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tv   CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  August 23, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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♪ >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. good monday morning to you, i'm jim sciutto. good news this morning, breaking news, the fda has granted full approval to the pfizer covid-19 vaccine. this is a key step in getting more americans vaccinated. it comes more than nine months after the first dose of the pfizer vaccine was administered in this country. the decision could motivate millions of americans who still have not received a vaccine to finally get the shot. the data is behind it. it saves lives. it keeps people out of the hospital. according to the surgeon general, this could also open the door for businesses, universities, other institutions to impose or enforce vaccine requirements. this breaking news about the pfizer vaccine comes as vaccination rates are slowly starting to tick up. again, three days in a row of more than a million vaccines in a day. let's start with cnn's senior medical correspondent elizabeth
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cohen as well as dr. paul sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at brig ham and women's hospital. elizabeth, first for folks at home who say, wait a second, this already had approval, right? 363 million doses have been administered in this country. explain the difference between emergency use authorization, which has been in place since last december and what full approval today means. >> right. so both are done based on a clinical trial of more than 40,000 people. and that's why hundreds of millions of people felt comfortable getting the shot, including you and me and dr. sax when it only had emergency use authorization. 40,000, more than 40,000 people took this shot, pfizer and the fda looked at the data and it got emergency authorization. but it took more months to look at that data, continuously, to look at more safety and efficacy data and now it has full approval. for those of us who are already vaccinated, it's just -- it's sort of more confirmation that
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we did the right thing when we got vaccinated. for folks who have been hesitant, the hope is they'll say, oh, now that it's fully approved and not just authorized as an emergency thing, now i'll get that. so that's one of the things that they're hoping will make a difference that folks will say, now i'll get it. another thing that's going to happen most likely is that restaurants, schools, businesses are going to feel more comfortable mandating the vaccine. they still could have done it under emergency authorization, but they'll feel more comfortable. and that that's what's going to make people roll up their sleeves if they can't go to their favorite restaurant or send their kid to school, maybe that will make them roll up their sleeves. also, pfizer can now advertise their vaccine. pharmaceutical advertising works. i mean, we've seen it over and over again. so, hopefully the folks who weren't swayed by the government advertisements and there has been quite a bit, maybe they'll be swayed by a pfizer advertisement. who knows. but i think the thinking is that those mandates, jim, are really
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what's going to do it. when you can't go to a concert with your friends, when your child can't go to school, that may make you roll up your sleeve. >> we'll see. there is some polling by the way data that shows among the vaccine hesitant or resistant, many said, well, full approval would change my mind. dr. paul sax, i wonder, you're a clinician, you're dealing with patients, perhaps with patients who have been resistant to getting the vaccine. sit your sense that full approval will make a difference for them? >> i think it will make a difference for some of them. clearly having full approval will, as was mentioned, increase the likelihood that where people work they're going to need to get vaccinated. vaccine mandates do have an impact especially on people on the fence. the other thing, we may see additional safety data in particular about manufacturing and distribution. those are things that could reassure people that the vaccines really are sach. we have enormous safety data already. i don't want people to think this was lacking. getting the full approval provides that additional layer of security.
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>> the thing is here, right, doctor, you have two kinds of data which are encouraging. you have the data that shows it's safe, that bad effects are a very small number of people. but that the damn thing works, right? i mean, particularly with keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them alive. for folks who may be listening here who have not gotten vaccinated because they're hesitant, explain that to them. what you've seen. >> yeah. i think that the way to look at it is you can get the vaccine for both your own personal health as well as for public health reasons. >> yeah. >> and the personal health part has been very strong. even with delta, delta variant, which has caused some more vaccine breakthrough cases, most of the cases are mild and not -- do not end up putting people in the hospital. when you look at the rate of covid-19 serious enough to cause hospitalization or death, it is so much higher in the unvaccinated. i cannot begin to describe. the other thing is that we know that the vaccines reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to other people.
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it's not 100%. but it does do that so it protects other people. protects people in your family, protects people in your workplace. that's another important reason to get vaccinated. so the data are stronger and stronger all the time. that this is our best pathway out of the pandemic to get as many vaccinated people as possible. >> yeah. there's a big difference between getting a breakthrough infection and getting something when you're unprotected that sends you to the hospital or worse. and we do see data there that shows the vast, vast majority of people who are getting hospitalize and dying are the unvaccinated. elizabeth cohen, when we talk about the potential for vaccine mandates here, talk about a whole host of organizations, they are private companies, may be educational institutions and the u.s. military planning to mandate vaccines coming up, do we have a sense of how many millions of americans this will impact? >> oh, it could be millions upon millions if not tens or hundreds of thousands of millions depending upon how many organizations take that up. and i think the feeling at the beginning of the vaccine
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rollout, jim, was among public health experts was, oh, don't worry. once we speak truth to facebook nonsense, to stuff that garbage the people are reading on social media, people will get the shot. i think the feeling now is you know what, we're not going to convince them. this is going to be -- have to be done by mandate. as dr. sax talked about, vaccine mandates that work. it's one thing to say, i don't feel like getting this shot. but when you boss says to you, okay, you don't have a job anymore. that may make you roll up your sleeve. the hope is that the mandates are really going to be the thing that turns this around. >> yeah. listen, i read that one of the top facebook posts this weekend was something with disinformation about the vaccine. i mean, it is still getting out there. dr. sax, before you go just one more question because of course the next group, the next milestone would be granting emergency use authorization for children under 12. and kids are going back to school, right? across the country. do you have any sense of timeline for that?
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>> it's a bit more complicated because the fda has asked for additional safety data and they wanted to increase the size of the trials. it may be that they're collecting more information about the rare cases of myocarditis occur in children who are vaccinated. from an infection prevention perspective, however, i think the data are going to be very strong that getting kids vaccinated is important for preventing the spread of covid-19. as you know, there have been more kids, more young -- more adolescents hospitalized and sick with covid-19 since delta came along than before. and this is something that we're all very concerned about as schools open. and as a result, i hope that the fda approval for the younger groups can be accelerated. >> yeah. listen, i worry about my own kids and the risk to them from the unvaccinated as i know a lot of parents do. elizabeth cohen, dr. paul sax, thank you for helping us break down this very important news. >> thanks, jim. speaking of students nearly 20,000 students in school staff
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had to be quarantined since in-person classes began in florida. this, according to a cnn analysis of the public data. more than 6,000 covid infections were identified among the state's 15 largest school districts. with infections surging, miami dade county begins in-person classes today with a mask man day-to-day firmly in place. despite the florida governor's ban on mask requirements and vow to punish districts who impose such mandates. cnn's leyla santiago is in miami dade. leyla, you spoke with the superintendent there. what did he say? is he going to stick with this despite the government's fight? >> reporter: he says he will. and that's not something new. he's been saying that since miami dade school district passed that mandate last week. the superintendents that are moving forward with these type of mandates are well aware of what could be financial consequences. the state already notifying two districts saying we plan to with
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hold state funding in the amount of salaries when it comes to superintendents or school boards. and you know, jim, you just went over the numbers. right? the numbers still very troubling for school boards and superintendents who say we are listening to the medical experts as the governor doubles down, saying this is about parent choice. so we asked the superintendent what his communication been like since he made the announcement that they're moving forward with mandates last week with the governor's office? here is what he had to say. >> i received any correspondence from the governor or the commissioner. but i have no doubt that probably we will considering the messages that were sent to broward and other counties. but look, i've said it. i'm very proud of the actions taken by this school system, very proud of the courage demonstrated by our school board. and intimidation threats or consequences will not deter us from doing the right thing.
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>> reporter: and here is why miami dade is so important. this is the largest school district in the state. 3 34,000 students enrolled in this district. and they are now one of seven school districts moving forward with these mandates. jim, i can tell you in checking in with a few other districts there are others that as we speak are considering moving down the same path. >> understood, leyla good to have you there and seems a lot of parents support it. still to come this hour, president biden now says the u.s. troops may not leave afghanistan on that self-imposed deadline of august 31st. taliban responding those troops must be out by the end of the month. are we going to listen to them? later a spike in covid cases fueled by the delta variant has forced an entire texas school district into quarantine. will that make the state's governor change his mind on mask mandates? we'll see. or do the politics rule?
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this over concerns that the evacuations simply won't be done by then. the taliban pushed back this morning, saying they want all u.s. forces out of the country by the end of the month as promised. cnn's john harwood joins me now. john, does the white house care about that? do they listen to the taliban? >> reporter: oh, i don't think the taliban's statement is going to be determinetive of what president biden does as he has indicated. look, there have been several adjustments made to the evacuation process in the last couple days. one is some operations outside the airport walls we saw those chinook helicopters rescuing 169 americans from a hospital, getting them inside the airport. president biden said yesterday they have to some degree secured the ability to operate outside the wire around the kabul airport, which is protected by u.s. troops. and they've also invoked a little used law to enlist civilian aviation companies to
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provide planes to assist in what they're calling the through-put, that is once planes leave kabul and land at u.s. air bases elsewhere, the civilian aircraft are being used to move them on to other destinations to allow that flow to continue. so, 37,000 over the last nine days, that's a significant number. eight days to go. we expect the g7 partners to discuss the possibility of extending that deadline beyond august 31st. president biden has said, if there are americans that we know of that are in afghanistan that have not gotten out, we will stay to get them out. so, it's a fluid situation, but the bottom line is it's looking a lot better than it did a week ago. 37,000 a significant number, indeterminant number of both americans and afghan allies yet to be evacuated. >> and so many more still asking for the same rescue. john harwood at the white house. thank you. joining me now to discuss ambassador ronald newman, former
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ambassador to afghanistan, current president of the american academy of diplomacy. ambassador, thank you for taking the time this morning. >> thank you. good to be with you. i was in kabul just a week -- a month ago. >> goodness. given that experience there, long experience there, i've spoken to afghans, particularly those who worked for the u.s. government, who say their lives are in danger. the taliban is looking for them right now. is it a fact that it's a matter of life and death, that if you're an afghan who has really any tie to the outgoing u.s. forces there, u.s. government, that you'll be a target? >> there is a high probability because the taliban are speaking in two directions. on the one hand they're saying, oh, amnesty and nobody needs to be afraid. and on the other hand, we have constant reports coming in of taliban going door to door looking for people and some reports of executions. so, a very high risk and information somewhat situation
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confused. >> before i get to blame here because i want to ask your view given your many years on the ground there, talk about now. is there any way to turn this around? beyond saving as many lives as possible, is the afghan experiment dead? is there any future to negotiations with the taliban government? >> immediately the answer i think is no. no. there's a whole generation that have come of age in 20 years. people that have balked at our values. a lot would like to leave b probably aren't going to get out. the country has changed. it's going through a period of a lot of oppression. where the seeds sprouted in those years might grow in the future, who knows. but in the short-term, this is a disaster. this is an american defeat. the taliban know it. al qaeda knows it. and all of our allies know it.
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i'm not sure if president biden knows it, but the british parliament had a two-hour session condemning the united states from one of our oldest and best allies. >> yeah. i spoke to former british member of parliament yesterday who made exactly the same point, abandoning not just afghanistan in his view but the uk as a close u.s. ally. for biden in your view would it have been smarted to do as many of his military commanders recommended leave a small u.s. military footprint there, perhaps 2,500 soldiers given them both counterterror ability but also apparently much-needed confidence to the afghan military? >> yes, it would have been. and you put your finger on the key point which is confidence. because when the administration says the afghan army wouldn't fight. hey, man, for the last three
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years they've taken thousands of casualties, more casualties every year than we've taken in the whole time in afghanistan. so what changed? what changed was confidence. and that confidence was sucked out now in part by lousy governance in kabul. afghan government gets good half of the blame, but we get the other half. our actions progressively undermine the confidence that there would be any support and this is not a secret or a surprise. i wrote about it in the washington post when i came back from afghanistan back in july. we have another article where several of my colleagues, former ambassadors, several weeks ago before the final disaster, in which we made these points there were actions the administration could have taken. they are trying to keep the focus on the need for the decision to leave to avoid the debacle of how that decision was executed. the point is they could have executed it very differently. >> the president said in the
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final analysis it was his decision. he said it in so many words, the buck stops with me. however, it is the job of a national security adviser to advise the president, carry out his decisions, the secretary of state, tony blinken to advise the president, perhaps to contradict the president, right? when giving advice. do you believe from your perspective that folks at that level should consider resigning? >> quwell, that sort of dependsn what advise they gave. any were smart enough to see the problems coming and push for change and got overruled, then they're professionals. they salute and execute the decision. >> yeah. >> if none of them took the -- all the advice they were getting seriously, just take one point, they could have begun a massive program to remove the special immigrant visa applicants who had not finished this laborious
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process that we have created, they could have just started moving them out three months ago whether it was to third countries or whether it was back to usa-base and just keep them on the base while you finish the evaluation. 23 they had done that, you would have had probably 70 or 80,000 people we wouldn't be dealing with now for evacuations. >> yeah. foresight, planning. ambassador ronald neumann. >> this took just listening to people -- you know, you publicized this dissent cable that we heard about, i haven't seen it from kabul, which was a couple weeks ago saying the same thing. they didn't take the advice they were getting on how to avoid disaster. >> ambassador ronald neumann, thank you for your service there in afghanistan and as a diplomat many years and we appreciate you coming on this morning. >> thank you. pleasure to be with you. many school districts are now requiring students and staff to wear masks this year, but san
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♪ like a lot of places around the counsel industry, students in houston are heading back to school this morning and they will be required to wear masks despite an order from the governor. last month, governor greg abbott, republican, issued an executive order barring school districts from instituting mask mandates. this is even as infections spike in the state, but a ruling last week by the state supreme court is allowing districts to enact their own rules at least for the time being. cnn's rosa flores is in houston. rosa, how long is the time being in effect where the court is allowing them to go ahead with these mandates?
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>> reporter: you know, for now that's what the case is. but as you know, with the courts, it could change at any moment. but let me start here in houston because this school district, houston isd is the largest school district in this state with about 200,000 students and they're starting the day today with a mask mandate. just like some of the larger school districts across this state, dallas isd and san antonio and what administrators are lookiing at and what they buoyant is the increasing hospitalizations right now there's more than 13,000 people hospitali ize in the state of texas and 372 icu beds available. i just got back from west texas, covering a tiny town of ira an. the school district opened without a mask mandate and within days they had to shut down because of an outbreak. take a listen. >> in the last week, we have seen more covid cases for staff and students than we did the
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entire year last year during school. >> reporter: now, governor greg abbott was hoping that the texas supreme court would rule in his favor and bar all of the school districts across this state from having mask mandates. well, the justices last week said not so fast, governor. you've got to go through the appeals process first. and so, jim, that's why the lower court decisions stand, remain which allows the school districts like houston to start the school year with a mask mandate. jim? >> that's what the public health guidelines recommend. and yet the politics once again. rosa flores, thank you. the texas attorney general is suing the san antonio independent school district over its decision to require vaccinations for all members of staff. the district is believed to be the first in the state to require vaccines. staff members have until october 15th to get the shots. attorney general ken paxton, republican, says superintendent pedro martinez is deliberately
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violating state law. superintendent martinez joins me now. thank you for taking the time this morning. >> thank you for having me, jim. >> so governor abbott's order says, i'm quoting from it, no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a covid-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization. now we have the fda giving full approval to the pfizer vaccine. does that change the legal calculus here at all for you? >> you know, for me it was never a political decision, jim. >> yeah. >> and we've been open in our schools for two weeks. we had a mask requirement as well as now a vaccine mandate. we were an ticipating we would get fda approval for the pfizer drug. but we have to be leaders. we have to lead by example. i applaud all my colleagues and all of us are fighting together on making sure our children are safe but we have to look ahead. and i believe that we need to have our children and our staff
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vaccinated if we'll have a successful year this year. >> i mean, you note the politics and the fact is the politics have been part of this from the beginning. it is republican governors, you know n florida and texas who are attempting to block these kinds of mandates even though in the past they often argued for choice in districts, right? let the districts run themselves. what do you say to politicians who do that particularly as what's happening in texas right now as you have a spike, a surge in new covid infections? >> jim, our positivity rate here in san antonio hit over 20% last week. we have covid testing in all of our schools. our positive rate is hovering about 2%. last year we never went above 1%. i'm worried because more and more hospitals are reporting children being hospitalized. my parents trust us. my staff trust us. we want to maintain that trust. in order to keep our children safe, have stability in our classrooms, we need to make sure our federal and state leaders are doing everything possible. this is not a time for politics.
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this is about making sure we have a strong academic year and that our children are safe. >> so, if the texas supreme court in the next legal step here upholds the ban, will you comply? or will you kind of dare them in effect and continue to require vaccines? >> i have full support, jim, of both my community and my board and my staff. we're going to do what's right for our children. again, we'll let lawyers deal with the legal ramifications. we're going to keep our children safe and we're going to make sure our classrooms are stable. it's what i owe my parents and what my community expects from us. >> setting aside the politics for the moment, what do you hear from staff that you're now requiring to get the vaccine? the rate is about 90% already. most teachers have, but you do have this hold outgroup. how are they responding to the mandate? >> we're not receiving any pushback, jim. again, they want to lead by example. jim, we need to look ahead. right now we are requiring our staff to be vaccinated. we're the first district in
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texas to do that. and eventually we need to make sure our children are vaccinated. we'll use positive incentives right now but i have told my community, if i have to, i will start requiring vaccines for our children as well because we need to keep our kids safe. we need to have stability in our classrooms. >> given the fda news today, giving full approval for this, and there's a lot of talk about the surgeon general said this that institutions, private companies, et cetera, we know the military is about to require it for service members, does this in your view, full approval, could that move the debate in a positive direction in texas and allow more freedom to districts like yours? >> i'm hopeful it will, jim. but i think no matter what, we have been expecting full approval for weeks now. you know, 90% of my staff, we estimate has already received the vaccine. we know it's safe. we're pushing, encouraging our families to have our children get vaccinated. we have vaccine clinics in all of our large high schools and
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making it accessible and easy for our families and some of your families are worried and partnering with our health partners to give them information to answer their questions. right now, it is important to look ahead. we're not going to have a successful academic year unless we get our staff and children vaccinated. it's just that simple. >> yeah. that's the worry, right? you don't want to have going back to remote schooling. i know parents wouldn't like that. pedro martinez, thanks so much for the work you're doing. >> thank you, sir. in tennessee, search crews still combing the debris for dozens of people still missing, caught in that record-breaking and deadly flooding. we'll be live on the scene next. ♪ ♪ life can be a lot to handle. ♪this magic moment,♪ but there's plenty of magic in all that chaos. ♪so different and so new.♪ ♪was like any other...♪ (vo) i am living with cll and i am living longer. thanks to imbruvica. imbruvica is a prescription medicine for adults
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♪ this just in to cnn, new york city mayor bill de blasio announced a covid-19 vaccine mandate for all education department staff. this for all public schools across the city, one of the largest school districts in the country without a testing alternative. all school staff are required to provide proof of vaccination of at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccine by september 27th. the mayor said we'll continue to follow that. one of the first follow-on effects of the fda's full approval of the covid-19 vaccine. the pfizer one earlier this morning. we'll continue to follow others as they come. this is another story we're following this morning. hundreds of families in tennessee have lost their homes. some have also tragically lost
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loved ones after fast-moving flood waters swept through the middle of the state over the weekend. 21 people confirmed killed during those floods. authorities are still searching for 25 people missing. cnn's nick valencia on the scene in waverly where those floods hit. nick, the scenes there apocalyptic, you might say. and the sad headline that you still have a couple dozen people still missing. what's the latest? >> reporter: you know, it is devastating. and the search and recovery effort here is methodical, it's deliberate and seen local residents chip in -- a shed turned over and here in this creek, it's people's belongings, pieces of wood, pieces of the surrounding structures in the area. you see a cooler. for some of these residents who were lucky enough to get out alive in time, it's the first time they're assessing the damage these men came here to see this boat here that ended up from two miles away, two miles
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away, in this creek and of course the focus right now is on trying to find those who are still missing. hey, mike. you want to come over here, we're live on cnn. mike's niece, lily bryant, 15 years old, last seen in this area. she thought by coming here, according to her family, she would get to higher ground, but she hasn't been seen since, since being swept under that water. you came from illinois. >> yes. >> tell us about your niece. >> well, she's 15 years old. she's got long, blonde hair. she weighs about 95 pound. if anybody seen her, please contact the family or somebody. the following counties around us i don't know what they are, because i'm from illinois, but if anybody has seen her, please give us a call. >> reporter: what do you know about where she was last seen? her aunt told me she was here? >> she was seen in this area right here. her sister was trying to pull her back on the boat, she couldn't. the current was too strong. how are her sisters doing? >> i really don't know what they were doing at the time.
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>> reporter: how are they doing right now? >> they're miserable. they want to find out where their sister is at, at least have some kind of closure, at least find the remains of her, something. i don't know. >> reporter: all hands on deck, mike. thank you for taking the time. we're getting that picture of her out there. hopefully someone knows something and right now we saw the fire and rescue teams come through here specifically looking for lily bryant, but in this devastation, it is going to be really hard to spot anyone here as these flood waters recede, we showed you that last hour, a car flipped upside down and in these wooded areas behind me, that's what you see as you go behind these homes, cars flipped upside down, parts of homes that have been just entirely ripped away, telephone poles bent like toothpicks. people's livelihoods, their belongings strewn everywhere and it is really difficult for them to comprehend. they knew there was going to be a storm system but no one, no one, jim, thought it would be this bad. >> goodness that poor family.
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we do hope -- we hope they find her alive. nick valencia, thank you for being there. well, the report of the false audit of the 2020 election in arizona will be turned in today. there is no one outside the extremes of the republican party in that who says the results of this is meaningful at all. so what do they do with it? we'll give you an update. ♪ for people who could use a lift new neutrogena® rapid firming. a triple-lift serum with pure collagen. 92% saw visibly firmer skin in just 4 weeks. neutrogena® for people with skin. ♪ ayy, ayy, ayy ♪ ♪ yeah, we fancy like applebee's on a date night ♪ ♪ got that bourbon street steak with the oreo shake ♪
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♪ ♪ live to the pentagon now the spokesman there john kirby updating on u.s. evacuation efforts from afghanistan. let's listen in. >> thank you, mr. kirby. good morning, everyone. and thank you for joining us this morning. once again, i want to provide an operational update and as mr. kirby said, we'll follow up with questions. as we know, this continues to evolve, the situation.
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we continue to strive on the ground. what we really want to do is continue to provide you details in a timely manner. as you know, recently the secretary of defense activated the stage 1 of the civil reserve air fleet. right now that activation includes 18 aircraft from six commercial airlines. this will increase passenger movement from the intermediate staging bases, temporary safe havens to the united states. while we continue to prioritize military aircraft, for the transportation of individuals out of kabul and out of harm's way. please note, as i said, these craft flights will not be flying into kabul. combination of 61 charter commercial and other military flights departed kabul. the total passenger count for those flights was approximately 16,000. of that number, the u.s.
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military transported just under 11,000 personnel. our mission remained focussed on ensuring a steady flow of evacuees out of kabul to the intermediate staging bases and safe havens at our insulations continue to rapidly build out capacity as needed to ensure reception and providing humanitarian assistance. the use of temporary safe haven locations across europe and the middle east in areas that include u.s. insulations in qatar, uae, kuwait, bahrain, italy, spain and germany. we deeply appreciate the support from these countries. this is truly a testament to the importance of our alliances and our partnerships. in the past 24 hours, five flights landed at dulles international airport with approximately 1,300 passengers.
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at this time, four military instillations as well as dulles international are receiving afghans as they come into the united states. these include ft. mccoy, wisconsin, ft. lee, virginia, joint base mcguire new jersey and ft. bliss texas. the total number currently at is approximately 1,200 and north com continues to build out capacity to ensure they are prepared to receive more flights that will come in the next few days. this is absolutely a worldwide effort, which hits several countries, multiple commands and thousands of service members across the joint force. the air kabul remains secure. however, a coalition seen
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already released a statement regarding an afghan service force member to report. an afghan security force member lost his life. as the president referenced last night in his remarks, we are in communication with the taliban for the establishment and sustainment of several check points to increase through-put and facilitate safe passage for individuals working to gain access to the airport. today, the number of troops at the airport continues to stand at 5,800. commanders on the ground continue to actively monitor threats. they are empowered to make the appropriate force protection decisions. as always, u.s. forces retain the inherent right to use force in self defense. we are using all of our available tools to maintain the highest threat awareness, both in afghanistan and throughout the globe. while this mission is not
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without risk, the safety of our personnel, american citizens and afghan evacuees at risk is of paramount importance. to wrap up, we continue to make progress in the completion of this mission. since the end of july, we have relocated approximately 42,000 people. since the beginning of evacuation operations on august 14th, we have evacuated approximately 37,000. all of this progress stems from the teamwork, professionalism and dedication of our military, our interagency colleagues and our allies and partners. we know more hard work remains in the coming days and we're absolutely prepared to meet that challenge. thank you. >> just a couple other points i would like to make. as you all are aware, the fda approved full licensure of the pfizer vaccine this morning and as you're aware back on august
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9th, the secretary articulated it was his intent to mandate the covid-19 vaccines upon fda licensure or by mid september to seek a waiver from the president. so now that the pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated. a timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days. the health of the force is as always our military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority. what's important to remind everyone these efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live. schedule item secretary and general milley will be attending this afternoon donald rumsfeld at arlington national. he served as the 13th secretary of defense as well as the 21st.
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he also served the united states navy in 1950 -- mid 1950s a as a pilot and flight instructor and reservist until 1975 when he became the secretary of defense for the first time. on behalf of the department of defense, we extend our deep condolences to his family, loved ones and indeed to the country. with that we'll start taking questions. bob? >> john, thank you. on the pfizer vaccine the secretary's intention to require it, he has not yet made that direction? did you say there's not yet a deadline for doing that? >> we're preparing now actionable guidance to the force. we're going to move forward, making that vaccine mandatory. we're preparing the guidance to the force right now. and the actual completion date of it, in other words, how fast we want to see it get done, we're working through that
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guidance right now. >> can i ask you a question on afghanistan? >> sure. >> general taylor said a number of times the military air lift capacity at the airport was in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 9,000. i see you've now gone beyond that. at least yesterday. >> yeah. >> can you say what the capacity has grown to? and also can you explain a little more about the perimeter issue that the general alluded to very briefly when president yesterday said something to the effect that perimeter had been moved back significantly to facilitate entry? can you explain that. >> so a couple things, bob. on the capacity thing, you're right. we had set a goal of 5 to 9,000 a day. yesterday we exceeded that. we're not taking anything for granted, bob. we're taking this day by day. we would love to see those numbers continue to rise. but we're going to just take it day by day. there's a lot of factors that go into being able to reach that output capacity to include
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temporary safe havens that you can bring these individuals to as they complete their screening. and the screening is a big part of that. we have intelligence and law enforcement personnel at these sites making sure that robust screening is done of these individuals so that nobody comes in the united states that hasn't been screened in a robust manner. and so there's lots of factors that affect through-put. we were very glad to see that we were able to get that number out yesterday. but we're going to take it day by day. day by day. >> so the number of aircraft available? >> i think briefed the number of aircraft was like -- yeah. no, no, no. but the same number of aircraft are available on any given day. we can get up to on gaichb day can get up to about 30 c17s. that doesn't mean that 30 are going to fly everyday. we were under that yesterday and still was able to get out -- still able to get out more than 10,000. >> and the perimeter question.
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>> i think the general addressed this a little bit in his opening statement. without getting into tactical details here, bob, i think you can understand why we wouldn't do that, we are very interested in making sure that access to the airport remains as fluid as possible, particularly for american citizens trying to get in as well as our special immigrant visa applicants. and there's a lot of factors that go into making sure that access remains secure and that we can facilitate it. and what the president was referring to was efforts to improve that access from a geographical space, out beyond just the perimeter of the airfield. and i won't speak to the details of how we're managing that, but
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you can imagine thus far and going forward it does require constant coordination and deconfliction with the taliban. >> i was going to ask you -- >> it absolutely is going -- it is absolutely requiring of us to keep these lines of communication with the taliban open, who do have check points out beyond the airport. and what we have seen is that this coordination has worked -- this deconfliction has worked well in terms of allowing access and flow to continue as well as reducing the overall size of the crowds just outside the airport. and those crowds have been a factor, bob. you heard me talk about this the other night. when several days ago, one of our commanders used a helicopter to bring people in and it was largely because of the crowd size outside the abby gates. so crowd size matters here, too. and that's what this president was referring to.


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