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CDC: Flu Cases And Hospitalizations Continue To Rise; 5 Louisiana Officers Charged In Deadly Arrest Of Ronald Greene; Twitter Under Fire After Suspending Journalists Who Wrote About Musk. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 16, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The CDC just released new data on the wave of flu hitting the United States right now. The percentage of positive tests for the flu in the last week now at just over 25 percent, and more than 23,000 Americans are in the hospital with the virus as we speak. Public health officials are also worried about a surge in COVID cases that is setting in at the same time, and this, of course, is on the heels of that early spike of RSV that we saw in so many children just recently.

Joining me now for more on this is Dr. Paul Offit. He's the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's good to see you, Dr. Offit. These numbers that just released this hour really confirming what we're all seeing. I mean, everybody, especially kids are sick right now. How do you describe this flu season?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Right. It's worrisome. If you look at what happened in Australia or South America who have winters that precede ours, they had bad flu seasons. I think it's going to be a bad flu season.

Remember two years before SARS-CoV-2 came into this country, we had 800,000 hospitalizations from influenza and 60,000 deaths. I mean, hopefully, this won't be like that this year. But the good news is the current flu vaccine is well matched for the strains that are circulating. So, please get vaccinated. Everybody over six months of age in this country is recommended to receive an influenza vaccine.

BOLDUAN: Is this all about the immunity gap, Dr. Offit? I mean, the fact that you know, we stayed apart and covered up for so long that people weren't exposed to usual germs that we usually, are is that what we're -- do you think that's what's really what we're seeing here?

OFFIT: I do think it's part of it, you know. I mean, 2020 was an unusual year, right? I mean, we mass and social distance and quarantine and isolated and closed businesses and closed schools and restricted travel and virtually eliminated influenza from this country. I mean, every year, typically, 75 to 150 children will die from influenza. That year, one child died from influenza. So, the virus isn't circulating and generally inducing sort of a population immunity.

Similarly, last year, we were still at some level of masking and social distancing and being careful, but not this year. I mean, we're pretty much back to living, playing, and working as normal this year. And I think with RSV, I can tell you the RSV that we saw in our hospital this year was greater than I've ever seen before in my life. And I do think it was in part an immunity gap.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, there's also this interesting survey I wanted to ask you about because you're talking about vaccines. This interesting survey out this morning from Kaiser, and also saying that most adults don't plan to get the updated COVID booster, which, you know -- which has been obviously a question for quite some time. If that is the case, what does that going to mean?

OFFIT: What worries me in that is the adults who really would benefit from getting a COVID vaccine don't get it. And by that, I mean adults who are elderly, meaning over 75, people -- anybody who is immunocompromised, anybody who has sort of multiple comorbidities that put them at risk. I mean, those are the three groups that are most likely to be hospitalized and most likely to die. And so, I -- it really is important for those groups to get vaccinated. Not necessarily everyone but certainly focus on those groups. So, I think if those groups were also choosing not to get vaccinated, then they increased the risk of hospitalizations and death.

BOLDUAN: This also gets to the larger issue of vaccine hesitancy that has really been revealed since with the pandemic and since the pandemic. And case in point in that same survey, Kaiser asked parents about the long-standing requirement for kids to get other vaccines to attend school, but about a third of parents now believe that it should be their choice about whether or not to get their kids the MMR vaccine. I mean, we're talking about measles here. I mean, this is -- this is your life's work. What is going on here?


OFFIT: That scares me more than anything that we've just talked about. Because if you look back and -- we had a -- we had a measles vaccine that was first available in the early 1960s. 10 years later, there were a lot of people who still weren't getting vaccinated. So, what we did was we had school mandates. That was the birth of school mandates in the 1970s.

And with that, we eliminated measles from this country by the year 2000. I mean, to some extent, it's come back. You'll see, for example, this outbreak in Columbus, Ohio now were six -- more than 60 children have gotten measles and 20 have been hospitalized. If we again go back to sort of eliminating school mandates, if this sort of libertarian notion of government off my back, don't tell me what to do, I don't want to get a mandate, spills over from COVID-19 vaccines to measles or other vaccines, then we'll be where we were before we had school mandates when you would see 100,000 children infected with measles or 150,000 infected with measles because they've chosen not to get a vaccine that was available.

BOLDUAN: And it's safe. And then time-tested, for sure. Doctor, thank you for coming on. I appreciate your time.

OFFIT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: A big development in a case that we've been -- that we have covered for years now. Five Louisiana police officers charged in the death of Ronald Greene. Details next.



BOLDUAN: A big development in a story that we have been following for quite some time now. A grand jury has indicted five Louisiana law enforcement officers for the deadly arrest of a black motorist back in 2019. Ronald Greene, you remember his name, he died after this incident with police. A video that was released showed the officers brutally beating him in this encounter. His family has been fighting for justice ever since.

CNN's Nick Valencia joins me now with much more on this. Nick, what is Ronald Greene's family saying today? What are we learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, Kate. When I spoke to Mona Hardin this morning, Ronald Greene's mother, she was elated, telling me that she was on cloud nine. But that tone quickly changed. Once I told her that the Louisiana State Police had put two of the officers, they say, on administrative leave pending legal proceedings, she was furious at that saying that she wants those officers arrested saying that the LSP continues to make and break their own laws.

Look, a part of what makes this story so tragic are the allegations of a cover-up. In fact, the family says that they were initially told by police that Greene died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash. And that's what they would have believed and the public would have believed, if not for a video leaked to the Associated Press more than two years after the incident which showed Greene being violently beaten, dragged, and punched by those officers. And in the aftermath, there's been a DOJ investigation launched, there's been resignations of the top brass at the state police, and there's even been claims that the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, has been involved in a cover-up. Those are claims that he adamantly denied.

But even after all of that, there's still been no arrests. And while the family welcomes these indictments, they say that their pursuit of justice will not stop until someone goes to jail.


MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: They need to be held accountable because if not, you're condoning the killing of Ronald Greene. You're OK with my son being murdered.


VALENCIA: Just very quickly here, we have reached out to the officers who were indicted, they have not gotten back to us neither of their attorneys. Here's a quick statement from the LSP saying over the last two years, LSP has made fundamental improvements to our operations, training, and administration. These reforms have led to the implementation of critical changes throughout the department in the rebuilding of trust within the communities we serve. LSP continues to offer full cooperation in the ongoing investigations and legal proceedings. To the family though, this is just more noise to them. They want justice. They want to rest in this case, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, it has already been a very long road for Mona and the rest of the -- rest of her family. And this is just another step in what is going to be still a long road ahead.


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Nick. I appreciate it.

VALENCIA: So grateful you're covering this, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Nick.

Now to a CNN exclusive. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sitting down for a joint interview with CNN's Jamie Gangel. Among the topics discussed over lunch was whether they want President Biden to run for a second term. Listen.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You're stepping aside. Do you think President Biden should step aside for a younger generation?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA): I think President Biden has done an excellent job as President of the United States. I hope that he does seek reelection.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY): A lot of people --

GANGEL: Do you think he should run again?

SCHUMER: You know, he's done an excellent, excellent job. And if he runs, I'm going to support him all the way.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now for more on this is CNN chief political correspondent and host of "STATE OF THE UNION," Dana Bash. Just over lunch. I mean, it's just like a perfect Jamie Gangel sit-down. I just really enjoyed the entire thing.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And just the fact that they didn't miss a beat that the speaker was, you know, answering questions about Donald Trump, about Joe Biden mid-bite of, I don't know, moo shu, whatever it is that she was eating. BOLDUAN: I know. And it's also -- I mean talked about like a challenge like walking and chewing gum. This is like a -- this is like a high wire act. I mean, like eating and doing an interview is very challenging and also very, you know -- it's like a high-risk situation. I would not do it.


BASH: We've seen her -- we've seen her walk those marble floors in heels, I say. This is nothing.

BOLDUAN: Very true -- very true. So, Pelosi and Schumer, they're weighing in on Biden running, not running in saying, of course, they would support him. But you have to contrast that with Democratic voters and what we're seeing in the numbers, which we know that all politicians look at the polling when they're making their assessments. In the new CNN poll, only 40 percent want to see Biden at the top of the ticket again. I mean, it's -- this whole thing is so far away still, but also, so not far away, I guess I would say. Like, what, if anything can we make of these data points that we see here?

BASH: Look, that the American people see what is in front of them, which is a president that campaigned as a transition figure, campaigned as an antidote to Trump and Trumpism, and campaigned as somebody who would help to fix Washington. Washington is far from fixed, but there have been some more bipartisan victories. They're not huge, they're not blockbusters you know, good society-changing bills but there are a number of bipartisan bills that became law.

And the president obviously sees that and sees what happened in the midterms, which as you said, is not that -- the Republicans didn't -- the American people didn't repudiate him as -- and the Democrats as much as they thought. So, you know, he wants in. $If there's no one to run against him, and Democrats want one of their own in the White House, those numbers will likely change.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. You know, and as for who Biden could face the Republican side, obviously, you got a very interesting answer for someone -- from someone who could be a key player in 2024, the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. It's part of your new special premiering tonight on CNN. I want to play for that on a clip.


BASH: Given what happened after the 2020 election.


BASH: The conspiracies, the frankly, lies that he peddled about the election, and then what happened on January 6, is he fit to be president again?

SUNUNU: I just don't think he's going to be president again, yes.

BASH: But do you think he shouldn't be president again? SUNUNU: No. Because I've -- he's done his time. He's done his service. We're moving on. We are as a country, as a party, we want the next idea, we want the next generation, whatever it is.

So, to say we're going to be a country where the best opportunity for our future leadership is the leadership of yesterday, that's frankly, unAmerican. We're just taking the next step. We're moving on. Thank you for your service. We're moving on.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R-FL): Thank you for a historic landslide victory.

BASH: He even brought up Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, unprompted as a stronger potential candidate than Trump.

SUNUNU: There's an argument to be made that someone like DeSantis could beat him in the primary today. And this, you would --

BASH: Do you think he could?

SUNUNU: That's a word -- I think another candidate could. Yes. Oh, do I think DeSantis? Maybe. I don't -- I don't know. I mean, I really don't know.

BASH: Would he be a good president?

SUNUNU: Oh, I think Ron would be a good president. Sure. I think -- I think a lot of Republican governors would be good.

BASH: Do you think that he would be able to connect with voters, the way you're describing?

SUNUNU: Everyone connects with voters differently, right? I mean, I don't want to speak specifically to Ron, but I have my style. He has his style. Everyone's a little different. Every state is different.


BASH: And, Kate, you will not be surprised to learn that I asked him about his own potential White House future. I'll sort of leave it there and let you watch tonight to see his answer. A lot of actually beautiful scenery of New Hampshire in the fall. If nothing else, that, to me is a reason to watch. But he is -- he was very interesting. We got behind the scenes in a lot of different venues.

BOLDUAN: And he's also -- he's a fascinating man, a fascinating character, a fascinating political figure. I'm really looking forward to it. It's great to see you, Dana. Thank you.

BASH: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. And be sure to watch Dana's special, "BEING CHRIS SUNUNU" tonight, 10:00 Eastern. We'll be right back.


[11:53:33] BOLDUAN: Elon Musk is facing backlash after Twitter abruptly suspended the accounts of multiple journalists, including some from the New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN. Musk accuses them of sharing private information about his whereabouts, which is not true. This move flying in the face of the promises that Musk made when taking over the platform.

CNN media analyst and Axios media reporter Sara Fischer, she's joining me now with more on this. So, Sara, Musk came into Twitter making all sorts of pledges about protecting free speech. How does this square with what happened overnight?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes. Well, it's exactly opposed to what he's been saying. You know, he's been saying that this platform is going to be a boon for free speech, and yet overnight, he suspended -- permanently suspended for a short period of time, a bunch of accounts saying that they doxed him. In reality, Kate, they had linked out to an account that had been gathering publicly available information about Elon Musk, which is different than what doxing technically is. Doxing is when you personally put out someone's personal information, like a phone number or e-mail with the intent of targeting them.

BOLDUAN: And this comes t0, I think -- it gets back to a jet -- his jet and an account tracking the movements of the jet but that is publicly available information. I mean, what -- this aside, what we see here in the trend that we're seeing from Musk, what does this mean for the future of Twitter?

FISCHER: Well, it means that the future of Twitter's relationship with the press is going to be very contentious. And that matters, Kate, because people rely on Twitter to get news and information all the time, whether that's about sports, politics, or entertainment.


And if the press doesn't feel comfortable being on Twitter speaking out, it may mean that it's not as great of a user experience for the more than 200 million people that use that app daily.


BOLDUAN: To have a big platform in -- by themselves even as (AUDIO GAP) on Twitter. It's what the concern really is, is for the -- for the small -- like people who have a very small platform or very little voice and what the platform can mean for them. That is what is could be a real concern here going forward. It's good to see you, Sara. I really appreciate your time.

FISCHER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for being here "AT THIS HOUR." I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.