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At This Hour

NYC Expands Vaccine Mandate To Private Sector; Biden To Announce Diplomatic Boycott Of Beijing Olympics This Week; Man Accused Of Helping Hide School Shooter's Parents Identified. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. Here's what we're watching at this hour troubling trend again. COVID cases and hospitalizations on the rise in the U.S., as new travel rules are going into effect. New York City taking a step no other city has to boost vaccination rates.

Standing up to China, the Biden administration set to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, ramping up the pressure over its human rights abuses.

And the investigation widens. Michigan authorities look into whether a school shooting suspect's parents had an accomplice and if school officials failed and acting on warnings.

Thanks for being here, everyone. Let's begin with new developments on the pandemic. All travelers coming into the United States are required to test negative for coronavirus within one day of departure now, the new requirements now in effect apply to everyone regardless of nationality regardless of vaccination status.

Also developing this morning, the mayor of New York City just announced the city's implementing a first in the nation vaccine requirement to include all private sector employees. The city will also expand its vaccination requirements for indoor dining and entertainment to include kids as young as five now.

These changes come amid continued uncertainty over the new Omicron variant which has now been detected in at least 17 states. But the Delta variant is the major problem still in America and is what's driving another surge it appears. The U.S. is averaging more than 120,000 new cases every day, the highest level since early October. But it is hospitalizations that really tell the story, up 27 percent in the last month with around 60,000 people every day sick enough with COVID to need hospital care right now.

Let's start with seeing as Pete Muntean live at Dulles Airport in Virginia with more on this new testing requirement going into effect right now for travel. Pete, what are you seeing there?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we'll have to see just how smooth this really goes. All of this means since it went into effect at midnight that flights in the air right now are among the first that are going to have to follow these new rules. Passengers coming into the United States will now have to get tested for coronavirus. One day before their departure.

They have to show proof of that negative coronavirus test to their airline. And the CDC puts it like this, if your flights on Monday, you have to get tested on Sunday. It's not the 24-hour rule. It is a one- day rule.

You also need to make sure that the airline sees this and that this is a thing that applies to foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. This also applies regardless of your vaccination status. Airlines say they're going to comply with this. But they push back a little bit on the efficacy of all of this. This is what United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby just told me.


SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: And the reality is Omicron is already out of South Africa. It's already escaped. It's on every continent. COVID is unique. COVID is endemic. We need to learn to live with it. But we're not going to learn to live with it by simply locking down and shutting borders. The right answer is to get everyone vaccinated.


MUNTEAN: Another big change here when it comes to the federal transportation mask mandate. It was set to expire on January 18th. Now it has been extended by two months the new expiration date, March 18th, 2022 that applies to all public forms of transportation planes, trains, buses, boats, and also here in airports all because of these concerns over the new Omicron variant, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see Pete, thank you so much for that.

And another big pandemic move. New York City as we mentioned, taking a big step to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. Mayor Bill de Blasio, he announced this morning, all private sector employees will soon have to be vaccinated that is on top of the vaccine mandate that's already in place for all public sector employees in the city. CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in New York City with more on this. What are the details of the new requirements, Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the mayor making that announcement just in the last hour calling this a preemptive strike in the face of the threat of this new variant. And as part of this expansion of New York City's vaccination mandate starting on December 27th. That's just in three weeks. This basically is now going to include, that mandate will now include all private sector employees.

Remember, the city had previously applied this mandate to those public employees and the mayor estimated that that should affect roughly 184,000 businesses across the board here in the city of New York. But wait, that's not all. This is really kind of a three-pronged expansion to the existing vaccination mandate because you will also expect to provide proof really soon of vaccination to include children ages five to 11 years old for indoor dining, into entertainment venues, also some high-risk activities.

And then finally that third, that third prong here, the city will be moving to the next phase when it comes to the requirements for those ages 12 and up. Now to include two proof of two vaccinations and that does not include those that recently received a jaunt that single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I want you to hear directly from the mayor as he explained why the city is taking this step, at least making that announcement this morning.



MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), New York City: Vaccination is the central weapon in this war against COVID. It's the one thing that has worked every single time across the board. On a strategic level, it's the reason New York City is back in so many ways. And it's the reason we can avoid shutdowns and restrictions is more use of vaccinations. So that's why we are taking aggressive action today. We are not going back to what happened in 2020.


SANDOVAL: And already, some New York City business leaders are expressing some concerns, some in fact, saying that we're contact really by surprise here, and left with some questions about the enforcement of that. The mayor saying that they do expand to roll out some more details when it comes to what will be done to actually enforce this portion of the mandate.

Those details expected in the next week or so. And then the big question, will there be any actual legal challenges. Previous mandates have been challenged in court they've been upheld. Kate, don't be surprised if something similar happens here.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see Polo. Thanks so much.

Joining me now for more on this is Dr. Michael Mina. He's the chief science officer at eMed healthcare company that provides at home COVID testing. He's also of course a former professor of epidemiology at Harvard University. It's been a bit Dr. Mina, thanks for being here. What's your reaction --


BOLDUAN: What's your reaction to this announcement from Bill de Blasio in New York City now going to adding private sector employees to the vaccine mandate in the city?

MINA: I think it's, it might be a challenge. But it is a smart public health move, I think we should have -- we should set the right expectations about what the purpose of these vaccine mandates are. And that is to limit the number of people who are really getting sick, and are going into the hospital and the vaccines are doing an incredible job with that. They won't be the silver bullet to stop transmission throughout the city. And I think that these two do have to be separated, people have to be aware, even if transmission is occurring, if you've been vaccinated and boosted you're, very unlikely to get seriously ill with this virus despite transmission.

BOLDUAN: But that distinction is important because it does seem to still be misunderstood by so many people that a vaccine isn't necessarily going to ensure you don't get infected, it will help to ensure you don't go to the hospital or die.

MINA: That's exactly right. And there was a lot of misunderstanding and unfortunate mismessaging earlier on, when the vaccines were first unrolled, there was a lot of belief that they would do a much better job at limiting spread. And we've recognized that they just haven't done quite a good job at limiting spread as much as we wanted and especially now with new variants that are -- that's going to likely be damaged even more. But nevertheless, they are keeping people out of the hospital very well. And that is their primary goal.

BOLDUAN: And that also gets us to testing. What do you think of the new travel requirements for anyone entering the United States with this test one day before departure?

MINA: Yes, well, it's what it's something that I've been saying we should be doing for the last two years. Testing, as soon as possible before you get onto a flight is always the best, the best use of a test rather than testing three days prior. And this doesn't just go with flights, this is also gatherings, going to work or school, the sooner before an event including a flight that you can test, the better that test is going to represent that you actually are negative when you step on to that plan. I think this is a smart move by the administration. And I welcome this personally.

BOLDUAN: Because another part actually of the Biden strategy that they've been rolling out to try to combat it a winter surge is expanding also access to rapid at home tests, by requiring private insurance to reimburse the cost of those tests, you have been a long and vocal advocate for at home testing, to fight COVID. What do you think of this move, in particular by the Biden administration?

MINA: Yes. I'm a little bit on the fence. I've also been a major advocate that these tools, these tests when used at home, on people's on your own, these are public health tools, they're helping to prevent you from potentially infecting other people around you. And I do think that there is a question of whether private insurance should be on the hook for that.

But nevertheless, I think as long as we are increasing people's access to these tools, and we're making them useful, especially as we see the oral antivirals get authorized from Merck and Pfizer and a number of others that might come down the line later, these are going to become increasingly important, both for public health and for medicine. And so I welcome any action, frankly, by the administration to improve individual's access to these types of tools.

[11:10:05] BOLDUAN: Can you help people understand just conceptually why and at home rapid test, why this being widely available, widely utilize, why you think that really is the game changer, versus what we, how we've been using tests all along.

MINA: Yes. If our -- so one of the major reasons we use tests is to stop transmission. The problem with this virus is that you transmit so much in a very short window of time, usually only a matter of three days is when the majority of somebodies transmission occurs.

So if you have a test that takes multiple days, to get a result, like a PCR test still in the United States often takes two or three days, that is not going to help you to prevent yourself from transmitting, if you're already infectious when you get the swab taken, so having ready access to a test at home, and ideally, if that test can give you a prescription for an antiviral very quickly, it's going to improve your ability to identify yourself as infectious early, before you infect other people. And as the antiviral come on, give you an ability to start an antiviral early, while it's still going to be effective.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Mina, thanks so much.

MINA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the Biden administration is expected to make a big announcement about the Beijing Olympics this week to protest China's record of human rights abuses. What it could mean for the Games, next.



BOLDUAN: Developing this morning sources are telling CNN that the Biden administration this week is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to protest the human rights record, the record of human rights abuses rather, in China, that means no U.S. government officials will attend the games, but U.S. athletes will still be allowed to compete.

China responded very quickly to this threatening, quote, resolute countermeasures against the Biden administration. So what does this all mean? Joining me now is Christine Brennan, CNN's sports analyst and columnist for USA Today and CNN's David Culver who is live in Shanghai, China for us today. Christine, how big of a deal is this?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Kate, it's a very big deal, because it hasn't happened certainly in any memory of all of us, including those of us like me, who have covered the Olympics for a long time. It is a statement. It's symbolic. It doesn't involve the athletes. And that is a key point. The athletes would go and compete as normal.

But what it says to China, especially in the wake of everything that's going on, including the Peng Shuai debacle that China still is immersed in, what it says is that the U.S. government is not going to participate. For example, in 2008, George W. Bush led the delegation to Beijing for the Summer Olympics, which were in Beijing. He went to the swimming venue.

He met Michael Phelps. It's mostly ceremonial, you cheer for the team, you wave the flag, you meet the athletes, and you go home. But it is a symbol. And that's a symbol that the Biden administration obviously wants to change and send a very different message this time around.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and David, obviously, the leaders in China are not happy about this. It is this move likely to force China to change behavior, stop violating human rights and committing what's described as genocide against its own people?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one would hope but if recent history is any indication, Kate, what we have seen is that every time they're confronted publicly, they double down and they stand by their actions. And they essentially say this is internal business, domestic matters, keep out of our business, and they push away constantly.

And that's what's happening right now, too. They're saying this is political maneuvering on part of the U.S. They're saying, first of all, the U.S. has not even been invited from its official diplomatic perspective. So why assume you're going to in that invite and sensationalizing things as they put it.

But going forward, this is something that they are continuing to face. And what we've seen is this wolf warrior diplomacy approach, where they come out with a really strong rhetoric, and they've expected this for weeks. This is not a surprise to them. But it plays very well with the domestic audience here.

And the propaganda will continue to push that up to show that China will not back down especially when called out by, say the West, in the U.S. in particular. Interesting to note though, Kate, if you searched earlier today, U.S. boycott Olympics on Chinese social media. It was censored out.

BOLDUAN: Yes, sure. The segment is as well. David, this is also -- this is just as the -- comes just as the Women's Tennis Association announced that it's suspending tournaments in China over the treatment and concerns over tennis star, Peng Shuai as Christine mentioned the state, U.S. State Department is backing and applauding that move so taken all together. What do you think the real impact is?

CULVER: Well, and Christine brought up, you know, Peng Shuai is still being an issue here. It is a massive headache for leadership here. They're trying to figure out how to navigate this one in addition to a multitude of other issues. Yes, you've got the accusations of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang against ethnic Uighur Muslims.

You've got Tibet. You've got crackdown on pro democracy protests in Hong Kong, Taiwan. Questions over COVID origins and early mishandlings, you've cut a lot that's facing China as they're looking to host the world and put on a show with pageantry and performance. But this is a major challenge. And one thing that's going to be really interesting to see and this could pose to be even a bigger issue then say no U.S. officials attending is what will the athletes say because athletes according to diplomatic sources telling me that they are being educated on what's going on here. And they could very well use this as an opportunity to speak out when they're here on the mainland, and that is even more damaging to China, it's very uneasy for them to think they can't control the narrative when it's something happening within their borders. Kate?


BOLDUAN: That's really interesting. And there's history, right, there, Christine, I mean, because all of this also shines a bright spotlight on the International Olympic Committee, and they seem to be at odds with the WTA over the concerning situation with Peng Shuai. How can they be -- I'm looking at this and wondering how can they be so far apart from the U.S. and the WTA in this moment, and what you think it means now, really, as we go towards the games?

BRENNAN: Kate, the IOC is in business with the Chinese, obviously, their business partners with the Olympics is coming up now in less than two months. But this is be careful what you wish for if you're China, you want the Olympic Games, you want the world's attention? Well, now you're getting the world's attention. And as David mentioned, athletes, Evan Bates, a figure skater who could medal in ice dancing, I asked him a question about this over a month ago, he answered it, he's very concerned. And he was very forthright in talking about the human rights abuses in China.

So I think you're right, David, it's going to -- it's happening now around the country and around the world, potentially with athletes. And once they get to China, I don't think they're going to be quiet. And again, this is what China deserves. And the IOC deserves when you give the Olympics to a country with these awful human rights abuses. This is no surprise. The IOC did it in '08. And they're doing it again in 2022.

BOLDUAN: It's so interesting, thank you both so much.

Still ahead for us, the suspected Michigan school shooter and his parents are under suicide watch in the same jail and now what we're learning more about the man, police say help those parents hide from authorities, details next.



BOLDUAN: An entire family behind bars, the parents of the accused Michigan school shooter, are now on suicide watch as well as they sit in jail. James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested after the hours long manhunt over the weekend. This is the exclusive CNN video of their apprehension founded a warehouse space in Detroit.

They face involuntary manslaughter charges after four teenagers were shot and killed at Oxford High School. And now, a man investigators call a person of interest is speaking out through his attorney after allegedly helping the Crumbley's hide from police. CNN's Athena Jones is in Oxford, Michigan for us. She's joining us now. Athena, what are you learning there this morning?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well about this man who help, verbally, say help the crumbles enter that warehouse where they were found in the wee hours of Saturday morning. He has retained a lawyer, his lawyer says that he knew the Crumbley's, he did not know that they had warrants out for their arrest. And so he is cooperating with authorities. We know that there might be charges that are brought against him. But we have to wait for an announcement on that.

But we're also hearing again from the Oakland County prosecutors once again explaining why she is taking the rare step of charging the parents in a high school shooting case. She believes they are criminally negligent. And if they had taken action, it could have saved the lives of these four teenagers who were killed on -- take a listen to what Karen McDonald had to say this morning on New Day.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: In this case, you can't possibly look at their actions and say that they didn't have reason to believe that there was real concern about a violent act. All of this could have been prevented if he hadn't had access or if just one of those parents had said, I'm concerned about what I'm seeing right now. And I also want you to know, we just bought him a gun for Christmas. And that didn't happen. And I, you know, I just can't let that go without holding somebody, without holding them accountable.


JONES: So there you go. The Crumbley's is now facing each of the four charges of involuntary manslaughter. Each charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Athena, thank you for that. Joining me now for more on this, is CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. Elie this entire family is now behind bars. As a prosecutor, I'm wondering how do you handle a case against an entire family here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Kate, well, you just have to go where the facts take you, right, you don't hesitate to charge people just because it would take an entire family sort of out at once. This is an aggressive charge against the parents. It is a fairly novel charge. We very, very rarely if ever see parents charged with involuntary manslaughter in this kind of scenario. But I also think it's a well-grounded charge for the reasons Athena just laid out.

And it's important to know, prosecutors don't have to just prove there was something the parents could or should have done here. They have to prove a gross level of negligence. But I think when you look at all the facts about the purchase of the firearm, what the parents knew about the son searching for ammo, the way they encouraged him to do that and then ignoring the warnings from the school. I think what you'll hear from the prosecutor is when you add it all up that amounts to involuntary manslaughter.