

That's a state law?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a state law, OK, that every state should pass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't work, we can't pay.

WATT: A few other states like California will keep some eviction protections in place.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Anyone that's been impacted by this pandemic cannot pay rent will be paid for.

WATT: And there is one group that will benefit when the eviction ban disappears. Squeezed landlords.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have many, many members that have exhausted all of their savings. I don't know how long that road will be before we became you no fall it again. But certainly on the road to it, depending on whether or not July 31st truly is the end of the moratorium. WATT: But lifting some state level eviction bans last summer, say researchers led to more than 10,000 COVID deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If families are forced to go to a shelter or double up, you're risking more exposure. Doing it when the Delta very variant is out of control is a really bad idea. Leslie says she was evicted once already moved in with her mom.

And now you and your mom are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, are getting evicted as well. Nick Watt, CNN, Las Vegas.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Nick Watt for that report. Coming up, the first Afghan interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops have landed in the United States. Thousands though remain behind living in fear of the Taliban, hear their stories next.



SANCHEZ: Here are some of the top stories that we are following this morning. Two of the largest colleges in Michigan have joined a growing list of universities that will now require all students and staff to get vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester. On Friday, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan both announced the new changes to their policies. Because of the rising number of cases on campus due to the, due to the highly infectious Delta variant. Both universities also have mask mandates in place requiring that masks be worn indoors at all campus buildings and facilities.

PAUL: Cuba's Foreign Minister is responding now to the latest sanctions issued by the U.S. in a tweet he wrote, "These arbitrary measures are added to the misinformation and aggression used to justify the inhumane blockade against Cuba." And this comes after President Biden met with members of the Cuban American community and key members of Congress yesterday to outline several efforts related to its Cuba policy, including new sanctions targeting Cuba's National Revolutionary Police and Assistance to Cuban dissidents.

SANCHEZ: The Department of Justice is dealing a major blow to Donald Trump's efforts to keep his tax returns private. The DOJ is now instructing the Treasury Department to turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. That panel first requested the returns more than two years ago. Committee Chairman Richard Neal says their case is strong and he's glad they can finally move forward with the investigation.

So, the first group of evacuated Afghan interpreters who risked their lives to keep American troops safe is now on American soil. On Friday, about 200 Afghan seeking refugees arrived at Fort Lee and Virginia as part of a Special Immigrant Visa Program. PAUL: They like so many others have faced death threats from the Taliban for providing U.S. support during the war. And now, they're hoping for a chance to keep the families and themselves safe at this point. Here is CNN's Kylie Atwood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I don't go out? I am counting down my end of life.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every day that the Taliban control surges in Afghanistan, the situation grows more deadly for Afghan interpreters who are trying to flee the country after working alongside U.S. troops and diplomats. Three interpreters who have applied for Special Immigrant Visas to the United States, or SIVs spoke to CNN and described just how urgently they must get out of the country because after years of putting their lives on the line next to U.S. soldiers, the Taliban are hunting them down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to get out of the country. They are looking after us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our future will be dark, they got to cut our heads too.


ATWOOD: He's referring to a recent report of the Taliban beheading Afghans who worked alongside us troops. These Afghans fear for their families as well as themselves. CNN is concealing their identities to keep them safe. One of them, Nayab is particularly concerned about what will happen to his daughters if the Taliban takeover.

NAYAB, FORMER AFGHAN INTERPRETER: They will destroy the schools and they prevent my girls to go to school.

ATWOOD: All three men we spoke with had faced terrifying threats. One of them, Ramish, explained what happened to him earlier this month when the Taliban knocked on his door.

RAMISH, FORMER AFGHAN INTERPRETER: My family hide me and told them, Ramish was gone somewhere. Then, they searched our house, and I was hide inside the oven in my yard. They burned my house. And nothing remained to us. All our materials burned by them.

ATWOOD: They burned your house?

RAMISH: Yes. They burned my house.

ATWOOD: After that, Ramish snuck out of his hometown in the middle of the night, embarking on a dangerous journey to Kabul, where the Taliban are not in control.

Army Captain Sayre Paine worked with Ramish in Afghanistan and encouraged him to flee to Kabul under the cloak of darkness. SAYRE PAINE, FORMER ARMY CAPTAIN: To me, it's the -- it's the comrade in arms and the indelible duty to not betray them. You put these people on the tier with your own family.

ATWOOD: Paine says the United States could not have done the job on the ground without the interpreters by their side. He feels angry thinking about the ones who may not make it out.

PAINE: And to allow and then fully know all of these people signing up for this promise -- to come literally to the promised land and to just let it go is a betrayal to those people.

ATWOOD: About 20,000 Afghans have applied for SIVs. 700 of them will fly into the United States in the coming weeks and wait at a U.S. military base while their visas are finalized. Yet the total processing time can take years. President Biden has promised --

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will stand with you just as you stood with us.

ATWOOD: But the United States government has not yet laid out a comprehensive plan to get these Afghans out of the country before the complete U.S. troop withdrawal next month.

Due to the urgent and vast nature of this challenge, many individuals like Paine have taken it upon themselves to contribute.

Janis Shinwari, a former Afghan interpreter living in Virginia set up a nonprofit to help SIVs based on his own experience.

JANIS SHINWARI, FORMER AFGHAN TRANSLATOR: When I came here at the airport, I realized that government has not taken care of us, and I was with my own. And from that time, I thought that I have to build something to help these SIV's when they're coming to the United States, and they don't know anybody.

ATWOOD: Earlier this month, he waited at the airport to welcome an Afghan SIV recipient and his family to the United States. Janis's nonprofit paid for their flights. It's an emotional and hopeful scene, but a glance at his phone offers a reality check, hundreds of messages, all Afghans pleading with him to help them get out.


ATWOOD (on camera): Each of these Afghan SIV applicants that I spoke with has children. One of them has five children. And I tell you that to underscore the fact that it's not just these 20,000 SIV applicants who are trying to get here because they feel their lives are in jeopardy, it's also their larger families.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, Washington.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): So, still ahead, home prices in the U.S. still climbing at its fastest pace in history. And that's sparking fears of another housing bubble that may burst. We have an expert laying out for us what we need to know. That's next, stay close.



PAUL: 38 minutes past the hour right now. New numbers show that home prices are climbing at the fastest pace in history. Experts say fears of another housing bubble though may be overblown here.

So, this is what we know. The price of a single-family home in June was up six percent over June of 2020. The number of single-family homes on the market though fell during the same time period by more than 19 percent.

So, what does this mean? Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors is with us to try to flesh some of this out.

Lawrence, it's so good to have you with us. Thank you. So, first of all, we're seeing these home prices spike -- I know, Phoenix is up 26 percent, San Diego is up 25 percent. Seattle is up 24 percent, just some perspective there. Are the other prices overinflated at this point?

LAWRENCE YUN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: Good morning, Christi. Thanks for having me. Certainly, housing market has been a positive surprise during the pandemic economy. The low-interest rate always extends the buying power of a home, and that has been the impetus as to why buyers rushed in, and the sales going above the pre- pandemic. And with the housing shortage, prices rising.

We want to have a sustainable homeownership, successful homeownership. We don't want to have a situation where prices rise and crash and lead to foreclosures. But currently, it looks like even though prices have been rapid, that it is on a solid footing.


PAUL: When we talk -- we talk about their concern about being a bubble. But there's a lot of concern amongst people who want to buy a home perhaps for the first time, and they can't afford it because of the prices that we're seeing.

So, how did -- what is the prediction for some of the really exorbitant bidding wars and prices that we're seeing for some of these, not just new homes, but existing?

YUN: Well, you know, existing home market comprise 90 percent of the transactions. And the price increase is a double edge, a situation, homeowners smiling from the equity gains, but it is a tremendous challenge for the first-time buyers trying to compete with other buyers' multiple offers. That is why we need more supply.

By having more supply, it moderates the home price growth, get the first-time buyers a better chance at that ownership, and are still they don't have to go through that multiple awkward situation if there is adequate supply.

So, we need to address that, you know, what are some obstacle as to why the builders have been lagging behind. And with the vaccination making progress, some of the elderly families who have postponed listing, I think they will feel much more comfortable listing their property. So, I do anticipate that prices would be moderating in the upcoming months.

PAUL: OK, so, here is my next question when you're talking about the number of homes on the market. I read an article last week about home buyer's remorse at this point, there was this pandemic, purchasing. This pandemic panic that was going on when it came to buying a house.

And now there are a lot of people who are regretting what they did. They either paid -- they're afraid they paid too much. They bought out in an area thinking well, I'm working from home so I can -- I can utilize this bigger home now. And now they have to go back to work and they're realizing that, that doesn't work for them.

How expansive is that sentiment of buyer's remorse?

YUN: Oh, you know, when you have a situation where you are multiple parents in offering above list price, naturally, the winner feels like they are curse, in some sense, do they overpay?

But what has happened in the past 12 months is that for a typical homebuyer, they have accumulated $45,000 in housing equity. And that is a huge comfort. So, immediately that remorse disappears. But I think what we need to assure is that for the next year, people should not anticipate such a large gain. You will be only moderate.

I would say about five percent price appreciation in 2022. People should understand that it's not going to be an easy quick gains, but also it gives chance for the first time buyers to enter, you know, in less frenzy way.

PAUL: So, the foreclosure moratoriums and the forbearance on government-backed mortgages and student loan payments means that there's some money out there, right?

There are a lot of those measures that are due to expire in the coming week. So, how could that -- how could that affect the market?

YUN: Well, you know, we need to ensure that, you know, people are struggling economically, they get the rental subsidy. The part of the stimulus bill is that federal government has provided too many state agencies, a massive funds to help on rental subsidy, yet it's been underutilized.

So I would say for the renters who are in a difficult situation, contact the local housing agency. Work with the landlord, because sometimes the housing agency allow the housing provider, people who are providing the home to contact the housing agency to get those rental subsidy. Because money is out there, it's being underutilized.

PAUL: Lawrence Yun, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you for taking time for us this morning.

YUN: Thank you.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Still ahead, midair misbehavior. Flight attendants, forced to learn self-defense to protect themselves from unruly passengers.


SANCHEZ: We'll show you just how far they're willing to go to keep the skies friendly.


SANCHEZ: The return to travel has led to an increase of bad behavior on planes. I'm sure you've seen a lot of it on social media. The FAA says that already this year, it's received more than 3600 reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights mostly over the mask mandate.

PAUL: So, now, the federal government has re-launched a class showing flight attendants how to defend themselves. Oh, people, have we come to this. My goodness. Here is CNN's Pete Muntean


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strike, strike.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are taking a defensive stance against a growing problem in the air. Flight attendants are training to hit elbow and gouge simulated aggressive passengers, with actual passengers getting more violent than ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to possibly die. You need to defend yourself at all costs. If this --

MUNTEAN: Undercover federal air marshals are guiding eight flight attendants through this self-defense course. The first class offered by the TSA since training was paused by the pandemic.

CARRIE, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: It's sad than it needs to happen.


MUNTEAN: Flight Attendant Carrie is taking this class having just returned to her airline following a leave of absence.

Are you scared?

CARRIE: Sometimes a little bit. Yes. You get on thankful to people and some of them aren't very happy, and you just never know what's going to happen.

MUNTEAN: A brawl breaking out on a Frontier Airlines flight is among the latest unruly passenger incidents that the FAA says are skyrocketing. Federal documents detail how passengers have shouted down, grabbed, and struck flight attendants. 1000s of times since the start of a zero-tolerance policy earlier this year.

In May, a passenger punched a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, causing her to lose two of her teeth, according to her union.

NOEL CURTIN, ASSISTANT SUPERVISOR OF AIR MARSHAL IN CHARGE, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, MIAMI FIELD OFFICE. There is no backup of 30,000 feet. So, that plane is in the air that has a crew that has to do with the issues. And it's incumbent on us to make sure they're fully equipped.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Federal officials say some passengers are fueled by alcohol, but most are fighting back over the federal transportation mask mandate, which make-up three-quarters of all incidents reported just this year.


MUNTEAN: Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants says airlines should pay their people to take these classes and the federal government should require that flight crews attend each year.

NELSON: That we can have that muscle memory and be able to respond when someone is immediately attacking us.


MUNTEAN: Here, instructors are teaching techniques that could be lifesaving, like pinning an attacker who is armed with a knife. But the TSA says only a few hundred people have enrolled in this course after it reopened training in late June.

Veteran Flight Attendant Donna O'Neill says more like her should take this class to deal with the type of passenger becoming too common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Ready? Move.

DONNA O'NEILL, VETERAN FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I don't ever want to have to use any of this, but, you know, I had to, I certainly feel much more confident.

MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Sunrise, Florida.


PAUL: My goodness. We appreciate you, all of you people on these planes, and trying to get us from point A to point B.

Still ahead, some parts of the west have really been battered by extreme heat and drought. There's a noticeable forecast change that will coming this weekend. We'll have the latest for you.


PAUL: So, you've probably seen them on the menu while you're eating out those imitation burgers that look and taste like meat, I mean, really good for us?

In today's "FOOD AS FUEL, CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard tells us.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: If you are craving red meat but don't want to actually eat it, those imitation burgers might hit the spot. You can find them in grocery stores, restaurants, and even drive-thrus. But are they healthy?

Well, meatless burgers do contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. And many times, they are similar to the protein profile of the meats they imitate. They also contain vitamin B-12, and zinc: two important nutrients that can be tough for vegetarians to come by in their usual diet. But beware, these imitation burgers are highly processed and usually contain high levels of sodium and saturated fat.

So, check your labels and eat them in moderation. They're not health food even if they are tasty and environmentally friendly. Veggie burgers that are made of beans, vegetables, brown rice, or keema are the healthiest option of all.

Choose one with seeds and whole grains and that burger is a meal you can feel good about.

SANCHEZ: Thanks to Jacqueline Howard for that.

Drought conditions continued to worsen this week across the west. But a monsoon is providing some much related -- some much-needed relief for certain states, though the heavy rainfall is left over 9 million people under flash flood watches.

PAUL: Yes, well, let's get the latest from meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She's live in the CNN Weather Center right now. So, you know, on one hand, good news is we finally have some moisture. Bad news is we have too much of it.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, and it's not always evenly spread out over all the states that end up needing it because this is a very wide area.

Here you can see the radar, you've got some moisture, especially down across areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and that's where we've seen huge improvements the last week. But now, we are starting to see it finally spread a little bit farther to the north.

Again, looking at the last five to seven days, widespread amounts of one to two inches of rain across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, even some isolated spots of three to four inches. And that has been great for the drought.

One week ago, 84 percent of Arizona was in the two highest levels of drought. This week, they're down to 52 percent. Again, huge improvements there for the State of Arizona, but what about the rest of the states?

The good news is we're starting to see that moisture again surge into other areas, specifically the Pacific Northwest, which needs it.

Now, it's not a lot of rain, but again, even a little bit can make a big difference. Half an inch of rain. That's it. That's all you need to stop the spread of ongoing wildfires. If they can get at least two inches, that can actually extinguish the fires and there's a lot of them out in the west.

83 large active fires spread out over 13 states, including Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, a lot of those farther north states. 96 percent of the western states are in some level of drought.

So, yes, even though this may not be a ton of rain, even a little bit of it can make a huge difference. Now, the concern really is going forward. When we start to look at the long-term forecast, a lot of these areas go back to below normal preset.

The difference will be, Boris and Christi, that area of the Pacific Northwest where they will likely get at least a little bit more moisture to help the firefighters out.


SANCHEZ: Yes, every little bit counts. Allison Chinchar from the Weather Center, thank you so much.