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At This Hour

Health Officials Urge Use Of Shots, Antivirals Against COVID; Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Work-Life Balance And Burnout; Protesters Storm Sri Lankan PM's Office After President Flees; Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 13, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Rosa Flores has more.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): An edited version of the surveillance video, one of two videos released Tuesday by the Austin American-Statesman shows that at 11:32 on May 24, the first shots were fired outside Robb Elementary School and audio of a teacher calling 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kids are running. Oh, my God. Get down. Get in your rooms. Get in your rooms.

FLORES: Then at 11:33, the School surveillance video shows the gunman entering an empty hallway unhindered, walking casually with his gun hanging down. He slows down, peaks around the corner. A boy sees him as he starts shooting and the boy runs. According to the Statesman, the gunman fired his weapon, an AR-15, inside two classrooms for two and a half minutes stopping and starting multiple times. The Statesman saying they edited out the most disturbing sounds including screams. The surveillance video shows seven police officers arriving armed some with rifles.


FLORES: They entered the hallway. Weapons drawn at 11:36 just three minutes after the gunman arrived while shots are being fired. In total, the material revealing just over two of the more than 70 minutes Police were in the hallway before killing the gunman, some rushing towards the classrooms, other officers hanging back. Within one minute, shots are heard, 16 rounds in total, and police can be seen retreating running back down the hallway to take cover. Then at 11:52, 19 minutes after the gunman enters the school, the timestamp on the video shows more officers arriving, heavily armed, some with ballistic shields. Still, they wait.

At 12:04, the video jumps 31 minutes after the gunman enters the school, and law enforcement is still waiting at least 19 officers are now in the hallway according to the official timeline. At 12:21, 45 minutes after police arrived, the gunman fires another four shots and police start to move down the hallway again remaining outside the classrooms. At 12:30, one officer uses the hand sanitizer dispenser in the school. At 12:43 and 12:47, more 911 calls to send police and the caller says children are aware the police are outside the door. Then at 12:50, 74 minutes after police first arrived, officers, breached the classroom door and kill the gunman. At this point, the video shows officers in the hallway pushing to go in.

The Texas DPS director expressed his disappointment the video was released before the victims' families were given access to it, releasing a statement saying those most affected should have been among the first to see it. The Statesman defending their decision to publish the material saying "we have to bear witness to history, and transparency and unrelenting reporting is a way to bring change." As for the families of the 19 students and two teachers who were massacred at Robb Elementary, some say the video's early release just adds to their pain.

JAVIER CAZARES, FATHER OF UVALDE VICTIM JACKIE CAZARES: It got leaked. It got shown all over the world and we are pissed. These families didn't deserve it. I don't deserve it. That's a slap to our babies' faces. And we're tired of this. You know, we can't trust anybody anymore.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, San Antonio.


BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much for that. Joining me right now for more on this is Tony Plohetski. He's a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman which obtained the surveillance video and published it, Tony, thank you for coming in. On Monday, you were here on with me and we -- and we spoke after you had seen the video to talk about the video. We talked about whether or not the authorities were going to release it and when, what happened since? Why did you all decide to release it?

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Well, we obtained the video. And at that point, there was a growing chorus from the governor's office, from the Texas Department of Public Safety, from lawmakers for transparency. And that was consistent with the calls for transparency that we also had been hearing from the Uvalde, from the community, and from family members. And so once we had the video in our possession, frankly, we felt a journalistic responsibility and a responsibility to the public to bring that information to the public as quickly but carefully as we could.

BOLDUAN: Did you all reach out to the families and speak to the families of the victims beforehand?


PLOHETSKI: Certainly, we made efforts to reach the family members. I do want to say among those we were able to reach. We did, in fact, comply with some of their requests. And to that end, that is the reason that -- or one of the main reasons that we ultimately made the editorial decision to not include the screams, that what the parents conveyed to us, is that they did not want the final screams of their children to be heard. And so we did make, again, that editorial decision to not include that in our reporting.

BOLDUAN: And look, Tony, this is all hard. It's -- it is a tragedy on top of it -- a tragedy on top of a tragedy, just how everything has gone in Uvalde. I know that we played some of what some family members had said in response to the release of this, I want to play some more of what families -- how they're responding to the release.


KIMBERLY RUBIO, MOTHER OF UVALDE VICTIM, LEXI RUBIO: So we understand it, the media, it wants to hold people accountable because the government hasn't been transparent with us. You don't need the audio for that. And you don't need the full video for that. What they were going to show us was sufficient. He didn't have to do this. I don't want to hear children scream. I don't want to hear the gunfire. That wasn't needed. It was unnecessary.


BOLDUAN: What do you say to these families, the concerns from the community now over putting it out in this way?

PLOHETSKI: I think it is extraordinarily challenging. I think that obviously, the grief that is in your body was at the forefront of our minds and in our hearts as we went about the recording process and releasing this information. But I also want to say that in the past few hours and overnight, there are similarly people in that community who have been touched by what happened there, who have wanted this information. And so now, they feel as though they have it, that this will actually help them metabolize the horror of that day and to better comprehend the horror of that day.

BOLDUAN: Look. And the focus must remain on why they waited so long to go in to help those children, why they waited so long to what the decision-making process was, and that's what this video does show. It shows the failures for them to move urgently in there as training dictates. But if the families were set to see this video on Sunday, in an organized way, and they were planning for that, and the mayor has said that you all knew about that timing plan, did you consider waiting until then?

PLOHETSKI: Of course, we did. The problem with that is that authorities consistently, from day one, have failed the people of Uvalde. From -- the -- during the actual shooting event, the families were failed by law enforcement who were there. And the days after, law enforcement and other officials released conflicting information that then had to be clarified or retracted. And so in our minds, as we were going through our very deliberative editorial process, why should they have to wait one more day for the government to release this information to them? What is so special about Sunday, why not Wednesday or Thursday or Friday?

BOLDUAN: To some of those families were -- it was -- they were -- they were truly preparing like emotionally, psychologically preparing for this to happen on Sunday. It seems that they were surprised and shocked by the release of it. PLOHETSKI: I also want to say that authorities did know that this information was coming as well. And so, you know, I -- again, what I can tell you is that we made efforts to reach out to the family -- families. We certainly appreciate that there are all sorts of interests in this. But again, we feel as though our job as a journalist is to provide information. When we have it, we did not rush this out the door. We were very thoughtful and very considerate. And we stand by our reporting.

BOLDUAN: Tony, thank you for coming on and taking the questions. Really appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. Coming up for us, a new wave of COVID cases is fueling more hospitalizations across the United States now, as Americans are also now facing challenges as they're trying to find a vaccine for another virus, a monkeypox. We're going to talk to a top doctor at the White House. That is next.



BOLDUAN: The White House warning Americans now that the pandemic is not over as a new dominant strain of Omicron is sending more people to the hospital once again. The U.S. is also facing another major health challenge in this moment, monkeypox, the government's response facing questions as vaccine appointments for that are very hard to come by.

Joining me now is Dr. Ashish Jha. He's the White House coordinator -- a White House COVID Response Coordinator. It's good to see you, Dr. Jha, thank you for being here. Another doctor has been on CNN many times, I know you know well, Dr. Eric Topol, professor at Scripps Research. He tracks pandemic trends super closely. He called BA.5, the name of this new -- of this variant, the worst version of the virus that we've seen. Do you agree?

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, first of all, thanks for having me back, Kate. It's always great to be back on with you. You know Dr. Topol is certainly right that this is an important variant that we have to pay attention to, whether it's the worst version of this variant, what I would say -- the way I would describe it, certainly the most immune invasive.

What we're seeing right now is that people who got infected three months ago are getting reinfected at very high rates. People who are not up to date on their vaccinations are getting breakthrough infections at very, very high rates. We're not seeing that yet. And we don't know because we'll get more data that this is somehow causing more serious illness, that's a place where we have to go and get more data.


But we have to be very vigilant with this sub-variant. I agree with Dr. Topol, this is something that requires clear and focused attention.

BOLDUAN: We know that there's talk now of expanding access to a second booster shot. You said this morning that the FDA will have a decision on people under 50 years old relatively soon. If and when that happens, Dr. Jha, do you want everyone to go out immediately and get it?

JHA: Yes. So what I want is for people to be up to date. And let me be very clear what that means. I think anyone over 50, who has not gotten a shot this year, in the year 2022, needs to go out and get a shot. For people under 50, you need to have at least gotten that first booster, and then we'll see what the FDA says.

If they authorize a second booster, I do. And here's why. This sub- variant is out there. We know we're going to see more sub-variants and variants. I want people's immune systems to be as protected as possible. Getting a vaccine is the best and safest way to do that.

BOLDUAN: So we know Omicron-specific boosters are expected to be coming in the fall, and there's been a bunch of hope around that. But are you then concerned that these variants will have evolved, even past even these newer boosters by then?

JHA: Yes, this is a very good question. I mean, I think the FDA experts who looked at this data suggested that we make a variant- specific booster out of the BA.5 because that is most likely to be the version that's circulating, or if there's one that comes off of that is likely going to resemble BA.5. This is a challenge with this -- with this pandemic is that the virus continues to evolve very quickly.

We have to constantly be updating our response. And I'm confident that the BA.5 variant that -- I'm sorry, the vaccine that we're going to have in the fall will be a substantial upgrade. But we'll see how closely matches what is circulating at that moment.

BOLDUAN: Yes, definitely challenges with that. So also, on monkeypox, just today, New York City's mayor called the city the epicenter of the monkeypox epidemic. He says that he spoke with actually some of your colleagues in the federal government about the urgent need to expand vaccine access. This is a known virus, there is an existing vaccine and tests, and people are still struggling to get appointments and get protected. Has the government failed on this response so far, Dr. Jha?

JHA: No. Here's what I would say. First of all, as you said, we clearly know a lot about this virus. We know we have tests, we have substantially expanded testing, we have vaccines, we have therapeutics. The issue is that we need to get more vaccines out there. So, here's what we're doing, Kate. We have a whole shipment of vaccines arriving this week. The FDA is inspecting more vaccine doses out in Denmark.

There's one company that makes the vaccine doses that we -- our focus on genius that those doses will be coming over in the upcoming weeks. We are incredibly focused on making sure that vaccine doses get to the United States and then get out to places like New York City. Do we wish we had more doses out there right now? Of course, but this -- but we had a stockpile and what we need is we need more. And we're getting more. And I am very sympathetic to people who want these doses today. And what I would say to them is it's coming in the (AUDIO GAP). We have tests, we have vaccines, we have therapies, we're building up our capacity on all of them, and they are going to become more and more readily available to the American people. We're going to get our arms around this thing.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Jha, thanks for the time.

JHA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Coming up still for us, turmoil in Sri Lanka, more turmoil in Sri Lanka as the president flees the country and protesters now storm the Prime Minister's Office. Details on that next but first, it has been a difficult couple of years for everyone to say the very least. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more now on the importance of getting your work-life balance, if there is one, getting it right in Chasing Life.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's Chasing Life podcast. Everyone is talking about burnout lately. Maybe this hits home for you personally. First things first, we aren't just talking about occasional stress. Burnout expert Rahaf Harfoush says burnout is the chronic non-stop stress without ever having the ability to fully recover. We all need stress to get out of bed, to do our work, to study for an exam but we also need time to recover. Think of it as your body-keeping score. And if you don't, your brain physically changes becoming less efficient and less able to maintain a positive mood balance.


So what can you do to reduce burnout? Well, figure out what drains and what replenishes your energy. Some social activities might actually not help reduce your stress. You don't only need breaks when you're exhausted. Remember that. So make sure you're taking regular breaks while you work, maybe something as simple as a quick walk, or a stretch. And most importantly, remember to have fun, and really take time to do the things that give you some joy in life.

And you can hear much more about how to optimize your health in Chase Life wherever you get your podcasts.




BOLDUAN: New this morning. Protesters in Sri Lanka storming the prime minister's office now after the embattled president fled the country. The president was expected to resign today but instead, he's now in the Maldives appointing his Prime Minister as the acting leader. Protesters are demanding both of these men resign amid this worsening economic crisis hitting that nation, much more on that to come for sure.

But thank you so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR. INSIDE POLITICS picks up after this break.