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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Pediatrician: "Staggering Numbers" Of COVID Cases At Texas Children's Hospital Are Almost All Omicron; GOP Rep. Cheney: Ivanka Trump Failed Multiple Times On January 6 To Get Her Father To Condemn Insurrection; Florida Surgeon General: We're Working To Unwind The "Testing Psychology" Of The Federal Government. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, again. Topping this hour of 360, some breaking news, with the Omicron surge, in full swing, and new cases, now averaging more than 400,000 a day.

CNN has learned that President Biden is going to make brief remarks, on the subject, tomorrow. Our Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, for us, tonight.

So, what do we expect to hear?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: These are just brief remarks, we're expecting, Anderson.

Don't expect any kind of big speech, from the President, laying out a bunch of new steps. It's really more of an update, on the update that the President is getting tomorrow, from his COVID-19 team.

Of course, it's a very important update, given, it's about this Omicron variant, and the latest data on it. And also, what we're seeing play out across the nation, not just with those disruptions that we've been talking about. But also, the data, what it's looking like with hospitals, what it's looking like with children, all of those matters.

And so, you will hear from President Biden, on this tomorrow. But, of course, Anderson, there are some big questions, for the President, facing this.

And one of those that we asked him today, or are at least trying to ask him, was about this new CDC guidance that shortens that isolation period, if you've tested positive, from 10 days, to five days, if you have no symptoms, or your symptoms are resolving, according to the language from the CDC.

Today, I asked the President, if he thought that's something that should have come, with a testing recommendation, at the end of those five days, like, you've seen a lot of doctors say, they, believe it should have. Not just saying that, "Yes, you can go back into society, and leave that isolation period, as long as you're wearing a mask," which is what the current CDC guidance is.

He said he'd be talking about that later on. Whether or not he does talk about that tomorrow, and addresses that tomorrow, though, Anderson, does remain to be seen.

COOPER: I mean, there's still obviously a major shortage of rapid at- home tests. The PCR tests, results are taking about five days. Is the White House going to do anything about that?

COLLINS: Well, so right now, we're waiting for details on, is that plan that the President has that is supposed to happen this month, in January, to distribute half a billion tests, for free, to people, who sign up online, to get one.

Of course, that is the solution that the Administration came up with, in part after it became quite clear, in the month of December that as Omicron was spreading, it was very difficult, to get your hands, on a rapid at-home test, which is what you've heard a lot of doctors say, is critical to being able to know, "Should you go to that dinner party? Should you send your kids to school, should you do a certain activity?"

And so, the questions though, about this plan, are still some pretty big ones, which is when are we going to see that website go live? How long will it take, for these tests, to actually ship? What happens, if you don't have reliable access to internet? Big questions like that.

And we are told by officials, they're really still in the procurement process of that, which basically means they're figuring out which companies are going to be the ones that supply the half a billion tests. And of course, they have not been easy to get your hands on.

And so, that's going to be a big question, also facing the President and his team tomorrow, because it's a big task ahead of them, to try to distribute half a billion tests, and then see, is that something they repeat in the future?

What does that look like? Because, right now, it is still really difficult, to get your hands on a rapid test. And it's something the President has acknowledged, they came up short on.

COOPER: Yes. And Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it.

More now, on what the surge is doing to children, the impact it's having on hospitals, at children's hospitals, families and schools.

Today, the FDA approved booster doses, of the Pfizer vaccine, for kids 12 to 15. Welcome news for many. Too late to do much about the soaring number of pediatric cases though, right now.


DR. JIM VERSALOVIC, PATHOLOGIST-IN-CHIEF, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We have staggering numbers here, during this Omicron surge, already. We shattered prior records that were established, during the Delta surge, in August of 2021. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That doctor, at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston, says they saw more than 700 children, during one 24-hour period, just last week.

Our Miguel Marquez, is there.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 4- month-old Grayson Perry (ph), his tiny belly rapidly expanding, and contracting. One of many children here, with COVID-19, struggling to breathe.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Are you afraid, they're going to have to intubate him?

GAYVIELLE GOFF, MOTHER OF COVID-19 PATIENT: Yes, a little bit. It's just really scary. So, I just hope that he's able to get better, go home.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Gayvielle Goff, mom to three, thinks her youngest picked up the virus, at a Christmas family gathering. Her only job now, keeping her son, in good spirits.

GOFF: I do talk to him, in like a little baby voice. I sing to him. I can't sing. But he likes it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): One of nearly 70 children now hospitalized, at Texas Children's, a new record high, for the nation's largest pediatric hospital. In just the last two weeks, hospitalizations here, have increased more than four-fold, most unvaccinated, or not eligible, for vaccines, from toddlers to teens.

AMY WOODRUFF, MOTHER OF COVID-19 PATIENT: Our COVID journey began June - see? Don't even know my days. Brains are mashed potatoes! We began November 29. Me and my daughter both tested positive, for COVID.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Amy Woodruff's daughter, Haley (ph), her 17th birthday, the day we visited, has been intubated, in an induced coma, for nearly a month. She also gave birth, nearly three weeks ago. She knows none of it.

WOODRUFF: She had a C-section, in Amarillo, on December 9, to a beautiful little baby girl, three pounds six ounces--

MARQUEZ (on camera): And she has not seen yet?

WOODRUFF: She has not seen. And she was COVID-negative. Praise Jesus!

MARQUEZ (voice-over): From Pampa, Texas, Haley (ph) was moved, to Amarillo, then Houston, for advanced care, still unaware her 3-week- old daughter, Xylophe (ph), is 900 miles away, in an Amarillo newborn intensive care unit.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What will you tell her, when you can speak to her?

WOODRUFF: I don't even want to think about it. That's my little girl, being away, from her little girl! My heart bleeds for her.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Omicron variant, now ripping through the Lone Star State. Texas Children's preparing for even more sick kids, as COVID-19 cases skyrocket.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What is your sense, for what the next few weeks are going to hold?

NICOLE LEATHERS, NURSE MANAGER, PEDIATRIC ICU, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: You know, I think the bar, for resilience, just keeps moving. You think that "I don't know how we could do this again." And then, we keep doing it again.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): As Texas Children's readies, for a fourth coronavirus wave, already its ER is seeing a spike, in kids, suffering mild symptoms, their parents seeking testing, bogging down triage, for the seriously ill.

DR. BRENT KAZINY, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We're seeing a lot of patients present, with mild respiratory symptoms, cough, congestion, fever, known COVID exposures, et cetera that are really, I think, a lot of them are really seeking testing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Like previous waves, the sickest kids, those needing hospitalization, are having a tough time, breathing.

DR. MELANIE KITAGAWA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TRANSITIONAL ICU, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: So, they're getting a lot of respiratory symptoms, as we've been expecting. Pneumonias, needing respiratory support, to help them breathe better.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Viral spread, expected to intensify, in the weeks ahead. And even if the Omicron variant, isn't as severe?

VERSALOVIC: The problem is that with so many children and adults infected, even if the percent hospitalization rate is lower, we're still - we could see more children hospitalized, over a very short period of time. So, that certainly puts a strain, on our healthcare resources.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, Houston, Texas.


COOPER: Yes. Let's get some perspective now, from another frontline physician, Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, in New York's Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Dr. Bracho - excuse me. Dr. Bracho-Sanchez, what are you seeing, right now, in your hospital, in terms of pediatric cases?

DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IRVING MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, we are seeing a lot of COVID, Anderson, just like your previous piece mentioned. We are concerned.

We are seeing more COVID now than we had seen in previous waves, as everyone else, around the country, is referencing tonight. And it is worrisome, the worst of the winter here has not yet passed, as you know, Anderson. So, we are bracing ourselves, for what's still to come.

COOPER: The New York governor said today that the state is not in a good place. Are hospitalizations, for COVID, really substantially up? Or, is this just a symptom of people, who are in the hospital, for something else, and they end up testing positive for COVID?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: I think it's important to answer that question, to give people at home a little bit of context.

So, we have been testing children, who come to the hospital, for any reason, for a long time now. So, children, before they have routine surgeries, and procedures, as well as children, who present to emergency rooms.

And the rates of positive cases, coming back right now, positive tests coming back right now, is definitely higher, Anderson. So, that percentage of tests that is coming back positive is higher now, than it had been at any other points. So, there definitely is, without a doubt, more children, with COVID-19, right now, in New York City, than ever before.

Now, did those children show up, because they had a broken leg, or a broken arm, and then happened to test positive for COVID, versus did they show up, because they had trouble breathing, because of COVID-19? I think those two are still needing to be a little teased out.

And unfortunately, you and I both know that people, who are seeking to minimize, the seriousness of COVID-19, in children, are going to hang on to that fact. But I think we would be foolish, to keep minimizing COVID-19, in children, at this point, in the Pandemic.

COOPER: Let's talk a little bit about that. I mean, I've a child, who's almost 2-years-old. Obviously, I'm terrified. He can't get vaccinated, at this point. Doesn't wear a mask, at this age.

How bad is this variant, with kids?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: I share your concerns so, so much, not only because of my patients, but because I myself have a 3-month-old, at home, who can't be vaccinated yet, either.

So, we're still learning so much about the Omicron variant.


What I would say is that the sense of relief that some adults seem to be having, from the data that is coming out, in recent weeks, about the Omicron variants, affecting the upper airways? I don't think necessarily should give us relief, when it comes to children, in the sense that children, who get upper airway infections, may actually have severe illnesses, right?

So, what, for you and me, Anderson, might just be a cold, for a child, and their small airways might lead to severe inflammation that lands them in the hospital.

COOPER: I wanted--

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Now, for context?

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: The percentage of children is still small, Anderson.

COOPER: The percentage of children is still small?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Yes, the percentage of children, who require hospitalization, is still small. But I think we just shouldn't be complacent, at this point in time, in terms of saying--

COOPER: Right.

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: --"It's upper airway disease. Let's all just gather, and keep doing, and living our lives"--

COOPER: Right.

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: --"as we have been."

COOPER: I want to play something that the former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said yesterday, about the variant's impact on kids.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: It appears to be more of an upper airway disease, and a lower airway disease. That's good for most Americans. The one group that that may be a problem for is very young kid, very young children, toddlers, who have trouble, with upper airway infections.

We are in fact seeing more croup like infections, and bronchiolitis, in New York City, among children. So, that could be a challenge for young kids. And we are seeing rising hospitalizations, among that pediatric segment.

This new strain could have a predilection, again, for the upper airway, which could be a bigger challenge, in young kids, because of the way that it binds to the airway cells.


COOPER: That's really speaks to what you were just saying? BRACHO-SANCHEZ: That's exactly right. And I'm so glad that he's highlighting this. We cannot treat the airways of children, like they're the airways of adults, right? It's just not the way it works.

And, for us, as pediatricians, we know that respiratory viruses can lead to what he was saying, croup and bronchiolitis, that inflammation of the upper airways that actually does get children in trouble.

So, once again, Anderson, this is not the time, to minimize COVID-19, as an illness, in children. This is now the time, to take every tool, we have, and use it, to protect those kids, like your son, like my son, who cannot get vaccinated, yet.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, thank you so much. I really appreciate all your efforts. Thank you.


COOPER: Coming up next, as the anniversary of the attack, on democracy, approaches, what lawmakers, investigating the Insurrection, have now learned about our little the former president did, to stop it, as members of Congress and the Vice President were under siege, and Police were under attack.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, of the House Select Committee, is going to join us.

Also tonight, troubling new polling, on how many Americans say that political violence can be justified.



COOPER: As the anniversary of the Capitol attack approaches, it's becoming clearer than ever that as the assault, on Congress, was happening, as Police officers were being beaten, and tasered, and pepper-sprayed, President of the United States, was just watching it all unfold.

We've reported on this. Others have as well. Now, CNN has learned that the House Select Committee has information, from multiple sources, with firsthand knowledge, describing the former president's behavior, that day.

Listen to Committee Vice Chair, Liz Cheney, over the weekend.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We know, as he was sitting there, in the dining room, next to the Oval Office, members of his staff, were pleading with him, to go on television, to tell people to stop. We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that.

We know, members of his family, we know, his daughter, we have firsthand testimony that his daughter, Ivanka, went in, at least twice, to ask him to please stop this violence.


COOPER: Joining us now, Committee member and California Democratic Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren.

Congresswoman, appreciate you being with us. You hear your committee colleague, Congresswoman Cheney, describing Ivanka Trump, trying to convince her father, to say something, on January 6, at least twice. I assume you're also in possession of that information.

What does it say to you that, that she wasn't able to get him, to condemn the Insurrection, as it was happening?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we have a lot of questions, about what the former president was doing. We know he was watching TV. We don't know why he refused to act. But we have an interest in that.

We do know that this was not just a random riot. There was an intentionality, to this entire thing. And the intention was to overturn the election, to replace the duly-elected incoming president, with the candidate, who lost.

And whether the President's inaction was in furtherance of that? We can't know, at this point. But we have questions about it. And we also believe, when we get the information, from the Archives, that hopefully will be soon, that will shed some light, on this entire question.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's been a year. And we've heard this. And it's been reported.

But just the idea, of the President of the United States sitting there, in the Oval Office, doing nothing, while there is a violent attack, against the Capitol, not far away, against the Constitution? It's just, I mean, it's extraordinary.

We can't know what exactly was in his mind. And, as you've said, perhaps there are records that will be revealed.

But, I mean, did he want it to succeed? Did he hope that just by not saying anything, maybe history would have turned out differently, and he would somehow remain president? I mean, it's really unthinkable.

LOFGREN: Well, it is an amazing circumstance, to think of the President of the United States, who took an oath, to protect and defend the Constitution, just watching, this assault, on the peaceful transfer of power that's provided for in the Constitution. It wasn't right.

We need to know whether it was in furtherance of a plot. We'll get to the bottom of this. As you know, we've now interviewed more than 340 witnesses. We have more than 45,000 documents that have been sent in to us. And there's more to come. So, we are unwinding this picture, with the testimony, we're receiving.


And we hope to be able to get access to the Archives' lawsuit that the President filed. He was knocked down, at the trial court, knocked down by unanimous decision, at the appellate court, who basically said he didn't even meet the minimum standards, for the court to intervene.

So, we hope that the Supreme Court can see that all he's trying to do is to delay, delay, delay, which is his M.O., and that they don't have to take this case, and we can get the material.


LOFGREN: Get this done.

COOPER: You mentioned the National Archives. Why do you think that information, in particular, may be so relevant?

LOFGREN: Well, it has everything. It's got the call logs. Who called in? Who visited? It's got the rough drafts of comments that he made. We understand that there were several videos made. They have the outtakes.

So, we want to see. It will give us some insight, into what the former president thought he was doing, during those 187 minutes, when he failed to intervene.

COOPER: As you know, late tonight, the former president, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump and son, Donnie Jr., moved to quash subpoenas, from the New York Attorney General, who's running a civil investigation, into the Trump Organization's business dealings.

How much does that action, by the Trumps, tonight, concern you, if at some point in the future, the January 6 committee seeks testimony, from them? Obviously, we've seen how Trump allies, like Bannon and Meadows, have responded.

LOFGREN: Well, I don't want to speculate about that. I don't know enough about the New York case, to really have a firm opinion.

I will note, however, that the Trump family is notorious, for frivolous litigation, to try and delay action that they're facing. So, it's possible that's what's going on, in New York.

COOPER: Would you be reticent about the idea of subpoenaing a former president?

LOFGREN: We'll do whatever we need to do, to get all of the facts. We're mindful that we want to get this done.

And the good thing is, the entire committee, every member of the committee, and every member of the staff, is pulling in the same direction, just to get the facts. You don't have the same kind of fighting that you see, on other congressional committees. So, we don't want to get in protracted fights.

But we're going to do what we need to do, to get all the information, not only to lay it out, for the American public, but to inform us, as to what legislative steps, we need to take, to prevent something like this, from being attempted again.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Lofgren, I appreciate it. Thank you.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

COOPER: Joining us now, CNN Contributor, and Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, Author of "The Truth About Trump."

So Michael, are you surprised that, according to the committee, Ivanka Trump couldn't get her father to do anything, on January 6?


She actually announced, in 2017, that she wasn't in the White House, to change her father's mind. And that was something that people, who hoped that that might be one of her roles, found very disappointing.

But if you look at her experience, through the years, she's never been a very persuasive person, in any regard. She wasn't able to persuade suburban women, to vote for her father, and ignore his awful rhetoric. And she has never been able to persuade her father, to do anything.

And I think, ultimately, it illustrates how cynical, and heedless, he is. This is a person who really didn't care that Police officers were being maimed, and that, ultimately at least one of his supporters, was killed, trying to breach the House chamber door. He, I think, he enjoyed this, and he thought that his forces would prevail.

COOPER: Are there any - do you think he wanted it to succeed? I mean, do you think?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I do.

COOPER: You do?

D'ANTONIO: I do. I have no doubt that he imagined that this was going to be the day, when he would interrupt, the process, of Congress, certifying the election, and that Mike Pence would, through either force, seeing the force arrayed, against him, in the grounds, around the Capitol, or through a change of heart, would take the action that he hoped, he would take.

Now, where that would have led? No one knows. But he's a person, who's always wanted, to press every case, beyond the logical, extreme, disrupt society, as much as he possibly could, as long as it meant, he got what he wanted.

COOPER: Are there any circumstances, under which, you could see Ivanka Trump cooperating, with the January 6 committee?

D'ANTONIO: Boy, it's--

COOPER: And offering testimony? [21:25:00]

D'ANTONIO: It's a very difficult thing to imagine. I know that she is sensitive, to her own reputation, and to her own image. But she has gone all-in with her father.

This is a family that is really mythical, or Shakespearean, in its construct. You've got this leader who's like a cult leader, the pater familias, who's got this subsequent generation, completely tied in knots.

So, none of these younger Trumps, will ever be able to establish their own identities. So, if he goes down, in terms of reputation, and the judgment of history, she'll go down as well.

COOPER: Earlier tonight, Jeff Toobin said, it's unthinkable that a New York judge would grant the motions, from the former president, and Ivanka Trump, and Donnie Jr., to quash the New York State subpoenas, in the ongoing civil investigation.

So, if the Trumps do indeed lose those motions, if they must comply, do you think they'll back down, and cooperate, or do you think they'll be defying, and possibly face criminal charges, in New York State?

D'ANTONIO: I think that they'll plead the Fifth, as much as they possibly can. They may be forced to turn over documents, and that could be the most incriminating thing that could happen.

But they are now, in this crowd of folks, who have no other direction, to move in, but further along the path, with Donald Trump. If he winds up going to prison, which I don't know how distinct a possibility that might be, that may be the moment that when they would break with him. But they're certainly not going to break with him, before their liberty is at stake.

COOPER: Yes. Michael D'Antonio, appreciate it. Thank you.

More on the legacy of January 6 attack, new numbers that suggest more people now believe that violence against the government can sometimes be justified. That's ahead.



COOPER: A new poll, from "The Washington Post," and the University of Maryland, underscores one element of our lives that appears to have changed, since the January 6 attacks, almost one year ago. The number of people, who believe that violent action, against the government, can be justified.

Here to talk about it is our Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.

So, Harry, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finding that about one in three Americans now says that they believe violence against the government can at times be justified. Take us through the numbers.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: These numbers scare, the, you know what, out of me. Look at this trend line that we have, in terms of, is violence action against the government ever justified?

It's now 34 percent. A decade ago, it was less than half that, at just 16 percent. And we've seen a consistent rise, over the last decade, in terms of folks who say that violent action against a government is ever justified.

And we can break this down, by partisanship, right? And look at those folks, who voted for Joe Biden, versus those who voted for Donald Trump, back in the 2020 election. What you see is Trump voters are twice as likely, to say that violent action against the government is ever justified, at 43 percent, to Biden voters, at just 21 percent.


ENTEN: But still, I'd say 21 percent is as pretty scary number. But obviously, 43 percent is far scarier.

COOPER: What does the polling indicate, about how the people, who attended the events, at the Capitol, on January 6, are viewed?

ENTEN: Yes, this is a huge difference between how the public overall views them, and how Trump supporters view them.

And what essentially we see in the numbers, is that those overall say, look at that - look at this. It says insurrection. 55 percent overall, say it was an insurrection, just 17 percent of Trump voters say that.

But look at that, defending freedom, 59 percent of Trump voters say that those who forced their way, into the Capitol, on January 6, were defending freedom. I don't understand that at all.

But, of course, Trump voters are completely warped in their view of this overall, which is, who, were the people, who are actually going up, into the Capitol, on January 6? And if you ask Trump voters this, look at this, 45 percent of Trump voters say that, in fact, these folks were left-leaning pretend-Trump supporters, which is crazy, right? It's lunacy.


ENTEN: I will still say a majority of Trump voters say that it was in fact Trump supporters, who forced their way into the Capitol, on January 6. Obviously, overall, 79 percent of voters feel that they were Trump supporters, which is, of course the case.

COOPER: I mean, it seems the numbers remain high, in terms of people, who still wrongfully believe the President Biden's victory. How do you - how did the numbers break down on that?

ENTEN: Yes, these numbers just haven't changed, over the last year. This, to me, is always the lunacy part, of all this. Believe Biden's victory was not legitimate in 2020? Of course, it was legitimate. Most voters think it was. Overall, just 33 percent believe it wasn't legitimate.

But look among Republicans. It's still 71 percent. The vast majority believe that Biden's victory wasn't legitimate. And that really hasn't shifted, since January of 2021, despite the fact that we know in fact, his victory was legitimate.

COOPER: And I mean, this is a legit poll!


COOPER: This - I mean, sometimes I see these polls.

ENTEN: Yes. Yes. This is legit.

COOPER: And you think, "There's no way 71 percent of Republicans actually believe that Biden didn't really legitimately win." But this is a legit poll!

ENTEN: It's there. You see it. It's a legit poll! Plenty of others like it.

COOPER: So what did the polls tell us about what to expect, reaction, in terms of reaction, from future elections? That doesn't - that looks alarming!

ENTEN: Yes, it looks tremendously alarming, which is, in future elections, do you expect that the losing side will concede peacefully? Just 38 percent of Americans believe that. And what's interesting is Biden and Trump supporters agree on that.

Violence, you expect violence over losing? Look at that. 62 percent overall believe that. And the majority of Biden, and Trump voters agree with that. And I think this just kind of gets at what democracy is, right?

Are you proud of democracy in this country? Are you proud of the way things are essentially going? And now, just 54 percent of Americans--


ENTEN: --are proud of the way democracy works in America. That is down significantly, over the last two decades. It was 90 percent, after 9/11.

COOPER: That's incredible!

ENTEN: It's now just 54 percent. It's pathetic. It's sad. It's unfortunate. But the numbers are the numbers.


ENTEN: And I report the numbers.

COOPER: Harry Enten, I appreciate it. Thank you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: Perspective now, from Rick Hasen, an election law expert, and Professor of Law and Political Science, at University of California, Irvine. He's also the Author of the forthcoming book, "Cheap Speech. How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics and How to Cure It."

Professor Hasen, I mean, those are really depressing poll numbers. The fact that this shows rising acceptance, of political violence, I mean, and proud of democracy, is down from 90 percent? That's extraordinary!


RICHARD L. HASEN, AUTHOR, "CHEAP SPEECH," ELECTION LAW EXPERT: It is. And it's a really worrisome sign. But it's not all that surprising, when you think about the Trump years.

And what did Trump do, when he was in office? He attacked the press. He attacked the Democratic Party. He attacked the Judiciary. He attacked the FBI, right? All the institutions that we rely on, for trust, to know that we have a functioning democracy, he attacked all of them.

And when he convinced his supporters that the last election was stolen, and that there's an illegitimate person, in the White House, well, what are you supposed to do? You're supposed to have a revolution. You're supposed to fight back against that.

And so it's kind of the logical conclusion of the entire Trump presidency, and what he did, in the period, from November 3, until January 6.

COOPER: I read this piece in "The Atlantic." And you were quoted, last month. The article, it was titled, "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun."

You said, "The democratic emergency is already here. We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024. But urgent action is not happening."

Why do you believe American democracy, as we know it, could end in 2024? And what can be done to prevent that?

L. HASEN: So, what the 2020 election showed us is that the presidential election process, in particular, is uniquely open to manipulation, by people who don't act in good faith.

There are so many steps between the time that people vote for president, and the time that Congress certifies those votes, in January. And really, what it took, in 2020, was Republicans, and Democrats, acting in good faith, rejecting calls, by Trump, to put in an alternative slate of electors, or just find 11,780 votes, all those kinds of things.

And so, you can think of January 2020, as the low point in American democracy. Or you could think of it as a practice run for 2024. And when people like Brad Raffensperger, is being - he's the Secretary of State of Georgia, he's being--

COOPER: Right.

L. HASEN: --primaried by Jody Hice, who embraces Trump's big lie, do you expect that this guy, if he wins election, is going to run the election fairly? And even if he does, will the Democrats believe that he's going to run the election fairly?

So, this kind of de-legitimization is going to work both ways. And we really are in a tough spot, going forward, to 2024.

COOPER: So, what can change that?

L. HASEN: I think you need change, in both law and politics, right? There's a lot of things we could do legally, to make it harder, for this manipulation to happen.

We can fix those arcane rules, and that Congress follows in the Electoral Count Act, about how the vote is certified, and whether you can have objections, and whether States can send in alternative slates of electors, lots of technical stuff.

But even if those rules are changed, law's only as powerful as people's willingness, to follow it. And so, we need to have a political movement, a political movement of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, everyone, embracing the rule of law, and fair elections.

Now's the time, we need to get organized, for civic engagement, so that we will be in a position, so that we will not allow an election to be stolen, by anyone, in 2024.

COOPER: It's so depressing. I remember talking to Tom Friedman, a while back, about, you know, he was covering Beirut, before the Civil War. And he was saying how politicians, at the time in Beirut, just were taking shots at the government, just making ridiculous accusations.

And just taking shot after shot after shot, thinking, "Oh, you know, what? Once, I'll do this, I'll get in power, and then I'll change things." But after a while, the institutions start to crumble.

And that the concern is that that happens here. The President take shots, at all the institutions of democracy, and everyone else does. And after a while, they crumble.

L. HASEN: Sure. And it works both ways. If you believe an election is stolen, and you're in a position of power, you might be more willing, to steal the next election. And if you try and do that, of course, you're going to undermine people's confidence, on the other side.

And so, it's kind of a very vicious cycle. And we need to get into a better cycle, where, we are supporting the institutions that help assure that we have fair elections.

COOPER: Is there some - one thing that keeps you up at night, when it comes to election security and election integrity?

L. HASEN: Well, I mean there's a lot of low-hanging fruit. Remember, back when Trump was claiming the election was stolen, in Georgia, they did a hand recount of all of the ballots, across the entire state.

Well, there's like 11 percent, 12 percent of Americans, who vote on completely electronic voting machines. If we just got rid of that, we would take away one of the ways that an election could be manipulated.

There's lots to do. But, just overall, what's keeping me up at night is the idea that we are not the strong democracy that we once were. We rely so much more on norms, than on laws.


L. HASEN: We need to have people of good faith, running our elections.

COOPER: Yes. Rick Hasen, appreciate it. It's all unthinkable! Thank you.

L. HASEN: Thank you.

COOPER: A reminder, this Thursday, CNN is going to mark the one year anniversary, with a live two-hour broadcast, from the Capitol, to honor those heroes, who protected our democracy that day.

Police, lawmakers, other leaders, joining Jake Tapper, and myself, "LIVE FROM THE CAPITOL: JANUARY 6, ONE YEAR LATER," begins Thursday, 8 P.M. I hope you join us.


Up next, Florida's Surgeon General's taking a new approach, in responding to the Pandemic. And it includes taking a hit at mass testing efforts.


COOPER: Today, Florida's Surgeon General announced that the state is working to unwind the testing psychology that the federal government has prioritized, during the Pandemic.

During a news conference, in Fort Lauderdale, the Surgeon General suggested the state's new guidance, quote, "Doesn't restrict access to testing, but reduces the use of low-value testing and prioritizes high-value testing."

His comments come, after Biden administration announced plans to distribute 500 million free at-home COVID tests, to any U.S. household that requested one. COVID cases in Florida have risen 748 percent, over the last two weeks.

Joining us now is infectious disease expert, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Medical Task Force member, Dr. Aileen Marty.

So, Dr. Marty, I want to ask you about, what you and your team are seeing there, in Florida, from Omicron.

But first, I just want to play, for our viewers, what the Florida Surgeon General said today, about testing.



JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: We're going to be working to unwind the sort of testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to, unfortunately, get much - most of the country in, over the last two years. We need to unwind this testing sort of planning and living one's life around testing.

So, you know, it's really time for people, to be living to, you know, to make the decisions they want, regarding vaccination, to enjoy the fact that many people, have natural immunity.


COOPER: And the Surgeon General went on to say that a test for your grandmother is much more valuable than weekly tests, for third graders, in Los Angeles. What do you make of his comments?

DR. AILEEN MARTY, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS MEDICAL TASK FORCE MEMBER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Well, the problem is, it doesn't follow good public health thinking. And it doesn't follow the appropriate virology or medicine that's going on.

Bottom line is, little children can get COVID. And yes, they are much more likely to have mild symptoms. But they can then spread it to older individuals. And if we blind ourselves, to certain individuals, in our population, assuming that they'll have mild disease, we're going to have multiple consequences.

First of all, those in - some percentage of those individuals will get severely ill. Number two, they'll continue to spread it, to individuals, who are more sensitive, to severe disease. And number three, you'll have more possibility of forming another worst variant.

We're already seeing indications of another variant, right now, in Southern France that appears to have arisen from Cameroon. And this is just a continuous problem, when there is so much transmission.

COOPER: Senator Rubio tweeted today that there's no hospitalizations surge in Florida, and said that people in Florida, who are admitted to the hospitals, for other reasons, are testing positive.

Is that what you're seeing? I mean, are hospitalizations up? Or are people, who are in the hospital, for something else, testing positive for COVID? Or do we know?

MARTY: So, let me just be very clear. We have almost as high a level of patients, with COVID, in our hospitals, as we did, during the Delta peak, in August, here. So, we're almost at the same level, as we were in August.

Now, yes, some of those individuals presented with non-COVID symptoms, initially. But that doesn't mean that COVID is not contributing to the reason that they are in hospital. And we're trying to tease out exactly who's who, and how we have to treat, each individual.

COOPER: You're on the Miami-Dade Public Schools Medical Task Force. Students and staff went back to school, today. Masking is required for all adults, remains optional for students.

Are you concerned about pediatric cases rising, now that kids are back in schools, after the holidays? Or do you think it's safe?

MARTY: So, there have been somewhere around 7.8 million cases, in children, and about 700 children have died, of COVID, in the United States.

And there's a whole slew of children that have post-COVID symptoms, and a very small percentage, fortunately, that developed the Kawasaki MIS-Cs. So, this is a problem in children.

And the percent of children that are getting COVID, right now, is higher than the percents that we were seeing, before Omicron. It's about 7 percent more than we were seeing before. And it is impacting our hospitals and mostly our urgent care areas, emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

COOPER: Dr. Aileen Marty, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

MARTY: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, are schools, the safest place for kids, in the Pandemic? That's when the new Mayor of New York City claims, as he vows to keep students, in their classrooms, during the surge, despite some pushback from the largest teachers' union.

Eric Adams is promising to keep the city open, no matter what. Are they the right calls? Are both the right calls? Next.



COOPER: Most students are usually back in classrooms, on the first Monday of the New Year. But many schools, across the country, remain closed today, or shifted back to remote-learning, due to Omicron surge.

Not in the nation's largest school district though. New York City's new mayor, Eric Adams, is vowing to keep students, in class, despite pressure from the city's largest teachers' union.

CNN's National Correspondent, Athena Jones, has more on the showdown that Eric Adams' first days, in office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: COVID is a formidable opponent. And we must pivot.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City's Eric Adams, beginning his third day, as Mayor, and wasting no time, getting started.

ADAMS: The theme of my first 100 days is GSD, Get Stuff Done.

JONES (voice-over): Sworn in, just after the ball dropped, in Times Square, on New Year's Eve.

ADAMS: The Mayor of the City of New York.

JONES (voice-over): On his first trip to City Hall, as Mayor, his subway commute was sidelined by a street fight, which he reported to 9-1-1.

ADAMS: An assault in progress, three males.

JONES (voice-over): The city's second Black mayor, Adams is also a former NYPD Captain, who was committed to improving the city's relations, with Police. Adams spoke to Police, on the same day, one of their off-duty officers, was hit by a bullet, while sleeping in his car.

ADAMS: This is not going to be a city of disorder. This is not going to be a city of violence.

JONES (voice-over): The new mayor has vowed large-scale reforms, from public safety, to government spending. And his message on COVID is clear.

ADAMS: We will not be controlled by crisis.

JONES (voice-over): In his first major decision, on this front, the Mayor denied a request from one of the city's largest teachers' unions, to return to remote learning, temporarily, to mitigate staffing challenges.


ADAMS: We're going to do everything that we have to do, to keep our schools open. And I know there's questions about staffing. I know there's question about testing. There's a lot of questions. But we're going to turn those question marks into an exclamation point.

We're staying open. We're going to make sure our children are in safe spaces.

JONES (voice-over): The Mayor also promised to keep the city, and the economy, open, and thriving.

ADAMS: If we close down our city, it is as dangerous as COVID.

Our lives can't be based on, "What's the new variant?" JONES (voice-over): In the face of Omicron, Adams signed an executive order, continuing vaccine mandates, for municipal workers, and private sector employees, as well as for entrance, to many indoor venues. Adams is considering extending that requirement, to include booster shots.

ADAMS: We're going to examine the numbers. If we feel we have to get to the place of making that mandatory, we're going to do that.


JONES: And one more point, about keeping New York schools open. There is a plan, in place, to do that. Involves testing to stay, so isolating positive cases, and allowing other people, who are negative to - kids, who are negative, to continue to go to school.

And also, they have a pool of substitute teachers, and other paraprofessionals, people who have teaching licenses, but may not be working in the classroom. Those folks are on standby, should they be needed, in case staffing shortages occur, because of COVID.

COOPER: All right.

JONES: Anderson?

COOPER: Athena Jones, I appreciate it. Thanks.

The news continues. Don Lemon and "DON LEMON TONIGHT," that's next.