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New Day Sunday

This Morning: Richard Branson Set To Launch Into Space; COVID Cases Rise As Delta Variant Spreads; U.S. Sees Four Straight Days Of 20,000 New COVID-19 Cases; Surfside Death Toll Rises To 86, 43 People Unaccounted For; Trump's Election Lies Loom Large Over CPAC Agenda; DOJ Warns Trump Reinstatement Talk Could Fuel More Violence; Over 30 Million People Under Heat Alerts In Western U.S.; Team USA Upset By Nigeria In Olympic Exhibition. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning. It is a NEW DAY. We're glad you're sharing it with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. The countdown is on. In just a few hours Richard Branson will board a supersonic plane that will launch him to the edge of space. Hear Branson's message this morning ahead of a historic flight.

PAUL: Yes. And there's a race to vaccinate parts of the country here. What health officials are doing right now to reach vaccine skeptics as concerns over the Delta variant are rising.

SANCHEZ: Plus, as recovery efforts continue in Surfside, Florida, we are learning more about the emotional toll that this work is taking on first responders sifting through the rubble.

PAUL: And summer scorcher. You know it. Nearly 30 million people under heat alerts today as parts of the country brace for yet another day of potential record-breaking temperatures.

It is Sunday, July 11th. We're so glad you are waking up with us. Hey, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Hey, Christi. Good morning. The clock is ticking, isn't it?

PAUL: Yes, it is. In a big way because I think the whole world is watching the small town of truth or consequences, New Mexico, because we are just hours from British billionaire Richard Branson taking this trip to the edge of space. The launch of Virgin Galactic's Unity rocket plane is going to mark the company's first test mission beyond Earth's atmosphere to carry a full complement of space travelers.

SANCHEZ: Yes. This voyage has been a long time coming nearly two decades in the making. The rocket powered space plane will fly from New Mexico to the edge of space at 2,400 miles an hour. Branson is hoping this is going to usher in a new era of space tourism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC (voice-over): My mission statement is to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone.


SANCHEZ: The fact is there is plenty that can go wrong with today's launch. But as CNN's Rachel Crane explains, Branson believes that the risk is worth the reward.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The countdown is on. And in just hours entrepreneur Richard Branson hopes to become the first person to ride a self-funded rocket into suborbital space.

BRANSON: Astronaut 001, Richard Branson.

CRANE: A launch nearly two decades in the making.

CRANE (on camera): Tell me, how do you feel?

BRANSON: Well, I managed to avoid getting excited for 17 years since we started building spaceships and motherships and space ports and all these things. And I finally got the call from our chief engineer saying that every single box had been checked on the safety aspect and that I was -- would I like to go to space? And I hit -- I hit the roof. I was so excited.

CRANE (voice-over): The Virgin Galactic rocket powered space plane is set to take off Sunday from New Mexico. The mothership will release the spaceship at around 40,000 feet. The rocket will ignite and take Branson, two pilots and three others on a 2,400-mile-per-hour ride, more than 50 miles up to touch the inner edge of space as defined by the U.S. military and NASA. The crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to Earth.

BRANSON: When you are up there the spaceship will turn over and these enormous windows is going to be able to float around and look back at Earth.

CRANE: If successful the Space Barons will edge out fellow billionaire and world's richest man Jeff Bezos who is set to ride his own company's rocket into space in the coming days. The two men have jockeyed for the astronomical bragging rights that come with being first. Branson has insisted there is no space race with Bezos and that the missions are different.

BRANSON: The kind of experience you're going to get with the two companies are almost as different as chalk and cheese. So we don't see ourselves as a direct competitor.

CRANE: While Bezos' flight will be after Branson's his rocket system New Shepard will go even higher past the Karman line, which is the altitude internationally recognized to be the demarcation space. His company Blue Origin taking a shot at Branson's trip tweeting their rocket was -- quote -- "designed to fly above the Karman line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name.

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: If you fly 50 miles or 62 miles you're in space.


I mean, you're not going to notice the difference between those 12 miles. Neither of these vehicles go into orbit, by the way. They touch space and then they come right back down.

CRANE: Both space companies have had successful suborbital test flights over the past decade. But with space travel comes inherent risk. In 2014 a co-pilot for Virgin Galactic was killed during a test flight of a previous model of their spacecraft.

MIKE MOSES, PRESIDENT, SPACE MISSIONS AND SAFETY, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I like to say that you can do risky things safely if you know the risk you're taking, you know the controls you have in place and you verify that they are active. And we do just that. I don't think the risk of this flight is high. It's not zero.


PAUL: And thank you to Rachel Crane for that. Now, today Branson and his crew are getting the chance to see the Earth as so few have before. You know, from that edge of space.

SANCHEZ: Yes, there are few thrills quite like it as former astronauts describe it like a life-changing experience. Listen.


CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: It's a dangerous, complicated, very technical experience, but at its real core it's a human experience. To be able to get up above the dawn sky here out in the desert and to get up into the blackness of the rest of the universe, and to be able to then see the world from a whole new perspective, be able to look at the curve of the world, that's the real essence of it.

CHIAO: The first time I flew into space I looked back at the Earth and was just awestruck. I mean, the colors are more bright and vivid than I had imagined. And then I saw that the blue -- the sunlight passing through our atmosphere causing it to glow, these beautiful shades of blue that really don't get captured very well on photographs. And so he is in for quite an experience even though it's only going to be a few minutes long, he will have that experience and he will remember it forever.


SANCHEZ: Joining us now to discuss all things space is Janet Ivey. She's the president of Explore Mars, Incorporated. Janet, we are grateful to have you this morning. Thanks for joining us.

You're a proponent of making science and specifically space more accessible to future generations. What are you going to be looking for in today's launch and what can we learn?

JANET IVEY, PRESIDENT, EXPLORE MARS, INCORPORATED: You know, today I'm just excited that this moment is finally happening. And, you know, we're celebrating 60 years of suborbital flight. And I know a lot of people are going, why is that important?

But, you know, 60 years ago the first human, Yuri Gagarin, went up. Sixty years ago, you know, Alan Shepard went up. But I want to remind everybody it's like I hear all the proponents say, but, Janet, it's like there are so many problems here on Earth. But we can solve a lot of problems, we can do a lot of science experiments.

And I just want to point everybody's attention to some of the things that we have learned and -- we've got better GPS technology. There is better breast cancer test imaging. There has been -- even an artificial heart pump that's based on the design of some of NASA's space shuttle main engines.

So we have some great science that can happen up there, you know, on the International Space Station, and companies are going to be vying to get on these flights. So, today mainly I'm wishing them all the best and a big successful flight. Lots of fun to see as astronauts call it -- and we heard Commander Chris Hadfield say that sort of overview effect.

Astronaut Nicole Stott talks about that -- it's like she realized there were no boundaries, that she wasn't looking for Texas or Florida, she saw it as one unified globe. And so, yes, I am looking to see the smiles, the elation and the stories that are going to come as they land back here on spaceship Earth.

SANCHEZ: Yes. There is no question, Janet, it's a big day for Virgin Galactic and for Richard Branson, but potentially also for the future of humans in space. I'm curious about how you might connect the dots between's today's launch, the upcoming launch of Blue Origin, and space travel to Mars potentially.

IVEY: Sure. I think with every incremental step we make we get closer to going back to the moon and on to Mars. It becomes something that's, you know, sort of ubiquitous. Oh, somebody is going to space today. Right, my kids are headed to Mars.

I think it's a moment where it's more in our everyday vernacular. I'll point you to a great quote by Jules Verne. Now remind you, he wrote this in 1965 in his book "From the Earth to the Moon." He said in spite of the opinions of certain people who would just shut the human race upon and say, just stay right here in this globe, you know, we shall one day travel.

And so these are great steps. And as we heard this morning, decades in the making. But the more that we can experience this travel there, see what that's like and -- I think that there is a benefit for all humanity if there are things that we can solve and we can create new technologies and new medicines and things.

[06:10:01] You're going to see a bunch of companies lining up to have that moment, those four minutes of weightlessness, to try out and see if apparatus some, you know -- or some new technology can work there. So for me it's like for those future space explorers out there, I don't know if you are up yet, but it's like their jobs -- there are jobs that haven't -- don't even have titles, that haven't even been created yet.

So it's -- I think it's an exciting day and it's just bringing closer so that all kinds of people can go to space, not just for those very elite few. And I think that's kind of exciting that regular citizens can go.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I am not cutting myself short. I am hoping to someday travel to space myself. I want to be an astronaut when I grow up. So, Janet, you might have your own opportunity to go to space soon. Tell us about that.

IVEY: Well, currently, cross my fingers, I am a second-round citizen candidate for Space for Humanity. And I just got an email. I have got to fill out a bit more paperwork and, hopefully, progressing, cross my fingers, to the next round. And that would afford me the opportunity to either fly on one of Virgin Galactic's suborbital flights or Jane Poynter's Space Perspective which is like this large balloon. It takes about two hours to ascend to the edge of space and you have two hours to look around and then two hours to descend.

So, fingers crossed. I'm always just like I have been dreaming of being and going to space since I was a kid and playing "Star Trek" on the playground.

SANCHEZ: Well, hopefully, you get a chance to play it out in real life. Janet Ivey, we thank you for the time and we wish you safe travels.

IVEY: Oh, thank you. And best of luck to Virgin Galactic today.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Janet. Be sure to stay with CNN for live coverage of Richard Branson's space launch throughout the morning. It is going to be historic. You will not want to miss it.

PAUL: So, also still to come this hour, there are some new concerns as the COVID Delta variant is tightening its grip across the United States. Cases, deaths are rising. Many states are seeing a common thread running through all of this. We're going to talk about it.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the life-threatening heat wave across parts of the United States. Record-breaking temperatures well into the triple digits. Our meteorologist Allison Chinchar is standing by in the CNN Weather Center. She has a live update to bring you in just a few minutes. Stay with us.


[06:16:35] PAUL: Sixteen minutes past the hour right now. And state officials across the country are sounding alarms as the highly contagious Delta variant is making up more than half of all of the new infections we're seeing now in the U.S.

SANCHEZ: Yes, new COVID-19 cases have surpassed 20,000 daily for the past four consecutive days. Look, those are levels the country has not seen since May. In Mississippi where only a third of the population is fully vaccinated health experts say they are seeing an impressive surge of new cases by the Delta variant.

PAUL: They are warning seniors 65 and older to avoid mass gathering for the next two weeks that's regardless of vaccination status in fact now. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Little Rock, Arkansas, this morning. And the reason for that is that's a place where COVID cases are really surging. Polo, what are you hearing this morning and good morning to you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Boris, good morning to you. There are many pockets of this country where people are enjoying what we know as pre-pandemic life, but also the stats in states like Arkansas tell a very different story.

One hospital official here at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science is telling me that this pandemic is far from over for some parts of the country, especially here. In fact, he tells me that the number of their COVID patients in their hospitals has more than doubled last Friday to this Friday. And get this, too. A majority of them, about 95 percent of them, are unvaccinated.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): In a state where vaccination numbers are falling way behind, the race is on to fight both an emerging COVID variant and hesitancy about the vaccines that help protect against it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from science problems to life support in 10 days. And it was all so fast.

SANDOVAL: The state of Arkansas trying these public service announcements to get an urgent message out directly from former vaccine skeptics themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thoughts have definitely changed on the vaccine. I do believe getting vaccinated is the safest thing to do for your family.

SANDOVAL: Arkansas' vaccination rate recently stalled. Only 35 percent of the state's population is fully vaccinated. That's one of the lowest rates in the country. Making matters worse, new COVID cases recently climbed back to over 1,000 a day across the state. Some hospitals once again full with COVID patients says Dr. Cam Patterson. An overwhelming number of new infections associated with the highly contagious Delta variant.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: Arkansas is on the upward surge of the third wave of COVID- 19 here in our state and it is tilting towards younger people. We are also seeing breakthrough infections in individuals who are immunocompromised.

MAYOR FRANK SCOTT JR., LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS: To see a potential third wave is disheartening and is disappointing because, quite frankly, it's preventable.

SANDOVAL: Little Rock's mayor admits he too had initial concerns about the vaccines but he also lost family to COVID earlier in the pandemic and is now urging his residents to roll up their sleeve just like he did.

SCOTT: I wouldn't ask them to do anything that I wasn't willing to do. So, I was able to take this test to be an example to the residents of how serious it is and to be very open and vulnerable about, you know, my frustration with having to think about taking it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Just relax, OK?



SANDOVAL: Across town Oscar (ph) Martinez (ph) is finally getting his shot. Local church leaders teamed up with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to assist in efforts to vaccinate Arkansas' Hispanics.


Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis tracks vaccination efforts among the state's communities of color. She's deeply concerned that by her estimates only 15 to 20 percent of the roughly 210,000 Hispanics in the state are vaccinated.

DR. GLORIA RICHARD-DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UAMS DIVISION OF DIVERSITY: You have to remember Arkansas is very rural. So a large portion of our Hispanic population are very much in rural areas, too. And so, again, we're trying to get outside of the urban areas but getting into those communities.

SANDOVAL: Richard-Davis' colleague Dr. Robert Hopkins also chairs a National Vaccine Advisory Committee that's crucial in submitting recommendations to the CDC about the vaccines. He anticipates once the current vaccine options from J&J, Pfizer and Moderna get full versus emergency FDA approval that it may give the hesitant one less reason to avoid their shot.

DR. ROBERT HOPKINS, CHAIR, NATIONAL VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: I am hopeful that we can get that full approval fairly soon. I know that there has been regular communication between the Pfizer, the Moderna, and the Johnson & Johnson folks and the FDA. I think that that would help at least with a part of our population that has been hesitant to know that this vaccine has full approval.


SANDOVAL: Back in Arkansas, mask-wearing is once again a big topic of conversation, too, Christi and Boris. I heard from multiple health officials yesterday and local officials who are urging residents to wear masks yet again whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated. What's certainly not going to help that message is the fact that legislators just a few months ago voted for the state to not be able to implement a mask mandate again.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Dr. Peter Hotez is with us now, professor and dean of Topical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Thank you so much, Dr. Hotez, for being with us.

I want to jump off of something that they were talking about there and something that I know you want to talk about, these vaccine hold-outs and how are we going to conquer this if we cannot get people to understand the importance of the vaccines. You wrote back in April, you addressed and really predicted that what we're seeing now would happen. And you write, "We know that the impact of advocacy and reaching out can be profound."

They were just talking in that piece about how it's important to get to rural areas as well. But let's listen together to representative -- Republican representative from Texas Michael Burgess. This is what he said last night about how to entice people to get the vaccine.


REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R-TX): I do know that I've heard from doctors offices who would like more of availability of the vaccine in their offices. I've heard from pharmacists who would like more availability of the vaccine in their pharmacies.

Places where people trust to go and get their care. They trust the information that they are given there. And I think that's perhaps a much more sensible approach than going door-to-door saying, I am here from the government and I've got your shot. It might not work out so well.


PAUL: So what do you -- what do you say to that argument that these door-to-door efforts may not be the best answer?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, what I'd say, Christi, it's not either/or. I think we have to -- you know, it's all hands on deck to get as many people vaccinated as possible. And in some places door-to-door may be effective and others.

I think, the congressman is right. I mean, that's where most adults get their vaccinations right now is the doctor's office or the pharmacy. So let's continue to use those mechanisms. So I don't think one excludes the others. I mean, but the problem is this. Wherever we're seeing that one-two punch of low vaccination coverage now with high levels of Delta virus. In Missouri right now about 70 percent of the virus isolates are that Delta variant. And now that's happening in Arkansas, but this is just the beginning. This is now moving into Louisiana and Mississippi and now into Florida.

I am really worried that we're going to see a big surge because the levels of vaccination are really low. You know, under this part of the country in the south we are seeing less than 20 percent of adolescents are vaccinated. Less than 40 percent of young and middle aged adults. We have a huge vulnerability and this is going to be a huge issue.

We are also seeing this now in Wyoming and parts of the mountain west. So these are going to be more than hot spot areas. These are massive regions where we are going to see a surge in COVID.

PAUL: Hopefully, the power of those former vaccine skeptics may bring some people in. But there is a lot of confusion, especially since Pfizer announced on Friday that they believe a booster shot would be needed. The medical community kind of pushed back on that and said that is not something that is necessary at this moment. But, you know, I'm wondering what your take is on that.


What do you say to people who argue there has been so much different information, they don't know what they are talking about, why should I go get this? What do you say to them?

HOTEZ: Yes, and this is why, you know, company press releases are not helpful. They just add to the confusion. And this is not new. I mean, the companies have been doing this since the beginning of 2020 and then it's left to either the federal government or physician scientists like myself to do the damage control.

Look, here's what I think. I think ultimately a third immunization with the MRNA vaccines will probably be needed at some point because there are so many variants evolving out there because most of the world is unvaccinated. And so what we will need probably maybe later in the fall or next year is a third immunization that will really help to substantially raise virus neutralizing antibodies, solidify cellular immune responses. That I have been saying for a number of months.

What the Pfizer press release did though was said we need it now because of the Delta variant and they did not really present any evidence for that or strong evidence for that. So my understanding now is that the company is going to meet with leaders of HHS and the FDA, CDC, Dr. Fauci and others, and present that case.

And maybe they are sitting on data that none of us have seen. But from the data presented so far, I don't see any urgency to boost right now, although we will need it down the line.

PAUL: OK. Dr. Peter Hotez, your expertise is always appreciated here. Thank you so much.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

PAUL: Of course.

SANCHEZ: We have an update for you from Surfside, Florida, where recovery efforts continue as the death toll takes higher with more bodies being recovered. Right now 86 people are confirmed dead, 43 remain unaccounted for.

The grim job of searching through debris and rubble is moving at a faster pace, but while crews are working around clock they say it is taking a physical and emotional toll that's weighing on them. CNN's Natasha Chen has their story.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday the remaining members of the Israeli rescue team will leave the building collapse site. On Saturday evening local leaders thanked them along with other first responders at a ceremony at a church a few blocks away from here. Then they walked to the Sea View Hotel to meet with family members of victims.

It's been emotional couple of weeks with search teams finding not only people, but their belongings, signs of the lives lived there. Children's toys, passports, photo albums among the rubble.

Meanwhile, families are still eagerly awaiting news about their loved ones. Eighty-six people are now confirmed dead, 43 people potentially still unaccounted for.

Pablo Rodriguez whose mother and grandmother were missing after the collapse tweeted on Saturday that they had been identified. He said -- quote -- "Last night was the first night since this nightmare started that I was able to get a little bit of sleep. The thought they suffered was weighing on me heavily and confirmation that they did not was a relief. It was the best bad news I could receive in this situation. Only hope I had."

Also, among the victims was the sister of the first lady of Paraguay, her husband and one of their children. On Saturday their 23-year-old nanny was also identified among the victims. The Paraguay Ministry of External Relations tweeted that the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benitez, arrived in the U.S. on Friday and will stay in Florida until Tuesday.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


SANCHEZ: Natasha, thank you for that report. Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.



PAUL: This weekend, some of America's most prominent conservatives are meeting for CPAC in Dallas. Many Trump supporters still don't believe that he lost the 2020 election, though he did. And some still believe the conspiracy theory that he'll be reinstated as President.

SANCHEZ: Yes, just a few hours, former President Trump is expected to speak and parts of his base are going to be listening to see if he mentions that conspiracy about being put back into office by August. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has the details.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much everybody we have spoken to here this weekend at the conservative CPAC convention in Dallas, Texas, they don't believe that Trump actually lost the election. Everybody apart from this one man, have a listen.

So, you are you know, one of the very few people I am likely to meet here this weekend who will tell me that Biden won the election fairly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unfortunate. I got to have the evidence. I got to see it. If you tell me you're going to release the kraken, show me the freaking cracking for crying out loud. And don't tell me go to Mr. Pillowman's Web site to get the information.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you guys think the election was fair?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to tell us the Tarrant County election, we went blue for the first time since 1962.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not called an insurrection to me. What about it was an insurrection?

O'SULLIVAN: They storm the capitol?


O'SULLIVAN: The Trump supporters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I'm sorry. (BLEEP) you don't know who those people were?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, some Trump supporters were invited in and there's video and there's audio that they said come on. O'SULLIVAN: Many people we've spoken to are in denial about the election, denial about what happened at the January 6th insurrection. And there is now also some concern about this conspiracy theory that Trump could in some way be reinstated as president, in this in the next few weeks or next few months, and how that could lead to further violence.

Trump is due to speak here later this weekend. And a lot of his base, a lot of his supporters are going to be listening to see if he mentions are hints at this false conspiracy theory that he might be able to be put back into office before 2024. At CPAC in Dallas, Donie O'Sullivan, CNN.


SANCHEZ: Donie, thank you for that. Trump's false 2020 claims have already helped incite the January 6th Capital attack. And as Donie mentioned, there are growing concerns from the Department of Justice that this may just be the beginning.

PAUL: Yes, as long as these conspiracies spread, particularly at places like CPAC, federal prosecutors say more political violence from Trump supporters could flare up. CNN Anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, with us now this morning. So, Brian, I want to start with the CPAC today. The Justice Department says these claims that he's going to be reinstated at the White House, that they could fuel this political violence from his supporters. What are you hearing about all of this?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: I think we're in an environment where these echo chambers exist. And, and if you're not actually tuning into them, you might think that politics has returned mostly to normal. You know, there's a relative calmness to the waters, to the ocean around him, President Biden, and in Washington in general, as there's bipartisan talk about infrastructure.

But in these echo chambers that exists on far right television and radio, the ideas that don't he was talking about the ideas he was hearing from CPAC attendees, they are still actively spreading and being shared. It's not just one big lie anymore. We heard that phrase a lot six months ago, there are now dozens of these smelly little lies that spread around about voter fraud in different states about Trump's future, a lot of smelly Little Lies, and they all add up to something big and dangerous as the DOJ has indicated.


SANCHEZ: There are no question about that. A lot of smelly little lies on that Pillowman's Web site as that gentleman that don't he was talking to.

STELTER: Right. Right.

SANCHEZ: Let's pivot to something more uplifting, literally lifting off. There's a lot of hype about billionaire Richard Branson taking a trip to the edge of space just a few hours from now. It's really a space race between Branson and Bezos even though they play nice, there's a lot of ego attached to this. What do you make of all the hype?

STELTER: Yes, and we now know the launch is slated for 10:30 am Eastern Time delayed a little bit due to weather. So, whenever it happens, we're going to be selling it live. It's, it's, it's a milestone in this space race, even though this is partly a giant commercial for Richard Branson, even though it's partly about him wanting to get up there before Jeff Bezos does on July 20. Yes, you know, this is promotional for his company.

But it's also, I think, promotional for something bigger, about the notion that the, these U.S. based companies are achieving incredible accomplishments, making it further and further along with private exploration of space. So, it's a big moment for, for Branson, and then in a couple of weeks, a big moment for Bezos as well. And I think all of us in some ways are the beneficiaries because we get to witness little bits of history step by step in this space race.

SACHEZ: We're all going to be watching as Brian said, delayed slightly to 10:30. You will not want to miss that. Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Great to see this morning.

PAUL: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Thanks.

SANCHEZ: Of course, don't forget to watch more from Brian later this morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES." It starts at 11:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up there is record heat scorching the West, some areas expected to hit all-time records as high as 130 degrees. We'll get you a closer look at the forecast after a quick break.



PAUL: Well, you're going to be seeing more potential record temperatures across the Southwestern United States, and I don't know if you know this, but a very high heat risk warning has been issued in multiple states. It is the highest that a heat level can go, Boris, so we've topped out there.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is intense. CNN's Camela Bernal joins us from Las Vegas to tell us how residents and visitors are managing blistering temperatures.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Boris, it feels like you're walking in an oven. That's how many of the tourists described it. And even the National Weather Service telling people not to gamble with these dangerous conditions. Many of the tourists who are here just do not know how to handle these temperatures. So, whether they were here for the fight or concert, or a celebration,

authorities wanted them to be extremely careful with these conditions. I spoke to some of those tourists and here's what they told me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going back to Jersey, and we're using our cold weather. While we were expecting maybe 90-95, but when we look at the weather, it's all 104-115. So, we're -- and now we went out early so that we can roam around. So, that's 9:00 and it's all burning. It's like, it's like --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're pretty much just outside to take these pictures and then go on between casinos, but we're going to stay hydrated with margaritas and IPAs.

BERNAL: And it's always fun here in Las Vegas, but it is dangerous. So, these temperatures are only making the severe drought in the western part of the United States even worse. Water levels are at record lows in many of the reservoirs. The fire danger is extremely high and in terms of power of the electricity providers both here and in California asking people to conserve power, because imagine being in this heat without any power, that Boris and Christie is what they're trying to avoid.


SANCHEZ: Camila, thank you so much. For more on the rising temperatures and what we're looking at today, let's bring in Allison Chinchar. She's live from the CNN Weather Center, 130 degrees yesterday. What are we looking at today, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and the thing is, it's a long stretch, you know, so Death Valley hit 130 on Friday. They were so close yesterday, 129.4; doesn't get much closer than that. But they could hit 130 again today, they could potentially hit it yet again tomorrow. So, that's the thing. It's more that is a prolonged heating event. And again, it's not just Death Valley.

Look at all of these areas you see in the pink and orange colors, indicating where we have those excessive heat alerts. Look at all of the places that broke or tied their all-time records yesterday, not just say, oh, it was the hottest for this day. But these were their all-time records. Las Vegas hitting 117, even Winslow, Arizona topping out at 110 yesterday.

In addition to that Needles, California, 122; Palm Springs hitting 120; even Sacramento, California topping out at 113 being a daily record there. But again, it's more of a continuation of this intense heat. Again Death Valley potentially hitting 130 yet again today, getting very close tomorrow around 129.

The official forecast from the weather service, Las Vegas 116, today; Phoenix around 113 all of these areas well above where they normally would be but it's not just the afternoon highs. It's also those overnight lows because the concern here is that you really ideally want that overnight low to get below 85 to give your body the ability to cool off. And in so many places that's not going to be the case. 92 for the

morning low on Monday in Las Vegas. 100 in Death Valley. Phoenix looking at 91. Even Palm Springs maybe around 83. But that's about it the one thing good positive thing, I should say, Christi and Boris, is that we are finally going to start to see at least a little bit of relief but not until the end of the upcoming week.


PAUL: Wow! Another week of this, Allison Charchar. Yes, I know everybody stay, stay safe out there. Drink your water. Jump at a pool if you can. Oh my goodness. So, you know that we're less than two weeks away from the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Well, Team USA gold medal Hoop Dreams were just a bit of a nightmare against Nigeria. We've got the highlights for you.



PAUL: Man, what a jolt this was. Team USA's road to the Tokyo Olympic started. Whoo!

SANCHEZ: Not good. Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's Bleach Report. Carolyn, a historic upset by Nigeria over the United States.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some chemistry work to be done for sure for Team USA. I mean, this is a global game. So, we've seen over the course of Olympic history countries catching up but the USA, the overwhelming favorite to win gold, and I think last night's exhibition may have been an indication of the very least that this might not be as easy as some expected.

Nigeria does have a handful of NBA players on their roster and that talent was on display. They did pull off a big upset taking down the United States by three. To put it in perspective here, nine years ago at the 2012 London Olympics, Team USA beat Nigeria by 83 points. The Americans are 39-0 in their last three Olympic seasons.

Now, the silver lining of course is that this is an exhibition match. So, Team USA is going to be back in action tomorrow night working on the chemistry against Australia. Meantime, former President Donald Trump made a rare public appearance last night at a UFC event in Las Vegas. He arrived to a mix of cheers and boos from the full capacity crowd one of the biggest in Vegas by the way since the pandemic began.

The highly anticipated main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier ending in a first round TKO. McGregor hurt his leg with about 10 seconds left in the bat was waved off at the advice of the Cage Side doctor. UFC President Dana White later confirming McGregor suffered a broken leg.

World number one Ash Barty is the third Australian woman to win at Wimbledon in the last half century. The 25-year-old beating Karolina Pliskova in three sets to claim her first Wimbledon singles title and second major yesterday. Barty also won the French Open back in 2019. This was the first time though since 1977, that both women were making their debut appearance in a Wimbledon final. It was a great moment for Ash Barty.

Novak Djokovic is certainly no stranger to center court. He will face Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the men's final later this morning with a chance to win a record time 20th Grand Slam. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal sharing that mark, very teeny the first Italian to ever reach a Wimbledon final.

And Naomi Osaka stepping into the spotlight at the SP's last night now this is the first time we've seen the tennis star publicly since she withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon over mental health concerns. A 23-year-old taking the stage after being named best female athletes.


NAOMI OSAKA, 4-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION: I just really want to not see a long speech because I'm a bit nervous. But I know this year has been a really, it hasn't even finished but it's been really tough for a lot of us. And for me, I just want to say I really love you guys.


MANNO: We look forward to seeing Naomi Osaka at the upcoming Olympics as well. She is the overwhelming favorite like Team USA on home soil for Japan so that should be a good show. Good to see her.

SANCHEZ: And we will be watching. Great to see you Carolyn Manno with the Bleacher Report. Thanks so much!

PAUL: Thanks, Carolyn.

SANCHEZ: We have a quick programming note to share with you tonight. Be sure to watch the brand new CNN original series, "The History of the Sitcom." Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That great Thursday night lineup: "Cosby," "Family Ties," "Cheers, "Night Court."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: NBC really created this idea of must see TV, you're talking about 20 and 30 and 40 million people tuning in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People say you were one of our America's most successful fathers. I said no, was Bill Cosby. Cosby was number one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With respect to what's happened late. It's like, hugely disappointing to all of us. But he set the standard for what a family say -- was.


[06:56:07] SANCHEZ: We do want to know that the special was filmed before Bill Cosby's conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We also must note that the actor and comedian has maintained his innocence against all sexual assault allegations. The history of the sitcom premieres tonight at 9pm New Day continues after a break. Stay with us.