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At This Hour

Millions Of Students Return To School Amid Omicron Surge; FDA Authorizes Pfizer Booster Shots For Ages 12-15; Cheney: Ivanka Trump Asked Her Father To Stop Jan. 6 Attack. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Here's what we're watching at this hour. COVID threat millions of children many unvaccinated, are returning to school as Omicron surges. This morning the FDA taking action to get more people boosted.

Capitol insurrection, CNN's new reporting on what congressional investigators have learned about Donald Trump's action and inaction during the violent siege.

And incredible kindness, the gift of minor league baseball club owner gives to his employees that truly came out of left field.

Thank you for being here, everyone. Let's begin with the millions of Americans returning to school and work as Omicron continues this relentless surge across the United States. Cases once again shattering all-time highs now averaging more than 400,000 new cases a day, it's an increase of more than 300 percent in the last month. But some experts say the focus now must shift in the face of Omicron away from new cases to new hospitalizations.

Nearly 100,000 Americans are sick enough with COVID that they need hospital care right now. This number continues to climb each week. More than 1,300 Americans are still dying every day from COVID. Just this morning, some big changes coming from the FDA, moments ago, the FDA authorized Pfizer's booster shots for kids ages 12 to 15 years old, boosters now available to everyone over the age of 12 in the United States.

The FDA also just shortened the time to get a Pfizer booster for everyone from six months to five months now. And big developments that impact all of these are big developments that impact many families from school aged children on up. Let's start there. CNN's Gabe Cohen is live in Washington D.C. for us. For more on schools welcoming students back, oh, as the heavy snow is falling there, Gabe. What does it looking like?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as those kids head back to school, so much of the focus is on testing. Here in Washington D.C. as this storm hits, everything is getting pushed back a day. But the mayor says staff and students they still need to get that negative test. Otherwise, they could now be turned away if they try to head back to the classroom on Thursday.

Now D.C. has been hit particularly hard by this surge. But their district is far from the only one grappling with this problem right now. In New York City, the new Mayor Eric Adams is vowing to keep classrooms open despite the wishes of the teachers union to at least temporarily move to virtual learning.

Now the CDC also urging districts to keep classroom open and use test to stay instead of quarantining an entire classroom actually testing those students, and those who come back negative could return to school. If kids do show symptoms, though, the CDC is offering guidance to parents. They're really urging parents to keep those kids out of school even if those symptoms appear to be possibly cold symptoms or flu symptoms. They say assume that it is COVID until a test proves otherwise. We spoke with some health experts about what you should look for.


DR. GIGI GRONVALL, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: If you test negative, I would test again and the next day.

COHEN: Do you think still hold them out of school for a day and get them tested again?

GRONVALL: I would especially if they have a sore throat.

COHEN: What if they can't get a test?

DR. SARAH ASH COMBS, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE: The safest thing is probably to either isolate or quarantine in the home.


COHEN: Now, if your child does test positive, the new CDC guidance that shortened that isolation period from 10 days to five days, it does also apply to children. But in terms of returning to school, the school and district may actually have their own policies. Again, so much of the guidance here is local. Experts say if you have a case like that, parents you should call your pediatrician and your kids school. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, there's a lot for everyone to keep track of as it does continue to change as well and everyone is supposed to be heading back to school. It's good to see you, Gabe, thank you very much.

As you can see just from Gabe's live shot right there, it is another rough day for travelers as well all across the United States. Staffing issues due to COVID and this winter weather that we're seeing are causing major disruptions to air travel. More than 2,000 flights have already been canceled today. CNN's Pete Muntean is live at Reagan National Airport for more on this. How's it looking, Pete?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Very snowy, Kate, 40 percent of flights canceled here at Reagan National Airport, the most of any airport nationwide. You can see the snow coming down at a pretty good clip now and it's really accumulating after we have seen it not accumulate it was mostly just rain only a couple hours ago other big cancellations at BWI, also at Dulles, also at LaGuardia. We are not out of the woods here with these layering issues not only those COVID related staffing shortages, but also this major snowstorm.


Just look at the numbers 2,100 flight cancellations across the country today alone. About 10 percent of Southwest Airlines schedule, 10 percent at Sky West, which is one of those regional airlines that operates commuter flights for Delta, American, and United, but another 13 percent of flights canceled at JetBlue. They are a big operator in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. You know, those who were in airports yesterday saw big long lines, out 5,000 flight cancellations over the weekend, big delays in Chicago, big delays in Atlanta.

We heard of people staying overnight in Atlanta. In fact, we heard from one traveler who said that they were stuck in the airport trying to get out of there since Thursday. Here's what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We tried to leave on Thursday. And then they canceled it. And then we tried to reschedule for Saturday night they rescheduled it again and canceled it. And then today and they canceled it on the way to the airport and then now we're rescheduled for tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have they gave you guys any kind of lodging or anything at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not yet, so, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's got to be frustrating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. But it's as long as we can get back to us, we'll be good.


MUNTEAN: We have not seen the end of this, Kate. You know, airlines say they are proactively canceling flights to try and avoid issues. When people get here to the airport alert them a bit early before they come here. It's pretty treacherous out right now. It's hard to get even to the airport right now. We have seen days and days of delays about 17,000 delays in total from Christmas Eve when this really all started. Occasionally we hear our roar something going by Kate. It's not a plane. It's a snowplow.

BOLDUAN: Well, good to see Pete regardless. Thank you very much. Thanks for staying on. And joining me right now for more on this is Dr. Chris Pernell. She's a public health physician and fellow at the American College of Preventive Medicine. So Doctor, I asked you first about some of these important updates that we heard from the FDA this morning. Some new moves authorizing the Pfizer booster dose for kids ages 12 to 15 years old shortening the time before the booster -- for a booster for everyone. It's been six months. And now they're saying you can get a booster after five.

And then the FDA just gave the green light for a third primary dose for immunocompromised children ages five to 11. All moves all announced this morning. What do you think of this?

DR. CHRIS T. PERNELL, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE FELLOW: Good morning Kate and a happy New Year. Those three moves are all moves that I greatly welcome because the data just supports it. We know that against Omicron, if you are to be protected that you need a booster so the fact that now those 12 and above will be eligible for boosters, that's the right move.

Second, we know that from data released out of the labs that your antibodies really begin to wane around the 20 weeks mark. So having that booster be available at the fifth month post. The completion of your primary series is again another welcome progress. And then third, seeing those who are immunocompromised and children able to get a third dose is the right move is the same move that we made with adults, we want people to be as protected as possible in the face of Omicron knowing that Omicron is definitely able to evade the protection in the effectiveness of our currently available vaccines.

BOLDUAN: This is all part of what we've all, you know, scientists and nonscientists alike have gotten needed to get used to which is just the evolution of the understanding of the science. As we learn more things change. We're also hearing now, in just along that vein, we're hearing from Dr. Fauci as well as others that they believe the focus needs to shift a bit on how we measure where we are with this virus to focus more on the hospitalization rate, rather than the infection and the daily new case rate. What do you think of that Dr. Pernell?

PERNELL: I don't quite agree with that. So if you think about whether or not we're focusing on daily case rate versus hospitalization, one is a more acute issue. And the other is a more long term issue. Where we have stumbled in this nation is our lack of preparedness, and our lack of vigilance and awareness around all factors that are on the field. So whether or not new cases are exploding is very important to know when upwards of 30 percent of those who get infected could potentially develop long COVID as well as knowing what the surge looks like on our hospital and healthcare systems.

Look, I know that we in health care are beleaguered, the entire nation is beleaguered, but especially those of us on the frontlines of care and we need to make sure that our workers are protected and that's why we can't lose sight of both those two very important things.


BOLDUAN: You know Gabe Cohen, my colleague, was just talking about credible of the concern, the risk, the fear, the anxiety, the big questions in front of school districts, schools and parents right now as kids are heading back to class. What do you tell a patient, a parent who comes in and sees the infection rates, sees the hospitalization rate maybe in their community? You know, and asked, should I be sending my kid to school today?

PERNELL: First and foremost, I'm continuing to have this conversation on a daily basis. Make sure your kid is vaccinated largely here in New Jersey and even across the nation. Those children who are getting infected and hospitalized are those who are unvaccinated. So that's the first thing. Make sure everyone in your household is vaccinated. And then three, hold your school systems accountable. Ask questions around testing, access to testing, ask questions around physical distancing, where appropriate, and more importantly, ask questions around filtration of air. All of those things are important. We must not ever forget that to beat this pandemic. We need a multi layered approach. We can't just focus on one or the other and that's what I want parents to know.

BOLDUAN: Good advice as always. Dr. Pernell, thank you.

PERNELL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's turn now for more on that winter storm. We've just started talking about affecting tens of millions of Americans. D.C. and the mid-Atlantic getting their first major snowfall of the year, and some areas are expected to get up to a foot of snow. I'm going to show you this new video just in of the heavy driving snow as President Biden was getting off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews just moments ago. I mean just take a look at that treacherous walk down the stairs.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking all of this wild weather. That looks painful. That is like a painful type of snow, Chad. What are you seeing so far?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I've seen some pictures of snowflakes that are about the size of a half dollar. I mean this really is a very wet heavy system. And there you see the snow coming down. Winter storm warnings are still in effect. We're still going to see another 6 to 8 inches of snow in some spots. This is what it looks like right now, the purple areas that's where the heaviest snow really is. Down to the south, your snow is about done in the Carolinas maybe another couple hours but not like up to the northeast.

It is snowing on the Atlantic sea boardwalk right now. And it will do that for about four more hours. So they are really piling the snow up in D.C., in New Jersey, in Wilmington, Delaware, Dover where we're seeing an awful lot of snow. It finally gets out of here about 4:00 or 5 o'clock tonight, maybe some lingering flurries past about 6 o'clock. But that's it. Another maybe 6, maybe 8 inches of snow in the worst, worst part but that's just about it.

We have a lot of power outages from this, Kate. Over 685,000 customers from the wind, the power, the trees coming down, obviously the snow as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes, we love the snow. We hate the power outages. Thank you so much. I'd really appreciate it, much more to come on that.

Coming up for us still, the House Select Committee investigating the interaction says they have significant firsthand testimony about what Donald Trump was and was not doing as right or stormed the Capitol. What the Committee is learning a year after the violent siege next?



BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, significant testimony. That is what the chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection says that they have. Testimony that the White House was asked directly to do something to stop the violence as it unfolded even the President's daughter stepping in according to Liz Cheney. CNN's Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill for more on where things stand with this investigation, because we did seem to learn quite a bit more just yesterday, Manu, what more are they saying?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's clear that there is getting, their cooperation that's coming from key people within Donald Trump's inner circle. Even though there are a number of people in that inner circle who are fighting the Committee, people like Mark Meadows, who are trying to battle what's had the efforts to get him to testify.

There are some who are providing information including what Liz Cheney told the -- revealed yesterday was that Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter went to him directly and made clear that he should do something to stop the violence. Now, what people are talking about now is the Committee is looking at what the President at the time what he did and did not do on January 6th, and what was revealed was that he was watching what was happening on T.V.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: The Committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred. 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.


RAJU: Now the Committee is trying to paint a broad picture of everything that happened in the run up to the January 6th attack to the planning of the stop the steal rally to the efforts by to overturn the electoral results via the Justice Department but they're also trying to zero in on Donald Trump and trying to get documents, Kate, that is the big question. Can they get even more documents? Have we know Trump is suing to protect those documents prevent the Committee from getting it. That's a key question. Can they get the windows court cases? Can they get those documents? Can it all happen before the November midterms? Kate?

BOLDUAN: A key question right there Manu. Stick with me if you could, Manu. And I want to also bring in CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, a staff writer at The New Yorker. It's good to have you here, Susan. So the chair, Susan, and vice chair of that Committee they laid out as Manu says, kind of the focus right now that the White House and the President specifically was asked to do something as the attack on the Capitol was unfolding. Why do you think they are focused here because this does seemed to get to the central question of where this investigation may be headed?


SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's right. I mean, look, to be honest, like, you know, it's ever since January 6th, actually, it's been reported. It's certainly been confirmed in our reporting for our book that Trump was watching T.V. And we know he didn't do anything that his daughter pleaded with him has also been reported. I think that's accurate. The question, the bigger question is, what role if any, did Trump play in the plans for the rally? Was he warned specifically about the possibility of violence and chose not to do anything? What connection did he and his officials have in terms of financing it or orchestrating it or being in connection with those who planned to go to the Capitol?

And then, you know, this question of in the afternoon while it was unfolding, there still, the question of, was he asked specific actions that he did not do? Did he overrule others? Manu pointed out, they're trying to obtain documents, I think that's very interesting, or, you know, internal White House information that might tell us for example, Trump tape repeatedly a message to his followers that ultimately was released a couple hours, several hours into it, in which he basically told them to go home but also said I love you. Now, if that was the best version, what did he say in the versions that weren't released? I think that would be the kind of information the Committee is seeking to get.

BOLDUAN: Manu, Liz Cheney also made the case very clearly this weekend of why what's already in the public record should disqualify Donald Trump from future office. Let me play how she how she laid it out to ABC.


CHENEY: Any man who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television, as police officers were being beaten as his supporters were invading the capital of the United States is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again.


BOLDUAN: I was struck, Manu, because this is a continuation and kind of an evolution of what she said on television the night of January 6th, almost one year ago, when she said Donald Trump lit the flame. Do you think this is the case? This is this is the direction that Committee is headed. This is the case they're going to be making eventually. RAJU: Yes, I think undoubtedly, it's going to paint in a very, very unflattering picture of what Donald Trump was doing on January 6th to say the least. And even they're not ruling out the idea of potentially even making a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Bennie Thompson told our colleague, Dana Bash, yesterday that was -- he said that they're still evaluating whether they would actually go that far.

But the question to here is, or the point here of them focusing on Trump also underscores why Republicans refuse to cooperate in this investigation to begin with. Yes, there are two Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. They are two anti-Trump Republicans. But Kevin McCarthy resisted this. Mitch McConnell in the Senate side resisted this. All vast majority of House and Senate Republicans resisted this, in large part because they didn't want an outside probe which will undoubtedly look at Donald Trump's role, which will undoubtedly paint an unflattering picture. They did not want to have any involvement in that whatsoever so they resisted that outside commission, allow the Democratic-led House Select Committee to move forward. And now they can paint anything here. And their argument will be this was a partisan investigation, even if it is a bipartisan investigation that is happening here.

But no question about it, what Donald Trump did and did not do is going to be a huge focus of the Committee, and it's not going to show him doing anything in a positive way.

BOLDUAN: And Susan, this gets it in your year ender piece, you hit on a very important part of the reality of what the Committee and the truth is up against still, more than two-thirds of Republicans still today do not accept that Joe Biden is legitimately elected president, 71 percent of Republicans choosing instead to believe Donald Trump's election lie and you write, there is no restoration possible in such a country.

GLASSER: You know, Kate, if you had said to your January 7th self, you know, that what was going to happen is that Liz Cheney would be purged from the Republican leadership and Donald Trump would be in a stronger position, arguably, than he was before it with the Republican Party, you would have been astonished. And some of those poll numbers as shocking as they are, what really has struck me is the fact that the number of Republicans supporting this lie about the election has actually gone up in many surveys since last January 6th, not gone down. It's taken hold as a new catechism among Republicans, their new ideology seems to be basically Trump and only Trump and whatever Trump says.

And so this is a very dangerous development in some ways. It's more worrisome than even the shattered glass, the physical damage to the Capitol itself is this kind of longer term damage to the democracy. And I think that's a lot of what will be spotlighted as well.


But to Manu's point just on the investigation, I think it's really important to note that there have been no criminal referrals not only of Donald Trump, but of anyone surrounding him. There have been 700 people charged in the riot at the Capitol, but basically, these are the foot soldiers in Trump's mob, and no one who's orchestrated or who sent them there in the first place. And that's another thing that I think we'll be taken stock of this week, one year afterwards.

BOLDUAN: Great point, guys. Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

A quick programming know for all of you, you can join CNN police forum, unprecedented gathering of police lawmakers and leaders on the anniversary of the January 6th attack live from the Capitol January 6th, one year later, Thursday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Still had for us, President Biden trying to reassure Ukraine his fears are growing of a coming Russian invasion, the promise that Joe Biden is making to Ukraine next.