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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  July 29, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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"the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. good evening once again. i'm chris jansing in for brian williams. day 191 of the biden administration. and we begin tonight with breaking news from "the washington post." critical new information about the delta variant of the coronavirus. the paper has obtained an internal cdc document which contains urgent new warnings about the virus. "the post" reports, quote, the delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chicken pox. according to the internal federal health document, it also argues officials must acknowledge the war has changed. "the post" goes on to report, quote, it cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that
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vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant. this afternoon, president biden took a much more aggressive stance in facing the escalating covid virus and resistance to vaccines. >> this is an american tragedy. people will die who don't have to die. if you're out there, unvaccinated, you don't have to die. >> the administration is now confronted with the reality that its work to stop the spread of covid could potentially face a major setback. today the president acknowledged that threat and took the first step toward imposing tough new regulations that will affect millions. >> it's time to impose requirements on key groups.
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every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week. if in fact you're unvaccinated, you present a problem to yourself, to your family, and to those with whom you work. >> tonight the pentagon says it will also impose the same rules on all military and civilian personnel. president biden added that the justice department says it is legal for local communities and businesses to require vaccines. several major companies have already announced their vaccine mandates. meanwhile, more mask mandates are being imposed. in washington, d.c., it will be masks on starting saturday. the same rules go into effect tomorrow at all disney theme
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parks. in chicago, where the four-day lollapalooza festival is under way, attendees are greeted with signs informing them they assume all risk related to exposure of the virus. proof of vaccination or a negative covid test is also required. >> i'm going to be doing everything i possibly can to make sure that i'm keeping the people around me safe. i'm vaccinated, i will be wearing my mask the entire time. >> if there is covid in there, you can't stop it. >> it's kind of just like being anywhere else, just going to a concert or going to work or going to school or wherever. >> you think about the first quarantine we had, even just the first announcement that it mutated. it's a little nervewracking. >> we're also learning tonight that israel plans to offer booster shots to people over 60 who have already been given a two-dose vaccine. it will be the first country to offer a third dose on a broad
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scale. meanwhile, new concern about the economy. "the wall street journal" notes even though the gross domestic grew at 6.5% annual rate in the second quarter of the year, the delta variant has many wondering if growth will continue. we're also keeping an eye on the progress of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. the senate expects to hold its vote for the measure tomorrow morning and today, republican leader mitch mcconnell who voted last night to move toward debate actually praised the bill. >> it's guaranteed to be the kind of legislation that no member on either side of the aisle will think is perfect. but it's an important basic duty of government. i'm glad to see these discussions making progress. i was happy to vote to begin moving the senate toward what ought to be a robust, bipartisan floor process for legislation of this magnitude. >> the senate is set to begin its recess on august 6, that's
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next friday. but today majority leader chuck schumer indicated to his caucus that the goal is to pass the infrastructure and budget bills before leaving washington. >> leader schumer has made it clear we're staying here this weekend, throughout next week and beyond. >> with that, our lead-off guests, shannon pettypiece, veteran journalist and our senior white house reporter for nbc news digital. juliy pace, washington bureau chief and assisting managing editor for the associated press. and dr. vin gupta who has advised on public health. he's on faculty of the washington university institute on health metrics and evaluation. great to have you here. dr. gupta, the "washington post" story reports that the document they obtained, quote, strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its
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public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it leaps from target to target more swiftly than ebola or the common cold. that got my attention. what do you make of this information, how does it change things? >> good evening, chris. frankly i don't think the war has changed at all. this is an indictment of ineffective and confusing messaging from the very top. let's call it what it is. i think your team has an image that my pulmonary colleagues have been trying to share and estimate out. on the left, those are healthy lungs. on the right, those are lungs ravaged by covid that my colleagues care for in the icu. that's acute respiratory syndrome. that's what the vaccination prevents. that message was never communicated. people say, what's changed? frankly, if you look at the cdc
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data that was presented in slide format, it's pretty darn clear that the vaccines, and they were looking at two-dose pfizer, was protective against hospitalization in israel, in canada, in england. symptomatic illness, we saw 87, 88% protection. i don't think anything has changed. what we are now dealing with is an indictment of ineffective, confusing messaging, making people think that -- >> i want to make sure i understand, because my takeaway from this "washington post" article was that even though i'm fully vaccinated, i think everybody on this panel is fully vaccinated, we can still be carrying the variant and it is so much easier for it to transfer, to transmit. and even though, and again, we've talked about this, the messaging has been clear, if you're vaccinated and you do get this delta variant you'll have a much more mild case. the idea of transmission and
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getting it at all sounds scary. so is this information, though, not new? >> so that information is new. and so this notion of -- but we have to think about this in context, chris, i think we have to take a step back and say the cdc is likening this to chicken pox, for example. it turns out even if you're fully vaccinated against chicken pox, you can transmit the virus. no vaccine is perfect against transmission. what does this mean? it means, yes, there is a potential of the delta variant to others. we think that's different than the alpha variant, the delta variant is 50% more transmissible even if you're fully vaccinated. this adds greater urgency to the notion of getting vaccinated. the delta variant, to those who are fully vaccinated, is not harmful. fda approval and broad consideration of a mandate, those are the things we need to be talking about in addition to better messaging. >> president biden, shannon, has
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been talking about it, but today was marked by a more urgent tone. is concern in the white house rising day by day over this new variant and how do folks feeling about their messaging on the virus? >> the urgency has certainly ticked up. i will say last week, and maybe a little bit into the week prior, i talked to people within the administration, people who were close to the administration, and they raised a lot of these issues, like requiring masks for certain groups, vaccine mandates for some federal employees. but i would say about a week ago, ten days ago at this time, nobody was thinking it was going to happen as quickly as it did and as widespread as it has. there was talk about vaccine mandates for va employees, for members of the military, maybe tsa screeners, not for the entire federal workforce to have to be either vaccinated or submit to really regular test.
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there was talk about requiring masks maybe for certain groups, maybe increasing the urge to nudge people to wear masks more, not this sort of about-face on mask recommendations and saying that people who live in large swaths of this country, even if they're vaccinated, need to be putting their masks back on. so i've noticed internally, and people close to this white house, a real shift in messaging over the past few weeks, which i think speaks to the growing urgency. as far as the effectiveness of that messaging, so much of this is being driven by the cdc, and not necessarily by the white house. and that's where we have seen a bit of fumbling of the hand-off of the baton in the messaging. we have the cdc holding a teleconference to announce this really big change in masks. the white house within itself was trying to figure out how to adapt to this policy, even
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within their own walls, as to whether or not people needed to wear masks at a vp event, whether the president was going to wear one next week. they're starting to get a feeling for the messaging. the white house says part of that is how quickly evolving this virus is and how rapidly changing the scenario on the ground has been lately. >> the push, clearly, julie, it's hard to get vaccinated. again, besides the urgency, the other thing i took away from this press conference today was, okay, they've decided they have been to pull out all the tools in their arsenal that they possibly can. >> i think that's right. they have been trying for weeks to find messages, to find gimmicks, in some cases to find celebrities who can go out there and convince this group of people who are stubbornly unvaccinated to start to move. and really none of those numbers have budged in a significant way. now the white house is taking this step. i think in some ways they had
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hoped to avoid it. the biden white house is very conscious of not wanting to be seen as pushing definitive mandates. they're not even trying to use that word. they're calling these, you know, these programs other things, you have to attest you're vaccinated or trying to avoid the idea of a mandate although essentially that is what it is, it's a mandate for a vaccine, and if you're not vaccinated you have to take other steps. they're trying to pull every lever, because as biden has said, as public health officials have said, there's only one way out of this pandemic and that is to increase the vaccination rate and until this happens, we're going to be bouncing back and forth between new mask guidance, new guidance on how close we can interact with each other. so biden is just trying to make that part of the message that vaccinations are the only way out i think the centerpiece of what you'll hear from him for weeks to come. >> he does make this clear separation, dr. gupta, which is we've got the vaccinated and we've got the unvaccinated, and
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among the unvaccinated, you know this well, are a lot of health care workers. we sat down with some of them and it was eye opening what they had to say. >> we don't know what the long term side effects are. >> it hasn't proven to be effective. >> the cdc and other health experts say it's more than 90% effective. >> they do say that. >> i'm not going to jump on the bandwagon when it hasn't been tested. >> it has been tested, though. >> if you look at the normal year span of how long something is tested, it's usually 12 to 14 years before it comes to humans. >> the question, i guess, dr. gupta, how many of i think joe biden said today 90 million eligible unvaccinated americans are entrenched, how many minds can be changed, if thousands of even health care workers are still saying no, are mandates
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the only answer? i mean, the frustration level that i hear is growing with people who run vaccinated. >> i'm frustrated to hear people take up oxygen on national tv to say that. they should be mandated to get the vaccine or lose their job. it's as simple as that. there was a hippocratic oath that they took. i really do believe, chris, people are reachable, a segment of that 90 million is reachable. we've been trying to reach folks from factory workers to members of the military, i interact with them all the time, they have questions that are deeply rooted. we can answer them and they're willing to get the vaccine. president biden, with all due respect, in his press conference, today said that he went unmasked, when he was in philadelphia yesterday, in delaware, because he was in areas of high vaccine uptake rates in counties that had high levels of vaccine uptake.
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it turns out that's not actually what cdc guidance put out a few days prior, chris. they said areas of substantial or high transmission of the virus. so when the president is actually not aligned on the definition of what is high risk or not, it's no surprise that most of the country got confused a bit when the cdc put out that messaging. so it's really important, and i thought the president did a great job of this, to have a clear definition of success. low hospitalizations and deaths. we're not going to avoid case transmission. that's just not going to be a thing. we need to get used to covid being endemic in places like, say, seattle where i'm at, or l.a. county. low hospitalization levels due to covid overall in the county, even if cases are rising, that will be the reality i think we'll have to get comfortable with as we proceed toward some type of normalcy. we need a message on hope, not on anxiety. we need a message on hope. >> and shannon, there is ongoing debate on whether one way to get vocation vaccinated are these incentives. we heard the president calling on stakes to offer a hundred
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bucks to get folks vaccinated, use those federal dollars. i've heard governors say to me, our incentives are working, i've gone to places where there are incentives and virtually nobody shows up to get vaccinated. do folks at the white house think this is one little part they're trying to get or do they really think incentives can be a major way they can get people to get vaccinated? >> well, what they're saying is there's going to be a combination of many, many things. the incentives, though, have been such a big focus of late. we finally saw them this week shifting from the carrot to the stick approach with this vaccine mandate for federal workers. i know they don't want to call it a mandate, because you can also get testing. but they're really putting the pressure on federal workers to get vaccinated or face consequences of some form. the federal government is hoping that that's going to set an example for others to follow. and you put up that list of
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companies there. a lot of those companies requiring some level of vaccination have come just in the past few weeks. it was really only a handful a couple of weeks ago. so the federal government is trying to set an example of shifting to the stick model and away from the carrot approach. it's not like the carrots are going to go away. they'll kind of still be out there. but they do believe -- and talking to someone who is close to this process, there is maybe 10, 15% of people who if you require vaccination will go out and get vaccinated. and if they can just get those people, that's a huge step. there's going to be another slice that if you offer $100, they're going to say, oh, okay, fine, i'll get vaccinated. there's going to be another group that says if you need to be vaccinated to go see a concert add madison square garden, they'll come up. they're not relying on any one tactic at this point but they are trying to pull every lever
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they can now because of this urgency around the delta variant and the numbers that they're seeing. >> so julie, you know, there obviously is pushback. let me play what one member of a government union said today about joe biden and vaccines for federal workers. here it is. there will be a lot of pushback. it's going to be an avalanche, federal law enforcement officers association president larry cosme said, warning that maefbts group's members of the at the justice department and the department of homeland security would be opposed. is there a sense how much pushback we're going to see? does it point to a possible similar reaction in private industry? >> i do think the white house is expecting some level of pushback. they put that, though, into the calculation here, and basically said, look, there's almost nothing that joe biden could say about anything at this point, but certainly the pandemic, which has become so politicized, that wouldn't get some amount of pushback. they think it's important for them to try to just bust through
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that. they think there are some people who will argue this is not fair, that this is un-american, who will ultimately be vaccinated anyway. that's their goal, more than anything else, is to have people in this country be vaccinated. and if that means that some segment of the federal workforce walks away from their jobs, i think they are comfortable with that. again, they are just at this point, as shannon said, they feel like they have to actually get more heavy-handed in their enforcement of this, actually push people toward getting these vaccines who otherwise have not been willing to do so. >> shannon pettypiece, julie pace, dr. vin gupta, thank you, appreciate you. coming up, what a democratic senator told me today about the future of america. why he thinks a three-step approach can accomplish big things for the country and its bridges and roads. we'll test out his theory. and later, what happens if you don't pass the republican loyalty test in the house? two prominent members may just find out. "the 11th hour" just getting under way on a thursday night.
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rarely can you get this kind of a consensus around something as substantial as this initiative is, to begin to rebuild the country. >> so what's your confidence level right now? >> my confidence level is very high. this process is really three steps. it's this bipartisan physical infrastructure bill, then you have a budget resolution, and then the third part is the reconciliation bill. that's ahead of us. >> a portion of my discussion earlier today with pennsylvania senator bob casey. in a few hours, the infrastructure plan is up for another procedural vote that is expected to pass. backers have yet to produce an actual test of an infrastructure bill. but as the senator points out, the proposal cleared the first of many hurdles in that rare show of bipartisanship.
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meantime senate democrats are expected to release a revised voting rights bill within days after republicans blocked a more sweeping proposal. georgia senator raphael warnock says voting protections remain a democratic priority. >> i think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. we have to work on the physical infrastructure of our country and we have to work on the infrastructure of our democracy. it is the responsibility of congress to provide baseline federal standards for voting. >> we welcome back juanita toliver, veteran political strategist for progressive candidates and causes, and michael steele, former lieutenant governor of maryland and host of "the michael steele podcast, and former head of the rnc. good to see you both. speaker pelosi and leader schumer are headed to the white house tomorrow to talk about voting rights.
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can we expect a more aggressive push from the white house on this issue and see that it and congress can indeed walk and chew gum at the same time? >> well, the fact that the senate is already taking up revised voting rights legislation is a sign that those conversations have been happening behind closed doors, chris. so i do expect a full-throated effort from the white house to support this new revised legislation because what every democratic needs to do right now is demonstrate to every voter that supported them in 2020 that they're fighting for their rights and fighting for the democracy of this country writ large. so i completely agree with senator reverend warnock that it is congress' responsibility to act on this and i do hope the white house steps up to the plate and backs it all the way. as they're talking about this revised language, the number one thing in my mind, chris, is there all of a sudden support for stopping the filibuster? what is the pathway to get this to biden's desk? i'm not looking too far ahead here, i just want to know and
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make sure because advocates are going to asking it, they're going to be asking it of the white house, of senators and members of congress. they better have an answer for that when they roll out this revised language. >> let me read you to from eugene robinson's latest column in "the washington post." he writes, hooray that we have a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure. but to make biden's pronouncement that democracy can function true, the right to vote has to be protected, and i don't see how that happens as long as the filibuster survives. a congress that can barely touch its meat isn't likely to eight its vegetables. what do you think about that, michael steele? >> my man, gene robinson, i love that turn of phrase, oh, my gosh, that's so sweet. absolutely, absolutely. yeah, he's right. where do we go with this, tell me where the lines and the points connect.
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having the idea that you've got something that you're crafting is one thing. getting it out in front of the public and then selling it and getting people behind it on infrastructure is something very different. and on voting rights, it is absolutely critical that this meets the baseline fundamental test, not just for advocates and activists out there who have been pushing the administration and states around the country to get this right, but the american people have got to trust it. they have to buy into it. and it's got to affirm that this most precious right in our constitution is safeguarded. and i don't know how you get there in this environment. republicans are hellbent, as you know, in keeping their hands off of this, they don't want to touch this issue and the way they avoid touching it is holding close to them filibuster, that threat.
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and joe manchin and kyrsten sinema are on their side on this. so you have to show me something. i just don't know what that is yet. >> one of the things that is showing bipartisanship, and we saw it with the vote, juanita, is the infrastructure bill. but we still don't have any specifics. we still don't have the language. the progressive wing in the house is pushing back, though. they argue the proposal needs to be much broader. let me play a little bit. >> we are willing to negotiate the amount of investment that goes into these priorities but we're not willing to negotiate having these priorities not be included in the legislation that passes. >> how much do you think, juanita, that progressives can and will push on this, how secure or tenuous is this bill? >> look, i think the fate of the bipartisan bill rests alongside the reconciliation package, that budget resolution. speaker pelosi has made it
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clear, she won't have a vote on the bipartisan bill without the budget resolution, and this is specifically why, she recognizes the power of the progressive caucus in the democratic house. they'll fight for this every step of the way and they could potentially sink a bipartisan bill and that's something i don't think anybody wants to see. i would not ignore these statements from the progressive caucus, if anything this should be motivation to get that budget resolution through the senate alongside this bipartisan package so that it is successful in the house and so there aren't any traps that they're going to have to deal with in terms of the reconciliation process between the two bills. >> we've got a lot more to talk about. juanita and michael have agreed to stay a little longer. coming up, as rare bipartisanship breaks out in the senate over infrastructure, there's growing division among the gop on capitol hill. we've got more on that when "the 11th hour" continues. we put dot to the test with nelson, a volunteer that puts care into everything he does.
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there is more drama tonight among house republicans. a group of conservative lawmakers is demanding the minority leader kick liz cheney and adam kinzinger out of the gop caucus. the ap reports, the effort by the hard right house freedom caucus faces uncertain prospects. house republican leaders have exhibited little interest in acting quickly against the two mavericks which could fuel a fight which could distract the party from its preferred focus
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on issues such as inflation, crime, and immigration. michael, i know you've been waiting for this, a sampling from the freedom caucus press conference today. let's listen. >> right now, as long as they're members of the republican conference, they're entitled to come to every meeting we have, hear every strategy, and you know what, they chose to leave. >> even our incompetent attending physician has -- could test these members positive for trump derangement syndrome. they're a cancer to our party and to our caucus and they must be expelled from our conference. >> a cancer to our party, michael. do you see the leadership giving cheney and kinzinger the boot? what's going to happen here? >> no, the cancer to our party was standing behind the bank of microphones, i'm sorry. i don't know what the hell these people are talking about. just go away, please. just stop it. the reality of it is, the only
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member of this particular conference that has stood up, the two members that have stood up and made it very clear, you know, this is about our country, this is about our democracy, not about some silly antics standing in front of a bank of microphones, are the two members that are currently serving, liz cheney and adam kinzinger. 147 members of my party in the house voted to overturn a national election for the presidency of the united states. and these -- >> there's no signs, as you know, michael, that they're going away. >> no. >> and we saw it today, the house republicans having this public temper tantrum because there's now a house mask requirement so they all go marching in without their masks, right? juanita, as you look at this, i know you've been in politics a while on the other side of it, i don't know, maybe this is a smart strategy for them.
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>> this is pathetic. all this is, you know, it's going to juice the donations to their coffers. this isn't about the health of the people they serve. this is about the health of the people they work with in the friggin' capitol. they don't give a damn. how do i maximize the pr spectacle and how do i maximize the cash, when i send out the an email, saying, look what i did today. folks at home will buy this filth and they'll pay for it. a lot of these folks will get reelected. but at the end of the day, this is the harm, this is the cancer, this is the virus in our body politic that we have to eradicate, we have to fight against. because it doesn't get better from here. >> it's part of the reason why the house democrats are investigating january 6th, right? >> yes.
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>> and now we hear, juanita, they're optimistic about securing testimony from former trump officials. the way politico put it today, its members scored a key win thanks to a legal opinion from president joe biden's justice department. that means the likelihood of any resistance from the committee's work from former trump employees or current employees is not an impediment, that's from representative bennie thompson. so the celebrity committee is still in its early stages. but who makes sense to you, juanita, as witnesses? what do committee members have to be cautious of? >> i feel like the people who make the most sense are the people close to trump on the day of the insurrection. his chief of staff. anyone who was in contact with him at the rally, at the white house. those are the people who should be front and center. i do think the committee should be cautious how much of a disruption, if these people do decide to show up and testify, that they'll create.
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but also the reality that even though they don't have the protection of the doj like they did when trump was in office, they will still find any and every way to wiggle out of providing testimony before appearing before this committee. so pin your hopes on getting these individuals in there but instead be prepared for when they don't show up. also i think this is another situation where you're going to have potential republicans who are currently serving in congress brought in, whether that's mccarthy, whether that's jim jordan. anybody who we know has been on the record saying they spoke to trump that day, they should also be expected to testify. and i appreciate bennie thompson saying, oh, we're not going for any written statements or compelling them to appear, we're going straight to subpoenas here because we know the doj has our back on this. >> leader mccarthy, i think we've got this sound for you, michael, was asked about potentially being subpoenaed. here is what he said. >> reporter: is it your
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position, the conference's position, to fight any subpoenas that may be issued against republican members including yourself? >> i think if they had, uh, the five members that, uh, we, the republicans, want to put on there, we would gladly go. but this is going to be the dccc. we see it as a sham, it's not serious. >> i get that's a no, michael? >> kevin, kevin, kevin. kevin. if you had taken this seriously and actually added five reputable republicans, and there are those who serve in that body, at least two of them are currently on the committee, if you had taken it seriously, you would probably have a different posture, but you didn't. kevin is just doing what kevin does here. you know, i think juanita is exactly right, democrats don't need to put a lot of hope in these guys showing up. but here is the rub. i would enforce any subpoena that's issued by that committee because they have the authority
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of law enforcement behind them. if you think, "i'm a member of congress," no. you have the governor of texas telling democrats right now, the prep governor of texas saying, when y'all come back from washington, i'm going to have you arrested and hauled into the house and senate chambers to vote. guess what? turnabout is fair play, baby. guess what, you're going to have a democratic chairman that have committee enforcing those subpoenas and those republican members, the sergeant of arms will haul your behind in front of them, you can invoke the fifth, but you'll be sitting in that chair. >> i'm going to mark this down, 11:30 p.m. here on the east coast. michael steel and juanita toliver came to play. thank you both, appreciate you. the number of daily covid cases in florida is soaring. and a near record rate. yet the governor there continues
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and moisturizers for healthy and hydrated men, skin, relax your body and mind, shower with new dove men. do you want to know how we put this virus behind us? i'll tell you how. we need to get more people vaccinated. the pictures of hospitals in several states overloaded with patients is unnecessary, avoidable, and tragic. >> among the states seeing the biggest covid surges is florida. today the state reported 17,589 new cases for wednesday. it is the fourth biggest single day jump since the pandemic started. the state's governor is refusing to impose any new restrictions. but as politico reports, local officials across florida are bucking governor ron desantis and his antimandate coronavirus strategy. they're imposing vaccine and mask requirements for government
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workers and even declaring states of emergency. for more we welcome to the broadcast the chief medical officer at the boca raton regional hospital. thank you so much for being with us, doctor. these numbers, in a single month your state went from about 1,300 cases a day to now more than 17,000. "the miami herald" did the math. that's a 1241% increase. what is it like on the ground there? >> first of all, thank you for having me. the situation in florida is fairly dire. we've seen a significant uptick in our number of patients who are admitted to the hospital with covid. just to give you a sense of it, six weeks ago in south baptist health in florida, our ten hospitals, we had 70 patients
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hospitalized. now we're seeing about 600 patients in the hospital and suffering from covid-19. within my own hospital that number went from five to 70 over a six-week period. i know folks are skeptical when they hear statistics in the newspapers and on tv. this is happening. this is happening on the ground. people are getting this infection way faster than they did before. unfortunately the amount of people ending up in our ers is significantly higher, ending up in our hospital wards are higher, and in our icus, significantly higher. so it is concerning, very concerning. >> it is being felt all around your state. 12 florida hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages to the federal government. there's a large hospital system in jacksonville that said its hospitals are at maximum capacity. in bravard county, a couple of hospitals began setting up treatment tents in emergency
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rooms. how worried are you about where this is going, and frankly, hospitals in florida's ability to handle it? >> thus far we've been able to manage the surge. keeping in perspective, the biggest surge that we had was last summer around the same time, in july, where compared to the 600 that we have now, we have a little over 850 patients that were within our hospitals. that said, the rate of rise and the rate of increase in the number of patients getting the infection and getting admitted to the hospital is the most concerning part. within a couple of weeks, these numbers could match last summer and even exceed them. so there's no doubt we need some mitigation strategies. we need to limit the spread of this infection. and by far, the best way we have to do that is vaccination. we need to encourage more and more folks to get vaccinated, not to be reluctant to go get it. the issues with the vaccine, it's not any longer an access issue, it's an issue of persuasion. persuading the people that have yet to get vaccinated to go get
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it. there's free rides to vaccine sites. there's free vaccinations throughout the country. that's what we really need to push throughout our community, is getting more and more people vaccinated, because honestly, the vast majority of the patients that are in my hospital today with covid-19 are unvaccinated. most of these admissions into the hospital could have been prevented if we had just gotten this vaccine earlier. it's quite disheartening to talk to folks after they get the infection and then they tell you, i want the vaccine. and you have to tell them it's too late. you ask them why they didn't get the vaccine and they tell you, i didn't want to try anything experimental. but the minute they get admitted to the hospital, they're willing to try some of the emergency use authorization drugs like remdesivir or some of the other drugs we're using that are under the same eua that the vaccine is. i wish folks would take a better look at this, the ones resisting the vaccine, really study it and know that the benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh the
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risks. and we need everybody to step up and get vaccinated. >> you're obviously a man of science and you find yourself caught in the middle of a political argument. one of the things we've heard from your governor is floridians should be free to choose, it should be their choice, how they govern their affairs, how they take care of themselves and their families. he says he does not want them consigned to live in a faustian dystopia where we're governed by the whims of bureaucratic authorities. when you hear things like that but you're seeing what you're seeing in your hospital, what even goes through your mind? >> what i know is that the mitigation measures that we took last year with mask wearing and social distancing, they worked. they bent the curve. what we're seeing now is that the vaccines work. so, you know, politics aside, i just want to urge everybody to leave that out and just take a look at your health and protect yourself.
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masking does -- is not perfect, but it is a very effective way to limit the spread of the infection. so regardless of mandates or otherwise, wear a mask when you're in an indoor space, whether you're vaccinated or not, because we're dealing with something very different with this delta variant than what we dealt with last year. this is not the same thing. we need to mask up. we need to avoid crowds again. and we need to go back to limiting exposure to large venues of people. and at the same time, get vaccinated. yes, you can still catch and spread the virus when you're vaccinated. but i'll tell you, nobody in my icu today, in my hospital, is vaccinated. everybody in my icu is unvaccinated. all that aside, get the vaccine, wear your mask, socially distance. we are in desperate need of folks to work with us and the community to help us and to follow these basic mitigation measures. >> listen up, folks. dr. fahmy, thank you so much, good luck to you as you continue
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this tight. coming up, the inspiring story of an olympic couple who has powered through adversity, when "the 11th hour" continues. . protect it with bayer aspirin. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
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can your internet do that? gold medal favorite bmx racer, it's her third trip to the olympic games but this time she's racing for more than herself. our report tonight from nbc correspondent kate snow. >> reporter: bmx racing is a very individual sport. but she's not just riding for herself. >> it feels like the ultimate teamwork. >> reporter: she met sam. >> that got her attention. >> reporter: at the london games, sam won a silver. they got engaged and at the next olympics his and her silver
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medals. >> i couldn't let him be the only one. >> reporter: four weeks after rio, sam was training when he flew off his bike and landed on his head. >> i remember when i sort of came to on the ground and then the next thought, realizing that i couldn't feel my legs. >> reporter: when elise got to the hospital, he begged her not to marry him. >> i was paralyzed from the neck down, laying in the hospital bed. all i could see was this beautiful girl i loved and had just come off the high. er career. >> reporter: you wanted her to be able to keep pursuing her dream? >> yeah. >> reporter: but elise wasn't hearing it. she stopped training to care for sam. this is tough stuff you guys went through. >> yeah. every day it's a motivation for me, knowing what we've done and accomplished toyota, without anyone watching. that's the stuff that makes you tough. >> drive, drive, drive! >> reporter: it was only match for sam to become elise's coach
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and with that new role, he found new purpose. do you enjoy it? >> i do, yes. >> reporter: he still has the determination of an olympian. in 2017 he found the strength to walk down the aisle at their wedding. >> i wanted to just show her that i was going to work for her. >> reporter: they both think what they've been through has only made elise a stronger competitor. >> i think it makes her invincible, to be honest. >> reporter: it's like you're racing for both of you. >> it's 100% racing for both of us. >> reporter: together, an incredible team. kate snow, nbc news, chula vista, california. >> the definition of champion. coming up, the joyous family celebration for one team usa's newest and history-making gold medallist. a place where everyone lives life well-protected.
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the last thing before we go tonight, let's celebrate usa olympian suni lee, now the women's gymnastics all around champion. the first hmong-american to win at the olympics. her dad has supported gymnastics from the very beginning, when he couldn't afford a balance beam for sunni, he built her a homemade version in the backyard. that wouldn't be missed ill there today. that is our broadcast for this thursday night, with our thanks for being with us, on behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of nbc news, goodnight. goodnight. >> rachel is on a much deserved vacation, this was the announcement in the newspaper two days after christmas in 1901. under an all caps headline,


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