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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on August 15, 2021

8/15: Face the Nation
8/15: Fauci, Scalise, Hochul 46:00

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Nancy Cordes:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci — chief medical adviser to President Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Representative Steve Scalise — Republican of Louisiana

  • New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul

  • Dr. Rosalind Osgood — Broward County School Board Chair

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."

NANCY CORDES: I'm Nancy Cordes in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, COVID pushes hospitals in some states to the brink.

And overseas, the Taliban offensive in Afghanistan enters a perilous new phase. Breaking overnight, the astonishing unraveling of Afghanistan. The Taliban captures more territory just this morning, and they're now in the capital city of Kabul, forcing U.S. troops to race back into the country to get U.S. diplomats out. We'll get the latest on the evacuation.

Back home, the Delta variant is causing cases to skyrocket from coast to coast. Along the Gulf Coast, some health systems are on the verge of collapse.

ALAN JONES (Tennessee): Hospitals are full from Memphis to Gulfport, Natchez to Meridian. Everything's full.

LATOYA CANTRELL (Louisiana): Our people are at-- at the brink.

LINA HIDALGO (Texas): We're seeing the highest number of children in-- in our hospitals than we've seen in the entire pandemic.

NANCY CORDES: The FDA approves a third vaccine dose for the people at greatest risk, but it's those who won't get their first dose who are fueling this outbreak.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Everyone who's not vaccinated-- I know it's a broken record, I keep saying it-- get vaccinated.

NANCY CORDES: We'll check in with Doctor Anthony Fauci, and we'll talk to the number two House Republican, Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise about the crisis in his state.

Plus, more than a thousand Florida students are now under COVID quarantine. We'll hear from Rosalind Osgood, the school board chief in Broward County, where three educators have died from COVID in the last week.

And with disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his way out, we'll ask his Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, how she plans to clean up the mess in Albany.

And finally, on the other side of the country, California Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall election in less than a month. We'll have a CBS News poll on that race, and a lot more.

It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We have a lot to get to this morning, including a fluid situation in Afghanistan that seems to be deteriorating by the minute. More on that soon. But we want to begin with the dire COVID-19 pandemic here in the United States. Nationwide, seventy-seven percent of ICU beds are now filled. Hospitals in five states are at about ninety percent capacity. Senior national correspondent Mark Strassmann begins our coverage in Atlanta.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN (Mercy Hospital, Arkansas): This is a forty-year-old patient. He is a dad of an eleven-year-old daughter.

MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News Senior National Correspondent): Desperate times, desperate measures, Mississippi's burning with COVID.

DR. LOUANN WOODWARD: This Delta surge hit and it is just raging like wildfire through the state.

MARK STRASSMANN: In Jackson, the state's only level one trauma center has one hundred fourteen patients with the virus. That's quadrupled in a month. This weekend the facility opened this thirty-bed in-patient field hospital, a tent inside a parking garage.

More dire than the-- the number of beds is the staffing.

DR. LOUANN WOODWARD: That's right.

MARK STRASSMANN: Doctor LouAnn Woodward, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, she's the alpha leader fighting the Delta variant.

DR. LOUANN WOODWARD: It is. Our biggest pain point is staffing and the morale of staff. I don't think there's a Calvary out there to-- to come and rescue us. We've got hospitals across the state that are making public service announcements and saying things like, please do not come to our emergency room.

MARK STRASSMANN: Across America COVID hospitalizations have skyrocketed, up three hundred thirty-three percent in the last month.

GOVERNOR DAVID IGE (D-Hawaii): It is real. It is terrifying. And, tragically, it's preventable.

MARK STRASSMANN: Preventable because roughly ninety percent of the sickest patients are unvaccinated. With so many soft targets, the Delta variant now spreads like chicken pox across our half-vaccinated country.

WOMAN #1: We didn't learn a single thing. We're right back where we started.

MAN #1 (Matt Masters): No more masks.

MAN #2 (Matt Masters): Please, stay calm.

MARK STRASSMANN: Other accelerants-masks defiance.

WOMAN #2: I just don't understand why we can't be responsible for ourselves.

MARK STRASSMANN: And schools reopening, COVID hospital patients under eighteen have tripled in the last month, like this Florida fifteen-year-old.

PAULINA VELASQUEZ: I'm just happy that I'm not under that ventilator anymore.

MARK STRASSMANN: Almost one hundred thousand more kids tested positive last week. Dallas County, Texas, has nearly seven hundred thousand kids, but zero pediatric ICU beds for any of them who get sick.

CLAY JENKINS: If they have COVID and need an ICU bed, we don't have one. Your child will wait for another child to die.

(End VT)

MARK STRASSMANN: Tempers and frustrations keep rising because COVID has become a viral siege. Here in Georgia, nearly ninety percent of ICU beds are full as COVID hospitalizations keep rising and there is no end in sight. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: And some schools in Georgia already going virtual. Mark Strassmann in Atlanta, thank you so much.

We want to go now to President Biden's chief medical adviser Doctor Anthony Fauci. Doctor Fauci, good morning to you.

ANTHONY FAUCI, M.D. (Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden/ Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases): Good morning.

NANCY CORDES: You heard the numbers in Mark's piece, they are horrific. I want to start with the very dire situation in the south, particularly in Mississippi, where cases have risen by more than two thousand percent in the past month. Medical officials there say that the state's largest hospital system could fail within days. What is the federal government doing to help states like Mississippi and Louisiana?

ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, with regard to the immediate they're sending-- we're sending surge teams to help with the actual implementation of the immediate response, and that's FEMA, that's CDC people. That's people from the assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response to help setting up to provide some treatment like monoclonal antibodies to help with the hospital situation. That's the immediate thing. But, you know, as-- as-- as you know, Nancy, as we've discussed many, many times, all of this is entirely predictable. And, yet, on the other hand, entirely preventable. We've got to get people vaccinated. We have about ninety million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, who are not vaccinated. And that's very highly concentrated in the southern states, including Mississippi and other states in which you have compared to the general average of vaccinations in the country and under-vaccinated group. And those are the people in whom the outbreak with a highly, highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading. And it's really tragic because we're seeing a lot of people get seriously ill. And as you've shown, the hospitalizations are on the brink of actually overrunning the hospitals, particularly, intensive care units.

NANCY CORDES: And we are seeing some encouraging numbers when it comes to vaccinations from these Gulf States. The rates of vaccination tripling, even quadrupling over the past couple of weeks. And, you know, I know we're very focused on the south right now, but you're looking at the data from across the country. What's coming next?

ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, what's coming next is that we are going to have to continue to get people vaccinated so that right now, even in states in which you have a good relative proportion of people vaccinated, you have to get the overwhelming proportion of people vaccinated. But you also have to do mitigation. And that gets to the controversial issue of mask wearing and the mandating of things mandating of vaccines, for example, for teachers and people in the personnel in the school, but also in situations as uncomfortable as we know and controversial as we know it is with regard to mask wearing, particularly in the situation in schools, we've just got to realize that we're dealing with a public health crisis. And the more you get infections, the more spread you get, the greater opportunity the virus has to continue to evolve and mutate. Right now we are fortunate, Nancy, in that the vaccines that we have are quite good against the Delta variant, particularly with regard to preventing severe disease with hospitalizations and deaths. We certainly are getting what are called breakthrough infections, which means a person who was vaccinated might get infected and actually may even spread the virus. But, in general, those people are not the ones who are getting seriously ill and dying. It's the unvaccinated that are doing that. So we have a lot of tasks. We've got to do mitigation, put aside all of these issues of concern about liberties and personal liberties and realize we have a common enemy and that common enemy is the virus. And we really have to all pull together to get on top of this. Otherwise, we're going to continue to suffer as we're seeing right now.

NANCY CORDES: You know you brought up the efficacy of the vaccines. I want to ask you about this new study out of Minnesota that suggested that the Moderna vaccine is actually more effective against the Delta variant than the Pfizer vaccine. Does this study indicate that if and when people do have to get booster shots, that they should go ahead and get a Moderna shot even if they got Pfizer the first time around?

ANTHONY FAUCI: No, Nancy, not at all, because that study, first of all, is a pre-print study, it hasn't been fully peer reviewed. I don't doubt what they're seeing, but there are a lot of confounding variables in there about when one was started, the relative amount of people in that cohort, that's Delta versus Alpha. Right now, if we get boosters, you know, we're talking about boosters. We already implemented boosters for the immune compromised. It's clear we want to make sure we get people, if possible, to get the boost from the original vaccine that they had. But, remember, the original dose of the Moderna is about three times what the dose of the Pfizer is. So you may have a difference in durability, but, in general, the vaccines that have been approved for emergency use authorization and, hopefully, will be approved for a full authorization in the sense of actual approval, hopefully that comes very soon are all really highly effective in preventing severe disease.

NANCY CORDES: You mentioned boosters for the immunocompromised. How soon will those people who are at greatest risk actually be able to get those boosters? And there's also some reporting about your administration actually starting to look ahead and plan for giving boosters to people in nursing homes or in health care settings in the fall. What can you tell us about that?

ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, Nancy, there-- there are two issues there, and-- and you did quite right to separate the two because the issue with the immunocompromised, people who are on chemotherapy for cancer, people with transplantations, advanced HIV disease, immunosuppressive they're there right now. They can get their boost literally right now. What we are planning for and looking ahead, even though we are not saying that other people who are not immune compromised be the elderly or-- or people who are actually not elderly, they may need ultimately to get an additional shot. Right now, we're not saying they do, but, literally, Nancy, we're looking at it on a daily and weekly basis in cohorts not only in the United States, but in other countries to determine if, when, and to whom we should be giving this. So if it turns out as the data come in, we see we do need to give an additional dose to people in nursing homes, actually, or people who are elderly, we will be absolutely prepared to do that very quickly.

NANCY CORDES: Got it. All right. Well, we'll be watching for that. Doctor Anthony Fauci, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Thank you for having me.

NANCY CORDES: And FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute. Stay with us.


NANCY CORDES: We want turn now to Afghanistan, where the security situation is getting worse by the hour as the U.S. speeds up its withdrawal, and the Taliban moves into the capital city. The Associated Press is now reporting that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has left the country. CBS News foreign correspondent Roxana Saberi filed this report in Kabul before rushing to the airport to get out.

ROXANA SABERI (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@roxanasaberi): Good morning. Over the past few hours, the Taliban have reached the gates of the capital. Some eyewitnesses say they have even seen the group's fighters inside. The Afghan government has, essentially, conceded, its time is up. Today, negotiations have been taking place at the presidential palace, not far from here, over the transfer of power to the Taliban. This comes as the insurgents have seized city after city across Afghanistan in just over a week. With every victory they've marched closer to the capital. In a statement a Taliban spokesman said the group will not enter the city by force, and pledged that it won't take revenge on anyone. But panicked residents have swarmed the streets of the capital, with some racing to leave. We've spoken to many Afghans in the past few days who have been fearing for the Taliban's arrival. Some fled from the countryside to the capital, seeking safety from the Taliban. They told us about loved ones killed by the insurgents, and said they're worried about losing basic freedoms under a return to Taliban rule. For now, the capital appears mostly quiet, but once U.S. troops finish evacuating Americans from the embassy here, which could be as soon as tomorrow, all bets are off. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Roxana Saberi in Kabul, thank you.

Senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata is also monitoring the latest developments from London. Charlie.

CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@charliecbs): Good morning, Nancy. When I was last in Afghanistan, just last month, the government had control of most of the country and all of the provincial capitals, but even then Taliban militants were on the rampage, accelerating their offensive, until finally reaching the capitol itself today. Here's how it all unfolded.

(Begin VT)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: With the shocking speed of the unstoppable Taliban offensive, it soon became clear the takeover of Kabul itself was inevitable. It gathered pace in the past week as the militant group overran major cities, often without Afghan forces even putting up a fight. The Afghan military of around three hundred fifty thousand, trained and funded by America and its allies, surrendered or fled in the face of fighting. About the only thing capable of stopping the Taliban, U.S. airstrikes were all but removed from the battlefield. When we were last on the front lines just a few weeks ago, the militants were focusing on smaller, regional cities. It was thought then that they would hold off, launching an all-out offensive until all U.S. forces were out by August 31st. But then the provincial capitals began falling. Kunduz, just a week ago today, a strategic city to the north around two hundred miles from the capital. The Taliban tactic-blast their way in, make a sprint to the city center, raise their flag, declare victory. The Taliban was advancing at stunning speed. And whatever morale was left among Afghan forces was collapsing. Tens of thousands fled the fighting, with many seeking refuge in Kabul. The fall of Ghazni to the south of the capitol choked off the major highway leading to the south, further isolating the city. Then in rapid succession, the country's three largest cities after Kabul were overrun. Kandahar to the south, Mazar-i-Sharif to the north, and Herat to the west. Even the most dire intelligence predictions from Washington warned that Kabul could fall within one to three months. That was just one week ago.

(Man speaking foreign language)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: A senior U.S. source tells CBS News the Taliban have captured the former U.S. air base in Bagram, emptying the prison of five thousand detainees. The consequences of leaving the Afghan military to face the fight alone will resonate far beyond Afghanistan itself.

(End VT)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: The Taliban have made it clear from the beginning their aim was a full takeover of the country. While many predicted it was inevitable, few thought it would happen this quickly. What's harder to predict now is how the Taliban intend to impose their rule over the citizens of Afghanistan. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Charlie D'Agata, thank you.

And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


NANCY CORDES: We want to go now to Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who is the House Republican Whip. He joins us this morning from Kenner, Louisiana. Congressman, welcome. Thanks for being here.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE (R-Louisiana/Republican Whip/@SteveScalise): Good to be with you, Nancy. Thanks.

NANCY CORDES: You and your House colleagues just received a briefing from the secretaries of state and defense. What did they tell you? And are you confident that all U.S. diplomats are going to be able to get out of Afghanistan safely?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: Well, during the call, you actually had events still continuing to unfold, and so in real time, we were seeing things on social media that they weren't really talking about on the call. But it's a very dire situation when you see the United States embassy being evacuated. In fact, you just had President Biden a few days ago saying you wouldn't see helicopters evacuating the embassy like Saigon. And, yet, here we are. This is-- this is President Biden's Saigon moment. And, unfortunately, it was very predictable. It seems like many in President Biden's intelligence community got this devastatingly wrong. And I think a lot of questions will be asked later about why. Just weeks ago, they were saying something completely different than what we're seeing on the ground today and in-- in Afghanistan.

NANCY CORDES: Right. Last week the President said he did not expect that the Taliban would be able to retake all of the country. But here's what he's saying now. He said this weekend, one more year or five more years of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. White House officials are, essentially, arguing it was President Trump who set this in motion when he agreed to withdraw U.S. troops completely by May 1st. So was all of this inevitable?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: No, and, in fact, we've seen a lot of finger pointing and blaming. You know there-- there used to be a saying that the buck stops here on the President's desk, and he wants to blame everybody else. But, look, President Trump had an agreement in place that was conditions based and those conditions were not met. In fact, many of the conditions included that the Taliban wouldn't overtake the cities that they have now overtaken under President Biden's leadership. So, President Biden didn't follow through on the conditions that were in place. He just let them come and run roughshod in there, destroying, you know, documents, burning documents at the embassy, and trying to get everybody out they can, instead of following through on the commitments that were made. And this sends in a more concerning message to our allies around the world, really sends a concerning message to our enemies around the world who are watching this. China is very involved in what's happening right now in Afghanistan as our other adversaries. And so they're-- they're seeing just how easy it was to overtake these areas where the President really said it wouldn't happen and it did happen. So it's an epic failure on President Biden's foreign policy. He needs to take ownership of it and take other steps to make sure this doesn't happen again. If he's not going to clean house, he was-- was either widely misled by his own intelligence or he was misleading the American people deliberately. But he said very different things just days ago than what we're seeing happen on the ground. He's got to take ownership of that.

NANCY CORDES: Congressman, I want to switch gears and turn to the very serious COVID situation in your state, more cases this week than at any other point during the pandemic. Your chief health officer in Louisiana said, quote, "If we don't peak within a week or two, it is going to be a catastrophic situation for hospitals." What's your biggest concern right now, Congressman?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: Clearly, the hospital's having overloaded capacity are the biggest concern. Just like a year ago New Orleans seemed to be the epicenter when-- when things got really bad in the very beginning of the pandemic last year, we're seeing that break-- break out again with the Delta variant. It's very-- it's a very widespread disease. We're seeing it in Louisiana and steps are being taken and, hopefully, we get to a peak and-- and start seeing it subside. But it is a concern. And I know the governor is taking action at the state level and-- and we're giving them all the help that they need.

NANCY CORDES: You got vaccinated last month. You are now urging Louisiana residents to do the same. And you're so well known in Louisiana. Do you wish now that you would have gone ahead and gotten vaccinated sooner just to send that message and set that example?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: Well, first of all, when you look, I mean, you've still got probably two-thirds of our state unvaccinated. What we need to do is be encouraging people to get vaccinated, not trying to shame people that are unvaccinated or people that got vaccinated. Look, I had antibodies and so I, ultimately, made a decision once I saw the Delta variant picking up that I thought it was important to get vaccinated. And I have high confidence in this vaccination. It's safe and effective, and I think we ought to be encouraging more people to do it. But, again, not shaming people who haven't. We ought to be giving them information, encouraging people to go talk to their doctors because there's real hesitancy out there. And we ought to be confronting that, not trying to divide people based on who's vaccinated and who's unvaccinated.

NANCY CORDES: And, finally, we've got about a minute left. Your Governor John Bel Edwards has now reinstated an indoor mask mandate. I know that in the past you've been very skeptical of these mandates. But what's your view now that Louisiana is at its peak? Is it safe and prudent to go ahead and impose this mandate?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: Well, again, I don't want mandates at the federal level. I've been very vocal about that. I said those conversations need to be had at the state and local level. You can look at places like Los Angeles, California, one of the worst outbreaks in the country. They've had a mask mandate for a long time. But, in the end, I think what we really need to be focused on is encouraging more people to get vaccinated. And I'll tell you this, Nancy, one of the real areas of hesitancy that we're seeing that is a real problem is that people are saying that it's not FDA approved yet--


REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: --in final approval. And yet we're two hundred days into President Biden's administration. He still hasn't appointed the head of the FDA--

NANCY CORDES: And, unfortunately--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: --and that's an imminent failure on President Biden's part.

NANCY CORDES: I hear you, Congressman. Thank you so much. We're going to have to leave it there. But I really appreciate you joining us this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE: Great being with you, Nancy. Thanks.

NANCY CORDES: And we'll be right back.


NANCY CORDES: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


NANCY CORDES: Welcome back to FACE NATION. We're going to turn back to the rapid deterioration in Afghanistan and take a look at this map. It shows how much of that country is currently controlled by the Taliban. Much of it seized by militants just over the past few days. For some context, we're now joined by CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. David, good morning.

DAVID MARTIN (CBS News National Security Correspondent/@CBSDavidMartin): Good morning.

NANCY CORDES: You know, just a couple of days ago the plan was to leave at least some U.S. diplomats in the country long term. Now, it sounds like they're trying to get everyone out as quickly as possible, maybe even by today. What's the latest?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, just before I walked on here, I got an e-mail that the ambassador has now left the embassy compound and is at the airport, along with the American flag. They are on track to have every American, U.S. diplomats, U.S. military, U.S. citizens, out of Afghanistan by August 31st, if not sooner. They're going to set up this rump embassy at the airport to process the visa applications for all those Afghans who worked for the U.S. during the war and now have to fear for their lives. But once that's done, the U.S. military is scheduled to pull out on August 31st. And if Kabul is still under threat, the American flag is going to go with them.

NANCY CORDES: And they're, obviously, moving to the airport because they think that's safer for U.S. diplomats than the embassy as the Taliban moves into the city. Can you explain to us how this evacuation is working exactly? Where are these diplomats and these Afghans being taken? And are military officials convinced that they're going to be able to keep everybody safe?

DAVID MARTIN: Five thousand troops are in the process of going into that airport. So, that's a pretty secure airport. Some of those troops are shuttling the employees at the State Department embassy compound to the airport, and then the same planes that brought those combat troops and their equipment into the country will fly them out. It depends on if it's an American citizen, they can come back to the United States. If it's an-- an Afghan citizen, who is applying for an immigrant visa, he'll probably have to go to a third country while that application process goes on. How safe it is? Sort of depends on whether the Taliban try to intervene. You would think they would not intervene because we're doing exactly what they want us to do, which is get out.


DAVID MARTIN: And a fight with five thousand U.S. combat troops is not a fight they need. The dicey part could be if the U.S. decides it has to send helicopters out into the city to pick up American citizens and some of these Afghans who work for the United States who can't make it to the airport on their own.

NANCY CORDES: You know, the speed with which the Taliban has retaken the country seems to have taken the Biden administration completely by surprise. I want to play for you what-- what-- what Secretary of State Antony Blinken said to Congress a couple of months about this. Take a listen.

ANTONY BLINKEN (June 7, 2021): Whatever happens in Afghanistan, if there is a significant deterioration in security, that could well happen. We discussed this before. I don't think it's going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.

NANCY CORDES: And, yet, that's exactly what has happened, from a Friday to a Monday.

DAVID MARTIN: Everybody is surprised by the speed of this collapse. And I'll bet the Taliban are just as surprised. They must be pinching themselves right now at the-- the speed of this--


DAVID MARTIN: --Afghan collapse. When President Biden made the decision in April, the absolute worst-case scenario was the government would collapse within three to four months of the withdrawal. The withdrawal for all intents and purposes was done on July 4th, five weeks since then. So, even the worst case was off. And then, you know, last week started with this alarming estimate that the Capitol could be under threat in thirty days. And here we are seven days later, and the Taliban is at the gates of Kabul. And it's looking very much like the Taliban will be back in power on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.

NANCY CORDES: Wow. Let that sink in. David Martin, so glad you're tracking all of this for us. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.


NANCY CORDES: Really appreciate it.

And we're going to be right back.


NANCY CORDES: For months now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been mired in scandal on multiple fronts from an investigation into nursing home COVID deaths to an attorney general report that found he sexually harassed eleven women. Last week Cuomo announced he's stepping down later this month. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over. She'll be the first female governor in New York's history and she joins us this morning from Buffalo. Good morning, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you for joining us. And I want to ask you about your takeover. Governor Cuomo leaving office in a week and a half. Can you tell us how that transition is going? Are you getting the cooperation you need from him as you prepare to take over?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL (Incoming Governor of New York/@LtGovHochulNY): Well, thank you for having me on the show this morning. And, yes, I'm prepared. That's the job of every lieutenant governor in this country to be prepared on day one. I've been lieutenant governor for seven years, the longest serving lieutenant governor in the state, in the country. And I'm prepared and I have a team assembled. We're working on transition. I'm excited about the challenges, but they're very significant. But I am up to the task. I know the state better than anyone. I've met more people. I have stronger relationships. And I've championed the important causes and issues for the last seven years. So I'm-- I'm prepared. And also, the transition is going well. Yes, we're getting cooperation on the administration, which is what the governor promised me.

NANCY CORDES: And are you getting cooperation from the governor himself? Are you in communication with him?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: We have been in communication with his team and, certainly, he's made himself available, if I have any questions, yes.

NANCY CORDES: Got it. I want to ask you about his fairly defiant new interview. In it, he said this about his decision to step down, quote, "I'm not going to drag the state through the mud, through a three-month, four-month impeachment, and then win, and have made the State Legislature and the state government look like a ship of fools, when everything I've done all my life was for the exact opposite." This doesn't sound like someone who thinks that he's done anything wrong.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: Well, I'm not going to try to get into the head of the governor and understand, you know, his motivation for saying when he does. That's not what my role is. My role is to have a smooth transition and to hit the ground running literally in a matter of days. So I've got a lot of weighty challenges. I'm reaching out to the experts and elected officials and we're going to stay focused. I will have no distractions in my administration because we focused on doing what's best for the people of the state.

NANCY CORDES: Your name does not appear in the one-hundred-sixty-five-page attorney general's report about Governor Cuomo. And I know you've made it clear that you are not close with him, but there is at least one New York lawmaker, Ron Kim, who's suggesting that you turn over your e-mails to prove that you were unaware of Como's misconduct at the time. Would you be willing to do that?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: It's hard to prove a negative because I've had no communication along those lines, but I believe in transparency and we'll evaluate-- evaluate all requests. But it is no secret that the governor and I were not close. But I did support the legacy of progressive accomplishments, which are outstanding. And my role as lieutenant governor was not to be in those rooms or spend much time in the Capitol, but to really be out speaking to New Yorkers and championing issues like child care and paid family leave and higher wages. And I'm going to continue doing that. I'm going to continue focusing outside of the state capital when I get those-- those duties underway, but also to get out there and keep listening to people, because I-- my style is very different than the governor's. I think that's pretty obvious. And my style is very collaborative. It's thoughtful. I will listen to people, but then I will take very decisive action.

NANCY CORDES: You have said that your heart goes out to the women who were allegedly harassed by Governor Cuomo. Have you spoken to any of them?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: When I'm governor, I'm going to determine the best action to take. But I know that they feel welcome to stay in the administration. If they're here, I want them to know that the culture will be changed one thousand percent and not just them, who I will have conversations with, but also all women. I want every young woman, just like I was a high school assembly intern, to realize that this is a place where they have a role. We need their voices. We need that diversity. We're getting there. We're making progress on more elected women. But I want by the end of my administration, for every woman to say there are no barriers, there is no longer a ceiling. We're looking forward and making sure that my reputation and the reputation of my administration is one that is completely ethical. That is how I've conducted my life since I've been an elected official for twenty-seven years, and, also, just let people know it's a whole new era now. And I'm excited about this.

NANCY CORDES: You have said you're going to be fully transparent about the nursing home scandal and that you will turn over data. When are you planning to release that data? Are you going to do it on day one once you become governor?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: I'm not going to raise expectations that I have those documents in my hand on day one. What I have done already is meet with the commissioner of health and we'll be talking about what-- what any outstanding requests for data are out in the-- in the realm. I will look at those and have my team focus on this early on. But I have to tell you, on day one, I am focused on COVID. We have to deal with the fact that the rates are rising. I want to get money out to people. We have way too much money sitting there that should be going to renters and to landlords who are suffering. And I also want to get the money out for the excluded worker program where people who are immigrants aren't getting any money because they're not documented and that money is sitting there unspent. And I want to get it out to them immediately. So I've got a lot of priorities, but I will absolutely make sure that my administration fully cooperates with requests for data.

NANCY CORDES: And, finally, have you chosen who your lieutenant governor is going to be?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: A lot of people are interested. I would say there's a lot of energy and excitement. I've narrowed it down in terms of the geographic area of the state to New York City, because I am an Upstater, even though, I've spent thousands of hours in New York City and I'm well familiar with the challenges, but I want someone who lives there. I want someone who understands that-- the-- the challenges first-hand. So I'll have a very diverse administration, but also excited about the prospect of having a true partnership with a lieutenant governor who I bring-- I believe will bring a lot to the table. So that'll be announced shortly after I'm sworn in.

NANCY CORDES: Well, we'll be watching. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL: Thank you for having me on the show.

NANCY CORDES: And we'll be back in a moment.


NANCY CORDES: Now to the escalating battle over masks in schools. More than forty school boards in five Texas counties are defying the governor's mask mandate. And in Florida, school districts in at least two counties are doing the same. So we're going to go now to Doctor Rosalind Osgood, she's the chair of the Broward County School Board to hear more from her. Good morning.

DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD (Broward County School Board Chair/@ReverendRos): Good morning.

NANCY CORDES: I want to ask you why you and your school board decided to go ahead and vote to impose a mask mandate in your school district where kids are set to go back to school on Wednesday? And are you heartened to see that so many other school districts are doing the same thing?

DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD: Well, eight out of the nine of us on our school board decided to protect the lives of our students and staff at all costs. We believe in science. We're living out the nightmare of the COVID pandemic, where so many people in our county, including members of our staff and others, are being impacted. We have lost three teachers to-- I'm sorry, two teachers and one ESP to COVID, others are hospitalized. And we believe that we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff. And we've received, you know, threats from our governor. And it's been really, really dramatic and horrible to be put in this position. But at the end of the day, lives are invaluable and we have to make sure that we use the tools that we can to mitigate the damage of this pandemic. We know that we want everybody to be vaccinated, but that's not the reality. As local school boards, we don't believe we have the authority. We are investigating it legally to mandate vaccinations for staff. And we know we certainly can't do it for students. So when you have a population of about fifty-plus thousand of students that are twelve and under that don't have an option for vaccinations, you have staff with pre-existing conditions, you have children that have medical conditions, we believe that mask is a tool that will help us mitigate the spread of COVID. When you bring students and staff into a classroom environment, a school bus environment, we have to protect them at all costs.

NANCY CORDES: And, yet, because you are taking that step, the governor is threatening to withhold your pay. He's threatening to fine the school district thousands of dollars. You've been in touch with Biden administration officials in the past twenty-four hours. I know the President himself called your school superintendent. What is the administration telling you about how they will make you whole if the-- the governor makes good on this threat?

DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD: Yeah, I had a conversation with Mary Wall, the senior policy adviser for the White House COVID pandemic task force on yesterday. And President Biden also had the secretary of education, Doctor Miguel Cardona send a letter to our governor stressing their support of mandating masks at the reopening of school and also indicating that they would allow us to use our ESSER dollars, that's our Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds, to replace our salaries if necessary. It was very encouraging to get the support of the White House during this very, very difficult time that we find ourselves in. You know we've worked, our staff has worked. Doctor Antoine Hickman, who is the chief of student support services, Doctor Jermaine Fleming, who is the chief of strategy operations, and Doctor Leo Nesmith, who is the chief of security and disaster preparedness, have worked with their staff to put in all kinds of protocols to keep our students safe. We have a partnership with the Department of Health where we will be able to offer testing on-site with parental consent for any child that shows symptoms of COVID. We will have opportunities for vaccination. We vaccinated a lot of our staff. So we've worked to put in air quality control systems and we feel very strongly that we can bring all our students back safely. And, keep in mind, because of the close environment, we cannot practice six feet of social distancing. But all of the other protocols that we put in place to ensure their safety, we believe, will allow us to provide them with physical safety as well as mental health support. Because we saw that during the time that our children were at home, suicide rates increased. Their social-emotional learning dropped off, and it impacted them dramatically when it relates to education. And we saw that in their test scores.


DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD: So we've been working extremely hard to put things in place and we're not going to risk their lives--


DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD: --by allowing masks to be optional.

NANCY CORDES: Well, Doctor, we know that everyone hopes that kids can remain in school this school year. So thank you for everything you're doing to make that happen. And thank you so much for coming on FACE THE NATION today.


NANCY CORDES: And we'll be right back.


NANCY CORDES: California voters head to the polls in less than a month to decide whether to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, just two years into his term. They'll render that decision against an incredible backdrop of COVID, wildfires, and more. Joining us with some new poll numbers is CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. Anthony, good morning. One of the things I think is most interesting about this poll is that you were able to put some numbers to this growing sense of frustration among vaccinated Americans, when it comes to people who have so far chosen not to get the shot.

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Yeah. Great to see you, Nancy. And it starts with this overwhelming feeling among Californians that their state's recent rise in coronavirus cases was preventable. So you ask, but what could have prevented it, and a top answer is, well, more vaccinations if more people had gotten vaccinated. So we went ahead and asked those who have gotten the shot how they feel about those who were unwilling to get vaccinated. And here's where this frustration you see emerges. Top answer: The vaccinated feel the unvaccinated are putting people like me at risk. Also, that they feel they're being misled by bad information. And outright saying they're making me upset or angry. And that's where you see that emotional component coming in. Now, look, California may not be the same as every state. It's got a relatively high vaccination rate. But this tension between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated certainly something we're going to watch across the country. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Right. We lots of evidence of it growing all the time. Anthony, one of the main reasons you conducted this poll in California, obviously, is because they have this major recall election coming up in just one month. First-term California Governor Gavin Newsom campaigning to hold on to his job. What did you find?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Let me show you two sets of numbers that I think really tell the story. First of all, among likely voters in the recall, the people who are most likely to show up next month. Well, there, the no vote, which would keep Gavin Newsom in office is winning, but it's four points. And that's a pretty close margin for California and for a Democrat. So Newsom's sweating that out a little bit. But here's something I find really telling, if you ask the same thing among everyone who could vote, among all registered voters, now that no to keep Newsom in office has a much wider eight-point margin. What does that tell you? It tells you that this is going to be a turnout election. And the reason for that, Nancy, is that Democrats tell us they're not as definite to vote and they're not as motivated to vote as Republicans in the state are. It'll be interesting to watch over the course of the next few weeks if Newsom can turn that around. And let me just tell you also, for context, Newsom gets pretty good approval ratings for things that Californians are concerned about, like handling the wildfires. More mixed on crime. And also, at least somewhat good, if not very good, in handling of COVID. So to kind of button that up, the next few weeks are going to come down to Democrats, well, look, it's been a long stretch. They had the primaries; they had the presidential election. It may not be so much that they are tired of Gavin Newsom or won't vote for him, maybe more that they're just kind of tired of voting on things.

NANCY CORDES: You also polled on this question of vaccine mandates, a debate across the country, but it seems not quite as much of a debate in California. They definitely came down on one side of this argument.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah, Nancy, big majorities say that vaccines should be mandatory for California's health care workers. Another thing we asked, making it mandatory for businesses to require vaccines of their employees, that gets high support. And even for businesses that host large, maybe indoor venues, to have requirements for their customers. In fact, a lot of people said they'd be more willing to patronize a kind of business that required vaccines of their customers. All of those with large majorities. And here is where that emotional component we talked about earlier, that frustration of the vaccinated with the unvaccinated starts to manifest itself in policy outcomes and support. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Anthony, one of the issues that you took a look at is on the minds not just of Californians, but people across the Pacific Northwest, these huge wildfires that are now starting months before peak season. What did Californians have to tell you about their fears about wildfires affecting them and their entire home state?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. The fires themselves are a top issue of concern. And then it quite literally, they tell us, starts to hit home. A lot of people feel like they are at risk, at least some risk, of fires and also of drought. More generally, Nancy, we find that people have said they've experienced extreme weather in their area, and that they feel like the state is having or feeling the impact of climate change overall. And where that then comes into public policy is that people tend to support-- and this really goes across party lines-- support things that the state, at least, can try to do to mitigate the effects of climate change. Nancy.

NANCY CORDES: Fascinating results. The recall election, September 14th. Anthony Salvanto, thank you.


NANCY CORDES: And that's it for us today. And thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Nancy Cordes. Have a good day.

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