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New Day Saturday

Health Experts: Breakthrough Infections May Be Contagious, But Spread Mostly Drive By Unvaccinated; Internal CDC Document Sounds Alarm On Deadly Delta Variant; Lollapalooza Underway With Big Crowds Amid Delta Variant Surge; Senate Working On Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 08:00   ET



ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: To below normal preset. The difference will be Boris and Christi, that area of the Pacific Northwest where they will likely get at least little bit more moisture to help firefighters out.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Every little bit counts. Allison Chinchar from the Weather Center, thank you so much.


SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

PAUL: And I'm Christi Paul. Listen, pivotal discovery. The CDC issues new mask guidance, recommending most fully vaccinated people resume mask wearing indoors. Now, this is happening because cases are continuing to surge. And they're driven mostly by people who are not vaccinated.

SANCHEZ: And that's right, and one county in Florida is requiring all county employees get vaccinated or else get out. They are defying the governor's anti-mandate strategy. The county administrator is going to join us live to talk about that decision.

PAUL: And Saturday session senators heading back to Capitol Hill today to hammer out the text of that massive infrastructure bill, on one of President Biden's biggest legislative goals, obviously. So the question is, where do things stand right now?

SANCHEZ: Plus, opting out, Simone Biles withdrawing from two more events at the Tokyo Olympics. Hear her message to fans. Coming up.

PAUL: Hope the sun is shining wherever you happen to be waking up this morning. We are grateful to have you with us. Good morning, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Good Morning, Christi. Always great to be with you. Grateful that our viewers are with us now.

We begin this morning with a race to stop a new wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the country. Officials are sounding the alarm about the spread of the deadly Delta variant. The rate of vaccinations against COVID-19 is going up across the United States. That is the good news.

PAUL: Yes. So take a look at the map here to get some perspective. It shows new cases compared to last week. Every state is showing a surge, fueled by that Delta variant. Now the CDC says it can spread as easily as chicken pox, but they stress getting vaccinated is still our best defense against the virus.


ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SR. ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE TEAM: If you're vaccinated, you are 1/8 as likely to get a case of COVID if you're not vaccinated, and your 1/25 as likely of getting hospitalized. So if someone told you, hey, jump out of this airplane, but if you put on a parachute you have 1/25 the chance of getting injured when you land, we'd all put on that parachute.


SANCHEZ: Now, the staggering disparity in hospitalizations and deaths between the vaccinated and unvaccinated may be convincing people to get the shot. An average of nearly 390,000 people are getting their first dose each day, and that's the highest it's been in three weeks. It is far though, as you can see, from the peak when the United States was administering 3 million shots a day.


AIMEE MATZEN, COVID-19 PATIENT: I am furious with myself.


MATZEN: Because I was not vaccinated. I just don't want anyone else warming up like me, especially when the vaccine is so easy to get.

LINDA EDWARDS, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: I just thought if I live through this, I want to go on a mission to try to help people to see that it is not worth not taking the vaccine.


PAUL: Now, health experts and officials expect the current surge that we're seeing here to worsen as long as these large segments of the country are unvaccinated.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a CDC internal document lays out the serious threat that the country is under. CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard explains the findings.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: The internal CDC document really sheds light on why we've seen cases rising in every state across the country. And we've known that the Delta variant is highly contagious, but the document gives us insight into the data behind that. Now information from the CDC presentation tells us that if a person is infected with the original strain of the coronavirus, that sick person may spread the virus to about two to three people on average. But if someone is infected with the Delta variant, that person could spread the virus to about five to nine people. That's a huge difference. And that's not the only way the Delta variant is different from previous strains.

The CDC document also says that along with being highly contagious, the Delta variant is likely to cause more severe disease and breakthrough infections in vaccinated people may be just as transmissible as infections and unvaccinated people. That's why we're now hearing that vaccinated people should mask up indoors in areas with lots of COVID-19 spread.

And since delta is likely to cause more severe illness, that is even more reason to get vaccinated. The document says, vaccines reduced the risk of severe disease or death tenfold and reduced the risk of infection threefold. So the takeaway here is, yes, the coronavirus could still infect a vaccinated person, but vaccines reduce your risk of getting severely ill, hospitalized, or even dying. Back to you.



PAUL: Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much. So with the Delta variant driving case numbers higher, the White House is stepping up its efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and this comes just days after President Biden announced that federal workers are going to have to show proof of vaccination or face new restrictions in the workplace. CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House with more. And Kevin, your reporting indicates that there has been a frustration within administration officials about vaccination rates and the fact that people may have to start masking up in doors again.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, certainly this week marked a turning point for the president in combating this pandemic and it was not the turn, he necessarily want it to be taking as we enter August, the Delta variant causing a spike in cases around the country and the president forced to take ever more urgent action.

This week, he really went from asking people to get vaccinated to starting to request it. You see that in the federal workers and also in the president's request of the Military to start looking in how to mandate the vaccine for Military members.

Now, these are steps that the President had been reluctant to take earlier on in the pandemic. There were some concerns about the political fallout and also some concerns that these steps might push people away from taking the vaccine. Now, the president is making clear, he's signaling to businesses, local government schools, that mandating the vaccine may be the only way to get these rates to tick back up. Now, the White House has been adamant yesterday and today that there is no federal vaccine mandate in the works. That's not something that they necessarily think that the president can do at all. But the president yesterday, when he was departing the White House for Camp David, made clear that guidelines and recommendations could still be in the works.

Listen to what he had to say.


REPORTER: Mr. President can 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.


LIPTAK: Now, what's driving all of this now? One is that CDC - that worrying CDC data that came out yesterday, that president and his advisors had seen that earlier in the week showing that vaccinated people could carry as much viral load as unvaccinated people. Saying that it was just as contagious as chicken pox - the Delta variant, that is now.

The president, we're told, is frustrated by all of this. He feels like he's hit a brick wall, according to one advisor. He's been asking his team to search for ways to get more people vaccinated. All of this is somewhat obscuring the rest of the agenda that he had once hoped that he'd be able to move on to, like infrastructure. The fallout is you're seeing it in the economy, whether it's evictions that could start tonight.

Now, the President and his advisors are cheered by the uptick in rates, but with the half the country still unvaccinated, they still acknowledge they have a long way to go in all of this.

SANCHEZ: No question about that. Kevin Liptak from the White House. Thank you so much.

PAUL: So among all of this, we're talking about one of the biggest music festivals that's taking place since the start of the pandemic. It's happening this weekend in Chicago.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Lollapalooza getting underway yesterday with packed crowds and little to no social distancing. Let's go live to CNNs Omar Jimenez, who is live in Chicago for us this morning.

Omar, the festival organizers changed one piece of COVID protocol mid festival. What are they doing differently today?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. It really highlights this tight rope that festival organizers are trying to walk, knowing that they were given the go ahead to go and do this at full capacity. And then when the time actually came, we saw cases rise to a point where they felt they needed to update their guidelines.

Now, for starters, we're standing right at the entrance of where people will be coming in and just hours and you can see the tents, how they're set up. There's a health screening tent. Please have proof of vaccination ready to show.

And just to give you background on this festival, it's expected to bring hundreds of thousands over the course of these few days to Chicago. To get in you have to show a proof of negative COVID test within 72 hours of you walking through these doors or be fully vaccinated and show that proof of vaccination. But that new addition is that people have to wear masks now in indoor spaces. That was not something when this festival was first announced.

And to give you context of the city. We're now over 3 percent positivity rate, which doesn't sound high, but just two weeks ago, it was 1 percent. And when you look at the amount of cases we're seeing, just last month, it was around 35 cases a day. We're now over 200. And that's significant, because that's the threshold that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she would consider reinstating a masks mandate here in the city.


We haven't seen that happen just yet. But the Chicago Department of Public Health is now recommending, like the CDC has, everyone over the age of two to wear masks in indoor spaces, with places of substantial transmission. Because we're over that 200 case a day threshold here in Chicago, we fall into the CDC category of substantial transmission, yet we're still planning to go ahead, full capacity.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And we'll hope that a lot of folks that are out there are vaccinated and actually have followed the protocols in place to try to stay safe. Omar Jimenez from Chicago, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss the latest vaccine and virus developments is Dr. Greg Poland. He's the Director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. Doctor, good morning. We appreciate having your expertise with us this weekend. Let's--


SANCHEZ: Of course, let's talk about this internal CDC document from this week that was leaked. It focuses a lot on what it calls communication challenges, and it recognizes that breakthrough infections present a serious issue.

Misperception among people that may believe that vaccines are not as effective as we thought they were, a perception that we want to make clear is wrong. Data shows breakthrough cases have occurred in less than 1 percent of people who've been vaccinated.

Still, the CDC is sort of acknowledging that the war has changed, and they have to improve the public's understanding of these breakthroughs. How would you advise they do that? POLAND: You're exactly right, Boris. And this is a complex issue that's difficult. Remember that the average reading level of the American public is seventh grade, so getting across these complex ideas is difficult. There is very little surprising or new here. No Vaccine that we have is 100 percent effective. We expect that there will be asymptomatic and even mild and occasionally moderate cases. So there's nothing new here.

But one thing that is surprising is that in the small number of cases, where they measured it, viral titers or viral loads were as high in vaccinated as unvaccinated people.

SANCHEZ: Doctor, you mentioned that the number of cases where they actually monitored the virus load was relatively small. I've spoken to doctors who think that breakthrough cases are underreported and the CDC still has to collect more information, for instance, on whether people who are vaccinated who do get COVID can spread the virus even while asymptomatic.

What other data do you want to see the CDC collect in a substantial way before we move on to, once again, undoing indoor masks mandates, for example?

POLAND: Yes, yes. And it's a great question. And it is really pretty simple. We need to understand what the consequences of asymptomatic transmission would be, how often it occurs, and with what viral titer and in what populations? Is it the elderly, is it people with underlying medical conditions or people with certain genetic predispositions.

But in many ways, regardless of that, the message here needs to be get vaccinated, wear a mask when you're indoors and wear a mask when you're in crowded outdoor venues. That's the safest thing you can do for you and your family.

SANCHEZ: Now, doctor, we have seen local officials, employers, public officials on a national level and doctors essentially say that they would like to see a nationwide vaccine mandate. There's obviously tremendous resistance to that.

The White House, yesterday, saying that is not under consideration. President Biden acknowledging that he doesn't know whether it would be legal to move forward with that or not. How would you feel people might react to a nationwide vaccine mandate?

POLAND: Well, you know, the behavior of the American public has been pretty obvious, hasn't it? Half of them are still unvaccinated. You can't undo the amount of misinformation and ignorance that occurs around this. And eventually, for every vaccine, where we've had pandemics or where we need to get high levels, you will eventually have to mandate. You cannot overcome vaccine resistance otherwise. So I would support that.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Poland, I was hoping you could quickly walk us through some of your thinking when it comes to virus mutation, because we learned the alarming news this week that the Delta variant could be as transmissible as chicken pox and it could cause more severe disease than the original strain. Is there a way to predict when we might see a new variant, perhaps more lethal or more contagious than the Delta variant?


POLAND: Yes, right now, we don't have good tools that would predict that in advance. What we can say, and I've studied RNA viruses for four decades. What we can say is this virus is doing exactly what we predicted it will do. And if we can't get extremely high rates of vaccination - and those rates now need to be higher than they were with the original strain, because of the increased infectivity, we're going to see more and more variants, some of which will be worse.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yet another reason, beyond the data, beyond the painful personal stories that we've watched the people that are infected, yet another good reason to get vaccinated is to prevent more variants down the road. Dr. Poland, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

POLAND: Thank you.

PAUL: So perhaps a glimpse of bipartisanship here. Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle vote to advance the infrastructure bill. Can it get past the next hurdle. And can lawmakers get progressives on board?

SANCHEZ: Plus, in the middle of a hurricane, that's how one official in Florida is describing the spread of COVID. Now he's taking matters into his own hands, telling employees get vaccinated or get out.



PAUL: Well, it is a working weekend for members of the Senate. They're trying to hammer out the details of that $1 trillion infrastructure bill. And Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he thinks the Senate can finish the bipartisan bill quote, "in a matter of days."

CNN Political Analyst Laura Barron-Lopez is with us now. Laura, good to see you this morning. I know the infrastructure bill, this is a priority for President Biden, it's the result of this bipartisan negotiation that we've been seeing, that we don't actually see a lot of in Washington at the end of the day.

So talk to us about the strategy the White House is using, either I should say strategy or maybe strategist who they're using to try to turn that negotiating dial?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Christi, this is one of the biggest priorities for President Joe Biden. He really wanted this to be bipartisan. So the fact that he's made it this far is a big deal for this White House.

And one of his big negotiators, his lead negotiator was his personal counselor, Steve Ricchetti. This is someone who has been with the president for a long time, has had a long career in Washington. And he was the lead negotiator for the White House. And in the days leading up to this final, more complete deal that was announced this past week, Ricchetti was spending hours, really late hours in the Capitol with Republican Senator Rob Portman, hashing out all of the details trying to get this thing done.

Because, again, the White House has been arguing all along that not only is this a once in a century investment in infrastructure, and so of course, they want it because of that. But they also really want to be able to say that they passed it with Republicans, because the White House and Ricchetti himself has argued to lawmakers that if this passes in a bipartisan way that then Democrats can go out on the trail and say, look, we're the party of unity, and we're the ones that got Washington working again.

PAUL: So that's obviously not what is happening, when it comes to this eviction moratorium that is set to expire as of midnight tonight. What we saw overnight, though, Democratic Representative Cori Bush - I think we've got some video of this. She slept outside the Capitol last night, trying to convince Democratic colleagues to reconvene and extend that moratorium. She, by the way, has been homeless, as I understand it. So she's really trying to make her point.

What is interesting here, too, though, is that the White House on Thursday said, they - well, they said that they asked Congress two days before the deadline to extend it, that was on Thursday. We heard from Speaker Nancy Pelosi who says she only learned the moratorium was expiring the day before. What do we know about the disconnect? The White House is saying do this, and it takes 24 hours for the speaker to hear about it?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, so the White House did not ask Congress to pass an extension of the moratorium until Thursday. Congress was planning to leave - specifically the House was planning to leave for their August recess on Friday. They weren't - a lot of the lawmakers were not planning to be there, and so Speaker Pelosi had to rush to try to find the votes.

And our reporting shows that at yesterday, Speaker Pelosi was 20 votes short, at least, to be able to even pass this. And so there was a lot of back and forth, a lot of finger pointing from the White House to Pelosi - Pelosi to the White House. Pelosi kept saying that she thought that the CDC had the authority to be able to do this unilaterally.

The White House's argument was that they didn't want the CDC to take that step, because of the recent Supreme Court decision at the end of June that - in the decision, it was determined that if the CDC - the CDC didn't have the power to continue to issue these moratoriums. And the White House was concerned that if the CDC took that step, that there could be future harmful rulings that would maybe eventually make it.

So that agency could not issue moratoriums in the future based on public health conditions. So they didn't want the agency to take that route. That's led us to this point. But again, White House has not answered the question about why it took them so long? After seeing the ruling at the end of June, why it took them so long to ask Congress to extend this moratorium?

PAUL: So is there any indication this morning that Representative Bush's actions overnight have had any impact on keeping any of the lawmakers around to try to extend that?


BARRON-LOPEZ: So far no. A lot of lawmakers have left town already. Bush also mentioned that the Senate, since it is still in and it's working over the weekend, as you mentioned Christi, why not pass an extension themselves and then potentially the House could come back. Pelosi did say yesterday that if she starts to see that the votes are there, the House could very well come back earlier than expected to try to pass an extension.

PAUL: There are a lot of people, who I think, are very nervous right now about whether they're going to get evicted from the home that they know. Laura Barron-Lopez, thank you so much for walking us through. Good to see you this morning.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Get vaccinated or get fired, that's what one county official in Florida is telling employees as COVID cases are on the rise. He's not just facing backlash, he's getting hate mail and threats. He'll join us to talk about this next.



SANCHEZ: Cases of the Delta variant are spiking across the country while vaccination rates are far from where they once were, and they've only recently seen an uptick. Now, some employers are taking things into their own hands, telling workers to either get vaccinated or get out.

Leon County in Northern Florida announcing this week that all county employees must be vaccinated and be able to show proof by October 1st. Joining us now to talk about that decision is Leon County Administrator Vince Long. Vince, thanks so much for spending part of your weekend with us. We appreciate your time. Walk us through the factors that led to this decision. Why is it necessary to take this step?

VINCE LONG, LEON COUNTY, FLORIDA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, as you know, as vaccination rates have stagnated and declined, new infections due to the Delta variant have steeply increased. And so as a frontline government agency, our foremost responsibility is to ensure our readiness, as an organization, to respond to the needs of our community.

It's hurricane season on top of that here in Florida, and we have been the epicenter for this trend of decreasing vaccinations and increasing new infections due to Delta variant. So, yes, we required as a condition of employment for employees to become fully vaccinated, again, to ensure our readiness and our responsiveness.

We didn't necessarily think we'd be here just a short time ago. But it really is only the only responsible thing to do to ensure our readiness. I've said before that the days of free doughnuts for - to incentivize vaccinations are unfortunately behind us now.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The free doughnuts didn't seem to quite work out. You've said that 50 percent of Leon County's workforce has been vaccinated. That's right around the national average. I want to show that transmission map of Florida. There's a lot of read on it.

I'm wondering if you've heard from anyone that said they are ready to walk, they're ready to quit instead of getting the shot? Have you had conversations like that?

LONG: We have not yet. And I fully expect - I have to say for us that Leon County employees have stepped up time and time again over this pandemic, and this may be an unfortunate situation to be in with respect to the condition of employment.

However, again, I think it's the only - the only responsible thing to do to ensure our readiness to serve community. I haven't heard it yet. And I expect our employees to step up as they have so many other times.

SANCHEZ: I certainly hope they do. Now, aside from your employees, you have been hearing from some folks in your community, they've been sending some really interesting emails, since you made this decision, one of them calling you and your colleagues, quote, "devil worshipping death cult members."

Vince, how do you persuade someone to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated when they approach you with that kind of animosity?

LONG: Well, I think it's a little hard to believe that after what we've all been through with the COVID virus, that some people still have a hard time understanding that the virus will dictate the terms in how we live and how we work. And so we don't have to like it. We don't have to agree with it, but it's only our collective action, ultimately, that is going to have an impact on the virus.

So yes, if you don't believe in science, and if you're not persuaded by health data, then really you're only bounded by your - the expansiveness of your imagination. And so yes, we've, we've heard some of that here.

SANCHEZ: That's a very diplomatic way to put it. So Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in May that restricted emergency COVID orders at the local level. It's not an all-out ban, but his office announced that lawyers are going to be reviewing your County's vaccine mandate to figure out if it violates any privacy laws.

I want you to listen to a quick sound bite from the DeSantis just a few days ago.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Did you not get the CDC's memo? I don't see you guys complying.


I think it's very important that we say unequivocally no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no mandates.


SANCHEZ: It's notable, we should mention, and juxtapose the fact that the governor is at a fundraiser in Utah, while we saw the red rising COVID cases in Florida. What's your response to Governor DeSantis?

LONG: Well, at the local level, we really do not have the luxury of thinking through the politics on these decisions. We appreciate the position that the governor is in. And, frankly, I agree with the governor's urgency in getting businesses to stay open and to get kids back to school safely.

But you have to pay attention to the brutal facts of this virus. And in the dangerous game of the virus versus politics, the virus always wins, and the virus has the last word. And so I would just ask the governor not impose additional impediments for counties and cities in Florida that limit our ability to mitigate the spread of the virus locally, so that we're not left dealing with and picking up the pieces of the worst case scenarios.

SANCHEZ: You have to pay attention to the brutal facts of this virus - wise words. Vince, thank you so much for the time. Have a good weekend.

LONG: Thank you. Good morning.

PAUL: Well, Gymnast Simone Biles says she still has the twisties. And now she's pulling out of the next competition at the Olympics. Who's taking her place and what we know.

SANCHEZ: Plus temperatures soaring in Tokyo. We'll show you how the heat is impacting Olympic athletes after a quick break.



PAUL: Well, American superstar Gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from two more events at the Olympic Games. Now, USA Gymnastics said in a tweet quote, "After further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars. she'll continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam."

But in a now deleted series of Instagram posts, Simone Biles reveals she still has the twisties, that's what gymnasts call the condition when a gymnast suddenly loses track of their position midair. And listen, this is a real thing. It can be extremely dangerous.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot of gymnasts have come out and said that it has affected them in the past. American Gymnast MyKayla Skinner, meantime, is going to take Biles place in the vault final tomorrow. And she posted this on Instagram saying, quote, "Looks like I get to put on a competition Leo just one more time. Can't wait to compete in vault finals. Doing this for us, Simone Biles, it's go time baby." Much luck to them.

Meantime, Katie Ledecky just become the second American ever to win three straight Olympic Gold Medals in the same event. Let's put that in perspective. Michael Phelps is the only other Olympian ever to do that.

PAUL: The 24 year old beat her rival in the 800 meter freestyle, now has a total of six individual Golds in her Olympic career. Ledecky also, by the way, has the top 23 fastest times ever posted in the women's freestyle event. Here's what she said.


KATIE LEDECKY, TOKYO OLYMPICS SWIMMING GOLD MEDALIST: So when just even won gold at the past three Olympics has been amazing. And I never dreamed of making it to one Olympics when I first started swimming, when I was six years old. And to have the opportunity to go to three now and to win medals and to hear your national anthem play, it's amazing.


PAUL: And listen, she vows she's not done yet. She's already looking ahead to Paris 2024. So we will be cheering her on then just like we are now.

So let's talk about Tokyo. It is hot and humid during the summer. I have not been, Boris, but I take their words for it. The problem is this year might be one of the hottest Olympic Games ever, because right now extreme heat and high temperatures are soaring to record levels and that's pushing temperatures into what they call the danger zone for athletes.

SANCHEZ: Yes, as if things couldn't get more complicated for the Olympians with everything that they have to juggle, given the pandemic, when it comes to these high temperatures combined with humidity, experts say that Tokyo is actually the worst Olympic host city in history given these conditions.

Let's go to CNN's Selina Wang. She's live in Tokyo for us. Selina, what is this heat like on the ground? What are these athletes experiencing right now?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, it is oppressive, it is hot, it is humid and if it weren't for the pandemic, heatstroke would be the biggest health risk to these athletes. And we're already seeing some of them struggle, especially tennis players.

Spanish player Paula Badosa, she got heatstroke during her quarterfinals, had to retire from the match, left the court in a wheelchair. And Novak Djokovic has called the conditions brutal. He said in his 20 years of playing professional tennis, he's never experienced these kinds of conditions on a consecutive daily basis.

Experts tell me that potentially when you combine the heat and humidity, these are the worst conditions in Olympic history.



WANG (voice over): Sweaty, hot, and humid. That's the Tokyo summer. Before the pandemic, heat stroke was the biggest health risk for the Tokyo Games held during the hottest time of year in Japan.

Natsue Koikawa knows the risks of heatstroke all too well. A former professional runner, she passed out during a 1995 marathon in Japan and almost died. It took her more than a year and a half to recover and she never returned to a major marathon race again.

Now a professor and track coach at Juntendo University, she's been researching the dangers of competing in the heat.

NATSUE KOIKAWA, FORMER MARATHON RUNNER (through translator): Heatstroke can happen to anyone, and it's a very common cause of death.

It may be extremely difficult for athletes to give up competing in the middle of the game, because the athletes are representing their country on a stage of their dreams. And so I tell athletes that having the courage to quit is the best way to prevent heatstroke.

WANG (voice over): Back in 1964, the Tokyo Games were actually held in October in order to beat the heat. And it's only gotten hotter since then. According to a report from the British Association for Sustainable Sport, temperatures in Japan have increased three times as fast as the world average since 1900.

MAKOTO YOKOHARI, PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENT, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO: When you take into account not only the temperatures, but of the humidity, I would say the Tokyo summer is the worst in the history of the Olympic games.

WANG (voice over): In a statement to CNN, the IOC said it provides shade and water supplies at venues because the health of athletes is, quote, "at the heart of our concerns".

Still, we have already seen athletes struggle under the sun during these games with Russian archer Svetlana Gomboeva being treated for heat exhaustion.

KIT MCCONNELL, SPORTS DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: A lot of the competition schedule has been built where possible depending on the sport to accommodate, to avoid the hottest parts of the day but that's not possible with every sport.

WANG: On Wednesday, Russia tennis player Daniil Medvedev was visibly struggling. When the umpire asked if he could continue he replied "I'm a fighter I will finish the match, but I can die." Later in comments posted by Tokyo 2020, he added "I couldn't breathe properly. I think that was the most humid day we have had so far."

Later that day, Spain's Paula Badosa retired from her match with heatstroke. She had to be escorted off the court in a wheelchair. In response, the International Tennis Federation said that matches will now begin later in the day due to these weather conditions.

But Yokohari says that isn't enough.

YOKOHARI: Having Olympic games in mid-summer in Tokyo is not something that you should do. And we should postpone it until like October or November.

WANG: But in the future, it might not just be Tokyo. According to a commentary published in "The Lancet", by 2085, the number of large cities that would be considered low risk to hold the Olympics in summer months would be extremely limited.

In the meantime, Koikawa says athletes must stop if they feel the onset of heatstroke as it's better to put their Olympic dreams rather than their lives on the line.


WANG: Now back in 2019, organizers moved the Olympic marathon hundreds of miles north from Tokyo to support - to avoid the brutal heat here. And Japan summers are brutal and can be deadly so far during the Olympics it's been in the 90s. But with the humidity it can feel like triple digits.

Back in 2018. More than 1,000 deaths in Japan were recorded because of the heatwave that year. And just this year from July 19 to 25th, more than 8,000 people have already been hospitalized just in those few days for suspected heatstroke.

So on top of COVID-19 everything's these athletes are going through, they have to deal with these brutal conditions. Boris, Christi.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that is intense. It makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. Selina Wang, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Selina. So tonight is the premiere of a series of CNN Films, including "Super Reviewers: Rate, Review, Repeat". Here's a quick preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So instead of drugs like I did first reviews, yes. So Yelp has the feature that you get a little star. Like a kindergartener, you get a little badge if you are first review. I really chased after that little pat on the back. Like I wanted to be there before Jonathan Gold.


PAUL: Be sure to tune in our all new short film series, kicks off tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern only right here on CNN. Stay close.



PAUL: So President Biden is announcing new sanctions on Cuba during a meeting with several Cuban Americans and key members of Congress yesterday.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, on Friday, after meeting with representatives of the Cuban-American community, announced new sanctions on the Cuban government, putting the National Revolutionary Police and some of their leadership on the U.S. sanctions list.

It's unclear how much of an impact this will really have, because like previous sanctions issued by the Biden Administration, unless these individuals travel the United States or have assets in United States, which it's not believed that they do, it really is more of a symbolic gesture.

All the same, the Biden Administration putting Cuba's Police force, which led the crackdown on protesters on notice. President Biden saying that they will continue to look at Cuban officials to sanction and how to provide the Cuban people with an internet. They cannot be blocked, they can't be taken down at the first sign of protest.


Tellingly on Friday as well, despite the widespread international outcry over the harsh crackdown on protesters by the Cuban government, aid has begun to arrive to this island from other countries, including Russia, Vietnam, and Nicaragua.

On Friday, we saw the first boat sent by the Mexican government carrying tons of food and aid. There are countries that, even though Cuba is facing this harsh international outcry, countries around the world, saying that the Cuban government has gone too far on cracking down on protesters.

There are other countries, like the government of Mexico, that say they want to help Cuba and are throwing an economic lifeline to the Cuban government. It's unclear, though, how much of a difference this aid will make as Cuba continues to face a worsening economic situation.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Patrick. So a quick programming note. There's no SMERCONISH this morning. So you'll get more of Christi and I in just a few minutes on CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.