Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
January 6 Committee Requests Information From Fox News' Sean Hannity; CDC Updates Guidance On Masks And Isolation; Facing Criticism, CDC Updates Covid-19 Isolation Recommendations With Guidance On Testing; Last Abandoned Vehicles Pulled From I-95 Virginia After "Unprecedented" Gridlock From Snow & Icy Roads. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 04, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Kind of a survival challenge and everybody is doing whatever -- how do you keep yourself warm? And so, it's kind of -- you have to figure out a strategy. It's like, turn on the heater full blast, heat the car up, turn it off, and then try to catch some sleep. In about 20 or 30 minutes, it gets so cold in the car, then you have to do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That's incredible. Officials say no one was stranded. It took them more than 24 hours to solve it.
Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
A lot of breaking news to cover this evening, including new guidance from the C.D.C. on when and how to isolate, also mask use, and that tragedy that is still unfolding on the Interstate 95 outside of the nation's capital.
But we start with what we've just learned a short time ago from the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol Hill insurrection. Two days before the one-year anniversary and the security in the nation's capital ramps up in anticipation. The Committee has publicly sent a letter to Sean Hannity asking for his voluntary cooperation in the investigation, and they released more text messages.
Now many of these to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows from Hannity that were written in the days before and after the attack. According to the Committee's letter, they have quote "dozens of these texts," many appearing to show that the FOX News host was worried about the former President's attempts to overturn the election results on January 6th.
Also, that he appeared to have a familiarity with what was going on behind the scenes in the days leading up to the certification. We're going to show you those texts in just a moment.
The Committee previously released a text from Hannity to Meadows during the riot that asked him to contact the then President, quote, "Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?" Demonstrating an awareness of who was attacking the Capitol that day, at the very least, the former President's supporters, an awareness he didn't broadcast to his viewers on TV nor radio, instead blaming outside actors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: We also knew that there is always bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds.
Those who truly support President Trump, those that believe they are part of the conservative movement in this country, you do not -- we do not support those that commit acts of violence.
They were there to peacefully protest. And then we had the reports that groups like Antifa, other radical groups -- I don't know the names of all of them -- that they were there to cause trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm joined now by Jaime Gangel who has the details of the new Sean Hannity text. So what did we learn from these new text messages?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, whether or not Sean Hannity cooperates with the committee, Anderson, this is bad news for Donald Trump. These texts show Sean Hannity, Mark Meadows, having exchanges that are in effect a betrayal. They are talking behind his back.
And just for context, I want to point out what the Committee's letter says at the top. They say that to Hannity, quote, "You clearly had -- you seem to have advanced knowledge regarding President Trump's and his legal teams planning," that he was, quote, "Providing advice, and that he had relevant communications, while the riot was under way. That these communications make you Hannity," quote, "a fact witness."
So let me just go through a couple of the texts. This first one is from December 31st, and this is Sean Hannity, the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, "We can't lose the entire White House Counsel's Office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told." He, being Trump, "After the 6th, he should announce he will lead a nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Florida and watch Joe (that would be President Biden) mess up daily. Stay engaged, when he speaks, people will listen."
Then on January 5th, so this is the night before the riot. A text to Sean Hannity to an unknown recipient, quote, "I'm very worried about the next 48 hours." And another one that same night to Mark Meadows, "Pence pressure, White House counsel will leave."
It appears that Hannity may be talking to the White House Counsel, Anderson, but in any case, he understands and he is saying to Meadows that the pressure we know that Trump was putting on Mike Pence not to do the right thing on January 6th. This is evidence that the White House Counsels were threatening to quit. COOPER: And I just want to play Jamie what Hannity was saying on his
program on January 5th, the same day as those last two text messages, the former President's son, Eric Trump, and then to Senator Ted Cruz. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: We have Ted Cruz coming on later in the program. We know that he wants a Commission to look into this for 10 days. We're going to have about 150 House members supporting this as well.
A big rally, I believe, your dad will be addressing that rally tomorrow.
Senator, I'm looking at the support you're getting in the Senate and I'm looking at the support in the House, maybe 150 members in the end. It is looking like realistically, can this really happen? I don't like to give this audience false hope. I want to, you know, would we have an audit? Is that real? Is that a possibility?
Do you see, for example, do you see any -- after tomorrow, is there a path for the President constitutionally?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So I mean, Jamie, clearly two very different narratives from Sean Hannity the day before the insurrection. What was he texting the days after the insurrection?
GANGEL: So this next one is from January 10th. This is a text from Sean Hannity to both then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan, quote, "Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in nine days. He can't mention the election again, ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I'm not sure what is left to do or say, and I don't like not knowing if it's truly understood. Ideas?"
Just for some context, Anderson, later on in the Committee's letter, they also -- there is mention of the 25th Amendment, which would be the amendment to remove the President. And the Committee says to Sean Hannity, that they would like to talk to him about any conversations with Mr. Meadows, or others about any effort to remove the President under the 25th Amendment.
So it appears, Anderson, the Committee may have some more information about that. But there's a lot in here that speaks to Sean Hannity being concerned, no question about Trump's state of mind.
COOPER: And what's Hannity's response to all this?
GANGEL: So I believe that we just heard back from Jay Sekulow who is his lawyer. He spoke to our colleague, Gloria Borger, and said, quote, "We are reviewing the Committee's letter and we will respond as appropriate."
So I understand the January 6th Committee Chairman also wants to speak directly with the former Vice President.
GANGEL: That's true. So, Bennie Thompson told our colleague, Ryan Nobles today that the Committee would like to speak to Mike Pence. So the question is, will Mike Pence cooperate? We don't know the answer yet.
But I think it's important to point to the following. There are three people very close to Mike Pence, who are cooperating -- his former Chief of Staff Marc Short, his former counsel, Greg Jacob, and his former National Security adviser, Keith Kellogg -- those three people are very close to Mike Pence.
They would not be cooperating with the Committee without his blessing. So, if I had to guess, I think Mike Pence will cooperate in some way with the Committee.
COOPER: Jamie Gangel, appreciate it? Thank you.
Perspective now from White House chief correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, also Andrew McCabe, former F.B.I. Deputy Director and a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and senior media analyst as well, Bill Carter.
So Kaitlan, I understand you have a new statement from the former President. What's he saying about this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he just responded for the first time after the Committee released these texts. Obviously, these do not appear to be texts that the former President was aware of at the time that Sean Hannity was sending to his Chief of Staff and that he was having with other allies.
And so Trump has responded saying on the record, quote, "I disagree with Sean on that statement, and the facts are proving me right." Now that specific text that he is referring to is the one that Sean Hannity sent to Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, where he said -- referring to Trump at the time -- "He can't mention the election again, ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I'm not sure what is left to do or say. And I don't like not knowing it's truly understood. Ideas?"
The reference saying that he should stop talking about the election is what the former President is disagreeing with him tonight, saying he doesn't agree with that sentiment. Clearly, he doesn't Anderson. He has been talking about the election almost nonstop since he left office and left the White House almost a year ago now.
And so it is notable, though, to see this divide between the former President and one of his closest allies in the media because he and Sean Hannity were very close. They spoke not only on a daily basis, but several times a day. I'm told that they are still pretty close, but clearly the former President is not happy with this advice that Sean Hannity was sending to his Chief of Staff at the time.
COOPER: And Kaitlan, and his attorney, Sekulow, said that they are reviewing the letter and will respond as appropriate. Do we know if any of the former President's -- I mean, do you know if they still communicate a lot?
COLLINS: They do still communicate. I'm not sure if it's as much as it was when former President Trump was in the White House. He used to often call Hannity to talk about his show once it was over.
We were told by multiple sources, Hannity often acted as this informal adviser to the former President and really just to show them level of access that Hannity had to him, people inside the White House would often call Hannity and talk about what was going to be on his show because they knew it was a way to effectively get through to the former President because he would respond and he would see what was on television.
So that speaks to a level of closeness. We don't have any notion that that is changed. But clearly it does show how people even publicly it seems, they are so close, they have this relationship. They disagreed on what was happening at the time, they disagreed on how Trump should be handling that and now Trump is saying tonight, he still disagrees with what Hannity's advice then was to Mark Meadows.
COOPER: You know, Bill, I don't normally focus on FOX much because I just don't think -- it's like navel gazing. I'm interested in covering news, not what some other network is doing.
But it just does kind of stun me the extent to which Sean Hannity is just a mouthpiece asking Jim Jordan for, you know, like pointers about what he should say on air. It's just kind of extraordinary to me. I mean, it shouldn't be, but it is.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: It's always been extraordinary with him. And remember, Anderson, that he actually campaigned for Trump, he was out publicly campaigning for Trump, and this is a guy allegedly on the news network.
And I think it's going to be interesting, isn't it? Because he probably will try to come back with some sort of I need First Amendment protections as a journalist. And really, he's never been a journalist. He's a performer.
He is a guy who, you know, comes on the air and basically spouts an opinion. And interestingly, you know, who doesn't think that Sean Hannity is a journalist? Sean Hannity. Because he said on his radio show in in 2016, he said, literally, "I am not a journalist. I am a talk show host."
And I don't think Dr. Phil would be like saying he is a journalist and deserve protection of a journalist. So it's going to be very interesting to see how they counter this, because I don't think they can claim he is really a journalist now.
COOPER: Andrew, the Committee is asking for voluntary cooperation. I mean, it's not a subpoena if Hannity doesn't cooperate though and I'm not sure why he would for a whole bunch of just public relations issues and it appeals to his audience more that he doesn't. Do you think they'd subpoena him? ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is a really
good question, Anderson. I don't think we know the answer to that quite yet. I think it's incredibly important that the Committee started in this way. They have to start with kind of the least intrusive method, which is to request cooperation.
Of course, Hannity has an opportunity to respond now. I thought it was interesting as well that the letter very directly requests to be connected with Hannity's counsel so that the Committee can continue to undertake in these sorts of negotiations around what that cooperation would look like, would documents be produced -- that sort of thing.
You can imagine those discussions going on for some weeks. But ultimately, if he refuses to, I think, the Committee has to subpoena him. I think they've made it very clear that they are taking the position that no one is above the law with respect to this inquiry. They are not conducting a criminal inquiry. It's simply a fact-finding mission.
And you don't -- you're not immune from congressional service simply because you are a member of the media, and I think particularly that's true in these circumstances.
COOPER: Kaitlan, we learned tonight that the former President has now canceled his previously scheduled January 6th press conference from the swamp in Mar-a-Lago. Do we know why he's done this?
COLLINS: Well, the President said in a statement, it was because he wants to instead talk about what he was going to talk about then at a rally he is having an Arizona later on, Gabby Orr, a colleague is reporting that it also had to do with the urging of some advisers who said they did not think it was a good idea to hold that rally.
I think there were also some questions about what kind of attention it would receive given it is a pretty full schedule that day over here on Capitol Hill. There is a prayer vigil scheduled, I believe, that evening. And so that would have been around the time that he was scheduled to speak.
So obviously, that is something that the former President wants. Is it to be carried live and to get coverage? And if it wasn't going to get that, I think that probably played a factor to this as well.
It did kind of surprise me that the former President canceled that because for so long, he has talked about -- for a year now, he has talked about how differently he views what happened that day, then even clearly his own allies in the media.
And so the fact that he cancelled it, he is not going to have a microphone that day, does say something, though. I mean, of course, there is a chance, Anderson, we could hear from the President, the former President in another form that day.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, Bill Carter, the idea that the former President would choose not to actually speak in front of cameras, I guess, to Kaitlan's point, you know, visuals of him ranting about ridiculous conspiracy theories from Mar-a-Lago while there is a prayer service going on, maybe is not the greatest juxtaposition. What do you make of him canceling?
CARTER: Well, no, it isn't. But that seemed -- that is unusual for him because he doesn't usually mind that kind of juxtaposition. I think, he is worried, Anderson.
I think the stuff that is coming out that the Committee has learned is starting to really worry him, and these things that Sean Hannity clearly was himself very, very worried about was clearly pushing back on -- all of these things about the White House counsel et cetera tell you that there are witnesses that are going to testify to that that is going to look really bad for him.
So I don't think he wants to be out front right now trying to make his case, especially in a press conference. I assume someone would ask him some tough questions. So, I guess he wants to back off right now. And I think he's worried, that's what I think.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, I guess it's the hypocrisy, Bill, of Sean Hannity saying one thing on air and then having this direct channel to actual decision makers and trying to, you know, manipulate events behind the scenes and saying something differently behind the scenes.
CARTER: It's extraordinary. He obviously -- FOX is an organization that doesn't function as a news organization. And really, you know, Hannity has an interesting position. He could now come forward, speak to the Committee and be honest and direct about what his concerns were.
But if he did that, his audience would rebel against him, so I don't think he's going to do it. I think he'll run and hide behind whatever this First Amendment claims he is going to make because he can't afford to risk his own reputation with people who only believe Trump lies.
And he basically was saying Trump is making a mistake in challenging the election, and now, I don't think he would be able to say that.
COOPER: Yes, it is just sad in a crisis in the country, he was willing to say one thing privately, I mean, and the way he personally felt and yet publicly, really at a time of crisis, was saying something different.
Andrew McCabe, Kaitlan Collins --
CARTER: Says a lot about his character, Anderson.
CARTER: Yes, it really does.
COOPER: Bill Carter, appreciate it. Ahead, more on our breaking news and the investigation at the Capitol
riot. In just a moment, we will be joined by Professor from Yale who has written extensively on authoritarian regimes who thinks we are deluding ourselves if we think this country is immune from an anti- democratic turn.
Later, keeping them honest, a confusing new guidance from the C.D.C. on mask and testing, assuming you can even get an at-home test.
COOPER: More now on our breaking news, the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection on Capitol Hill almost one year ago has asked for FOX News host Sean Hannity to voluntarily assist its investigation. They've also released new text messages by Hannity, and one of them was sent the day before the riot. It would read: "I'm very worried about the next 48 hours."
I am joined now by Timothy Snyder, History Professor at Yale. He has written extensively about the ways tyrants and dictators twist the truth. He is also the author of "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century."
Professor, thanks for joining us. You've said the most distressing thing about American news coverage right now is that we don't treat the end of democracy in America as the story, which is obviously an incredibly alarming statement.
Why do you believe about the -- what do you believe about the end of democracy?
TIMOTHY SNYDER, HISTORY PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: Well, I guess, Anderson, we should probably get the alarm part out of the way so we can move on to the serious analysis and the repair because I think being alarmed is a way an excuse.
You know, when we say I'm shocked by this or I can't believe by that, what we really mean is, we're not prepared to face things the way we are, we're not prepared to act. So democracies fall all the time, most democracies fail.
The patterns that we've seen in this country, especially in the last four years are typical of backsliding democracies. So I think it's very important for us to face that reality, to write about it as journalists, to treat it as the mainstream because we don't treat it as the mainstream. What we end up doing is saying, well, Democrats say this and Republicans say that and who really knows?
If we do that for long enough, if we keep our eye off the ball for long enough, then there is no longer to be a democracy to cover.
COOPER: What do you compare the situation? I mean, is there a country you compare what is happening in the U.S. right now to, in terms of a country that became autocratic, that failed to -- the word democracy died?
SNYDER: Yes, I mean, what is happening in the U.S. now is actually quite typical. It's very typical that you would have some kind of mixture of violent coup attempts and legal attempts that is using the law to overthrow a regime.
What is happening, I think, in the U.S. now under the Biden administration with the States passing voter suppression laws and voter subversion laws, is perhaps most similar to Hungary, where you have a kind of step by step salami slicing approach, where you can never quite say at what moment the system has changed, but at some moment, the system definitely has changed.
And so if we don't start talking about the right to vote as opposed to all these little laws, if we don't start insisting on the direct ability of Americans to choose their representatives, then we're going to find ourselves in the same place as these legalistic, autocratic regimes that have emerged.
COOPER: The media also plays a role in the spread of tyranny. I mean, I've been in countries where, you know, radio stations have been integral in Rwanda, for instance, in encouraging a genocide, you know, in Sarajevo in Bosnia, in the war there. I mean, that is part of the process as well.
What else do you see happening here that are red flags or markers of destruction of a democracy?
SNYDER: Yes, I mean, like, you mentioned the media. It is not just the media, it's the kind of media, so a good example is Russia. If you let your media centralize into just a few outlets, and if you let local news die, then it becomes much harder for democracy to thrive because democracy depends on people being able to inform themselves, about the home truths, about the things that matter in their lives.
We in the U.S. have let local news die in the last 10 or 15 years and it is largely been replaced by Facebook and very centralized forms of basically psychological manipulation.
And we see it in around the world, in the Near East, in Asia, and also the United States, how Facebook tends to make things worse, including on January 6th.
So one long-term thing we need to be doing is thinking about resuscitating investigative journalism. And by the way, I mean, when Mr. Trump talks about, you know, reporters being the enemies of the people, reporters are the friends of the people.
And by the way, when Mr. Trump said reporters are enemies of the people, he certainly didn't mean Sean Hannity going back to your earlier point.
COOPER: Yes. It's almost a year later. Many on the right are still dismissing the insurrection. One of the things, I guess, that has surprised me, and I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but is -- you know, we look at other countries and we think, well, if I was in that situation, you know, the leaders here wouldn't be so craven, they wouldn't do what they did in Lebanon before the Civil War, they wouldn't do what they did in Bosnia.
And yet, we see people here who clearly have a moral compass that is very different and are very willing to say something, you know, on camera, the one thing that they're saying privately something different that they are willing to go along with a lot more things, and a lot of Americans are willing to go along with it, or there was just this poll about the numbers of Americans who think political violence is acceptable.
SNYDER: Yes, I mean, I think basically, American exceptionalism is an instrument of suicide. You know, we can't be exceptionalistic about ourselves. We have to look at other countries and say, yes, that's how people behave.
And if the founders of our country had any wisdom, it was that they understood that that's how people behaved and they set up checks and balances to prevent that. The founders didn't think we were going to be wonderful. The founders thought we would have to be checked by institutions, including journalism.
So I mean, as for me, the pattern that I see, which is so very striking, and very familiar is that if a leader tells a very big lie, like, for example, somebody who has lost by seven million votes, claims to have won a landslide victory. It's not just a falsehood, it becomes a kind of alternative reality that people live inside and that's what's dangerous.
And that's why the work of the January 6 Commission is so important, because if you can slowly build up fact by boring fact another story, which a person with commonsense can believe in, then maybe you can start to rein in that big lie.
COOPER: But also the fact -- you know, I think it's been revealed how much we rely on norms as opposed to things that are codified in law. I mean, our democracy's functions is held together by norms, in many cases, and I think that's been certainly been a surprise to me.
SNYDER: Yes, yes, I mean, Levitsky and Ziblatt that wrote that book, but I mean, norms mean values. Democracy is not a machine. Democracy is also needs to be delivered by capitalism. It's not delivered by anything else. It's ultimately delivered by people caring about wanting to rule.
And so democracy itself has to become a kind of value, which means that politicians who we respect have to lean forward to protect it, and citizens can imagine that is going to be delivered because it's not. We have to make positive commitments to things like the right to vote, we have to treat it as a value. We, ourselves have to affirm those norms.
COOPER: Yes. The book is "On Tyranny." Timothy Snyder, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. SNYDER: Glad to.
COOPER: Coming up next for us tonight. More breaking news, new C.D.C. guidelines on testing that could end up discouraging potentially contagious people from finding out they are still contagious. Confusing, yes. We're keeping them on honest.
Plus insight from Dr. Sanjay Gupta and a member of the former administration's Coronavirus Task Force, Admiral Brett Giroir.
COOPER: Well the country cross another COVID milestone tonight according to data from Johns Hopkins University, we're now averaging more than 500,000 new cases a day, half a million more people are getting infected every single day. And while deaths thankfully are actually down somewhat the number of people hospitalized with COVID is soaring. More anecdotally so as the number of people who are frustrated and confused and uncertain about what they should do about this latest surge.
Keeping them honest, the latest guidelines out tonight from the CDC add to the confusion. For starters, they estimate that the Omicron variant now 95% of cases in the country is up to three times more infectious than Delta. Yet in the face of that the new guidelines still do not specifically recommend N95 or KN95 masks and say that cloth masks are still OK, despite what many experts have said on this program and others. So that's confusing to say the least.
So is the new word on testing for people who are isolating but symptom free five days after testing positive, simply put, they don't advise taking a home test. Quoting from the new guidelines, if an individual has access to a test and wants to test, then go -- go for it. So it's purely optional. And then the guidelines go on to say that if you do happen to test and if you happen to test positive, then you should stay isolated for another five days. In other words, take it very seriously.
Something Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director foreshadow during appearance on CBS last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: And so if you have access to a test, and if you want to do a test a day five, and if your symptoms are gone, and you're feeling well, then go ahead and do that test. But here's what how I would interpret that test. If it's positive, stay home for another five days. If it's negative, I would say he's still really need to wear a mask, you still may have some transmissibility ahead of you, you still should probably not visit grandma, you shouldn't get on an airplane and you should still be pretty careful when you're with other people by wearing your mask all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Now, whether Dr. Walensky or other officials are aware of it or not the new policy amounts to a disincentive for home testing even as it concedes the usefulness of it and detecting one person might still be contagious. Telling people in so many words that a positive antigen test is serious, but there's no need to take one. In fact, if you're feeling OK, and just want to get out of the house already don't go looking for answers you might not like that's essentially what they're saying.
And perhaps some of this has to do with legitimate scientific concerns about false negatives and not want to give infected people a false sense of security. Something Dr. Walensky spoke about last night, or perhaps is the simple fact that useful or not good luck even finding a home test, with CNN's Kaitlan Collins also asked her about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Did the shortage of rapid tests that we're seeing play a role in this decision?
WALENSKY: No, the -- this decision really from an isolation standpoint, had everything to do with the fact that we wouldn't change our guidance based on the result of that rapid test. And you know that it didn't have anything to do with any shortage at all, because we recommend rapid tests for those in quarantine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, to be fair, public health always involves a balancing act between what the science says, what resources permitted when millions of exhausted and battered people will tolerate and what society can bear. But this is just plain confusing. Today, the President spoke briefly about the virus he announced he's doubling the order for Pfizer's new antiviral pill, he promised greater availability of testing in the coming weeks and continue to push people to get vaccinated and boosted. He pledged to keep schools open and safe. And said, he knows people are tired and frustrated with all of it, to which we might also add a bit bewildered.
Joining us now is retired Admiral Brett Giroir, doctor -- Coronavirus Task Force member and assistant HHS Secretary for Health in the last administration. Also CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Admiral Giroir what -- I'm wondering what your reaction is to the new guidelines from the CDC?
ADM. BRETT GIROIR, FMR HHS ASST. SECRETARY FOR HEALTH UNDER PRES. TRUMP: Well, thanks for having me on. I'm certainly supportive, that they're taking into factors about what people can do and the societal impact. I think they should be congratulated. But I agree with you, Anderson, that they're confusing and they're really lacking in content. What they did today was not really a recommendation at all, it said, if you could find a test and you want to get one get one.
I think it's pretty clear that a person who's infected with the Omicron can be highly infectious to other people that if they're involved in any kind of activity that's high risk, if they're a nursing home attended, if they're in health care, if they're working at, you know, Chick-fil-A, where they're in a lot of people, they really ought to test that day five to make sure they're not infectious. Still wear a mask, whether you're negative or not.
And the government can do this. Remember, every state public health, all those 500,000 they're known who they are at the state level, the state could literally ship them one of those 500 million new home tests when they test positive so that they can test themselves on isolation. So, you know, I think you can improve on that. And I hope they modified that, yes, take a test to get out of isolation if you're at any risk of other people, and have the government send you those tests right to your home.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Sanjay, it seems like I mean, if I had it and I was had was isolated for five days, I would want to test just so that I know that I'm not going to go out and infect somebody else if after five days, I'm OK. Do you think Sanjay this decision was made because it's impossible, I'm really difficult to get a test I've gone to CVS is I don't know how many CVS has gone looking for?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, sadly, you know, and the Admiral and I've talked a lot about this issue of testing, we're still not testing enough, there's still not enough tests available. So in some ways, this is sort of a form of triage, you know. Let me show you what the guidelines are just to be clear, what they're now telling people who are testing positive for COVID. Stay home for at least five days, your isolation can end if symptoms are gone or resolving wear a mask around others for five more days.
But the new things they added to that, again, as you mentioned, optional antigen test around day five and a positive isolate for a full 10 days, that that -- it may not be disincentivizing testing, but it's not really incentivizing it either. Which I think is an issue for people who, you know, would rather not have to isolate for five more days for various reasons. They're not at all incentivized to take this test.
I think there's something else as well, Anderson this day five number, I don't know if we have this graph to basically look at contagiousness, how contagious, are you at various points. And what they find there, if this graph makes sense, look in the middle day five, the day this is the number of days after testing positive for COVID-19. There's still 31% of people roughly that are still contagious on day five, it goes down to 5% by day 10. Point is that this is confusing. There's like -- there's quite possibly going to be a lot of people up to 30 people who are still contagious, and many of them may not test.
And to give you a little bit of context. In the UK, for example, they looked at the same data and said people should sit isolate for at least seven days and have two negative antigen tests before they come out of isolation. We're far more liberal than that here.
COOPER: Admiral, do you think -- I mean, it's Omicron -- you know, obviously, it's very easily transmissible, if it's somewhat weaker than Delta, which, you know, I guess it doesn't get into the lungs in adults in that way. I mean, do you see any signs that the virus overall is getting is, is getting weaker?
GIROIR: Well, first of all, I don't want anyone to have a date with Omicron, get your vaccines and get your booster because that will protect you, even a weakened virus can still put you in the hospital and kill you if you're unprotected. So, I want to make sure people get vaccinated into the booster. But yes, this virus, this strain of the virus is very another virus is less serious to most people than the Delta virus or the native strains. But it's still a very serious condition. And we can't take it lightly.
And I want to emphasize that vaccination has to be the basis the foundation of the strategy, you layer testing, oral antivirals, monoclonal and masks on top of that, but we need to do all of it. This is not a joke. Omicron is still dangerous. We have to employ all those strategies and techniques.
COOPER: I mean, Sanjay I guess my question is, and it was poorly asked, but I'm just overall one day. I mean, is that what happens to viruses that they gradually weaken over time? And is Omicron a sign of that weaking? Or is it just a -- this one happens to be a weaker variant and there's could be another variant that's way stronger than delta coming down the pike?
GUPTA: Well, I think the second part of your sentence is still true. We don't know that if there is potentially another variant, which could be more problematic than Omicron down the pike. But, you know, if you look sort of historically, viruses do tend to become at the same time they become more transmissible oftentimes become less lethal, they're sort of trading off lethality for transmissibility. And you know, we are seeing that with Omicron.
And if you look overall, we're 90% of the case peak that we had last year, but hospitalizations are much lower there's a decoupling as people will say between hospitalizations and deaths which is an indication for whatever reason that this appears to be less virulent maybe the immunity that's already existing out there may be something inherent about the virus that's different.
But yes, I think it's generally true that it becomes less lethal as it becomes more transmissible. But this virus has surprised us over and over again, Anderson.
GUPTA: I mean, I'll say that it's very humbling to sort of try and make any predictions here.
COOPER: Yes. And just very quickly, cloth mask. Yes, no, obviously, the K95 KN95 is better, but I mean, what about cloth mask?
GUPTA: Well --
GIROIR: I'm really concerned about cloth masks with --
COOPER: Oh, sorry, it was for Sanjay. Admiral, go ahead.
GIROIR: I'm really concerned about cloth masks with Omicron, particularly the single layer cloth masks. The mask -- that kind of masking was, you know, probably relatively effective with other variants. But with this one, I think it's pretty clear that you need a surgical mask or N95. And regarding those isolation guidelines, if you're going out after five days, you absolutely should be in an N95 so you don't transmit it to others. A simple cloth mask or a bandana is just not going to be protected.
COOPER: All right. Good advice concrete. I appreciate it. Admiral, appreciate it. Sanjay as well. Thanks so much.
A quick reminder, Sanjay's book Keep Sharp Build A Better Brain At Any Age is newly out in Paperback tonight. Congratulations, look forward to that.
We'll dig more deeply into testing and speak with one doctor who says that some people should be worrying less about it. We'll ask him who and why when we continue.
COOPER: If the new CDC guidelines tonight don't leave you puzzled and there's always just a simple shortage of adequate testing. Going into year three of this the problems are still with us and so is the debate over how to use testing and for whom.
Joining us now Dr. Benjamin Mazer, specialist laboratory medicine who just written a really interesting article in The Atlantic titled Stop Wasting COVID Tests People. Also with us is Dr. Peter Hotez, co- director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, and author of preventing The Next Pandemic Vaccine Diplomacy In The Time Of Anti Science.
So, Dr. Mazer, welcome. You run of the current situation on testing you say, quote, it's possible to feel outraged at this state of affairs, while behaving as responsibly as possible given the circumstances. This is the testing version of vaccine equity, the effort to ensure that life saving inoculations don't disproportionately benefit healthiest and wealthiest people. With the same principle is applied to diagnostics it means that people at the lowest risk from COVID shouldn't buy up large stocks at home tests or grab PCR appointments, when they're not experiencing symptoms, end quote.
So, who do you think should be getting tested right now, because as you know, many people, including students, and people returning offices are required to show proof of negative tests?
BENJAMIN MAZER, CLINICAL FELLOW IN PATHOLOGY, YALE NEW HAVEN HOSPITAL: Yes, thanks so much for having me. I think it's a challenge, because we've been told, you know, test, test, tests over the last couple years, I think we all see widespread testing as a good thing. And so, to sort of back off from that recommendation, is a struggle for a lot of people because of course, we don't have as many tests as we need. And we do have widespread vaccination.
And so, I think the focus needs to be on a few different groups. One is people who are symptomatic, people who have developed symptoms and may be at higher risk of complications from the virus because there are now new treatments becoming available. Antiviral pills you can take that can really significantly reduce your chance of hospitalization or death. And you want to be able to get a diagnosis, you can receive those, and then other people are, you know, high risk people that may still be vulnerable despite vaccination. So people who are elderly, you know, 65, 70 or older who can still be hospitalized or die despite vaccination, and people who have severe immune deficiencies, they don't respond as well to the vaccine. And so they still are quite vulnerable.
And so, having people around them test, you know, asymptomatic caregivers, friends, family, you know, social contacts, kind of helps keep the virus away from those people. So those can that can be really beneficial, you know, effective use of testing.
COOPER: And Dr. Hotez, do you agree with that?
PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think the bigger can -- well, there's two big concerns. One, its ridiculous year three in this pandemic, and now we're rationing testing. We shouldn't have to be in that place. But unfortunately, that's the reality. But here's the other issue is the fact that as much as we're rationing testing, we really have to ration now, treatments because Paxlovid is not going to be here in abundance in time for this Omicron wave, and now we've got two of our most important monoclonal antibodies knocked out the Lilly and the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies do not work against Omicron. All we have is the GSK, ver monoclonal antibody, and that's not available.
So how do you ration Paxlovid? How do you ration the limited quantities of the GSK monoclonal antibody? And the answer is, well, you want to make certain that that person is actually infected and have that test. So I think that makes a lot of sense.
And then as Dr. Mazer points out, we have -- if we have to ration testing, we want to protect our most vulnerable. But I think the for me the most demoralizing part of this is the fact that we even have to have this discussion about rational -- rationing testing at this point.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dr. Hotez, what -- I mean, I know it doesn't make any sense to you what why, why are we in this situation? I mean, obviously, you know, I mean, it's there's been two administrations now in which testing has not been adequate.
HOTEZ: Yes, it's never it's never gotten off the ground. And from the very beginning, we've had we've struggled with this. And now and of course, now we have some guidelines that are add some confusion, and actually now send a mixed message, because, you know, we made a big announcement, or the President made a big announcement about purchasing half a billion diagnostic tests. And then the CDC today says, well use it, I guess, if you feel it's important. But by the way, if it's negative, it doesn't mean very much because you still have to wear a mask.
And so, that also adds to the confusion as well. So we really have to define our algorithms around testing, define our algorithms, about how we're going to ration these very limited therapeutics on top of all the vaccines advocacy that we need.
COOPER: Dr. Mazer I mean do you see -- do you seek Omicron being controlled with testing and did you just I mean without enough tests, it just seems like unlikely that can happen.
MAZER: Yes, I think it would be very challenging to have enough tests to really control the spread at a population level. You know, we see in places like England and Germany that have really abundant testing, they're unable to control the spread completely, even if the testing is providing some benefit. And even now, the UK, you know, there's reports that they're having shortages of tests, even though they have had an enormous and free supply of testing. So Omicron is just blowing through, you know, almost any testing supply we have.
COOPER: And Dr. Mazer, what do you think universities in schools should be doing with their test to help the greater good?
MAZER: Yes, I think, you know, a lot of universities and schools I should say, by the way, I'm speaking my own opinion not my employer. You know, a lot of universities and schools have done a lot of surveillance testing of, you know, asymptomatic, they're young asymptomatic populations, to try to keep people safe and kind of these dorms settings and close knit quarters. But now a lot of the universities, and even all workplaces have mandatory vaccination, which is great, and they're getting everyone or nearly everyone vaccinated.
And so I think, given that scenario of relatively healthy young people who are almost entirely vaccinated, it's not the most effective use of testing, you could be helping those out in the community. I mean, nursing homes still struggle with testing high risk people who live at home, you know, may want people around them tested struggle. And so, you know, we could be diverting, especially the PCR capacity because that's very limited, we can easily expand our PCR lab based capacity. So if we can really route those the most needy people really be helpful.
COOPER: Benjamin Mazar, Dr. Mazar, Dr. Hotez, appreciate it. Thank you. Ahead, it's been called unprecedented severe weather trapping hundreds of people all night on a major interstate actually being stuck in that. Right back with an update on the race to clear the highway after some people spent more than 24 hours in icy gridlock.
COOPER: Its breaking news, moments ago Virginia's governor announced crews have pulled the last of the abandoned cars and trucks off Interstate 95 many hours after a day of frozen gridlock from a fierce winter storm. The highway is going to reopen soon we're told. Hundreds of drivers including Virginia Senator Tim Kaine were stuck in their vehicles for up to 27 hours along the 50 mile stretch about halfway between Richmond and Washington D.C. Drivers had to keep their engines off for long stretches in the coal to conserve fuel. The governor blames a perfect storm, Governor's words, first rain that kept the roads from being treated than slushy snow than the roads ice iced up. No deaths or injuries reported but the road remains hazardous tonight.
Up next the breaking news from the January 6 committee they've asked Fox News's Sean Hannity to cooperate in the investigation. They're also looking to speak with former Vice President Mike Pence. What information they're seeking, ahead.