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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  August 2, 2021 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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incentive that we just announced on friday for employees to get vaccinated if they've not already been vaccinated. if you provide that proof, evidence that you have been fully vaccinated, then we will give you a $200 incentive from funds that the president asked that individual districts and areas would consider. so that's our number-one incentive. our number-one initiative to try to have some impact on these numbers. secondly, in our schools we have cleaning protocols that will remain in place, and we are strongly encouraging all of our signage says face masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged. that is our communications plan over and over again. we are saying strongly encourage face masks, especially for those who have not been vaccinated. >> is there a virtual learning option? >> there is not other than what we've had for years. nothing that is synchronous in nature where you can be learning with your teacher at the same time as we did on last year. that is no longer available by the state. but we can have orange county
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virtual, that's a completion kind of model that we've had in place for years. you're not in touch with a teacher live every day. >> so what do you do if there's an outbreak at a school without that live interact with the teacher considering you don't offer the state funded virtual option? >> so we would actually be similar to what we've done in years past when children are out sick. we have some means of connecting them to the school and to the teacher for make-up work, for homework, for trying to get on line and see what assignment have been given. all of that will be in place again. the teacher can also voluntarily -- if a teacher is still in the classroom and a few students are out, then they can certainly voluntarily allow those students to listen in. but they cannot actually be instructing them at the same time that they're instructing a class full of students in person. >> all right. barbara jenkins there in orange county, florida. thank you. >> pleasure. brand new hour, same victor
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blackwell. good to be with you. moments ago the nation met the president's july 4th vaccine goal about a month late. the cdc just reported 70% of adults in the u.s. have received at least one dose of covid vaccination. overall, 49.7% of the population is fully vaccinated. and the milestone comes as the cdc releases data showing how lifesaving vaccinations are. the cdc found that 99.99% of vuly vaccinated americans have not had a breakthrough infection that's resulted in death or hospitalization. again, 99.99%. and for any kind of breakthrough infection, not just severe, under 1% of the vaccinated are impacted, according to the kaiser family foundation. but cases of coronavirus mainly driven by the unvaccinated continue to grow. the u.s. is now averaging more than 79,000 new infections a day. that's a 54% jump from last
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week. 88% of americans live in an area with substantial or high transmission. the pressure campaign to get vaccinated appears to be working. the u.s. is seeing increases in vaccination numbers, and that brings me to cnn's senior medical correspondent, elizabeth cohen. elizabeth, good to see you. how much are these vaccinations going up? what are you seeing? >> reporter: we are seeing substantial differences, exactly where you want to see it, in the states that have had the highest trans mission rates and lowest vaccination rates. something is getting through, whether it's the financial incentives your guest talked about, or maybe people are starting to know people who will are getting delta and are getting sick over dying. and as they're seeing that, they're saying, oh, boy, maybe i should be rolling up my sleeve. let's look. we picked three states that have very high transmission rates and have had very low vaccination rates. in louisiana, if you look overall during the rollout, they were 47th in terms of folks
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getting their first shot. last week, they were number one in the country. what a turnaround. that is big. alabama, they were 46th overall last week, they were third. mississippi, they were at the bottom, they were 50th, and last week they were eighth. so that is terrific. now does that mean that all of a sudden those states are safe and that they have vast numbers of vaccinations, no. i mean, you can look -- look at this graph here. you can see that the number of vaccines since, you know, sort of toward the end of the laust month has gone up steadily, but it's nothing like what we need to have happen. the fact that it's heading up at all is a good sign. things are definitely heading in the right direction. they need to keep heading in that direction and, you know, someone needs to figure out exactly what made that happen and then emphasize that as part of the public health communications strategy. as we've learned with this virus, it's hard to fight the virus, it's also kind of hard to fight the human psyche.
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we need to learn how to communicate these things better so that people will make the right choices. >> indeed, indeed. whatever they're doing, find out what works and keep doing it. >> exactly. >> let's talk about the booster shot. israel offering its seniors a booster shot. germany, the uk planning to do the same next month. what about the u.s.? what about here? >> you know, it's really interesting because the u.s. has been ahead in so many ways in the vaccine rollout. this is a way that we haven't been ahead. those countries that you mentioned seem to be, you know, sort of taking a few steps that we haven't taken here in the united states. especially if you look at israel, they've been offering a third shot. you can call it a third shot, a booster shot, whatever you like, it's the same as the first two shots, just the third one of it, to immunocompromised people for weeks now in that community. and the u.s. is just begging to have? guidance about when they can -- they can have guidance about when they can get the third shots. let's look at why the boosters are being offered. when you look -- this is from pfizer data -- when you look at
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the efficacy of the pfizer vaccine, you finish up your second shot, you wait a week or to two month later, 96% effective. that's pretty amazing. that's 96% effective. that's the number we've talked a lot about over the months. now the new data says, well, you look at the same time four to six months later, it's 83.7% effective. now that is still amazing. a vaccine that is nearly 84% effective, that's incredible. if that had been the most effective this vaccine was ever going to get, we would still all be thanking our lucky stars. that's a great vaccine. but because it's not still at 96%, there are some thoughts that we need to have a third booster. there's another piece of data that's also making scientists think that. let's look at what happened when they did give third shots to people of different ages. when you look at people between the ages of 18 to 55, when they got a third shot, their antibodies to covid-19 increased more than five times. when you gave to people ages 65 to 85, their antibodies went up more than 11 times because
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probably theirs started out much lower. they didn't do as well with those first two shots as younger people did. so all the more reason why a third shot may be necessary. again, we keep talking about public health communications and how difficult it can be. we're trying to tell a third of the country, hey, get your first two shots, it's important. and then we're going to try to tell two-thirds of the country, oh the two shots you got, they're still good, but they're not as good as they used to be so get a third shot. there's going to be tricky language here and we hope they master it. >> yes, we do. elizabeth cohen, thank you so much. to new york city now stopping short of issuing a mask mandate. a short time ago the mayor said that he was, quote, making a strong recommendation for people to wear a mask indoors in public places. jason carroll has been tracking the story. so jason, has the mayor said why he stopped short of that mandate? >> reporter: well, it's a good question. basically what the mayor is
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saying is he's following the data, he's following the science in terms of how he's moving forward with whatever guidance he gives and whatever policy he puts out there. so even though we're seeing an uptick in cases here for now, he is strongly urging and again strongly recommending -- not mandating but recommending -- that in a public place like a restaurant like this or a gym or a grocery store, that you wear a mask inside. and in fact, one particular gym taking it a step further. equinox and soul cycle making an announcement this afternoon basically saying all of its members going forward are going to have to be vaccinated before they're going to be allowed inside those particular facilities. so some taking it a step forward. also the mayor anaunsing when it comes -- announcing when it comes to vaccines that any city worker going forward is going to have to be vaccinated before they're going to be allowed to start that new employment. but when it comes to mask wearing and vaccine the,
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basically the city's health commissioner weighing in earlier today, victor, and basically saying they're taking a look at what's happening with the delta variant, and making policy and recommendations based on that. >> today i'm making a strong recommendation that everyone regardless of vaccination status wear a mask in public indoor settings. this is based on our review of the latest scientific evidence showing that the delta variant of the coronavirus can spread even more easily than was previously thought. >> reporter: so i'm standing outside cafeteria restaurant in chelsea, a popular restaurant, lot of folks like to come here. i spoke to the owners here to get their sort of sense of given everything that the mayor is saying, would it change any of the policies that they have here. want you to listen to what the owner had to say to us just a short while ago. >> i think it's a great approach. ultimately, you know, as we've all been saying new york is a resilient city.
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i mean, i think it's important that everybody take part and do, you know, whatever is needed to try to, you know, eradicate as much as we can this virus. if it's just a short step back in wearing a mask for a little bit longer indoors or any part where there's a high level of amount of people, i think we should do it. i think it's important. we should try to do as much as we can to try to save our city and save our businesses. >> reporter: and new york's governor, andrew cuomo, also held a briefing earlier today where he began also urged businesses to require folks to be vaccinated before they can come inside. again, strongly urging, not mandating, the question then becomes how much influence that will have on businesses down the line in terms of whether they -- whether they decide to change their policies or not. victor? >> we'll see. jason carroll for us, thank you. in miami beach, florida, a scene from some of the worst days of the pandemic playing out now. look at this long line of cars
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to get a covid test. and we know why this is happening in florida -- it's the nation's top covid hot spot. it leads the nation in the most new cases a day. the most new reported cases last week, more than 100,000 over the week, one in five new infections in the country comes from florida. and the hospital covid wards are struggling. more than 9,000 are in hospitals there. joining me now is mary mayhew, the president of the florida hospital association. mary, thank you for being with us. you know, i've read that you said that this is -- although we're seeing the return to the peaks of hospitalizations in florida, that they're dramatically different. how so? >> it is the rapid rate of increase that we've experienced in florida. so last year it took 60 days to go from 2,000 cases to over 10,000. in the last few weeks, combating the delta variant, we've gone from 2,000 cases to over 10,000 cases in 27 days.
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so rapid escalation. and then it's attacking our younger people. last year we knew that our elderly were most vulnerable, most at risk at being hospitalized, and certainly from dying from covid. now we're seeing 25-year-olds in our hospitals in the icu and on ventilators. so clearly a significant change from the last two significant surges. >> what we remember from the last two surges were the premium placed on space, the ventilators, and the staff, the medical staff to take care of those people. are you facing those crises this time around? >> well, certainly as you recall, ppe, masks, gloves, gowns, we were in short supply of all of those. that is not the case today. but staffing remains a critical challenge. we had a shortage, a work force shortage before the pandemic. it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
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we've got health care heroes who for 17 months have been at the bedside responding to this crisis. they are exhausted physically, mentally, and we have lost nurses from the bedside as a result. as hospitals are responding to the surge, as they are putting beds into areas of their buildings, in their conference rooms, in their cafeterias, they still need to have the staff who can be at the bedside, our nurses, or respiratory therapists. that remains a critical challenge. >> mary, i know you don't like to get involved in politics, so i preface this question with that. this is based on just public health interests. would it be to be -- to allow those out-of-state medical professionals to come back into florida to help, to allow those retired health professionals to come back through a state of emergency declaration? take the political element out of it, but if you had those
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professionals, would florida's hospital s be in a better place? >> look, we have been working closely with the governor's office, with the state agencies -- but it's important to remember that the response that occurs to a crisis or emergency happens locally, regionally. we're trying to understand what flexibilities exist or could be leveraged to attract licensed health care professionals from other states. the fact of the matter is every state is combating a work force shortage. so even getting that flexibility is no guarantee that we will have access to those nurses. but certainly we are trying to look at every possible means of attracting nurses. one of the others -- visas. nurses, international nurses are not the top priority to get vi visas. we need to see that flexibility created. there are international nurses that we could be recruiting quickly into the united states. that is another area that we are focused on. >> yeah. mary mayhew, president of the
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florida hospital association. thank you for being with us. we've got to get to breaking news. >> thank you. >> republican senator lindsey graham has tested positive for covid-19. let's go to manu raju on capitol hill. what do you have? >> reporter: senator lindsey graham just rhetjest revealed t he did test positive for covid-19 despite being vaccinated himself. he said, i'm going to read a tweet, he said, "i was just informed by the how to physician i have tested positive for covid-19 even after being vaccinated. i started having flu-like symptoms saturday night and went to the doctor this morning. i feel like i have a sinus infection and at the present time have mild symptoms." he goes on to say, "i'll be quarantining for ten days. i'm very glad i was vaccinated because without vaccination i. an -- my symptoms would be worse." that's important for people listening, getting vaccinated according to the cdc and public health experts is almost 100%
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effective in preventing deaths and hospitalizations. what lindsey graham is saying he says feels like a sinus infection, under the weather. it would have been far worse had he not been vaccinated. there is the first breakthrough case of any senator that we have heard so far of getting reinfected -- getting infected by covid-19 even after being vaccinated. and it also comes at a key time here as the senate is trying to get a massive infrastructure proposal through. lindsey graham is part of a group of more than 20 senators who signed off on that proposal, his vote ultimately could be important if it gets close and if they need determine whether or not they need his support to move forward on this bill, they could potentially have that vote before he returns because he says he has quarantined -- he's going to quarantine for ten days. the question, too, victor, is who else did he interact with? most senators in this body now are maskless even after concerns about the delta variant. there are no rules in the senate about wearing masks. in the house, they are now required for members to wear
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masks. in the senate, they're not. and lindsey graham like most senators from both sides of the aisle had been interacting with his colleagues maskless, lunching daily maskless, he's been talking -- meeting with them, you know, as early as this morning and -- last week. so it remains to be seen if this has any impact among any of the other members and what they do, whether they decide to quarantine. those are questions we'll have to pursue in the hours ahead here. but an important revelation here, senator lindsey graham says he is now testing positive even after being vaccinated. >> yeah. medical strategy that we don't talk enough about because we haven't been hearing much about it -- contact tracing that will have to be done to find out if there are others in his circle who will test positive. and the senator points out here as you said that his symptoms would be far worse if he had not been vaccinated, as we've been saying all morning and all afternoon.
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99.99% of those who have been vaccinated do not have hospitalization for their symptoms, they also do not have fatal cases. manu raju with the breaking news on capitol hill. thanks so much. former president trump's personal attorney is fighting back against the release of the former president's tax returns. we'll tell you what he's saying next. you need an ecolab scientific clean here. and you need it here. and here. and here. which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean is now helping the places you go every day too. seek a commitment to clean. look for the ecolab science certified seal.
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just in to cnn, former president trump's personal attorney says that they object to the release of the president's tax returns after the department of justice determined he must turn them over to congress. his attorney says there is no evidence of wrongdoing. cnn is following this. so first an objection, but this we expect is going to become some formal filing, right? >> absolutely. this is the first response to the department of justice's decision or legal opinion on friday saying that the treasury department must turn over these tax returns. this is the first response from his attorney, and in a lengthy statement he says that they object to this, it's politicalization, it's harassment, and he said the democrats are doing this in an attempt to degrade mr. trump, and it is a disgrace. as we have seen repeatedly throughout the past several years, donald trump fights things, and he fights things in court. so this is teeing up what i think will be the next round of
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litigation over the release of the tax returns. they obviously fought twice to the supreme court when it came to the release of his tax returns to the new york grand jury. here they've been fighting this since 2019. and it looks like they're going to continue this fight now because they don't want these tax returns public. >> the expectation, though, is that they eventually will be turned over? >> well, i mean, this is the legal opinion from the department of justice. it says that they must turn them over. and that's also what the statute says. so that has been the question of why didn't the department of justice under then-president donald trump say that they should furnish these returns. you know, one of the big questions here has been does congress have a legitimate purpose for this. the committee says that they want these returns for their review, they want to review irs audit practices, the former president has been under an irs audit for many, many years. so the department of justice saying they have a legal reason for it. now the hurdle will be for donald trump's legal team to say that the department of justice's
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legal counsel is incorrect. >> all right. thank you. let's get back to the breaking news. senator lindsey graham just tweeted that he has tested positive for covid. let's bring in dana bash. you spoke with the senator, what did he tell you? >> reporter: that he is feeling like he has a bad cold. in fact, he said that he has had worse colds than he feels flight and said -- emphasized very much with me like he did in the statement he put out that he would very likely feel much, much worse had he not gotten the vaccine. that is a really important message for people to hear, particularly in some of the southern states where we see the numbers rising. and you know now that we have seen so much movement with the delta variant, the numbers are rising across the country. numbers in some of the southern states are lower with the vaccination. so that particular message is important. the other thing that manu mentioned before the break,
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victor, is the question of who else in the united states senate or in the house may be coming out with a positive diagnosis. these are people who spend a lot of time together, in particular over the past few weeks because they have been negotiating this infrastructure bill. senator graham was part of those negotiations, and they have been in intense and close quarters. hopefully nobody else does have a positive diagnosis, but it might happen. but again, the thing to underscore is senator graham was vaccinated, fully vaccinated, has a breakthrough infection, and doesn't feel as bad as he said he has felt with other sicknesses in the past because of that. >> of course our best to the senator for his recovery there. let's move on now to democrats who are calling on house minority leader kevin mccarthy to apologize to speaker pelosi after he joked -- it was a joke -- that he would assault the speaker with a gavel should he become the next speaker of the
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house. listen. >> if we win the majority -- which i know we're going to, you're all invited. more importantly, i want to ask nancy pelosi to hand me that gavel. [ applause ] it will be hard not to hit her with it, but i will bang it down. thank you. [ applause ] >> i mean, this is getting worse and worse after she called him a moron, he said that he never learns anything when he speaks to her, it's never beneficial. what can be done to repair this relationship, if anything? >> to repair this relationship? unfortunately i think the answer is not much. the question is what does this mean going forward. you know, this is exhibit a of how bad things are.
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you know, i understand that republicans are saying, wait a minute, she called him a moron. we're both parents, we understand how this works. just because you've said something or your child has said something or any human in a social setting has said something doesn't mean that responding and doubling down or tripling down makes it any better. the context is important. this is what some of the speaker's democratic colleagues are saying, that this is a woman who was hunted down by insurrectionists in the united states capitol, by people who wanted to basically to assassinate her, and so -- and these are republicans including the minority leader, kevin mccarthy, who in recent weeks and months has refused to speak out against them even at the -- with the pleas of officers like officer unanfanone who met with in private. that context is really important
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and would behoove everybody to take the volume down. it's not the world we're living in now. we'll see if he apologizes as democrats are calling on him to. i don't -- i'm guessing we're going to hear "i was joking," you know, "let's move on." >> yeah. yeah. of course, the jokes and the minds of the logical and the sane are one thing. when those are transferred to people who are not logical and who are not sane, that's when they become so dangerous. let's turn to the january 6th commission. and this question, of course, about whether republican lawmakers, the president, former president himself, will be called to testify. congresswoman adam kinsinger said he would expect to see a significant amount of subpoenas and said this about the former president -- >> we may not have to talk to donald trump to get the information. there were tons of people around him. there were tons of people involved in the things that led up to january 6th. obviously if you talk to the president, the former president, that's going to have a whole new
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set of kind of like, you know, everything associated with it. so when i look at that, i'm like, maybe, but i know that we're going to get to the information. if he has unique information, that's one thing. i think there's a lot of people around him that knew some things. >> a lot of people around him, who do you expect we'll see testify? >> well, he was laying the groundwork to kind of warn people that we're likely not going to see a subpoena by and for the -- not by, for the former president. he is definitely in the camp of getting to the bottom of things, despite the fact that he has an r next to his name. it was also noteworthy that he left the door wide open for subpoenas for his own colleagues, maybe even his own party leader in the house, kevin mccarthy, who we were talking about earlier. that is mind blowing, but it is also very likely given the fact that one of two republicans on the committee said, you know, it
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is possible, maybe even probable. >> yeah. and the chairman, benny thompson, suggested that we will see hearings before the end of the august recess. so we'll stand by for that. dana bash, thank you. >> good to see you. >> likewise. famed talk show host montel williams is pleading with people to get the vaccine. he says it's what kept him out of the hospital while experiencing a breakthrough covid case. montel joins me next. not all 5g networks are created equal. when it comes to 5g coverage, t-mobile is the best thing on the menu. t-mobile. america's largest, fastest, most reliable 5g network. gillette proglide. five blades and a pivoting flexball designed to get virtually every hair on the first stroke. so you're ready for the day with a fresh face for a fresh start. for a limited time get a 5th cartridge free. one, two! one, two, three! only pay for what you need! with customized car insurance from liberty mutual!
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the cdc found that 99.99% of fully vaccinated americans have not had a breakthrough infection that's resulted in death or hospitalization. according to the kaiser family foundation, less than 1% of the vaccinated have had any kind of breakthrough infection. talk show host montel williams went on social media to reveal that he contracted covid-19 even though he's been vaccinated. now montel has an autoimmune disease. he believes he got covid from someone standing next to him who said -- he said did not have a mask on. montel williams is the host of the podcast "let's be blunt with montel," and he joins me now. good to see you. first, how are you feeling? >> i'm feeling better. way better. this happened to me about 2.5 weeks ago, a little over two weeks ago. i literally, victor, will tell you i and my wife over the -- to
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keep us safe from exposure from wearing masks to staying socially distanced, to staying in our apartment to not going out, staying away from other people, and then all of a sudden, i kid you not, i literally two tuesdays away went to a laboratory. hear me now, went to a laboratory to take a test to see if i had antibodies because i had been vaccinated back in january and february, but i wanted to go on a trip. and so i went to take a test for antibodies. that tuesday i'm standing in the lab, and in the laboratory on their door they had no masks, no entry. >> yeah. >> and while standing there talking to the attendant, a guy comes walking in the door and literally invaded my personal space. got up -- less than half a foot away from me, and had no mask on. and i hate to say it this way, but i looked at him -- i looked him in the face like are you crazy, and realized he looked a
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little sick. he was mouth breathing -- and you know, he wanted to get to the counter. and i moved away. i sat down a good six feet away, texted my wife at that moment and said, you can't believe that some butthead walked in here where it says no entry no mask without a mask on and i think this guy gave me a cold. my wife said, no, you'll be fine. i took the antibody test. i had antibodies. i was ready to go on my trip two days later. two hours after i left the laboratory, got home, i started sneezing. the next morning i wo-- i woke with a blistering headache, sneezed. the next day was a thursday. i wasn't feeling right. and i decided to take a test and bingo bango, it came back positive. >> you know there will be people who try to manipulate the story -- see, montel got the vaccine, he stayed at home, he wore the mask, and he still got covid, why should i get the vaccine? to those people you say what?
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>> because had i think gotten it -- had i think gotten it, i might not be talking to you today. i have a compromised immune system. because of my compromised immune system this infection would have been probably know it would have been much worse than what it was. so i am blessed that i am able to talk to you. i'm blessed that i was -- i'm fortunate that my sickness lasted 2.5 days. they were gone. i have kept them in check with the over-the-counter medication. my wife tested negative four days ago, so i know she didn't get it. i'm also happy that i didn't give it to anybody else. that's the thing -- look, people talking about whether it's patriotic or not, forget that noise. this is all about do you care about anybody else in this world? and if you care anything about another human being, then get the vaccination. >> i know one of your appeals is that for people like you especially because you're living with multiple sclerosis, to get the vaccine, if not for yourself
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but for people who have autoimmune diseases. but if we look at some of the interviews that our correspondents, our counterparts, colleagues have done, it's not for people -- they won't do it for their children, their communities, classrooms. what's the case that you make that they should do it for you? >> be selfish. well, i don't think they should do it for me, be selfish, do it for yourself. listen to the number of people who are in the hospital right now who are begging doctors, please, can i have the vaccine? right before they get ready to be intubated. listen to the people who are begging with their last breath. i wish i had the vaccine -- be selfish. be ignorant. think about only yourself. if you do so, then go out and this vaccine so you yourself are safe and we can guarantee that that may help the next person. and the person like me, i got to tell you -- you know, i go back to wearing masks and socially
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distance. the rules are out there, the word has been there. stay off people's backs. stay away from another person, especially if you think you're sick. >> i see up in the upper left corner here you're talking to me from miami beach, florida, there. and i wonder as we've this afternoon been talking about the new executive order signed by the governor there that threatens funding for schools that essentially tries to give the decision to the parents in lieu of mask mandates for schools there, we see record new cases for florida, one in five last week coming from the state. hospitalizations climbing again. what do you think about how the governor there is handling covid in florida? >> i got to tell you, it's a sad commentary when our leadership can't think enough about the people that they want to have vote for them to give them information that will help protect their lives. it's a sad state.
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and i'm so sthaorry -- i live h, i'm one of those 10,000 people in the last weeks who just came down with covid. we can turn this around. we know we can. it's right here in our grasp. man has been able to do things, phenomenal things. when we all do things together, we can get things done. if we don't make an attempt at doing this together, we're all going to hang together. >> montel williams, good to see you. good to hear you're feeling better. tla thanks for your time. >> thank you. please, get the vaccine. >> all right. calling for back up. texas state democrats, they will now soon be joined by lawmakers from at least 20 other states to help pressure congress to act on voting rights legislation. we've got that story ahead.
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civil rights icon reverend jesse jackson was arrested in washington, d.c., today. he was protesting in support of voting rights legislation. jackson was with other demonstrators who were calling for the passage of the comprehensive voting rights legislation, the for the people act that's been going nowhere in the senate. now dozens of legislators are heading to d.c. to join texas lawmakers who have been there for weeks in a push to pressure their federal counterparts to protect voting rights. at least 18 state have pushed through new laws that make it harder to vote. florida state representative anna v. escamande is going on monday and joins me now. thank you so much. let's start with the question that i think is most important. texas democrats have been in washington for several weeks now. and it does not appear that they
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have changed one mind -- if they need to change to get this legislation passed. what do you expect to do that will change those miends that they have not? >> thank you so much for the invitation. we got to put the pressure. on there's so much focus on this infrastructure bill which is critically important, as well. but the democracy of this country, our democratic infrastructure matters, too. i'm hopeful that with lawmakers from state legislatures coming across the country we can take the picture of the urgency to our democratic colleagues and push the white house to prioritize this issue, as well. >> you say push the white house to prioritize this. are you not satisfied with what you're seeing out of the white house? >> respectfully, i am not. you know, i know there are so many important issues right now. i mean, i am in florida where we are navigating, as you mentioned earlier, a huge spike in covid-19 cases, an eviction crisis, a governor that could care less. i realize that if we don't see
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equitable voting in states like florida and this past session, my colleagues on the right pass one of the most extreme voter suppression bills in the country, that if we don't put federal protections in place, it's going to be the same results from our elected officials time and time again. the beyiden administration, if pass goals he set we have to have free and equitable elections, push back against pub exertion, and it must be the federal government that takes a leadership position on this issue. >> let's point out that republicans are the ones obstructing the legislation moving forward. every republican there unified and united against stopping this. that's where the conversation on why the for the people act is not moving forward begins. but in your criticism of the white house, what do you want to see the white house do that it is not doing? >> thanks for that question. and you're right, i mean the bulk of opposition is coming from the right. this is the same party that didn't even want to investigate
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the january 6th insurrection. so it's pretty clear to me that the position of the republican party in d.c. is not in the best interests of the people of florida. just like the republican majority in my state is. but to the white house, we want to see more but we want to see more weight when it comes to for the people act being prioritized. the white house has mentioned the need for voter protection resources, which of course is also important. but voter protection services are a band-aid. this is a systematic problem that we're seeing extreme politicians across the country push for these voter suppression bills. and we need the white house and congress to not convene a recess, to step up, and to pass voter protection legislation. >> all right, florida state representative anna v. eskamani, thank you. >> thank you. now, turning to the u.s.'s withdrawal from afghanistan, the taliban attacks, they are
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breaking news. just into cnn, louisiana's governor is reinstating the statewide mask mandate there. starting wednesday vaccinated and unvaccinated people age 5 and older in the state must wear masks in public places. state is dealing with a surge in covid cases, and governor john bel edwards says this is necessary to deal with that crisis. a grim assessment coming in from a u.s. defense official who tells cnn, quote, it is not going well in afghanistan. this is coming as the u.s. continues hitting taliban targets with airstrikes in afghanistan trying to turn back the advances the militants have made in several cities. just a short time ago the taliban took over state-run radio and tv in an afghan province. the escalation and violence is also prompting the u.s. to expand an afghan refugee program amid the fears of taliban
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reprisals as u.s. troops are in the final stages of withdrawing from that region. cnn national security correspondent kylie atwood has more for us now. what are you learning about the airstrikes and the expansion of this refugee program? >> well, the expansion of this refugee program is going to be welcome in afghanistan where a lot of these afghans who worked with u.s. organizations, who worked as u.s. contractors weren't eligible to apply for refugee status in the u.s., also weren't eligible for those special immigrant visas that were for afghan translators. who this program's expansion is doing is allowing them to apply for refugee status. but what we should note is that these afghans are going to have to get out of the country before they can actually officially enter into this process where they can be given this status. and that is going to be an incredible challenge, given the uprise in these taliban offenses on the ground. secretary of state tony blinken took the podium earlier today
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and acknowledged that it's going to be incredibly hard for these afghans to get out of the country but also said that is the case for many other refugees around the world who want to apply for refugee status. >> you also have reporting on the frustration of diplomats over the havana syndrome. tell us about that. >> yes. state department officials are frustrated with the department because they haven't been given basic information about those who are experiencing these symptoms similar to the havana syndrome. they want to know the number of people who have come and faced these symptoms in the last few months and the locations of where these folks are. now, that's information the department used to share from the state department podium when this started happening in cuba and china. and the department tells me that they are aware of these frustrations of these officials, and they are working on how to provide more information. they're also trying to, you know, do it very carefully
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because they don't want to create too much fear and unnecessarily so about these incidents. but i can tell you that there is some fear within the workforce here because they don't really know things. so then you try and fill in the blanks on your own. >> understood. kylie atwood for us there at the state department, thank you. just into cnn, moving forward on the breaking news from earlier this hour that senator lindsey graham who just revealed that he tested positive of covid, he was on senator joe manchin's house boat this weekend. manchin entertained a small group of senators and graham was in attendance. manchin's office declined to comment on the attendance on his boat. senator manchin is fully vaccinated, they say, and followed the guidelines from the cdc for those exposed to a covid positive individual. that's from manchin's spokeswoman. all right, "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now with pamela brown filling in.
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♪ well, it seems like something is working. "the lead" starts right now. more americans are taking their shot, and a month later the white house has hit one of its vaccine goals. but is it too late? then, back to school. today is the first day for many kids. but in some places masks are not on the school supply list. the two counties in one state with two different strategies, ahead. plus, finding her balance. simone biles has one last shot at a medal. but will she get caught up in the twisties again? ♪ and welcome to "the lead." i'm pamela brown in for jake tapper. and we begin this hour with the milestone number in our health lead. 70% of adults have now received at least one covid vaccine d

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