Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Sunday

States Of Emergency In Florida As Elsa Closes In; New Ransomware Attack Impacts Hundreds Of Businesses; U.S. Falls Just Short Of President Biden's July 4 Vaccinations Goal; Standoff With Heavily Armed Men Ends With 11 Arrests; Thailand Launches "Phuket Sandbox" Tourism Program; Bucks Advance To NBA Finals For First Time Since 1974. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 04, 2021 - 07:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Because of tropical storm Elsa eyeing Florida, 15 counties right now under a state of emergency. Impacts from the storm will be felt as soon as tomorrow.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And a new ransomware attack to tell you about. It's impacting hundreds of American businesses. What we're learning about how it's spreading and who might be behind it.

SANCHEZ: Plus, Thailand's most popular island reopening to some tourists. How the experiment could be the key to reviving a struggling tourism industry.


SANCHEZ: It is Sunday, July 4th. Happy Independence Day. We hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend and we're glad to have you with us.

Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Good morning to you, Boris. Good to see you as always.

So, let's talk about this hurdle in the way of rescuers who are still hoping to find survivors at the site of that Surfside condo collapse. Just to give you some perspective, we are entering day 11 of this search effort. It's on stand-by at the moment after Miami-Dade officials moved up their plans to demolish the building's remaining units there.

SANCHEZ: Engineers have been keeping a close eye on the part of the structure that's still standing since the condo's partial collapse. But an approaching tropical system is escalating concern about the safety of the crews working at the site.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: The fear was that the hurricane may take the building down for us and take it down in the wrong direction, on top of the pile where they have victims. We'll allow our rescue workers to pour all over the entire site without any fear of danger from falling debris or falling buildings.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Natasha Chen is on the scene for us in Surfside.

Natasha, every minute counts now. So walk us through the timeline for the demolition.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORREPSPONDENT: Right, Boris and Christi, there is no specific time announced yet for when the rest of this building is coming down but the hope is that it can be done by the time this storm might roll into this area, which could be late Monday.

As far as what they are doing to prepare for that demolition right now, engineers are drilling into the columns of the remaining structure. There is a team from the National Science Foundation gathering evidence right now, including with 3D imaging technology, and that's so there is as much evidence as possible for investigators later to help determine the cause of this collapse.

And so there is a lot of preparation going on right now. That's why the search and rescue operation paused. As of yesterday at 4:00 p.m., once the engineers are finished with their work, they will deem whether it's safe for the search and rescue operation to continue. The governor yesterday said that as soon as the green light is given, this demolition process could happen within 36 hours.

There will not be a need to evacuate people in the nearby area. However, officials will announce a perimeter before that demolition happens. Now, at the same time, you have families of 121 unaccounted people still really bracing themselves for any information, any news or hope of their missing loved ones.

And we did find out the identities of a couple more victims who were found. Graciela Cattarossi is the mother of 7-year-old Stella Cattarossi, the daughter of a Miami firefighter. I spoke to a relative yesterday who said that Stella was the most wonderful little girl.

I also spoke to Captain Ignatius Carroll who has been on site with the search and rescue teams and he talked to me about that moment the little girl was found late last week.


CAPT. IGNATIUS CARROLL, CITY OF MIAMI FIRE RESCUE, FLORIDA TASK FORCE 2: It was very difficult, as you could imagine, it being one of our brother firefighters, but it gave the family peace knowing that she was located. We were able to give the father an opportunity to say his farewells and it gave him peace of mind, the family, to know that they will be able to remember her and be able to celebrate her life. And that's the goal that we have with everybody out there in that pile, trying to do their best in this continued search effort to reunite families with their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHEN: And as they are searching for people, they are also seeing objects, belongings of these people who lived in the Champlain Tower South. Whenever that happens, we're told that the object is photographed. There is a GPS marker of where they found it and it's put in a bucket to put away carefully.

So there is a process here to try to retrieve items for people who are worried about that. As far as the Cattarossi family, the relative tells me they are still missing three other family members, Andrea Cattarossi was visiting the family from Argentina, where she has three sons there.

So a lot of heartbreaking stories here. Twenty-four confirmed deaths right now, 121 unaccounted for -- Boris, Christi.


PAUL: Natasha Chen, wow, thank you so much.

And Miami-Dade, by the way, is one of 15 Florida counties that are under a state of emergency ahead of tropical storm Elsa right now.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, Governor Ron DeSantis says his state is ready to juggle both challenges.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We are preparing for the risk of isolated tornados, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The state has begun executing contingency plans for the tropical storm Elsa and Surfside co-response.


SANCHEZ: CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin has been tracking the storm.

Tyler, where is it now and where does it look like it's heading?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Tropical storm Elsa at the moment is about 500 miles to the south and east of Key West. It's moving to the northwest at 14 miles per hour. So it's moving slower. It's also weakened a little bit. It's now a 65-mile-per-hour tropical storm.

Moving to the northwest puts it over Cuba later today and that's why we have warnings up for Cuba and then we have tropical storm watches in effect for the lower middle Keys. We also have an offshore tropical storm watch from Bonita Beach and areas southward. I'm sure we will see other portions of the peninsula to be added later on into the morning.

The cone here, the cone of concern, takes it over Cuba and again the exact tract over Cuba determines what kind of strength this system will be once it reemerges into the Florida straits, if it goes eastward, it will go over the mountains and become weaker. If it goes westward it will stay over the flatter part of Cuba and re-emerge a little stronger. You can see that the Florida peninsula, much of the peninsula, is in the cone of concern.

When you look at the cone, make sure you don't focus on the exact center because where that line is telling you, what this cone is telling you is where the center of the storm is going to go, and tropical storm-force winds stretch out 125 miles from the center of Elsa.

As I mentioned earlier, the last hour, the peninsula of Florida at its widest is 140 miles wide. So if the storm tracks on the eastern side, pretty much the entire peninsula is going to feel tropical storm-force conditions. And we should just anticipate that. Heavy rainfall is going to be felt from the keys and areas north as this system moves to the north.

We expect tropical storm-force conditions to be felt across the Keys and extreme South Florida as early as late Monday and then conditions go downhill from south to north as we get into Tuesday and Wednesday. If it takes the track and even just stays offshore, the western track, we are going to feel squall lines push into Southeast Florida Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So excited will so Surfside will see the rain late Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and it's not going to let up until we get probably into mid-to-late week.

So today, guys, today is probably the last nice day weather-wise down in south Florida. We are going to see a high up to 90 degrees. It's going to be humid. But notice it's mostly sunny and dry. The rain chance is only 15 percent. Then we go to up to 60, 70, 80 percent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

SANCHEZ: All right. Tyler Mauldin, I appreciate the update. Thank you so much.

MAULDIN: You got it.

SANCHEZ: Just weeks after President Biden's face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States has been hit yet again by another major cyberattack. This time as many as 200 American companies are potentially compromised. Cybersecurity experts are again saying the hack originated out of Eastern Europe or Russia.

But Biden suggested Saturday that based on intelligence that he has received, he isn't quite sure about that. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, we're not sure who it is. The director of the intelligence community will give me a deep dive on what's happened and I'll know better tomorrow and if it is with the knowledge of and/or a consequence of Russia, then I told Putin we will respond. We're not certain. The initial thinking was it was not the Russian government.


SANCHEZ: The Russian government has yet to comment on this latest cyberattack. Joining us to discuss this and other issues is CNN national security

analyst Juliette Kayyem. She served in the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

Juliette, great to see you this morning. Happy Fourth of July.


SANCHEZ: We appreciate you sharing some of it with us.

So this attack was allegedly carried out by the same criminal group that went after JBS foods, the meat supplier, earlier this year.

KAYYEM: Right.

SANCHEZ: JBS paying $11 million in ransom.

It's clear at this point that not enough has been done to deter these hacks. I wonder what effective deterrence would look like?

KAYYEM: Well, effective deterrence has to go against the right entity that is doing this. And I think President Biden was smart -- simply he just bought some time.


If he came out swinging, oh, it's the Russians, it's the REvil, the cyber -- the ransomware group that was responsible for the meat packing attack, and he's wrong, and the president is wrong, that is going to undermine our attempts to go after these criminals in the future. So he is just buying himself some time. If it is the Russians, then, as he has promised, there are a number of things that can be done.

One is criminal investigations and prosecutions. We have a lot of support by other countries. So we can go after some of these enemies, not in Russia, but in other countries.

The second is a potential offensive cyberattack. That is more complicated. We do not attack civilian network. So, we are not going to go after anything that would impact Russian civilians.

You imagine there is something we can do that might impact Putin, his money, and his supporters' money. Remember, Putin is in charge in Russia because he made a lot of people rich. If there is ways we can make them less rich, his support will falter.

So, they are trying to figure out ways to do this lawfully, fairly and consistent with the difference between America and Russian which is we don't go ever civilian networks.

SANCHEZ: And, Juliette, I want to get a better impression, a better understanding of something you tweeted. You wrote last night, quote, a quick inventory of impact suggests that the attack is much worse than it appears. What does that mean and how much worse? KAYYEM: Okay. So I think that this is a story we will be talking a lot

about in the week to come. The reason, part of it is a holiday weekend. People aren't sure what is going on. The right people aren't in place.

This is what we call a downstream attack. Kaseya, I think I'm pronouncing it correctly, is simply a repository. It licenses its software to hundreds and thousands of companies. And it's essentially just a software that lets people look into computer systems. So, it's nothing too fancy.

They have been attacked. What's happened now is that's given access to all these other countries by the hostile actors, those who are demanding ransomware, and they are demanding money from all these other considers. This is what we call downstream, right? The original company matters less than every piece that they are touching now.

And I think we have no concept of how many that is. It may be a couple dozen in the United States, but globally this is a huge company. The most important thing, it's part of most major supply chains related to food and other issues.

So, there's going to be disruptions and we need to fix them quickly. I will commend the company for being as transparent as it seems to have been as regards letting the other companies know.

SANCHEZ: I'm curious about how people at home can do anything to protect themselves. Is it a time to go and, you know, stock up on certain items?

KAYYEM: No, not yet. We have a pretty flexible supply chain. There is ways that the companies can pivot around some of these disruptions. Let's wait. No one should panic.

This is -- part of this is the -- by these organizations, these criminal organizations, is they really want people to freak out. And there is no reason to. We shouldn't give them that.

These companies, hopefully, most of them have redundancies in the system, they will be able to pivot, figure out ways or close down for a day or two, but there is nothing that the average American citizen needs to do right now until we have a better sense.

So please do not panic. Enjoy yourself today and get to the beach or somewhere fun.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, stock up on hot dogs and grilling and fun. Not gasoline or anything like that. We don't want to see a repeat of earlier this year.

KAYYEM: No, that is not necessary.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, I do want to ask you about what happened in Massachusetts yesterday. Eleven people arrested after a standoff between state police and a group of heavily armed men. You formerly served as the undersecretary for homeland security in

Massachusetts. If you were a state official right now and you were dealing with this case, what is your biggest concern?

KAYYEM: Two things.

One is just copycats. We have had actually despite the reputation of Massachusetts as being progressive, we have had a number of really devastating hate crimes.

A rabbi was attacked recently. An African American couple was -- two African Americans were killed. And so part of it is trying to lower the temperature of what is going on in the state as we would like to in every other state.

The other is, obviously, just this radicalization that is happening regardless of ideology. That we know that there are groups that we're practically worried about. This group yesterday most people had not heard of. It is unclear whether they did it for the publicity, so that we'd be talking about them, so we won't mention their name.


But basically, this sort ever radicalization with guns. Massachusetts, the commonwealth has probably the toughest gun enforcement laws in the country. We're not a gun culture state. So part of the benefit of some of those laws is it makes arrests like these relatively easily because you're not -- you know, you can't have unlicensed guns.

Those are criminal violations. You can't open carry. So we just make these cases as they go along. So that's sort of where we are. We are like every other state dealing with this issue.

SANCHEZ: We have to leave the conversation there. Juliette Kayyem, I hope you enjoy the Fourth. Thanks so much.

KAYYEM: I will. You, too.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we want to keep growing our economy, we also need to get more folks vaccinated. We got to get more folks vaccinated.


PAUL: Like a lot of people, President Biden, Vice President Harris, they are traveling this weekend. You just heard part of the message there. If you want to get back to normal, get vaccinated, they say. We are talking about this.

Stay close.


SANCHEZ: We are just about 20 minutes past the hour.

And for the first time in more than a year, Carnival Cruise Line is launching ships with paying passengers from ports in the United States. Yesterday, the Carnival Vista leaving port in Galveston, Texas, for a week-long cruise. The first ship to sail from the port in more than 15 months. According to Carnival's website, all guests had to be fully vaccinated and able to prove it. If not, they were not allowed on the boat and were turned away without a refund.

PAUL: So, first of all, I want to wish you a happy Fourth of July as the U.S. is celebrating independence.

The country is far from free. We're being told of the coronavirus and you can see it for yourself. The country just short of the goal that was set by President Biden to have 70 percent of adults in the U.S. with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., did reach that benchmark.

But as a whole, only 67 percent of adults in the U.S. have received at least one of those shots. The spread of the more transmissible delta variant means there are pockets of the country where vaccination rates are low and may continue to experience outbreaks because of that.

As more people travel over the busy summer months, too, and you probably have some travel plans yourself, experts are warning us that reaching herd immunity may become more difficult.

Alex Burns, national political reporter for "The New York Times" and a CNN political analyst, is with us now.

Alex, good to see you. Thank you for being here. Happy Fourth.


PAUL: Thank you. You as well.

So President Biden today is welcoming or I think tomorrow is -- no, today is welcoming 1,000 essential workers and military personnel to the South Lawn. He wants to celebrate how far the country's come. He is promising that, quote, it will be better next year.

So the thing is, privately, you know, he is happy, happy publicly, but privately we understand there is a lot of concern in the administration about this delta variant.

What signals do you see that President Biden's happy message is actually working publicly or not?

BURNS: Well, Christi, as you say, I think it's a tricky balancing act for the president and I think that the sort of public and private thinking of the White House is a fairly straightforward at this point, that they are not quite going there and saying happy days are here again because vaccination rates are lagging in parts of the country. There have been signs of slowness in certain elements of the economic recovery and the national reopening. It's not quite the big festive victory lap that they might have anticipated only the Fourth of July.

But having said all of that, it's still pretty close to a festive victory lap, that one of the things that this president and his advisors have said from the very start is that they were not going to be shy about telling the American people a success story about what they accomplished in office, what they saw as one of the big mistakes of the last Democratic administration, the Obama/Biden administration that, of course, the current president served in, was that when the economy started returning and the federal rescue money back in 2009 started getting spent, they didn't brag about it enough.

And so, I think that's what you're going to start to see the president and vice president do right now, is herald signs that the country is moving in the right direction and try to explain to voters why they should give them credit for that.

PAUL: So I want to look at your new piece that you write about in "The New York Times." You say the country is recovering from a pandemic and an economic crisis and it's former president is in legal and financial peril but no political realignment appears to be at hand.

So outside the vaccination rates, do you see any indication that this partisan divide itself has hurt -- has hurt the recovery efforts?

BURNS: Well, it certainly when you look at where vaccination rates are lagging, it maps pretty clearly on to the country's partisan political divide, that many of the states that are the furthest along in vaccinating their populations, where vaccine hesitancy is the lowest are some pretty blue states and those lagging behind are areas where that rural white conservative Trump base has really been skeptical of going out and getting vaccinated. That's an enormous challenge for this administration.

But, you know, Christi, so sort of the larger point here, this is a big political question facing both parties. The country is experiencing enormous change at an enormous rate and for some time. Think of all of the trauma and recovery that Americans have experienced in the last year and a half or more of their lives since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.


Normally, if there even is such a thing, you know, I think that you would imagine that a country that had been through that would experience some drastic political change, and yet the last election was relatively close. Certainly, the Congress is closely divided. Washington is bitterly divided.

And when you look at President Biden's poll numbers, he is a popular president relatively speaking, but you're not seeing big swings in public opinion in his direction corresponding with the economic recovery and the national reopening -- at least not yet.

PAUL: I want to ask about the optics that we saw on Thursday, this rare moment, President Biden side by side with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They were, obviously, united when it came to what was happening in Florida, the condo collapse and the victims and families trying to show some unity there for them.

DeSantis thanked the president. The president said letting the -- you know, this was a way to let the nation know that we can cooperate and we though that that was one of President Biden's big campaign promises. He was going to cross party lines. He was going to make it better.

That moment seemed rare. Democratic/Republican together. But do you think it was the beginning of something or was it just a blip?

BURNS: Look, I think it was an important moment. And I think it's the kind of moment that has been all too rare. Certainly, it was not the kind of moment that you saw President Trump having with a Democratic governor or Democratic mayors for most of his administration.

But it does sort of speak to just how polarized, just how bitterly with divided the country is along partisan and cultural and in some case racial and geographic lines that we don't see this more often. That you think back to moments of bipartisan comity in the last 20 years and you think about moments like 9/11 or the aftermath, you know, of Hurricane Katrina and Irene over the years. Those pictures of Barack Obama and Chris Christie when he was the governor of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. National disasters bring people together, but often not for very long.

PAUL: Alex Burns, we appreciate so much. His new article, by the way, at "The New York Times" just dropped this morning -- it's a great read. Alex, thanks so much for being with us.

BURNS: Thanks a lot.

PAUL: Sure.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, an update from Brazil where protesters have taken to the streets. Brazilians in the thousands demanding for the president there Bolsonaro to be impeached. We'll be back. Stay with us.



PAUL: Well, a standoff in Massachusetts started as a traffic stop and escalated into a nine-hour encounter between police and heavily armed men who wore military-style uniforms.

SANCHEZ: In all, 11 people were taken into custody. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But people living in that area are still shaken up.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on a bizarre incident.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A sigh of relief outside Boston Saturday as an armed standoff with police on major highway ends peacefully.

COL. CHRISTOPHER MASON, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: We were able to successfully resolve this situation through a combination of negotiations and some tactical maneuvers.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): An hours-long standoff between heavily armed men and police on one of the busiest interstates ended without incident as authorities took 11 people into custody. Still, many questions are left about what exactly was behind this potentially dangerous Saturday morning just north of Boston.

MASON: They wanted to be heard. They wanted to be a variety of not demands, but requests that they just be allowed to leave the area, transit the area without any accountability, and at the end of the day we couldn't accommodate that.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Overnight, a highway patrol car came on two vehicles in the breakdown lane on I-95. Police say the heavily armed men wearing tactical gear were attempting to refuel one of their vehicles. After learning the men were armed but not carrying firearm licenses, the state trooper called for backup. Some of the men fled into nearby woods. The standoff began.

MASON: We are engaged with the subjects through our hostage negotiation team. We are talking with the subjects at, some that are in the woods, some that are still at the vehicles in the breakdown lane where the original interaction occurred, and we are hopeful that we will be able to resolve this peacefully with them. We're committed to a negotiation with them having a conversation.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Portions of i-95 were closed in both directions for several hours on a busy holiday weekend. Those in nearby homes were told to go into lockdown as police attempted to negotiate with the group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if you can see this but he is loading his gun.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The armed group appears to have live-streamed their side of the standoff online. It's unclear if the man filming was one of the 11 arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not anti-government. Our nation, which our flag is here, has a treaty with your government.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: They appear to belong to Rise of the Moors which seems seem to be connected to the Moorish sovereignty movement that believes among other things an 18th century treaty wean the U.S. and Morocco grants them special rights.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In live streams from the highway one member insisted they didn't break laws and did not intend to be hostile.

Police said the men were passing through the state on their way to attend some sort of training operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are abiding by the peaceful laws of the United States federal courts.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Massachusetts officials said the state's laws are clear.

MASON: They did not have gun licenses on them, first of all. Massachusetts does not allow the carrying of a loaded or unloaded firearm on an interstate highway, such as this. You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2:00 in the morning certainly raises concerns.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The men eventually surrendered to police on site without incident and authorities seized a still undisclosed number of the guns.

MASON: I can share a number of firearms have been seized. I cannot share with you the exact number. The two vehicles that were at the scene are being towed from the scene. They will be processed pursuant to a court authorized search warrant and only then will we know the exact number of firearms that have been seized.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The vital artery that is I-95 was finally reopened to holiday travelers. But the investigation around the incident is ongoing. It's expected officials will look into the little known group and their motivations.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The bunch of armed men are traveling in a car to do something and we don't know what that something is. So that's where the investigation is going to go right now.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Authorities say the men taken into custody should appear first in court on Tuesday. The investigation into that incident continues. And for now the highway is back open to traffic.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.

PAUL: Well, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world wants you back. Why Thailand is letting vaccinated tourists come back.



SANCHEZ: New this morning, facemasks will soon become optional in England as coronavirus restrictions are further eased. The U.K. government also considering whether to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact on July 19th.

PAUL: And elsewhere around the world, the delta variant is sparking new lockdowns in several countries, particularly those struggling with vaccinations.

More now from our CNN colleagues around the world.


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia, where much of the country is in or coming out of lockdowns amid a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 fueled by the delta variant. The city of Sydney some 5 million people told to stay at home until July 9th.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that in an effort to keep out the virus, the number of Australians allowed back into the country each week would be halved from about 6,000 to about 3,000. Some good news, however, with Scott Morrison offering future free toms for vaccinated people in an effort to lift Australia's sluggish vaccine rollout. Just about 8 million jabs administered to far, the Australian government wants to give a chance to every Australian eligible for a vaccine to get one before the end of the year.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I am Barbie Nadeau in Rome where Italian health authorities are concerned about a surge in COVID cases tied to the contagious delta variant in some European countries.

Now, they have seen increases in the United Kingdom and in Portugal where they have to reinstate the curfew to try to stem the contagion rate. The World Health Organization warned this week that the European football championship tournament, which are being held in 11 countries across the region, have played a role in the spread of the delta variant.

Now, this comes especially worrying to countries like Italy where the vaccination levels ever are low. Only 38 percent of the population has received two doses of any sort of the vaccine.

Now, this also comes on the back of a reopening of the economy and opening of an international tourism that could leave many countries vulnerable.


PAUL: Thank you to Barbie and Angus Watson there.

SANCHEZ: Well, one of the most popular destinations in the world, Phuket, is now welcoming back vaccinated tourists.

PAUL: This is part of a test program in Thailand. It doesn't require tourists to quarantine when they arrive.

Here's Paula Hancocks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A big gamble for Thailand's biggest island. The prime minister himself rolled out the red carpet for vaccinated international tourists that lead straight to the picturesque sandy beaches without any quarantine restrictions.

In a surreal contrast to the world and the rest of Thailand that's mostly shut down due to rising cases and three days of record deaths, nearly 400 tourists from the Middle East and Singapore arrived under an experiment called the Phuket sandbox" ready to hit the beach armed with sunscreen and COVID antibodies.

REPORTER: What's the first thing you want to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eat some nice Thai food.

REPORTER: How do you feel now?


HANCOCKS: There is a lot riding on their return and the island has been preparing. More than 80 percent of the population have been vaccinated with at least one dose. About 65 percent are fully vaccinated.

ANTHONY LARK, PRESIDENT, PHUKET HOTELS ASSOCIATION: I am quietly confident that the industry and the government has done all it can to make this sandbox scheme both safe and effective.

HANCOCKS: An assurance echoed by Thailand's tourism minister.

PHIPHAT RATCHAKITPRAKARN, THAI MINISTER OF TOURISM AND SPORTS (through translator): Looking at the nationwide coronavirus infection rate, we would say we are not ready. But if you focus only on Phuket, we have laid out groundwork for more than three months. We are 100 percent ready.

HANCOCKS: The government estimates at least 100,000 tourists will arrive over the next three months, bringing in merely $300 million in revenues, desperately needed on an island that relies on tourism. Still, some are not convinced this is the right time.

DR. WAYO ASSAWARUNGRUANG, MEDICAL DOCTOR & OPPOSITION MEMBER OF THAI PARLIAMENT: Very concerned among the people of Thailand that the delta strain will spread in Thailand.

HANCOCKS: But the sun seekers aren't complaining. Neither are the local business owners, like Suzanne who describes the past year and a half.


SUSANNE ULTMANN, EXECUTIVE MANAGER, BAAN RIM PA: Horrid. We didn't expect the last wave to hit us the way it's hit us.

HANCOCKS: Tourism accounts for 20 percent of Thailand's GDP. For Phuket, it is 95 percent of its economy. Which is why the Thai minister of tourism says it is a calculated risk worth taking.

RATCHAKITPRAKAM (through translator): In 2019, revenue from domestic and international tourism stood at 95 billion U.S. dollars. That shrank to mere 20 billion in 2020. A huge drop.

HANCOCKS: So while it may seem like a parallel universe, for now, Thailand is pinning its hopes on Phuket while the world watches.

Paula Hancocks, CNN.


PAUL: You're looking at some of the thousands of Brazilians who are demanding the impeachment of President Bolsonaro. More access to vaccines and a new strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Now, this is happening amid allegations that the president turned a blind eye to a COVID vaccine corruption scheme within his government.

As of Friday, Brazil has recorded over 18 million cases of COVID-19 and 522,000 people have died.

SANCHEZ: So President Biden did not mince words about track star Sha'Carri Richardson.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rules are the rules. And everybody knows that the rules, what they are. Whether they should remain -- that should remain the rule is a different issue.


SANCHEZ: Hear what else the president had to say about the Olympic hopeful's ban for using marijuana.



SANCHEZ: The Greek freak taking the Milwaukee Bucks back to the finals in almost 50 years.

PAUL: Coy Wire gets the best assignments. I am sorry. I got to go to work. I got to go to sit down and watch a basketball game.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, someone's got to do it. I get all the side eyes around here at work, like this guy, hey.


WIRE: It was a do-or-die game six for the Hawks here in Atlanta. The Bucks had a 3-2 series lead. This is what the playoffs are all about. Hawks superstar Trae Young was back after missing two games due to injury. But Buck's two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo still out with an injured knee.

Both teams showing signs of that long, grueling season. But the Bucks quieted the entire arena in the second half. Blasting off newly minted Olympian Khris Middleton scoring 16 straight points, 23 overall in the third. He and his Team USA teammate Jrue Holiday combining for 59 points. The Bucks galvanizing without Giannis. Holiday here sticking a dagger in late.

The Hawks were making a run. Fear the deer, 118-107. Your Eastern Conference champs. An estimated 25,000 fans outside the arena back in Milwaukee celebrating the Bucks' first finals appearance since 1974, back when they had guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.

Milwaukee will face Phoenix in the finals. Game one is on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, while in Michigan, President Joe Biden offering his opinion on sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson whose one month ban for testing positive for marijuana could cost her the Olympics.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rules are the rules. And everybody knew the rules going in. Whether they should remain that -- that should remain the rules is a different issue. But the rules are the rules, and I was proud of her and the way she responded.


WIRE: Richardson tweeted early this morning: I'm sorry, I can't be y'all Olympic champ this year, but I promise I'll be your world champ next year.

Richardson could still race in the 4x100 relay in Tokyo if she's picked by Team USA. That event would happen after the suspension ends.

And Coco Gauff back making magic at Wimbledon. The 17-year-old breezing to a straight set win yesterday, advancing to the fourth round, matching her breakout performance there in 2019 as a 15-year- old.

This time, she's more confident. She's ranked 23 in the world. She'll face 2018 Wimbledon champ Angelique Kerber tomorrow. And 18-year-old Emma Raducanu making history of her own, playing in her first Wimbledon, becoming the youngest British woman to make it to the fourth round in the open era.

And nobody, Boris, Christi, I mean, nobody thought she'd make this far.


EMMA RADUCANU, FIRST WIMBLEDON APPEARANCE: Who would have thought? I mean, it's funny, because at the beginning when I was packing to come to the bubble, my parents were like, are you packing too much sets of match kit? I think I'm going to have to do some laundry tonight, but I think they have a laundry service at the hotel. So, I'm all good, guys.


WIRE: Oh, got to love it.

And you're going to love this too. World War II veteran Mabel Johnson born in 1914 throwing out the first pitch of the Kansas City Royals game Friday. Mabel was 29 when she decided she wanted to serve our country, enlisted in the Coast Guard spar division from 1943 to 1946.

She's now 106. What a moment. Miss Mabel, all the veterans past and present, thank you for all you do and your commitment to our country. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

PAUL: Ah, thank you for her service.

SANCHEZ: That's awesome.

PAUL: That is incredible.

Coy, way to go out there, buddy. Thank you.

WIRE: Thanks.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Coy.

PAUL: Happy Fourth.

And happy Fourth to all of you. Happy Independence Day. We're grateful for you every single weekend. We hope that you make good memories.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Abby Phillips starts in just a few minutes.

But, first, we want to leave you with a quick preview of tonight's star studded Fourth of July special.



ANNOUNCER: Tonight --

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Let's get ready.

ANNOUNCER: America's open. It's time to celebrate.


ANNOUNCER: With coast to coast performances from Bebe Rexha, Billy Ray Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Blues Traveler, Brad Paisley, Chicago, Flo Rida, Foreigner, Ne-Yo, Nelly, REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar & the Circle, Susanna Hoffs, the Beach Boys, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Trisha Yearwood and more.

LEMON: It's going to be amazing. ANNOUNCER: Join Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell and Ana Cabrera for "The Fourth in America" live tonight at 7:00 on CNN.

BASH: You don't want to miss it.