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At This Hour

Uvalde School Board Votes Unanimously To Fire Police Chief; Soon: California Set To Vote On Banning New Gas Sales By 2035; Georgia Elementary School Student Tests Positive For Monkeypox. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired August 25, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Court ruling that the state's criminal abortion statute conflicts with federal standards for emergency care. This means Idaho doctors cannot be punished for ending pregnancies that pose serious risks to women's health. It's the first legal victory for the Biden administration since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Also, this. Three months after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the school district police Chief Pete Arredondo, he's out of a job. The Uvalde School Board voted unanimously last night to fire Arredondo and he's faced serious accusations that he's to blame for the delayed response to the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School. Ahead of the decision, community members were speaking out demanding accountability.


DANIEL MYERS, PASTOR IN UVALDE: You don't care squat about those families. If it was one of your children, heads would be rolling now, but because it's not, you don't care.

KATELYN GONZALEZ, UVALDE COMMUNITY MEMBER: If the law enforcement's job is to protect and served, why they didn't protect and served my friends and teachers on May 24 then? I have messages for Pete Arredondo and all the law enforcement that were there that day. Turn in your badge and step down. You don't deserve to wear one.


BOLDUAN: Arredondo did not attend the meeting. In a statement though, his attorney said that the former chief feared for his safety and called the firing a public lynching.

Now, let's go to the southeast which has just been hammered with rain and is facing more storms today. Heavy rains that have already washed away roads flooded entire neighborhoods, prompting many evacuations and rescues. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray, she's live in Brandon, Mississippi, with more for us. What are you seeing there right now, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kate, right now, the rain has stopped. We had some really heavy downpours earlier today. And what's behind me is the spillway, they're releasing water from a huge reservoir that filled up basically. You know, this area around Jackson received about 10 inches of rain in less than three days and so all of the water from the Pearl River came into this huge reservoir just on the other side of those bridges. And so now because that has reached its highest level, they're now starting to drain some of that water downstream so it can continue to flow south within the pro river.

But they have to be so careful about this because if they release the water too quickly, all it's going to do is just flood towns and neighborhoods downstream. And so they have to be very careful with the amount of water that they're releasing. Also around town, there are so many puddles, some of the roads are still slightly submerged, and so any additional rainfall is going to create another flash flooding situation, unfortunately, so it is continuing to be a dicey situation across the South for today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Jennifer, thank you for being there, I really appreciate it. Coming up for us still "AT THIS HOUR," A big move by California in the fight against the climate crisis, a ban on power -- on gas-powered cars. The state's lieutenant governor is our guest next.



BOLDUAN: California today, taking a potentially big and extreme step to fight against climate change. The state is preparing to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars come 2035 and also setting interim targets to phase these cars out completely. A vote on this move is set for this afternoon.

Joining me right now is California's lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for coming in to talk about this. Yes, everyone knows that cars are a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, but why is California ready to take this big of a step?

LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS, (D-CA): Well, Kate, California has been the -- leading the way on clean cars for a very long time. We are the home of the invention of the catalytic converter. So it's very natural that we would be, at this point, about two years ago, Governor Newsom announced that by 2035, all new cars in California sold would need to be zero-emission vehicles. And what these new standards do is basically set the roadmap to get there. And what we've also seen is that the private sector and car companies are getting ready to meet this market in California, which is the largest consumer market in the country.

BOLDUAN: Their move -- their -- car companies are very clearly moving in this direction. But the auto industry -- the trade association says though, the timeline that you're setting in laying out is extremely challenging to meet, is how they're putting it. And also attorneys general from 17 Republican-led states have actually sued to revoke your state's waiver allowing you to set these new standards on your own. That lawsuit still working its way through the courts, how seriously do you see this challenge? KOUNALAKIS: Well, remember, the Trump administration tried as well to

take away California's ability to set our own emission standards and they failed. But what we also saw at that time is that Governor Newsom met with car companies and the Ford Motor Company which hailed these new standards also recommitted their intention to transition their manufacturing to zero-emission vehicles as well.


This is the home of the birthplace of Tesla. There are 35 car companies that are already working to meet this market. And this is the place where there's so much innovation and determination, frankly, to do something about climate change that we're well on our way already to being able to put these new standards in place and have a car market that will meet these standards. And let me just also say that if you go to any dealership in California right now, you will see that people are lining up and putting their names on lists. They want these new cars. They want to be able to avoid going to the pump and paying these high prices for gases --

BOLDUAN: But they are also expensive right now still.

KOUNALAKIS: -- And also do what they know is right. Well, that's why a big part of our commitment and Joe Biden's commitment around his climate initiative is to put the kind of funding into rebates and incentives that will help bring the cost down to the consumer.

BOLDUAN: Let me also ask you, speaking of the climate crisis, California is among the states that are facing serious, long-term drought conditions due to the climate crisis. Your administration has laid out some pretty ambitious goals on how to protect your state's water supply long-term but those are expensive and long-term fixes, like desalination plants and such. Why hasn't the governor put in -- put in place a statewide water reduction mandate to help with the immediate crisis at hand?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, there are many local mandates that are already in place, and so anybody watching in California, please reduce the amount of water consumption that you're using. Depending on which county you're in, we have -- we have requirements to reduce lawn watering, that's going on. But we all have to be vigilant. It is not raining enough. We need more water. We've also been dealing with catastrophic wildfires. So in California, we're both at the forefront of dealing with the consequences of a warming climate, but we're leading the way in doing something about it --


BOLDUAN: But, Lieutenant Governor, there's a distinction here, of course, between local jurist jurisdictions. There's a difference between local jurisdictions setting some standards, but they're -- it's a much different statement when the governor of the state sets a statewide mandate because when you think about well, just the two things we're talking about here if you're comfortable putting restrictions on cars, why aren't you comfortable putting restrictions on people's water use? KOUNALAKIS: Well, again, this is happening at the local level. We are a state of 40 million people. We have 58 counties. So between state and local governments, we're working together because the state is so huge that certain parts of the state up north have water and then in Southern California, it's a very different situation. So it's working right now. But the main thing we're trying to do at the state level is getting the message out to Californians to use less water.

But we have a very receptive state. People know that we have challenges. And so whether it's using less water or frankly, getting ready for a zero-emission vehicle future, we have a lot of buy-in in this state. And we're really excited about the governor's vision and about transitioning and working with the private sector to deliver the vehicles that are going to actually make all of this possible.

BOLDUAN: A lot -- a lot to happen ahead, especially to meet that 2035 target. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for coming on.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. Children in Georgia are infected with monkeypox, just as schools across the country are welcoming back students for the New Year. An infectious disease expert is joining us next to discuss how big of a concern this is. But first, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on how an interest in art can actually rewire our brains and help us lead even fuller lives. That's today's "CHASING LIFE."


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. Seeing great art or listening to great music can be really inspiring, you know that. But you don't have to be an artist to let your creativity shine. Simply letting your mind roam free, not as focused on mundane processes can help you get there. Think about it. We're constantly improvising and thinking on the fly. And the more that we do that, the more our creativity is activated.

Think about driving a car. The first time you get behind the wheel. You thought a lot about the process, understandably, every turn every signal. But after driving for years, the processed stuff becomes almost instinctive. You're in the zone. Your brain can turn off its conscious control mechanisms.

The parts of your brain involved with planning and self-monitoring, and instead, allow for the flow of new and creative ideas. You can try and give them that flow in other areas of your life as well by doing a lot of what you're doing already. Just changing how you do it.


Try working on the same things, just doing them differently. And very important, remember, it's OK to make mistakes, even better to make mistakes. That really helps you get into the flow zone.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcast.




BOLDUAN: Georgia Health officials now report three new cases of monkeypox identified now among children. On Tuesday, the Newton County school system in Georgia announced one elementary student had tested positive and another student at a different elementary school was being tested. Troubling for sure. Though, across the country, monkeypox among children remains rare. The CDC reports 17 cases in kids under the age of 15.

Joining me right now is Dr. Carlos Del Rio. He is Executive Associate Dean of Emory University School of Medicine. It's good to see you, Dr. Del Rio. We know nearly all cases of monkeypox so far are among adults, so what was -- what is your reaction to this new reporting of children being infected in Georgia? What does it tell you about the virus?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, I think it tells us that this virus is like any other infectious disease, it's transmissible, it's not exclusive to one group, and I think we're going to see transmission to other groups. Right, now the disease as you say, it's mostly concentrated among men -- it's mostly concentrated among men who have sex with men. But the transmission of this virus typically occurs by skin-to-skin contact. And if -- you know if children have contact with somebody who's infected, they're going to get infected. This is not a disease exclusive to one group.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's something -- and these are the examples to remind us of exactly that. I mean, the federal government is ramping up their response to monkeypox, especially -- specifically ramping up the supply of vaccines to help better protect people in the high-risk category of getting infected. You've been critical of the federal response to this outbreak so far, what have they been getting wrong and how are they doing in fixing it?

DEL RIO: Well, I don't think that's really what been getting wrong, but I think we started very slowly, right? And we weren't prepared for this. We weren't prepared for monkeypox. We weren't prepared. We didn't have enough vaccines. We didn't have enough testing. It took a long time to set up testing.

But right now, we have testing available. There's testing capacity with the five commercial laboratories in the state laboratories to test about a thousand people a week. We're only testing about 800 people a week. Vaccines aren't being ramped up and they need to be rapidly distributed to the appropriate people. I'm concerned about health equity, for example, the great majority of cases are among African American and Hispanic men. And we're not seeing vaccines necessarily reach the most effective groups. And finally, we need to see more access to treatment. And we need to see a rapid scale-up of clinical trials to tell us that the drugs and the vaccines we have, indeed are helpful. But I want to make the point, Kate, that I really think for the normal individual, for the average citizen, for nor -- for parents whose kids are starting. I would not be concerned about this. I think we don't need to panic about this. I think we need to stay informed. But the cases in children, as you already said, are less than 1 percent of the total cases that we see not only in our country, but globally.

BOLDUAN: It is reassuring to hear you say that. Can I also ask you a question about COVID? We found out yesterday that first -- the first lady had -- has a case of rebound COVID after taking Paxlovid. And we know that President Biden did as well. And we also know that Dr. Anthony Fauci had a rebound case after taking the antiviral. Administration officials, though, have insisted that rebound COVID, after Paxlovid is still rare. But with these high-profile cases, I'm starting to wonder if it is. What do you think?

DEL RIO: Well, I still think it's -- I want to say depends on your definition of the virus. I think it happens in about 10 to 15 percent of people that take the drug, I think we need to define better, what are the -- what are the risk factors. We know that people who are older are more likely to rebound.


DEL RIO: People that are -- you know, maybe even vaccinated are more likely to rebound. But at the end of the day, the rebound -- none of the cases that have rebound has ended up having a more severe disease or ended up in the hospital. So I still think Paxlovid is an incredibly useful drug and it really decreases dramatically. There was a paper in the New England Journal of medicine this week, in fact, showing that vaccinated people who got Paxlovid over the age of 65 dramatically decrease the risk of complications, hospitalizations, and death. There is no benefit if you're under the age of 65 from getting Paxlovid. That's also what this article told us. So we also need to be sure that we target Paxlovid to the right individuals.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's true. It's -- again, it's always important to have your perspective on this, so helpful. Thank you. It's good to see you, Doctor.

DEL RIO: Always good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Let me turn to this. The reaction overnight from Kobe Bryant's widow is justice for Kobe and Gigi. This is after a jury in California awarded her $16 million in damages in the legal battle over photographs taken at the crash scene where Kobe Bryant and his daughter died. CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Los Angeles with more on this for us. Natasha, what do we know about this decision?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Vanessa Bryant cried in the courtroom, hugged her attorney hugged, her daughter, Natalia, as the verdict was read, Kate. A combination of a very intense two-week trial where we often had to hear graphic details about these close-up images of torn-up bodies being shared among first responders and their friends knowing the living relatives are sitting right there in the courtroom, Vanessa Bryant and co-plaintiff Chris Chester who lost his wife and daughter in the same crash.


Let's look at the money, $16 million awarded to Vanessa Bryant, $15 million awarded to Chris Chester. Now, the defense, LA County, points out this amount shows the jurors did not see that the evidence supported the plaintiffs' high-end ask of 75 million for these two people. But the jurors did decide the sheriff's department and county fire lacked proper training and procedures policies. They also decided the sheriff's department had a long-standing issue with illicit photos being taken. Here's the sheriff talking about that himself.


SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Unfortunately, ever since he invented the Polaroid camera, this has been a problem in law enforcement across the nation -- right across the world because it just makes it so much easier. And then there's cops, they keep death books for example, where they had -- they have photos from crime scenes throughout their careers.


CHEN: Now, the jury decided LA County Fire did not have that same issue. But if you are to believe the sheriff there that this is a pervasive problem, or at least in California now, there is a Kobe Bryant law which makes it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of victims' bodies, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Natasha, thank you so much. And thank you so much for being here today. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after this break.