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CDC Reports Daily Pace Of People Getting First COVID Shot Highest It Has Been In Three Weeks; Reports Indicate GOP Rep. Mo Brooks Was Wearing Body Armor At Trump's January 6 Rally; Senate Votes To Begin Debate On Infrastructure Bill, 17 Republicans Join Dems After Weeks Of Negotiations; Simone Biles Withdraws From Second Event At Tokyo Games; Hospitals Filling Up In Arkansas With Unvaccinated Adults And Children. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 28, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It needs time to allow for continued testing and contract tracing among the Nationals, and this is by the way, the second outbreak within the team this year. The first was in April.

Tonight's game has been rescheduled, they hope for tomorrow.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. There is no shortage of important COVID news tonight. There's also more than a hint of whiplash from all of it.

People are understandably frustrated at the rise of the delta variant, which has now pushed the seven-day running average of new cases above the 60,000 per day mark and it could get worse. Just the other night in this program, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former C.D.C. Director warned that cases could hit 200,000 a day in the next several weeks if we follow a similar trajectory as the United Kingdom.

The spike has prompted local, state, and now the Federal government to begin re-imposing mask mandates and more big companies to mandate vaccinations for their workers. Google, Netflix, and Facebook become the latest today.

As for the public sector, President Biden is now telling Federal agencies to require masking inside buildings in areas with what they are calling substantial or high COVID-19 transmission including Washington, D.C. The Pentagon now telling all military and civilian personnel in high risk areas to mask up regardless of vaccination status.

New York's governor ordering vaccinations or regular testing for state employees. At the same time, even as some localities and their states are amping up restrictions, many red state governors are resisting any calls to re-mask, more whiplash. More anger from parents and School Boards who weigh mask mandates for the return to classes.

Here's how that played out yesterday in Broward County, Florida. Protesters outside a School Board meeting burning masks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to cast off this symbol of tyranny, this symbol of child abuse. We will not stand for it anymore.


COOPER: A symbol of tyranny and child abuse. In Washington meantime, more political posturing on the subject. Today, according to CNN's Daniella Diaz, Democratic Congressman Jared Huffman and Republican Byron Donalds got into a shouting match just off the House floor. Congressman Huffman who was wearing a mask calling Congressman Donalds who wasn't, selfish. Congressman Donalds replying, "Don't be worried about me. Mind your business."

Another Republican member today, when offered a mask threw it on the floor, reflecting her caucus's resistance to the mask mandate recently imposed by the Capitol physician and on right-wing media, vaccine mandates are now being painted as cause for rebellion.


DAVID BRODY, HOST, "THE WATER COOLER": Patrick Henry once famously said, "Give me liberty or give me death," when standing up to British rule. Well, in this modern day America, we are moving toward government bondage yet again. The unvaccinated in this country will now be considered second class citizens, in the workplace, and in society wherever they go. It's playing out before our eyes.


COOPER: That guy. That sentiment is having an effect. According to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, about 46 percent of Republicans who most trust far right news such as what you just saw, said they will refuse to get vaccinated. That's up from 31 percent who said the same in March.

At the same time, new C.D.C. data shows the daily pace of people getting their first COVID shot is now the highest it's been in three weeks, which still leaves barely half the country fully vaccinated and still leaves everyone who has done the right thing frustrated over things like what the upcoming school year will look like or how to protect people who cannot get vaccinated like children, or more generally frustration of being asked to bear the burden of people who haven't made the same sacrifices, whether it's putting on a mask or rolling up their sleeves.

Which brings us to a truly extraordinary part of the story that sadly sign of the times having to do with vaccine reluctance, wrapped in horrible irony about how politics have overtaken public health.

Listen to Dr. Priscilla Frase, who will be joining us in a moment talking in a hospital produced video about what she is hearing from other medical professionals in Missouri, which is a major COVID hotspot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PRISCILLA FRASE, HEALTHCARE HOSPITALIST AND CHIEF MEDICAL INFORMATION OFFICER, OZARKS MEDICAL CENTER: I work closely with our pharmacists who are leading our vaccine efforts through our organization, and one of them told me the other day that they've had several people come in to get vaccinated, who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say please, please, please don't let anybody know that I got this vaccine.

I don't want my friends to know, but I don't want to get COVID. I want to get the vaccine.


COOPER: Dr. Frase joins us now. Dr. Frase, I mean, it is really astonishing that people are disguising themselves to get the vaccine because they are afraid of blowback from people, from their friends. What more are they saying about why they want to get the vaccine in secret? And how are they being accommodated?

FRASE: Really, a lot of them have had -- the few that I've been able to personally talk to, they've had some experience that sort of changed their mind from the viewpoint of those in their friendship circles or their work circles. And they came to their own decision that they wanted to get a vaccine.

They did their own research on it and they talked to people and made the decisions themselves. But even though they were able to make that decision themselves, they didn't want to have to deal with the peer pressure or the outburst from other people about them, quote, "giving in to everything."


FRASE: They made a decision for themselves, and they wanted it just to be for themselves. And we worked with people that come in that way, and people can call and we try to accommodate what we can through our drive-thru window, through walking out to their car, anything that we can do to get people in a place that they're comfortable receiving the vaccine.

COOPER: Well, that's great if you're able to or willing to at least try to accommodate them going out to them in their car. Have more people come in to get the vaccinations since you started doing it that way? Or would you recommend other hospitals, pharmacies to do that, if they have the resources?

FRASE: You know, we have some people that call about it, a few of them, sometimes a couple in a day, it's not a large number, but every single person that we can reach who wants to get vaccinated, and we can provide that for them, that's a win, and we take every win that we can get.

COOPER: What are some of the misinformation that people have told you about both COVID and the vaccine? And how do you counter bad information?

FRASE: You know, part of how I do with countering it is, I've become educated on what they're hearing. I was never into social media before COVID hit. And last year, I started following just to see what people were saying, and particularly when the vaccine came out.

And a lot of times, I'll trace back to comments where people post things and read the articles that people are using, and then I'll even do some of the research to see the articles that are referenced within those posts on social media get through and show people how things were distorted to meet a certain point of view.

I also just give people an open space where they can ask questions the way they want to, and I give them an honest answer. And sometimes that honest answer is I can't 100 percent give you assurance, but this is the data that we have.

The data is very good in favor of these vaccines to keep people safe, to minimize hospitalizations, to minimize death, and I just do whatever I can to address people's concerns in an honest way.

COOPER: I understand you have 114-bed facility, 28 beds are occupied with COVID patients right now. I understand that's the -- correct me, if I'm wrong, that's the most since the start of the pandemic. And I know -- I think your patients range in age from 25 to 91. From a medical perspective, how is the delta variant affecting the patients differently? Or is it?

FRASE: Let me first say that those numbers were from earlier today. As of within the last hour, we're up to 33 patients admitted to the hospital, and I expect that it will be even more tomorrow. The patients that are coming in are generally younger than what we saw before. It's more people requiring a lot more oxygen a lot quicker, they're getting sicker quicker.

They are people -- more people who have no comorbid conditions coming in, the majority of the people that we've admitted have not been vaccinated. And it's an emotional toll for the staff caring for them. We're seeing things that we -- it is worse than what it was the first surges for us.

And the biggest thing that I think has been shocking for us is back in the fall and the winter, it took us about four months to get to our peak admitted patients which was around 22, and it has taken us 30 days to exceed that and be up to 33 today.

COOPER: Wow. Dr. Frase, I appreciate what you're doing. Thank you so much.

FRASE: Thank you.

COOPER: Let's get some more perspective from CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, I mean, have you heard stuff like that before people going for the vaccine, but only they can do it without anyone else knowing? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I have not

heard that, and you know, I've been at this a long time, Anderson. We did a whole documentary about vaccine hesitancy and clearly, it has existed for, you know, even before this pandemic, but the idea that you know the right thing to do, you recognize the triumph of science, you realize it can save your life, get your life back to normal and you still feel ostracized perhaps by going and doing this. It is really befuddling.

The one thing Dr. Frase said there near the end was that ultimately, it's still a win because these people are getting -- you know, those people are still getting vaccinated. That's extraordinary, and I think really tells the story of what's happening here.

COOPER: More and more, we are seeing, you know, large companies like Google step in to fill the void left by the government when it comes to mandating vaccinations for their employees. Do you think it's a good idea? I mean, and will that move the needle for companies saying, you know what, all our employees have to do it?

GUPTA: I think we're at that point now, Anderson, I mean, you know, the thing is that, I have, again, been reporting on this stuff for a long time and there are mandates that already exist, right? All 50 states have mandates for childhood vaccines, for example, different vaccines, perhaps some have exemptions, different types of exemptions. If those mandates already exists, universities have mandates for vaccines.


GUPTA: So, this isn't a new concept overall. But it's interesting, just you know, going back to what Dr. Frase said, if there are mandates, then maybe it takes the pressure off people who say, you know, they're embarrassed to get one or whatever, they have to get one now, they want to get it, but they don't want people to know about it. But now because the company is enforcing it, they'll go ahead and get it.

I think we're at that point, because you know, the numbers have gone up fivefold over the last month, hospitalizations, 35 percent; deaths, 22 percent. We're having the same conversations now, Anderson that you and I had through so many Town Halls throughout last year, it feels very familiar again.

COOPER: Yes, Pfizer released new data from a study today, which shows protection holds up for at least six months, although it may start to wane slightly towards the end of that time. The company also said their data shows a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, quote, "strongly boost protection against the delta variant."

I am wondering, what you make it that? I mean, would you get a third? I mean, should people get a third shot?

GUPTA: I'm not running out and getting a third shot right now. Because, you know, as we've been saying, the vaccines work really well in their current iteration. They really do. I mean, you know, they -- if you start to see that the vaccine effectiveness is truly waning, maybe as you said, maybe there's some evidence, but you know, people who get the vaccine do not get severely ill.

I mean, two to three percent, perhaps. You know, you have really good protection. I don't know that boosting up, you know, five-fold or 10- fold the antibodies against something that already works really well makes a big difference. You know, maybe those doses could be used elsewhere around the world and have better return on our value.

But at some point, if it's clear that the immunity is waning, then sure, that might be an option. I will point out that people who got natural immunity from SARS, I'm talking back in 2003, and Anderson, you fast forward to 2020, seventeen years later, and they still had evidence of immunity. So immunity can last a long time.

COOPER: Pfizer also said today, they're going to apply for F.D.A. authorization for their booster. We still haven't seen full approval for the original three vaccines. Why haven't they been approved by now?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. I mean, it should be coming soon. I mean, you know, typically, it's a longer process with the EUA, with the Emergency Use Authorization. There's about three months' worth of data that the F.D.A. wanted to look at. Here, it is about six months' worth of data.

So you know, if these were authorized in December, six months of data has now been accrued for Pfizer, and they've applied for the EUA, I'm sorry, applied for the approval, I should say. But they've got to look at all sorts of things.

They look at the safety data and all that sort of stuff, again, really more diligently, although it has really held up with a billion doses given around the world, but also things like manufacturing, marketing. You know, when something has full licensure, you may see ads, even on television or magazines, things like that.

COOPER: Let me just ask you about masking. There's a lot of confusion, obviously, about the updated C.D.C. guidance on masking. The head of the C.D.C. said today we should be seeing new data to support their guidance soon. It is just basically -- I mean, you're vaccinated, you are a doctor. Would you start to wear masks again?

I mean, I've started walking around wearing a mask a lot more now recently, even though I live in New York, which I guess is an okay. You know, it's not a huge flare up area. But am I crazy?

GUPTA: No, I have been wearing -- I mean, I've been wearing masks for, you know, my whole professional career as a doctor in hospitals and stuff. But yes, still, when I go into, you know, big public sort of settings, you know, with lots of people where I live, you know, just under 40 percent of the population is vaccinated and viral spread has been substantial or high.

Where you live, by the way in New York viral spread has been substantial, as well. So, under the new C.D.C. guidelines, they would recommend that you going into an indoor public place should wear a mask even though you are vaccinated.

So yes, I think that that's going to be something that two thirds of the country sort of fit into this category. As we go into the fall and winter, more of those yellow areas will probably turn orange because that's the nature of the virus. It spreads more in that weather.

One thing I want to be clear on though, Anderson, and I think it is a point you're making is that you and I as vaccinated people, I think there's data that shows that we may carry enough virus if we get infected to potentially infect someone else.

But the real reason the map is orange and red is because of unvaccinated people spreading to unvaccinated people. That's the problem still. That is the problem.

This other issue with vaccinated people spreading is an issue, but a much smaller issue overall, in terms of addressing the major countrywide problem.

COOPER: You know, I didn't think New York is bad because we showed that map, I think last night and it looked yellow in New York, but I guess New York City now that I look closely, it looks like it's sort of it is actually in the red. Oh well.

GUPTA: Right. Yes. I mean, and it goes -- I mean, that's the other thing. Are we going to ask people to like look at this, like I look at a weather map and determine like they take an umbrella? Should they take a mask every day? Perhaps. Maybe that's the world in which we're going to be living for a period of time. But you know what we'll see.


COOPER: Okay, I'm told it's not red. It's substantial. Just below red. Sanjay, thanks very much, in New York City we're talking about.

Still to come tonight, breaking news regarding the day of the Capitol riot, we'll be joined by the author of a new report on a Congressman who was at the rally with the former President that day, Mo Brooks. There he is making a speech. What he says, Alabama's Mo Brooks is now admitting about what he did to protect himself before the riot even began. I'll talk to him about that.

And later, infrastructure week may no longer be a punch line. A report on a major breakthrough and vote when we continue.


COOPER: There is breaking news now, a day after four police officers who put their bodies on the line during the Capitol riot testified about the sacrifices they made, we are learning more about one of the Republican actors that day, Alabama's Mo Brooks who is spoke at the former President's rally on the morning of January 6.

Specifically, a new report from "Slate" Magazine about what he was wearing and why when he said this just a short time before rioters attacked the Capitol and those officers. [20:20:12]


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American Patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.


COOPER: I am joined now by "Slate's," Jim Newell with the details. So, I want to read something from your reporting that congressman Brooks told you and I'm quoting, you said -- he says, "'I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days,' he said, 'and as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo, instead, I slept on the floor of my office.

And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor. That's why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,' he told me with a grin. 'To cover up the body armor.' So this is the guy who, as we just played, told the crowd that ended up attacking the Capitol this time to, quote, "start taking down names and kicking ass."

So concerned with his own safety, he slept in his office and wore body armor. Did he say who -- where he had gotten this information? And who allegedly he was told was a threat?

JIM NEWELL, SENIOR POLITICS WRITER, "SLATE" MAGAZINE: No, unfortunately, he didn't say any of that. He wouldn't go into detail about that. It is interesting, though, it raises, you know, a few questions. That's the main one, what did he hear? And also, you know, he claims that he wasn't trying to foment any violence that day.

But you know, if he knew that the situation was so volatile, that he was putting on body armor, and he wasn't even staying in his condo, then why was he using such aggressive metaphor on what was already a powder keg?

COOPER: And I guess, it could be interpreted, and of course, you know, a lot of these guys love to speak in ways that can be interpreted in multiple memes and send messages to people, but it can be interpreted that, you know, someone on the right told him that there's going to be trouble and we're going to do something at the Capitol, or he was told that there was going to be trouble from the left and that's why he was wearing body armor. There's no real clarity on that, is there?

NEWELL: No, there's no clarity in that. And, you know, I'll try to follow up with him in the coming days to see if he says anything more. He did say this in the context of one of the things that this new Select Committee should be looking at is Intelligence failures or failures for people to act on Intelligence failures.

So you know, maybe he got it from an official source, or maybe it was just, you know, someone in the right-wing community, some of these communities that were planning this march, gave him a tip off, but then, you know, why didn't he -- you know, give warnings to his fellow lawmakers? Why didn't he maybe tone down his rhetoric a little bit? I think it's just something that, you know, the Select Committee could

look at, and it just -- it raises another question.

COOPER: Yes. And interesting that we're hearing about this, you know, for the first time now.

NEWELL: Yes, I mean, it's very interesting. I mean, I guess this shows why you need the Select Committee, you know. You think that maybe you've heard everything so far and there is nothing new to collect. And then you hear a little detail like this, which, you know, I'm not going to say it's the -- you know, the most earth shattering detail of the day --

COOPER: It's interesting.

NEWELL: Yes, I had no idea that he was that concerned. I mean, you know, not just the body armor, but not even staying in his condo wanting to be to be completely out of sight.

COOPER: Jim Newell, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.

The news coming today after not only that gripping testimony we mentioned, but Brooks learning the Justice Department would not defend him in a civil lawsuit concerning the attack brought by -- or the lawsuit brought by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. Brooks wanted protection saying he was acting in an official capacity when he spoke at that rally, talking about kicking ass and taking names, before the attack.

The Justice Department not only declined, it said this referring to the claims against him, "Inciting or conspiring to foment a violent attack on the United States Congress is not within the scope of employment of a Representative or any Federal employee."

Perspective now from Norm Eisen, former counsel to House Democrats during the former President's first impeachment and a CNN legal analyst. Ambassador Eisen, what do you make the fact that Congressman Brooks, I don't know, admitted or says he was wearing body armor while also provoking the crowd on January 6, and revving them up and apparently warned about the quote "risks" of those few days or was warned.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, thanks for having me back. The new revelations that Congressman Brooks was so alarmed that he donned body armor and then heavy baggy clothes to cover it up, illustrates just why the Department of Justice is refusing to immunize him, to defend him in this lawsuit against him for inciting insurrection.

It is more evidence that he knew the dangers of the situation, and he swore an oath, Anderson, to defend and protect the United States. Instead, what he did was, he incited an insurrection against his own government. He used those fighting words we're going to -- "Today is the day American Patriots are going to take names and kick ass."

[20:25:13] EISEN: It is like he pulled the pin on the grenade and threw that

grenade, this mob of insurrectionists down Pennsylvania Avenue. So, more evidence of his bad, bad intent. And that's why D.O.J. doesn't want anything to do with this.

COOPER: Well, also, I mean, you know, to incite a crowd like that, and then, you know, scuttle off with, you know, your body armor. And, you know, it's just so irresponsible. The decision from the Department of Justice to reject immunity from Brooks, can you explain what that means, really?

I mean, what -- they're saying he was not in an official capacity because incitement is not part of his job description or shouldn't be.

EISEN: That's exactly right, Anderson. The law in the United States is that if a Federal employee commits injury or harm to someone in the scope of their duties while they're doing their job, then the United States will immunize. They actually -- he would be removed from the lawsuit under the statute, the Westfall Act, and the United States would be replaced.

But essentially what the D.O.J. said was two things. First, this was not an official act. It was more in the nature of a political rally, and Congress members are not immunized for political activity. And then number two, how can a Member of Congress ever have as a part of their duties inciting a mob to attack the government? It was the opposite of his duty.

So D.O.J. has said, hey, we're not covering you. And that quote you put up was so important, because the end of it referring to any Federal employees, I think that's a hint that it's not just Brooks who they are turning their back on, it is President Trump in his troubles coming ahead.

COOPER: Interesting. House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said that subpoenas will be issued soon. What kind of power does the committee have to actually get people to talk?

I mean, obviously, you know, as you know well, there was a two-year legal battle just to get the former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about the Russia investigation.

EISEN: Indeed, Anderson, when I was impeachment co-counsel, I helped draft that McGahn subpoena. The House does have the power to compel testimony. When you and I were kids, there was a TV show about the Mounties, the Canadian Mounties, and the motto was they always get there man, we will update that: They always get their man or woman. The same thing with the House of Representatives, but it can be delayed through court proceedings.

Here, I think it's going to move faster because D.O.J. is not going to fight it.

COOPER: Norm Eisen, appreciate it. Thanks.

We should mention we invited Congressman Brooks on the program through his office, he declined.

Next, more breaking news. The bipartisan infrastructure bill clears its first big hurdle. We will bring you the latest on what's in it and the hard work remaining before anyone can claim any kind of victory.



COOPER: Well just as Rome wasn't built in a day, it's been a long time coming for new legislation to rebuild the country. Tonight, the Senate voted to begin debate on a bipartisan infrastructure bill providing for about $550 billion in new spending on the power grid, railroad, broadband, internet, bridges, buses and more.

Joining us now, CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol and Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

So, Ryan, well, this vote is an important hurdle to clear this bill is still far from the finish line. What happens next? And what are some of the key aspects?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you said it very well Anderson. There's -- this bill is a long way to go before it actually becomes law. In fact, it has a long way to go just to get out of the Senate. This was just a procedural vote today, it did enjoy the support of 17 Republicans and every single Democrat. So that's significant. But there's still an amendment process that they need to go through, which could complicate things.

And then once it leaves the Senate, and there is a lot of confidence that the Senate will ultimately pass the bill and then needs to go to the House. And there are many progressive members of the House that are concerned that this bill just doesn't do enough.

And they want to guarantee that that much bigger reconciliation package that $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill comes along with this bipartisan infrastructure package. The Senate is beginning the process of working on that as well. But it just goes to show that there are so many things that have to happen before either of those two things become law.

COOPER: And Kaitlan, what's the White House plan to help usher the bill through the Senate and the House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're just thrilled really that they got to this point, because the talks had been on the brink so many times of victory and of defeat, it seemed like over the last several days. So this test vote today is a big breakthrough for the White House.

And they feel more confident that they are on the way to this path to actually getting this passed. But there are a lot of hurdles still yet to come with this. And the White House is well aware of that that they even to get into the Senate is going to be kind of a delicate dance. And so, they are focusing on that going forward the question of whether or not as you noted, it gets to the House with we -- have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying today she does plan on changing it, what changes she makes, how do Senate Republicans react to that is something that of course the White House knows is going to be just the next challenge for them to work on.

But they feel pretty good Anderson that they've even gotten to this point given of course, so many presidents in the past have wanted to get an infrastructure bill passed and President Biden today got a little bit closer than a lot of his predecessors out.

COOPER: Ryan, one of the key negotiators of the bill. Arizona's Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema said today she does not support the other three and a half trillion dollar infrastructure bill, how much does that complicate things?

NOBLES: Well, it certainly had a lot of people up here nervous on the Democratic side of things when they saw Sinema come out and make such a bold statement, particularly on such an important day. And it could complicate things. Now Sinema did make it clear that she's going to vote for the budget resolution, which is the framework to begin the negotiations around that budget package, but that she's uncomfortable with that price tag of $3.5 trillion.

And those House progressives that we talked about before a reacted strongly to Sinema making that statement saying that they are much more concerned about that reconciliation package and perhaps they will vote for the bipartisan deal as a result.

But everybody up here believes that this is just part of the long term negotiating process that this is Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin just finding a way to get what they want in this package and ultimately when push comes to shove, they'll vote for it. But again, it goes back to that point we made before. This is a long process and they have a long way to go before it becomes a reality.


COOPER: Yes. Ryan Nobles, Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

Still to come, Simone Biles' future at the Tokyo games uncertain after she drops out of a second gymnastics competition. Will speak to two people, including Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno, who understood -- who understand the immense mental health burden that comes with pursuing the gold.


COOPER: Today, USA Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from a second event the individual all around competition. USA Gymnastics said in a statement, Biles will be evaluated daily to determine whether she'll participate in future events at the Tokyo games.

On Tuesday after withdrawing from the women's team gymnastics finals, she said it was a mental health issue that led to her dropping out. Quote, I didn't want to do something silly out there and get injured. The risks the mental health athletes competing at such a high levels the subject of a documentary on HBO last year called "Weight of Gold."

One of the film's executive producers 23-time gold medalist, Michael Phelps joins us -- joined us at that time to share his own struggles with mental health issues. Take a look.


MICHAEL PHELPS, WINNER OF 28 OLYMPIC MEDALS: I mean, I think the biggest thing I can say is you're not alone. You know, I've felt after, you know, talking to some of these athletes and seeing, you know, firsthand in 2016 how many other athletes were struggling? That was an eye opener for me. But then I realized that I wasn't alone and we could all do something together and help out so many others.


And, you know, I think just talking about what you're going through, you know, for me, it's literally been a game changer, a life changer.


COOPER: And tonight, we're proud the film's director could join us, Brett Rapkin. Also Apolo Ohno, eight-time Olympic medalist, including two for gold in short track speedskating who also participated in the film.

Apolo, obviously, there's been a lot of reaction to Simone Biles withdrawing, Michael Phelps says it broke his heart to see the anguish she was going through. What do you think when you heard about?

APOLO OHNO, EIGHT-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: Well, I think that it's very challenging to decipher what actually happens between someone's two years, as we know, the mind is the greatest asset, or sometimes it's the world's strongest prison. So, you know, at first glance, you know, you see someone who is the ultimate performer at the highest echelons of athletic achievement. And we often like to portray them as invincible and all the ideals that we typically want to see from a superhero figure.

When we forget that they're human, we forget that they have bad days. And we also forget that we always support athletes when they win, and when they're champion. And when we see them on the stage, they represent all the things that we wish we can we want or we would like to be. And we should also support them when they need it most.

And so, I think we're in an era where we're starting to redefine what strength and vulnerability and empathy and mindset actually mean.

COOPER: Apolo, do you see a big change from when you were competing at the Olympics in terms of sort of the way whether it's people in sports or outside view, mental health issues, emotional issues?

OHNO: Absolutely. I think, you know, with the causes, and with the organizations and with superstars around the world, being vulnerable, showcasing their human side of who they are, and also the organizations and the teams actually starting to take them seriously. And realize that injury doesn't always just call them come in the form of an ankle sprain or a broken leg. But it's also internally, at the same time.

COOPER: Brett, you know, Apolo talks about, you know, a balance. For a lot of athletes, particularly going for the Olympics, there's not a lot of balance. I mean, you know, Michael Phelps, from the time he was a little kid was swimming in the pool, looking down at that line to the bottom of the pool, going back and forth, back and forth. It's all he did.

I mean, I remember doing interviews with him years ago, where he talked about, you know, he never took a day off Christmas, he was swimming, he was swimming on his birthday. And that went on, you know, all his entire teenage years.

You made a film about this, so you know it from that perspective. And I know you talked to a lot of different athletes from different sports. Do you see this change happening and where do you think it goes?

BRETT RAPKIN, DIRECTOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER "WEIGHT OF GOLD": Yes, first of all, I remember when you raised to Michael, a few years back --

COOPER: Well, you're giving me too much credit say I actually raised Michael. I flailed around in pool while he just blew past me. But yes, thank you.

RAPKIN: There's definitely a watershed moment going on right now when it comes to mental health. And I think that we're seeing it maybe most prevalently with these athletes, especially over just the last few weeks between Naomi Osaka, and now, Simone, and it's something Michael has been talking about for a few years now.

But I'm just really grateful that the conversation is opening up. Because when you talk about the lack of balance that these athletes might have, I see a lot of these issues also relating to the rest of us, you know, I see us as living in a culture that can feel really zero sum game, at times, you know, you lose your job, you lose your health insurance, it's scary.

And so, I think like these things like, balance, and focus and identity are something that we're all dealing with, not to mention the pandemic and, and a lot of other challenges. These athletes just happened to be really out front, and under an even bigger microscope than the rest of us.

COOPER: There's a question of what happens after the Olympics when sponsorships go away, along with kind of the attention, the accolades and also that clear determination of to accomplish this goal. And once that's passed, that transition has got to be extraordinarily difficult.

OHNO: It's incredibly difficult. You know, call it the hard pivot, the reinvention, the transition, the great divorce, right, your first true love that everyone can relate to this, you do something for what it feels like to be a lifetime, a decade, 15 years, 20 years plus where every single hour of your day was dedicated towards this one particular moment in time.

And then when it's done, you're trying to figure out and you're flailing and you're saying, what else am I good at? What else am I passionate about? What other skills do I have? Do I fit in this world that feels like it's chaotic, and no longer makes sense to me.


So, it's a real challenge. And I think that there's a tremendous opportunity underlying here to embrace people and let them know that we've all had certain circumstances in our lives that make us feel maybe perhaps less than or that it's never good enough. And now the conversation is starting to evolve. Let people know that, hey, it's OK that you're having these terrible situations and these emotional breakdowns and you're human. And sometimes that's, that's going to happen and how do we figure out how to carve a new path forward?

So, as an athlete transitions, that new -- that divorce that occurs from their previous life as they start to figure out what else they want to do, what other personalities that they'd like to explore within their own realms? How do they interact with society and produce and be collective as a unified country? What does that look like? It's an ongoing conversation and one that I think that is actually happening much more frequently than before.

COOPER: Apolo Ohno, I really appreciated, Brett Rapkin, thank you so much. Appreciate it both of you.

OHNO: Thanks, Anderson

COOPER: More news coming up and accountability moment for Congressman Andrew Clyde who said the Capitol attack was a quote normal tourist visit.


COOPER: You may remember remarkable exchange on this program between CNN's Elle Reeve and a mother in Arkansas whose eight-year-old son was diagnosed with COVID and the mother's absolute refusal to get vaccinated.


ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Did anyone you know get COVID?


REEVE (on-camera): How old is he?


REEVE (on-camera): Wow. So that's like pretty rare for like a young kid.


REEVE: What was that like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was sick a lot. He's been sick a lot for a while and he's still sick. So, you're getting looked at and see if there's further damage. I don't know. I mean, he's -- he got real sick.

REEVE (on-camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fever every day for weeks.

REEVE (on-camera): Are you guys going to get the vaccine?


REEVE (on-camera): How come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't trust the government.


COOPER: That kind of viewpoint isn't confined to just one region, the state. As CNN's Martin Savidge found out unvaccinated patients both adults and children are rapidly filling up hospital beds throughout the state, amid anger and protests over being inoculated.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vaccine backlash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no evidence that the COVID --


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): No and that's been the data but they --



SAVIDGE (voice-over): The social media poll shows angry Arkansas residents shutting down a state health expert attempting to refute misinformation about coronavirus vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't need to yell. I'll give you the microphone.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Community meetings like these are meant to boost the state's lagging vaccination rate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). SAVIDGE (voice-over): Despite the confrontation Governor Asa Hutchinson says vaccinations are up.

HUTCHINSON: We've had a 40% increase in people getting the doses.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): That might sound good, but it still means. Only about 40% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been rising daily over the past three weeks. The last time the state's ICU has had this many COVID patients was January. But one Little Rock hospital has never had so many COVID-19 patients, Arkansas Children's Hospital.

(on-camera): So throughout the pandemic, this is the worst you've seen --



SAVIDGE (voice-over): Half of the hospitals young COVID patients are in the pediatric intensive care unit. At least two are on ventilators.

(on-camera): When a child comes into your unit. Do you question the parents and say have you been vaccinated?

BARR: We do ask.

SAVIDGE (on-camera): And what do you find?

BARR: We find that often they're not vaccinated.

SAVIDGE (on-camera): And if their child's here, does it change that parents mind on the vaccine?

BARR: Oh, absolutely. We've seen that multiple instances where they wish they'd now they wish they'd gotten their child vaccinated.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Sick children are a troubling trend. But in Arkansas COVID-19 is killing far more adults needlessly.

RACHEL ROSSER, NURSE: I'm angry that she didn't get vaccinated. And I personally feel guilty that I didn't try harder.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Sixty-three-year-old Kim McGin (ph), her daughter says loved her life, and everyone in it, especially her grandkids.

ROSSER: She worked out five days a week with a personal trainer. She loved to go to concerts, she loved to go out to eat.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Then came the fever, the sore throat, the diagnosis, the ICU, the ventilator, and the end. This is a photo of that moment.

(on-camera): This is the point where I bring up and say she wasn't vaccinated.

ROSSER: She was not.

SAVIDGE (on-camera): What reasons did she get?

ROSSER: Not good ones in my opinion.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Her father was also unvaccinated. And that's where Rachel drew the line.

ROSSER: I broke down on his front porch one day after going to visit my mom and the ICU. And I just told him I said, I'm not doing this again. You need to get vaccinated. I'm not doing this again. I'm not going through this again.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): He did. As for her mother all, Rachel has left is a phone full of photos and videos, grief, and a lot of guilt.

ROSSER: I think I'll always feel like I could have tried harder to convince her.


COOPER: That's so sad. Did Rachel have any advice for people dealing with the challenge of talking to a loved one who's unvaccinated?

SAVIDGE: I asked her that question Anderson, because I struggle in my own family. I have a young niece who has not been vaccinated. And she said you got to keep up the communication. Don't cut them off. Keep up that gentle pressure. But she also said they should have a serious conversation with you. First of all, ask them, do they have a will? If they don't, they shouldn't get one? Do they know what kind of funeral they want? Do they want to be buried? Do they want to be cremated? Who is going to look after the children?

It may sound like overly dramatic questions. But these are the issues that many families left behind now struggle with because their loved one was selfish and said I don't need that vaccine and yet left them with not only heartbreak, but all the headaches and a mountain of guilt.


SAVIDGE: Anderson.

COOPER: Martin Savidge. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Next, someone finally does what we've been trying to do for months actually getting Congressman Andrew Clyde to answer for his comparison of the attack on his own place of work, the Capitol to quote, a normal tourist visit. He's avoided talking to us, of course, but he could not run from this particular accountability moment.


[20:58:35] COOPER: We want to leave you tonight with an answer we've been trying to get on the show whether a Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde who months ago described the Capitol Riot as a quote, normal tourist visit, still believes that.

Well remember the House Select Committee on the riot Democrat Jamie Raskin finally got an answer during a separate hearing, this time the Georgia congressman couldn't walk away without answering.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I want to ask you this. They were asked the question by several of our colleagues including Ms. Cheney, about statements that you made, saying that the January 6 violent insurrection against Congress was akin to a normal tourist visit. And those officers said they weren't tourists. They were terrorists. Do you stand by your statement that they were tourists?

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): I would like you to quote my exact statement. Not your interpretation of my statement.

RASKIN: OK. Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through statuary halls showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January 6. You would actually think it was a normal tourist visit. Those are your words.

CLYDE: And I stand by that exact statement as I said it.


RASKIN: OK. Do you agree or disagree with the officers who spent four or five hours battling that medieval mob that had baseball bats and lead pipes and so on? Do you stand by the statement that the people that they were fighting were tourists? Or would you agree with them that they were terrorists?

CLYDE: That statement did not say that those people were tourists.


COOPER: There's your answer. Despite gut wrenching testimony about physical abuse and racist taunts from four police officers yesterday, he apparently still believes it.

The news continues. Let's hand over to Chris "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.