Cory Booker dropped out of the presidential race on January 13, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Booker is running a campaign focused on love, unity and identity. He first gained national recognition as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, at times answering pleas to shovel residents out after major snowstorms. He was elected to the US Senate in a 2013 special election.
Stanford University, B.A., 1991; Stanford University, M.A, 1992; University of Oxford, Rhodes scholar, 1994; Yale Law School, J.D., 1997
April 27, 1969
Mayor of Newark, 2006-2013; Partner at the law firm Booker, Rabinowitz, Trenk, Lubetkin, Tully, DiPasquale and Webster, 2002-2006; Newark City Council member, 1998-2002; Staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center, 1997
BOOKER IN THE NEWS
Tim Scott's Republican rebuttal comes as his role in policing bill negotiation is also in the spotlight
Updated 6:03 AM ET, Wed Apr 28, 2021
Sen. Tim Scott, a key player in the bipartisan congressional effort to overhaul policing, will step into the national spotlight Wednesday, handpicked by GOP leadership to give the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress. The speech offers Scott a national platform and a chance to speak to many Americans for perhaps the first time at a moment in which he is playing a critical role in the effort to weave together a policing bill that can pass the narrowly divided US Senate. While Scott is keeping many of the details of his speech to himself, the South Carolina Republican said he's done "an appropriate level of practice." "You do your homework and you do your best to ... anticipate what he's going to say and be in a position to share with the nation a different way, at least what I think is a better way," Scott said on Tuesday. Scott would not elaborate on which issues he plans to address or if he would be discussing the effort to overhaul policing. "I think it should be a surprise to everybody," he said of his speech, but, as a well-known fan of colorful socks, he did divulge that he had bought a new pair especially for the occasion. Scott's appearance comes as his profile has continued to rise on Capitol Hill. He is the only Black Republican in the Senate and has spent years highlighting racial tensions with police. He proposed legislation in 2015 to create a national database of police use-of-force incidents that resulted in death after an unarmed Black man, Walter Scott, was killed by a police officer in Scott's hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina. In 2016, he gave an impassioned, deeply personal series of speeches on the Senate floor detailing his experience as a Black man in America. Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd's death, he drafted legislation aimed at overhauling policing, an effort that ultimately failed on the Senate floor. Now he's at the center of a new bipartisan effort, a delicate process encased in cautious optimism from both sides of the aisle. Working toward a compromise bill Scott's speech comes as his discussions over a bipartisan Senate bill overhauling policing with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, the author of the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, have intensified in recent weeks. Their goal remains crafting a compromise bill, according to a source familiar with the talks. During last summer's failed effort, both sides drafted their own bills, with Scott's receiving a 55-45 floor vote in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, falling short of the 60 votes needed to pass. But a new political environment in a non-election year and an increasing sense of urgency spurred by a number of police shooting deaths across the country have given this effort a better chance of bipartisan success. Bass, Booker and Scott met in person last week and on Monday night as they work to find compromises on the sticking points, according to a source familiar with the meetings. Though they have said they agree on a lot, serious issues remain. Two of them are qualified immunity, a legal defense used to protect police officers from civil litigation, and Section 242, a part of federal law that sets the bar for criminally prosecuting police officers. On qualified immunity, Scott has suggested shifting the responsibility from individual officers to police departments, while Bass recently said the officer and department should both be held accountable. Scott previously said Section 242 was "off the table for him," but Democrats want to change the language to make it easier to criminally prosecute officers, allowing them to be charged for "reckless" conduct as opposed to "willful" misconduct, which is the current language and a higher legal bar. Bass recently told CNN that lowering the standard is essential to cutting a final deal. "Because the point is that we have got to hold police officers accountable," Bass said. "Essentially now the standard that's used to prosecute an officer is so high. That's why they're never held to account. So you need to lower it just like you would for anybody." On Tuesday, Scott declined to say if the group had resolved those two key issues. "I think we're actually making progress overall," Scott told CNN. "I hate to litigate and/or fight with through the press on these issues. They are really important issues to communities that are very vulnerable. We are trying to get to a place where we can solve those issues." Booker said Tuesday that the group is getting closer to its goal. "It has to be meaningful, substantive reform. We're not going to get everything done in one bill. There are larger, deeper problems in our country around policing that we have to try to address, but this bill must make meaningful strides to making real reforms and making people safer, making policing more accountable and more transparent and making sure that we hopefully curtail or end certain practices that we shouldn't have in the United States," Booker said. But it could take some time. Bass has said she hopes to have a deal by the anniversary of Floyd's death on May 25. 'A very healthy relationship' All eyes remain on Bass, Booker and Scott, who will ultimately decide if a deal can be reached. There is genuine friendship and respect among the three, who have spoken effusively of one another as this has played out. "A very healthy relationship," Scott said of the trio. "That does not mean we all agree, but the good news is I think we trust each other enough to actually make progress on substantive issues where there is disagreement. I think it's really helped." "Tim is a friend and an honest broker," Booker said on Tuesday. "We may disagree on a whole host of things, but we have worked together to get major bills done in the past. I have a lot of faith in him. I believe we're in a historical moment. History has its eyes on us. And there's an urgency in our country, and may we both rise in this Senate negotiation to get something substantive and meaningful done." Booker added that Scott is a "good faith actor, and he's also a Black man in America who knows a lot of these issues personally. If anybody can get it done on his side, he's the right person to be negotiating with." Bass has praised Scott as a "wonderful ally and partner." When Bass was seen heading to Booker's office on Monday to meet with Scott and him, she was carrying vegan cupcakes. Booker, who is a vegan, was about to celebrate his birthday. The three also bring with them the strong backing of their leadership and the understanding that if they agree to it, their leadership will as well. Booker said this week that he's confident Scott can deliver GOP votes if they are able to get a deal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly supported Scott's current efforts on overhauling policing after asking him last summer to craft the original GOP proposal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that he had met with Booker and Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is Senate majority whip and chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, for an hour earlier this week to discuss a potential bill. Booker has said he's been given "wide latitude" to do everything he can to get a deal. "They're making good progress with Sen. Scott," Schumer said on Tuesday. "This is a serious problem. We need strong legislation. And we're hopeful that the Booker-Scott negotiations can produce just that."
Booker in September 2019 unveiled a $3 trillion plan for combating the climate crisis that promises to invest in clean energy, phase out the use of fossil fuels and create a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. The plan would require fossil fuel producers to pay a carbon fee on coal, natural gas and oil production and would end tax subsidies to those industries. Booker would create a “progressive climate dividend” paid to Americans through the carbon fees on fossil fuel producers. He also would take executive action to reverse many of Trump’s actions undoing Obama-era environmental initiatives. During the first Democratic primary debate, in June 2019, Booker cited climate change as one of the biggest threats facing the US. He supports the Green New Deal and has pushed back against critics of the plan who have called it impractical. “If we used to govern our dreams that way, we would have never gone to the moon,” Booker has said on the campaign trail. He has said he would keep the US in the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Booker’s climate crisis policy
Booker has been known in the past as business-friendly, accepting $100 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for schools in Newark during his tenure as mayor. As a presidential candidate, Booker has called for more robust enforcement of antitrust laws, citing a “serious problem [in our country] with corporate consolidation.” During the first presidential debate, Booker said he would target companies like Amazon that pay low federal taxes or none at all. The senator has also discussed rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts. According to his campaign, Booker has stood by his opposition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation deal negotiated under Obama that Trump withdrew from in one of his first acts as President. He has opposed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – the successor deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated by Trump – as it is written. More on Booker’s economic policy
Booker has proposed federally mandated gun licenses, modeled after driver’s licenses. “If you need a license to drive a car,” he has said, “you need a license to own a gun.” His plan would also expand background checks and fund programs for communities beset by gun violence. It would ban so-called assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. He has proposed regulation and oversight of gun manufacturers. He would also close the “boyfriend loophole,” preventing people who abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. More on Booker’s gun violence policy
Booker has co-sponsored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal, legislation that would create a government-run health care plan and essentially eliminate the private insurance industry. Still, he is in favor of keeping private insurance plans. When asked in February 2019 if he would do away with private health care, he said, “Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care, so no.” He is a co-sponsor of Medicare-X, which would let individuals and small businesses buy government-backed insurance policies, known as a public option, on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Additionally, he supports lowering the Medicare age to 50. Booker has pledged to work to drive down the price of prescription drugs, including co-sponsoring a measure that would annually review whether brand-name drugs are excessively priced relative to those in other countries. He has also come out in favor of importing drugs from Canada and other developed nations. More on Booker’s health care policy
Booker has proposed a range of executive actions to immediately roll back Trump’s immigration policies, including ending immigrant detention and family separations, and decriminalizing crossing the border without documentation. He would expand Obama-era protections for some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and those who are parents of American citizens. He ridiculed Trump’s national emergency declaration on the border wall, and voted against a spending bill – which ultimately passed and was signed into law – that provided $1.357 billion for 55 miles of new barriers. Booker has also endorsed accepting a minimum of 110,000 refugees annually, a significant increase over the historically low levels of resettlement during the Trump administration. More on Booker’s immigration policy
LATEST POLITICAL NEWS
The latest on the rise of Covid-19 in US
Updated 1:55 PM ET, Wed Jul 28, 2021
Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended universal masking in schools and high transmission areas. The mask guidance is necessary, according to the CDC, due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, especially among the unvaccinated. Nearly one-third of the US population that is eligible for the vaccine has refused to get it. About 67% of eligible citizens have received at least one dose, while 58% of citizens are fully vaccinated. So, what do we know about the one-third of the population that is unvaccinated? They're more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. Most polling shows that somewhere between 50% and 60% of Republican adults are vaccinated, while 80% to 90% of Democratic adults are vaccinated.
They're likely to be younger. About 90% of Americans age 65 and older have received at least one dose, while only a little more than 50% of those ages 18-24 have. That percentage is even lower for 12- to 17-year-olds.
They're likely to be Black or Hispanic. Although this statistic is more difficult to track due to inconsistencies with state agencies and sample sizes, among the entire population and the states that are tracked, 48% of White Americans have received at least one dose compared to 41% of Hispanics and 38% of Black Americans. When asked about vaccine hesitancy, somewhere between 46% and 55% of Republicans say the vaccine is too new, are worried about side effects, do not trust the government, do not feel as if they need it or simply don't want to get it. Meanwhile, for Black Americans who are vaccine hesitant, 55% are worried about side effects and among those under 30, 65% feel as if the vaccine is unnecessary. However, among unvaccinated White adults, 49% say they'll never get the vaccine. It's just 26% among Black or Hispanic people. Read more about unvaccinated Americans here. CNN's Alyssa Kraus contributed to this post. Google is pushing back its return-to-office plans until Oct. 18 and will soon require on-campus employees to be vaccinated, according to a memo CEO Sundar Pichai sent to employees Wednesday. In the memo, Pichai said the vaccination requirement will take effect first in the United States "in the coming weeks" and will extend to offices in other locations "in the coming months." The extension for voluntary remote work, Pichai said, will "allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it. We’ll continue watching the data carefully and let you know at least 30 days in advance before transitioning into our full return to office plans." ##Vaccines## Miami-Dade County is reinstating a mask mandate inside all county facilities due to the continuing surge in Covid-19 cases, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced Wednesday. During a news conference, Cava said starting today, masks will be required for everyone at all indoor Miami-Dade County facilities. "Over the last few weeks, we have all seen an enormous and alarming rise in the Covid cases across our community and country," Cava said. According to the mayor, the positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is now over 10% with increased hospitalizations in otherwise perfectly healthy people. The mayor said she is strongly recommending that everyone wear masks in large crowds or closed spaces especially around people they don't know to be vaccinated. "We can't do this alone. We're calling on our Miami-Dade County businesses to step up and help us to protect our community with smart Covid policies and their places of business and also encourage everyone — all employees to get vaccinated," Cava said. ##Masks## Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are likely to increase over the next four weeks. The forecast predicts a total of 619,000 to 633,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by Aug. 21. The previous ensemble forecast, published July 21, projected up to 625,000 Covid-19 deaths reported by Aug. 14. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 611,357 Covid-19 deaths in the United States. The CDC ensemble forecasts project there will be up to 1.2 million new Covid-19 cases reported in the week ending Aug. 21 and up to 20,000 new Covid-19 hospitalizations reported on Aug. 23. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a communications misstep in issuing new guidance on when vaccinated people should wear masks, former Baltimore Health Commissioner and CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Wednesday. “Mostly the right policy, terrible communication,” Wen told CNN’s John King. “I’m confused and I think many people are very confused about what exactly happened and why.” New CDC guidelines recommend vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they live in areas of high or substantial transmission of the virus. “[The Biden administration] should have said the issue is not with the vaccinated, the issue is with the unvaccinated. The reason we’re having to go back to mask mandates indoors is that the unvaccinated didn’t abide by the honor system. The honor code didn’t work," Wen said. Wen said communication from the CDC could may lead to confusion about the vaccines themselves. “Now the messaging is so confused from the CDC that it sounds like there’s something wrong with the vaccine or there’s something wrong with the vaccinated,” she said. “Neither of those things are true. The vaccines are still really effective at protecting you,” she said. ##Masks## ##Vaccines## Alicia Ball's husband went from being an active person, working 12 to 16 hours a day for his construction company, to not being able to sit on the side of his hospital bed in Mississippi for just a few minutes. It's the toll of Covid-19. Now, she's pleading with people to get the vaccine. "We have really tried to, after this, talk to as many of our friends and family as possible that they should get it. I never really realized how bad it would be – how bad this Delta variant would be," she told CNN on Wednesday, speaking from Jackson, Mississippi. "I'm exhausted. I haven't slept. I'm really worried." Ball said her husband is on 15 liters of oxygen and can hardly breathe. "He can't walk at all hardly. Just having a difficult time, very difficult," she said. She said they didn't take the virus seriously at first because they didn't know anyone personally who was experiencing the effects. Ball said her husband plans to get the vaccine when he gets out of the hospital, but she is worried that he might not recover. "It's just devastated his body. I wouldn't want anybody else to go through this," she said. ##Vaccines### ##Delta Variant## Starting Friday, anyone who gets a first dose of any Covid-19 vaccine at a New York city-run vaccination site will be given $100, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday. The incentive is open to all New York City residents and employees who have not yet received a first vaccine dose. Those with an email address will immediately be issued a $100 digital debit card upon getting their first Covid-19 vaccine at a site run by the city. Those without an email address will be mailed a physical prepaid debit card, said Rachel Loeb, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation. To date, the city has administered 9,902,097 vaccine doses and over 4.9 million New Yorkers (comprising over 59% of the city’s overall population) have received at least one dose, de Blasio said. Asked what he would say to New Yorkers who got vaccinated early without needing any incentive, de Blasio said, “anyone who got vaccinated previously, I’m one of those people – congratulations, you got vaccinated, you were protected from Covid, it was free, it was the right thing to do for yourself, for your family, for your community – you did the right thing. And the reward is, you were kept safe.” Regarding whether the city was considering mandating Covid-19 vaccines for children over the age of 12, de Blasio said city health officials continue to “constantly look at the data and the science” and will make any future decisions accordingly. The mayor reiterated that anyone wishing to attend any of the five “NYC Homecoming” concerts in-person next month will be screened for proof of vaccination upon arrival. While city officials will be planning concerts in the outer boroughs, the week of concerts will culminate in a Central Park concert produced by Clive Davis. De Blasio noted that using a forged vaccination card is a crime that comes with a potential penalty of prison time. ##Vaccines## New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants the US Food and Drug Administration to issue final approval of Covid-19 vaccines so states can have more legal authority to mandate the vaccine. “This vaccine right now is under something called the emergency use authorization. Under emergency use authorization, states are limited as to what they can mandate,” Cuomo said while addressing the The Association for a Better New York at a virtual meeting. “Once the vaccines is finally approved, then the state has more legal authority to mandate the vaccine,” Cuomo added. More on this: President Biden told CNN's Don Lemon during a CNN town hall last week that he expects Covid-19 vaccines could get full approval "quickly." The National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins also told CNN's Jim Acosta last week that full approval could come in the "next couple of months." Vaccine maker Pfizer appears to be furthest along in the process. In July, the company announced that the FDA granted its vaccine a priority review, so that sets the regulatory clock for six months, meaning technically the company should know if it has approval by January. A standard review is 10 months. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced on Twitter that he plans to file a lawsuit against a proposed mask mandate by the City of Kansas City. "To the great people of Kansas City: I will be filing a lawsuit to protect your freedoms," Schmitt said in the tweet. Schmitt, who is also running for US Senate, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the city of St. Louis, for their mask mandate. Responding to Schmitt's tweet, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas noted that their proposed mask mandate order has not even been filed yet. "What are you suing about? Do you want us to just schedule a debate on Fox News so you can get the press," the mayor wrote. Announcing the proposed mask mandate on Tuesday, Lucas said on Twitter that he was following the updated CDC guidance. "I have stuck with CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and today is no different," Lucas' tweet read. "I will return Kansas City to a mask mandate indoors based upon national and regional health guidance and discussion with other Kansas City leaders." CNN has reached out to Schmitt's office for additional comment but has not receive a response. ##Masks## Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and a board member at Pfizer, said that when it comes to full approval of Covid-19 vaccines, much of what the FDA is now doing is going through the portion of the application that deals with manufacturing. “I long felt that the FDA would approve the vaccine probably within a three to four month time frame from when the application was submitted,” Gottlieb said on NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday. “Those applications were submitted about two and a half, three months ago, including the application from Pfizer, the company I’m on the board of, I think they submitted the application in late May. So I think that puts you on end of August, September timeframe in terms of when these are going to be approved.” A lot of what the FDA is now doing is going through what is called the CMC – chemistry, manufacturing and controls – portion of the application, he said. “Basically, the portion of the application that deals with the manufacturing of the vaccines so that they can put appropriate language and labeling on what the storage and handling requirements going to be for the vaccine when it’s put into general distribution, because remember we’ve been distributing the vaccine through special vaccine distribution sites,” he said, adding that once the vaccine is fully approved, it gets put into normal distribution so there has to be information on appropriate handling and shelf life. A lot of the clinical portion of the review has probably already been done because the information has been going to FDA on a rolling basis and it has been evaluating the clinical performance all the way through. “I think that you’re going to see these get fully licensed, but the reality is the bulk of the work, and what people think of in terms of the core of the application, the clinical data, a lot of that’s already been reviewed, the agency has gotten comfort around that, in my estimation,” he said. ##Vaccines## The Baltimore Ravens opened training camp on Wednesday without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, after the former league MVP tested positive for Covid-19. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Jackson and running back Gus Edwards tested positive for Covid-19 after the team’s practice, “We had Gus Edwards for Covid and Lamar Jackson tested positive for [Covid-19]. Those two guys will be put in the protocol, and that's really the extent that we can comment on those two guys at this time.” Per NFL health and safety protocols, vaccinated players who test positive and remain asymptomatic are eligible to return after testing negative twice in a 24-hour span. Unvaccinated players are required to quarantine for 10 days and then test negative in order to return. It is unclear if Jackson is vaccinated. In June, Jackson was asked about his vaccination status saying, “Just like everyone in society, it’s their decision, keeping that to themselves, but I feel we do a great job here of taking the vaccine, staying away from Covid, following the right preparation and stuff like that, staying away from the outside to the people that are attracting it.” CNN has inquired about Jackson’s vaccination status. Last November, the Ravens struggled to manage a coronavirus outbreak within the team - at one point placing over 20 players on the team's Reserve/Covid-19 list. On Wednesday, the NFL disclosed their latest update on player vaccination percentages. The league says 86.9% of players are vaccinated overall (at least one shot) with 18 clubs with over 90% vaccinated. Several Republicans in the House, including Minority Whip Steve Scalise are openly blasting a new mandate that members in the House must mask up again due to the increase in Covid-19 cases arising from the much more transmissible Delta variant. GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert threw a mask back at a floor staffer when she was offered one while trying to walk onto the floor maskless, according to a witness account relayed to CNN. Her office later released a statement saying: “Rep. Boebert refuses to comply with Speaker Pelosi’s anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate. When offered a mask, she returned it with a quick slide across the table.” Boebert then sat on the House floor without wearing a mask, the only member on the floor not to be wearing one. GOP Rep. Chip Roy, later entered the floor maskless, and called for the House to adjourn. Fellow Freedom Caucus members, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs and Boebert then stood up and yelled AYE also all not wearing masks, but Democrats opposed. Roy and Boebert’s actions come one day after the House reinstated its mask mandate. Members found not wearing a mask are subject to a $500 fine, per House rules. The House's mandate follows the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendation Tuesday that all Americans should mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in areas with "high" or "substantial" Covid-19 transmission. GOP Rep. Chip Roy joined Rep. Lauren Boebert in refusing to wear a mask on the House floor Wednesday, calling the newly reinstated rules “patently absurd.” When asked if he has any intentions of masking up in the Capitol, Roy told CNN “we’ll see.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also walked onto the floor this morning without a mask. CNN asked her if she was going to wear one. She said: “Do you see a mask on my face? I think that’s the answer to your question. And I’m suing Nancy Pelosi for violating the 27th amendment.” Separately, Scalise responded on Twitter to the latest change in mask guidance, writing, "This isn't about science—it's about government control." "First they told us don’t wear a mask. Then they told us wear a mask. Then wear two masks. Then get the vaccine and you don’t have to wear a mask. Now they tell us never mind, wear a mask. This isn't about science—it's about government control," Scalise wrote on Twitter. Scientists argue best practices and mandates will continue to evolve as the science and the virus evolves. ##Masks## New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering all patient-facing healthcare workers in state hospitals to get vaccinated with no testing option. He made the announcement while speaking at a virtual meeting for The Association for a Better New York. “We need dramatic action to get control of this situation,” Cuomo said. “We want to make sure that those healthcare workers are vaccinated. Period.” Cuomo also said that the state is conducting a full review of the new CDC guidance suggesting masks indoors for everyone, included those who are vaccinated, in areas with substantial Covid cases. Cuomo added that New York will follow President Biden’s planned announcement that all federal workers be vaccinated or get tested. New York state workers fill need to do the same, effective Labor Day, which is Sept. 6. “We're working with our unions to implement this quickly and fairly, but we want to get it done by labor day and I encourage all local governments to do the same,” Cuomo said. ##Vaccines## Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration said the US isn’t doing a good job of measuring how much spread is happening in the country and there is probably a lot more than is being picked up. “I don’t think we’re doing a good job of measuring how much spread is actually underway in this country,” Gottlieb said on NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday. “I think we have far more spread than what we’re picking up.” The US is not doing a lot of testing, he said, and much of the testing done is at home and not being reported. Many people who are getting infected now or experiencing mild symptoms are not seeking out tests. “Generally speaking, the people who are presenting for testing are either people who are getting very sick, or people who are developing telltale symptoms of Covid like loss of taste or smell,” he said. “So, we’re picking up probably a very small fraction of the overall infections.” At the height of the epidemic in winter, 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 infections were probably diagnosed; last summer, probably 1 in 10 were being diagnosed, Gottlieb said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re only turning over one in ten infections right now, maybe less than that.” “If you start to impute that and you factor in how many people remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to this infection, it’s about maybe 80 million Americans that are unvaccinated and remain vulnerable to infection,” he said. “Probably a lot of them have now been infected with this Delta wave, we probably have a lot more infection in the states with vaccination rates are low than what we’re picking up.” The biggest part of the problem, he said, is that there aren’t solid numbers saying this is true. “CDC has a retrospective mindset in terms of how they operate, they really don’t have a prospective mindset. They don’t do real-time forecasting, and they don’t collect all the data that’s necessary to make real-time decision making,” Gottlieb said. “CDC made a unilateral decision to stop tracking outpatient infections among vaccinated individuals I’m told for cost reasons, they didn’t have the resources to do that, so they don’t know, they don’t have data on how many infections, for example, are occurring among unvaccinated individuals. They're making an estimate that there probably is some infection among vaccinated individuals,” he said. “And so they want to urge them to be prudent as well and be cautious with this new mask mandate but they don't actually have that data because it's not being collected.” In a response to CNN on Wednesday, CDC did not address whether cost was a factor in how it’s tracking breakthrough cases. It noted that in early May, CDC transitioned to focus on breakthrough cases in patients who were hospitalized or die. “This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance,” CDC’s Jasmine Reed said in an email, adding, “State and local health departments continue to report breakthrough cases to CDC to identify and investigate patterns or trends among hospitalized or fatal vaccine breakthrough cases.” Kenya is set to receive 2,460,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses through bilateral donations from the US and European countries, according to the Ministry of Health. “Kenya will receive 1,760,000 doses of Pfizer from the US government, 410,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the UK government, 235,000 doses of Astrazeneca from Greece, and 55,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Latvia as part of bilateral donations,” Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said on Wednesday. Kagwe said the vaccine doses will start arriving in the country at the beginning of next week in a boost to the ongoing vaccination campaign. The current drive has seen 1,692,793 of the 1,733,100 AstraZeneca doses received in the country administered. Kenya’s Ministry of Health added in a tweet that the COVAX initiative has also allocated Kenya 407,040 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 271,440 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Those doses are in addition to the government-procured 13 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, whose delivery will start next month. In preparation for the arrival of the Pfizer vaccines, which require ultra-cold storage at -70 degrees, the cabinet secretary said, “Kenya will be receiving 15 ultra-cold chain freezers from the UPS Foundation valued at 15 million shillings ($138,100) within the next two weeks.” These will be delivered to the main vaccine store in Kitengela, along with nine of the regional stores across the country allowing a shelf-life of six months. The Kenya Ministry of Health said it "will work with county governments to conduct outreach services aimed at increasing demand for vaccine services among priority populations and hard to reach areas." The department said the latest initiative remains in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plan to have 10 million people vaccinated by Christmas this year, with the entire adult population of 26 million to be done by end of next year in an effort to reach herd immunity. The statement comes as the White House National Security Council’s Senior Director for Africa Dana Banks announced the US will be sending more than 5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to South Africa, and just over 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Nigeria. ##Vaccines## General Motors and Ford tell CNN that they have reinstated mask mandates at some of their US facilities. General Motors spokesperson Dan Flores said they reinstated mandatory mask wearing at their Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant, "based on a recommendation from GM’s Medical team review of positive cases in the community, absentee rate, local infection rates, etc." The mandate went into effect prior to the new CDC guidance was announced on Tuesday afternoon. Ford spokesperson Daniel Barbossa told CNN that they would be requiring face masks for all employees and visitors in their facilities in Missouri and Florida. Barbossa also said that the company is requiring that employees be fully vaccinated for Covid-19, "prior to any international business travel due to the potential of increased exposure to COVID-19." Both companies say they are strongly encouraging all employees get vaccinated against Covid-19. ##Masks## New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s health officials are reviewing the new CDC guidance on indoor masking and will have more to say on it in the upcoming days. “We are accessing the new information from the CDC right now, we got it less than 24 hours ago. It is complicated information, so our health team is reviewing it and we’ll have more to say on it in the next few days,” de Blasio said during an ongoing press conference Wednesday. All five boroughs in New York City are indicated as areas of high or substantial risk of Covid-19 spread and would fall under the CDC guidelines for indoor masking. ##Masks## The Department of Homeland Security is requiring all federal employees, contractors, and visitors to wear a mask inside all DHS workspaces and federal buildings as of Wednesday, according to a memo sent to the workforce. Masks are mandated across the United States, regardless of vaccination status or level of Covid-19 transmission in the local area. The memo, sent late Tuesday night from DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Management Randolph “Tex" Alles, urges employees to get vaccinated and get tested for Covid-19 if they experience symptoms. Alles told employees and contractors to "continue to physically distance" and follow workplace protection guidance. "As part of its updated guidance, CDC reiterated that fully vaccinated people are at substantially reduced risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated people," the memo reads. The memo was shared with the workforce several hours after the department announced Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will work virtually this week after exposure to a DHS employee who tested positive for Covid-19, according to a department spokesperson. "The Secretary has no symptoms and has tested negative twice. Official DHS contact tracing is underway," DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa said in a statement Tuesday. ##Masks## Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will be airing a 60-second ad in the coming days on more than 100 radio stations in Kentucky, according to McConnell’s spokesperson. The decision comes as the Delta variant surges across the country, leading to a new mask guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. McConnell is a polio survivor and has been a strong supporter of Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the pandemic. According to a source familiar with the news, the ad will reference McConnell's personal experience with Polio. The ad, first reported by Reuters, will be paid for using re-election funds. “This is not complicated. 97% of people hospitalized for COVID are not vaccinated. If you haven’t been vaccinated, do the right thing for you — for your family — and get vaccinated right now,” McConnell will say, according to a script of the ad. ##Vaccines## New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and health officials say they “strongly recommend” that vaccinated and unvaccinated residents “where masks in indoor settings when there is increased risk,” following the new CDC guidance, according to a statement from the governor’s office Wednesday. This includes crowded indoor settings, indoor settings involving activities with close contact with other possibly unvaccinated persons, or where an individual is immunocompromised or at an increased risk for severe disease. “Our metrics are trending in the wrong direction, and new data suggests the Delta variant is more transmissible even among vaccinated individuals, which is why we are making this strong recommendation,” the governor and Health commissioner Judy Persichilli said in a joint statement. “We have crushed this virus repeatedly like no other state in the nation, and we are proud to boast among the country’s highest vaccination rates. But at this point, given where our metrics are now, we feel the best course of action is to strongly encourage every New Jerseyan, and every visitor to our state, to take personal responsibility and mask up indoors when prudent," the statement adds. They also encouraged every resident to get vaccinated. ##Masks## The State Department is now requiring masks indoors for everyone in their domestic and overseas buildings regardless of vaccination status, two State Department officials told CNN. “All federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all Department facilities, domestic and overseas,” says notice the State Department sent to its workforce on Wednesday. CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment. For context: The House of Representatives' attending physician also sent out new guidance on Wednesday requiring “well-fitted, medical grade” masks be warn in all interior spaces in the House. President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday a requirement that all federal employees and contractors be vaccinated against Covid-19, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. In Vermont, 83.6% of people 12 and over have received at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine, according to health officials. Throughout the state, hospital Covid-19 units are mostly empty. Bars and restaurants are hopping again. Even in remote rural towns, diners, country stores and campgrounds are filling up. In comparison to Vermont's 83.6% of one-dose vaccinations, only 66.5% of US citizens have received one dose of the vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarly, more than 67% of Vermont's roughly 624,000 residents have been fully vaccinated, compared with about 49% for the US overall. Vermont also has the "lowest number of deaths on the continental US," according to state health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. The total: 259 Covid-19 deaths. The state has maintained one of the country's lowest infection rates as well, currently at 1.7% for a seven-day average, according to the health department's Covid-19 dashboard. "The whole strategy is, we want a Vermonter to essentially stumble on the vaccine," Levine said of the various vaccine tents around the state. "That's the sort of strategy. We're going to make sure it's all around you ... If there's a state fair, it's got to have vaccine. If there's a farmers' market or a flea market, it's going to have vaccine." In June and July, the state has had four Covid-19 deaths. Even in the face of the Delta variant, there are six Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the entire state. Vermont's success in vaccinating its residents is attributed to various factors, including the accessibility of vaccine sites, overall trust in the political leadership and science, an aging, mostly white and liberal populace, and a generally health conscious population with a strong sense of civic responsibility. "Even if somebody comes into Vermont and has the Delta variant ... and they get sick and they're infectious while they're here in Vermont," Levine said. "If 83-plus% of the population is vaccinated. That variant runs into a wall." Vermont's state of emergency ended at midnight on June 14, the day that vaccination rates reached 80% of the population over 12 years of age. "Why? Because it's safe to do so," Gov. Phil Scott said. Moreover, hospitals in Vermont have not been swamped with patients. Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, a community hospital about 28 miles northeast of Burlington, treated its last Covid-19 patient in early May, according to chief medical officer Dr. John Minadeo. However, in states such as Florida, Texas and Missouri — which share low vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide — hospitals are filling up with Covid-19 patients again, this time with younger patients than before. "One really important lesson right now, as I think about what's happening across the country, is the importance of community and solidarity," said Anne Sosin, a policy fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. "And I know that sounds kind of soft but we hear the CDC saying, 'It's in your hands.' This is a very individualistic approach to the pandemic. Yet Vermonters really highlighted the importance of community response and collective action." Read more about daily life in America's most vaccinated state here. CNN's Alyssa Kraus contributed to this post. Pfizer anticipates applying for emergency use authorization of a third dose of its coronavirus vaccine as soon as next month, Dr. Mikael Dolsten, who leads worldwide research, development and medical for Pfizer, said during a company earnings call on Wednesday morning. "We are in ongoing discussions with regulatory agencies regarding a potential third-dose booster of the current vaccine and, assuming positive results, anticipate an emergency use authorization submission as early as August," Dolsten said. In order for third doses to be administered to people in the United States, the emergency use authorization that the US Food and Drug Administration issued for the vaccine would either need to be amended or, if the vaccine were FDA approved, a third dose could be given off label. "We continue to believe it is likely that a third-dose booster may be needed within six to 12 months after full vaccination to maintain the highest level of protection, and studies are underway to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a third dose," Dolsten said, adding that data suggest antibody levels appear to decline around eight months after receiving a second dose of vaccine. "Pending regulatory approval, we also plan to start an immunogenicity and safety study in August to evaluate an updated version of our vaccine specifically designed to target the Delta variant," Dolsten said. He mentioned how the Delta variant is the "most transmissible" yet seen and now represents about 83% of sequenced Covid-19 cases in the United States. ##Vaccines## Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday that Covid-19 vaccines don’t make people impervious to infection, but asking vaccinated people to again wear masks may not provide much “bang for our buck” to reduce transmission. “I think that there’s some transmission occurring among people who are vaccinated,” Gottlieb said. “We’ve been saying that for a while, I’ve been pointing out for a while at this point, the vaccine doesn’t make you impervious to infection.” Given how transmissible the Delta variant is, there are probably people who are becoming mildly or asymptomatically infected even when vaccinated, he said. “I think at this point, where we are with this Delta wave, which is probably closer to the end than the beginning, and the fact that probably a very small percentage of the transmission is occurring among vaccinated people, I don’t know how prudent this and practical it is,” Gottlieb said of the new CDC guidance. The bottom line, he said, is that people who are vaccinated shouldn’t assume that they are completely protected, so if they’re around high-risk people, they should be mindful, and potentially wear a mask, and “certainly” get tested if they think they have Covid-19 symptoms. “I think in terms of telling everyone whose been vaccinated that they need to now start wearing a mask again, I think that’s going to be very little bang for our buck in terms of trying to reduce transmission right now in the context of this wave of infection,” he said. ##Masks## ##Delta Variant## Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Wednesday that health passes for the fully vaccinated, such as those used in parts of Europe, “may very well be a path forward.” “I think some communities are doing that and that may very well be the path forward,” Walensky said. “I do want to sort of comment that in some fully vaccinated venues, if they’re unmasked and there are a few people who are transmitting there, as a fully vaccinated person, it is possible to pick up disease in those settings. We’ve seen that in some of our outbreak investigations this summer, which is why, overall, it’s so very critical to just get the huge amount of disease in some of these areas down," she continued. ##Vaccines## In a message to students and staff, Duke University leadership announced that due to the increase in Covid-19 cases in North Carolina, they would be issuing an indoor mask mandate to all people regardless of vaccination status. The university will be requiring masks to be worn indoors in all its facilities, except for on-campus residence halls. "Masks will not be required in on-campus residence halls where there is a significantly lower risk of exposure for high-risk individuals," the message said. Duke said the mask mandate was being instituted because officials "have seen a steady rise in the number of cases on campus among unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals." ##Masks## ##Schools## England will allow fully vaccinated travelers from the US and the EU to avoid quarantine from Aug. 2, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced Wednesday. "We're helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK. From 2nd August at 4am people from these countries will be able to come to the England from an amber country without having to quarantine if they're fully vaxxed," Shapps tweeted Wednesday. The changes will apply to fully vaccinated people with a US Food and Drug Administration) or European Medicines Agency vaccine, Shapps said, adding that travelers will "still need to do the usual pre-departure test before arrival and take a PCR test on day 2 of returning to the England." "We're also able to confirm the restart of international cruises and flexible testing programmes to help key workers and drive our economic recovery," Shapps also said. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the CDC can push for vaccination in schools, but it can’t mandate it – that will have to be a local decision. “We can provide this advice, but we can’t mandate it at the federal level,” she told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Wednesday. “Those are all jurisdictional discussions and jurisdictional mandates. We are hoping that our advice will lead to more and more jurisdictions leaning in to get more people vaccinated.” There are very few places in the country right now where enough people are vaccinated for children to not have to wear masks in school. “I can imagine a situation where a school system might have all of their teachers documented and vaccinated, all of their children in a high school documented as vaccinated and very little disease in the community,” she said. “Right now, we don’t have a lot of situations that are like that, but I could imagine a situation like that, and boy, do I hope we get there.” Asked what it would take for the CDC to say that they no longer recommended masks in schools, Walensky said, “I think if we see more and more people who are vaccinated, our children are vaccinated, we have full vaccination in schools, we have full vaccination in teachers, all of those are documented, we have disease rates that are low – I think then we can start thinking about how we can loosen up. And, you know, not seeing clusters and outbreaks in these school systems." “If we have more and more people vaccinated, we will win in this race and the virus will be less transmitting and we will be able to lift some of these things," she added. ##Vaccines## ##Schools## In its largest bilateral vaccine donation to date, the United States government announced on Monday that it would donate 5.7 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to South Africa – with the first tranche of vaccines to arrive in Johannesburg over the weekend. “On behalf of the American people, I am very proud that we are able to donate these vaccine doses to South Africa and have no doubt that the medicines will help save many lives in South Africa,” said the US Mission’s Chargé d’ Affaires Todd Haskell in a statement. The donations are part of the Biden-Harris pledge to donate 500 million vaccine doses globally, the statement read. South Africa has been one of the worst hit countries in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic and is emerging from a dramatic third wave of the virus driven by the more transmissible Delta variant. On Sunday, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa eased some restrictions that had been in place for a several weeks to combat the rise in infections. The South African government had been criticized for its slow rollout of vaccines, but in recent days the vaccine drive has accelerated substantially. From Sept. 1 anyone over the age of 18 will be eligible for a jab. Earlier this month, two provinces in South Africa were hit by widespread looting and unrest that slowed vaccination efforts temporarily. “South Africans know they can count on the United States, as a friend and partner, to support their efforts to fight the pandemic and get their economy back on track,” said Haskell in the statement. ##Vaccines## A third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine can "strongly" boost protection against the Delta variant – beyond the protection afforded by the standard two doses, suggests new data released by Pfizer on Wednesday. The data posted online, which are expected to be discussed in a company earnings call on Wednesday morning, suggest that antibody levels against the Delta variant in people ages 18 to 55 who receive a third dose of vaccine are greater than five-fold following a second dose. Among people ages 65 to 85, the Pfizer data suggest that antibody levels against the Delta variant after receiving a third dose of vaccine are greater than 11-fold following a second dose. There's "estimated potential for up to 100-fold increase in Delta neutralization post-dose three compared to pre-dose three," researchers wrote in the Pfizer data slides. The data also show that antibody levels are much higher after a third dose than a second dose against the original coronavirus variant and the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa. ##Vaccines## ##Delta Variant## Pfizer said in its quarterly earnings news release on Wednesday that it expects Covid-19 vaccine safety and immune data that could support emergency use authorization for children ages 5 to 11 by the end of September, and later for younger children. “The full dataset from this study, which will be required to support licensure in this age group, is expected by the end of 2021,” the company said. “Similar data packages will be submitted shortly thereafter to support EUA and licensure in children 6 months to 5 years of age.” The announcement appears to shift the company’s previously stated timeline around vaccines for younger children; the company had previously said it expected to seek emergency use authorization for its vaccine for children ages 2 to 11 in September. The New York Times reported this week that Pfizer would expand vaccine trials in younger children after the US Food and Drug Administration found the trials were too small to detect rare side effects. Pfizer told CNN at the time it did not have an update on details for its trial in children; vaccine maker Moderna confirmed it would expand the size of its Covid-19 vaccine trial in younger children, and did not expect to seek emergency use authorization for the vaccine for children until later this early or early next year. ##Vaccines## Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Wednesday that masking is the safest way to get children back in schools. “We’ve seen over the summer that there have been numerous school outbreaks in places that haven’t taken the proper prevention strategies,” she said, adding that the goal is to make sure that children get back to full in-person schooling and have a relatively normal school year. Children younger than 12 aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet, and just 30% of 12- to 17-year-olds are vaccinated, Walensky said. “The majority of people in our schools right now will be unvaccinated, just by virtue of the numbers,” she said. “And we felt it was really important to lean in and try and have our children back to school in the safest way possible, and that would mean masking.” Walensky also pointed out that although there is no evidence to suggest Delta is making children sicker, “it’s really important for people to understand that this is not a benign disease in kids compared to other diseases that our kids see.” ##Masks## The House of Representatives' attending physician sent out new guidance requiring “well-fitted, medical grade” masks be warn in all interior spaces in the House in light of yesterday's new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidance and as the Delta variant is rising. Here's a portion of a memo: “For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space. This CDC recommended measure further reduces risk of acquiring infection, and potential risk of transmitting disease to an individual’s vulnerable household members (children under age 12, immunocompromised family members, etc.). For all House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee Meetings, wearing of a well-fitted, medical grade, filtration face mask is required when an individual is in an interior space and other individuals are present. To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED” ##Masks## Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Wednesday that CDC’s mask guidance change was prompted by science only days old that showed vaccinated people with breakthrough Delta infections can pass the virus to others. More information will be published in the coming days, she said. Walensky first emphasized that the vaccines are working exactly as it was thought that they would with the Delta variant by preventing hospitalization and death, adding that “we should be getting vaccinated to prevent severe disease in ourselves and to protect ourselves from the Delta variant and from getting severe Covid.” “Here’s the new science that we saw just in the last several days,” she said. “With prior variants, when people had these rare breakthrough infections, we didn’t see the capacity of them to spread the virus to others, but with the Delta variant, we now see in our outbreak investigations that have been occurring over the last couple of weeks, in those outbreak investigations we have been seeing that if you happen to have one of those breakthrough infections, that you can actually now pass it to somebody else.” “That was the new science that prompted the guidance,” she said. “And, you know, it weighed heavily. I know this is not a message America wants to hear.” ##Masks##