(CNSNews.com) - CNN says it has fired three employees for showing up at work unvaccinated, in violation of CNN's vaccination mandate for all employees.
One high-profile CNN employee, anchorman Wolf Blitzer, admitted on Thursday's broadcast that he's among the Americans who are fearful of a "new" coronavirus variant "that's even worse than delta." Blitzer said mask-wearing is "so important," although there are differing views on the efficacy of masks in filtering virus particles. And he said he's "anxious to get my third (booster) shot, if that's going to help."
Blitzer made the comments while interviewing CDC Director Rochelle Walensky:
"Dr. Fauci also says an even worse, an even worse -- this is awful to hear this -- an even worse coronavirus variant could be coming beyond Delta," Blitzer told Walensky: "Is there a specific variant you're watching right now with concern?" he asked:
"We're watching numerous variants as they emerge," Walensky said:
I don't have one that is more concerning right now on -- in addition to Delta. What I can say, though, is that the more we have viral replication, the more we have transmission, the more we are at risk of a new and emerging variant.
And that is why it's so very critical to get vaccinated, not just for yourself, for your own personal health, to protect you from severe disease and death, but to protect you from transmission to others, as well as to protect all of us from seeing a more -- more aggressive emerging variant.
"I'm so worried about a new variant that's even worse than Delta," Blitzer said. "And the question is, Dr. Walensky, will our current vaccines hold up against the next, the next variant?"
"That's, of course, the concern," Walensky said. "And we will have to see what this virus brings. What I can say is that the virus generally mutates, and those mutations hold because it's advantageous to the virus. So our job now is to squash the virus and to do so by decreasing chains of transmission through vaccination and masking in the interim."
Blitzer also asked Walensky about fully vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections: "Can they pass it on? Could they pass it on to their children? Could they pass the virus on to older people, especially more vulnerable people, with underlying health conditions?" he asked.
"So yes, they can, with the delta variant," Walensky responded: "And that was the reason that we changed our guidance last Tuesday. Our vaccines are working exceptionally well. They continue to work well for delta. With regard to severe illness and death, they prevent it.
"But what they can't do anymore is prevent transmission. So, if you're going home to somebody who has not been vaccinated, to somebody who can't get vaccinated, somebody who might be immuno-suppressed or a little bit frail, somebody who has co-morbidities that put them at high risk, I would suggest you wear a mask in public indoor settings."
Blitzer followed up: "Especially if you -- if there is a breakthrough case, you get COVID, you're fully vaccinated, but you are totally asymptomatic, you could still pass on the virus to someone else; is that right?"
"That's exactly right. And that's where our masking recommendation came from," Walensky agreed.
"It's so important, these masks," Blitzer said.
(According to CDC, the respiratory droplets that carry the COVID cannot pass easily through a properly designed and properly worn mask. But others, Sen. Rand Paul prominent among them, say masks for people who have immunity are "theater," and most of them don't work: "And, in fact, most people are wearing cloth masks, and 97 percent of virus-sized particles go through cloth masks," the senator told Fox News on Thursday.)
Blitzer asked the CDC director about booster shots that may be coming soon. "Who will be eligible for these boosters first? All of us who got two shots, we might need, after five or six months, a third shot," he said, greatly concerned:
Walensky said the CDC is "working closely with the FDA," studying the data, "and we will come up with a plan soon, in September."
"All right, well, I'm anxious to get my third shot, if that's going to help," Blitzer said. "I'm sure a lot of people are anxious to get their third shot as well."
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday, some 93 million people who are eligible for vaccinations have not received even one shot yet, as the delta variant produces a summertime surge in COVID cases.
Walensky told a news briefing on Thursday that CDC reported 103,445 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday:
Our seven-day average is about 89,463 cases per day. This represents an increase of 43 percent from the prior seven-day average.
The seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 7,348 per day, an increase of about 41 percent from the prior seven-day period. And, seven-day average daily deaths have also increased to 381 per day, an increase of more than 39 percent from the previous seven-day period. We saw 614 new deaths reported to CDC on Tuesday.
Eighty-three percent of our counties in the United States are experiencing moderate or high transmission with delta variant continuing to be the predominant circulating virus.
Across the board, we are seeing increases in cases and hospitalizations in all age groups. Those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated. Now is the time to get vaccinated. We know these vaccines are working and we know they save lives.