Return to Transcripts main page
New Day Sunday
Chaos Erupts During Major League Baseball Game In D.C. After Gunshots Heard; Dire Warnings From Health Officials As U.S. Cases And Hospitalizations Rise, Vaccination Stall; Canada Passes U.S. In Its Percentage Of People Fully Vaccinated; LA County Begins Mask Mandate As Cases Rise; Water Park Shuts Down After Dozens Sickened In "Chemical Incident"; Deadline Looming For House GOP Leader's January 6th Committee Picks; Race To Find Survivors As Europe Reels From Disaster; Utah's Great Salt Lake Pushed To Historic Lows. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired July 18, 2021 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez. It is Sunday, July 18th. Thank you so much for waking up with us.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Boris. Good to see you, good to be with you.
SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure to have you, Amara. We start with really a frightening story, terrifying moments at a baseball game in the nation's capital. Fans in the Washington Nationals' packed stadium sent scrambling last night amid the sound of gunshots.
WALKER: Yes. During the sixth inning of the Nationals' game against the San Diego Padres is when this all happened. The announcers urging people to stay calm while fans actually rushed to the teams' dugouts trying to escape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So several people have run into both the Nationals and Padres dugout here and have run out of the stadium. And they're being asked --
SANCHEZ (voice-over): So the threat wasn't inside the stadium. D.C. police say that two cars on the street directly outside near the third base exit were involved in a shootout that injured three people, including one fan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. The action is outside of the stadium.
SANCHEZ: Gunfire sending fans and players scrambling during a game at Nationals' Park Stadium in Washington, D.C. A fan, one of three people wounded in a shooting near the park Saturday night according to D.C. Metro Police. CNN journalists inside the stadium reported hearing multiple loud bangs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (on the phone): It was the middle of the sixth inning and we -- there were some loud bangs. I was sitting off the third baseline and there were some loud bangs behind us, a bunch of us are right in a row, but they were supposed to do fireworks after the game, so I think most people didn't think anything of it.
But then suddenly a lot of people in left field started jumping out and trying to get out of the center field gates. And then for the next about eight to 10 minutes, I think people -- no one knew what was happening. We saw people hiding -- we were sort of crouched behind our seats down the third baseline and not a lot of information.
SANCHEZ: CNN's Sam Feist tweeted out this video from the game. Chaos ensued as people fled. The Nationals were playing the San Diego Padres when the shooting began.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently the news report that was coming out from the security guards is that there was a victim that was shot outside the stadium. He ran into the stadium covered in blood, which freaked out a lot of individuals which caused a lot of the chaos and the panic. And people rushed back into their seats because they didn't know what was happening.
SANCHEZ: The play forced to stop in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game suspended until this afternoon, the Nationals said on Twitter.
A message on the scoreboard initially told fans to remain inside the ballpark, but it was updated later to say it was safe for fans to leave the stadium. In a presser Saturday night officials tried to reassure the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe this was an isolated incident. Again, had nothing to do with the game itself tonight, and that it is safe to come down here, and folks can come down to tomorrow night's game. They'll actually get to catch the last part of the game from tonight, and they will get to see the game tomorrow.
SANCHEZ: Police have recovered one of the vehicles, but the other remains at large. The two other people wounded in the shooting were associated with the recovered vehicle and are now in the hospital being questioned by police. It's unclear what their exact involvement was in the incident and officials say those individuals were known to law enforcement. A fan who was shot, a female, is expected to recover.
San Diego Padres' star Fernando Tatis Jr. thanked everyone that helped after the shooting outside Nationals Park. Tatis said on Twitter, "Hope everyone is safe. Just keep the prayers up. Thank you everyone that helped in the front line. God bless."
SANCHEZ: And as you heard, we had some CNN colleagues who were at the game. One of them is going to be joining us next hour to walk through everything that happened in that really awful scenario at Nationals Park. [06:05:01]
We're also monitoring everything coronavirus related this morning as hopes for a COVID-free summer are dwindling. We are halfway through the season and the U.S. once again seeing trends that are headed in the wrong direction.
WALKER: Yes, hospitalizations and cases are up across the United States. In 30 states cases have risen by more than 50 percent over the past two weeks.
Now, despite an enormous head start in vaccination efforts in the U.S., Canada has now surpassed the U.S. in the percentage of fully vaccinated people. It's a sign of just how much vaccinations have tapered off in this country.
SANCHEZ: But there is proof that vaccines work and that they are working. Experts say that among COVID patients hospitalized across the country, nearly all of them are unvaccinated. But vaccine misinformation continues to endanger public health making a preventable disaster inevitable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we had had the push back for vaccines the way we are seeing on certain media, I don't think it would have been possible at all to not only eradicate smallpox, we probably would still have smallpox and we probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that's being spread now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Wow. What a point he is making there, Dr. Fauci. And as of this morning the Los Angeles County mask mandate is back in effect. It covers everyone regardless of vaccination status.
SANCHEZ: Health officials in the nation's most populous county say its rate of new COVID cases is four times what it was just a few weeks ago on Independence Day. CNN's Paul Vercammen reports from California.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Boris, let's get right to the bad numbers. Four hundred and sixty-two people hospitalized in Los Angeles County, 11 new deaths and that positivity rate jumping to 3.7 percent from 1.5 percent and that was recently on the 4th of July. And so we're going to see this new recharged, if you will, mask mandate. That means that people have to wear masks indoors in L.A. County in restaurants, in movie theaters, in gyms, et cetera. And this is quite a drama and quite a debate.
We are right in the shadow of the movie studios and the TV studios. Look at all these headshots. This is restaurant -- Patys in Toluca Lake and right here you will see the great debate. One couple, we saw the husband had been vaccinated and the wife had not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MILLER, RESTAURANT CUSTOMER: I think it's good. I think it protects people. I think anything to protect people and I don't mind the inconvenience of doing it.
Most the times I am outdoors anyway. So when I go into a market or something I put the mask on. I got it in my back pocket, and we go from there.
MIRIAM MILLER, RESTAURANT CUSTOMER; I don't like anything that's mandated. I haven't seen the evidence to show that it protects you.
The virus is so small. Show me the science. Not just what people -- you know, what the media says.
I think if you have cold symptoms, any kind of symptoms, you should be honest and wear a mask to protect others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: And then the sheriff of L.A. County jumping right on to center stage. He issued a statement basically saying he is not going to enforce the new mask mandate. He said forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks is not backed by science. He went on to say the department will not expand our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance. So all of this with the recrafted mask mandate is being hashed out here in Los Angeles as the numbers, the COVID-19 numbers, continue to rise.
Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you, Amara, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Thanks for that, Paul.
Joining us now to discuss all things COVID is public health physician Dr. Chris Pernell. She's also a fellow at the American College of Preventative Medicine. Dr. Pernell, thank you for joining us as always. We appreciate you getting up early to share your expertise.
I want to get your thoughts on these latest trends. The United States now reporting more than 30,000 new COVID cases a day. That is the highest seven-day average since mid-May. And we know from experience now that when we see these numbers increases in deaths and hospitalizations lag not far behind. So how would you rate the level of concern when you look at the numbers right now?
DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: It's concerning for me, Boris. I have said this and I will continue to say we're still in a pandemic and we always must be vigilant. People are still dying, hovering in around approximately 200 deaths per day. And as you mentioned, while cases are increasing, we are actually starting to see hospitalizations increase.
The CDC reported that hospitalizations have increased nearly 36 percent. And as cases increase and hospitalizations increase, unfortunately, the risk of death will actually increase as well. But these are all preventable and that's what makes it more tragic. And the fact that we are in a season of disinformation, a season of overt politicization of the science and the facts is very disappointing.
SANCHEZ: Yes. So let's dig into the vaccine. The FDA granting priority review this week for Pfizer's COVID vaccine. They set a January deadline on a decision for full approval. Here's what Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN about that timeline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: I would hope by the time we get to the end of August that we have full approval. But, you know, even between now and then people should realize that the data of the efficacy and real-world effectiveness of these vaccines is really extraordinary not only in the United States, but in multiple countries throughout the world. So I would be astounded if we did not get full approval within that timeframe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: So do you think a decision next month by the FDA to give full approval is going to give an immediate boost to the number, to the rate of vaccinations?
PERNELL: I don't know how dramatic that boost will be, but I do believe that it will influence people's decision journey. Look, you have certain folks who have said and they said as far back as six months ago, I will not get this vaccine unless it's mandated or required of me. And in that population, as well as the wait-and-see population, there is a fair amount who have reported that if these vaccines were fully approved by the FDA that that would motivate them.
But I want to emphasize to the public and I want to make this very clear and speak emphatically, the level of real-world data that we have is astounding, as Dr. Fauci has said. And the more we can encourage, the more we can calm suspicions and fears, we have not seen this level of effectiveness in real-world data.
We have not seen this level of consistency of performance of the vaccines across multiple variants. It's a reason to celebrate and it's a reason to say that science continues to win.
SANCHEZ: Yes, it's an incredible achievement to get this vaccine rolled out as quickly as these companies did.
I want ask you about something interesting that the former Surgeon General Jerome Adams said. He called on the CDC yesterday to reissue guidance and encourage mask-wearing by vaccinated and unvaccinated people in areas where COVID cases are rising like Los Angeles.
He said he is worried that the agency's current guidance was misinterpreted, premature and wrong. And then he actually said that he regrets urging Americans against mask-wearing in the early days of the pandemic even though he still thinks it was the best decision given the information he had at the time. What do you think of the messaging here from the former surgeon general?
PERNELL: I applaud him and I appreciate it. More of us in public health, we have to speak with that level of transparency, that level of authenticity, and we have to assert where science is fluid. And let me explain that.
We know what we know when we know it, and that means that science grows, science accumulates, science evolves across time. And that the time that both the surgeon general and Dr. Fauci actually were questioning whether or not all of the public should be wearing masks is because we were focusing on ensuring that health care workers had PPE.
But as for right now, I wear my mask when I'm indoors in public. And I really believe there has been misinterpretation. I really do believe that we haven't figured into human behavior enough. It's not just science alone. It's science plus human behavior so that we keep the largest amount of people safe.
SANCHEZ: And, Doctor, sadly, a lot of that misinterpretation sometimes it feels like it's intentional for political expediency or to whip people up into a rage. It is unfortunate. Dr. Chris Pernell, we have to leave it there. Thank you as always.
PERNELL: Thank you.
WALKER: All right. Ahead this hour, the clock is ticking. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy faces a looming deadline to decide which Republicans to put on the January 6th insurrection committee, if any. We're live on Capitol Hill with the latest.
SANCHEZ: Plus, a summer scare. A Houston area water park shut down after dozens of people become sick while exposed to chemicals. The details after a quick break.
WALKER: A water park in the Houston area is shut down indefinitely after more than 60 people got sick in what's being described as a chemical incident.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Imagine you are out there at the park with your family and this happens. Local officials say it became clear that something had gone wrong when a lifeguard got sick followed by more people, including kids and families suffering from respiratory issues. The Harris County judge says that she is concerned that safety systems at the park didn't catch this ahead of time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, JUDGE: The different departments have been verifying the technology of the water park and they don't find any readings that are off. So if you can have 60 plus people get sick and your system doesn't catch it, doesn't catch what is off with the chemicals or whatever it is, then clearly something is wrong with the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: That's a real problem. Those affected had to be rinsed down by a fire truck before leaving the park.
The most serious cases included a 3-year-old taken to the hospital. Fortunately, expected to be OK. And listen to this. There was also a pregnant woman that officials believe was going into labor as she was transported from the park.
Pivoting to D.C. and Capitol Hill now, all eyes are on the next move from Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader on the clock to name his picks for that select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection and that panel's first hearing is right around the corner.
WALKER: Yes, CNN's Daniella Diaz joining us now from Capitol Hill. Good morning to you, Daniella. So what do we know about what McCarthy might do next?
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Amara, Boris, the clock is ticking for McCarthy to be able to appoint these five members to this House Select Committee that would investigate the January 6th insurrection. Chairman Bennie Thompson actually essentially set a deadline when he announced that the first public hearing for this panel would be July 27th. This would be their first time to hear directly from Capitol police officers publicly in a hearing and he is putting the pressure on McCarthy to appoint his five members before then.
And to complicate things, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy actually traveled to meet with who other than former President Donald Trump who's at the center of all of this in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday. And while he did release a statement and say that they talked about the midterms, the House Select Committee was not part of the statement and that it was a -- inferred that they did not discuss this.
So we know he is going to appoint five members. Now the question is, who is he going to appoint? And we know that he is going to appoint, sources have told us, five members to this panel who are loyal and will defend former President Donald Trump. But don't expect conservative fire brands like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz to be a part of this.
In the end House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has final say over whoever McCarthy appoints. So we expect someone -- expect people to be appointed that she approves of. And bottom line here is the clock is ticking for McCarthy on this for him to appoint these members.
I do want to mention there is one Republican that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed to this panel, not McCarthy. And as Congressman Liz Cheney -- remember she was ousted from leadership earlier this year because she refused to spread the big lie. She refused to tell that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. So expect her as well part of this panel. The bottom line here is the clock is ticking for McCarthy but we do expect his announcements to come soon. Boris, Amara.
WALKER: We will be watching very closely. Daniella Diaz, thank you so much for your reporting.
Meantime, three Democrats from the Texas statehouse who traveled to Washington, D.C., this week have tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the caucus, all three who have not been identified were fully vaccinated.
SANCHEZ: You might recall a group of Texas House members have been at the Capitol pushing lawmakers to pass voting protections and avoid a vote on voting restrictions in their state. Vice President Kamala Harris is among those lawmakers that they have been meeting with, and although the vice president met with two of the Texas Democrats who tested positive, her office says that they were not in close contact.
WALKER: Up next, waters from the devastating floods in Western Europe are beginning to recede revealing the extensive damage that's been left behind. We are going to Europe with the latest next.
SANCHEZ: As the historic flooding in Western Europe subsides the magnitude of the damage is becoming clear. Rescue crews are continuing to search for the missing.
WALKER: More than 180 people have died, with hundreds still missing after flash flooding in Germany and Belgium. The fast-rising water swept away entire villages in the region and many are still without gas, electricity, and phone coverage. CNN's Sam Kiley is in Germany this morning where recovery efforts are underway.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Euskirchen the level of water was up apparently on the street about this high. People are not yet counting the cost because they are simply trying to clean up their lives, trying to get to grips with the damage that has been done to it their businesses, to their wherewithal, to their ability to survive economically, and this of course coming towards the end, or rather in the third wave of the COVID pandemic.
You can see here on the streets the level of devastation. People are having to rip out their businesses, tear up their lives, and start again. And, Stefan (ph), you were here with your -- you are here helping your mother-in-law, is that right?
STEFAN (ph), RESIDENT: That's right. Yes.
KILEY: What happened to her house? STEFAN (ph): You can see that the water is staying in the whole house, the whole building on this height was very dirty water, mud over all. So we're here since yesterday in the morning. Yes, everything you can see, you see it from the houses around. Now we're in the keller pumping out all the water. So we tried to get it all managed.
KILEY: But even though the Germans are famous for their ability to organize and to cope, this has to be devastating economically and also emotionally.
STEFAN (ph): Yes, this is very -- all the neighbors around here are coming together talking and helping here. Some generators over here. I don't know are from who -- where all the generators come from, where all the pumps come from.
I don't know the people around here, but everybody is helping each other. So this is really, really great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great feeling over here. There's no -- we don't have a voltage, you know --
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Friction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, nothing in here. So, everything has to be run over generators. And here's one, and there's one, and there's one. This is great, but it will last weeks and weeks.
KILEY: And then what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, and I hope then everything is clear. Yesterday they told us it will last a minimum of two weeks until we get the power in here again. So, everything is disabled. The fire workers are in here pumping up all the water out of the canvas. It's just catastrophic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Catastrophic, yes.
KILEY: For so many people in this part of Western Germany, there is going to be a period of grief, of mourning, of recovery after their homes have been destroyed. Many of them wiped out altogether. But there's also the issue of economic recovery.
This is not just an emotionally crushing blow that these torrents of water have delivered, but also a financial blow to people who have been struggling. Many immigrants here trying to get their lives together trying to start new lives here in Germany, getting businesses off the ground, and then finding themselves being wiped out. This is going to take a long time for this part of Germany to recover.
Sam Kiley, CNN in Euskirchen. WALKER: I can only imagine. It is just incredible to see all that damage. Sam Kiley, thank you.
With just five days to go until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, three people have now tested positive for COVID inside the Olympic Village including two athletes.
SANCHEZ: It comes as Tokyo is reporting more than 1000 new cases. Let's go to Tokyo and bring in CNN Selina Wang. She's live for us there.
Selina, people have been protesting about this for weeks warning that something like this would happen. What more are you learning about the athletes that tested positive?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, we've just learned that on the South African soccer team, two athletes in one official half tested positive for COVID-19. That whole team is now in quarantine. They tested positive inside the Olympic Village. And this adds to the growing list of COVID-19 cases linked to the Tokyo games. Now 55 athletes, contractors, and officials have tested positive.
And Boris, it is critical that these cases do not spread in the Olympic village where 1000s of athletes will be staying. And I took a recent visit to that Olympic village and unlike normal years when it's a place for partying and celebration, this year, it is very much an anti-social sanitized bubble. These athletes are asked to dine alone, to wear their masks as much as possible. But many of these athletes will be sharing rooms, which is a concern for medical experts.
I took a tour of one suite that fits up to eight athletes, four athletes sharing one bathroom and, only 110 square meters. But this number of COVID cases is really just testing these layers of COVID-19 restrictions, Boris. And we'll just have to see how well they hold up.
SANCHEZ: Yes, the games is just a few days away. We'll see how they go off. Selina Wang in Tokyo, thank you so much.
Up next, as extreme drought conditions and record heat continue out west, the Great Salt Lake, one of Utah's natural treasures is disappearing. That report ahead.
WALKER: But first, a quick programming note. The conflict in Jerusalem has been centuries in the making. A new CNN original series takes you back 3000 years through six epic battles for the most coveted city in the world. Jerusalem City of Faith and Theory premieres tonight at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't know the history of Jerusalem, it's very hard to understand what's going on there today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A story centuries in the making.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conflict that we are experiencing today, you've seen it for 1000s of years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six epic battles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a bloody massacre.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is desert combat at its worst.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israel had to fight for its existence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three major faiths.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People believe that they must possess it absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a spiritual significance inevitably raises the stakes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most coveted city in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the equivalent of a magical place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who are said to have conquered the world have swept through the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the only city that exists on heaven and earth. It exists twice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This story hasn't ended.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3000 years, one city. Jerusalem City of Faith and Fury tonight at 10:00 only on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: The Great Salt Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Utah. But record hot temperatures combined with human consumption have pushed the lake to historic lows.
SANCHEZ: Yes. And scientists are warning that if something isn't done, it could disappear. And the consequences not only to the environment, but also the people who depend on it can be devastating. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Amara, Boris, when it comes to Great Salt Lake scientists are worried they're watching a slow-motion calamity. Entire ecosystems depend on this body of water. If it goes, the consequences could be catastrophic.
[06:40:05] KAFANOV (voice over): This is one of Utah's most unique natural treasures. The Great Salt Lake also known as America's Dead Sea. Spanning an area nearly the size of Delaware, it's the biggest Salt Lake in the Western Hemisphere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is so cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, so beautiful.
KAFANOV: But there's a big problem with this picture-perfect destination. The Great Salt Lake could soon be no more. Years of water diversions, climate change, and an unprecedented drought has pushed the lakes levels towards historic lows. Sailboats pulled from the dry marina. The receding water leaving behind stretches of parched soil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many years ago, this was under about 10 feet of water.
KAFANOV: Today, about half of the lake surface, nearly 750 square miles, roughly the size of Maui is dry. And that's a major worry for Kevin Perry, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah. Perry says the dry lake bed soil could send naturally occurring arsenic- laced dust into the air that millions breathe.
KEVIN PERRY, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: One of the concerns we have is the particles that are coming off the light getting into people's lungs. And a secondary concern is that it might contain potentially harmful arsenic.
KAFANOV: If nothing is done to change the current trajectory, what's the worst-case fear?
PERRY: This lake could become one of the larger dust emission sources in North America. The ecosystem itself is on the verge of collapse.
KAFANOV: The Great Salt Lake is also a critically important habitat for millions of birds and happens to be one of the largest breeding grounds for pelicans in the United States.
If we don't take action, what's going to happen to the Great Salt Lake?
JAIMI BUTLER, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, GREAT SALT LAKE INSTITUTE AT WESTMINSTER COLLEGE: The Great Salt Lake will be an environmental, economic, and really cultural catastrophe all in one.
There's all of these Brian fly larva that --
KAFANOV: Jaimi Butler is a wildlife biologist who's dedicated her entire career to studying the Great Salt Lake's ecosystem. For her, the crisis is personal.
BUTLER: I grew up here. Like, you know, a place becomes you. It like, becomes you. We are a Great Salt Lake, all of us are. And we shouldn't let it go away.
KAFANOV: Andy Wallace has spent years working on the Great Salt Lake as a commercial pilot.
ANDY WALLACE, FORMER COMMERCIAL PILOT: Let's go take a ride.
KAFANOV: Have you ever seen it look like this?
WALLACE: I've ever seen it this bad? Not in my lifetime. We're seeing the start of a major, major environmental catastrophe.
KAFANOV: From up above, the scale of the problem is obvious.
From 6000 feet up, there's no question that this is a crisis. The Great Salt Lake is vanishing before our eyes.
WALLACE: You can see on this side, the water is purple.
KAFANOV: The beautiful purple color actually means it's an unhealthy dying lake.
WALLACE: It is, It is going to become an environmental catastrophe. And we're going to -- we're going to see so much dust laden with heavy metals and, you know, mercury and it's going to blow into the Salt Lake Valley on a regular basis and exasperate health conditions.
KAFANOV: For years people have been diverting water from rivers that flow into the lake to water crops and supply homes. Jaimi Butler argues that needs to change. Is this a manmade problem?
BUTLER: Yes. This is like a human-made problem. We need to change our behaviors to keep incredible ecosystems that include humans like here at Great Salt Lake.
KAFANOV (on camera): Amara, Boris, you can see the impact. This may look like a beach, but last summer, all of this was underwater. The loss of Great Salt Lake will have devastating consequences far beyond this region. One thing nearly everyone we've talked to says is that it might not be too late to save it. The question is whether there's a will to act. Amara, Boris, back to you.
WALKER: Not too late to save it. That is a silver lining here. But hopefully, this piece will motivate a lot of people to change their behavior. Incredible reporting.
Coming up, launch day is looming. Jeff Bezos is about to blast off into space. A look ahead to his launch next.
WALKER: T minus two days and counting until the next launch in the billionaire Space Race. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will rocket to the edge of space on Tuesday. The Bezos trip comes just nine days after Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceflight. Our next guest calls this an important step in the future of this space economy. Hakeem Oluseyi is an astrophysicist and author of the book of A
Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Street to the Stars. And boy, do you have a fascinating story. He's joining us now from Washington. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.
You know, I'm curious to first know, because you are an astrophysicist, you spent many years educating people about space, you make contributions to space science, what goes through your mind? What is your hope when you see Richard Branson go to the edge of space? What will be going through your mind as you watch Jeff Bezos doing the same thing Tuesday?
HAKEEM OLUSEYI, AUTHOR, A QUANTUM LIFE: Well, thank you so much for having me, Amara. The first thing is I'm a huge nerd. So, I see this in the context of our human aspirations for space. So, what are those aspirations? Well, we've all seen it in our sci-fi right? We humans long to explore our galaxy, explore our solar system, and basically make space travel within our solar system, pretty much routine. And I guess that starts with suborbital and orbital delivery of humans to space.
WALKER: Well, you know, I do want to bring this up because I know you've heard the criticism and the concerns that look, this billionaire space race doesn't really benefit us all. Is it going to lead the privatization of space when it should really be for all space exploration? I want you to listen to what former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison said to us during an interview yesterday. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAE JEMISON, FORMER ASTRONAUT: So, I think it's really about a balance and understanding that, you know, we need to have more people involved, those perspectives make a difference. And a $250,000-plus ticket doesn't necessarily make space available to everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Your thoughts that came on her concerns? And does the billionaire space race benefit humankind?
OLUSEYI: Well, she's absolutely right. Where we are right now, it does have this appearance of a billionaire space race. But again, what we're looking at is the expansion of the space economy. And it's at the very beginning of where it's going to go.
Typically, what we've had is the commercial utilization of space for things like communication satellites. We've had the military utilization of space, and the civil utilization of space with outfits like NASA. Now, we have 15 different nations that are participating in space activities, and many of them in a big way, like India.
And so, what we have now is a situation where we start out by doing suborbital flights, but hopefully one day we're going to be able to have bases on the moon, and we'll be able to mine asteroids. So, there's a lot that we wish to do. And so, every step in that direction, in my opinion, is a good step.
WALKER: We might be able to mine asteroids. Talk to --
OLUSEYI: That's right.
WALKER: Talk to us a little bit more about that, because you talk about space exploration, mining, and that could create minimal mineral wealth in the quadrillions of dollars. I didn't even know that was a word that existed, but I'm interested to hear more.
OLUSEYI: Absolutely. So, if you look at what we use today in our electronics, a lot of it depends on these rare metals. And these metals may be rare here on Earth, but in asteroids, they're not quite as rare. So, when we look at our solar system, and we look at the asteroid belt, what we're seeing is the debris of dozens of protoplanets that used to exist where now we have our four terrestrial planets.
So, what would happen is that these planets would melt and the heavy stuff, the dense stuff, the metals that are so valuable sink to the core. So, there is an asteroid out there right now, and there's a NASA mission that's going to visit it that seems to be the leftover metallic core of a protoplanet. So, we're talking a lot of iron, a lot of nickel, and even a lot of gold.
WALKER: You know, I wish we had more time but we don't. And I did want to ask you about your book and how you chronicle your really unlikely journey to becoming this PhD astrophysicist, you know, from these tough neighborhoods where you came. But hey, you know, people can pick up that book and learn more about you.
Fascinating conversation. You make astrophysicists -- physics sound simple when clearly it isn't. Hakeem Oluseyi, thank you for the education.
OLUSEYI: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: So, the assassination of Haiti's president triggered a surge of violence in a country already facing a long list of challenges, including an epidemic of gangs and crippling poverty. Amid the crisis, two CNN Heroes are stepping up to protect the most vulnerable children and women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBY DUVAN, 2002 CNN HERO People are in state of shock. I'm particularly am very much shocked. No matter how much you can criticize the former president, there is nothing that requires such a barbaric action of violently taking his life.
MALYA VILLARD-APPOLON, 2012 TOP 10 CNN HERO (TEXT): When we look at this drama where a president was assassinated, and we say that now we no longer have a country, what about the rest of the people that live in the slum? The women are being kidnapped. They are being raped.
When these catastrophes, these circumstances are taking place, these young girls and women are the ones that would be the most vulnerable.
DUVAN: I would love to think that it could be a turning point when people are concentricized about how the system works and the reason behind such a horrible act.
VILLARD-APPOLON (TEXT) The world could have helped us to put an end to this gang problem. Please send forces to disarm the gangsters inside the country holding the population hostage which does not allow the population to live. The women cannot live.
DUVAN: This kind of behavior is not enough to change my vision to contribute to a positive development of this nation. It reinforces the reasons of what I'm doing to do everything I can to have the most impact towards the people who need it most.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Inspiring work where it is needed most. To learn more and nominate someone you know to be a CNN Hero, go to cnnheroes.com.