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New Day Sunday

Experts Warn Unvaccinated COVID Surge Is Only Beginning; CDC: Vaccinations Best Tool Against Delta Variant Surge; Mask Mandates Return In Cities Across The Country Amid Case Surge; Moratorium Expires, Leaving Millions Facing Eviction; Pelosi Blames Republicans After Eviction Ban Expires; Senate To Resume Work On $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill; January 6th Committee May Issue Subpoenas By End Of August; Employers Urge Workers To Come Back To The Office. Aired 6- 7a ET

Aired August 01, 2021 - 06:00   ET



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

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez.

As coronavirus cases surge we are getting a fresh look at just how effective vaccines have been in preventing serious illness this as health experts work to still bridge that confidence gap with the unvaccinated.

PAUL: Yes, and you know what? The rent is due today. Millions of people who can't afford to pay could be kicked out after the federal eviction moratorium expired just hours ago. Can Congress still act, is the question, to help the people who need it?

SANCHEZ: Plus, balancing act as companies reopen their offices, some employers are finding it difficult to get workers back in. How vaccination status is becoming the latest flashpoint in office politics.

PAUL: And gold medal man. American swimmer Caeleb Dressel wraps up yet another big win and will soon head home with, count them, five gold medals. More on the big day for team USA. Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning to you. Thank you so much for keeping us company here this morning on this Sunday, August 1st, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Christi, autumn is on the horizon. It is unbelievable.

PAUL: I am looking at it. It's in my eye. I am looking at it. I know.

So listen, we do want to begin with this new month and new numbers of COVID cases that really we haven't seen in months.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and it's this more contagious Delta variant that is erasing some of the progress that was made earlier this year in the United States. The month of July ending with a daily rate of infections across the country almost seven times what it was in late June. Hospitalizations and deaths also rising sharply.

But it seems like people are paying attention. After weeks of dwindling numbers, the rate of vaccination is back on the rise especially across southern states where vaccination rates have lagged behind the rest of the country. And more cities and states are now reinstituting mask mandates, though politics could disrupt those efforts.

PAUL: Now Florida, for instance, is emerging as one of the hardest hit states in this new wave approaching a record high number of daily COVID-19 cases. Students are returning to school in the coming weeks as well. The number of new cases in children old enough to be vaccinated is at 22 percent and the state's governor, Ron DeSantis, is going after communities, implementing safety measures, threatening to cut state funding from any schools that compel students to mask up.


MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: This governor has become a champion for people who don't want to wear masks and don't want to follow the CDC. That's who he is feeding dogma and ideology to.

He should be screaming for people to get vaccinated. He should be urging them to wear masks. He is like the pied piper just leading everybody off a cliff right now.


SANCHEZ: Let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval now. Polo, the politics aside, the data here is clear and it reinforces what we're hearing from experts that the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones is simply to get vaccinated.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christi. Hey, Boris, for you, who are in Washington, D.C., as you know and as you have probably seen, the nation's capital and the major cities to bring back those mask mandates, now requiring anybody over the age of two regardless of their vaccination status to wear masks, once again, indoors.

Here in New York City, in fact, Mayor Bill de Blasio expected to make a potential announcement as early as tomorrow regarding masks as well. This happening as not only are vaccination numbers on the rise here in New York State, but also the number of positive COVID tests as well.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): With COVID cases on the rise across the country the latest figure from the CDC reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated. New data shows that less than 0.004 percent of people who have gotten the vaccine have experienced breakthrough case severe enough to warrant hospitalization. And less than 0.001 percent of them have died from the disease. DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The news is just phenomenal with these vaccines, even with the super aggressive Delta variant our vaccines work and they work really well.

SANDOVAL: Right now 97 percent of the people in the hospital with COVID and nearly all of the COVID deaths being reported are among the unvaccinated.


The past three weeks have seen more people getting vaccines, especially in states that have been lagging the most. Experts are pushing to get people to take the shots. One Georgia county even offering $50.00 debit cards to those getting vaccinated on Saturday. And it seemed to help.

VINCENT JAY, DEKALB COUNTY RESIDENT: I have always thought, well, really, they need to offer me some kind of incentive, you know, to go get the vaccine. The money is what got me here, you know. Just bottom line.

SANDOVAL: But other people say they simply don't trust the shot or the government offering it to them, and that has medical experts and political officials looking for ways to bridge the confidence gap.

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R), GEORGIA: Millions of folks are just a couple of questions being answered away from being vaccinated. And that's ultimately the answer to this pandemic is getting as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.

MICHAEL THURMOND, CEO, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA: You have to give people hope. We are not going to throw up our hands and concede defeat to this deadly virus. It's one arm, one shot, one life. And we just got to keep pumping and grinding until we get -- until we reach herd immunity.

SANDOVAL: The fiancee of one Nevada man who waited too long to get the shot to ensure there were no dangerous side effects is urging everyone to stop hesitating and do it now before it's too late.

JESSICA DUPREEZ, UNVACCINATED FIANCE DIED FROM COVID-19: Everybody can have a bad reaction to any vaccine throughout history. But I would take a bad reaction to the vaccine over having to bury my husband. I would take that any day.


SANDOVAL: And once again you are beginning to hear many of those heartbreaking stories as well throughout parts of the country. Very similar stories that we saw during the latest wave here in the winter time. But, again, we cannot say it enough.

Florida certainly a big concern here for parents as test positivity for those from 12 to 19 years old up to 22 percent right now. As you mentioned a little while ago too, Christi and Boris, Governor DeSantis issuing that executive order banning the implementation of any kind of mask mandate by local governments. We should mention though it is not an all out ban but nonetheless certainly a big -- leading to a big debate.

PAUL: No doubt, Polo Sandoval. Thank you so much, Polo. Really appreciate it.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Christi.

Dr. Saju Mathew with us now. He's a primary care physician and public health specialist. Saju, it's so good to see you. So one of the other things that we're hearing a lot about is that younger people are getting sick. Help us understand what younger means. Are we talking people in their 40s? Are we talking about teenagers? Can you give us some scope on that?

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, good morning, Christi. I think all of those age groups that you mentioned would be categorized in that younger group.

I was talking to an E.R. doctor last night -- I'm on a group chat with three or four E.R. physicians in the city, and they are telling me that the average age depending on the E.R. is 45 -- 40 years old. You are having teenagers come in that are sick, short of breath. You are getting more ICU admissions of the younger populations that we didn't see a month or two months ago.

And you know, Christ, what really worries me is if we don't ramp up these vaccines, there could be a time when the vaccines don't work at all and that's called vaccine evasion. Can you imagine if the Delta variant combined with the Alpha variant, the Beta variant in South Africa, there is some U.K. analysis that is predicting that there will be a time absolutely when these vaccines won't work. So this is the time, now, to get the vaccine so you can prevent dying and being hospitalized.

PAUL: So are you saying people who have the vaccine now obviously -- are you saying the vaccine is only good for a certain period of time? We have talked about booster shots. But when you talk about further mutations, I am not sure that people really understand what you mean. Does it mean that the vaccine we have now will be obsolete?

MATHEW: So the vaccines that we have right now work extremely well to prevent you from falling sick and from dying. Almost close to zero percent chance of that happening if you get the vaccine that we have now and that is because we always have to talk about the vaccines with respect to the current variant that's dominant.

So the Delta variant compared to the Alpha variant, Christi, has already dropped the efficacy of the vaccine by 10 percent. So what I'm saying is, if we don't have enough people getting vaccinated in the next few weeks, in the next few months, remember, this virus is a very dangerous virus. It is already mutating and it can form another dangerous variant in the next four weeks.

And guess what might happen? If that is more contagious than Delta then the vaccine drops even more with the efficacy. So, get the vaccine now so we prevent these dangerous variants from developing.

PAUL: So that's the point. The variant, if you get vaccinated, that prevents future mutations.


Is that what you are saying?

MATHEW: That's exactly right.

PAUL: Yes, OK.

MATHEW: If you prevent the -- that's right, Christi. If you prevent the transmission of the virus going from one person to another, there is not going to be any mutation that can form. You are closing the door.

PAUL: You have said that this is a national security issue, that the White House has to look at its legal options for federally mandating on mitigating factors like masking and whatnot. I'm wondering how you think that would work in this sense.

There are so many people that probably feel like they are being preached at. There are medical experts who I'm sure are exhausted of trying to tell people how important this is, even with the proof that this works and that the vaccines are helping so much. What makes you believe people will listen to a mandate as opposed to something else?

MATHEW: Well, you know, Christi, we've tried everything else. We have given free beer. We have given free scholarship. Right here, we're actually even paying people to get the vaccine, $50.00, $100.

If that doesn't work, you know, how long are we going to wait? How many more people should die unnecessarily?

I mean, before the vaccines, remember, Christi, people were relying solely on masks, which, by the way, work effectively to prevent the transmission of this virus. Now that we have the ammunition, people are still not getting the vaccine. We're talking possibly millions could die, especially of the scenario that I just painted about this super variant developing. And we're talking about millions of people dying. That's a national security issue.

And the reason that I mention the federal mandate, which I know in America, I am not a lawyer, it may not fly, is that if you leave it up to each state and each county, you get a patchwork of these types of recommendations and guidelines. And we know that from last summer and the winter that never really worked.

So I think that it's really important for President Biden to look at the options of a federal mandate to encourage people. We are not forcing this vaccine, but we have to. If you mandate the vaccine, Christi, people will get the vaccine. A larger population will get it.

PAUL: Dr. Saju Mathew, we appreciate all the work you do. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. Have a good day. MATHEW: You bet.

SANCHEZ: Ahead this hour, out of time. The moratorium on evictions has expired with no relief in sight. What that means for millions of Americans and the reaction on Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Also, Simone Biles, well, she is seeing her Olympic dreams slip away. She has dropped out of yet another event in Tokyo. We'll tell you what we know.



SANCHEZ: We are 16 minutes past the hour and it is the first of the month. So the rent is due, but millions of Americans who can't pay are facing possible eviction.

PAUL: Yes, a federal ban on evictions expired at midnight last night after Congress failed to extend the moratorium. Now, Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush slept outside the Capitol steps Friday night to draw attention to the crisis that's affecting millions of these families.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): I'm dirty. I'm sticky. I'm sweaty. I still had what I had on last night. This is how people will have to live if we don't do something. Seven million people, 6 million, 11 million, how many ever it is, they deserve their human dignity, and they deserve for the people they are paying to represent them to show up and do the work to make sure that they have their basic needs met.

What is there to talk about or negotiate about or even have a disagreement about when we are talking about humans that will sleep on the street, that there is no discussion. We are talking about saving lives and you -- how can we not stand up for those folks, our most vulnerable in our communities?

Those that are looking to us because when we signed up to be in Congress we said that we would serve and we would represent every single person in our district regardless of their socioeconomic status, regardless of -- if they live in a home or not.

Let me say this too. At the end of the day the job is to serve. And so let's serve. And I don't care if it doesn't is matter if we think who should have money and who shouldn't. The money is there. There is $40 billion right now and that's still on the table that has not been spent.


PAUL: Millions of people are wondering that very same thing. They are also wondering what do they do next if they face the possibility of eviction. We are talking to someone next hour who has that very fear living with it right now because she is at risk of losing her home. We're going to talk to her and hear her story.

The question -- the other question out of all of this that people are asking is who is to blame for not extending the moratorium on evictions? And that's depends on who you ask.

SANCHEZ: Yes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that lawmakers simply ran out of time and she is also pointing the finger at Republicans. Let's get out live to Capitol Hill and CNN congressional reporter Daniella Diaz joining us now.

Daniella, Pelosi is on the offensive here. I think one of the questions for her is whether she thought Democrats had the votes to get something passed. And, of course, what happens now?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Right. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is blaming Democrats in a tweet yesterday. She said, you know, "In an act of pure cruelty, Republicans blocked this measure leaving children and families out on the streets." This was part of a tweet thread addressing the fact that this eviction moratorium is ending -- that ended last night at midnight. But the real problem is Democrats didn't even have the votes to pass this on their own, you know?

These House Democratic leaders were scrambling Friday. The day before they leave for a seven-week recess to try to pass a bill to extend this eviction moratorium and in the end some moderate house Democrats left.


They went on their recess before the votes could happen. And Republicans did block the measure, but that is because the House Democrats didn't have the votes. But this all comes, of course, because the Supreme Court ruled last month that the CDC order could stay in place, this eviction -- extension of the eviction moratorium could stay in place until July 31st, but then it had to be Congress who acted to extend this.

And, you know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter yesterday that the House is on call to try to pass a bill on this, but really the bigger problem is, even if the House passes a bill to extend the eviction moratorium, the Senate probably won't be able to pass a bill. Senate Democrats can't really beat the 60-vote threshold needed to break the filibuster to pass this bill.

So, lots of problems here and it's unclear where this stands. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did say in a tweet yesterday that the White House and House Democratic leaders are urging state and local governments to disperse that $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance so that families can stay in their homes.

PAUL: So the other big story I know, Daniella, we are following on Capitol Hill is this $1 trillion infrastructure bill. What do we know about the status there? DIAZ: Well, we are in a holding pattern, Christi, because the text has not been finalized yet on this bill. And until that text is done, that's when the Senate can actually vote to -- and proceed with the -- trying to pass this bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

You know, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer updated the Senate floor a couple times yesterday in a rare Senate session saying that they are working on the text, that staffers are working very hard to finalize this text, but -- and we're expecting for it to be done today. But, you know, the House or -- excuse me. The Senate is in session until later. So, we will wait and see.

SANCHEZ: We know you'll keep an eye on it for us. Daniella Diaz reporting from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Let's dig deeper now and talk all things political with Daniel Lippman, a White House reporter for "Politico." Daniel, good morning. We appreciate you spending some time with us this Sunday morning.

Let's start with this federal ban on evictions that expired at midnight. As you heard there from Daniella, the blame game has started. So, in your eyes, who is ultimately responsible for this lapse? I mean, this was on the calendar. Everybody sort of knew that it was coming. And I also wonder if there are any real political ramifications for this.

DANIEL LIPPMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, it feels like both the White House and congressional Democrats are to blame for this because it's hard for Pelosi -- Pelosi's argument that, hey, the White House only told about -- told us about this earlier this week is credible given that she could have been reading the news and the Supreme Court ruling was not exactly secret. And so they should have been in much better touch in terms of deciding on a strategy to go forward instead of letting millions of people potentially get evicted starting today.

SANCHEZ: I also want to touch on infrastructure. The Senate reconvening at noon to work on that bipartisan bill, still not finalized. How do you see it playing out? What are you going to be watching for today to give you an indication of how soon this might get a vote?

LIPPMAN: Well, I'm going to be just watching to see how many Republicans actually vote for it and what they actually say about it. Are they going to -- is this going to be a ticket for Democrats to have a much better chance of success keeping the House and the Senate next year because they can say we did something bipartisan?

One White House official told me has told me that, you know, this is kind of an indication of that America can accomplish things and not get, you know, mired in internal rivalries. So we can show dictatorships like China, hey, this is something that we can do both Democrats and Republicans and not -- you know, and we can prove to the world that American democracy is still strong.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's a priority for this White House, right? Not just actually getting money to fix roads and bridges, but also to fulfill President Joe Biden's promise that he can work together with Republicans to actually pass laws.

Let's pivot now to the January 6th committee. Members have said that everything is going to be on the table for the next stage of their investigation, including subpoenas for some of their Republican colleagues, including Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, even potentially House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. What would you realistically expect to happen if these members are called to testify?

LIPPMAN: I think they are going to try to evade such subpoenas because they don't want to be in the position of disclosing what they consider are private conversations with the White House and with President Trump -- former President Trump, about what happened on January 6th, and what kind of candid conversations they were -- McCarthy was telling Trump in terms of, hey, you should stop these people.


Given that McCarthy's message and other Republicans have pivoted back to, well, this is Speaker Pelosi's fault. Why didn't she handle the security properly? You know, if they are making that argument, then why aren't they talking about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who was the majority leader there -- then and should have been eying the store as well then?

SANCHEZ: Yes. I think just given the way that some like Jim Jordan have had a difficult time answering questions regarding his conversations with Donald Trump on January 6th, he likely does not want to sit in front of that committee to testify. Daniel Lippman, always thanks so much for the time.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

So here is a question for you. What do GOATs eat? GOATs, of course, as in the greatest of all time. That's the big question out of Tokyo, isn't it, Coy? You got a chance to sit down with swimmer Katie Ledecky, right?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. Yes, she is a bad woman. I said that with my fellow Stanford grad, Boris. And we talked about her medal haul here in Tokyo and, yes, what she ate for the celebratory meal. It's all coming up right here after the break.



SANCHEZ: Team USA has been flexing its muscles in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics, especially Caeleb Dressel. His dominant performance landing him five gold medals, including two more on the final day of swimming at these games.

PAUL: Coy Wire is live from Tokyo for us. How do these guys celebrate? And five gold medals for heaven's sakes?

WIRE: Yes. And this is years of training for this one moment, Christi. Good to see you and Boris. Caeleb Dressel certainly one who's been taken advantage of the moment. The reason he's been called the next Michael Phelps is because ever since the Rio Olympics, he's annihilated his competition at the worlds and other major competitions. \

Now, we've seen an Olympic legend blossom right before our eyes. Dressel, dominator, 50-meter freestyle. This is the event that crowns the fastest man in the pool on the planet. Caeleb took the lead and then crushed it like Christi and Boris on a Sunday. He took gold with an Olympic record time with 21.07 seconds.

And then a swim the butterfly leg helping the four by 100 medley relay team win gold in a record time there. Dressel getting his fifth gold medal, three of them in individual events here in Tokyo. The only other swimmers to ever do that, Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. Here he is.


CAELEB DRESSEL, OLYMPIC SWIMMER, TEAM USA: I think the U.S. has been dominant for so many years. And for me to have my little stamp on this sport, of course, it's special. I don't want to take anything away from Michael. I don't want to take anything away from Mark. You know, of course, I'm happy with how I did here. It's not my goal to be anybody in particular. It's about achieving what I feel like my potential is.


WIRE: Dressel adding to his Olympic gold medal count in addition to the two he won in Rio. Right now, he's the gold standard of men's swimming. The GOAT of women's swimming, of course, Katie Ledecky. She brings two goals and two silvers back home, giving her a grand total of 10 Olympic medals in her career.

I talked to Katie earlier today fresh off yet another huge games, and she told me that it's still like a dream come true. Here she is.


KATIE LEDECKY, OLYMPIC SWIMMER, TEAM USA: It's an amazing feeling to be bringing home two goals and two silvers here and compete on my third Olympics. It's something I never would have imagined when I first started something.

WIRE: What do GOATs eat?

LEDECKY: Healthy.

WIRE: But after years of sacrifice and discipline, a celebratory meal. And how are you just going to relax now that this is over?

LEDECKY: Oh, I did have a hamburger after I was done. That tasted good. But yes, I'm just going to enjoy spending time with my family and friends and telling them all the stories. I can't wait to get back to the U.S. and just give them a big hug.

WIRE: Simone Biles has made an incredible impact on these games. And I think we're seeing how powerful mind is. There's not many people in the world who can say they've navigated what you have in your career. When you felt those sorts of moments, how -- what got you through them? How did you navigate those situations?

LEDECKY: I tried to just stay focused on my own goals and try not to let external expectations get to me too much. Swimming is not the only thing that I enjoy doing. I'm passionate about other things as well. And so, I'm really happy that I just finished my degree at Stanford and just had a great time there as well. So there's so much more to life than swimming in the Olympics and the people around me remind me of that.


WIRE: Congratulations. Katie Ledecky says not done, Boris and Christie, 2024, maybe 2028 Olympics as well still in her. Now, the athlete that everyone wanted to see here at the Games, Simone Biles, has taken herself out of a fifth event here in Tokyo, the floor routine on Monday. This is in addition to the team final one-- and two -- today's individual vault and uneven bars events.

And on Friday, Simone Biles revealed and now-deleted post that she couldn't tell up from down in a practice session here in Tokyo. As she said that was even scarier. She had no idea where she was in the air. She had no idea how or where she was going to land.

The 24-year-old said that when she's had the twisties as she's called them in the past, it's taken two or more weeks for them to go away. Team USA official told me earlier that there's no deadline for Biles to pull out of the beam competition. We'll have to wait and see if we'll see her again on an Olympic stage.

All right, the race to become the fastest woman in the world had some added drama even before Tokyo with America superstar Sha'Carri Richardson out serving a ban from marijuana. But in her absence, Jamaica making a huge statement in the 100-meter dash, finishing one, two and three, only furthering a long tail of dominance.


Defending Olympic champ Elaine Thompson-Herah breaking Florence Griffith Joyner's Olympic record that stood for 33 years by 1/100 of a second. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took the silver. She's a legend as well, five-time Olympian who claimed gold in '08 and 2012. Shericka Jackson took the bronze. But Boris and Christi, Usain Bolt gone, I think Jamaica still doing fine.

The women over the past five Olympic Games have won 13 of the 15 available medals in the women's 100-meter dash. Unbelievable.

PAUL: Their reaction is worth seeing again. SANCHEZ: Yes.

PAUL: I mean, if you -- if you --

SANCHEZ: She just screamed and enjoyed.

PAUL: If you just need -- she couldn't get -- wrap her head around it. I'm sure that it's sinking in. And congratulations to all of them. Coy, always good to see you. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: You too. Thanks.

PAUL: Sure. We know that it's been a week of confusion and a lot of frustration, right? The White House and the CDC, they're still updating guidelines. They're doing so amid these surging cases of the Delta Variant now, from masks to the effectiveness of vaccines. We're talking about the government's messaging on the pandemic. That's next.



PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour. The Delta Variant is tightening its grip on this country. It seems Americans particularly those who are vaccinated are looking for some more clarity on how to stay safe. The surgeon cases, it forced the White House to shift to a more urgent tone. But when it comes to the actual messaging, that has not been clear.

SANCHEZ: Yes. New Axios reporting says the Biden administration's handling of the Delta surge is leaving Americans confused and frustrated, and it is fueling media overreaction and political manipulation. Here to discuss that aspect is the anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES" and CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.

Brian, good morning. Always great to see you.


SANCHEZ: Look, a lot of Americans are cynical about the government's COVID response. Some people feel misinformed, uninformed. And in the last five days, we've seen some reversals on guidance. Masks now are required again, even for vaccinated people. And the CDC is reporting that in some extremely rare cases, fully vaccinated people can spread the virus.

Science is a process, right? And with this unprecedented virus, you can expect new data to change the approach. But at some point, people get worn out not just with misinformation that's out there, but with legitimate messaging that is accurate, but can appear contradictory especially if it doesn't fit neatly into a headline.

STELTER: Yes, because even accurate, but cherry-picked data can be misleading. One of the key numbers this weekend is that 99.93 percent of fully vaccinated Americans have not tested positive for COVID. In other words, the vast majority of Americans who have been vaccinated have not become ill with this -- with this virus. And yet, the numbers and the headlines in the last few days from outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times have portrayed a situation that seems much more like a crisis for the vaccinated than it actually is.

Look, I can see this coming when the CDC indicated they were going to be issuing new guidance based on areas with high or substantial case counts. I logged on to the CDC Web site trying to figure out where my county stands in the -- in the data. And the website is so clunky, so poorly designed, so hard to find basic information.

You could see there was a communications problem brewing a disaster ahead. And I think really, that's what this comes down to. The CDC has lots of information, lots of data, but it does not know how to present it well to the public. So, it's really a communications and credibility crisis for the CDC. And one of the downstream effects is that sometimes the media coverage seems overwrought and sometimes hysterical, frankly.

PAUL: Well, I almost wonder if part of the answer is just that the CDC sit down with somebody from the White House and they go over the information before -- right before it's released, so there is a definitive, collective unified message. And that messaging, I think, is what's been lost.

And we know that the Biden administration official told CNN, the media's coverage doesn't match the moment that the White House saying it's been hyperbolic and frankly, irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. And that the White House is concerned the media is too focused on these breakthrough infections.

So, they -- the reporter is they've reached out to some media outlets to dial back the coverage, right, Brian and focus on the unvaccinated.


PAUL: Is that the right approach?

STELTER: Right, they are privately and publicly saying the same thing, which is they think some of this coverage has been hyperbolic. But again, I will put that back on the CDC and on the government agencies. It is their job to communicate in a public health crisis and explain exactly what the new information indicates.

And I think a lot of what's happened in the last few days is that there's a reluctance or a fear or an attempt not to try to shame or put too much pressure on the unvaccinated. And so, there's this attempt to draw a very fine line to walk a very fine tightrope to put more pressure on the vaccinated to try to help the others who are not.

There are those kinds of dynamics that are actually about psychology and sociology. And when you have these public health agencies and these elected officials trying to do politics in the midst of psychology and sociology, it doesn't always work out. But ultimately it is on the media to get through this data to try to be really clear in headlines about who is in danger and who is not in danger.

And ultimately, for all of us to have to make our own risk choices, our own make -- figure out our own risk tolerance, because that's what we're in now, the phase of the pandemic where we all have to make our own choices about risk.

But to do that, we need accurate data from the CDC. We need much better presentations from the White House, and we need news outlets to frame it carefully.


SANCHEZ: Yes, it's the framing that's key because with so much misinformation out there, the last thing you want is someone to misinterpret what is actually good news. And that is that as you noted, these breakthrough cases happen in fewer than 1/10 of a single percent. So, the vaccines are extremely, extremely effective.

Brian Stelter, thank you so much as always. And you can catch Brian later this morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES." It starts at 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Up next, returning to work is only getting more complicated as the Delta Variant spreads. It's even prompting confrontations between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. The details after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: Throughout the pandemic, working from home has made a huge difference for some families. For many, it's brought a better work- life balance, no traffic jams or long commutes to work.

PAUL: Yes, it also brought more flexibility when it came to childcare and chores. Now, some employers are urging, even demanding that employees get back into the office. CNN's Christine Romans has more on these competing interests we're seeing now.


PORTIA TWIDT, PROGRAM MANAGER: I'm producing more work. I can be held accountable virtually. I don't actually need to be physically in the office.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some workers aren't ready yet to give up the flexibility and safety of working from home. But from the employer perspective, it's time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office. And we want to in the office.

ROMANS: Offices for some Wall Street firms are already nearly full. Other industries preparing to return around Labor Day. JOHNNY TAYLOR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCES

MANAGEMENT: At its core, we' perform best from people are in person being human.

ROMANS: This exclusive work from home period may be coming to an end whether employees like it or not.

TAYLOR: Employers are saying, the struggle with the narrative of this is good for me is that we pay you. So, it has to be good for us. It must be mutual beneficial.

ROMANS: This tricky reentry made more difficult by employees questioning the safety of the workplace amid surging cases of the Delta variant in the U.S.

TAYLOR: We're creating this schism within the organization between vaccinated employees and unvaccinated employees. We've literally had reports of employees confronting unvaccinated employees and literally almost getting into physical fights.

ROMANS: A June survey showing 63 percent of workers support vaccine mandates at work.

KATHRYN WYLDE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PARTNERSHIP FOR NEW YORK CITY: Many employers are hearing from their workers from their employees that they want to know that people are vaccinated.

ROMANS: New York City employers are growing more confident workers will be in the office come September from 45 percent in March to 62 percent in May. Willingness to return to the office though is uneven.

WYLDE: The young tech employees, it seems to be much tougher to get them back.

ROMANS: The balancing act also important for small businesses.

WYLDE: While there's concern about forcing people to come back or get vaccinated, there's also a lot of concern about the overall economy of the city. A big piece is the commuters working remotely not patronizing the local stores.

ROMANS: Childcare is still a problem until it's clear that schools can reopen in person for good. Also a concern the impact on careers of those who don't want to return to the office.

TAYLOR: Two, three, five years from now, when they're making promotional decisions, we promote people who we know and with whom we built relationships.

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Coming up, a blessing and a curse. Heavy rains are easing drought conditions out west finally, but there are some new concerns that come with that, real concerns. We have all the latest next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PAUL: Listen, here is a monsoon bringing heavy rain through the western United States. Wildfires are still burning, the heavy flooding over the scorched earth is bringing new concerns now about that debris flow.

SANCHEZ: Yes. For the latest, let's bring in meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She's live from the CNN Weather Center. And Allison, this rain is some relief but only to a degree because then it creates problems on its own.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And you'd be surprised how little rain it takes to really trigger some of those debris flows and mudslides on some of those burn scar areas. So, let's take a look. This is a live look at the radar.

You can see there was a lot of activity yesterday afternoon and well into the evening, a lot of lightning. Even today though, we do anticipate more of this activity to kick back up, which is why you have the flash flood watches in effect for over half a dozen states in the western portion of the country.

Now, overall, most of these areas again likely to pick up less than one inch of rain total. And again, that may not sound like much but remember, only a half of an inch or less in just in one -- in just in less than one hour is enough to trigger some of those flash flooding areas across where you have the burn scars.

And if you notice from this map, the same area where we have the marginal and slight risk for action of rainfall also overlays a lot of those areas where we're dealing with the wildfires and even the burn scars. So, yes, this is going to be a concern, Christi and Boris, not only for the northern portion, but any of these areas that are dealing with the fires.

PAUL: Allison Chinchar, well, thank you so much.