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CNN Goes Inside Hospital To Speak With Regretful COVID Patients; First Group Of Evacuated Afghan Interpreters Arrives In U.S.; Space Station Loses Control After Russian Module Misfires. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 30, 2021 - 07:30   ET




SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I don't think the skepticism is just among Republicans. I mean, I see all kinds of voices that I don't even think are ideological. It's people who've decided they want to believe something they read somewhere.


KEILAR: The politicization of COVID by people believing something they've read somewhere. You don't say.


KEILAR: It's just ridiculous, honestly.

Just ahead, the first group of evacuated Afghan interpreters arriving in the U.S. with their families. We're going to talk to both cameras -- this one -- I'm on this one, all right. We're going to talk to another translator who is still trying to get his family out.

BERMAN: And CNN goes inside a Louisiana hospital to find fury and regret.


AIMEE MATZEN, LOUISIANA COVID-19 PATIENT: I am furious with myself.


MATZEN: Because I was not vaccinated.



BERMAN: Louisiana breaking records during the pandemic for all the wrong reasons. To hear one doctor in Baton Rouge tell it, there's nowhere safe. CNN went inside the city's largest hospital, which is seeing more coronavirus patients now than ever. Many regret not getting the vaccine while others are still in denial they even have COVID.

Here's CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Aimee Matzen struggles to breathe.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What does it feel like to have COVID?

MATZEN: Exhausting, extremely frustrating, tiring. And the fact that I am here now, I am furious with myself.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Why?

MATZEN: Because I was not vaccinated.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Not anti-vaccine, she says she just didn't get around to it. The 44-year-old is now one of dozens of COVID-19 patients in Baton Rouge's Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. Her oxygen low, her doctor says she might need a ventilator.

MATZEN: I just don't want anyone else winding up like me, especially when the vaccine is so easy to get now.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Delta variant now prevalent in the Bayou State. Not only is it enormously infectious --

DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, OUR LAKE OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: The Delta variant is far more contagious, right, but that viral load doesn't just mean that I'm going to spread it to more people. It also means that when I inhale somebody else's breath I am getting a massive amount of virus.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): -- it is spreading everywhere in cities and rural areas.

O'NEAL: There's nowhere safe. If you're interacting in this community you should be vaccinated and you should have a mask on because we are inundated with COVID.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Ronnie Smith, 47, says he thinks he got it from a friend outdoors -- outdoors at a barbecue. He was planning to get the vaccine when COVID-19 got him.

RONNIE SMITH, LOUISIANA COVID-19 PATIENT: About two days after the event, it just -- like I had a -- I went down on the floor and I couldn't get up.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Nurses here say they've watched the number of critically ill patients grow rapidly. Some anti-vaccination patients still in denial COVID-19 is real.

MORGAN BABIN, NURSE, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Some people insist that we're lying to them about their COVID-positive diagnosis.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Even sick people --

BABIN: Even sick people.

MARQUEZ (on camera): -- who need oxygen, who might be on their way to death --


MARQUEZ (on camera): -- are still denying they have COVID?

BABIN: Yes. I have patients that deny that they have COVID all the way up until intubation.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What do they think they have?

BABIN: They think that they have a cold.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Carsyn Baker, only 21, has a kidney condition. Her doctor has advised against getting vaccinated for now. She thinks she picked up the coronavirus while in a screened-in porch across the room from someone else who had it.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What does that tell you about how easy it is to pick this variant up?

CARSYN BAKER, LOUISIANA COVID-19 PATIENT: Yes, and it just kind of sucks because people like myself with an autoimmune disease, you can't really go anywhere now because just everybody's getting sick and it just doesn't matter what you do.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Laurie Douglas has been in nursing for 35 years -- the last year, her hardest. Frustration with sickness, death, and the unvaccinated at boiling point.

LAURIE DOUGLAS, NURSE, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Sometimes praying isn't enough. I yell at Jesus if I need to. It's headshaking, teeth-grinding, knees tight, standing up just wanting to scream from the hilltops -- frustrating.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


BERMAN: You know -- and Miguel has gone around the country for the last year and a half, Brianna, from hospital to hospital telling stories from inside. And what's remarkable is the duration -- the length of time he's had to do this and how, in some ways, people are more defiant and disbelieving now than they were at the beginning.

KEILAR: No, it's incredible. But for some people, it's also going to make the difference, like the gentleman we just spoke to who lost his wife and he said he believes that if people could just get in those hospital rooms and actually see it, not just hear about it, that maybe it will change some minds. So maybe it will. BERMAN: It breaks my heart that it -- that it takes lost loved ones for that --

KEILAR: It does.

BERMAN: -- to get through.

Up next, we're going to talk to an Afghan translator who became a U.S. soldier. His desperate mission to save his family from the Taliban.

KEILAR: Plus, the incident in orbit that made NASA declare an emergency at the International Space Station.



KEILAR: This morning, the first Afghans who worked for the U.S. military and diplomatic missions that were able to leave their country have arrived in the U.S., but there are still thousands of Afghan interpreters and thousands more of their family members who have been left behind now facing persecution or worse by the Taliban.

I'm joined now by Said Noor. He is an Afghan interpreter who has joined the U.S. Army -- did join the U.S. Army. He is now in the U.S. but his family has not been able to come with him. Said, thank you so much for being with us to talk about the predicament that your family and so many other Afghan families are in.

I do want to start with you having worked for U.S. troops. What danger were you personally in? Just describe this to us.

SAID NOOR, U.S. ARMY VETERAN, AFGHAN INTERPRETER: Thank you very much for having me.

First off, well, my mission started when I was at the age of 16 in 2007, and I started to work as an interpreter for the military. Even going outside on a mission with the military was one of the risky jobs there since they were fighting the bad guys there. Then on top of that, we had no protections while we were traveling back home to go visit the family or take care of the family.


So there was a lot of great dangers against my life. I would receive phone calls from the Taliban and I would also receive nightly reports on my door saying that I have to quit my job or I had to not work and support the United States forces in Afghanistan or the Taliban are going to come after me. They're going to kill me and they're going to kill my family members.

And we were just in constant threat, like day-to-day life, and were just praying to God to get out of Afghanistan one day.

KEILAR: You recently went back to Afghanistan. Tell us about the threat that your family, still in Afghanistan, is under. The very real threat that they're facing.

NOOR: Of course, last year, I went to Afghanistan. As soon as I arrived in my hometown the Taliban got the word and they brought a motorcycle right in front of my house that exploded and killed five people and wounded 10 others.

So this time when I heard that most of the U.S. forces were not in Afghanistan anymore, so I decided to fly back to Afghanistan to bring my family to one of the safest locations in Kabul. So I decided to bring my families there as they were traveling from so many different provinces to get to Kabul. So they had to come across so many Taliban checkpoints and my mom had to pretend that she was sick and she had fake medication -- fake prescription in order to get through the Taliban checkpoints and to make it to Kabul.

KEILAR: Said, you are in this situation that so many Afghans are. You are Afghan-American. You are a U.S. citizen. You are an Army veteran. And yet, you are having this problem trying to keep your family safe.

What does that say about the struggles of so many Afghans in your position?

NOOR: Of course, it's a big issue and a lot of trouble for those Afghans, too, that were not even -- they're still like local. They still live in Afghanistan.

When I started this immigration process, I was actually on deployment in 2018. I submitted my package, my paperwork for my families, for my parents.

And I said they, look, I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm in Afghanistan. Like, I work with a lot of people out here. I'm being recognized and I'm in the media. Like, I go to meetings and people know me. Please hurry up and follow up with the process to bring my families to the United States.

Of course, the process was long for me. It's still going on. It has been three years that I have not heard any positive feedback from the State Department or from the National Visa Center.

And for those interpreters that are still local interpreters, it's a -- it's a very dire situation for them in Afghanistan because they don't have the protection they had before. And the U.S. forces were there -- they were protecting them. Now most of the district centers and seeders (ph) are falling into the hands of the Taliban, so those interpreters have no way to flee the country. They might just flee to Kabul.

Whereas, you can see security situations are getting worse in Kabul, too. So they're just desperately waiting to come to the United States of America.

KEILAR: Is the Biden administration doing what it needs to do, Said?

NOOR: Biden -- I would say they're doing much more better than the last administrations. Because when I did apply for my family immigration visa, the last administration had means -- I would say irresponsible immigration policy that blocked most of the illegal immigrants -- legal immigrants from coming into the United States. My mother and my father and my siblings were the (INAUDIBLE) of the other administrations.

KEILAR: Said, thank you so much. You're speaking for so many people who are in this predicament and it's incredibly important that we understand it. Thanks for being on.

NOOR: Thank you so much for having me.

KEILAR: Up next, a scare in space. What NASA is now saying after the space station was knocked out of control.

BERMAN: And, Simone Biles offering video proof of her Olympic struggle.



KEILAR: NASA declaring a spacecraft emergency after an incident at the International Space Station. It was a misfire by a newly-docked Russian module causing the space station to briefly lose control.

And, CNN's Kristin Fisher is joining us now with details on this. This sounded like the plot for a movie when we heard what had happened there.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, where is Ben Affleck or you know -- when you need him, right?

KEILAR: Yes, exactly.

FISHER: This is exactly the kind of situation that astronauts and the folks in Mission Control spend hours and hours in these simulators training for. I mean, this was a true spacecraft emergency. The lead flight controller or one of them, at the time, said it was the first time that he's ever had to do it.

And it was caused by the Russian Nauka module, which has had all sorts of problems since it launched last week. And this is designed to be a place for Russian cosmonauts to live and work. It has had all sorts of propulsion issues.

And then, it finally docked and locked onto the International Space Station yesterday. Everything looked to be OK. And then just three hours later, that's when the trouble started. These thrusters inadvertently started to fire, and what that does is it kind of just pushes the Space Station and it rotates it -- pushes it -- pushes it off its attitude.

And this had caused so much concern in Mission Control. The astronauts had to go out and take a look and see if there was any debris because it can actually cause some structural damage to the Space Station. The astronauts lost communications with Mission Control for 11 minutes while all of this was going on.

And fortunately, no one was hurt. NASA says that these astronauts were never in any kind of immediate danger. But it just goes to show you that these kinds of things can go wrong very quickly in outer space.

Investigations now ongoing, but Boeing has had to delay the launch of its Starliner to the Space Station because of it.

KEILAR: So when we're watching that video and we see it looks like air puffing out of that canister, right --

FISHER: Right.

KEILAR: That's not what it is. But that is the malfunction, right?

FISHER: The thrusters, yes. They're like little engines that just puff and push the module or the Space Station out of the way. And they were not supposed to fire once it's locked on to a structure --


FISHER: -- like the Space Station.

KEILAR: Yes, we know this. From all the movies that we've seen, they have taught us that thing is not supposed to go off unless you want it to go off. You're going to go someplace you don't want to go.

FISHER: Between gravity and Armageddon.

KEILAR: Right.

FISHER: You're an expert. We're all experts, right?

KEILAR: Kristin, thank you so much. Kristin Fisher.

BERMAN: Armageddon, the documentary.


This summer, a special presentation of all-new CNN film shorts. Over the next two weekends, these documentaries will spotlight people striving to build different kinds of communities across the United States.


Our first film, "58 HOURS: THE BABY JESSICA STORY," looks at the famous case of Jessica McClure and how her small hometown scrambled to save her when she fell into a well at just 18 months old.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't really see inside the hole. So it became clear that the only way to really see the story was to see the story on television. And I'm watching the news and I'm talking to my editor and, of course, they're watching the same thing on CNN.

It just felt like a moment when the journalistic worlds had changed. I'd never reported a story before by watching it on television and in the future, there would be many, many, many times when I would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, listen up. We're going from A1 to A8 -- stand by and go.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Mark Bone. He's the director of "58 HOURS: THE BABY JESSICA STORY." And for those of us who were around in 1987, this is such a vivid memory, right, with the little girl down the well. It was such a big deal for the entire country, Mark.

MARK BONE, DIRECTOR, "58 HOURS: THE BABY JESSICA STORY" (via Webex by Cisco): Yes, it really was. You know, I was only six months old when the event happened but it was a remarkable rescue. But it also was this incredible paradox that this little girl trapped in this eight- inch well beneath the earth kind of shifted the media landscape forever and it opened up this new appetite we had for 24-hour breaking news.

BERMAN: It really does show -- and the documentary gets into this -- how the smallest imaginable stage, right -- and when we're talking about it -- whoa -- we're talking about literally something this big became the biggest fascination in the world. How do you explain that?

BONE: Yes, it was -- it was really incredible. It was just in this small backyard in small-town Texas and it started off as just a local news story. But it was at this moment when we were all watching the 6:00 news but CNN had just arrived on the scene. And slowly, people wanted to know what was happening. Everyone wants to know if this girl was going to survive. It was just a news story that everyone could connect to.

And so, it started being broadcast 24 hours around the clock and it was kind of a moment for all of us where we really realized that wow, we want to know what's happening right now and not have to wait until 6:00.

BERMAN: And the really interesting part of it was yes, they wanted to know, they wanted to see, but there wasn't too much to see, right? All you could do was look at the well. Yet, it drew people in.

BONE: It really did but it was because of what was happening beneath the earth -- the Texas caliche soil was so difficult. You know, you had the most professional people in the world digging holes. This is Texas oil drilling country.

And it took a specialized tool -- a water jet that had to be flown in spur of the moment by FedEx to the scene, and it was a cutting-edge technology. It was so cutting-edge that some of the paramedics on the scene didn't want them to use it because they thought it was too futuristic. But they had to use all of the state of art technology. Like even diamond cutter drills were breaking against the soil.

And so, it was a really gripping story. It was are they going to get her out?

BERMAN: Listen, Mark Bone, terrific work. I hope people get a chance to see it. It's not just about the event, it's about how the event became so big and the significance of it even now. Thank you so much for being with us.

And be sure to tune in. Our all-new series of CNN films shorts kicks off with "58 HOURS: THE BABY JESSICA STORY," Saturday at 9:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

NEW DAY continues right now.

All right, good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Friday, July 30th.

And we do begin with an alarming leaked CDC document that offers a chilling assessment of the state of the pandemic. Quote, "The war has changed." This is what it says, and here is why.

Inside this document, data that suggests the Delta variant likely causes more severe disease than earlier strains of COVID, and it is just as infectious as the chicken pox. That means it spreads like wildfire.

The CDC slide presentation obtained by "The Washington Post" and confirmed by CNN concludes that the variant spreads faster than SARS, Ebola, the flu, and the common cold. The documents also contain unpublished data that says vaccinated people may spread the virus as easily as the unvaccinated when breakthrough infections occur.

KEILAR: This full data will be published today, but what we have seen so far explains why CDC officials made their latest decision on masks.

We're also learning from the report that the CDC realizes that it must revisit its public messaging to emphasize vaccinations.

Joining us now is "Washington Post" health policy reporter Yasmine Abutaleb.