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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Joe Biden Say to Expect More COVID Measures and Restrictions in all Probability; Notes Released by Congress Show Trump Pressed D.O.J. in December to Say Election was Corrupt. Interview with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:00]

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Zhurong rover should be a wake-up call.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: We're suddenly realizing that we don't own all of this and it is a very aggressive competitor.

FISHER (voice-over): Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us. Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with five words to define where we are in the pandemic, acknowledge the war has changed. Those words come from a slide presentation produced within the C.D.C., which we learned about overnight. The war has changed because the enemy has, the delta variant, according to the C.D.C. presentation travels as easily as chickenpox, meaning every person, each person can infect on average, as many as nine other people.

Additionally, today, the agency released a study, it based its new recommendation on, to wear a mask indoors even if you've been vaccinated, and it showed that infections with the delta variant produce similar viral loads regardless of vaccination status.

In other words, even the vaccinated who likely won't be anywhere near as sick, thank goodness, can still spread delta. The war has changed.

Late today, President Biden acknowledge that additional measures might be coming because of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all probability, by the way, we had a good day yesterday, almost a million people got vaccinated. So, I'm hopeful that people are beginning to realize how essential it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: The President today signaling some tougher tactics against

this tougher adversary. The C.D.C. study was based on a large outbreak in the Massachusetts vacation spot, Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. Ken Horgan owns a hotel there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN HORGAN, PROVINCETOWN HOTEL OWNER: We started to get the initial report. So, some strange infection rates among vaccinated individuals. And then as time went on, we saw more and more cases, until we eventually saw a number that was large enough to make a lot of us kind of scratch our head and say, wait a minute, this is something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And it was, but because the vast number of people in Provincetown are vaccinated, few people have gotten seriously ill. That's the good news.

But later in the hour, we'll speak with a doctor who was vaccinated, visited Provincetown, and caught a breakthrough infection she believes from other vaccinated people there. The war has changed.

And almost exclusively among the unvaccinated, the casualties are growing. There's a public health official in St. Louis reacting to the C.D.C. news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FAISAL KHAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: I was filled with dread last week about this, and as I looked at this report and our local stats earlier today, I'm even more worried now.

ICU admissions have jumped, have doubled in the last couple of weeks here in the St. Louis region. The community transmission levels are at an all-time high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: In red or even more vaccine hesitant parts of the state, it is not just how many cases that's troubling doctors, it's also the type of patients they're seeing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY HEALTH AT COXHEALTH IN MISSOURI: We had about 15 patients hospitalized with COVID in the middle of May, and we are at about 150 in Springfield in our hospital.

So, you know, it's up 10 times. The patients we're seeing are sicker, they are younger, and they seem to be getting sicker faster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And the war has changed in that respect, too, but not thank goodness in this. According to this new internal C.D.C. document, vaccines, even with delta make you three times less likely to get infected and 10 times less likely to get severely ill or die.

Let me just say that again. Vaccines make you three times less likely to get infected and 10 times less likely to get severely ill or die. They work.

Of the people in Massachusetts in this latest C.D.C. study we mentioned, no one died, and only five were hospitalized. So getting a shot is still a great way to stay healthy and stay alive.

Additionally, new C.D.C. data out today shows that 90 percent of adverse events in adolescents with the vaccine are non-serious. Now, with all this in mind, more states, even some red states have amped up calls for people to get the vaccine. Georgia for example, which is not even 39 percent vaccinated according to C.D.C. data. State officials there are saying hospitalizations have risen 50 percent in the last two weeks, and deaths by 18 percent.

More companies requiring employees to be vaccinated. Disney and Walmart become the latest today. In addition, Walmart employees will once again be told to mask up regardless of vaccination status. And of course, there's the President late today opening the door to new Federal measures.

That said, not everyone is getting on board, even with a threat to the unvaccinated becoming clearer than ever today, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order blocking mask mandates in schools, blocking mask mandates that would protect unvaccinated students against a virus that's exploding in his state.

The Governor saying there will be no lockdown, school closures, restrictions, or mandates in his state. The war might have changed today, but some on the battlefield have not.

Here to talk about it and take your questions are Dr. Peter Hotez, co- director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. He is also author of the aptly titled, "Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy and in a Time of Anti-Science."

[20:05:12]

COOPER: Also joining us, Michael Osterholm, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Dr. Hotez, so Admiral Brett Giroir, the former Assistant Health Secretary under the previous administration, warns that the delta variant is so contagious that if you've not been vaccinated, and you did not previously have COVID, you will become infected. What does that mean for children under the age of 12 who are eligible to be vaccinated?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, it really depends on where those kids are, especially as schools open and the big vulnerability that I'm sounding the alarm about is the what's going on here in the south.

For instance, the State of Louisiana, you've got -- where delta, the variant is accelerating now and kids are already starting to show up in pediatric intensive care units. You've only got 17 percent of the adolescents vaccinated, 15, 16, 17 percent of the adolescents vaccinated, maybe 30 to 40 percent of young adults. You've got the delta variant accelerating and no mask mandates.

So, this is a crucible and as schools open, so for instance, in some parishes in Louisiana, you're probably looking at August 9th or 10th when schools open, this is not going to go well. I think we're going to see this big steep acceleration. So as bad as things are right now in the south, they are about to get worse if for lots of unvaccinated individuals.

And this is why, you know we are working overtime to try to convince people, it is still not too late to get vaccinated before schools open, but times run out and you've got to do it now.

COOPER: Dr. Osterholm, I mean, tonight, Dr. Fauci is calling this quote, "a different and more formidable virus." How do you think this war will change now that we know vaccinated people infected with a delta variant can transmit the virus?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, things will change a bit, but I think, Anderson, the one thing we have to remember tonight, is no one takes away any other message than this, that these vaccines still are highly effective in reducing severe illness and hospitalizations and most infections. Please understand that. So, no matter what else we discuss tonight, that's an important issue.

I think the challenge we have right now is with this increase infectivity is, what does that mean? If you look at our previous surges of infection, the cases have risen very rapidly in different parts of the country over the last 18 months, and then dropped rapidly. And we don't understand exactly why.

I think it's very possible that we're going to see this surge take off in the southern states as it is now, whether it'll spread to the other states in a meaningful way, I don't know. But I think it's possible that by September, we'll see that this thing will just drop again, just as it has done in a number of other locations around the world.

We can't count on that, but I think that's likely what will happen.

COOPER: And Professor Osterholm, I mean, I think it's really important to stress what you said, which is vaccines work and vaccines are, frankly, for everybody, it is the only way out of this. I mean, we don't have to be in this situation.

OSTERHOLM: Exactly right. You know, and I think one of the challenges we have is when these surges amp, when there is a big burst in cases suddenly come down, people on the other side of it that haven't been infected say, oh, well, I missed it. I don't -- I'm not going to get it. I made it through. You know, you can't run out the clock on this one. Eventually, as was

in your lead, this virus will find you. It is that infectious. So, if it's not this surge, it'll be the next surge. And I think that that's an important message is that don't try to run out the clock. It won't happen. You will know a COVID related outcome. Please get vaccinated.

COOPER: Dr. Hotez, we've got a lot of viewer questions I want to get to. Marcie asks, everyone talks about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What about those of us that took the J&J shot? Do we need a booster? What's our level of protection? We received a lot of questions about the J&J vaccine, Doctor, people are worried, should they be?

HOTEZ: That's one of my most frequently asked questions, and the answer is we do not have clinical data against the delta variant, or at least not that's been publicly made available. We have laboratory data showing that people who have virus neutralizing antibodies to the single dose J&J vaccine, have some virus neutralizing antibodies against the delta variant, but it's way down compared to the earlier lineages like the U.K. variant.

And when I look at the numbers, and they are small numbers, you know, one has about -- a serum from a dozen patients and other eight or nine patients, or those who have gotten the vaccine. The decline looks similar to the decline that we saw with the South African variant. And we know that translates to a decline in efficacy.

So, I don't want to extrapolate too much, but I do you think a single dose will have some decline and that means we've got to really hear from the C.D.C. and F.D.A. very soon about a second immunization of the J&J vaccine or move to the mRNA vaccinations, and I hope we get some word out very soon.

[20:10:03]

COOPER: By the way, Dr. Hotez, right now, I mean somebody has got the got the one J&J vaccine, if they want to just get a booster shot, if they want to get another shot, can they just go somewhere and do it?

HOTEZ: Well, it's not, it's not always the case, it depends on your healthcare provider and some will not authorize and sometimes the pharmacist will say, look, if you look at your vaccination card, I can't give you another dose.

So, it really varies, and this is one of the problems that the C.D.C. really and the F.D.A. really have to come out with recommendations pretty soon. And also for the third immunization for the mRNA vaccines for vulnerable populations, those on immunosuppressive therapy, transplant patients, et cetera, and also some of the older individuals because this is what they're doing now in Israel.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, as we heard President Biden said tonight, in all probability, there will be new COVID restrictions. Our viewer Beth is wondering about that, too. She asked, what's the risk of outdoor transmission for fully vaccinated? Should there be large outdoor gatherings at this point? What about that? OSTERHOLM: Well, we've learned clearly over the past 18 months that

this virus is transmitted via what we call an aerosol. This is kind of mist like transmission in the air. If you want to understand what an aerosol is, just think of somebody smoking. If you can smell the smoke from their cigarette, that's the very same as if you are breathing in the air that they exhale out that has the virus in it.

So, we do have examples of where we do have transmission in outdoor activities where people are close together for an extended period of time. But clearly indoor air is by far the biggest challenge as you and I both know, if I were in a room right now, if you were smoking, you would smell it and fill it very quickly.

And so that's what people have to understand. If you can smell a cigarette in the location you're at, then you're breathing someone else's air that may have the virus in it.

COOPER: That's really stunning to say it in that way. I actually hadn't heard it said that way and it makes it quite alarming, Professor Osterholm, along those same lines, Stanley writes with the delta variant and greater viral load, is six feet still the recommended distance? He is of course, talking about social distancing.

OSTERHOLM: Yes, well, six feet is into my mind already outdated. When we came up with this understanding of the aerosol transmission of this virus. We've realized that it could be much further. How many times have you been 20 feet downwind from somebody smoking and smelled that smoke?

And so, six feet works in the old respiratory droplet idea, where if I am talking or coughing, it's like boulders coming out of my respiratory tract out my mouth, and then falling to the ground. That's not the case here. So if you're indoors, and again, just rule of thumb or if you're outdoors, you can smell the smoke, you can also inhale the virus.

COOPER: Now, Dr. Peter Hotez, Professor Michael Osterholm, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Next, new notes taken by the third man in the phone conversation between the former President and the acting Attorney General. And as you'll see, they literally spell out his intention to lie about the election and his demand of America's top law enforcement official to help him do it. We will speak to the lawmaker who brought this new evidence to light.

And later, the major new decision that could finally deliver the former President's tax returns to congressional investigators.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:09]

COOPER: This next story falls squarely into the shocked, but not surprise category, and if you're still lacking evidence after three troubling new accounts of his final days that the former President was consumed with staying in office and never mind democracy, this one is for you.

It is perhaps the closest we might ever get to a signed Oval Office photo of him with the inscription. "Here I am on the phone trying to overturn the election." And we've already seen reporting that he was constantly calling acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen hectoring him for evidence of voter fraud, something that previous Attorney General William Barr had already said simply did not exist.

Today, the House Oversight Committee released handwritten notes by Mr. Rosen's deputy of a December phone call that he and his boss had with the former President. Here's the key portion, handwriting isn't especially legible, and it might not come across in your TV screen. But quoting the former President, it reads, "Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R Congressmen," Republican Congressmen.

In other words, just lie and other liars, myself included, we'll take it from there.

We're joined now by House Oversight Committee Chair Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Chairwoman Maloney, this is -- I mean, it's another example of the former President going to the most extreme lengths to overturn the election in his final days in the White House, but to have it handwritten by somebody, the deputy or the assistant to the guy, who he is talking to, what happens now? I mean, what's your committee going to do about this? Or can they do?

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): Well, just as you said, it's highly unusual to get any documentation involving direct comments of the President of the United States, especially to get hand written ones documenting in great detail that he was urging the Department of Justice to call the election, quote, "illegal and corrupt," and implied and threatened them that they would be replaced if they didn't comply.

And when D.O.J. pushed back and said, this is not true, there was no signs of any corruption or illegal activity. He said, just leave it to me. Just go out and say it and Republican Congressmen -- well, we'll do the rest. It's shocking, beyond belief.

We are in the midst of an investigation. We did not have these documents that you're revealing tonight until early yesterday morning, and more are coming in. And we're not going to stop until we get to the bottom of this. So those who aided or witnessed Trump's unlawful actions must answer these committee questions about the attempted subversion of our democracy. It is extremely serious and we are not stopping until we get to the bottom of it.

COOPER: Well, also for the President to say to the acting Attorney General, you know, just leave it to me and the other -- and you know, the Republican congressmen, he knows he has a stable of Republican Congress people who will propagate that lie and he is right about that. They are many and still are propagating that lie, but he was so confident in not only his own ability to lie, but also that he would have a whole host of actors willing to go along with it in Congress.

MALONEY: Well, all those that are involved should be called forward for questioning. We have gotten clearance from D.O.J. to question six leaders and the Department of Justice, we are arranging those interviews for next week. We expect them to fully comply. If not, we will figure out how to force them to comply and we will continue with our investigation.

COOPER: At another point during the call, the former President described Congressman Jim Jordan is quote, "a fighter," and I want to play something that Jordan said recently to "Spectrum News" about his conversations with the President on January 6th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Did you speak with President Trump on January 6th?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes, I mean, I speak -- I spoke with the President last week. I speak with the President all the time. I spoke with him on January 6. I mean, I talk with President Trump all the time. And that's -- I don't think that's unusual.

QUESTION: On January 6, did you speak with him before, during, or after the Capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I'd have to go -- I spoke with him that day after. I think, after. I don't know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don't know. I'd have to go back. I mean, I don't know when those conversations happened, but what I know is I spoke to him all the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, first of all, kind of remarkable on the day that democracy is attacked by our fellow citizens, and he spoke to the President, A, he is just now talking about that. It's the second time in recent days that Jordan has been shaky about his conversations with the former President on January 6. You might think he would remember talking to the President of the United States on the day that the Capitol is being attacked. What do you make of that?

MALONEY: Well, I'm not surprised at all that he said that he talks to the President all the time, that he talked to him on January 6th, and we need for him to recall what these conversations were and put forward any information he has of any efforts by former President Trump to overturn the election, to pressure leaders at D.O.J., to call it an illegal and corrupt election when it wasn't.

It is shocking, the allegations, actually, the proof that we're seeing is unprecedented.

COOPER: Carolyn Maloney, appreciate your time. Thank you.

Joining us now, CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod. David, I mean, what do you make of this? I mean, again, I'm just shocked to actually see a handwritten note by somebody listening in on the phone call taking notes while the President is saying this, "Just say the election was corrupt, leave the rest to me and the R Congressmen."

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, it is. You know, it is it is appalling. Nothing is shocking, Anderson, anymore, because you know, there's a well-established storyline here and a well-established pattern. He does not believe -- he never believed in rules or laws or norms or democratic institutions, and it was very clear that he was trying to overturn the election in any way he could.

We've already heard the conversations he had with state officials, local officials, you know, in Georgia, asking them to find the votes that he needed. You know, he's obviously given amplification to crazy conspiracy theories and one after another have been thrown out in courts of law. I mean, this was -- you know his idea was, I'm going to take this however I can.

What's outrageous is that there were elected officials who were so willing to cooperate with him, and that is appalling. But we should note that they're also including these two officials of the Department of Justice, the acting Attorney General and his deputy who are unwilling to do that. There were people at the state and local level who are unwilling to be cowed and bullied by the President of the United States and our democracy was saved by that margin.

The last thing that I'd say about this is, after all of this, after all of this, he remains, you know, the putative front runner for the nomination in the next election, and that is really deeply concerning. We had an impeachment, Anderson, and the argument that was made by some of the President's support, or at least some Republicans in Congress was, well, he's left already, so it's irrelevant.

Part of that proceeding was going to be filed -- that proceeding was going to be followed by a motion to dismiss qualify him for running for office again. If this doesn't warrant disqualification from holding public office and particularly the presidency, I don't know what does.

[20:25:11]

COOPER: Yes, but I mean, this is not going to have any impact, obviously on, you know, Trump's hold on the Republican Party. But just to be clear, I mean, Presidents aren't supposed to tell the Attorney General, well, just say this, and I'll deal with the rest. I mean, they're supposed to be -- isn't there some --

AXELROD: We went through a national trauma in the 70s that I remember when Richard Nixon tried to use the Justice Department to protect himself from prosecution in the Watergate scandal. And, you know, what happened after that were a series of steps by President Ford, Edward Levi who was appointed Attorney General, to restore faith in the Justice Department, to restore faith in the rule of law, and those norms have held for decades and decades. They were absolutely shredded by Donald Trump. We have never seen

anything like this, certainly in my lifetime, I think in our history. And you know, he just -- it was just wanton disregard of the norms of democracy.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, history is going to look back on this and it's not going to be pretty.

David Axelrod, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Next up, what the Justice Department decided today about the tax returns of the former President the congressional investigators have long hoped to access. That's coming up when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:15]

COOPER: The Justice Department today advised that the Treasury Department must in its words turnover the former president's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee which is waged a two year battle to gain access to them. In opinion by the Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Justice said that the committee chairman has invoked what it termed sufficient reasons for requesting the returns. The Trump administration refused the committee's original request and trigger the ongoing battle.

Want to get some legal perspective now from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, former federal prosecutor and author of Hatchet Man How Bill Barr Broke The Prosecutors Code And Corrupted the Justice Department. And from reporter and author Tim O'Brien, who's actually had a chance to see some of those returns as a result of a lawsuit filed by the former president, questioned the accuracy of his book, TrumpNation The Art Of Being The Donald.

So Tim, as we just mentioned, you actually seen the foreign president's tax returns and you can't discuss what you seen. What do you make of today's announcement by the Department of Justice?

TIM O'BRIEN, SENIOR COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Well, there's a lot of elements in it that I think are important that go beyond Trump himself. I think it establishes that the Congress has a supervisory role to play with the executive branch, particularly around whether or not the President has financial conflicts of interest that can compromise how he or she might conduct their affairs while in office.

I think it also put a very firm check on a previous Department of Justice ruling in 2019, under Barr that I think essentially tried to establish the idea that the Congress was only on a fishing expedition and had no fish supervisory role to play, which I think was in keeping with Barr's, I think traditional view that the executive branch should be more independent from oversight and congressional oversight.

But I think the real to me Anderson, I think, is a seminal development here potentially, as they're, they are putting into print the fact that in the modern year, a president like Trump, or any president who comes into that office with the kind of financial conflicts of interest that Trump has, needs to be supervised more closely, because it can corrupt or compromise policymaking. And I think that goes beyond Trump. It's a new element that Trump introduced when he became president. And it's good to see that being put in play as something to check.

COOPER: Elie, I mean, legally speaking, does this mean that the fight for Congress to see the former president's taxes is over and that they'll get his returns?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Just about Anderson, this means it's highly likely Congress will get those returns. Here's how we got here. So the law says that if the House the Ways and Means Committee requests, the tax returns of any person, the Department of Treasury, the IRS shall furnish. That's what the law says, shall furnish those returns. Now the Trump administration as Tim said, Bill Barr came up with this convoluted legal theory that, well, that doesn't really apply, even though it says shall. So, we're not turning over anything unless the courts force us.

Today, the Biden DOJ reversed that they said, well shall furnish means shall furnish. So, we are going to turn it over unless the courts stop us. So now the balls in Trump's court either if he does nothing, then those tax returns are going to Congress, or he can try to file a lawsuit to try to stop this. But he's looking at a serious uphill climb there legally.

COOPER: But that could take a long time, couldn't? I mean, why wouldn't he just try to talk --

HONIG: Yes, that could be the strategy Anderson. Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I think it's likely he does try.

COOPER: Yes. Tim, you're sorry. You were saying and given us history?

O'BRIEN: Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt Elie, I'm sorry. I think in there, they basically have given him a 72-hour window to try to come back at this. So, they clearly have said, we're opening a door if you want to contest it, but that door is not going to stay open very long.

COOPER: Tim, the Justice Department also cited the former president's tax returns could reveal what they said were, quote, hidden business entanglements, raising tax law and other issues, including conflicts of interest affecting proper execution of the former president's responsibilities. I mean, do you see this as potentially revealing liabilities, not only for the former president, but for others in Trump orbit?

O'BRIEN: Certainly. I mean, it would go a long way towards explaining why Donald Trump engaged in these corrupt and unseemly diplomatic dances with Vladimir Putin and other dictators. I think, you know, the easy explanation at the time, I think, and it was a real one and had merit was that he had a juvenile fascination with authoritarian leaders. And he likes to preen around them. But I also think always in the back of Donald Trump's mind is how quickly can I make a buck?

And I think that is a very direct reason he was doing a lot of these things was in order to further his own nest financially. And one of the unfortunate elements of a Mueller investigation is that Robert Mueller chose not to probe deeply into Trump's finances, which remains a mystery to me, and I think it's important that those things get on earth.

[20:35:05]

Again, not only in terms of Trump, but in terms of any president who has financial conflicts of interest that need to be scrutinized, but also certainly would go a long way towards explaining what motivated a lot of Trump's actions.

COOPER: And Elie, if their returns go to Congress, is it possible in the public would see them?

HONIG: Yes, I think it is, and potentially fairly quickly. We know the Manhattan district attorney has had these returns for almost a year now. We're not going to see those are grand jury materials, they have to remain secret. We won't see them unless and until there's an indictment and a trial, which who knows that's very far off and unlikely at this point.

However, Congress doesn't have those same limitations. But Congress should think about this because the position they've taken is we want those tax returns, not to just embarrass the president, not to just put them out there, but because we need them to consider specific legislation that we're thinking about. So, they may want to think about the political impact of putting those tax returns out, but there's really very little to prevent it.

COOPER: Yes. Elie Honig, appreciate it, Tim O'Brien as well. Thank you.

Straight ahead, I'll talk with a woman pediatrician who was vaccinated against the coronavirus, still diagnosed with the disease after visiting Provincetown, Massachusetts on holiday at the center of a cluster of COVID cases earlier this month that the CDC has been studying. That's next.

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[20:40:18]

COOPER: We told you at the top of the program about that COVID outbreak in the small resort town of Provincetown, Massachusetts with hundreds and hundreds of new cases reported. One of those infected Dr. Jane Aronson is a pediatrician and a specialist in global infectious diseases. She's also a friend, she joins me now.

Jane, thanks for being with us. First of all, how are you feeling? You said you were very frightened by your symptoms after you first came down with COVID? JANE ARONSON, PEDIATRICIAN, GLOBAL INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Yes, I'm better. I mean, I, I feel lucky. You know, and every day, it's funny to be in a way looking at my illness, and realizing that every day you can see yourself getting better. And that's a powerful message that I want to give people.

COOPER: You feel lucky because you were vaccinated.

ARONSON: Oh, my God. I -- you know, still remember the just the miracle of going up to Cornell, where I'm on faculty, and getting my first vaccine, and then my booster. And I just can't tell you how proud I was.

COOPER: If you hadn't been vaccinated, what do you think would have happened with this infection?

ARONSON: Oh, I was, I was dreading I was for sure feeling as if I could get sick at any point. And I really worked hard to keep myself safe. And I was a vigilante with friends and family about how to stay safe.

COOPER: But what once -- I mean, if you hadn't been vaccinated, and you got the Delta variant in Provincetown, I mean, you add your age, which is probably close to my age, you would I mean, you're at risk.

ARONSON: Oh, I have to tell you that there was no question that I was already very convinced that I couldn't get Delta. I just felt like, you know, I was counting the month and asking that, you know, at the various places I could ask, like, does anyone know what my immunity is really about after six months, and I'm turning 70 in the fall, and all I could think of was every day. I was eking out whatever anybody I might have had, and I wanted to talk to someone getting another shot.

COOPER: Do you know how you got it? Because I there's a lot of people who have gone to Provincetown in the summer, who have ended up infected and a lot of them were vaccinated. They're not hospitalized, thankfully, because they were vaccinated. So it's not a commentary on the vaccines themselves. It's commentary on how easy it is to catch Delta. Do you know how you caught it?

ARONSON: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I know that the two possibilities was that I love that Dune tour. I used to go on it myself. But I wanted to go on the Dune tour.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I don't know if driving in a car on dunes.

ARONSON: Yes, it's up those famous beautiful dunes in Provincetown.

COOPER: So you're sitting there people in a vehicle?

ARONSON: Well, I was in a vehicle with another friend, and there was plastic across and just the driver. And we're there 15 minutes on the way up, and then we were outside in the dunes. And then we were 15 minutes back. So that was really what and I caught. And I found out that yes, that the driver was infected, and then had been vaccinated. And then the other was a breakfast, where we were not set in our usual place for breakfast, where we were, like, separated with guards on either side, suddenly, they removed it. And but we said, OK, we'll just have our breakfast. And we had breakfast with two really lovely guys. And, chatted, and maybe we were exposed over maybe 20 to 30 minutes.

COOPER: And what is your -- I mean, people who are seeing this or maybe saying wait a minute, you're an infectious disease specialist. You caught this, you've been vaccinated? Why should I get vaccinated if it doesn't make any difference?

ARONSON: OK, well, it does make a difference, because I'll tell you what happened. I mean, I developed symptoms within a couple of days. And my shortness of breath was so frightening. I can't even -- I don't even have to express it. It reminded me of patients I've taken care of, who were dreadfully ill and had pneumonia or cancer, children, adults, and I know what it felt like for them when they were short of breath and I was short of breath. And I was frightened. And I had a horrible headache. And I had low grade fever and achy muscles and was -- had a dry cough and I was exhausted. And I spent maybe three to four days like that.

[20:45:01]

So I was really aware of what this could look like. And I was absolutely frightened and I had to be, you know, sort of calm down, like people, you know, really helping me (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Do you think the vaccine saved your life?

ARONSON: Right. And that's exactly what happened. I felt immediately, like, I'm scared. But I know this vaccine will work. And I want to tell people, I feel so open hearted. I've always counseled people on not getting vaccinated kids. And I felt like let me talk to people. Let me -- I'll love them into taking it. I'm good like that. I can convince anybody to do anything. I wanted a chance already months ago. And now I want the chance here to say, don't be afraid, open yourself up to an opportunity to be well and safe. And for us all to work together, as a community, I'm sorry to be so preachy, but I just feel like we're all together on this. And I want us -- I want to tell people about that. I'm better and I want them to know they can talk to me. I'd be happy to talk to anybody. So they could take the vaccine.

COOPER: Dr. Jane Aronson, I'm glad you are OK. And I'm thankful that you agreed to tell your story. Thank you so much.

ARONSON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to make sure no school system can mandate mask despite a big rise in cases and hospitalizations in his state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:28] COOPER: As we mentioned earlier in the broadcast, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order meant to fight the CDC guidance for mask mandates in schools. It orders the state to issue emergency rule to -- emergency rule to prevent any school system in Florida from implementing an order. The one in Broward County, the second largest in the state voted this week to do just that. Governor DeSantis says this was done, quote, to protect parents freedom to choose whether their children were mask.

Now this comes as new COVID cases in Florida have jumped 50% in the last week, and as hospitalizations have reached the same level they were at in early August almost one year ago.

I'm joined now by Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert of Florida International University.

Dr. Marty, thanks for being with us. At 50% jump in cases in Florida is pretty sobering. With this kind of numbers as a doctor, what do you think about governor DeSantis blocking ratio in order to block mask mandates in schools?

AILEEN MARTY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Well, let me just be very clear, the situation is grave and getting more and more so day by day, our hospitals are jam packed, and people are in long lines waiting for to be seen, including children. And this is absolutely tragic. So the situation is bad. This order is based on a study that was done up at Brown. And it's a small study that contradicts every other study, including CDC studies in the state of Florida. And that study is not peer reviewed back in May and it probably will not even be approved.

So, it's very surprising because the reality is every leader right now should be doing their absolute best to reduce the transmission of this horrific virus.

COOPER: So I mean, we're learning just how transmissible this Delta variant is. They say now the CDC says as transmissible as chickenpox as an each person can give it I think it was to nine other people, we -- as we get close to the opening of schools in Florida, do we know enough about the impact of Delta on children who can't get vaccinated? I mean, what do you expect to happen once kids are back in the classroom unmasked if they are assuming their parents don't want them to be mask.

MARTY: So I'm hoping that parents are going to do what is best for their child and for their community and ask their children to use mask. Because the reality is, as I already mentioned, we are seeing very young people, including young children coming into hospital symptomatic with COVID, here in the state of Florida. And what we don't need is to have long term complications in these children.

So this, you know, it's like going against medical advice. I mean, you're going against the science, I can certainly release you from hospital against medical advice, but that's what it is. It's not following the science. It's not following the best medicine.

COOPER: So just to be clear, you would say vaccinate or not, every child, teacher and staff in school should be wearing a mask?

MARTY: That's the recommendation of American Academy of Pediatrics. And I wholeheartedly support that recommendation. It's also the recommendation of the Infectious Disease Society of America. And virtually every medical society in the United States right now.

COOPER: Governor DeSantis spoke earlier to now. Just want to play a little bit of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I have young kids were my wife and I are not going to do the mask with the kids. We never have. I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do we know? I mean, if -- do we know the possible long term effects of a child who gets COVID at this point? Who gets the Delta variant? I mean, do kid -- our kids are susceptible to I mean, you said you're seeing them in the hospitals, are they also susceptible to long COVID?

MARTY: Yes, the children are susceptible to long COVID although we don't actually have all the data of what that incidence is going to be or for how long they're going to have any kinds of complications. The biggest risk for children is the multi system inflammatory syndrome or Kawasaki type syndrome that we also see in some young adults. And even that is very uncommon, but it's, you know, if it happens to your child, it's absolutely tragic.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Aileen Marty, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Just ahead, something a little lighter, but also a serious question. Just what was that on the President's chin and did he really -- you'll see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:59:01]

COOPER: I wanted to end on something a little lighter that could -- I didn't make -- maybe make you some people thought was funny. Others thought it was just kind of gross.

But today President Biden was meeting virtually with Western Governors about the wildfires in their states. And while listening to the conversation, a staffer handed him a note. He takes it he reads it. Now later, he was holding the note in a way that the cameras could capture the text and what it said was Sir, there is something on your chin.

So that happens sometimes it's certainly, you know, and it's always that awkward thing of like, do you tell the person there's something on your face if it's me, I always prefer to be told that, you know, there's something hanging off my chin or whatever. Anyway, let's look at the video again. So he's handed the note, he reads it, Sir, there's something on your chin and he wipes it. Looks at it. I don't know if he -- did he (INAUDIBLE). Look like he's -- I mean, I can't confirm it but looks like he did the old kind of, I don't know. Leave it up to you to decide. Like I said something to make you smile or maybe cringe a little bit. I cringe.

[21:00:07]

The news continues. Let's hand things over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.