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At This Hour

U.S. and Russia to Hold Security Talks on January 10; Verdict Watch in Trials of Ghislaine Maxwell, Elizabeth Holmes. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 11:30   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN AT THIS HOUR: And, Dr. Schleien, you were mentioning during the break that you're seeing a lull or a delay in flu cases, and you're concerned about a double whammy. I mean, how are you bracing for this?

SCHLEIEN: Well, there's no question. Last year, we had no flu across the country. We have had sporadic flu cases thus far in the fall. We don't have any patients hospitalized in children's hospital with flu. And we're all expecting without being able to predict how many cases we will see a flu season.

And what's confusing about it, of course, is that many of the symptoms that children present with, with COVID, are the same ones as they present with flu. And so that's why we're telling parents, please have your children vaccinated. If you haven't been vaccinated yet for COVID, that's -- you can go in and get a vaccine for COVID and flu at the same time.

But it's -- we're a little nervous about the numbers, particularly our emergency rooms have been overrun with patients, many of whom are just looking for testing, because testing on the outside has been difficult in many areas. And we're asking parents to not come into the emergency room unless their child is sick, not to come in just for testing if they're healthy and had an exposure, because we're expecting flu, it can come any day, any week, we can't predict how severe that season will be.

WALKER: Yes. Unfortunately, a lot of health experts saying that things are going to probably going to get worse and we should be bracing for a pretty tough January ahead. Dr. Charles Schleien, thank you so much for the conversation.

And we know many of you have questions about how to protect yourself, your children, how to protect your entire family. Joining me now to answer some of them is Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez. She is a primary care pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Thank you so much, Doctor, for joining me.

Let's start with this question from Andrea in Maryland. And she asks, when will booster shots be available for kids 12 to 15? For many of these kids, it's been six months since their second dose.

DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IRVING MEDICAL CENTER: Great question and understandable question. And it's great to be with you. I have to say, at this point, we don't know. I wish we had the answer, but we don't have a clear timeline, and that is because we don't have data, we don't have the science on when immunity wanes for this age group. We know that 16 and up, kids 16 and up are now eligible for a booster shot, and that is because we did have the data for that age group. For the 12 to 15- year-olds, we do not yet, so we don't know exactly when we'll be getting booster shots for them. So, hang tight, do your best to protect them and yourselves by getting everyone else vaccinated and a booster.

WALKER: Regina from Pennsylvania has this question on masks. I recently read an article on that advises us to choose N-95 masks over cloth masks. I have a sizable cloth mask collection, and each mask has a filter pocket. Will the PM2.5 filter add the similar protection that the N-95 offers? What do you say?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Yes. I think many of us have collected quite an array of masks at this point. And I would say if you're thinking of wearing your cloth mask, go ahead and add that fitter. It's not exactly the same as an N-95 mask. But technicalities, for example, are if you have an N-95 mask, you are filtering out 95 percent of 0.3 micrometer particles or more for those 2.5 filters. You're talking about 2.5 micrometer particles that are being filtered out. So the N-95 filters out more and smaller particles.

But if you're in an area where you don't need that extra little bit protection, those cloth masks with the filter, I think, can work well.

WALKER: Okay. And Costa asked this. Does one need to get retested after testing positive and isolating for ten days? By the way, you know the CDC guidelines have been dropped down to five days if you're asymptomatic. And she goes on to say, and if yes, how long after the end of the isolation period? So, does there need to be retesting after testing positive?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: I get asked this question so much from patients, family members, and the answer is no. The official guidance is you do not need to be retested at the end of your COVID-19 infection once you have recovered. And that is because you can potentially be positive on your test for up to three months even though you are no longer infectious. So, we don't want to keep testing and testing in a moment where supplies are short in this country knowing that you can potentially still be positive and no longer infectious.


So, no, you do not need to do this to come out of quarantine.

WALKER: And Robert wants to know, and this is a question I think a lot of parents also have regarding their children and outdoor sports, he says, I coach a middle school flag football team. Is that a safe activity to do outside if everyone is vaccinated? Do we need to wear masks or should we wait a while before playing again?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Gosh, the answer for this and the guidance on this has changed a little bit because of omicron. So, prior to omicron, outdoor sports were absolutely safe, you did not have to wear masks. Unfortunately, with omicron, the guidance is changing on mask wearing outdoors. The WHO just recommended that if you're going to be in a crowded setting, go ahead and mask up even if you are outdoors.

So, if you can't delay a flag football and other outdoor sports -- and, honestly, there are a number of benefits to kids. So, if we want to continue to give them those benefits, I would say go ahead and mask up so that we prevent transmission while allowing them to enjoy the sports.

WALKER: Yes. I mean, look, I think a lot of people are now reconsidering even outdoor events or gatherings because we know that omicron is just so contagious. Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, thank you so much for your advice. I appreciate it.


WALKER: Coming up, a woman accused of punching a fellow passenger now facing a federal charge and possible prison time. The details on what happened, next.



WALKER: Developing this morning, the United States and Russia are confirming that they will hold security talks next month. The announcement comes amid heightened tensions over Ukraine.

CNN's Nic Robertson live in Moscow with details. Hi, there, Nic. So, what does Putin want and are his demands really under consideration?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, what the United States is saying is that Russia can put what it wants on the table and the United States is going to put its concerns on the table as well. And they're saying very clearly, and this is to President Putin's points, to the points that he's already put on the table, which is NATO cannot allow Ukraine to become a member, that NATO cannot station troops and military hardware in Ukraine because they, in Russia's view, threaten the security, the core security of Russia.

So, you know, what the United States is saying in response to that is, yes, talk, but we're not going to talk about issues related to our allies and partners, NATO and Ukraine, without them being at the table as well. Look, what President Putin has very clearly chosen to do here is to talk to the United States first because he sees the United States as a real driver of what NATO can be expected to agree, but it's no point in talking to NATO collectively because that is a sort of -- it could be a very slow and circular conversation. So, he's singled out the United States as the strongest partner in NATO to push through his demands. But what we're hearing from the U.S. side is that there can be areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. And this is where the difficulty comes, because from Russia's perspective, it doesn't want areas of disagreement left. It wants black-and-white scenario, what is NATO's plan for Ukraine. Putin wants that very clearly decided. So, there's long way to go on all of this.

WALKER: Yes. There will be very difficult conversations to be had. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

All right, now to the pain at the pump, you could be paying $4 a gallon for gas by Memorial Day. In a forecast shared exclusively with CNN, GasBuddy says prices will peak in a few months.

CNN's Matt Egan joins me now to explain. Hi there, Matt.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Hi, Amara. This is all about supply and demand and COVID. When COVID first erupted in spring of 2020, we saw Russia and OPEC and U.S. oil producers slash their production by record amounts. And that made sense because no one was driving. No one was flying. The world was kind of shut down. Flash forward, we've seen demand basically come back to pre-COVID levels but supply has not kept up.

And so that's why GasBuddy, which is an app that tracks prices and demand, they're calling for gas prices to rise next year. They see a 2022 average of $3.41 a gallon, that's up from around $3 this year. They think gas prices are going to peak in May at $3.79 a gallon, essentially right as everyone is heading out for the summer, Memorial Day weekend, we could be seeing gas prices flirting with $4 a gallon before they fall sharply later in the year.

Now, this would unwind some of the recent progress we've seen on the gas front. The national average is currently $3.28 a gallon. That's not cheap. It's up by about a dollar from a year ago. But it is down 14 cents from the peak that we saw in early November.

We should note, there is a lot of uncertainty here. And others are calling for gas prices to drop. Citigroup has predicted and warned their clients that there's going to be what they called a, quote, radical drop in energy prices. The Energy Department's research arm is calling for an average of $2.88 a gallon next year. That would be down.

I think at the end of the day, Amara, these are all just forecasts, and COVID has shown it is really, really hard to accurately forecast anything in today's economy.


WALKER: Yes. The only thing that's certain is all this uncertainty, right? Matt Egan, I appreciate you. Thank you.

Well, there is more trouble in the skies. A Los Angeles woman facing a federal assault charge after allegedly causing a disturbance on a Delta flight. CNN's Ryan Young has more on what happened.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Amara. Another flight with another instance of just wild behavior, and we've seen this play out so many times over the last year. You had COVID restrictions and now unruly passenger behavior. And people who work in this industry are sort of tired of what they're seeing on these cell phones that is happening more and more again.

Now, the video that we're going to ready to show you is something has been tied to a federal complaint. The woman was arrested by the FBI. And in this video, we're told that investigators see what happened, this was posted ATL Uncensored, that's an Instagram page, and this the video that shows what happened on that flight from Tampa to Atlanta.

The woman in that video is identified as Patricia Cornwall. She was arrested and now faces charges.

Now, this was an isolated incident. We might not be talking about it as much as we are because of what's been happening on planes across the country. We can show you this graphic. The number of incidents have spiked during the year. People are concerned, especially those in the flight industry. They're hoping to see some of this behavior kind of tamp down over the next year.

Cell phones are really helping because it's capturing some of these fights that are going on, on these planes. There's an industry now calling for some action to stop what's going on in the air. Amara?

WALKER: Yes, very disturbing, indeed. Ryan Young, thank you.

Coming up, juries in New York and California are deliberating two high-profile cases. We'll discuss the trials of Ghislaine Maxwell and Elizabeth Holmes, next.



WALKER: We're on verdict watch in two high-profile trials. In New York, jurors are in their fourth day of deliberations in the sex trafficking trial against Ghislaine Maxwell, and in California, jurors are deciding whether former CEO and Founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes, committed fraud against investors.

Joining me now is CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. Hi there, Elie. So, let's start with the Maxwell trial. We know jurors have asked several questions and requested testimony from victims and other key witnesses, including those four women who make up the core of this trial. What does that tell you about how the deliberations are going?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it tells me the jury is being really careful and meticulous here. It tells me they certainly did not get in the jury room and just say guilty or not guilty across the board. They are going witness by witness, count by count. That's what a jury is supposed to do. It shows that they are focused on the key pieces of testimony, the key pieces of evidence and we'll see what they come back with.

Remember though, they can find the defendant guilty on some charges but not others. It's not all or nothing. It's not straight guilty or not guilty, and I think we may end up seeing some sort of split verdict here.

WALKER: Okay, interesting. So, then when it comes to the closing arguments, what stuck out to me from Maxwell's attorney, she said she's being tried here for being with Jeffrey Epstein and maybe that was the biggest mistake of her life, but it was not a crime. So, they are trying to distance Maxwell from Epstein. Is that even effective?

HONIG: I don't think it will be here. This is what we call the empty chair defense, when you have some other figure sort of looming over the trial. The prosecution's argument is she was his right hand, she was his accomplice, she was his co-conspirator, and the defense is just trying to say sort of she was duped or she is a scapegoat. But the problem is it didn't comport with common sense, it's really hard to believe that, and it's contradicted by the evidence. There's just no way that she was there in some sort of innocent capacity.

WALKER: Okay. Let's move on to Elizabeth Holmes' trial in California. So, jurors there have also asked to hear evidence again. They requested recordings of a call where Holmes allegedly made misleading claims. So, what can you glean from that?

HONIG: Yes, I think that's a good sign for the prosecution, Amara, because the question here is was Holmes engaged in just sort of your standard salesmanship puffery that happens in the business world, or did she cross that line to where she made a specific fraudulent misrepresentation?

The prosecution has argued she did just that. She lied about the efficacy of the blood work products. She lied about contracts and deals that she had with the military, with pharmaceutical companies. So, if the jury is focusing on those specific lies and misstatements, I think that's a bad sign for the defendant here.

WALKER: And something different that Elizabeth Holmes did was she actually took the stand compared to Ghislaine Maxwell who didn't. I mean -- and she testified over a he course of seven days. Do you think this ultimately will have hurt or helped her?

HONIG: Well, it's always a risk whenever a defendant chooses to take the stand in his or her defense. The whole trial ends up turning on that. On the one hand, Elizabeth Holmes, by some accounts, is a charismatic, sympathetic figure. On the other hand, the whole point of the prosecution's case is she's a fraudster, she's a liar, she's putting on a show, and that's what the prosecution essentially argued about her testimony.

And, ultimately, what the jury is going to do is compare her testimony to the other evidence in the case, the recordings, the documents.


And if the testimony didn't match up, and I think there's key areas where it does not, then that will be evidence of fraud.

WALKER: Fascinating trials and really good talking to you, Elie Honig. Thank you for your analysis.

HONIG: All right.

WALKER: Inside Politics is up next. Phil Mattingly is in for John King. It starts right after this break.