tv CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell CNN August 20, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
a.p., zeke miller. >> thank you, mr. president. you promise to leave afghanistan but you also promised to bring out those who helped america in its war effort. we've seen these heart-wrenching images at the kabul airport of people trying to get there, to say nothing of the people who can't get to that airport. you made the commitment to get american citizens out. will you make the same commitment to those who assisted in the american war effort over the last 20 years, number one, and then number two, what is your message to america's partners around the world who have criticized not the withdrawal but the conduct of that withdrawal and made them question america's credibility on the world stage? >> i have seen no question of credibility from our allies around the world. i have spoken with our nato allies. we have spoken with nato allies, the secretary of state, our national security advisors have been in contact with his
counterparts throughout the world and our allies, as has the general or, excuse me, i keep calling him a general but my secretary of defense. the fact of the matter is, i have not seen that. as a matter of fact, the exact opposite, i've gotten. the exact opposite thing. we're acting with dispatch. we're committing to what we said we would do. look, let's put this thing in perspective here. what interest do we have in afghanistan at this point with al qaeda gone? we went to afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al qaeda in afghanistan as well as getting osama bin laden, and we did. imagine -- just imagine if that attack -- if bin laden had decided, with al qaeda, to launch an attack from yemen. would we have gone to afghanistan? would there ever be any reason we would be in afghanistan? controlled by the taliban?
what is the national interest of the united states in that circumstance? we went and did the mission. you've known my position for a long, long time. it's time to end this war. the estimates of the cost of this war over the last 20 years range from a minimum of $1 trillion to a think tank at one of the universities saying, $2 trillion. that's somewhere between $150 million a day and $300 million a day. the threat from terrorism has metastasized. there's a greater danger from isis and al qaeda and all these affiliates in other countries by far than there is from afghanistan. and we're going to retain an over the horizon capability if they were to come back to be able to take them out, surgically move. so this is where we should be. this is about america leading the world. and all our allies have agreed with that. and by the way, before i made
this decision, i was at the g7 as well as met with our nato partners, and i told them all, every one of them knew and agreed with the decision i made to end -- jointly end our involvement in afghanistan. the first part of your question was -- i can't remember now. >> would you commit to the same commitment -- would you make the same commitment to bring out afghans who assisted in the war effort. >> yes, we're making the same commitment. there's no one more important than bringing american citizens out, i acknowledge that. but they're equally important, almost is all those -- those sivs we call them who, in fact, helped us, that were translators, that went into battle with us, that were part of the operation, as well as we're also trying to get out as many ngos, nongovernment organizations, women's organizations, et cetera, we're doing all we can. and the meantime, secretary blinken and i am going to be
working with our allies to see to it that we can bring international pressure on the taliban to -- they're looking to gain some legitimacy. they're going to have to figure out how they're going to maintain that country. and there's going to be harsh conditions, strong conditions we're going to apply and will depend on whether they get help based on whether or not how and well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens. so, this is just beginning on that score. >> past the 31st to make that happen, to bring all the americans out, to bring those sivs out? >> i think we can get it done by then but we're going to make that judgment as we go. now, justin from bloomberg. >> thank you, mr. president. you just said that you would keep a laser focus on counterterrorism efforts and you don't see as great of a threat of terrorism from afghanistan as other parts of the world. but if you and your administration so badly
misassessed how quickly the taliban would sweep through afghanistan and we no longer have an embassy there, how can you at all be confident of your assessment of the risk of terrorism and the ability of the u.s. to conduct over the horizon missions to keep it in check? can you tell americans that they're safe and will remain safe from terror attacks in afghanistan? >> i think you're comparing apples and oranges. one question was whether or not the afghan forces we trained up would stay and fight in their own civil war they have going on. no one -- i shouldn't say no one. the consensus was that it was highly unlikely that, in 11 days, they would collapse and fall and the leader of afghanistan would flee the country. that's a very different question than whether or not there is the ability to observe, whether or not large groups of terrorists begin to accumulate in a particular area in afghanistan
to plot against the united states of america. that's why we retained an over the horizon capability to go in and do something about that if that occurs. if that occurs. but in the meantime, we know what's happened around the world. we know thwhat's happening in terms of what's going on in other countries where there is a significant rise of terrorist organizations in the middle east, in east africa, and other places. and so, the bottom line is, we have to do -- we're dealing with those terrorist threats from other parts of the world in failed states without permanent military -- without permanent military presence there. we have to do the same in afghanistan. >> sir, just on that initial assessment, we learned over the last 24 hours that there was a dissent cable from the state department. >> sure. >> saying that the taliban would come faster through afghanistan. can you say why, after that
cable was issued, the u.s. didn't do more to get americans out? >> we got all kinds of cables, all kinds of advice. have you noticed they range from this group saying that they didn't it would fall when it did fall, but saying that it would fall to others saying i wouldn't happen for a long time and they would be able to sustain themselves through the end of the year. i made the decision. the buck stops with me. i took the consensus opinion. consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur if it occurred until later in the year. so, it was my decision. now, my -- i got -- my next is stephanie ramos, abc. >> thank you, mr. president. two questions for you. the military has secured the airport as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending u.s. troops into kabul to evacuate americans who haven't been able to get to the airport safely?
>> we have no indication that they haven't been able to get in kabul through the airport. we've made an agreement with the taliban thus far. they've allowed them to go through. it's in their interest for them to go through, so we know of no circumstance where american citizens are carrying american passports, trying to get through to the airport. but we will do whatever needs to be done to see they get to the airport. >> one more, mr. president. last month, my colleague, m martha, interviewed abdul. overnight, we received images of taliban militants coming to his door, literally hunting him down. he is still in mortal danger. what would be your message to abdul, his wife, and his three young daughters? >> we want you to be able to get to the airport, contact us, we'll see whatever we can do to get you there. we've got to get you out.
we are committed to deal with you, your wife, and your child to get all three of you out of afghanistan. that's the commitment. >> thank you, sir. >> meredith lee of pbs "newshour." >> thank you, mr. president. you mentioned just now using every resource available for evacuations. why haven't you ordered the military to expand the security perimeter around the kabul airport? do you have any plans to do so, given that will likely require more u.s. troops, and are you considering rescue operations to recover americans and afghan allies stuck behind taliban checkpoints? >> the answer is yes to the last question. we're considering every opportunity and every means by which we could get folks to the airport. that's number one. number two, the reason why we have not gone out and started -- and set up a perimeter way outside the airport in kabul is
that it's likely to draw an awful lot of unintended consequences in terms of people who, in fact, are not part of the taliban. we've been in constant contact with the taliban leadership on the ground in kabul as well as the taliban leadership at daho and we've been coordinating what we're doing. that's how we got all of our embassy personnel out, how we got everybody out of the embassy safely. that was the distance. that's how we helped get the french out, out of their embassy, so the question remains, there will be judgments made on the ground by the military commanders at the moment, and i cannot second guess each of those judgments to be made. but the idea of, again, let me get back to the fundamental point i made at the outset.
when the decision was made by me that -- and it was made sometime ago, and i ran for president saying i wanted to get us out of afghanistan. one of the things that is reality is people now say to me and to others, and many of you say it on air, that, why did we have to move because no americans were being attacked? why did we withdraw those -- why did we agree to withdraw 2,500 troops? no americans were being attacked. as i said before, the reason they weren't being attacked was part of an agreement that trump had made a year earlier, we will leave by may 1st, he said, as long as there's no attack on americans. in that year period. number one. number two, the taliban was taking large swaths of the
countryside, north and south. none of the major areas, none of the major points of the capitals of each of these provinces, but they were all over the country, and the idea that if i had said on may 2nd or 3rd, we are not leaving, we are staying, does anybody truly believe that i would not have had to put in significantly more american forces? send your sons, your daughters, like my son was sent to iraq? to maybe die? and for what? for what? so, the only rational thing to do, in my view, was to set up and preposition american forces for the purpose of evacuation and the aircraft to preposition those ahead of time so that we would be able to begin the process of evacuation of
american citizens, sivs, and others who helped us. the last point i'll make is this. look, if we had decided 15 years ago to leave afghanistan, it would have been really difficult. if we decided five years ago, if we started -- if we continue the war for another decade and tried to leave, there's no way in which you'd be able to leave afghanistan without there being some of what you're seeing now. but what we've done so far is been able to get a large number of americans out, all our personnel at the embassy out, and so on. and thank god, so far, knock on wood, we're in a different position. scott. scott? npr.
>> thank you, mr. president. getting there and getting past the security barrier and to the planes where they want to go. >> i thought the question was, how can they get through to the airport outside the airport? and the answer is, to the best of our knowledge, the taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing american passports. now, that's a different question when they get into the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall near the airport. that's why we had to, i guess, yesterday, the day before, we
went over the wall and brought in how many? 169 americans. so, it is a process to try to figure out how we -- how we deal with the mad rush of nonamericans, those who didn't help, those who were not on the priority list, just any afghan, any afghan to be able to get out of the country, and so my guess is that no matter what, under what circumstance, any one -- there's not a whole lot of -- there's a whole lot of afghanis just assumed, come to america whether they had any involvement with the united states at all rather than stay under taliban rule or any rule. so, what i was saying is that we have an agreement that they will let pass through the checkpoints that they, the taliban, control.
they've let americans through. >> but given this, given the negotiations with the taliban, the scenes that we're seeing, can you just fully explain why the plan wasn't to go ahead with these evacuations of both americans and allies before the drawdowns began, before bagram was closed because whether it was now or several months from now, there seems to be a broad consensus the taliban would make these gains and these would be needed at some point. >> yeah, at some point. but the point was that although we were in contact with the taliban, and doha for this whole period of time, that some point wasn't expected to be the total demise of the afghan national force, which was 300 persons. let's assume the afghan national force had continued to fight and they were kabul. it would be a different story. but the overwhelming consensus
was that this was not -- they were not going to collapse. the afghan forces, they were not going to leave. they were not going to just abandon and put down their arms and take off. so, that's what's happened. thank you very much. thank you. >> for about 30 minutes there, talked about the several elements that now have to be navigated. he started this speech today by saying the only country capable of projecting this much power with this precision is the united states, and then went on to show just how imprecise the plan and the operations are and the degree of power that the u.s. is not using in some respects. let's bring in now for this conversation, cnn's kylie atwood, barbara starr, jeff zeleny, susan glasser, cnn
military analyst colonel cedric leighton and cnn senior political analyst lea. there was a pause that happened for about eight hours, clarissa ward reported. the president says this was to make sure that they could process arrivals at sites, that was the reason for the pause. what's the cnn reporting? what's your reporting on the cause for the pause? >> very quickly, it does appear that flights are resuming to some extent. they had to shut them down because they had something like 10,000 to 15,000 people inside kabul airport. they could not put them on planes because those planes had nowhere to land where they could unload that many passengers for processing in the third country. the site in doha, qatar, is getting full. we are led to understand that a site in germany is opening up, and they will again be able to fly people out.
but you know, another day when military planning doesn't seem to match the reality on the ground, because outside the gates, people are still pressing so desperately to get inside, get processed, and get on a plane. i have to tell you, victor, the thing that the president said that we knew nothing about, publicly, at least, he twice referenced that u.s. troops went outside the wire, outside the gate of the airport and brought 169 people inside. he talked about it twice, in one of his references, he mentioned it being americans, not something that we know anything about at this point, and we will be asking at the upcoming pentagon briefing. he is also opening the door to u.s. troops perhaps going out in the city if needed and trying to bring afghan allies and americans to the airport. the president has said american passport holders are not having any trouble getting past the
taliban checkpoints. that may be problematic. an awful lot of reports that that is still very much a problem. victor? >> yeah, barbara, i picked up on that. he said, yesterday, we went out and got 169 americans over the wall using military assets. i'll come to you, certaolonel, that moment, but first to jeff zeleny at the white house. the president delivered remarks on monday. there was the abc news interview midweek and now he's back again. what did you make of the tone and did he accomplish the goal that he was set out to accomplish today? >> reporter: victor, i think there's no question that president biden was more in command of this chaos in afghanistan than we have seen him really for more than a week, publicly. he said very clearly, any american who wants to come home will be able to come home and then authorized saying he will use any resources necessary and left the door open to the possibility of staying beyond his self-imposed deadline and
actually left several other spaces open for command decisions on the ground there as barbara was just mentioning. so perhaps more has been gone on than the military leaders have left us to believe. but for the president's point of view, one goal i've been told by white house officials was to try and get off his heels, if you will, to try and get on offense and show that they are indeed in control of this. but he also said at the outset that this is still a very dangerous operation. he made that very clear, and with an uncertain ending. so, without question, this is a president that we've really not seen for the last several days. he's refused a couple different times to take questions on this, so again, trying to at least reset the conversation, and he did say, there will be time for second guessing later. and of course, there will be. but by standing there in the east room with, of course, his vice president, but as well his top pentagon commander, secretary lloyd austin, as well as the secretary of state,
antony blinken, making clear that he does have their full confidence and their support, so that was all by design to show that this president is indeed in charge of this. also, canceling his trip today, he was supposed to be on a plane right now to wilmington to spend an august weekend there. he's staying here at the white house to manage this because no question about it, this is still the biggest crisis of his presidency, and it's not over yet. >> all right, we've got on the phone with us chief international correspondent clarissa ward from kabul. clarissa, i understand that you were able to hear the president's remarks. how do they reconcile with what you've watched there over the last several days? >> reporter: well, i mean, victor, this is obviously a growing recognition, the enormity of this catastrophe that we've seen play out on the ground. i think in the beginning, we heard the administration try to say that, oh, you know, in the
beginning, the embassy wasn't going to close, it was going to be a partnership, and then sort of doubling down on the policy, maybe the planning could have been better, et cetera. it seemed like there was a slightly more humble and sober tone today and perhaps more recognition of the enormity of the task that lies ahead. which is certainly, based on what i'm seeing here on the ground, just to give you some perspective, i have been here since, well, i mean, like midnight, and the last -- the last u.s. plane i saw take off with evacuees on it it was at 3:00 a.m. there was one other plane that flew out a few hours ago, but it had only u.s. military personnel. so that's basically, you know, more than ten hours with no evacuees being taken out of the country. which is a disaster because we
already have a real problem here with bottlenecks. one soldier told me they have 10,000 people processed and r ready to go and get on plaenes, but the planes aren't flying, you can't get them out, which means you can't take more in which means you get a bigger crush of people every day up against those front gates and taliban fighters. i do have to say, i'm being told there are a couple u.s. planes, one on the ground and one or two more inbound and they are expected to fly out tonight. we will see what comes of that and i'll continue to stay close. certainly, from everything i have seen, the situation is desperate. it's chaotic. people are lying in the gravel, in the dirt for two days now with little babies in the scorching sun and the cold of the evening.
i can't even begin to explain to you what the bathroom here looks like. it's only worth mentioning because there are hundreds of marines here, and there's no reason for it. these people, we need tents for shelter during the day. we saw marines today handing out little wedges of cardboard so people could fan their babies. i saw a newborn baby dehydrate, taken for medical treatment. so, it's a desperate situation, and it's only going to get worse unless things are really taken into order. >> clarissa, the president was asked about -- i believe it was a translator named abdul who worked with the u.s. and his response to that reporter was, just, once he gets to the airport, gets to the airfield, we will evacuate him.
his commitment starts at the airport. can you just make it clear for everyone how difficult it is to get to that point, to get to the other side of the wall for these afghans who are disparate parts across the country. >> i mean, it's incredibly difficult for anyone, for an american, for a brit, for a dutch, basically, you come up toward the front gate of those many different gates. you can try every single gate has hundreds of people outside of it who are waiting for that door to open for five seconds, and the minute it opens, there is just a massive heave of people pushing to get in. i know that because i was one of those people pushing, my team members and i, holding on to each other's luggage and hands, being thrust and pushed by the crowd as we tried to get in through a gate that we thought
was going to be relatively empty but actually there is no such thing as an empty gate. every gate has dozens if not hundreds of people waiting outside for their one window of opportunity. and by the way, they've already had to beat their way past the taliban checkpoints, through fighters with whips and guns, even to get to that stage. then once you get there, you begin the long journey. i've been talking to people on the ground here who have been in this airport now, this compound, for two full days. with no proper access to, you know, washrooms, minimal food and water, which is being given to them by u.s. servicemen, but sort of ad hoc basis. no access to shelter. i mean, even just a ridiculous thing that you do finally get to the flight app, while we've been here for whatever it is, ten
hours, 11 hours, it is incredibly noisy. i've actually managed to hunker down here to do this with you in a turkish guard hut, but for everybody else, they're basically on the runway. if you have a baby and you are on this runway for 12 hours, you know, dust and dirt flying around. it's a terrible situation. there are people in wheelchairs, as i mentioned before, there's not proper bathrooms that are accessible. it's a nightmare scenario, and it doesn't end even when you get to the relative safety of passing through that front gate. >> the president said on americans, two things. first, that there was no indication that americans were having any difficulty getting there to the airport. have you seen any difficulty for americans there with american passports trying to get through
into the airport, and do we know if any of the 10,000 who are waiting there are americans? >> we had difficulty getting into the airport. it's like a rubik's cube. i won't share the details of how we did get in, but it's very difficult. it's very difficult. it's not a simple process at all. and you might remember i did a live shot a couple days ago outside the airport. i was talking to people with green cards, people who had all their siv applications accepted, their visa, and they couldn't get close. they couldn't get close because it's thousands of people crushing into each other, taliban fighters with truncheons and whips pushing people back. shots being fired into the air. then you go through another
layer. you've got afghan special forces commandos who are kind of the first line of defense afterwards for the u.s., and then you've got the u.s. anyone who says that any american can get in here is, you know -- yeah, i mean, technically, it's possible, but it's extremely difficult and it is dangerous. >> clarissa ward there still in kabul after she said about 10, 11 hours there. thank you again for amazing reporting. i want to bring our panel back in. we also have joining the panel, chief white house correspondent kaitlan collins. kaitlan, to you. even with the optics, the tone jeff already mentioned there, having the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense there. this president now -- this white house seems to have realized how this is reflecting to the american people in the world and they are responding in kind. >> yeah, i think the president was certainly a little less dev defensive today than we've seen
him in past appearances, certainly talking about how difficult the situation there and what this complex undertaking really is for the u.s. military as they are trying to get people out. but his last comment there when he was talking about americans being able to get through and saying that they don't have any reports of americans having issues doing so, of course, is pushing up against what clarissa is saying right there, what she herself and her team have experienced going in but also what they are witnessing outside the airport. and so, i think that was interesting where the president was asked multiple times about this idea of authorizing the military to be able to go out into kabul and get americans who need to come into the airport as we've seen some other reports of other nations doing. that was not something he believed they need to do at this point, though he was talking about mobilizing resources to get other americans and get them into the airport so they can safely evacuate them. one really striking thing that i'm sure you've noted which is the president says he himself is still working on getting an answer of how many americans are still in afghanistan.
that is something we had heard from officials, saying they did not have a precise number given when americans go to other countries, they are encouraged to register. they don't always deregister, so it's not a clear picture of how many are there. they say that they are trying to reach out to them through other means of communication, including radio, television, internet, but for the president to come out and say that still they are still working to get a firm idea of how many americans are left as they are trying to evacuate them and we are getting reports of the hundreds who have made it actually into the airport, waiting to get on planes, that is striking in and of itself, and i think it speaks to the chaos that is on the ground right now as they are trying to figure it out. but it is an important point because of course the president has said u.s. troops will stay until all americans are out who want to leave and of course that raises the question of how do you know when it's time to go if you don't know how many americans are there. >> yeah. and the decision to expand potentially the perimeter as the president said, at this point, he's not willing to do because it would, in his words, attract
elements other than the taliban. colonel layton, to you. your reaction to what we've now learned this effort by u.s. forces to, as the president said, bring 169 americans over the wall using military assets. what's your reaction to that and the decision not to expand the perimeter there at the airport? >> well, victor, not to expand the perimeter is actually a risky endeavor in and of itself, because if you don't expand the perimeter, there's risk in expanding it, but if you don't expand it, then there's almost no way that everybody that we've promised could get out that they would be able to get out, so that includes, of course, the american citizens, but it also the siv holders and other aspirants to the -- to escape here because what they're looking at is a lot of people who don't qualify for sivs who also want to get out. no promises have been made to them, but i can tell you, you know, from connections that i
have, there are plenty of folks out there who need that, so from a military perspective, if mission success is defined as getting all of these people out, they are going to have to expand the perimeter and get these people a safe way to the -- to get to the airport, and if they can't do that, then we're not going to complete the mission as advertised. >> susan, the president sees no evidence, no question of u.s. credibility around the world. how is this resonating, and does that reconcile with what we're hearing from world leaders? >> well, again, just as clarissa gave that very powerful example just now of the difference between ground truth and washington truth when it comes to the conditions at the airport, i was a little surprised to hear that assertion by president biden that european allies hadn't questioned the decision and that it wasn't an issue of u.s. credibility in the world. i think you need only look as
far as what the chinese state media outlets are saying about this to understand that there is a certain credibility blow. we've seen comments from allies and partners in germany and the uk and elsewhere strongly critical not only of the decision but worrying about exactly that subject, which is to say, what does it mean for the united states in the world? president biden, one of his central promises in foreign policy was the idea that the united states would be back as a credible partner and an ally after several years of president trump criticizing our allies and criticizing the idea of multilateralism. they've had this consultation with the allies, but very belatedly, frankly, to have this meeting today between secretary of state tony blinken and the other foreign ministers. i was very surprised that it took so long for president biden to speak with our european partners and the british prime minister. it was days after kabul fell when he made those consultations and not before.
>> kylie, at the state department, you've been reporting over the last several days the caveats and kind of the warnings offered by state department officials for americans who may venture out to try to get to the airport. but the president today said that he has heard that there is -- there's no problem for americans who are trying to get to kabul airport. >> yeah, i mean, he leaned into that, right, and that is something that we're keeping an eye on, because even, you know, a western journalist, clarissa ward, said she had trouble getting to the airport, so that doesn't necessarily match with exactly what we're seeing on the ground. but i think it's also significant to note that the president today for the first time said that, yes, we are going to get all the americans out, but that commitment is also the same for our afghan allies, and he has been a little bit reticent to say that. this was the first time that he really leaned into that.
he said that they are almost just as necessary, just as important to get out of the country as the americans. now, he didn't define what that looks like, how many afghans we are talking about right now with regard to that group that he is saying the u.s. is going to get out of the country. he also didn't say if they're all going to get out before this august 31st self-imposed deadline. he was asked if that would be extended. he said he thinks they'll be able to do it before that, so we'll have to wait and see. the other thing that i think is significant from his remarks was how he tried to talk about just how grandiose this effort is, calling it the largest air lift in history, but also saying that the united states is the only country that could do it with this precision, and that word is a really interesting one to be using on a day like today when we're, you know, by all intents and purposes looking at something that has no precision to it on the ground. it's overwhelmed in chaos, so i
understand the president wants to look at the here and now. he said there would be time for criticism, but using words like precision on a day like today is an interesting use of words. >> yeah, after a 9 or 10-hour pause in evacuations. nia-malika, to you. the tone shift included what we did not see in that interview with george stephanopoulos. empathy. talking about the gut-wrenching images and also saying that there's no person who doesn't feel the pain on a human level, something that we expect from president biden because he does it so often, has expressed that empathy. >> i think that's right. he is known as being a very compassionate commander in chief, and that has very much been missing. you think about his statements on monday, his statements on wednesday as well, very defensive, trying to make an argument rather than show some heart. i thought today, not only did he show the humility, which clarissa talked about, but also
that humanity, and listen, it comes on a day when we've seen a baby lifted above those thronging crowds to a u.s. marine who had to rescue that child. also, on a day when we know that a 19-year-old afghan soccer player fell to his death from one of those planes that was taking off, so the president at this point can't be so dismissive and so kind of clinical, i think, in his responses and focusing on being right and making an argument. so, today, you did see a very different shift in tone. you always wonder about biden, which biden will show up, right? he is someone who is known to have a chip on his shoulder oftentimes, and it can be a bit defensive as well. but also, he's somebody known for being very compassionate, and so today was a nice balance and the biden that is known as being empathetic certainly showed up, and listen, i think that was missing over these last days particularly when we see
these heartbreaking images of our afghan allies there. and again, i think today it came with the promise that kylie talked about, not only saying that americans will certainly get out, which he had focused on a lot on monday as well as wednesday, he said that that promise also extends to those allies as well. >> yeah, and we'll see if the u.s. is able to keep that promise. thank you all for the reporting and analysis. and we're going to push forward on the breaking news. any minute, the pentagon will hold a briefing on the situation in afghanistan. we will bring that to you live. also, intensive care units across the south are near capacity. it's so bad in florida that public libraries are being used as covid treatment centers. [grunts] ♪ ♪ [grunts] pnc bank believes that if a pair of goggles can help your backhand get better... yeah! ...then your bank should help you budget even better. (laughing) virtual wallet® is so much more
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is u.s. is keeping its land border with canada and mexico closed to tourists for at least another month. the taelt delta variant is fuel shortage of intensive care beds, particularly in states with low vaccination rates. cnn's miguel marquez has more. >> reporter: deaths, hospitalizations, cases, and vaccinations now all on the rise. the delta variant, dominating. >> from the bottom of my heart, we, as the medical community, are completely exhausted. >> reporter: nationwide, deaths, up 62%, most unvaccinated. that's the seven-day average increase over the previous week. on average, 862 americans now dying every day from covid-19. more than 93,000 americans now in hospitals, numbers climbing toward january's record high.
cases, 14% higher than last week's seven-day average. more than 141,000 americans now testing positive on average every day. vaccinations also up, daily shots up about 60% in just over a month. >> not only are we seeing a significant number of covid hospitalizations, but we have a much higher volume of critically ill non-covid patients. >> reporter: florida intensive care units statewide nearing capacity along with georgia, mississippi, and texas. icus filling to concerning levels, all at more than 90% capacity. alabama is out of icu beds statewide. >> we are seeing a much younger group of individuals who are hospitalized for covid in our intensive care units, on ventilators, these are healthy, young 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds
who because of the aggressive nature of the delta variant are now being hospitalized. >> reporter: in florida and texas, the battle over masks in schools continues. the texas supreme court ruling schools can impose mask mandates, and in florida, some districts defying the republican governor's order limiting mask mandates. and yet, more disturbing incidents from the covid-19 front lines. in florida, this scene at a public library in jacksonville. louis lopez snapped this picture. >> they were so sick. the picture really doesn't do it justice because they were moaning. they were in a lot of pain. it really drove the point home as to how serious these people are. >> reporter: the library now converted into a site for covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment after governor ron desantis made the treatment widely available. the treatment typically administered through an infusion, which takes space and time. and in roseberg, oregon, mercy
hospital making a shocking admission, one patient died in its emergency department while waiting for an open icu bed. even after expanding icu care on to other floors, there weren't any beds available for this patient. we didn't have enough, the hospital said in a statement. we need your help, grace, and kindness. now, the delta variant is also throwing companies for a loop, not only are they wrestling with whether or not to have their employees vaccinated, many now pushing back those back-to-work dates into january 2022, including now amazon, charles schwab, many other companies in new york considering and the west coast considering the same. >> it is just sad to see the people there at the jacksonville public library there stretched out over the floor for treatment. >> it is shocking, and that's part of that is because they now have an order from the governor to offer this treatment to people more widely, people are going to get it. while it does show some promise
for some people, if you don't get it early enough in the disease, it's not going to help many, and it's creating possibly even more problems in florida than they already have. this ain't going to be over any time soon. >> miguel marquez, thank you. >> you got it. tropical storm henri is on track to become a hurricane. it's headed toward the new england states and we'll have the latest forecast for you in just a moment. all week long, new yorkers have been enjoying free hip hop concerts as part of the lead-up to the "we love new york city" homecoming concert . the all-star line-up includes wyclef jean and jennifer hudson. attendees have to show proof of at least one dose of the covid vaccine to get in. watch it exclusively on cnn tomorrow starting at 5:00 p.m. eastern. ♪
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where is it? >> this storm is gaining strength. it's nearing hurricane strength with winds of 70 miles per hour. gusts of 75. it's moving to the knot west at 6 miles an hour. this storm will continue to head to the north, increasing in intensity by tomorrow morning. lit be a category one storm. you can see as it gets closer to the northeast, still a lot of uncertainty which is exactly where this will make landfall. we could be talking about a strong tropical storm or ac category one storm. we could see tropical storm force winds as early as tomorrow evening across this region. if you look at the forecast models, you can see uncertainty. some of the models take the storm farther to the west. some take it farther to the east. regardless, we're going to get
torrential rains across new england as well as portions of the northeast as well as very strong winds. this is already a saturated region. you're talking about winds gusting 74 miles an hour to north. 60 miles an hour to more places. you're going dpoet to get a lot trees down and not to mention the flooding. this will be a huge problem across new england as we get into sunday. >> we'll watch out for it. thank you. we're moments away from hearing from the pentagon as evacuations in afghanistan are set to resume after more than eight hour pause. we'll have that for you live. join cnn for we love new york city tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on cnn.
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brand new hour. thanks for staying with us. any minute now the pentagon will given audio an update on the cr afghanistan. we'll bring that to you life. last hour president biden committed to evacuating afghans who helped the u.s. out of the country. while the state department says it cannot ensure safe passage for americans to kabul's